Aug 30, 2016

Crisis: Greenwald on Brazil and Clinton, Burkinis In France, After Trump
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1. Glenn Greenwald on Brazilian President Dilma
     Rousseff's Impeachment

2. Glenn Greenwald: Regardless of Trump, Journalists
     Must Do Their Homework and Investigate Clinton

3. As France Lifts Municipal Burkini Ban, Let’s Ask Why
     We Should Care What Other People Wear

After Trump

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is from an interview with Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now! about Brazil (and there are other interesting interviews with him on the current Democracy Now!); item 2 is also about Glenn Greenwald on investigating the Clintons (he is for and so am I); item 3 is about France's burkini ban (which is totalitarian bullshit, in my opinion); and item 4 is about Reich's expectations of what might happen after Trump is defeated. (I don't agree but don't know either.)

1. Glenn Greenwald on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's Impeachment

The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction (and incidentally, there are several more interesting interviews with Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now! today):

Embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is slated to testify today at her impeachment trial—a trial that many are calling a coup by her right-wing political rivals. Rousseff has denounced the proceedings and called for early elections to unite the country. Rousseff’s impeachment stems from accusations she tampered with government accounts to hide a budget deficit. She was suspended earlier this year and has maintained her innocence, accusing her political opponents of spearheading the proceedings to shield themselves from prosecution and undo years of progressive policies. The Brazilian group Transparency Brazil says 60 percent of Brazilian lawmakers are currently under criminal investigation or have already been convicted of crimes ranging from corruption to election fraud. Rousseff’s opponents now need 54 votes, or two-thirds of the 81-seat Senate, to convict her of violating budget laws. Her impeachment would end 13 years of left-wing Workers’ Party rule in Brazil and bring to power interim President Michel Temer for the remaining two years of Rousseff’s term. Temer is also deeply unpopular and currently under investigation himself, accused of receiving illegal campaign contributions linked to the state oil company Petrobras.

I am copying this because the introductions on Democracy Now! are usually good, and also because I assume you know a little about the current political affairs in Brazil. (And here are two Nederlogs about it: This is the first and this the last in Nederlog on the topic. There are more in the index.).

In what follows I try to update - rather sketchily, I admit - the above information up to yesterday (the day of the interview).

Here is Greenwald on the general background of Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial:

GLENN GREENWALD: So, literally this very minute, at 9:00 a.m. local time, 8:00 Eastern, Dilma is arriving at the Senate, where she will confront her accusers, in essence, and give her final 30-minute speech as part of her impeachment trial. She doesn’t need to do it; she chose to do it.
And it’s really quite remarkable, for so many reasons, including the fact that, as you said, the majority of the Senate, just as was true of the majority in the House that impeached her, the majority of the Senate sitting in judgment of her are people who themselves are extremely corrupt, if not outright criminals.
So you have a band of criminals removing this woman who became twice the elected president of her country, in a country that had never previously elected a woman, only 19, 20 months ago with 54 million votes. It’s really extraordinary to watch it unfold (...)

Part of the reason it happens this way is that Rousseff was forced to make a coalition government. It are her rich and corrupt coalition partners who are trying to oust her by the accusation that she is corrupt, which is an accusation that is also directed at Lula, who previously won the Brazilian elections for the Left.

Here are Rousseff's opinions on her impeachment:

PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF: [translated] It isn’t an impeachment; it’s a coup. I did not commit high crimes and misdemeanors. There is no justification for an impeachment charge. I don’t have bank accounts abroad. I never received bribes. I never condoned corruption. The trial against me is fragile, legally inconsistent, unjust, unleashed against an honest and innocent person. The greatest brutality that can be committed against any person is to punish them for a crime they did not commit. No injustice is more devastating than condemning an innocent. What is at stake is respect for the ballot box, the sovereign desires of the Brazilian people and the Constitution. What is at stake are the achievements of the last 13 years.

I think that is quite justified, for the following reason, which is quite independent of the validity of the accusations against her (which I don't
take seriously, but which should be investigated properly):

She is being impeached by her coalition partners in the government, who are not proposing new elections (as is normally the case if a leader gets impeached), which indeed they would probably loose, but are simply taking over the government (in which they are a minority party), after which they can start altering the laws and return Brazil to the rule of the rich and the corrupt.

Here is Greenwald explaining it:

GLENN GREENWALD: The reason she’s being removed is because she is an unpopular president. The economy of Brazil is weak and is—a lot of people are suffering because of it. And as you indicated earlier in the opening package, the party to which she belongs, the Workers’ Party, has been in power for 13 years, and the reason they’ve been in power for 13 years is because they’ve won four consecutive national elections. And there is no way that the opposition, which is composed of oligarchs and business interests and media barons and conservatives and uber-nationalists—this opposition faction has concluded that they are incapable of defeating this party in the ballot box, meaning within the democratic process, and so they are opportunistically using her unpopularity and the serious mistakes she’s made to remove her undemocratically.
The vice president, who has now become the interim president, who’s about to become the president, is not part of the Workers’ Party. He’s part of the centrist party and has aligned himself with this right-wing party, the PSDB, that has continuously lost at the ballot box. Their candidates have been rejected. And yet, as a result of this impeachment process, the very party and the very ideology that the Brazilian people have over and over rejected, when asked to vote, when asked to consider their candidates, is now ascending to power. And their agenda of privatization and cutting social programs and keeping taxes low to benefit the oligarchs is now gradually being imposed (..)

Yes indeed. There's a lot more in this article and also in other articles on today's Democracy Now! And the present review was about the minimally required explanation I could give.

This is a recommended article, with a lot more.

2. Glenn Greenwald: Regardless of Trump, Journalists Must Do Their Homework and Investigate Clinton

second item is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig and also involves Glenn Greenwald:

This starts as follows:
Donald Trump has become “such a kind of dangerous presence on the American landscape that a lot of people have become afraid of doing their jobs and scrutinizing his opponent,” Glenn Greenwald told “Democracy Now!”
I say. I am quite willing to believe it (journalism is getting worse and worse in the USA, and not only there), but it is of course complete nonsense not to investigate one candidate because you dislike his or her opponent (for you never can trust any leading politicians, and you should always be willing to investigate their claims, that is: if you are a serious journalist).

Glenn Greenwald clearly is a serious journalist, and gives this example of what he would like to see investigated about the Clintons:

Giving a demonstration of the kind of scrutiny he wants his colleagues to practice, Greenwald asked why the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia and other tyrannical states in the Persian Gulf.

“Here you have Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton having this Clinton Foundation, with billions of dollars pouring into it from some of the world’s worst tyrannies, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and other Gulf states, other people who have all kinds of vested interests in the policies of the United States government. And at the same time, in many cases, both Bill and Hillary Clinton are being personally enriched by those same people, doing speeches, for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, in front of them, at the same time that she’s running the State Department, getting ready to run for president, and soon will be running the executive branch.

Yes indeed. And in fact I think it is major corruption, while it may also be asked whether it is not treason or a kind of treason to accept millions from
the government of - say - Saudi Arabia, for these millions are clearly given because they expect repayments in some form by the Clintons. [1]

I said this should be asked, and investigated, but precisely both the asking and the investigating are being prohibited by both the Democrats and the Supreme Court on the basis of the following argument:

“And so, the primary defense of Democrats, which is, ‘Look, there is no proof of a quid pro quo. Yes, Hillary Clinton did things that benefited these donors, but you can’t prove that the reason she did them is because she got—the Clinton Foundation got this money or her husband got this money.’ This is an absurd standard. That has been the Republican argument for many years.

“Of course you can’t prove a quid pro quo, because you can’t get into the mind of somebody and show their motives. That was the argument of Antonin Scalia and John Roberts in Citizens United, and Anthony Kennedy."

Actually I think you can prove a quid pro quo (<-Wikipedia), for the simple reason that one doesn't need to go into the mind of anyone. Here is the definition from the just mentioned Wikipedia article (minus a note number):

Quid pro quo ("something for something" or "this for that" in Latin) means an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other. English speakers often use the term to mean "a favour for a favour"; phrases with similar meaning include: "give and take", "tit for tat", and "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours".

This doesn't mention intentions anywhere. This doesn't mean they are not involved, but it seems to me that the pattern that leads to a judgement
that politician X does engage in a quid pro quo with rich donors from country Y
is as follows:
 politician X receives - say - $10 million from the rulers of country Y; and next
 politician X decides upon policies that much benefit
the rulers of country Y.
And that seems to be the principle on which the Clintons operate, and indeed also the principle on the basis of which rich donors give them many millions:
Quid pro quo.

I don't say this is a complete proof, but it is plausible enough, especially if
the receiving (quo) is rather incomprehensible without
the giving (quid). ("Why would the Clintons have favored the dictatorial Saudis? Because the Saudis paid them many millions.")

Here is Glenn Greenwald's appraisal of the real process that is involved:

“And so, the problem here is that the Clintons have essentially become the pioneers of eliminating all of these lines, of amassing massive wealth from around the world, and using that to boost their own political power, and then using that political power to boost the interests of the people who are enriching them in all kinds of ways

To put another name on it: It is corruption (<-Wikipedia).

3. As France Lifts Municipal Burkini Ban, Let’s Ask Why We Should Care What Other People Wear

The third item is by Juan Cole on Truthdig and originally on Informed Comment:
First, see here: This contains my own earlier response to the burkini ban (which I think is pretty insane and quite totalitarian). And second please consider that the title suggests similar other questions:
  • Let's Ask Why We Should Care What Other People Should Think
  • Let's Ask Why We Should Care What Other People Should Say
  • Let's Ask Why We Should Care What Other People's Skin Color Is
Note that the issue is not whether "we" may disagree with what others think or say: Clearly, anyone (who thinks at all) will disagree with quite a lot that some others think or say, and in a democratic state of law [2] anyone is allowed (within broad margins) to think and to say that he or she disagrees with what others say or think.

The issue as formulated is that some people think that they should have the right to prescribe to others what they should think or should say or indeed how they should dress themselves when bathing.

And I think that such people are usually not democrats but totalitarians. And the reason they are is the following:

What someone thinks and how someone dresses are generally not harmful to anyone else, and acts that are not harmful to anyone else should not be forbidden, but be protected, for they are or may be part from one's personal freedoms to differ from others.

Also, this is part and parcel of the ordinary democratic rights one has in a democratic state of law: One can do as one pleases as long as one doesn't
- physically - harm others (within broad margins). [3]

And indeed the French Counsel of State agrees:
The Counsel of State found that wearing a Burkini creates no trouble for public order and is simply not illegal in current French law.  In response, the French right wing has demanded that the National Assembly enact anti-Burkini legislation.  L’Express worries that the French executive, or at least the ministry of interior, might be inclined to appease the Islamophobic and anti-immigrant right wing on this issue.
Well, in that case "the French right wing" simply is totalitarian (and I question whether they may not also want to decide what the proper skin color should be, for proper French).

There is also this (and Cadène seems to belong to the French Ministry of Education):

Cadène said that it is disquieting to see these reactions.  He pointed out that August 26, the date of the verdict, is the anniversary of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man.  Article 10 says, “10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”  He said the members of the National Assembly just are not reacting in accordance with the Rights of Man, which has constitutional force.
In fact, I don't think that "not disturbing the public order" is the proper norm: The proper norms are personal freedoms, and no person's freedoms are in any way abrogated by the manner in which another person dresses (possibly within very broad margins [4]).

Finally, there is also this bit, which I quote because it is funny and is also in line with the earlier Nederlog, in which I said:
In fact, I don't think this crazy dresscode should be forbidden at all, for the same kinds of reasons as I don't think the crazy dresscodes of catholic priests and nuns should be forbidden: It is a matter of personal freedom - in a real
state of law - how you want to dress yourself (apart from nakedness), also if this appears quite crazy for those who don't share your faith.
And this:
it is also at least a bit ironic that now a bikini seems to be the politically correct dress on sunny beaches for catholic French women, while the bikini was rejected as such till well into the Sixties by most catholics
Here is the bathing dress of politically correct French women of 1893:
Let me also point out that the French Third Republic was founded in 1870, and that this swimsuit for women was proposed in 1893 in the French specialty publication, the Fashion Monitor (Le Moniteur de la mode : journal du grande monde):

4. After Trump

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

I recently got a call from a political analyst in Washington. “Trump is dropping like a stone,” he said, convincingly. “After Election Day, he’s history.”

I think Trump will lose the election, but I doubt he’ll be “history.”

Defeated presidential candidates typically disappear from public view. Think Mitt Romney or Michael Dukakis.

But Donald Trump won’t disappear. Trump needs attention the way normal people need food.

I don't know. That is, I don't know whether Trump will lose the election and I also don't know whether Trump will disappear, although I agree with Reich that he "needs attention the way normal people need food".

But I don't know whether the media are willing to pay much attention to a man who is soundly defeated (in Reich's opinion) and who has been revealed to be a grandiose narcissist most of whose statements are total lies.

To be sure, Reich has more:

For starters, he’ll dispute the election results. He’s already warned followers “we better be careful because that election is going to be rigged and I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.“

His first campaign ad, released last week, features an image of a polling site with the word “rigged” flashing onscreen less than two seconds after the spot begins.

OK - but this is before the elections have been decided. There is also this:

Reportedly, Trump is also considering launching his own media network. He’s already hired two of the nation’s most infamous right-wing fight promoters – Roger Ailes, the founder and former CEO of Fox News, and Stephen Bannon, the pugilistic former head of Breitbart News – who’d take to such an enterprise like alligators to mud.

According to one source, Trump’s rationale is that, “win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.”

Incidentally (I corrected it, for I know German): It is "Breitbart". Here is what Reich thinks is the current economical climate:
Most likely to remain after Trump are the economic anxieties Trump exploited. Globalization and technological displacement will continue to rip away the underpinnings of the bottom half of the population, creating fodder for another demagogue.

The real problem isn’t globalization or technological change per se. It’s that America’s moneyed interests won’t finance policies necessary to reverse their consequences – such as a first-class education for all the nation’s young, wage subsidies that bring all workers up to a livable income, a massive “green” jobs program, and a universal basic income

I would have formulated this quite differently, but I agree with what was said in the second paragraph: The rich in the USA will not invest in policies that will not contribute to their riches, and this includes education, wages, livable incomes, environmental programs, and indeed a lot more. [5]

Here is what Reich thinks will happen after November 8:

After Trump, our politics seems likely remain as polarized as before – but divided less between traditional right and left than between establishment and anti-establishment.

Trump will leave the GOP sharply split between its corporate donor class and its working class. Clinton will preside over a party divided only somewhat less dramatically between its own donor class and an increasingly vocal progressive base.

Which raises an intriguing, if unlikely, scenario. What if Trump’s authoritarian populists join with progressive populists to form an anti-establishment third party dedicated to getting big money out of American politics?

The combination could prove an invincible force for wresting back the economy and democracy from the moneyed interests.

My own expectation is that Trump will soon disappear if he doesn't win the elections, simply because he has lost and is a lying extremist. But I may be mistaken, and we will see.

And I consider Reich's scenario as he does it: Quite "unlikely", but again
I may be mistaken as well.

[1] As to "treason or a kind of treason": I am merely inquiring, but it does not seem very unlikely to me that some politician of the USA who accepts millions from dictatorial regimes, and who seems to reward these millions with special treatments of these regimes, is in fact committing treason.

I really don't know, and I am asking because lots of people - like Edward Snowden - have been accused of treason, in quite a few reasons without being guilty.

[2] I am making here two fairly strong assumptions: That a state is a democracy, and that it is a state of law, and the only point I want to make here is that English misses the German and Dutch term "Rechtsstaat", that seems to express what is meant better than "state of law".

[3] This makes "(not) doing physical harm" to others a quite important criterion. I agree, and there is considerably more of this in John Stuart Mills "On Liberty" (which is on my site). And incidentally: I did repair the backgrounds to "On Liberty" and its Notes today.

[4] I know there are margins (although the feelings about what these should be differ rather a lot). I am not interested in what they are or should be, but am interested in the fact that no one is physically harmed by whether someone wears a skirt or trousers, or a bathing suit that covers a lot and one that covers little.

[5] In fact, many corporations seem only interested in what will profit them, and in little else (and Milton Friedman agreed). But again I ask, in case maintaining your own best profit rate entails that you will not invest anything in education, wages, livable incomes, environmental programs, the middle class etc. etc. and are in fact against anyone spending any money on them at all (for that would cost you profits, again), whether you are not committing treason of some kind? For example, because your actions only benefit the rich, and harm the non-rich? And again I am only asking, and don't know.

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