March 7, 2016

Crisis: GOP Debate, Reich, European Military Actions, Maher & Silverman
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Candidates Upped the Ante at Latest GOP Debate,    
     Promising 4 Ground Wars and the Murder of Innocents

2. Robert Reich: Donald Trump Isn't a Conservative, He's a
     Pure Authoritarian

WikiLeaks Reveals EU Planned Military Action Against
     Libyan Refugees

4. Video: Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman on Bernie


This is a Nederlog of Monday, March 7, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links (and I am sorry there wasn't more today - and see the next paragraph): Item 1 is about the latest GOP debate, which is not a happy subject for rational people; item 2 is about Reich's diagnosis (also one of quite a few others) that Trump is authoritarian rather than conservative; item 3 is about the fact that the EU now plans military actions against the refugees from war who try to reach Europe (plus some more on the sickening propaganda terms of these sick proposals); and item 4 is a nice item - I thought, though some seem to disagree - by Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman on Bernie Sanders.

And I really am sorry there wasn't more: I did check all the usual items that I check every day, but the following is the best of what I saw:

1. Candidates Upped the Ante at Latest GOP Debate, Promising 4 Ground Wars and the Murder of Innocents

This first item is by Juan Cole on Truthdig, and originally on Juan Cole's website:

This starts as follows (and this first bit is about Rubio):

At yet another GOP debate, there was a foreign policy section, which Fox News predictably put under the heading of “terrorism.”

Brett Baier asked Marco Rubio about Daesh (ISIL, ISIS), noting that Rubio has proposed “sending a larger number of American ground troops to help defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq…”

Rubio was annoyed that Baier only thought Rubio would invade two countries.  Rubio replied, “That’s correct, and Libya.”

Rubio went on about Daesh:

“So they need to be targeted wherever they have an operating space. They do need to be defeated on the ground by a ground force made up primarily of Sunni Arabs themselves. This is a radical Sunni movement. They can only be defeated if they are driven out and the territory is held by Sunni Arabs. But it will require a specific number of American special operators, in combination with an increase in air strikes. And that will include, if necessary, operating spaces in Libya, which, in fact, they are using to project into the Sinai against Egypt and ultimately into Europe, as well.
In brief: Rubio promises - if he is elected president - at least four (4) more wars ("if necessary") that include "American special operators": (i) Against Isis, wherever they are on the ground; (ii) in Libya; (iii) in Egypt; and (iv) in Europe. (I am willing to suppose that Rubio wants to bomb refugees in Greece, as a humanitarian offer to the Greeks, and to solve their refugee problems, but I admit I don't know this is his idea - and see item 3).

I think he is dreaming, although I also think he may try to do all of this, and more, if he gets elected president (which happily is quite unlikely).

As an aside: Isis has also been called "ISIS" and "ISIL" by the Western media, which presumably are "too sympathetic" sounding names according to the  Western masters of propaganda, so now it is turned to "Daesh" (which is nearly: "Death" (?)). I will stick to "Isis", and much dislike any form of propaganda.

There is also Donald Trump, whose exchanges with interviewer Baier about whether American troops would follow his commands, on waterboarding, and
on his own infinite capacities of leadership (according to himself) are reported (in part) as follows:

“TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they’re illegal.

[Trump] … that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?


TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.

I say: "And - and - and - you are not a leader. You are not a leader. You've always been a braggart and a boaster with a wacky but enormous ego. You can't effectively lead people with your temperament. And besides, you don't have rational ideas."

But what I say - and quite a few other sensible people say - will not make much difference.

What we risk - and what the whole world risks - is that a majority of the most ignorant and the least educated (who are much loved by Trump, and who much love him) chooses a blustering dumb braggard like Donald Trump as a world leader with the keys and the power to blow up the whole earth.

2. Robert Reich: Donald Trump Isn't a Conservative, He's a Pure Authoritarian

The second item is b
y Amy Goodman interviewing Robert Reich on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:
Commenting on the rise of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, notes, "I don’t think Donald Trump is a conservative. I think he’s an authoritarian. And there is a difference."
I agree with Reich that Trump is more of an authoritarian than he is a conservative, but (i) his hesitant conservatism is based on his sayings the
last 15 years or so, which are far from consistent, and seem to be better indicators of Trump's moods than of his little knowledge or his small capacity for rational thought [1], while also (ii) I suppose his authoritarianism is due in considerable part to his being a very rich person from the very beginning.

Then again I admit I am guessing. Here are Robert Reich's opinions:

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Robert Reich, with the rise of Donald Trump, your thoughts? From his retweeting Benito Mussolini to wavering around whether he wants the Klan’s support or David Duke’s, to building the wall, to saying Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to come into this country, your thoughts?

ROBERT REICH: I don’t think Donald Trump is a conservative. I think he’s an authoritarian. And there is a difference. I don’t think he cares about democracy. I don’t think he cares. In fact, I think that Donald Trump, from everything he’s said, may view democracy as an impediment to what he wants to do. I think he’s very close to some of the other authoritarians who have shown themselves, both in American history and in history around the rest of the world.

This is a very dangerous attitude. It’s particularly dangerous when we don’t have strong mediating institutions, such as labor unions or other organizations and political parties, that can soften and subdue or in any way reduce the influence of an authoritarian when so many people in America now feel so atomized, so isolated, when so many people are getting their news and expressing themselves on twitters. Without intermediary institutions, this kind of authoritarian power grab is particularly dangerous.

First, there are several kinds of (real) conservatives, to which Trump indeed does not belong, and one kind are those who respect democracy and another kind doesn't respect democracy. I think there are currently considerably more
conservatives who also don't respect democracy than there were before, but
I do agree that Trump is not a real conservative.

And second, while I agree Trump is an authoritarian, my guess is that this - as well - is not a rationally considered point of view, but is mostly an outgrowth of his very rich and pampered background and education.

Third and last, what I am more worried about than Trump's conservatism or his authoritarianism is his combination of very little real knowledge, his limited intellectual scope, and his enormous temperament: If you are willing to prosecute Bill Maher for $5 million about a silly joke about the very artificial color of your artificially colored hair, as Trump did, you have serious tempera- mental and rational problems.

3. WikiLeaks Reveals EU Planned Military Action Against Libyan Refugees

The third item is b
y Branko Marcetic on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
With far-right sentiment on the rise across Europe, the once widespread sympathy for African and Middle Eastern migrants has evaporated, leaving them facing vitriol and violence from the citizens of the countries they hope to make their new homes. Now, a recent document release by WikiLeaks has put the spotlight on further bad news for refugees: the EU’s plans for military action against refugee boats coming from Libya, with the ultimate goal of entering Libyan waters and possibly even operating inside the country.
Yes and no: I agree that the European feelings about refugees (rather than: "migrants") has sharply changed, but then I also did not much believe the sympathy, as a European, because in fact many Europeans have not been
sympathetic to the Mohammedans that have reached their countries, and have not been so for quite a long time meanwhile.

Also, while I deplore violence, it has - to the best of my knowledge - not grown as low as throwing vitriol: "
vitriol" alliterates with "violence", but it seems factually not true.

But the rest is true, and is in fact a very sick European plan:

As part of Operation Sophia, named after a baby born to a rescued Somali refugee last year, the EU is empowered to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking networks by intercepting, seizing and eventually destroying smugglers’ boats. The EU hopes this will act as a deterrent to other smugglers.

Once the next phases of the operation are approved, EU forces will also likely begin targeting smugglers’ facilities on shore in Libya, as well as destroying smugglers’ boats before they’re sent on their journeys. As the leaked strategy paper makes clear, the phases could eventually involve a variety of operations.

“The operation would require a broad range of air, maritime and land capabilities,” the paper states. “These could include: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; boarding teams; patrol units (air and maritime); amphibious assets; destruction air, land and sea, including special forces units.”

Let me explain why this is utterly sick propaganda, that has nothing to do with the truth - which is that most Europeans, and certainly most European rulers, do not want more (or any) Mohammedan refugees on European soil:

First, the propagandist liars who drew up this utter bullshit know that "sophia" also means wisdom, and want to style their cruel stupidity as wisdom; next, who "empowered" "the EU" - other than the assholes who wrote this shit or their European masters; next, it is not at all about "smugglers" or "smugglers' boats": it is about hundreds of thousands or more refugees from war, bombardments, shootings and tortures; and the Europeans do not want to "deter (..) smugglers": they want to deter more refugees from entering Europe. (And they also don't want to say this.)

And that was just the first paragraph of stinking lies (and there are more in this sick and sickening prose).

I will not go through the rest, and instead summarize the facts as they appear to me:

The European rulers decided that they do not want to pay for more refugees of war, especially not if these are Mohammedan, and decided to keep them out by starting a war on the owners of boats in which they risk their lives (and often their childrens' lives) to escape from war.

And these heroic Europeans are willing and able to throw all they have at the owners of boats to prevent any entering of more refugees from war: "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; boarding teams; patrol units (air and maritime); amphibious assets; destruction [by] air, land and sea, including special forces units".

That is what is happening: To prevent the arrival of more refugees, the Europeans now start a war on the owners of boats by which they try to flee from war.

That is wat it factually comes down to.

But you wouldn't say so from the European propaganda lies. Here is some more of the same sick and sickening utter lies:

“Migrants are recruited via social media, coaxers or by travel agent services run by smuggling networks outside Libya,” the report states.

Such language implies that refugees are hapless victims with little agency who are tricked into making deadly voyages. As indicated in the report, the EU believes stopping the flow of refugees is partly a matter of “dissuading the migrants,” and calls for “a comprehensive package of PSYOPS products targeted at local communities, based on coercive as well as on positive messages.”

No, they are not "migrants": they are refugees. No, they are not "recruited": they are fleeing violence, bombardments, hunger, shootings and, tortures. No, they are not "coaxed": they are fleeing horrors, and have already given up their houses, their backgrounds and their jobs to try to save their lives. No, there are no "travel agent services", for else you would wish to blow these up as well as the owners of boats. And that there are "smuggling networks" is your propaganda - and you do not call them "freedom networks", simply because you are not willing to help genuine refugees from war.

But you also are not even willing to say that.

And look at how these sick Europeans look at refugees from war! They want to enrich the CEOs of public relations liars [1] by advertising that their "products" (carefully crafted lies and deceptions, like all propaganda) are "targeted at local communities" (which are destroyed by war, shootings, bombardments and torture) with "coercive" (like: "Fuck you! We Europeans won't pay you"?) and "positive messages" (like: "if you stay where you are we Europeans will not bomb you"?)

It is all very sick and extremely dishonest. The article ends as follows:

[I]n mainland Europe, the destabilizing effect of the arrival and subsequent accommodation of huge numbers of refugees is viewed as much more of an existential threat than terrorism, at least to those in power. The surge of migrants—over 929,000 arriving in Europe in 2015 according to the report—has put the EU’s open border policy under pressure and is straining its member states’ humanitarian impulses. Already, it has led to the eruption of ugly, racist violence and precipitated a rise in the popularity of far-right hate groups.

Regardless of their motivations, it seems both the United States and the EU see military force as the answer to their respective problems. As long as this is seen as the solution, the refugee crisis is sure to be with us for a long time yet.

Yes, though there might arrive a natural limit, with the Americans making war,
and the Europeans making war on those who flee these wars, because they don't want to help more refugees: together, they may kill most civilians either for being there, or for fleeing from there.

But apart from that, the last diagnosis makes sense.

4. Video: Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman on Bernie Sanders

This item got triggered by - what I thought sounded like - a somewhat sick article by one Janet Allon on AlterNet, although I now understand it a bit better after having seen that she specializes in articles that a have titles like "A number" (usually 5) "Ridiculous/Unhinged/Most Bizarre/Obnoxious/Craziest" "Right-Wing" "Moments/Lunacies/Absurdities/Conspiracy Theories" (take your pick: there are at least 10 such titles) - which is the sort of stuff I almost always totally ignore.

And it seems she also does not (really) like Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman - and she also doesn't link the right video either, which is this:

This is 4 min 20 sec. It is clear Bill and Sarah like each other, and clear both like Bernie Sanders, and it seems to me that they make sense. (And no: I certainly do not have the enormous intellect of Janet Allon.)

[1] I am sorry, but I have watched several videos with Donald Trump and they taught me one thing: he is a rich dumbo. (And no, I did not think so before seeing the videos. I simply had no idea.) The reasons this hasn't become clearer are mostly that most of his opponents aren't more intelligent than he is, and because almost the whole Republican "debate" seems to consist of fact-free bullshit plus name-calling of opponents.

Everybody who works for a public relations office (in any leading capacity) cannot be other than a professional liar. That is what I think for over 50 years now. (You may think differently, but I really abhor people who make a lot of money designing the prettiest lies for the rich and the multi- national corporations, and indeed I do not have a TV since 1970, nor a decently working radio, simply because I do not want to hear or see the tremendous amounts of advertisement lies that are on there, and that are spread every hour. But yes, I  do take the truth seriously, and have been removed from the University of Amsterdam because I believed in truth and science and honestly and publicly said so, in an invited speech. Also, I am the only person who was removed - while physically ill, also - from a Dutch university since the end of WW II because I spoke the truth and was for science).

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