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Nederlog

May 31, 2016

Crisis: Capitalism & Fascism, Trump *2, Holder, Democrats, Bill Kristol
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Introduction

1. 
Capitalists of the World, Unite!
2. This Is an American Tragedy: Republicans Must Step
     Up and Defeat Donald Trump

3. 'Hypocrite' Holder Says Snowden Performed Important
     'Public Service'

4. Establishment Democrats Courting Disaster
5. Bill Kristol Announces That ‘There Will Be An
     Independent Candidate’ To Sabotage Donald Trump
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a quite interesting article about capitalism (with several precisifications by me); item 2 is by a supporter of Clinton who also thinks that the Republicans ought to get rid of Trump (and again I precisify some, and also disagree with some); item 3 is about Eric Holder, who still has opinions on Snowden (that I am not much inter- ested in, but I am interested in getting Holder in court, for not prosecuting the bankers); item 4 is mosty about Sanders vs Clinton (and I agree Hillary Clinton is - at least - a far less capable candidate than Bill); and item 5 is about an assurance by Republican Bill Kristol that there will be an independent candidate to make Trump fail in becoming the next US president.

1. Capitalists of the World, Unite!

The first item is by Mike Krauss on Truthdig and originally on mikekrauss.  blogspot:
This starts as follows:

The other night I watched The Greatest Cable News Program That Absolutely Ever Was. The host was extolling the virtues of capitalism, repeating the claims you can read in The Economist or Wall Street Journal; that capitalism has lifted many millions out of poverty world wide.

The same broadcast also reported that most Americans “could not lay their hands on $1,000” in an emergency. That figure may be on the high side. Other published reports put it at $400, including what may be available on a credit card.

The program host missed the contradiction. You can’t be a capitalist without capital. The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t have any, and are completely excluded from the “benefits” of the capitalist system he extolled.

First one or two reasons why I review this item:

Mike Krauss sounds in some ways like my father (who was both a sincere and intelligent communist and a social revolutionary from 1935 till 1980, when he died), and he also mostly has his (quite classical, leftist) ideas about capita- lism and fascism more or less correctly.

And next, as to the above first quotation: Yes, that is mostly true but "the capitalist system" is not only about (not) having a lot of money, for it is also about laws, politics, values and ideologies (at least) - as indeed very many Americans may find out if Trump gets elected president.

Then there is this:

Capitalism is not a form of government. It is a system of wealth management. It does not create wealth, but only allocates it. It is indifferent to the welfare of people. It has no social purpose. Private profit is everything.

Over several decades, as millions in Asia and elsewhere have seen living standards rise, tens of millions of Americans have seen theirs fall dramatically – low wages, and lost jobs – in a massive re-allocation of wealth abroad from the once large and prosperous American middle class.

Again yes and no: Capitalism is a set of values and an ideology about what society should be like that has been accepted for over a hundred years now (in "the West") in its more or less present shape, and these values and their associated ideology have been incorporated in laws and in politics.

But there are several possible ideologies and systems of basic values for capitalism, and to say that it is "indifferent to the welfare of people. It has no social purpose. Private profit is everything" is true only of an extreme form of capitalism, that indeed grew dominant since Reagan and Thatcher, but was not there to the same extent and in the same form before they got political prominence.

Then there is this:

In order to mask the growing poverty in America, the capitalists introduced massive credit, debt and propaganda to sustain the illusion of prosperity among enough Americans to head off a revolt against an economic system that clearly no longer works for them.

Americans are now drowning in debt: families, students, businesses, state and local governments and school districts.

Yes, indeed - and incidentally, these enormous debts are also a means to keep the population down.

And here we get to why Mike Krauss reminds me of my father:

In order to form and protect monopolies, capitalists must dominate governments. These monopolies were once national in scope. Now they are global. The form of government that capitalists have always favored is fascism – the integration and primacy of corporate interests in the government, for which the military is an agent.

Think Nazi Germany. Its purpose was not military domination or even control of individual liberty. These were incidental to the first purpose: the global primacy of German corporations and the German 1 percent.

This is - to be sure - more simple-minded than my father's analysis (who was very intelligent but not well educated, but who knew a lot of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, which he also had to teach for nearly 20 years to all members of the Communist Party in Amsterdam [1]), but this is more or less as he told me, in my teens (and before).

And there is this, which needs an addition or introduction that says something
like:

When the bankers and their politicians had finally succeeded in deregulating capitalism under Reagan and (especially) Clinton, they could export their industries from the United States to much cheaper countries (in terms of wages), with the following effects:

As the accumulated wealth of the American middle class was re-allocated abroad by the capitalist system, the capitalists began the drive to eliminate the drag on profits of global competition by consolidating into global monopolies.

That is the purpose of the Trans Pacific and Trans Atlantic “trade” deals promoted by U.S. President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron and the global cartel of banksters they represent, who provide the financing (debt) to enable the capitalists to compensate each other for lost future profits when one is aggregated into a new and larger monopoly by another.

The article ends like this:

Capitalists of the world unite! The fascist future is in reach.

Yes indeed - and it may be added that they worked at least 35 years to get to the position in which the very few rich could claim they owe nearly everything, and indeed now they seem to be able to change all existing laws and all existing politics and policies into a much harsher fascist system that almost only serves the rich (of course, always in the name of "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!").

And I agree with Krauss that the main political threat in the West these days (and since Bush Jr., at the latest) is the introduction of a neofascistic state, government, laws, and policies, which will probably lead to the  manifold repressions of everyone who publicly objects if Trump gets to be president of the USA.

2. This Is an American Tragedy: Republicans Must Step Up and Defeat Donald Trump

The second item is by Seán Patrick Donlan on Salon:
This has a subtitle, which I will quote:
It's time for honest Republicans to speak out against this dangerous, unprincipled vulgarian. Who has the courage?
Only a few, it turns out. I must admit I am not amazed, because I think I know since some 45 years that (i) ordinary people are considerably more totalitarian than they let on (in times of democracy and welfare) and (ii)
the people who are seriously interested in politics tend to be more totali-
tarian than ordinary people (in almost every party of any orientation, also).

Then again, while I may agree with Mr. Donlan's estimate of Donald Trump
(yes he is - among other things - a "
dangerous, unprincipled vulgarian") I disagree with his admiration for Hillary Clinton.

But in the following he is somewhat reasonable:

Trump is not merely a Republican dilemma, but an American tragedy. Ideally, conservatives would acknowledge their role in enabling his candidacy, in moving the boundaries of acceptable rhetoric so far from reason that he can lie indiscriminately without fear of correction by journalists anxious for their next story. But more immediately, Republicans must find ways to defend their principles without capitulation to a vulgarian seemingly without principles of any sort.
I agree that many more Republicans than Donald Trump degenerated their political speech, but I also think the reason that they were successful is mostly the fault of the journalists and/or their editors, who no longer, in the main media at least, try to get at the facts or the truth, but mostly try to deceive their public that the propaganda they bring is "news".

And there is this, which is correct:

Honest conservatives appreciate the real differences between Clinton and Trump. As conservative writer PJ O’Rourke said on NPR, “Clinton is the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she’s way behind in second place. She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.” As he suggests, Trump is something else, something relatively new to American politics, and something to be feared. At stake is both the soul of the GOP and the collective civility of American political discourse.
O'Rourke is right [2], and indeed if I were asked to brand Trump with an adjective as he brands his opponents: The lunatic Trump. For someone who says and claims what he says and claims only can be a real lunatic. [3]

Indeed, I am not by far the only one. Here is a quotation about and by Republican Bobby Jindal (<- Wikipedia) who

made fun of Trump, called him names, and all-but-laughed at him in a performance reminiscent of the way Trump himself has mocked the rest of the GOP field.

“Narcissist,” “egomaniac,” “absurd,” “a carnival act,” “insecure,” “weak,” “dangerous,” “unstable,” “unserious,” “shallow,” “hothead,” “small,” “substance-free,” “power-hungry shark,” “egomaniacal madman”: Those were just a few of the names Jindal called Trump in his 10 minute speech …. “I want to say what everyone is thinking about Donald Trump but afraid to say,” Jindal said. “Everybody knows this is true.”

Then again I must also admit that by May 3 last, Republican Jindal decided that he too would prefer his party to his country, and that he too would support the “absurd egomaniac, dangerous, unstable, unserious, egomaniacal madman and Narcissist" that is Donald Trump.

I say... (and that was - also - an illustration of the strenght of principle, the honesty and the personal character and courage of Republican former candidates for the presidency).

3. 'Hypocrite' Holder Says Snowden Performed Important 'Public Service'

The third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Though he acknowledged that Edward Snowden did indeed perform a "public service" by starting a national conversation about government surveillance, former Attorney General Eric Holder still insists that the NSA whistleblower should be prosecuted for supposedly "harming American interests."

"We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made," Holder told David Axelrod in an interview on CNN's "The Axe Files," which was published on Monday.

I say. And this from the criminal who refused to do - already in 1999! - anything against the criminal acts of the very rich and very powerful American bankers. [4]

Holder's comments come one week after a former Department of Defense official revealed that the Pentagon has deliberately harassed and silenced whistleblowers who attempted to raise concerns through the proper channels—information which, for many, validated Snowden's decision to go public with his leak.

Many advocates said Holder's remarks were "hypocritical" given the extreme number of whistleblowers that were prosecuted during his tenure.

In fact, the Department of Defense official is John Crane, who did a good interview on Democracy Now! that I reviewed on May 24, last.

4. Establishment Democrats Courting Disaster

The fourth item is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:

This lists several myths with which "well-meaning", "honest", journalist "friends" of Bernie Sanders (very prominent in The Guardian, but also elsewhere) have tried to destroy his candidacy.

Here is one of them:

Myth #1: Sanders can’t win and his supporters can’t “do the math.” In an attempt to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, the entire Establishment is declaring the race to be over. A typical slant used by pundits, the Party elite, the corporate media and the rest of the confederacy of dunces that has opposed Sanders from the start is that Sanders supporters “can’t do the math.”  To hear them tell it, he’s been
mathematically eliminated, or he has “no pathway to victory” and holding on is just hurting Hillary’s attempts to beat Trump.


Here’s the reality: Sanders needs 885 delegates to get the nomination; Hillary needs 613; there are 930 delegates remaining to be won and it is unlikely that either candidate can clinch the nomination without the aid of superdelegates. Meanwhile, Sanders is surging, while Hillary is self-destructing, so many of those superdelegates may be rethinking their commitment to Hillary. And if they aren’t, they ought to be.

I completely agree - and it is the "confederacy of dunces" that can't do the math and who are willing to lie in every way that serves their own interests, and those of the few very rich.

I skip a myth and arrive at number three:

Myth #3: Sanders needs to drop out; Hillary will do better when she can focus on Trump.  If Sanders’ numbers make him bulletproof, Hillary’s make her a sitting duck. A wounded sitting duck. She has a high net unfavorable rating, and she’s even more distrusted than Trump in some polls, so political attack ads will land on fertile ground. 

Her unfavorability and distrust issues are not just the result of the decades long assault on her by what she calls the “vast, right-wing conspiracy,” although that’s certainly real enough.  No, Hillary’s problem is that she’s a lousy candidate. In fact, in both 2008 and this year, she got less popular as soon as she began to campaign for the Presidency.
I think John Atcheson may be correct on Hillary Clinton's being a lousy candidate. I don't know how she would appear if her opponent was not
Trump but McCain or Romney, but I do know she mostly lacks the talents
that made Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presidents
: A great amount of - fundamentally very false and very dishonest - charm, and flair, and ready wit, and good command of language, in talking to the press or to supporters. She can't dissemble well enough, and even her laughter sounds (and is, undoubtedly) quite unnatural.

I don't know about the last part I'll quote:

Trump can only win if voter turnout is low, and Hillary Clinton all but guarantees a low turnout.

It doesn’t help that she has a history of lying, then doubling down on her lies when caught – something she’s doing again with the IG’s report on the emails.

The closer we get to the Convention, the clearer it is that Sanders is a far better candidate in the general election.

The main reason I don't know is that I am not convinced that "Trump can only win if voter turnout is low" - and I don't know how Atcheson can know this.

But I agree Sanders is the far better presidential candidate than Clinton.

5. Bill Kristol Announces That ‘There Will Be An Independent Candidate’ To Sabotage Donald Trump

The fifth item is by Michael Snyder on Washington's Blog and originally on the Economic Collapse Blog:

This starts as follows:
It has long been my contention that the elite are more than willing to do whatever they have to do to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.  There are many forms that this could take, and one potential option just became a little bit clearer.  On Sunday, the founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, announced on Twitter that there “will be an independent candidate–an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.”  Kristol has very, very deep ties to the Republican elite, and so this is certainly not an idle threat.
I say. In fact, I don't know what "the elite" in the USA is going to do about Trump, and indeed I don't even know who or what Snyder understands by "the elite". This doesn't mean he may not be right; it merely means that I haven't
seen the evidence.

As to Bill Kristol: This is the Wikipedia-lemma on him, and while I don't like him at all, I agree that (i) he "
has very, very deep ties to the Republican elite" and (ii) he is right that Trump should be stopped.

According to Snyder, this is the plan:

Of course Kristol and the others that he is working with know precisely what they are doing.

There is no way in the world that Romney, Sasse, Kasich or Cuban could win.  But that wouldn’t be the goal anyway.  The goal would simply be to deny five or ten percent of the vote to Trump so that Hillary would win in a landslide.

At one time it seemed like such sabotage would not be necessary, but now polls have begun to shift and the elite are beginning to panic.
Hm. Again I don't know who are what Snyder understands by "the elite" [5], while I deny that Kristol etc. "know precisely what they are doing": People in
real politics rarely
"know precisely what they are doing" (and besides, Trump
is extremely unpredictable).

Then again, this is a quite interesting possibility: An alternative Republican candidate that is meant to derail Trump and get Clinton elected.

----------------------------------------------------------
Notes

[1] In fact he was (Dutch) "scholingsleider" in Amsterdam (which had by far the largest number of communists in Holland) from 1951-1969. The Dutch term means something like "leader of education" (in the principles of Marxism- Leninism).

[2] This must have cost P.J. O'Rourke considerable trouble (I guess) for he was for many years a strong Republican, who wrote books (that were rather popular) with titles like "Republican Party Reptile", which was meant as a - rather sarcastic - self-description. And I agree he is right, at least about the fact that Trump is beyond all ordinary parameters, simply because he is a nut. (In case you don't think so, see the next note.)

[3] As I have said several times: I am a psychologist, and I do not think Trump is sane: one who talks like Trump does cannot be sane. In case you doubt my qualifications (you may), read the rest of this item.

[4] Yes, Eric Holden filed his candidacy for Attorney Generalship (Head of the Ministry of Justice) in 1999, when he wrote that he would not prosecute the managers of big banks, simply because - he thought - "they are too big to fail". And I think that was - quite intentionally also - the formulation of a criminal end for an Attorney General, which he did reach under Obama, when he also did as he had promised in 1999.

[5] This is - anyway - a quite vague term, especially because "the (real) elite" may not at all coincide with "the (social) elite", that is a lot easier to identify, and generally consists of the leaders in politics, the economy, and perhaps some other fields, like religion and law (but both of these last two items are farther removed from real social power than political and economical leaders).

If we are talking about
"the (real) elite" I think that what it tends to mean are the top of the very rich who also come from families of the very rich, and who are in their forties or fifties or older. Also, "the (real) elite" generally does not
participate in politics or in economy in the foreground, but they are, if active,
rather active at private meetings and conferences of their likes.


Also, most are not widely known for their elitist activities, and indeed the closest estimates that I heard about "persons belonging to the real elite" are estimates for Holland (of several decades ago) that it was in fact mostly ruled (indirectly) by 200 persons from the real elite, and for the USA, in 2004, by George Carlin, that there are some 800-900 of the very rich who make up those who
mostly rule (again indirectly) the USA.

I know none of this is precise, but as I said:
"the (real) elite" is a vague term, that is difficult to precisify, because most of the activities of the real elite are kept secret, hidden, and in the background.

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