Jun 17, 2016

Crisis: Trump & Republicans, & Predecessors, & Business Tactics, Pentagon
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2. Trump, His Virus, and the Dark Age of Unreason
3. How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Casinos, Left
     Contractors Unpaid, Ruined Investors & Made Millions

4. The Pentagon’s Real Strategy: Keeping the Money


This is a Nederlog of Friday, June 17, 2016.

This is a crisis log. It may be a bit special, in that it contains three articles on Donald Trump, but I like the articles and I think Donald Trump is a very dangerous lunatic (as seems also the opinion of the writers of the articles, even though they don't say it quite [1]), so here are the articles on Trump's qualities and qualifications:

item 1 is by Robert Reich and gives a nice summary of eight reasons why the Republicans should dump Trump; item 2 is by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship and compares him to previous political madmen in the USA, and notably to Joseph McCarthy; item 3 is by Amy Goodman and details how Trump makes money: by bankrupting his casinos (4 times in a row); while item 4 is not about Trump but about the Pentagon, and gives the Pentagon's real strategy: Getting as much of the American taxpayers' money as they can for themselves.

And before starting on the articles, I like to make one additional point on the political career of Donald Trump:

Those who are most to blame for the arisal of the Trump phenomenon
are not Trump and his band of racist and xenophobic dimwits but the main media, which have been almost completely changed and corrupted over the last 15 years, and these days mostly serve propaganda, deceptions and lies rather than the truth, because they are well-paid and are only interested in their own profits and welfare.

With a more or less decently functioning main media (and I don't mean: agreeable to me or my ideas or values; I simply mean media that ask good and honest questions and require truthful answers) the arisal of a man like Trump as the presumed presidential candidate for the Republicans would have been impossible.


The first item today is by Robert Reich on his site (without its own link, but OK...):

This has the following start, with eight reasons. I copy the start and the reasons, but not their explanatory texts: You can get these by clicking the above dotted link. The boldings and links are in the original text:

The Republican Party still has time to change its mind. Right now it’s supporting for President of the United States a man

1. who divides us by race and ethnicity and religion.
2. whose incendiary lies are inciting violence across this land, but he excuses them.
3. who bullies, humiliates, and threatens those who dare cross him.
4. who spreads baseless conspiracy theories.
5. whose hateful and demeaning attitudes toward women and boastful claims of sexual dominance have been filling the airwaves for years.
6. who believes climate change is not caused by humans, contrary to all scientific proof.
7. who proposes using torture against terrorists, and punishing their families, both in clear violation of international law.
8. who wants to cut taxes on the rich, giving the wealthiest one tenth of one percent an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million each every year - exploding the national debt and endangering the future of Social Security and Medicare.

This man is Donald Trump, and the Republican Party wants him to be President of the United States.

Quite so, and this is a strongly recommended and quite short piece, that also comes with a video that takes 5 minutes that is very well worth viewing:

I also think Robert Reich seems rather angry, but if so, that is quite justified.

Trump, His Virus, and the Dark Age of Unreason

This is by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Common Dreams (and elsewhere):
This starts as follows:

There’s a virus infecting our politics and right now it’s flourishing with a scarlet heat. It feeds on fear, paranoia and bigotry. All that was required for it to spread was a timely opportunity — and an opportunist with no scruples.

There have been stretches of history when this virus lay dormant. Sometimes it would flare up here and there, then fade away after a brief but fierce burst of fever. At other moments, it has spread with the speed of a firestorm, a pandemic consuming everything in its path, sucking away the oxygen of democracy and freedom.

Today its carrier is Donald Trump, but others came before him: narcissistic demagogues who lie and distort in pursuit of power and self-promotion. Bullies all, swaggering across the landscape with fistfuls of false promises, smears, innuendo and hatred for others, spite and spittle for anyone of a different race, faith, gender or nationality.

Yes, indeed: Trump certainly has quite a few predecessors in the USA, and Moyers and Winship proceed to list a few. I will skip that (it is worth reading) and only select one bit about one of the worst:

Which brings us back to Trump and the hotheaded, ego-swollen provocateur he most resembles: Joseph McCarthy, US senator from Wisconsin — until now perhaps our most destructive demagogue. In the 1950s, this madman terrorized and divided the nation with false or grossly exaggerated tales of treason and subversion — stirring the witches’ brew of anti-Communist hysteria with lies and manufactured accusations that ruined innocent people and their families. “I have here in my hand a list,” he would claim — a list of supposed Reds in the State Department or the military. No one knew whose names were there, nor would he say, but it was enough to shatter lives and careers.

Quite so, and there is considerably more on McCarthy, who indeed seems to have been mad - but he did not get to be the presidential candidate of his GOP, as Trump did succeed in becoming, unless he is stopped, although that requires courageous and principled Republicans, who seem very rare, these days.

The article ends thus and indeed answers the last point I just made:

No profiles in courage there.  But why should we expect otherwise? Their acquiescence, their years of kowtowing to extremism in the appeasement of their base, have allowed Trump and his nightmarish sideshow to steal into the tent and take over the circus. Alexander Pope once said that party spirit is at best the madness of the many for the gain of a few. A kind of infection, if you will — a virus that spreads through the body politic, contaminating all. Trump and his ilk would sweep the promise of America into the dustbin of history unless they are exposed now to the disinfectant of sunlight, the cleansing torch of truth. Nothing else can save us from the dark age of unreason that would arrive with the triumph of Donald Trump.

I quite agree and this is also a recommended article.

3. How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Casinos, Left Contractors Unpaid, Ruined Investors & Made Millions

This is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
A series of new investigative articles have revealed Donald Trump’s shady business dealings in Atlantic City, his failure to pay contracted workers over the years, and his decision to partake in what may amount to "calculated tax fraud"—a felony. We begin by looking at how Donald Trump bankrupted his Atlantic City casinos, but still earned millions. "Even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen," wrote Russ Buettner and Charles Bagli in The New York Times. They join us to discuss their piece (..)
This is from the introduction to the interview. I select just two bits from it.

Here is the first, on how Trump made money from going bankrupt four times with his casinos - and gaining money nevertheless, it seems essentially from forcing his investors to pay him while they take the losses:

RUSS BUETTNER: (..) I think the most surprising thing to me was the pattern that just repeated over and over again, which is him buying high, mortgaging even higher and then promising that everything was going to be wonderful, and the inevitable happens, that they run out of cash. The casinos can’t support the debt that he’s put on them. He’s able to get his investors to take a haircut, a big cut in the money they have coming. And then the pattern starts all over again.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean four times? Four times bankruptcy?

RUSS BUETTNER: Four times bankruptcy, yes, yes.

You might well ask how often it happens that a self-claimed brilliant or genius business-man like Donald Trump gets bankrupted four times and still survives, it seems also with considerable profits:

AMY GOODMAN: How unusual is it for a businessman to have four bankruptcies?

CHARLES BAGLI: Well, I think it’s somewhat unprecedented. And the idea that Wall Street continued to give him money—not once, not twice, three, four times—I mean, we were kind of holding onto our heads, when you look at the full record down in Atlantic City. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.
So it seems Trump is unique in this way as well (as a major bankrupt, whose
bankruptcies are paid by the banks and/or his investors).

This is also a recommended article.

4. The Pentagon’s Real Strategy: Keeping the Money Flowing

This is by Andrew Cockburn on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This last article today is not about Donald Trump but about the Pentagon, that
seems less interested in wars or in "defense" than it is in laying claim to as much taxpayers' money they can get:

After 15 years of grinding war with no obvious end in sight, U.S. military operations certainly deserve such obloquy. But the pundit outrage may be misplaced. Focusing on Washington rather than on distant war zones, it becomes clear that the military establishment does indeed have a strategy, a highly successful one, which is to protect and enhance its own prosperity.

Given this focus, creating and maintaining an effective fighting force becomes a secondary consideration, reflecting a relative disinterest—remarkable to outsiders—in the actual business of war, as opposed to the business of raking in dollars for the Pentagon and its industrial and political partners. A key element of the strategy involves seeding the military budget with “development” projects that require little initial outlay but which, down the line, grow irreversibly into massive, immensely profitable production contracts for our weapons-making cartels.

Yes, indeed: It's all about money, in the first place, money for the Pentagon and its generals. More specifically:

Meanwhile, ongoing and dramatic programs to invest vast sums in meaningless, useless, or superfluous weapons systems are the norm. There is no more striking example of this than current plans to rebuild the entire American arsenal of nuclear weapons in the coming decades, Obama’s staggering bequest to the budgets of his successors.

As I have said quite a few times since 2009: Obama is a very conscious fraud in the sense that all his messages to the public are meant to increase his personal reputation by phrasing what the public wants, whereas many of his real policies are the opposites of what the public wants. This is just another - major - example of this strategy of duplicity.

And in fact rebuilding "the entire American arsenal of nuclear weapons in the coming decades" is a complete waste of money, were it only because Soviet "socialism" is quite dead.

Then again, money for the generals and enormous profits for the war industries are what the Pentagon is really about:

The U.S. is currently in the process of planning for the construction of a new fleet of nuclear submarines loaded with new intercontinental nuclear missiles, while simultaneously creating a new land-based intercontinental missile, a new strategic nuclear bomber, a new land-and-sea-based tactical nuclear fighter plane, a new long-range nuclear cruise missile (which, as recently as 2010, the Obama administration explicitly promised not to develop), at least three nuclear warheads that are essentially new designs, and new fuses for existing warheads. In addition, new nuclear command-and- control systems are under development for a fleet of satellites (costing up to $1 billion each) designed to make the business of fighting a nuclear war more practical and manageable.  

This massive nuclear buildup, routinely promoted under the comforting rubric of “modernization,” stands in contrast to the president’s lofty public ruminations on the topic of nuclear weapons.

Thank you Obama for massively lying to the public and spending incredible amounts of money to satisfy the generals and the war industries!

The article ends as follows:
Faced with such boundlessly ambitious raids on the public purse, no one should claim a “lack of strategy” as a failing among our real policymakers, even if all that planning has little or nothing to do with distant war zones where Washington’s conflicts smolder relentlessly on. 
In brief: The Pentagon has a very successful strategy: It is to get as much money from the American tax payers as is possible, and to prevent this money gets invested in infrastructure, education, healthcare and other civilized ends, and instead gets invested in ever better and ever more expensive weapons.

This is also a recommended article.



[1] One reason they don't say it is that they did not study psychology or medicine. I have an excellent M.A. in psychology, and while I don't think that is a real science, I do think I learned a few things.

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