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Nederlog

Sep 26, 2016

Crisis: A Pathological Liar, On Profit, Clinton Vs Trump, On State Terrorism
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Introduction

1.
 Pathological: Lie every 195 seconds
2. Time for Congress to Stop Hollering at CEOs and Take
     Action

3. Clinton, Trump Neck-and-Neck on Eve of First
     Presidential Debate

4. The Deadly Business of War-Zone Medical Care
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 26, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a long and good article in Politico that lists all the lies Trump told in a week: He lies once every 195 seconds, or so it seems; item 2 is about an article of Robert Reich I fail to understand; item 3 is about the fact (?) that Trump and Clinton now are about equally likely to win the elections; and item 4 is about a vast increase in the levels of state terrorism the West employs: It seems now as if hospitals are the places to blow up, instead of protecting them. (And this also seems new since 9/11.)

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click twice to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. And it was yesterday still or again the case. Indeed, this also holds for the opening pages: These too are not renewed at "xs4all", or at least: Not for me.) [1]

1. Pathological: Lie every 195 seconds

The first item
today is by Kyle Cheney and four more journalists:

This starts as follows:

As August ended, a new Donald Trump emerged. Coached by his third campaign management team, he stayed on message, read from a teleprompter and focused on policy. It lasted about a month.

After he lied on Sept. 16 that he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency, POLITICO chose to spend a week fact-checking Trump. We fact-checked Hillary Clinton over the same time.

We subjected every statement made by both the Republican and Democratic candidates — in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter — to our magazine’s rigorous fact-checking process. The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.

I am not really amazed, and this also is a long article that supports its conclusions quite well. I will only pick up a few of the main points, and leave the rest to your interests.

This is on the differences between Trump and Clinton - for indeed Clinton also tells lies, though fewer and less serious:

Trump’s misrepresentations range from false pronouncements (he again wrongly said he opposed the war in Iraq before it began) to the petty (he insisted Clinton had copied him by holding rallies with her plane in the background and insinuated she was “sleeping” when she held no public events).

He contradicted his own policy on providing health care to the poor, overstated the ad-spending discrepancy between his campaign and Clinton’s and exaggerated the size of his primary victories and polling leads.

Clinton is no paragon of truth-telling either. Her misrepresentations, while less frequent, tend to involve the transgressions she’s made over her long career in public life — from her handling of classified information as secretary of state to her campaign’s obfuscation surrounding her health — rather than policy substance. We explore her smaller file of falsehoods here.

Here is the summary of what Politico found, having studied the veracity of Trump during one week in September 2016:

Some metrics on Trump’s statements this week:

  • Number of appearances: six speeches, one town hall, seven TV interviews, zero press availabilities, 37 tweets
  • Combined length of remarks (speeches, interviews): four hours, 43 minutes
  • Raw number of misstatements, exaggerations, falsehoods: 87
  • Rate: One untruth every 3.25 minutes
In fact, there is lots more in the article, for Politico explicitly quotes each of the 87 lies Trump told and tells why these are lies (which I think is a good idea).

I like it and I recommend it, because this is both a decent study of and a good report on Trump's fantasies, lies, bullshit, deceptions etc.

And I also should say that it - still (!) - amazes me that a mad liar like Trump will get about half of the votes, though I know half of the population has an IQ not higher than 100 while it also seems as if the least able in the USA also are both the least well educated in the West and the most deceived.

But even so...

2. Time for Congress to Stop Hollering at CEOs and Take Action

The second item is by Robert Reich on his site:

I think this is mistaken, not so much because Congress seems more like a corrupt House full of greedy mostly rich liars (which is how it appears to me), but because of Reich's Friedmanian assumptions about the economy:

Can we be clear? CEOs have only one goal in mind – making money. If they can make more money by misleading or price gouging, they’ll continue to do so until it’s no longer as profitable.

For years we’ve watched Congress grill CEOs of Wall Street banks about bank fraud.

If it’s not John Stumpf’s sham accounts, it’s JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, whose bank failed to report trading losses (remember the “London Whale?”). Or it’s Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, whose bank defrauded investors.

Wells Fargo’s Strumpf made $19 million last year, partly because all those new accounts helped maintain the bank’s profit machine. Sure, the bank was fined $185 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the fraud, but that’s chicken feed relative to what the bank pulls in. Between April and July, 2016 alone it had revenues of $22.16 billion.

Why should we expect Wells Fargo or any other big bank to stop such frauds, when they’re so lucrative?

The opening statement seems to simply repeat Milton Friedman's exhortation that CEOs and businesses have only one moral norm, which is to make as big a profit as they can.

For me, that is a sick and insane statement that amounts to "Exploit! Abuse! Deceive! That Is Your Duty As Rich Men! We Want More Inequalities! We Are For The Few Rich In Any Case!"

In fact, I am - after more than 2000 years of seeing the few rich take almost everything from the many poor (I am 66, but I do have a good knowledge of history) - totally against profit as a norm for either civilization or the economy.

Milton Friedman sanctified the sick greed and the degenerate egoism of the rich few. And Robert Reich supports this (as indeed do the vast majority of economists, I admit).

I think Reich is wrong for at least three major reasons:

(1) profit as such - including completely fair profits - is the completely
      wrong
"moral norm" to build a real civilization: This is not a moral norm,
     for it has nothing to do with either morality or ethics, but only with
     greed and egoism;
(2) maximizing profit as such is a systematic attempt to give all the
     advantages to the very richest in society (which always are less than 5%);
(3) profit without strong controls on their legality are illegal means of
     rich frauds to get even more than they would have if they acted legally.

Also, I do not really understand Reich, I fear - but indeed I had communist parents and grandparents, who were right - in my opinion - about capitalism, if also mistaken in their deeper analyses, whereas Reich's aim (according to the title of one of his books) is to save capitalism.

I will not argue the above three propositions here and now, except for observing that (i) a human civilization is based on moral and ethical norms, that is, on what people like and dislike very much rather than on some other basis, and that (ii) there is now more than 2000 years of evidence that the profits of the rich are deeply unfair and dishonest, and only help the rich, who always - and necessarily, in a profit-oriented set-up - are a small group compared to the many they exploit.

Having said this, I go to the next Reichian proposition I find quite incomprehensible:

Why should we expect Mylan or any other pharmaceutical company to refrain from yanking up the price of lifesaving drugs as high as the market will bear?

One reason: Because this would give the few pharmaceutical rich guys (and gals) extreme riches, most of which have to be paid by the many poor. Another reason: Because Reich doesn't even mention that pharmaceutical companies have been operating for at least 35 years on lies, frauds and deceptions. A third reason: Because profits are about the least fit to create a fair and equal civilization in which all human talents get a fair chance, instead of merely the talents of liars, frauds, and deceivers to get rich at the costs of the many.

But then again: Why argue with someone who seems sold on profits, indeed on the maximum profits a CEO can get, without having the least attention to any alternative set-up of society? [2]

Finally, here is another reason why addressing Congress to readjust the schemes by which enormous profits are being made by the rich just will not work (and besides: I did not read much about Congresses supposed grilling of Wall Street CEOs: instead, what I saw were ever more Wall Street CEOs being offered government jobs, and increasing their own yearly millions without being prosecuted for their crimes in any way by either the Obama or the Bush governments):

Meanwhile, Congress has allowed Wall Street banks and pharmaceutical companies to accumulate vast market power that invites wrongdoing.

And therefore Reich advices Congress to "stop hollering at CEOS"? I'm sorry: I don't think Congress will do anything useful for the non-rich.

3. Clinton, Trump Neck-and-Neck on Eve of First Presidential Debate

The third item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, and indeed is the only bit I will quote from this article:

On the eve of the first presidential debate of 2016, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump neck-and-neck.

Though Clinton's numbers top Trump's, her leads are all within the poll's 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

In a four-way matchup, 46 percent of likely voters say they'd vote for Clinton and 44 percent for Trump. The Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson would get 5 percent, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein 1 percent. In a two-way matchup, Clinton leads Trump among likely voters 49 percent to 47 percent.

I say. And I do so mainly because (i) Jill Stein pulls all of 1% of the vote - which is considerably less than I expected, although it also seems to me completely deserved (for she simply is not a good candidate, and I am sorry if you think otherwise [3]) and because (ii) it seems as if it is the case that if Gary Johnson were to bow out, it may be probable Trump will win the presidency.

It should be added, though, that this is merely momentary, far from certain, and it still is over 5 weeks till the elections.


4. The Deadly Business of War-Zone Medical Care

The fourth item is by Katrin Kuntz on Spiegel International:
The following two quotations are in fact from the first of four parts in Spiegel International, and I ought to add that while the problem that the long article takes up is quite serious, I didn't like the style. [4]

But the following is true, and is in fact about the massive amounts of totally illegal state terrorism (as distinguished from terrorism by others than officials from states) that the West engages in, quite deliberately, and since 9/11:

For decades, hospitals had been treated as the last havens of humanity in times of war. In keeping with the Hippocratic oath, doctors treated the wounded without regard for their political views, race or religion. Whether farmer, scholar, Assad supporter, Taliban member, Huthi rebel or Islamic State (IS) fanatic, every human being must receive medical care, even in a war, if he or she is stricken and no longer fighting. Under the Geneva Conventions, ratified by 196 countries, human beings have a right to medical treatment. Doctors and hospitals are also protected under the Geneva Conventions.

The conventions are a sliver of civilization in the midst of the barbarity of war. But with a number of countries no longer abiding by international law in armed conflicts, this achievement is now under threat. In fact, four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are currently participating in coalitions that have bombed hospitals in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Yes, that is true. And therefore four out of five of the permanent members of the United Nations are indulging their own kind of state terrorism for their own ends, which in fact largely coincide with the interests of the rich in ther countries.

It is in fact a totally insane set-up for the most total war that is possible - but it is conducted mostly by rich Western nations against poor non-Western nations.

And indeed the article is correct - to the best of my knowledge - that this kind of massive state terrorism, that now includes bombing hospitals, seems to be new since 9/11 - that thus "justified" both the NSA's sick and degenerate attempts to get secret dossiers on all 7 billion inhabitants of the world and "justified" state terrorism against anyone who is not happy with state terrorism (which includes both non-state terrorists and non-terrorists like me: I think my data - like most people's - are illegally downloaded for the benefit of the NSA).

Here is what does happen since 9/11:

In the era of the War on Terror, governments are increasingly ignoring the rights of their wounded enemies, who they characterize as terrorists or criminals. In contrast to the combatants in earlier wars, they seek to refuse treatment to their enemies.

This development is extremely dangerous for humanitarian aid workers. Many warring parties see them as supporters of terrorists and are disregarding the neutrality of medical professionals in war zones. As a result, hospitals have gone from being protected zones to death traps.

That is: In the era of the War in Terror, Western goverments are increasingly terrorizing everyone who rejects Western set-ups or Western rich CEOs, and now they are doing it even to the extent of intentionally destroying hospitals, which is illegal, immoral, and quite fascistic. [5]

---------------
Notes
[1]  Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] I am not saying realizing an alternative to capitalism is easy, nor am I saying this will happen without massive fights with the rich, who are the only ones to profit from capitalism-as-is (which is unlike capitalism-as-was: the present system is a yahooist system of exploitation that has given up and deregulated all legal restraints on profit-making, fraud and degeneracy).

I am saying that Reich is supposed to have heard that there are alternatives, and that he should at least have mentioned them: Not everyone thinks maximum profit is the best and only moral rule for human societies.

[3]
As to Jill Stein: I suppose I like the program she stands for better than any other program of other candidates - but I also suppose that she is completely unelectable, and would be so if she were to poll ten or twenty times as much as the 1% she seems to pull now.

Then again, while neither of the above points is against Jill Stein, I have to admit that she doesn't seem to be a good presidential candidate to me (wholly aparty from the fact that she will never be elected) either: She simply doesn't speak well enough, for a presidential candidate.

And it does seem (from these results, which I do not know whether to believe) that if she pulls no more than 1% that her attempts to move many supporters of Bernie Sanders (who does not support Stein, but supports Clinton) to her side simply failed.

[4] I have explained this before, but will do so again: About 50 years ago (!) I started looking into the New York Review of Books and found immediately that nearly all the writers there indulged in a style that starts by condescending to what the journalists suppose to be "the human interests" of their readers by
putting forward the person of someone they are supposed to know personally (though that also is often doubtful).

It nearly always seems to be a fake to me and I don't like it, but now it seems to have spread to Spiegel as well. (This story starts thus: "
Dr. Muhamed brought the baby girl into the world in the midst of a war zone in southern Syria. A few hours later, his hospital lay in ruins." I do not know Dr. Mumamed (and never heard of him); I do not know the baby girl (and never heard of her); I also do not know whether she lived, and one is not told in the article. I don't like "personalizing" a story in this fake way, especially not as these are about the only items that are somehow "personalized", and this always happens at the start of the story, the last 50 years.)

[5] I am willing to suppose that some may believe "fascistic" is the wrong term. If so: What other term would you propose is correct for intentionally destroying hospitals, which is forbidden by more than 190 nations?

(And no, I don't think Isis, or Al Qaeda etc. is more humane than the USA. I am simply against the terrorist violence of both parties, or indeed of all warring parties.)


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