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Nederlog

May 5, 2016

Crisis: RIP TTIP?, Pundit Failures, Trump *2, Fracking
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. R.I.P. TTIP?
2. Beyond Schadenfreude, the Spectacular Pundit Failure
     on Trump Is Worth Remembering

3. "Slickest Con Man Out of NYC": Donald Trump Set to Be
     GOP Nominee

4.
I Don’t Know What Lies Behind the Door of a Trump
     Presidency. Do You?

5. In This Passionate Anti-Fracking Town, Civil
     Disobedience Just Became Protected Civic Duty

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 5, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 combines two articles on TTIP with a repeat of an explanation I made (several times also); item 2 is about a nice article by Glenn Greenwald on the very many failures who
predicted Trump would fail; item 3 is in fact about Trump's many mafia connections; item 4 is about a fairly stupid if probably well-intentioned article; while item 5 is about some help to people who want to ban fracking (but it is only by one quite small community).

1. R.I.P. TTIP?

The first item is
by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:
I do not follow this by my usual "This starts as follows", because I had saved - typed over, copied mechanically, by hand, because The Guardian does not want people like me to discuss their daily news [1] - a quotation from Trevor Timm
in yesterday's Guardian that is quite clear.

Here it is:
(..) the Independent summed it up nicely: "The documents show that US corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in the future. If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits."

Yes, indeed. And my addition to that, yesterday, was as follows:

This only misses the following clarifying addition:

And that is neofascism. Wished upon you by many of your current politicians.

You may disbelieve this. Here is part of my argument of April 29 last, where I used it to also style "neoliberalism", which is mostly the propaganda version of the same, as shown:

Here is a point by point outline of "neoliberalism":

  • neoliberalism is against the state and governments: it objects to their laws, and insists these restrain personal freedoms (including those of the rich and the powerful to do as they please, without any legal restrictions whatsoever);
  • neoliberalism sees only one source of freedom: the freedoms delivered by the markets, which give consumers the right to choose from 32 different kinds of bagels or 40 kinds of car;
  • neoliberalism insists that taxes are bad and should be minimal; that all legal regulations should be minimal; and that public services should be privatized (so that people can make a profit from "caring for the poor and the ill and the mad");
  • neoliberalism is against trade unions, labor organizations or collective bargaining: all of these destroy the liberties of the rich (in their opinion);
  • neoliberalism insists that all inequalities are fair and deserved, and should be furthered, and promises that the riches given to the few (e.g. by cutting their taxes) will "trickle down to the many" (which is a lie);
  • neoliberalism insist that only the markets and only profits will deliver whatever is fair for anyone, and that poverty is a just punishment for laziness, and that whoever is poor owes it to themselves.
In other words, neoliberalism is the ideology of the rich careerists, the immoral profiteers, the sadistic exploiters, and the egoistic and greedy speculators, and indeed a far better term for it then "neoliberalism" or even "neoconservatism" is neofascism:

Neoliberalism = Neofascism

Fundamentally it is an ideology of the rich and of careerists who would like to be extremely rich, and who disregard or damn all legal or moral restraints on their desires and their decisions to make them rich. It is a kind of fascism, because it explicitly sides with the rich against everybody else, and because it denies all morality and all moral restraints in the fights ("the competition") for a greater size of the markets and for a greater net profits. Besides, it denies the values of democracy, equality, science and freedom for all (rather than just the freedom of the rich and their lawyers to do as they please: these "freedoms" are much admired and much craved by the "neoliberals").

It is an ideology of the rich for the rich, that pretends to be for "liberty for all" in order to make the rich as free as possible, while damning everybody else as lazy loosers, and taking away as many as possible of their remaining rights.

Next, to start with Don Quijones article, it's start is basically the same as Trevor Timm's quote that I started with:

TTIP, the once super-secret transatlantic trade deal that is now broadly despised on both sides of the Atlantic, may not be alive yet but it could soon be dead. And all thanks to leaks which confirm a longstanding suspicion in Europe that the ultimate goal of TTIP is to pry open European markets for big U.S. corporations, with little offered in the way of reciprocity.

The UK Independent reports that the 248 pages of documents released by Greenpeace show that the “hated” deal would grant US corporations “unprecedented powers” over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in the future:

If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits.

It is iron-clad confirmation that many of our biggest fears were well-founded. At long last the treaty that should not be named is being exposed to the harsh light of day, all its darkest intentions splashed across the front pages of Europe’s biggest selling newspapers.

Yes and no, in fact, although the article is recommended:

Yes, it would do all these things, but no: it is even worse (as far as I know the TTIP can also undo all the changes that have made Europe different from the USA, again on the ground that these changes limited the expected profits from American multi-national corporations) and it really is an explicit extremely gross neofascistic bill that tries to impose the supremacy of American CEOs of American companies over virtually every legal, human, parliamentary approved decision of the inhabitants of Europe.

It is plain, sick neofascism; it clearly wants to undo all the rules that limit corporate profit-making; and it clearly wants the European populations to repay American multi-national corporations anything they might have less than the expected profits they planned.

It is totally unfair sick and insane degeneracy that will only help the rich 1%.

And no: This is extremely dangerous until it is definitely flushed down the toilet, and part of the dangers is that one cannot trust any professional European politician who is pro the EU: They probably have been bought by rich Americans to defraud their own populations.

Here is some more from the R.I.P. article:

Here’s a check list of other widely held fears that appear to have been confirmed in the last two days:

  • TTIP would represent a direct threat to the existence of public health services in Europe — CHECK
  • If TTIP is signed, taking proactive steps to protect the environment would be much harder on both sides of the Atlantic — CHECK
  • TTIP would almost certainly spell the end of the precautionary principle in Europe, which will be replaced by weaker, corporate-friendlier standards — CHECK
  • It would also represent the final victory of Monsanto & Friends, which have faced massive public resistance in Europe and have struggled to overcome many European lawmakers’ aversion to granting their GMO seeds blanket approval for European markets — CHECK
  • TTIP would accelerate data flows between the U.S. and Europe, with seemingly little in the way of data protection. Like TPP, it would also lead to much stricter rules on encryption and much stiffer enforcement of intellectual property rules, with serious implications for internet rights and access to medicines — CHECK
  • The trade deal would almost certainly sound the death knell of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) “General Exceptions” rule (which allows nations to regulate trade “to protect human, animal and plant life or health” or for “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources). The rule did not even merit a mention in the leaked text.
Most importantly, TTIP, together with its sister deals TPP, CETA and TiSA, would — as I warned in the 2013 article “The Global Corporatocracy is Almost Fully Operational” — usher in a whole new era of corporate dominance that would put the current one to shame.
And this is also good (and there is a considerable amount more):
Also, as Nick Drearden of Global Justice Now warns, a system is already in place in Europe for trade deals to come into effect even without a vote in member parliaments:

Under something known as ‘provisional implementation’, CETA could take effect in Britain early next year without a parliamentary vote here. In fact, even if the British parliament voted CETA down, the corporate court system would still stay in effect for 3 years!

It is for this reason, together with the Commission’s brazen disdain for democratic process, it’s probably too early yet to begin writing TTIP’s obituary. TTIP, like CETA and TPP, have an enormous amount of political — and financial — capital behind them. For TTIP’s supporters failure is not an option, especially after so many years of tireless scheming in (to quote The Independent) “fanatical secrecy.”
Yes, indeed. And this is a recommended article.

2. Beyond Schadenfreude, the Spectacular Pundit Failure on Trump Is Worth Remembering

The second item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

I will start this item also a bit differently, namely by saying that I have been waiting for a while on an article like this one, precisely because I have seen many extremely confident pundits (whose extreme confidence was purely synthetic and founded on very little), repeat and repeat that Donald Trump would not make it.

Also, I am very sure that I saw only a tiny bit of these confidence men and women on American TV, while Glenn Greenwald at least saw considerably more than I did (because I am not American, I don't have a TV since 46 years, and don't like propaganda, advertisements and bullshit at all).

Here is Glenn Greenwald's start:

Trying to predict the future can be fun, which is why — from office sports pools to stock market speculation — many do it. Generally, though, people make such predictions with at least some humility: with the knowledge that they do not actually know what the future holds.

But not America’s beloved political pundits. When they pronounce what the future has in store for us, it comes in the form of definitive decrees, shaped with the tone of authoritative certainty. With a few exceptions, those who purported to see the future of the 2016 GOP nomination process spent many months categorically assuring everyone that, polls notwithstanding, Donald Trump simply could not, would not, become the GOP nominee; one could spend all day posting humiliating examples, so a representative sampling will have to suffice:

At this point, you are being served 14 "humiliating examples" that I will leave all to your interests, and you can see them all by clicking the above link. No doubt there are hundreds or thousands more.

Here I will only consider three more general points Glenn Greenwald gives about these heaps of - I am sorry but it simply is true - blatant journalistic rot.

The first one is completely right:

First, ponder the vast amount of journalistic energies and resources devoted to trying to predict election outcomes. What value does that serve anyone? The elections are going to be held and the outcome will be known once the votes are counted. Why would journalists decide that it’s important for the public to hear their guesses about who will win and lose?
Yes, indeed - and here are my answers: There is no value whatsoever in any journalist's predictions of election outcomes - but thousands of journalists write them nevertheless, because it all is so extremely easy, and because all these
confident predictions will tend to disappear from any public knowledge if they
are wrong, indeed with the exception of Donald Trump's demise, at least now.

Then there is this:
Second, pundits who issued such definitive, hubristic certainties — that turned out to be totally, fundamentally wrong — owe some self-accounting and a serious self-analysis about how and why they went so wrong.
Perhaps. But I tend to believe that most of them - in the main media, at least - are professional liars anyway, and that is also why they did write and publish their confident lies about Trump's demise: It was all so very easy to do, and few if any expected to be taken up on their blatantly false predictions.

Finally, there is this third point:

Third, there are — and we’re far from the first ones to note this — some serious problems in political journalism reflected by this insistent, pervasive belief that Trump could not possibly win (the belief that Clinton would waltz to the nomination without any serious challenge reflects a similar problem).
Yes, and both predictions seem false now. I will not consider the "serious problems in political journalism" here and now (I did this before, also) but
I do want to register two things that most journalists never state:

(1) The majority of the American voters is stupid and ignorant (and half
     of them has an IQ under 100), and also
(2) they are more stupid and more ignorant than the European voters,
     in considerable part because of religion and racism.

I am sorry that I have to make these points explicitly, but both are quite
true
, and both are - to the best of my knowledge - only explicitly stated (among  prominent public figures) by Bill Maher. (<- This is a recent video with him, explaining why most Americans are stupid.)

3.  "Slickest Con Man Out of NYC": Donald Trump Set to Be GOP Nominee

The third item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González:

This starts as follows:

As Donald Trump virtually clinches the Republican presidential nomination after Senator Ted Cruz suspends his campaign following a devastating defeat in the Indiana primary, we are joined by Tom Robbins, investigative journalist in residence at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who has reported on Trump’s history of close relationships with organized crime figures in the United States.

I should note that this article was written before Kasich also got out of the presidential race, and I suppose that currently most people, and certainly
Donald Trump, think Trump has won
the Republican presidential nomination.

Here is one bit by Tom Robbins:

TOM ROBBINS: (..) Who would have thunk it? Right? I mean, you have the slickest con man out of New York City, and has just been basically made the Republican nominee by the Hoosiers of Middle America. It’s an astonishing thing. And I guess it goes to show that the Republicans have just as little idea as to who their base is as the Democrats.

There is a lot more in the article, but (i) it is mostly about Trump's past, and (ii) maybe Tom Robbins is less explicit than he might have been. But in any case, he does describe Trump as "the slickest con man out of New York City", while most of his other material suggests Trump has many ties with the mafia.

I am not - at all - amazed, but I leave this to your interests.

4. I Don’t Know What Lies Behind the Door of a Trump Presidency. Do You?

The fourth item is
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows

Dear Liberal Friends,

Is Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primary really so surprising? The party has been constituting itself according to our species’ worst impulses for decades, and by the light of our culture, Trump is a logical successor to what came before. Yes, we have to “stop” him. But it is far from certain that this means we must support Clinton, who through her policies may have ruined, degraded and destroyed far more lives than he has, as journalists and scholars have reported for more than a decade.

I’m struck that many of you have succumbed to the idea of Clinton’s inevitability. Why are you not instead doing all you can to get Bernie Sanders nominated and elected?
O well... I do meanwhile know that Alexander Reed Kelly is - hm - not among the brightest people I have read, though he probably means well. But this is quite disingenuous:

Trump's success was not predicted by many; he also is not "a logical successor to what came before him", for the simple reason that he is not a real conservative; and while I agree one must support Bernie Sanders till the end, there is no explicit consideration of the following values at all:

For genuine progressives and liberals, this is the situation:
Bernie Sanders is much better than Hillary Clinton
who is much better than Donald Trump.
All you need is some real information on what they are for or against. And no, you do not need to like Hillary Clinton at all (I don't, either) to see that the
above valuation is correct (and of course: supposing you are a liberal or a progressive).

Here is some more from Kelly:
The progressive champion Ralph Nader is often disparaged for having suggested, around the start of George W. Bush’s stolen presidency, that conditions in our society must worsen before they can get better. I’m not sure he’s right either.
Really now? The final bit I'll quote is this:
I honestly don’t know what lies behind the door of a Trump presidency. Do you?
(...)
On the other hand, we have two-and-a-half decades worth of reasons to fear what a new Clinton presidency may bring: yet more breaks for the powerful and the rich, whose stupid, persistent habit is to consolidate misery and frustration for their fellow citizens; another decade of lost earnings and debt for my generation and the one that comes next; and the likely chronic grimness of millions of older Americans who will have every reason to suspect they won’t escape this madhouse in what remains of their lives.
As to the first two statements:

This also was the reasoning behind many average well-behaved solid-thinking probably rather nice and kind Germans in 1932,  who said to each other "
I honestly don’t know what lies behind the door of a Hitler presidency. Do you?" [2]

And as to Hillary Clinton: I don't like her; I think she works for the American big banks, who also made her a millionaire; I think she is far too hawkish, and there is lots more I can say in criticism, but also - speaking as a psychologist -
she is not insane, and she knows a lot about American government. In contrast,
I think Donald Trump is probably not sane; is totally unpredictable; has hardly any knowledge of government or foreign policy; and is far too temperamental and vindictive to be president of the most powerful nation on earth.

But OK... I am being reasonable and rational, and that is very much a minority
position. (And see [2].) Here is my brief diagnosis:

If you don't know now whether Hitler made a good president of Germany in the 1930ies, vote Trump on the same reasoning, if he is presidential candiate; otherwise do not.

Many of America's vastly undereducated voters may agree...(and vote Trump: for what do they know about Hitler?
And see [2].)
5. In This Passionate Anti-Fracking Town, Civil Disobedience Just Became Protected Civic Duty

The fifth item is
by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

For one community attempting to stop fracking wastewater injection wells, civil disobedience just became a sanctioned civic right.

The community is Grant Township, Pa., which, in November 2015, had fought off the Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), assertion that fossil fuel companies had a 'right' to inject wastewater by adopting the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights codifying environmental and democratic rights.

I agree this is somewhat good news, and repeated the second paragraph to have the community identified, and some abbreviations explicated, but it might have been added that according to Wikipedia, Grant Township had 696 people in 175 families, spread over 27 square miles (70 km²), in the year 2000. I don't think the population grew very much since.

Here is what the township did:

But facing ongoing litigation with PGE, the township has taken another creative approach to protect itself by passing a new ordinance on Tuesday that protects those taking direct action to uphold the charter from arrest. According to a press release from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), which has helped the township craft its charter and wage its legal battle:

If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, "any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action." Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, "prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action."

I agree, and while I think the last bit was once covered by the Bill of Rights,
that Bill seems to have diminished much in practical value because it has
been undermined by "legislation" like the Patriot Act (and later ones), so this
addition that nonviolent action is permitted does seem reasonable.

Here is someone who thinks the same:

Among those expressing support for the ordinance is noted climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who said, "I’m encouraged to see an entire community and its elected officials asserting their rights to defend their community from the assaults of the fossil fuel industry."

He took to Twitter to praise the move as well, calling it "one of the boldest moves to stop the natural gas industry's attacks on our communities, climate and democracy."

Yes, perhaps  - but again, this concerns around 700 persons, so far,  and
27  square miles of territory. It  is something, but it is not much.

--------------------------
Notes
[1] Because they made The Guardian impossible to copy. The same happened recently to Slate. I am firmly against it, for these measures make it impossible to discuss the daily news without adding a whole lot of totally unnecessary work.

[2] While in fact there were many reasons to be firmly against Hitler, but it is true very few ordinary non-political Germans of 1930-1932 did know these reasons.

In this connection, here is a quotation from George Orwell's "London Letter to Partisan Review" of June 1945 (and there are quite a few similar statements by Orwell):
A thing that has much struck me in recent years is that the most enormous crimes and disasters - purges, deportations, wars, broken treaties - not only fail to excite the big public, but can actually escape notice altogether, so long as they do not happen to fit in with the political mood of the moment. Thus it is possible now to rouse a certain amount of indignation about Dachau, Buchenwald, etc., and yet before the war it was impossible to get the average person to take the faintest interest in such things, although the most horrible facts had had abundant publicity. If you could have taken a Gallup poll in 1939 I imagine you would have found that a majority, or at least a very big minority, of adult English people had not even heard of the existence of German concentration camps. The whole thing had slid off their consciousness, since it was not what they then wanted to hear.
-- Orwell, "The Collected Essays" etc. Vol 3, p. 433
    (Penguin, 1968)

The point to quote this is - among other things - that this is true; it is still true; and it explains why so many did not know, what they could have easily known: not because they never heard it, but simply because they were uninterested in knowing it and uinterested in remembering it.
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