Jul 22, 2016

Crisis: Trump's acceptance, Clinton, Moore, Alarm Bells, Bill Maher
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Racist, Xenophobic, Islamophobic and Misogynistic
     Donald Trump Accepts

2. Hillary Clinton's Top VP Pick Lets Big Banks Know He's
     in Their Corner

3. Michael Moore Predicts Trump Victory
4. Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying
     Historical Alarm Bells

5. Real Time with Bill Maher: New Rule – Capitalism Eats


This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 22, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Trump's acceptance, and I chose an item that displays Trump's speech; item 2 is about Hillary Clinton's supposed pick of VP: He is very much for the big banks and for more deregulations; item 3 is about Michael Moore's conviction that Trump will win the elections (I am not convinced, but Moore has one important point in which he is right); item 4 is about a sensible reaction to Trump's speech (apart from logic); and item 5 is a repeat from June 6, simply because it is funny, true and very few say so on American TV. Also, it is an important reason why I am quite pessimistic, indeed regardless from who will win the presidential elections (though if Trump does, it will be a major mess).

Racist, Xenophobic, Islamophobic and Misogynistic Donald Trump Accepts

The first item today is by Common Dreams staff:

This starts as follows:
Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican nomination on Thursday night at his party's national convention in Cleveland, Ohio and delivered a speech vowing to defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

At more than an hour and fifteen minutes, the speech was notable for being long by historical standards but otherwise contained largely standard xenophobic tropes about Muslims and immigrants in addition to his right-wing version of faux populism which bashed "free trade" agreements while making vague, yet angry, assurances he will somehow "make America great again."

After cataloging a series of national shortcomings and Clinton's alleged faults, Trump declared at one point that "I alone can fix this."

Flummoxed by the rhetoric of Trump's speech, and that comment in particular, Sen. Bernie Sanders exclaimed in a tweet: "Is this guy running for president or dictator?"

To answer Sanders' question: I think Trump is running to become a dictatorial president, and he may well succeed - see item 3 below and see the copy of Trump's speech that is in the present article (on line).

But predicting Trump is very difficult, simply because he is a lunatic narcissist. (I am sorry: I am a psychologist. [1])

There also was Medea Benjamin:

Though apparently well-received by the party faithful within the hall, the speech was briefly interrupted at one point by social justice activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, who displayed a banner reading "Build Bridges, Not Walls" before she was detained and removed by security.

"Scapegoating immigrants and refugees – some of the most marginalized and powerless members of our society – for the problems we face as a nation is deeply racist," said Benjamin in a statement. "I rose to disrupt Trump’s 'victory speech' tonight to make sure that no one, whether in the arena or watching in their living room, could overlook the horrifying racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny that is at the root of Donald Trump’s ideology. We want to build bridges not walls, and we want peace and love, not hate and war."

She was right to protest. This - fine - article ends with a copy of the speech of Trump:

A complete draft of the speech, obtained and published by Politico ahead of its delivery, follows:

In fact, that was the only copy of the speech that I found (!), when checking the over 30 news sites I check daily. I have read it and it is simply a load of utter bullshit (and the link is interesting). Here three selected bits from the speech.

The first is this:
Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.
The first statement is a gross lie (there is an economical crisis for 50 to 90% but not a political one). The other two statements are total inversions of the truth: The American police is shooting black men even if they lay on the ground with their hands in the air.

Then there is this:
I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.
I say the first statement is a total inversion of the truth: Trump went into politics (i) because he is mad, and (ii) because he is a powerful man who wants to exploit the many poor better. In case you doubt (i): The second statement in the quote - "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it" - is an evident case of the grandiose narcissism that ails Trump.

The last statement I selected is this:
I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police: when I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order our country.
So it is the police whose safety is threatened, according to Trump. How he will "restore law and order" is a total secret to me, except if he wants to do it by granting the American police the right to shoot anyone they don't like, without any consequences.

Anyway... there is a lot more Trump stuff in the article, and it is all equally horrible, false, exaggerated, and partial and is all utter
bullshit. But he may win, and will be far from the first politician who wins with plain bullshit.

Incidentally, this is a recommended article, and I think you should also (if you did not do it) consider yesterday's item 3 on the many horrors the GOP 2016 platform favors.

2. Hillary Clinton's Top VP Pick Lets Big Banks Know He's in Their Corner

The second item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows - and one reason it is here is to show that while you can't trust the lunatic Trump, you also cannot trust Hillary Clinton, although she has the advantage of not being mad:

Sounding another alarm for progressives wary of the Democratic establishment's support for Wall Street, the man said to be leading the pack of potential Hillary Clinton running mates—Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine—has just this week sent a clear message to big banks: He's in their corner.

Kaine, who is reportedly Bill Clinton's favorite for the vice presidential slot, signed onto two letters on Monday pushing for financial deregulation—letters that show the Clinton camp "how Kaine could be an asset with banking interests on the fundraising trail," according to David Dayen at The Intercept on Wednesday.

There is considerably more in the article about Kaine's letters in which he pleads for - yet more - deregulations of America's banks - and deregulation is the main cause of the 2008 crisis, of the very much increased inequalities, of the protected status of banks that can do as they please "because they are too big to fail", and of the enormous gains in riches for the very rich.

But the supposed VP all loves it. Kaine is also much for the TPP etc.:

Given existing concerns around Kaine's support for the Trans Pacific Partnership and other so-called "free trade" deals, plus his mixed record on reproductive rights and now new proof of his bending to bankers, it's no wonder RootsAction co-founder and Bernie Sanders delegate Norman Solomon told Common Dreams on Wednesday that choosing the Virginia senator or someone like him "would be a very pronounced middle finger to the 13 million people who voted for Bernie."

I agree with Solomon. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

3. Michael Moore Predicts Trump Victory

The third item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Documentary filmmaker and political commentator Michael Moore is "sorry to have to be the buzzkill here so early on," he said from the grounds of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on Thursday, but he thinks the GOP's presidential nominee Donald Trump "is going to win. I'm sorry."

I don't know whether Michael Moore is right, but - as Bill Maher also said Moore is certainly right in saying what he thinks (he was booed), if only "because the enemy is complacency" (and it seems Trump and Clinton each poll around the same now).

Then again, I did not think Michael Moore's case was very strong. Here is part of what he said:

Speaking during an interview with HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, 62-year-old Moore likened a Trump victory to the recent U.K. referendum to leave the European Union, stating, "I live in Michigan. Let me tell you, it's going to be the Brexit strategy."

In the wake of the surprise Brexit outcome, many voters admitted they had cast a "protest vote" in the belief that the U.K. would certainly stay in the E.U.

"I think one of the things I've been concerned about this week is...that we're sitting in our bubble having a good laugh at this shitshow, as you say, of a [Republican National Convention], but the truth is that this plays to a lot of people that he has to win to become the next president," Moore said.

Yes - but one thing I don't quite get is "the Brexit strategy": That was not strategy, it was basically stupidity. Now Michael Moore might well have meant that stupidity and igorance are more important in American elections than many people assume, with which I also agree, but he did not say so (in the video I saw, at least).

Here is some more on the same theme, this time by Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:

Moore's reasons are listed here as titles without text: If you want to read the text as well click the above dotted link. The first four are these:

1. The Rust Belt/Brexit Strategy
2. The Trump Family
3. Make America Great Again? How About Just Reality
4. Angry White Men Vote

I will say something about three of these four points, but keep it brief:

On Brexit, Moore's argument is that Romney would have won from Obama if he had had 64 electoral votes from 4 states. I agree, but Moore takes it for granted - it seems: he is not clear - that all other states will be as they were when Obama and Romney competed for the presidency, which does not seem likely to me.

On Reality Television: I think there Moore is right, for what Trump has to offer is reality TV, and this will continue if he is elected president. (But this doesn't convey much about his chances to win.)

On Angry White Men: It seems as if Trump has to win 7 out of 10 votes of all American white males, if he is to win the presidential election. Moore argues there are many uneducated white men, and I agree - but 7 out of 10 is a lot.

So I am far from convinced by the first four arguments. The fifth one seems a lot better:

5. The Two Sides Don't Even Talk Anymore

It's worth investigating the yearlong conundrum of why poor, middle-American voters identify so well with an ego-centric real estate mogul from New York. "When you say, he hasn't read a book in his adult life, you've just described the majority of Americans. Get out of your bubble, everybody!" Moore urged.

Yes - and as I have urged quite a few times in Nederlog, for me the main problem in the USA is not "unhappiness" but widespread stupidity and ignorance. I wrote this on July 19:

Most Americans are not really intelligent. Many are rather stupid (as suggested by Bill Maher's often repeated and never contradicted point that 60% - 6 out of every 10: a majority - of Americans believe in the literal truth of Noah's Ark story. [2]) Few of the not really intelligent read much: most watch TV in their free time. Few of the not really intelligent know much, for they don't read much. And at least half of all Americans is not intelligent: Half has an IQ below 100.

I am explaining this because I think it is obviously true, at least for people who are really intelligent (which is always a minority), and because I think it is a shame that I do not see these points - viz. the great influence that the stupidity and the ignorance of the majority have to mislead the choices of the majority - ever discussed. Political correctness?!

So I agree with Michael Moore that there now is an American presidential candidate who (probably) hasn't read a book in his adult life - which is what the majority of all Americans also didn't do (except for a few, possibly).

I take this quite seriously and agree with it, but I don't know whether it is sufficient to elect Trump. (For one thing, stupid people may well be less inclined to vote.)

So my main inference is that Michael Moore may well be right, but didn't prove his point, which is my main reason to say that in my opinion the chances are (now, still) 50/50.

And incidentally: That is in itself a win for Trump, simply because his personality and program are quite mad. In case you doubt this, there is the following article:

4. Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying Historical Alarm Bells

The fourth item today is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Donald Trump’s speech tonight accepting the Republican nomination for president will probably go down as one of the most frightening pieces of political rhetoric in U.S. history.

Even for people who believe the danger of genuine authoritarianism on the U.S. right is often exaggerated, it’s impossible not to hear in Trump’s speech echoes of the words and strategies of the world’s worst leaders.

Trump had just one message for Americans: Be afraid. You are under terrible threats from forces inside and outside your country, and he’s the only person who can save us.

The scariest part is how Trump subtly but clearly has begun melding together violence against U.S. police and terrorism: “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities,” he said, “threaten our very way of life.”

This is the favorite and most dangerous message of demagogues across all space and time. After all, if we know our external enemies are deeply evil, and our internal enemies are somehow their allies, we can feel justified in doing anything at all to our internal enemies. That’s just logic.

You will find the speech in the article I reviewed in item 1. I agree with Jon Schwarz, except for the last sentence: That is not logic, it is emotion. (You can feel as bad as you want about "internal enemies", but none of that logically implies that you are or should be allowed to do "anything" to them.)

Then there is this, which is quite correct (and I have read Trump's speech):

And if anything, Trump’s speech is actually more terrific, fabulous and huge than those of previous fanatics, since he promises he’s going to fix everything overnight. “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon — come to an end,” Trump says. “Beginning on January 20th of 2017, safety will be restored.”

This use of fear to destroy democracy is so old that it’s described exactly in Plato’s Republic, written in Ancient Greece around 380 B.C.

Tyranny, says Socrates in The Republic, is actually “an outgrowth of democracy.” And would-be tyrants always in every instance claim to be shielding regular people from terrible danger: “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.”

Yes, indeed (though Plato's favorite political system also seems more like a totalitarian system).

Here is the last bit I'll quote:

As The Republic explains, leaders like this inevitably end up “standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute.” This is how liberty “passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.”

The good news is that if you turn off cable news — apparently the only source of Donald Trump’s knowledge about the world — and go outside, you’ll find that the U.S. is probably safer today than it’s ever been.

Despite the misleading statistics Trump used again tonight, the rate of murder and crime overall remains far, far lower than in the past. You also don’t need to worry about ISIS: even after the massacre of 49 people in Orlando, it’s likely more Americans will be killed by bee stings in 2016 than by terrorism.

Yes, indeed: "the U.S. is probably safer today than it’s ever been", though not for all (black men, for example). It is true if you look at the rates of murders and crimes - but then Trump does not argue on the basis of real facts: he argues on  the basis of fear, emotions, wishful tinking and bullshit.

This is a recommended article (apart from the brief bit on logic).

5. Real Time with Bill Maher: New Rule – Capitalism Eats Everything

The fifth
and last item today is by Bill Maher and his team, and is a video. In fact, this is a repeat from June 6, until "---" after which there is a small  addition I made today (July 22):

Here is a quote from it (or two):
It's capitalism that we've lead spread out of control. It has eaten our democracy. It is eating our middle class. It has eaten our health care system, our prison system, our news media. It has even eaten our food system so thoroughly that a lot of our food is something that shouldn't be eaten. Because capitalism is a shark or a tidal wave or a Ponzi scum or whatever metaphor you use to describe an unthinking force that devours everything in its path.
I am not argueing against the free market: Just not for everything. It's funny: Older people think socialism is capitalism's enemy and younger people think it's capitalism's replacement. But they are both wrong. What socialism is, is
capitalism's lapband. Something to prevent it from eating everything.
I think that's pretty radical for American TV, and I agree with the first paragraph, though I would explain it in terms of my contrast between capitalism-with-a-human-face and capitalism-without-a-human-face, and
also would insist that the difference between the former and the latter
are the very many deregulations that (especially) Bill Clinton introduced:

"Deregulation" in fact meant: Giving all the powers to the few very rich
and their multi-national corporations
. And that is what has happened,
and indeed by now is almost finished: Except for the TTIP and the TISA the
filthy rich have succeeded - over the course of 36 years - in almost comple-
tely deregulating capitalism, and to return it to the exploitative schemes of
the 1890ies-1920ies.

Once the TTIP and the TISA are in place, and especially in view of the NSA and the FBI's now knowing everything about anyone as all privacy was destroyed by the Patriot Act, the few very rich may hope to have created a neofascism that will rule forever.

I think they are mistaken and the system will collapse both economically and because of the rapidly collapsing environment, but the ruins and the horrors will be enormous.
And this is indeed what I think has happened: Except for the TTIP and the TISA the filthy rich have succeeded - over the course of 36 years - in almost completely deregulating capitalism, and to return it to the exploitative schemes of the 1890ies-1920ies.

For this reason I am quite pessimistic, whoever wins the elections - though from the two evils from which Americans must make a choice, I strongly prefer the one that is not mad.
[1] This is not to say "and therefore I know better than you do", but it is to say that I have studied what it means to be mad, and most people have not.

Perhaps I should add that I am an atheist; my parents were atheists; three out of four of my grandparents were atheists; and that I also do not live in the sickeningly religious USA, but in Holland. And if it were Dutchmen who believed in the literal truth of Noah's Ark Story, I would probably say that either they are religious extremists or else insane, for it is impossible for an intelligent and informed man to believe that kind of utter medieval nonsense.

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