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Nederlog

Jul 21, 2016

Crisis: Roger Ailes, Charlatan Trump, Extreme Right-Wing, Melania, Barosso
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Introduction

1. 
The Fall of Roger Ailes: Can Sexual Harassment Claims
     Oust the Biggest Man in Conservative Media?

2. The Coronation of a Charlatan
3. 50 Shockingly Extreme Right-Wing Proposals in the
     2016 Republican Party Platform

4. Why Melania Trump’s Plagiarism Matters
5. Barroso and Goldman Sachs – A Dangerous Liaison

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, July 21, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Roger Ailes, a sexual harasser, who was extremely powerful; item 2 is about Trump's coronation as Chief Charlatan of the GOP; item 3 is a fine article about what the GOP really wants: strongly recommended; item 4 is about Melania Trump's plagiarism, postmodernism and Orwell's great fear: The disappearance of truth in both academia and public discussions; and item 5 is about Barosso and other top men and women of the EU: Apparently everyone of importance in the EU (some 1000 persons or so) is being (also) paid by rich American banks. (I don't know, but seeing their loyalties I will assume so.)

As an aside: It is rather hot today in Amsterdam. If it remains hot I will stop writing Nederlog, except for saying it is too hot for me to write. If so (I don't know now) I will resume if the temperature falls again to tolerable levels.

1
The Fall of Roger Ailes: Can Sexual Harassment Claims Oust the Biggest Man in Conservative Media?

The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!
This starts with the following introduction:
Roger Ailes’s lawyers have confirmed he’s in negotiations to step down as Fox News chair amid more than a half-dozen accusations of sexual harassment. For 20 years, the former Republican operative has been the most powerful man in the conservative media world. The scandal began when former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes. Now, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly has also accused him of harassment. Many are celebrating Ailes’s anticipated departure, though as Feministing founder Jessica Valenti notes, "Removing one lascivious man can’t turn around the mess of misogyny that is Fox News." Carlson’s suit also alleges Fox News has an overall misogynistic culture. We speak to longtime media critic John Nichols of The Nation.
Before turning to that here is the Wikipedia item on Roger Ailes. It does support the present article.

JOHN NICHOLS: There is epic stuff. I mean, there is a very good argument that we probably shouldn’t be discussing the Republican National Convention as much as we are discussing this transition, because if we accept that media is now such a dominant force in our politics, the change of command at Fox, an operation really created, conceptualized by Roger Ailes, is an incredibly big deal. And people need to know who Roger Ailes is.

Roger Ailes is a guy who used to be a TV—he was a TV guy in the '60s, and this political candidate, Richard Nixon, came on his show. And off set, Ailes and Nixon started to talk about stuff, and Nixon said, "You know, you're the kind of guy I think I could work with." And Ailes left media to go into politics. He literally was a critical figure in defining the modern way that we do politics.
Yes, indeed. And Nichols is right that considerably more attention should be paid to Roger Ailes, which can easily be taken off from the incredible amounts of duplications of bullshit that marks the reports on the Republican National Convention (though that is unlikely).

Also, Roger Ailes did a lot more than helping Nixon:

AMY GOODMAN: He was a consultant to Reagan. He was a consultant to George H.W. Bush.

JOHN NICHOLS: And to—well, to Nixon.

AMY GOODMAN: And to Nixon.

JOHN NICHOLS: And George H.W. And then he went—this guy, who started in the media and went into politics, defined so much of how our national politics works, then went back into media, with Rupert Murdoch at Fox, and created what can best be understood as a partisan media. People often think of Fox as conservative, but Fox often deviates from the conservative line. Where it gets its real traction—and we see this again and again—is sort of in defining the modern Republican Party. Look at this 2016 campaign. Look at the interplay of Donald Trump with Fox: Sometimes he’s in a fight with them; sometimes he’s, you know, getting along with them. There were negotiations on how Fox would cover Donald Trump. And so, here you have this amazing thing, Donald Trump running a campaign that fits into a modern Republican Party, in many ways defined by Roger Ailes, negotiating on how to appear on a network defined by Roger Ailes.

This guy is now about to depart. I will tell you that it will be impossible to recreate him. He is an entity unto himself.
Yes, indeed. I do not know what difference his replacement will make but it is a major change at Fox.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

2. The Coronation of a Charlatan

The second item is by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:

This is from near the beginning:

Trump is a brilliant showman, no question about that. His life’s work has been self-aggrandizement, not real estate, and all those years of practice served him well when he turned to politics. He knows how to work a crowd. He understands television and social media. He dominated and vanquished a field of experienced campaigners as if they were mere apprentices.

But he lacks the knowledge, curiosity, temperament, wisdom, compassion and resolve to be president. The GOP is about to formally endorse a charlatan for the most important job in the world.

Great political parties do not do this. They might nominate a candidate who is too conservative or too liberal, too wooden or too glib, too inexperienced or too much of a warhorse. They do not nominate the likes of Trump.

Actually, I don't think Trump "is a brilliant showman", which is also something I would quite easily admit if it were true (for me). But his speeches (that I saw) were incredibly stupid, repetitive, crude; were mostly made up of obvious falsities and exaggerations; and were full of gross and mad narcissism. [1]

I don't think that is "brilliant" showmanship. It may appear different to the favorite Trump audience with an IQ of maximally 80 and hardly any education, but neither Eugene Robinson nor myself belong to that - indeed large - category.

But I agree with the other two paragraphs. There is also this:

But what if Trump wins? Surely you are not under the illusion that Trump would follow the advice of more experienced hands and allow himself to be molded into a statesman. Anyone clinging to that fairy tale paid no attention to the final months of the primaries, when Trump would give a conventional teleprompter-aided speech and the very next day go back to raving like a madman.
(...)
It is not leadership. It is gibberish. And Republicans in Cleveland will pretend the emperor is wearing clothes.

I agree. As to "what if Trump wins?": I have seen too many contradictory polls, so on the moment I think his chances of winning are 1/2, not because of any polls but mostly because half of the American voters have an IQ of maximal 100.

And if Trump wins, the USA deserve to be called the first neofascist state - which you may not believe, which again is one reason for the next item:

3. 50 Shockingly Extreme Right-Wing Proposals in the 2016 Republican Party Platform

The third item is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This is from the beginning:

The GOP 2016 platform would make Christianity the official American religion, English the official American language, replace sex education with abstinence-only advice for teenagers, privatize almost all areas of federal services, cut taxes and regulations for the rich and titans of industry, and impose a belligerent foreign policy and military build-up.

Here are 50 excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.

Let me start with suggesting a near synonym for "extreme right-wing proposals" (in the title): neofascism. [2] You may disagree, but if you do,
you should consider the following list, which I compiled by taking all
the titles will ommitting the texts that come with each item, that was
in every case selected by Steven Rosenfeld from the GOP 2016 platform:

1. Tax cuts for the rich:

2. Deregulate the banks:

3. Stop consumer protection:

4. Start repealing environmental laws:

5. Start shrinking unions and union labor:

6. Privatize federal railway service:

7. No change in federal minimum wage:

8. Cut government salaries and benefits:

9. Appoint anti-choice Supreme Court justices:

10. Appoint anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices:

11. Legalize anti-LGBT discrimination:

12. Make Christianity a national religion

13. Loosen campaign finance loopholes and dark money:

14. Loosen gun controls nationwide:

15. Pass an anti-choice constitutional amendment:

16. End federal funding for Planned Parenthood:

17. Allow states to shut down abortion Clinics:

18. Oppose stem cell scientific research:

19. Oppose executive branch policy making:

20. Oppose efforts to end the electoral college:

21. Require citizenship documents to register to vote:

22. Ignore undocumented immigrants when drawing
       congressional districts
:

23. No labeling of GMO ingredients in food products:

24. Add work requirements to welfare and cut food
       stamps
:

25. Open America’s shores to more oil and gas drilling:

26. Build the Keystone XL Pipeline:

27. Expand fracking and burying nuclear waste:

28. No tax on carbon products:

29. Ignore global climate change agreements:

30. Privatize Medicare, the health plan for seniors:

31. Turn Medicaid, the poor’s health plan, over to states
:

32. No increasing Social Security benefits by taxing the
       rich
:

33. Repeal Obamacare:

34. Give internet service providers monopoly control:

35. Make English the official U.S. language:

36. No amnesty for undocumented immigrants:

37. Build a border wall to keep immigrants out:

38. Require government verification of citizenship of all
       workers
:

39. Penalize cities that give sanctuary to migrants:

40. Puerto Rico should be a state but not Washington DC:

41. Support traditional marriage but no other families:

42. Privatize government services in the name of fighting
       poverty
:

43. Require bible study in public schools:

44. Replace traditional public schools with privatized
       options
:

45. Replace sex education with abstinence-only
       approaches
:

46. Privatize student loans instead of lowering interest
       rates
:

47. Restore the death penalty:

48. Dramatically increase Pentagon budget:

49. Cancel Iran nuclear treaty and expand nuclear
       arsenal
:

50. Reaffirm support for Israel and slam sanctions
       movement
:

This is a strongly recommended article, for it is all based on what the GOP wrote itself, which you can find out for yourself by clicking the last dotted link.

This is the program from the rich ultra-conservatives, for the enjoyments and incomes of the rich ultra-conservatives.

4. Why Melania Trump’s Plagiarism Matters

The fourth item today is by Jeffrey C. Isaac on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Two paragraphs from Melania Trump’s speech last night before the Republican National Convention were almost word for word the same as two paragraphs from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. This is a fact. Such verbatim quoting without attribution is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is widely recognized as a kind of cheating, indeed as a kind of theft. A plagiarist is someone who steals the words of others and makes believe that they are his or her own words. Plagiarism is a violation of common sense standards of integrity. It is also a violation of expectations that are widely shared by the major institutions of our society, including schools, professional institutions — including bar associations and business schools — and media institutions.

Melania Trump’s speech involved plagiarism. And the author of her speech was a plagiarist.

Yes. I paid some attention to her plagiarism ("her" because she affirmed - truly of falsely - she did write it) yesterday, and then also noted that a physicist calculated that the chances that it is not plagiarism are as 1 to 87 million.

Then again, there is this:

The first and most important reason why this plagiarism matters is because of what it demonstrates about the ethics, or rather the lack of ethics, of the Trump campaign itself: that the campaign plays fast and loose with the truth, and consistently acts as if it can say or do whatever it wants, simply deny responsibility, and then angrily maintain that its critics are always wrong and the fault is theirs. Trump is always right. His critics are always evil. The brouhaha over this plagiarized speech is simply a blatant example of this.

Yes, but the case about truth is considerably more important than that Trump (and his campaigners) "plays fast and loose with the truth":

For Trump there is no truth, quite like it was for the postmodernists that arose in the late 1970ies, that I first met in 1978, when the academic year at the University of Amsterdam was officially opened (with great regards from its Board of Directors) by a postmodernist historian - M.C. Brands, still alive I think - who stated his utterly insane faith in these exact words (translated to English):

"Everybody knows that truth does not exist"

This was a filthy lie for quite a few reasons, two of which are that (i) nobody knows falsehoods are true, and apart from that (ii) few believed at that time (August 1978) that truth does not exist.

But according to M.C. Brands, the Board of Directors of the UvA, and some professors at the UvA that was false (?!?!?!?!?!?!) and indeed their views became very rapidly popular for the same reasons as Trump does not believe in truth: it allows anyone (with such a belief, honest or not) to pretend to anything whatsoever, and meet all criticism with the thesis that anyway truth does not exist (as "everybody knows").

Postmodernism was the dominant ideology in the UvA from 1982 till 1995, when the structure of the Dutch universities that were effectively given to the students in 1971, was removed by another act of Dutch parliament (25 years later!) that then gave all the powers to the bureaucrats, where it has remained ever since, and who guard their rich incomes and great power with great jealousies. [3]

There is an excellent refutation of postmodernism by Chip Morningstar that dates back to 1993, and was reviewed by me in 2010 (well worth reading!) - but basically, Orwell was right (and he worried already 75 years ago about the disappearance of truth): Truth now has been removed from both academia and from the media, and lies, falsifications, exaggerations and bullshit rule supreme, and mostly without criticism. [4]

The second reason the plagiarism matters is because of what it demonstrates about the campaign as an organization: that the campaign is an organization only in the loosest of senses. It has no campaign manager in a proper sense; it has little clear structure; it has devoted little time and energy to fund-raising or building an electoral ground game; and it seems entirely driven by the whims and the ego of Trump himself (..)

I think Trump's campaign is mainly "driven by the whims and the ego of Trump himself". There are more reasons, that I leave to your interests.

The article ends as follows:

The Trump campaign chose to begin its reality-TV inspired, heavily scripted and produced spectacle of a convention by showcasing “Melania.” Perhaps what viewers saw and heard is a perfect representation of Trump and his campaign: all show and no substance, all mendacity and no truth, and all ego and no real concern for anyone else. Say what you want. Do what you want. Vilify others and then steal their words. Get caught and then try to shout down and bully those who notice. This is not an aberration. This is Trumpism. One can only hope that a few months from now we can laugh about this absurd reality TV show being enacted before our eyes. And yet I fear that the joke may be on us.

Yes, indeed. And in case you didn't notice:
all show and no substance, all mendacity and no truth, and all ego and no real concern for anyone else. Say what you want. Do what you want. Vilify others and then steal their words. Get caught and then try to shout down and bully those who notice. This is not an aberration. This is Trumpism.
Quite so. And as I said (see here): I think the chances that Trump wins are 50/50, mostly because 50% of all Americans has an IQ of maximally 100, and hardly any relevant knowledge.

5. Barroso and Goldman Sachs – A Dangerous Liaison

The fifth and last item today is by No Name on Raging Bull-Shit and originally on Corporate Europe:

This starts as follows:
The news that José Manuel Barroso will become non-executive chairman at Goldman Sachs did not exactly come as a surprise. This is a man who presided over the European Commission for 10 years and, from the beginning, his leadership followed a corporate agenda, with its close links to the biggest businesses and banks in the EU representing a key trait of the current European project. But this one move has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda, causing widespread jaw-dropping and reactions of disbelief, making it a symbol of excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.
The EU is a hugely failed project, but try telling that to the very few very rich who rule it (for the most part without ever having been elected by any population: they are nominated by their arrived fellows who make up "the European parliament", which also is no such thing).

And I did not know Barroso had such tight bindings to Goldman Sachs, although indeed I am not surprised learning it now. Besides, this very strongly suggests not just Barroso, but all of the top of the EU (some 1000 persons) is  effectively (also) in the pay of the American mega-rich banks. [5]

Here is some more that supports this:

But the problematic revolving door moves of the former members of the Barroso II Commission have been especially controversial since 1 May 2016. This is the date when the ex-commissioners no longer need to seek authorisation from the Commission for proposed new roles, and no longer face a ban on lobbying. In just over two months, we saw former trade commissioner Karel De Gucht join the board of mining giant Arcelor Mittal; former digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes joined the boards of tech firms Uber and Salesforce; and now Barroso is about to become chairman of Goldman Sachs International.
Incidentally, both De Gucht and Kroese are Dutch (a nation that excels in  dishonest trading, shady deals, and illegally making very many billions a year by selling illegal drugs all through Europe, and excels in very little else (other than some great painters around 400 years ago)).

Anyway... there is more in the article.
---------------
Notes
[1] I repeat that I don't think Trump is a great showman, and that I would have admitted this quite easily if it were true, simply because that would explain some of his popularity. But to say Trump is "a brilliant showman" is like saying - I am sorry only Dutchmen will pick up my references - that Willy Alberti and André Hazes are "brilliant" singers.

[2] Here is the beginning of the lemma "Neo-fascism" on Wikipedia (which is not quite what I mean by "neofascism" - which I still have to explain - but which is close enough):
Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neo-fascism usually includes ultranationalism, populism, anti-immigration policies or, where relevant, nativism, anti-communism, anti-socialism, anti-Marxism, anti-anarchism and opposition to the parliamentary system and liberal democracy. Allegations that a group is neo-fascist may be hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet. Some post–World War II regimes have been described as neo-fascist due to their authoritarian nature, and sometimes due to their fascination and sympathy towards fascist ideology and rituals.
And now you can read the 50 points Rosenfeld collected from the GOP's 2016 Platform...

[3] I have written a whole lot about this ever since September 1977, and I will not repeat this here. I do observe that none of the many letters and mails I wrote were ever answered by neither the City of Amsterdam nor by the (city) University of Amsterdam, which would have been very easy to do if I had lied. I infer that both these institutions were headed by criminals and liars.

I will return to this, but not here and now. Here and now I only clarify two points:

the academic year: This runs in Holland from August till August the next year. The university started (and probably still starts) late in August with the new year.

the structure of the Dutch universities: In 1971 minister Veringa introduced a law that was accepted by the national parliament, that effectively gave all the Dutch universities to the students.

This was a totally unique plan (nobody else did it) and consisted mostly of three points: (1) the universities were to be ruled by parliaments, both in general (a university parliament) and specifically (every faculty has its own parliament), quite like Holland (national parliament) and its cities (city councils, elected by the inhabitants of cities) were ruled; and such that (2) each member of the university, whether professor, doctor, student, secretary or toilet cleaner got 1 vote, with which they could vote for political groups that wanted to be in those "parliaments" that were to rule (and it is this rule that gave the universities to the students: The students always had the absolute majority); and (3) there also was to be, besides these parliaments, a sort of daily government from top bureaucrats (in the University of Amsterdam always from the Dutch Labour Party, just as the Dutch Labour Party ruled supreme in Amsterdam for 65 years).


Finally, what complicated these sick structures even more were the facts that the great majority of the students were "left-wing"; most of the students who led student groups in the 1970ies and early 1980ies were members of the Dutch Communist Party, which meant that most elected students in the University of Amsterdam until 1984 were members of the Dutch Communist Party (this was all admitted by them, but only in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after the demise of the Dutch Communist Party); while from 1984 till 1995 most of the elected students were post- modernists.

That was the University of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995, to which I returned from Norway in 1977, where I lived and could have studied, because I was born in Amsterdam...

[4] I repeat: Truth now has been removed from both academia and from the media, and lies, falsifications, exaggerations and bullshit rule supreme, and mostly without criticism.

You may disagree, but it is highly likely that if you do either you do not know (not by far, very probably) as much about universities as I do or else you are a cosily living, very well-paid, extremely well-pensioned member of academia.

Well, then, about academia: Very probably truth still plays an important role in mathematics, physics, chemistry, bio-chemistry and biology, and some related studies, but outside these studies and employments, to the best of my - large - knowledge, truth has mostly disappeared from academia, certainly in Holland. (The word "true" hasn't, but it does not anymore mean that a statement is true if and only if what is says is a fact. Probably it mostly means that the speakers pretend to believe in the statement.)

In case you doubt this, consider that (i) very few who are not academically employed know a lot about universities, while (ii) in Holland a fraud like Diederik Stapel, who produced at least 50 thoroughly falsified articles that made him seem a great psychologist, during at least 15 years, was not punished at all.

In any case, in Holland arrived academics are bureaucrats, with bureaucratic positions (often with personal extras, both in power and in money), and excellent incomes and pensions, and even in the 1970ies at most 1 in a 100
protested, even against the thoroughly insane plans that were realized from 1971/1972 onwards and are sketched in note [3].

So forget the academics: Nearly all of them have been bought; competed to be bought; and will never say anything that might displease their superiors.

This was already so in the 1970ies, and is certainly now a whole lot worse than then.

[5] Suppose you increase their incomes by 100,000 euros a year. This would cost you 100 million - but that is peanuts for the very rich, especially seeing how extremely well they are being serviced by most politicians.

I don't know, but I think it more probable than not that most prominent European politicians also get - somehow, in some way - money from the banks "to supplement their incomes" (much like in the USA).

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