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Nederlog

Jun 29, 2016

Crisis: Rigged Economy, Brexit, Neocons, American Patriotisms, Fourth Amendment
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Introduction

1.
7 in 10 Americans Believe the Economy Is Rigged
2.
A Progressive American in London: My Thoughts on
    
Brexit and the Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
3.
Trading Places: Neocons and Cockroaches
4. The Choice of Patriotism
5. ‘We the Prisoners’: The Demise of the Fourth
     Amendment

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the fact (which I think is correct) that 7 out of 10 Americans believe the economy is rigged; item 2 is about England, Brexit and Corbyn (and I disagree with the analysis of Labour); item 3 is about a somewhat lame opposition of cockroaches and humans, but I infer that democracy is basically dead, in the USA, with its corrupt main media; item 4 is about an article by Robert Reich on patriotism (which I personally completely lack, but I am not an American); and item 5 is about the destruction of the Fourth Amendment.

And here is a brief remark on the crisis series and the article on fascism I am writing: The crisis series mostly continued (so far), mostly because I start every morning with reading over 30 websites (anyway), and I have the habit of writing, while the article on fascism is mostly done, but is now waiting for some inspiration.

1
.
7 in 10 Americans Believe the Economy Is Rigged

The first item today is by Nika Knight on Truthdig and originally on Common
Dreams:

This starts as follows (and is here mostly because of the title):

A new Marketplace-Edison Research poll published Tuesday found that a full 71 percent of respondents agree that the economy is rigged, affirming the popular rhetoric of the current presidential campaign season.

The majority opinion held firm across ethnicity, class, age, and gender differences. A whopping 83 percent of African Americans polled agreed that the economy is rigged, and 80 percent of people ages 18-24 also held that opinion.

The poll, which has been tracking rising economic anxiety, discovered that most Americans agree that the economy was better for their parents’ generation and believe that the economy will be worse for the next generation.

This is interesting, simply because 7 out of 10 Americans "across ethnicity, class, age, and gender differences" believe their economy is rigged. I agree, but I did not know this belief is as widespread as that.

Here is some more:

The poll found that nearly one-quarter of respondents hadn’t taken a single vacation for over five years, while nearly 50 percent also confirmed fearing that they might lose their job within the next 12 months.

Moreover, 71 percent said they were afraid of an unexpected medical bill and 53 percent feared being unable to make a mortgage payment. Of renters, 60 percent fear being unable to pay rent.

Nearly one-third told the pollsters that they are losing sleep over their financial situation.

Actually, that is worse than my own situation - and my own situation is one who has all of 96% of the minimal pension everyone receives in Holland. This means that I am worse off than almost anyone else of my age who is Dutch, for these normally have 100% plus money that was set apart for their pension when they worked.

It's true that I did not have a holiday since 1981 (a mere 35 years) but then I have been ill all the time. But I am not afraid of medical bills, nor am I afraid I can't pay the rent, nor do I loose sleep over my financial situation.

I say! (This blissful situation - for me - may not last, of course, but it is the case now.)

2. A Progressive American in London: My Thoughts on
Brexit and the Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn

The second item is by Natasha Hakimi on Truthdig:
This is from near the beginning (and from three pages):
Like many at the rally, I asked myself how the Labour leader had become the headline in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, a public vote on whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union or leave it. (As the world knows by now, the Leaves had it.) To me it seemed that the decision had given progressives like Corbyn the opportunity to push a leftist agenda as the Conservative government crumbled. It’s been clear since he was elected in a landslide less than a year ago that many centrist and right-wing Labour politicians were unhappy with the socialist leading the party. And yet, I had assumed now would be the time for Labour to unite behind him and deal with the “catastrophe” the Tories had set in motion with the EU referendum, especially as the threat from the xenophobic far right gained traction. But just as I had been wrong in my prediction of the Brexit vote results (as had been the polls, politicians and pretty much everyone), I was wrong about Labour.
I was wrong about the Brexit vote but not about Corbyn, and my main reason is that the Labour Party is, since Tony Blair reformed it after his tastes, a neoliberal party with occasional leftist slogans but no (real) leftist program. And according to the Blairites (<-Wikipedia) Corbyn should never have been voted in, and should be gotten rid off as soon as possible: He is not a Blairite.

As far as I am concerned, the Blairites are sick frauds, but they do have the majority within Labour in Parliament (and in The Guardian, which has at least half of its articles given to Javascript, to find out as much as it can about its readers).

There is considerably more in the article, but it so happens that I have treated most in earlier Nederlogs, so I merely quote one other bit from near the end:

Perhaps it’s true that Labour also played a large role in the Brexit vote, but not in the way the rebellious MPs believe. As economist Mark Blyth explained in this video, what he calls “global Trumpism” is in part a response to the center-left’s turning its back on the working class. So if the Labour politicians want to point a finger at someone in their party, it’s wrongheaded at best to use Corbyn, the socialist activist with the largest portion of the working-class vote, as the scapegoat.
No. I agree that "the center-left" (which is not really left at all) has been "turning its back on the working class" ever since Tony Blair got the power
in the Labour Party, but Natasha Hakimi is too rational:

This is not a revolt of the working-class voters; it is a revolt of the Blairites in parliament, who don't want a real leftist and a real socialist as their leader.

3. Trading Places: Neocons and Cockroaches

The third item is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

If the human species extinguishes itself in a flash of thermonuclear craziness and the surviving cockroaches later develop the intellect to assess why humans committed this mass suicide, the cockroach historians may conclude that it was our failure to hold the neoconservatives accountable in the first two decades of the Twenty-first Century that led to our demise.

After the disastrous U.S.-led invasion of Iraq – an aggressive war justified under false premises – there rightly should have been a mass purging of the people responsible for the death, destruction and lies. Instead the culprits were largely left in place, indeed they were allowed to consolidate their control of the major Western news media and the foreign-policy establishments of the United States and its key allies.

Hm. I know it is a literary trick, but I don't think there will be much left of human civilization after the 100 to 250 million years it will take (at the very least) to evolve intelligent cockroaches: By that time extremely little will be
left of the long dead "human civilization".

I agree with the second paragraph, but I also can explain it:

Propaganda has triumphed in the main media since the early 2000s, and one of the things it masks (and doesn't discuss at all) is the real division between the holders of power in the USA and the ordinary people, whose opinions and values simply don't count anymore, except as abstract voters that can be told almost any set of lies, and that can be misled in almost any way, all without the least of sanctions and without any criticism. (For you need a free press for that.)

The days of democracy seem mostly past in the USA. Here is some more:

The cockroach historians might be amazed that at such a critical moment of existential danger, the human species – at least in the most advanced nations of the West – offered no significant critique of the forces leading mankind to its doom. It was as if the human species was unable to learn even the most obvious lessons needed for its own survival.

No, that is not quite fair. There were significant criticisms (I am sorry, but I dislike "critique") and critics, and they did publish. But they were mostly denied any voice in the main media (see e.g. Noam Chomsky (<-Wikipedia), and the main media's propaganda is mostly responsible for the opinions of the vast majority.

But the following is - within the somewhat lame opposition between cockroaches and humans - more or less correct:

The few humans in the media who did express skepticism – largely found on something called the Internet – were dismissed as fill-in-the-blank “apologists,” much as occurred with the doubters against the Iraqi WMD case in 2002-2003. The people demanding real evidence were marginalized and those who accepted whatever the powerful said were elevated to positions of ever-greater influence.
The realistic backgound is as I sketched: The main media are no longer real - more or less honest, more or less fair, more or less objective - reporters: they
are for the most part simply propaganda sheets of the government or the right.

And as I have been repeating a lot of times: There is no real democracy without a really free press, and the free press, as far as the main media are concerned, is simply dead. Instead, it lies and propagandizes.

4. The Choice of Patriotism

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

We hear a lot about patriotism, especially around the Fourth of July. But in 2016 we’re hearing about two very different types of patriotism. One is an inclusive patriotism that binds us together. The other is an exclusive patriotism that keeps others out.

Through most of our history we’ve understood patriotism the first way. We’ve celebrated the values and ideals we share in common: democracy, equal opportunity, freedom, tolerance and generosity.

I must be one of the least patriotic persons there are, though I must add that I am Dutch, not American. And as far as Holland is concerned, my life has been intentionally ruined by the City of Amsterdam, by its mayors, by its aldermen, by its police and by its bureaucrats, who all for more than four years chose to protect the illegal softdrugs dealers that mayor Van Thijn had given his "personal permission" (totally illegally) to deal softdrugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived.

Since this started happening 30 years ago, and has continued unabated for 30 years (none of my many letters or mails has ever been answered: I am a non-person in Holland, without any effective human rights) I think the mayors and aldermen (some of them) got a whole lot richer (by helping an industry that turned over 300 billion euros in 30 years [1], merely in illegal (!!) soft drugs, according to a parliamentary report) but it will be probably be very difficult to prove, especially in Holland.

Anyway... back to the USA.

As to the reasons Reich lists for his "inclusive patriotism": Democracy is mostly dead; equal opportunity never existed, and now less than since the 1920ies; freedom is very much threatened (especially if you are not white and not well-to-do); tolerance is threatened; and generosity seems completely unpractised by the rich.

That was inclusive patriotism. Here is Reich on exclusive patriotism:

By contrast, we’re now hearing a strident, exclusive patriotism. It asserts a unique and superior “Americanism” that’s determined to exclude others beyond our borders.
(...)
Exclusive patriotism tells us to fear foreign terrorists in our midst — even though almost every terrorist attack since 9/11 has been perpetrated by American citizens or holders of green cards living here for a decade or more.

Exclusive patriotism is not welcoming or generous. Since the war in Syria began in 2011, we’ve allowed in only 3,127 out of the more than 4 million refugees who have fled that nation.

That is all true, so far as I know. There is more in the article, but as I said:
I am not one for patriotism or nationalism, and certainly not as long as I am a member of the Dutch narko-state. (If I were Norwegian, things would be quite
different...)

5. ‘We the Prisoners’: The Demise of the Fourth Amendment

The fifth and last item today is by John Whitehead on Washington's Blog, and originally on the Rutherford Institute:

This starts as follows:

In a carceral state—a.k.a. a prison state or a police state—there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.

In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.

In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, “we the people”—the prisoners of the American police state—are being pushed that much further into a corner, our backs against the prison wall.

This concept of a carceral state in which we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis is the only way I can begin to comprehend, let alone articulate, the irrational, surreal, topsy-turvy, through-the- looking-glass state of affairs that is being imposed upon us in America today.

First about the phrase "carceral state":

This was used by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor - dissenting from the majority of the Supreme Court - and was discussed by me on June 22, 2016. (I think she was quite right, but she did not use the phrase quite like John Whitehead does.)

The phrase was picked up by John Whitehead, but he seems to forget (a little, at least) the difference between a threat and a reality. Then again, I agree that there is a real threat that the USA is transforming itself into a police state, and I also agree that both democracy and the rule of law are very much less worth than they were until 2000.

But Whitehead exaggerates some, e.g. when he says that in "a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards": No,
there also is the elite, who are neither prisoners nor guards. And next to the elite there are the helpers of the elite. (Etc.)

Here is some more, this time with very little exaggeration:

No longer must the government obey the law.

Likewise, “we the people” are no longer shielded by the rule of law.

While the First Amendment—which gives us a voice—is being muzzled, the Fourth Amendment—which protects us from being bullied, badgered, beaten, broken and spied on by government agents—is being disemboweled.

For instance, in a recent 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for police to stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, effectively giving police a green light to embark on a fishing expedition of one’s person and property, rendering Americans completely vulnerable to the whims of any cop on the beat.

This seems all true (and you can see the evidence for it in the whole crisis series), and indeed it was Sotomayor's dissent to the above linked ruling of
the Supreme Court that also used the phrase "carceral state".

This is one summary:

Phone and email surveillance, databases for dissidents, threat assessments, terror watch lists, militarized police, SWAT team raids, security checkpoints, lockdowns, roadside strip searches: there was a time when any one of these encroachments on our Fourth Amendment rights would have roused the public to outrage. Today, such violations are shrugged off matter-of- factly by Americans who have been assiduously groomed to accept the intrusions of the police state into their private lives.

Actually, I don't know to what extent these "violations are shrugged off matter-of-factly by Americans". I agree there are many who do, but it is also a fact that the main media hardly report anymore on the feelings and decisions of ordinary Americans - and see item 1 above.

Finally, this is from the end of the article:

You see, by gradually whittling away at our freedoms—free speech, assembly, due process, privacy, etc.—the government has, in effect, liberated itself from its contractual agreement to respect our constitutional rights while resetting the calendar back to a time when we had no Bill of Rights to protect us from the long arm of the government.

Aided and abetted by the legislatures, the courts and Corporate America, the government has been busily rewriting the contract (a.k.a. the Constitution) that establishes the citizenry as the masters and agents of the government as the servants. We are now only as good as we are useful, and our usefulness is calculated on an economic scale by how much we are worth—in terms of profit and resale value—to our “owners.”

Under the new terms of this one-sided agreement, the government and its many operatives have all the privileges and rights and “we the prisoners” have none.

I agree with the first paragraph: The "government has, in effect, liberated itself from its contractual agreement to respect our constitutional rights" - although the Bill of Rights (i.e. the Amendments to the Constitution) still is
part of the American law.

As to the second paragraph: The legislatures and the courts have not rewritten the Constitution, but they have reinterpreted it (I agree in awful and ridiculous ways) and have based laws on these - usually quite false -  reinterpretations.

And I think the third paragraph is - now, at least - an exaggeration.

----------------
Note

[1] 300 billion euros = 300,000,000,000 euros. This is based on Note 60 of the Parliamentary Van Traa Report of 1997, but since Van Traa got killed mysteriously, also in 1997, almost no parliamentarian disccusses soft drugs, and certainly not critically. I take it every Dutch parliamentarian "sincerely" believes that politicians who opened the roads for this enormous corruption did not take one penny in reward. (They are thus. This is why I cannot vote for them.)

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