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Nederlog

Sep 27, 2016

Crisis: Police Killings, The Left and Trump, Olbermann on Trump, USA and Vidal
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Introduction

1.
Police Killings Won’t Stop
2. The Left Underestimates the Danger of Trump
3. Keith Olbermann: 74 Terrible Things Donald Trump Has
     Done...This Month

4. America the Great ... Police State
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a article by Chris Hedges on the American police and the USA; item 2 is about an interesting article by Anil Gupta with which I agree: The Left does - seriously! - underestimate the danger of Trump; item 3 is about a new video by Keith Olbermann about 74 more lies by Trump (and I couldn't find any text for it (?!)); and item 4 is about a 2009 article by Gore Vidal on the American police, and on the USA as a police state (which is accurate at least in suggesting that major things must be wrong with a police force that kills 700 mostly black men in a year, almost without any punishments of the police).

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload 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/reload 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. Police Killings Won’t Stop

The first item
today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
The corporate state, no matter how many protests take place in American cities over the murder of unarmed citizens, will put no restraints on the police or the organs of security and surveillance. It will not protect the victims of state violence. It will continue to grant broader powers and greater resources to militarized police departments and internal security forces such as Homeland Security. Force, along with the systems of indoctrination and propaganda, is the last prop that keeps the corporate elites in power. These elites will do nothing to diminish the mechanisms necessary for their control. 
Let me remind you first that the American police killed some 700 persons (mostly black, mostly male) during the last year. That is about 2 a day. There are some prosecutions, but not many, and it seems most policemen who do kill a black male get off with few problems and hardly any punishments.

And that seems to be the rule now. Here is more, that sketches in some background, indeed in terms of what I called the previous (Keynesian) system of capitalism-with-a-human face, as opposed to the present (Friedmannite) system of capitalism-without-human-face:

The corporate state, by pillaging the nation, has destroyed capitalism’s traditional forms of social control. The population is integrated into a capitalist democracy by decent wages and employment opportunities, labor unions, mass-produced consumer products, a modest say in governance, mechanisms for marginal reform, pensions, affordable health care, a judiciary that is not utterly subservient to the elites and corporate power, the possibility for social, political and economic advancement, good public education, arts funding and a public broadcasting system that gives a platform to those who are not in service to the elites. These elements make possible the common good, or at least the perception of the common good.
Yes, indeed. And that was the system that was constructed in the 35 years between 1945 and 1980, and that was deconstructed and deregulated systematically in the over 35 years since 1980: Capitalism-with-a-human face was changed (and still is changing) to capitalism-without-a-human face.

And please note that the first system was created mostly by laws, and that the second system resulted when many laws were deregulated, because they did not serve the aspirations for more power and more riches of the rich.

Then there is this about propaganda (which is defined by me as:
Slanted, biased, prejudiced or partial presentation of something that is meant to produce a state of belief that is not proportional to the evidence):
Propaganda is not solely about instilling an opinion. It is also about appropriating the aspirations of the citizenry into the vocabulary of the power elite. The Clintons and Barack Obama built their careers mastering this duplicity. They speak in words that reflect the concerns of the citizenry, while pushing through programs and legislation that mock those concerns.
Actually - while I agree with Chris Hedges' general point - one may wonder whether this duplicity (which is indeed what it is) is propaganda.

In a way it is, but it is also the case that many leaders, especially Democrats, seem to be two quite different persons when (i) addressing their voters with very leftist, very egalitarian, very progressive talk, and when (ii) enacting the laws that are very often not leftist, not egalitarian, not progressive, but that mostly do benefit the few very rich.

One example is Obama, who got a Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009 when he hadn't done anything but talk, but who managed to upgrade the whole atomic program of the USA for over a trillion dollars. Anyway...

This is about the reasons to expand (!) police powers:
The fiction used to justify expanded police powers, a fiction perpetrated by Democratic politicians such as Bill Clinton and Obama, is that a modernized police will make possible a just and post-racial America. White supremacy, racism and corporate exploitation, however, are built into the economic model of neoliberalism and our system of “inverted totalitarianism.”
And this is a fiction, because you can't get a better police by expanding their powers. Also, I think the combination of "neoliberalism and our system of “inverted totalitarianism" is well indicated by the term neofascism. (More about this in a later Nederlog.)

Next, there is this on deindustrialization (which was mostly due to deregulations, that allowed the rich to transport their factories - financially or physically or both - to third-world countries that pay vastly less in wages):
The wreckage left behind by deindustrialization created a dilemma for the corporate state. The vast pools of “surplus” or “redundant” labor in our former manufacturing centers meant the old forms of social control had disappeared. The corporate state needed harsher mechanisms to subjugate a population it condemned as human refuse. Those on probation and parole or in jails or prisons grew from 780,000 in 1965 to 7 million in 2010. The kinds of federal crimes punishable by death leaped from one in 1974 to 66 in 1994, thanks to the Clinton administration. The lengths of prison sentences tripled and quadrupled.
Note first that between 1965 and 2010 there was a ten-fold increase in the number of people in American jails, and while there was 1 ground to condemn somebody to death in 1974, the Democrat Clinton introduced 65 (!) additional grounds to kill people legally.

Then about deindustrialization (the major problems which in my opinion are just beginning): Vast amounts of people have been put out of work, because the factories they worked in were closed, and their jobs were given to poor Indians or poor Chinese, who earn less than 1/10th of what Americans got for the same work.

The propagandists propagandize that all these people will get new jobs "in service", but there are few jobs "in service"; most pay less than the previous low incomes workers earned; many of these "jobs" are not stable but flexible, which implies more loss of incomes; and besides none of the "service" jobs is underpinned by a real industry producing real commodities - for the real industries now work for the most part in India or China. [2]

I merely listed a few problems: I did not really discuss them, let alone solve them. This is the last bit that I will quote from the article:

State-administered violence is all that lies between the corporate state and widespread unrest. The power elites know it. They also know that as this unrest begins to define the white underclass, the legal and physical shackles perfected for poor people of color can easily be expanded. Rights in America have become privileges. And the corporate state has created legal mechanisms, including the loss of our right to privacy, to remove these privileges the instant it feels threatened.

Here I will only comment on "the loss of our right to privacy", which was stolen from absolutely everyone with any computer or any cellphone between 2001 and 2016, also in complete contradiction with all democratic rules, all egalitarian rules, and most legal rules, and which - in my opinion, at least, which is why I am very glad that I do not have children - is about the best possible guarantee that American capitalism will proceed from its present inhuman face to one that is fully neofascistic.

For power was the end of the NSA, very much more than beating terrorism, [3] and now that they know (implicitly at present) almost everything almost anyone knows, it will be (in my opinion) a mere matter of time until this enormous
power gets abused to its full extent. [4]

And this is a fine article that is recommended.

2.
The Left Underestimates the Danger of Trump

The second item is by Arun Gupta on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, and seems quite justified to me, and indeed also important, because Gupta's title (that may be extended to the "Left", the left, and the "left" [5]) is correct:

I know we just had the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, but there is little to celebrate at such a grim moment. That being the likelihood Trump may very well win.

If he does, Black Lives Matter will be declared a domestic terrorist outfit, just like the Earth Liberation Front was under Bush.

Trump and Attorney General Giuliani would relish using the National Guard to crush blockades of oil pipelines and trains, and indigenous people defending their lands. There will be no more climate justice movement or even hesitant steps toward limiting climate change.An English-only law would likely be passed, DACA be withdrawn, and sanctuary cities outlawed. White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the Klan, and the Alt-Right would all be welcome into his administration, overtly or covertly.

There would be an all-out assault on reproductive rights and Planned Parentood.

Yes, indeed - and while I do not know (for certain) what will happen if Trump becomes president, for the simple reason that Trump lies about everything, including about his own lies, I think that one can formulate more or less fair expectations of what is in store, supposing Trump is elected president, namely mostly from generalizing the kind of positions Trump has taken, and the kind of - racist, rightist, authoritarian, lying - associates Trump has gathered around himself.

Here is more that seems to me fair expectations of a Trumpian presidency:

Significant gains made at the National Labor Relations Board in the last few years will be overturned.

Huge swaths of the West under federal control will be turned over to logging, ranching, mining, and oil and gas industries.

Tens of millions would go from inadequate healthcare to no healthcare.

The Alt Right will aggressively disrupt the left.

Massive voter suppression becomes the norm.

There will be organized vigilante violence, perhaps even mini-pogroms, against Muslim and Mexican communities with the state turning a blind eye.

I think none of these expectations is odd or sensational. Here is more:

This would just be the beginning. Trump makes Reagan’s Voodoo economic policies like a beacon of rational economic planning. His combination of budget-busting tax cuts, decimating social welfare, roiling U.S. alliances, and abrogating free-trade deals would send the economy into a nosedive. As soon as a recession hits, Trump would immediately go hunting for scapegoats to distract his followers. This could include a ban on Muslim immigration, a registration program, and mass round-ups of immigrants, meaning concentration camps to hold them before they were ousted, overseen by his “deportation force” of Brownshirts.

There is a quaint notion on the left that somehow Trump is hot air. This ignores the dynamics he’s set in motion that will make new types of state-sponsored racial violence all but inevitable.
Trump is not "hot air": He is a real and very major danger that needs only one more win to become the most powerful man on earth. Also, it is not just Trump: It is the whole association of people combined with him.
 
The article ends as follows:

This election is a choice between two movements. Do you want to see movements like Black Lives Matter, Climate Justice, low-wage workers, immigrant rights, and other left social forces continue to grow and develop? Or do you want to see Neo-Nazis, the Klan, the Alt-Right on the offense and backed by a Trump administration?

That indeed seems the choice the Americans face - and indeed not only the Americans, for a Trumpian presidency will effect the whole earth, and will make it much worse than it is now. (But non-Americans cannot vote, although they will be much influenced, almost certainly.)

3. Keith Olbermann: 74 Terrible Things Donald Trump Has Done...This Month

The third item is by Keith Olbermann on Youtube:
I could not find the text of this (!!). I did try but had no luck. But I like Keith Olbermann, and he does speak out against Trump, indeed by simply listing the extremely many lies Trump used.

And I did find a text for the previous listing of 176 lies - which together with the present list of lies makes me say, once again, and speaking as a psychologist:


When I say that Trump is insane, this is one of the things I have in mind: A person who competes for the presidency with a total disregard for any kind of truth, and on the basis of lying every third minute in his speeches (see here), cannot be sane.

Here is also the main reason for Trump's success, so far:

Because almost no one in the main media - even! - had the courage or the rationality to say - for about half a year, indeed, at least - that the extremely many lies Trump advances are lies.

If Trump becomes the next president of the USA, it is mostly because of the combined forces of the main media, who sanctioned almost every lie uttered in the last six months as if it was a serious contribution, which should not, and indeed was not called a lie, even if everyone outside the main media insisted these were all lies, and the extremely bad education most poor people get these days in the USA.


4. America the Great ... Police State

The fourth and last item today is by Gore Vidal on Truthdig:

This article was written and published originally in 2009. Gore Vidal (<- Wikipedia) died in 2012, indeed briefly before I discovered him. My discovery, together with a considerable selection from interviews with and texts by Vidal is here, and I quote two paragraphs from it (with an added link and some added bolding) that I wrote then:
I found he is a fairly well known writer of novels and essays and film scripts; that he has a patrician background: Cousins with people like Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Jackie Kennedy; personally known to John Kennedy; well educated and erudite in literature and history; something of a war hero (in WW II); and one of the first to write openly about homosexuality in the US, namely in 1948. He also was witty, and a good conversationalist with a caustic tongue.

Most of the above is from the Wikipedia lemma on him, and from some other fairly superficial internet searches, and I certainly never read anything by him, but he does seem to have been an interesting man, also and especially because he was his own person, and thought for himself, something that many believe they do, and few really can do.
Since we are more than four years further, I can say now what I think of Gore Vidal as a writer of historical fiction, because I have meanwhile read some of his books: It may be because I anyway don't like historical fiction much (which is fiction about actually existing historical persons), but I did not like his fiction. (It isn't bad, but I did not find it interesting, simply because I cannot distinquish between fact and fiction.)

I do like his essays: They are usually well written, well informed and perceptive.

This is from the 2009 article:

But what was most alarming was the plain fact that neither the president nor a “stupid” local policeman seemed to understand the rules of behavior in a new America, where we find ourselves marooned as well as guarded (is that the verb?) by armed police who have been instructed that they are indeed, once armed, the law and may not be criticized verbally or in any other way and are certainly not subject to any restrictions as to whom they arrest or otherwise torment.

This is rather worse than anyone might have predicted, even though the signs have been clear for some years that ours is now a proto-fascist nation and there appears to be no turning back; nor, indeed, much awareness on the part of our ever-alert media. Forgive me if you find my irony heavy, but I too get tired of carrying it about in “the greatest nation in the country,” as Spiro Agnew liked to say.

I think that was and is more or less correct: Since 9/11 nearly all rules of democracy and capitalism have been transformed into much harsher and much more unequal rules, indeed often more or less implicltly, and without clearly stating the implications to the people.

Also, I agree that a nation where in one year some 700 mostly black men get killed by the police, while there are more people in prison than in any Western nation, is fairly called "a proto-fascist nation", also because the financial differences between the few very rich and the 5 to 10% who willingly serve them for good pay, and the very many who are poor, grew more and more and more ever since 1980.

Here is some more on the American police:

Every municipality is complaining about local police forces run wild. And no one does anything about it. And our masters are armed to the teeth and would seem more likely to fire at us instead of at the troublemakers. I can’t think of any civilized country that would allow this, from the look of these bulky guardians of the peace, to whom no right-minded person would allow even a slingshot to be given. So, we are a weirdly militarized citizenry governed by the worst elements in the United States, and something is bound to blow up, as I have felt for some time now. In my wanderings around the U.S., I talk to people without money, without power, ordinary voters, as well as nowadays, people maimed by war, or time, or life or whatever, and I am convinced more and more that this is a vicious country in which the police are allowed to run amok, absolutely independent of anyone, and that is why from time to time they are allowed to get away with murder.

I agree (at least) with the thesis that "we are a weirdly militarized citizenry governed by the worst elements in the United States": The USA is "weirdly militarized" in (i) containing far more guns than people and in (ii) allowing almost everyone to buy almost any weapon, and I agree that the leaders who are elected are often the least honest major liars, while real power is exercised by professional military men or by the professional police, and both groups (for the lower ranks, at least) seem often to be recruited from the most stupid and/or the most sadistic.

And there is finally this, with which I partially disagree (perhaps for mostly personal reasons):

So let me mention the real issue. The real issue is class. We have the greatest divide between the very rich and the very poor of any country on Earth, surpassing even France. And this division gets wider and wider as financial disasters overwhelm us.

My disagreement is with the term "class", and I disagree with it mostly because it doesn't seem to add anything real (other than confusion) to the obvious differences and oppositions between the few very rich, who dictate most that happens in the USA, and the many non-rich.

Then again, I agree that the USA has "the greatest divide between the very rich and the very poor of any country on Earth", while I mostly disagree with
the term "class" because I got a Marxist education that I got rid off in 1970.

It may be that Vidal uses it in another sense, and as I said: I agree that there
is a great difference between the rich and the non-rich, indeed in good part because the few rich also command most of the powers there are.

---------------
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 only articulating the problem here. In fact, I do not know of any solution within capitalism: The sources of the riches have been transplanted by the rich to the third world, and I do not see how under capitalism it will be prevented that most of the West (of course: with the exceptions of the very rich) soon will be as poor or poorer than the third world.

I know this is not yet the case, but then the deindustrialization I am speaking about started a mere 20 years ago or so.

[3]
For me the whole baloney about terrorism was a deliberate lie by most of the Western politicians to justify the stealing of everybody's privacy, and acquire a full and secret dossier on absolutely everyone with a computer or cellphone connected to the internet.

The end of those thefts was to acquire the greatest power anyone ever had, that this time extends to almost everyone anywhere, and by now I must conclude that the NSA, the GCHQ etc. etc. know (implicitly, at least: they may not employ - yet - sufficiently many people to read everything or most things they do have) most things there are to know about everyone (including you, dear reader), and indeed a lot better than most people can recall themselves. And all in secret.

And see the next note:

[4]
Again: Politics is and always was about power (and not about terrorism, democracy or law), and the greatest power anyone could ever acquire is to know everything about anyone, and - it seems to me - the
NSA and the GCHQ have had now 15 years of nearly complete liberty to
plunder, steal and appropriate absolutely everything absolutely anyone put on line, or in mails, or writes on his or her computer.

I don't think they have wasted their chances, and I think they have by now most of what they wanted.

[5] This refers back to a note I wrote in an earlier Nederlog. Here it is again, because it seems to clarify a lot to me:

I have quite a few times pointed out in Nederlog (and elsewhere on the site) that my parents were communists for over 45 years, and my grandparents were communists or anarchists, which gives me - who gave up communism aged 20, but retained a classically leftist outlook and values - a quite rare perspective.

This also operates here, and this time in the sense that I should - to be minimally adequate - distinguish at least four different kinds of leftism:

(1) the classical Left, to which my parents and grandparents belonged, which was characterized by (i) rejecting capitalism, desiring some form of socialism, and believing in the need for some form of revolution, and (ii) a strong belief
in real facts, real science and real discussions between different kinds of people;
(2) a kind of classical "Leftism", to which rather a lot of the press, especially in the early Seventies, belonged: This was like (1) except that it was mostly pretense, that was not based on much knowledge or much experience, but was mostly fashion, though certainly not less fanatic while it lasted;
(3) the new leftists, to which most of the left belonged in the early Eighties, who gave up anti-capitalism, revolution, and socialism, and instead argued for
feminism, environmentalism and political correctness, and who pretended to be but were not the follow-up of the classical Left: They were a quite other type of politics and morality; and
(4) the new "leftists", to which most of the left belonged since the late Eighties, which were strongly moved by postmodernism: They were much like the new leftists, except that they rejected truth, facts, and intersubjective norms, and replaced these by propaganda, incantations and - lots of - political correctness according to which absolutely no one is any better in any respect
than you are (whoever you are, though perhaps with the proviso that you need to pretend to be a new leftist).

There is a lot more to be said, but I definitely know lots of persons who rather definitely fall in one of these four groups of people. Also, for me the order is
from likable though factually often incorrect to despicable and intentionally completely relativistic.

And in case you doubt it: I am in group (1), but I do know this is currently a fairly rare group (quite unlike with how it was in the Seventies).


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