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Nederlog

Aug 22, 2016

Crisis: Clinton & Trump, GOP Destroyed?, Syrian War, TiSA Explained
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Introduction

1.
Clinton and Trump Are Rich and Pals of the Rich—and
     That Could Be a Huge Problem for the Nation

2. Will Donald Trump’s Shake-Up Destroy the GOP?
3. US Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria
4. TiSA: Big Brother and Big Business Together
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, August 22, 2016.

There are 4 items with 4 dotted links today: Item 1 is about the fact that both presidential candidates are rich, which does entail some potential problems for either when elected president; item 2 is about Trump but is too optimistic about his chances of losing, and also doesn't answer the question its title asks (I do answer that: Very probably not); item 3 is about the war in Syria, which gets more and more complicated; and item 4 is the most important item today and is about the TiSA, which in my opinion, just like the TPP and the TTIP, and indeed also like NAFTA, is designed to bring neofascism a lot closer - or, if you don't like that term (very few do, also very few real neofascists [1]) is designed to take most powers from states and democracies and parliaments, and give these powers to the multi-national corporations (and that is what I mean by "neofascism").

Also, I have to go to the dentist today and do some other things, which means that this article got finished fairly early.

1. Clinton and Trump Are Rich and Pals of the Rich—and That Could Be a Huge Problem for the Nation

The first item today is by Bill Blum on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

As described in various articles and op-eds, Trump’s conflicts stem from his far-flung worldwide enterprises, while Clinton’s emanate from the global reach of her family foundation and her long-standing ties to Wall Street banks. Given their assets and business relations, questions of favoritism, self-dealing and compromised judgment would haunt either candidate’s tenure in office.

Yes, of course - at least, this is why I take it many very rich men and many very rich banks support Clinton: Because this gives them a great advantage in the "favoritism, self-dealing and compromised judgment" that obviously must happen as soon as presidential decisions are being made that will effect the chances or the profits of (in Clinton's case) very rich banks. For she will have to decide between arguments which say or suggest "We supported you when you wanted to be president; now it's time to support us in these deals."

And similar things hold for Donald Trump, although his position is different because he owns a great amount of property outside the USA:

According to the financial disclosure form he filed in May with the Federal Election Commission, Trump has an ownership share in more than 500 closely held corporations. These include (with credit to O’Brien for closely analyzing the filing) hotel and real estate development projects across the United States, as well as resort and hotel properties in Dubai, Qatar, China, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Africa and Turkey. And don’t forget the neckties manufactured in Bangladesh, his misbegotten Russian ventures like the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, or former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lobbying on behalf of deposed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

In addition, Trump is deeply in hock to foreign banks, to the tune of $335 million according to a Mother Jones story in June. And a New York Times exposé revealed Saturday that “companies [Trump] owns have at least $650 million in debt.”

Mother Jones reports that the Frankfort-headquartered Deutsche Bank has lent Trump some $295 million since 2012. The Times alleges that Trump’s major creditors include the Bank of China, as well as Goldman Sachs.

Incidentally, this means that - simply adding up the given numbers - Trump owes nearly $1.3 billion dollars - and note that most about Trump's business interests is not known, or is only very partially known, and he also hasn't published any financial details about himself.

As to Hillary Clinton, there is this:

Clinton’s conflicts are not much cleaner. Since its inception in 2001, the Clinton Foundation has raised more than $2 billion in donations to fund initiatives and programs on global health, climate change and economic development in the Third World. More than 40 percent of its top donors—those who have contributed more than $1 million—have been based in foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Corporations have also ponied up a boatload, with the Citi Foundation, Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Exxon Mobil chipping in as much as $5 million each. According to Bloomberg, 29 of the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average have contributed.

While neither Bill nor Hillary has ever drawn a salary from the foundation, they have nonetheless benefited handsomely from speaking fees paid by many of their corporate underwriters, and in Hillary’s case from campaign contributions as well.

And all of these corporations contributed to Hillary Clinton, simply because if she is president then each of them can say, as soon as deals come up that are financially important to them: "We supported you when you wanted to be president; now it's time for you to support us in these deals."

To be sure, I have no written proof of my last statement, but indeed it would be very odd (I think) if it were different: Banks and corporations don't spend millions on politicians without a good chance of making a profit for themselves on deals the politician decides or co-decides.

Finally, here is evidence that both Trump and Clinton are both rich and pals of the rich:

Schwartz writes that Trump, “[w]ith a supposed net worth of $4.5 billion,” is “brushing up against the velvet rope” of the club and is practically a member. The Clintons, with a fortune just north of $110 million, may be well outside the lines, but they are still miles closer than the rest of us. And, as Schwartz elaborates, they’ve used their connections with the über rich to approximate a similar lifestyle, flying in the private jets of wealthy friends “during the political offseason,” and buying such trinkets as a $10 million Manhattan apartment for Chelsea and her husband.

Whatever other differences there may be between Clinton and Trump—and whether or not either might become embroiled in an overt “quid pro quo” indignity in the Oval Office—they will function as emissaries of the oligarchy.
Yes, indeed. Also, my guess about the Clintons (who started poor, unlike Trump, who was born in a rich family) is that their personal motives are about half-half:

Half of them cares a lot for major or supreme power, and the other half cares a lot for living the very soft life of the very rich: "
flying in the private jets of wealthy friends “during the political offseason,” and buying such trinkets as a $10 million Manhattan apartment for Chelsea and her husband".

Anyway - there is considerably more in the article, which is recommended, and the summary is that both presidential candidates are very rich, and both presidential candidates run serious risks if they are president, but the risks are quite different.

2.
Will Donald Trump’s Shake-Up Destroy the GOP?

The second item today is by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Shaken by the fact that he’s losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right—and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let’s see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.

Trump has reportedly been feeling “boxed in” and “controlled” by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.

Bannon runs Breitbart News, a website that creates its own ultranationalist far-right reality—one that often bears little resemblance to the world as it really is. As I write, the site is claiming that Hillary Clinton has some serious undisclosed health problem (her doctor says she is just fine), that one of Clinton’s aides has “very clear ties” to radical Islam (which is totally untrue) and that Clinton herself has “clear ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin (when in fact it is Trump who often reveals his man-crush on the Russian leader).

I say. I think I agree on Stephen Bannon, but I don't think I agree Trump is loosing. More precisely, while I agree Trump is behind Clinton in the polls, I do not have much faith in polls; I also think a lot may happen that may change the polls in the coming months; and I don't think Trump has lost until it is November 9, and indeed he has lost.

And I think the following also is too optimistic:

So if anyone was wondering if this election cycle could get any worse for the GOP, it just did.

The fact is that there hasn’t been a single national poll since July 24 showing Trump in the lead, according to the tally kept by RealClearPolitics. Clinton has also pulled ahead in all the battleground states and has become competitive in traditional Republican strongholds such as Georgia and Arizona.

It now appears to be a good bet that Republicans will lose control of the Senate.
For it is also a fact that while "there hasn’t been a single national poll since July 24 showing Trump in the lead" this fact is less than 30 days old, while there are still 77 days to go till the elections of November 8. And the control of the Senate isn't certain.

Finally, the question the title asks -
Will Donald Trump’s Shake-Up Destroy the GOP? - is neither posed nor answered in the article, but I will give my own answer on the assumption that Clinton wins the presidency:

There is so very much money involved in the Republican party, that it will be relatively easy to forget about Trump and to try to rebuilt it again, for
which they will have two to three years. So no, I don't think it is likely the Republicans will be destroyed: There simply is too much money involved.

3. US Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria

The third item today is by Daniel Lazare on Consortiumnews:
This starts with a summary that is worth quoting:
The U.S. government, having illegally sent American troops into Syria, is now threatening to attack the Syrian military if it endangers those troops, an Orwellian twist that marks a dangerous escalation, explains Daniel Lazare.
I say. I think I agree, but I should add that the U.S. government either doesn't believe that it has "illegally sent American troops into Syria" or else (more probably) doesn't care much.

Here is some more on the present situation in Syria:
Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis, a Navy captain, said that the U.S. was resolved to protect the safety of both.

“We view instances that place coalition personnel at risk with the utmost seriousness” he declared, “and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when U.S. forces are at risk.”

“As we’ve said in the past,” he added, “the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to interfere with coalition forces or our partners.”

Such statements are little less than Orwellian since the United States has essentially invaded Syria by inserting military forces without Syrian government permission in violation of international law. What Davis was saying, therefore, is that the U.S. will prevent Syria from protecting its own forces on its own soil, which was rather like the Wehrmacht condemning Poland for daring to defend its own territory in September 1939.

Yes and no, and I start with the no:

The situation of 1939, with "the Wehrmacht condemning Poland for daring to defend its own territory" is not the same as the situation in Syria. The Wehrmacht attacked Poland and defeated it quickly, and that was the extent of the military involvement, whereas in Syria far more military parties are involved, and the conflicts in Syria have been going on for quite a while.

And yes, the statements of Davis do sound Orwellian, for the simple reason that the Americans indeed are inside Syria with military forces (as are the Russians, at least with jets) and have not been asked to be there by the Syrian government.

There is also this bit, that asks a quite important question:

The confrontation begs the question of who is really calling the shots with regard to Syria, the President or well-placed hawks whose specialty is maneuvering the White House into doing their bidding.

In fact, few people know the answer, for the simple reason that few people outside the Pentagon and outside the US government know much about the
relations between the president or the government on the one hand and the
Pentagon on the other hand: These are all matters about which there is a lot
of secrecy, as indeed there is - anyway - about the Pentagon.

So all I can do is guess, and since the question is quite important, I will guess and say that it seems to me that the president and the government do have influence and power, but they are one or two from several more, for there also is the Pentagon and its generals, and besides these there also are the major corporations that built and sell the weapons the USA uses.

And given that the Pentagon now for about twenty years (!!) has not given a good statement on how and on what its many trillions of tax money are spend, I guess that the generals of the Pentagon are most powerful.

Finally, here is a bit about the very complicated military situation in Syria:

Indeed, the Syrian conflict grows more complicated by the day. Syria and Russia are battling ISIS, Al Nusra, and other Islamist groups while the U.S. is battling ISIS as well while indirectly aiding Al Nusra by channeling arms to allied Islamist groups with which it shares weaponry and coordinates battlefield tactics.
Yes, indeed.
4. TiSA: Big Brother and Big Business Together

The fourth and last item today is by The Daily Take Team and The Thom Hartmann Program, and is quite important:

This starts as follows:

President Obama started a fresh push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) on Friday when he sent Congress a draft Statement of Administrative Action.

That action means that after 30 days, the White House will be able to present Congress with legislation on the TPP.

And on Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chose Ken Salazar, who is an aggressively outspoken supporter of the TPP, to lead her White House transition team, despite the fact that Clinton has come out firmly against the TPP.

Obama has been strongly for the TTP since the beginning, which means (for me at least) that he always supported the corporate rich, who want to break down the national states, the national parliaments, and the national democra- cies, and replace all these powers by the powers of the rich multi-national corporations, served by a new "court" to which nobody has access but the multi-national corporations and the states, and which are manned by lawyers who co-wrote the TTP.

As I have said quite a few times now, this is by far the best plan to impose neofascism on everyone that I have ever known - and while I am certain that Obama will reject that accusation, it is founded on the simple definition of fascism as the rule of the rich and their corporations, and while he certainly rejects it, he also has done all he could to keep anybody from reading [2] all the many new laws he is proposing in the TPP, the TTIP and TiSA: It is best if these new laws are approved by a Senate (and by parliaments in other countries) that knows as little as possible about the laws they have to approve, according to Obama, because "that is good for Free Trade" (which is a bullshit argument, if there ever was one).

Finally, Hillary Clinton is completely incredible as an opponent of the TTP: She has always been for it, as was Obama, and the only reason she now says she is against it is that she wants to be president, while many who will vote for her are against it. But she will - I think - very soon revise her position as soon as she is president.

Next, here is the program of the TiSA, that sounds like the ideal of neofascism (and I will explain myself). To start with, here is step 1:

TiSA will undermine citizens' privacy and governments' sovereignty, and negotiators are hoping to have a deal finalized by the end of this year.

Paola Casale at EconomyInCrisis writes bluntly about TiSA that, "You may be asking: 'how does this affect me?' The best one sentence response I can come up with is: 'how does this not affect you.'"

Fifty-one countries would be initially governed by TiSA, including the United States, the European Union, and 22 other nations from around the world, representing 70 percent of the world's services' trade.

Everybody's privacy will be lost i.e. the secret services will know much more about anyone than anyone can remember about himself or herself, and neither the government nor your national laws will defend you in any way, for everything they do that threatens to diminish the projected profits of the multi-national corporations can be attacked by them, and will be resolved in the new "courts" that the TTP, the TTIP and the TiSA created, to which no one except multi-national corporations and states have access.

This is not an original fascist ideal? I think it is.

Here is step 2 on the TiSA - and please note this about the "leaked texts and summaries": President Obama is such an enormous democrat that he tries his very best (together with the lawyers of the TTP, the TTIP and TiSA) to keep the texts of the new laws he wants very much to see realized completely secret to everyone and as long as he can (which makes it quite improbable many senators will have read much of the TTP, the TTIP or the TiSA they are very strongly prodded to approve by their president).

Based on leaked texts and summaries published by the European Union, it's clear that TiSA aims to go even further than the World Trade Organization (WTO) to globalize markets, functionally destroy national borders, and to create new corporate-friendly rules and regulations in sectors like e-commerce and financial services.

TiSA would include a "standstill clause" for financial services, and Switzerland has proposed that the agreement force all signatories to allow "any new financial service" to enter the market, which would virtually guarantee that banks all over the world, freed from sovereign regulation, would adopt the same sort of reckless speculation that destroyed the global economy just eight years ago.

The deal also aims to make it so that banks and e-commerce outlets like Amazon could send an individual's data out of a TiSA country for processing, regardless of national privacy laws, breaking with centuries of precedent on locally kept business records accounting to David Dayen at The New Republic.

So the presently secret text of the TiSA (also for senators and parliament- arians, and if they do know something about these new laws, they are not allowed to tell anything about them to anyone, nor are they allowed to take any notes in case they did get permission to read parts of it) sees to it (it must be inferred, from the little that is known):

  • that national borders and nations are destroyed,
  • that corporate-friendly rules replace all democratically agreed national laws (indeed in anything that might affect any of the projected profits of any of the multi-national corporations),
  • that financial services get all the liberties they want (and their customers none, nor any state, parliament or national government)
  • that all banks are totally liberated and can do what their executives please, and
  • that all private data on any individual cease being private, and can be send anywhere to anyone.
You think these are not original fascist ideals? (Read Mussolini!). Here is what the article says:

In other words, TiSA will have profound impacts on immigration and employment policies in every single country that takes part in the agreement.

More than that, it will cripple our democratic republic by making it even easier for corporations to manage or strike down our public laws.

Again, and to the best of my knowledge: The TTP, the TTIP and TiSA aim to remove all parliamentary control, all national control, all democratic control and all government control from anything that might affect their projected profits, and they want to give these controls to the executives of the multi-national corporations, and to the "courts" that the TTP, the TTIP and TiSA will set up (that are open only to multi-national corporations and nations, whose inhabitants will have to pay the projected losses in profits that the multi-national corporations "suffered", from their taxes).

Here is more on what TiSA will do for the multi-national corporations, and against any person who is not an executive in them:

Dayen also reported last year that under TiSA, "governments may not be able to regulate staff to patient ratios in hospitals, or ban fracking, or tighten safety controls on airlines, or refuse accreditation to [bad] schools and universities. Foreign corporations must receive the same 'national treatment' as domestic ones, and could argue that such regulations violate their ability to provide the service."

Based on leaked documents, we know that democratically passed government regulations would only be allowed so long as they are not "more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of service."

That would likely mean gutting important rules on financial services, foreign investment limits and it could force state-owned public services around the world to compete with foreign corporations.

Again, all of this can be done (again) on the basis of the TTP, TTIP and/or
TiSA rule that whatever harms the projected profits of a multi-national corporation may be put, for that reason, in "courts" (surrected by
the TTP,
TTIP and/or TiSA), which will fine the inhabitants of nations to pay the projected losses on profits of the corporations from their personal taxes.

And note that democracy will last only if it doesn't harm the projected profits of the multi-national corporations: democratic regulations will "only be allowed so long as they are not "more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of service."" (That is: do not diminish the projected profits of the multi-national corporations.)

You think these are not neofascist ideals? Here is the conclusion of the article:

In other words, TiSA isn't just another sweeping regional trade agreement like the TPP or the TTIP.

TiSA aims to corporatize markets and functionally destroy borders around the world so that Corporate Big Brother can know everything about everyone, and so that Big Business can sell anything to anyone, no matter the harm it may cause.

Or as I would put it: TiSA is the original neofascistic plan that will give all powers to the executives of the multi-national corporations, and take all these powers from national parliaments, national governments, and national democracies.

This is what Obama wants. "Because Free Trade Is Good For You." (If and only if you are the CEO of a multi-national corporation, but that he never adds.).

For me it is neofascism - which is here defined as: the taking of most powers from states and democracies and parliaments (by hook or by crook) and giving these powers to the multi-national corporations - and I am very glad I am 66 and not 16, for this is the probable future.

And this article is recommended.

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

[1] Of course everyone these days calls himself "a democrat" (and is much offended if anyone attributes any ignoble motive to them).

[2] Because - as pointed out in earlier Nederlogs on the TTP and the TTIP - these proposed laws are or have been kept a complete secret to absolutely everyone except the multi-national corporations, some of their lawyers, and a few in government.

Everybody else, including the House, the press, and the people who have to pay has been completely excluded from knowing anything, and have been restricted as much as possible: Even the few parliamentarians (Senate or Congress members in the USA, parliamentarians in Europe) who did get permission to read some of them (i) were and are forbidden to tell anyone anything about what they learned, and (ii) were and are forbidden to take any notes.

That is the way in which the most horrible, the most anti-democratic and the worst possible laws can be pushed through, namely by making them too thick, too fat and too legalese to properly read; and by forbidding everyone from reading any until very briefly before voting.

And that is Obama's way.

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