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Nederlog

Oct 12, 2016

Crisis: Hillary, Panama Papers, Big Pharma, US & UK Terrorism, Misogynists
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Introduction

1. 
Why All Progressives Must Vote For Hillary
2. Panama: The Hidden Trillions
3. Big Pharma Spending Big to Defeat Drug Price Measure
4. U.S. and U.K. Continue to Actively Participate in Saudi
     War Crimes, Targeting of Yemeni Civilians

5. All the President’s Misogynists: Why It Took So Long to
     Derail the Trump Train

Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 12, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a Robert Reich article, that I review because I think he is mostly correct (but far too optmistic about Hillary Clinton); item 2 is about a long article by Alan Rusbridger on the Panama Papers, that also is the first of two articles; item 3 is about the attempts by Big Pharma to deceive and delude California's voters (so far without success); item 4 is about a Glenn Greenwald article on Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the U.K. each of which are terrorizing and murdering very many civilians; and item 5 is about an interesting reason why the GOP - at long last - may be dropping Trump: He threatened to grab their wives and daughters by the pussy.


-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more 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. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. The Dutch site still is a mess.

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

---


1. Why All Progressives Must Vote For Hillary

The first item today is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

I continue to hear from many people who call themselves progressives or liberals, but tell me they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.

With due respect, I believe they’re wrong.

I agree, and this article is reviewed because it is by Robert Reich. I agree mostly with him, but not completely, and specifically not about his first argument:

Donald Trump is a dangerous, bigoted, misogynistic, narcissistic megalomaniac with fascist tendencies. If elected president he could wreak irreparable damage on America and the world.

Hillary isn’t perfect but she’s able and experienced. I’ve known her for almost fifty years and worked with her closely in her husband’s administration. She will make a good president.

I agree with the first paragraph. In fact, I liked it when Reich called Trump a fascist, although I corrected him by saying he is a neofascist. [2] I think I was right, but the difference doesn't matter much, at least not for ordinary voters.

But I doubt very much that Hillary Clinton will make a good president. I agree with Reich she is "able and experienced", but since she and her husband got about $120 million dollars (it seems) from the bankers whose interests they so very well defended, which happened in Bill's case by deregulation after deregulation, which allowed the rich to transport their industries to Third World countries - as they were known - where the wages are very much lower, which makes the profits very much higher, and also allows CEOs of multi-billion companies like Apple not to pay taxes. None of that was any good.

Then again, I haven't known Hillary "for almost fifty years", and I also never worked for her husband.

The second argument is OK:

Others claim that even if she’s better than Trump, she’s still corrupt, and they won’t vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

But even if you see Hillary Clinton as the “lesser of two evils,” the greater of two evils in this case is seriously evil.

Yes. I do see Hillary Clinton as the “lesser of two evils”, and not as a candidate for a good presidency, but she is much less evil than her mad and neofascist opponent.

Also - though this argument is not given by Reich - the voters who insist that their vote is too precious to give to “lesser of two evils” are guilty of at least three confusions:

First, they exaggerate their own importance. Second, they engage in a false equivalency. And third, they have no real appreciation the dangers of a Trumpian presidency. [3]

But I leave that to a footnote. Reich's final argument is also mostly correct:

I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries and share people’s frustration with the Democratic Party. I also sympathize with their feeling that a vote for Hillary Clinton would somehow exonerate the Party for the perceived unfairness of its primaries.

But anything disgruntled Democrats may do that increases the odds of a Trump presidency – say, making a “protest” vote for a third-party candidate, or not voting at all – doesn’t just penalize the Democratic Party. It also jeopardizes our future, and that of our children and their children.

Yes. I think it is very likely that I expect very much less of Hillary Clinton than Reich does, and I probably also see her as considerably more negative than Reich does - but even so: Their remain enormous differences between a sane Hillary Clinton, who supports the bankers and the rich, but is not a neofascist, and the insane neofascist that is Donald Trump.

And when you have to choose between an insane neofascist, and a sane supporter of the rich bankers, for it will be the one or the other, you really have to vote for Clinton, though I agree she is not good.

2. Panama: The Hidden Trillions

The second item is by Alan Rusbridger (<- Wikipedia) on the New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows, and in fact is in part a review of five books about the Panama Papers, while it also is Part I of a two-part series about the Panama Papers.

The reason they are quite important is this:
In a seminar room in Oxford, one of the reporters who worked on the Panama Papers is describing the main conclusion he drew from his months of delving into millions of leaked documents about tax evasion. “Basically, we’re the dupes in this story,” he says. “Previously, we thought that the offshore world was a shadowy, but minor, part of our economic system. What we learned from the Panama Papers is that it is the economic system.”
(..)
“The economic system is, basically, that the rich and the powerful exited long ago from the messy business of paying tax,” Harding told an audience of academics and research students. “They don’t pay tax anymore, and they haven’t paid tax for quite a long time. We pay tax, but they don’t pay tax. The burden of taxation has moved inexorably away from multinational companies and rich people to ordinary people.”
Yes and no, though mostly yes. As to the first paragraph:

I think the Panama Papers are quite important and do tell a lot about the illegal manipulations of the very rich, but to say that (bolding added) "
the Panama Papers is the economic system" simply is journalistic exaggeration.

And something similar seems true about the second paragraph:

What is true about "
the rich and the powerful" is - rather - that they pay a lot less taxes than they used to pay; that they pay a lot less than they ought to pay (for - as Justice Holmes said: "Taxes is what we pay for civilization"); and probably also that most of the rich are trying to pay even less taxes than the little they these days should pay, but Harding seems to exaggerate a little (again), at least.

But then the Panama Papers are quite important, and they are also huge. There is this:
It’s doubtful that any one news organization could have  gathered together the amount of expertise needed to work on the material, still less have the language skills, legal resources, and local knowledge to grasp the significance of the characters and defend the stories that emerged. The kinds of collaborative journalism that began with WikiLeaks, Snowden, and the offshore leaks stories found new expression with the Panama Papers and are a pointer to future partnerships.
And there is the information that the Panama Papers consists of approximately 11.5 million documents, which it would take - it was estimated - one individual some twenty-seven years to read all of them. (The Pentagon Papers (<- Wikipedia) that Daniel Ellsberg released in the early 70ies consisted of seven thousand pages.)

What can be learned from the Panama Papers is - for example - this:
A sorry parade of arms smugglers, oligarchs, defense contractors, mafia dons, drug dealers, gambling fraudsters, sanctions breakers, and kleptocrats emerge from the papers. And then there are the eye-catching names. They include the richest man in Syria, a Uruguayan presidential candidate, three current prime ministers, a well-known film director, a former Iraqi vice-president, a top soccer player, a clutch of Arab heads of state, the brother-in-law of the Chinese president. We get glimpses into billions siphoned out of Africa, China, Libya, and Russia—all from a single law firm. How many others have kept their work on tax avoidance secret?
Rusbridger is right in stressing that this is (bolding added) "all from a single law firm", for there are more law firms that do the same for other very rich men.

There is also this on (it seems) English bankers:
Harding was fascinated by the pristine respectability of the London offshore enablers: “I think the kind of big reveal for me was the role played by the West, and law firms, and banks, and so on,” he told his Oxford seminar. “It’s easy to think kleptocracy is a problem of faraway, nasty countries, about which we don’t want to inquire too deeply, but it turned out that we’re the biggest crooks of all, actually, in that we facilitate this.”
I suppose so, but - I have to admit - I do not like Harding, for I have read him on Snowden, and he is too much of an ordinary journalist, in my opinion. In any case, while the quoted passage is probably true, as stated it is nothing but sensation.

Finally, the last bit that I will quote from this article sketches the growth of thefts from the taxes, through 55 years:
By the end of 1959 about $200 million was on deposit abroad. By 1961 the total had hit $3 billion, by which time offshore financial engineering “was spreading to Zurich, the Caribbean, and beyond” as jurisdiction after jurisdiction got in on the game. Today, the economist Gabriel Zucman estimates that there is $7.6 trillion of household wealth in tax havens globally—around 8 percent of the world’s wealth.

This means that tax evasion grew close to a million times as much as it was in 1959, while it currently takes around 1 in every 12 dolllars of "the world’s wealth".

This is a recommended paper that contains a lot more than I quoted, and that also is the first of two parts.

3. Big Pharma Spending Big to Defeat Drug Price Measure

The third item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The battle over a California ballot measure to put a stop to pharmaceutical price gouging is heating up as the election draws near, with Big Pharma pitting itself against consumer watchdogs, parents of sick children, and nurses.

Big Pharma has spent nearly $90 million to defeat Proposition 61, which "would require all prescription drugs purchased by the state of California to be priced at or below the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which pays the lowest price of any federal agency," as the Los Angeles Daily News writes.

The battle takes place just as Mylan, the producer of the life-saving epinephrine injectors known as EpiPens, was fined hundreds of millions of dollars by the Justice Department for overcharging Medicaid for the devices. Mylan infamously raised EpiPen prices by over 500 percent.

I say. Here are two precisifications:

First, it is true "Big Pharma" is evil and only interested in maximum profits, but - since I am now ill for 37 years (starting in the first year of my studies, that I also very brilliantly finished, and without having ever visited any lecture I was not legally forced to, simply because I was and am ill), without even as much as that being admitted by any Dutch bureaucrat and by most Dutch doctors (for 37 years now!) - I do want to add the great majority of American and Dutch medical people:

They simply are each and all fairly rich men (and women) who are mostly interested in their own riches, and do not and did not protest most or any of the very many worsenings that have been introduced by Big Pharma since 1980, which now also include lying and propaganda about medical drugs and medical experiments.

Second, about the EpiPens: They may have been fined, but they did not admit doing any harm (asking five times as much apparently is no harm), and they also contest the rulings of the Justice Department.

Here is a bit about the enormous growth in profits that Big Pharma made lately:

Consumer Watchdog published a scathing report (pdf) Monday that detailed the billions in profits made by the top eight corporate contributors to the effort to defeat Proposition 61.

"[E]ight of the top ten pharmaceutical industry donors fighting Proposition 61 have increased their profits by a combined $37 billion, or 20 percent, over the last decade," the group writes, "reaching a total of $214 billion in gross profits in 2015. All the while, these companies have increased the prices of prescription drugs by as much as 1000 percent."

For as I said: "Big Pharma" is evil and only interested in maximum profits. And they collaborate with most medical doctors, who prescribe their products and often (in the USA at least) seem to get a percentage.

Here is the last bit that I quote from the article, and this time it is a bit of good news:

Thus far, despite Big Pharma's efforts it appears that California's parents, consumer advocates, and nurses are coming out ahead: the most recent poll found that 66 percent of state voters are in favor of Proposition 61.

But the real voting has not been done yet.

4.
U.S. and U.K. Continue to Actively Participate in Saudi War Crimes, Targeting of Yemeni Civilians

The fourth item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

From the start of the hideous Saudi bombing campaign against Yemen 18 months ago, two countries have played active, vital roles in enabling the carnage: the U.S. and U.K. The atrocities committed by the Saudis would have been impossible without their steadfast, aggressive support.

The Obama administration “has offered to sell $115 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia over its eight years in office, more than any previous U.S. administration,” as The Guardian reported this week, and also provides extensive surveillance technology. As The Intercept documented in April, “In his first five years as president, Obama sold $30 billion more in weapons than President Bush did during his entire eight years as commander in chief.”

Most important, according to the Saudi foreign minister, although it is the Saudis who have ultimate authority to choose targets, “British and American military officials are in the command and control center for Saudi airstrikes on Yemen” and “have access to lists of targets.” In sum, while this bombing campaign is invariably described in Western media outlets as “Saudi-led,” the U.S. and U.K. are both central, indispensable participants.
I say, which I mostly do because of the financial news about Obama: First, he "sold $30 billion more in weapons than President Bush did during his entire eight years as commander in chief" and second, he also is busy with renovating and extending the USA's atomic weapons for about a trillion dollars.

Then there is this:

From the start, the U.S.- and U.K.-backed Saudis have indiscriminately and at times deliberately bombed civilians, killing thousands of innocent people. From Yemen, Iona Craig and Alex Potter have reported extensively for The Intercept on the widespread civilian deaths caused by this bombing campaign. As the Saudis continued to recklessly and intentionally bomb civilians, the American and British weapons kept pouring into Riyadh, ensuring that the civilian massacres continued. Every once and awhile, when a particularly gruesome mass killing made its way into the news, Obama and various British officials would issue cursory, obligatory statements expressing “concern,” then go right back to fueling the attacks.
I merely remark that the murderings of innocent civilians = terrorism, indeed on a large scale.

Here is a final bit:

The U.S. and U.K. are the two leading countries when it comes to cynically exploiting human rights concerns and the laws of war to attack their adversaries. They and their leading columnists love to issue pretty, self-righteous speeches about how other nations — those primitive, evil ones over there — target civilians and commit war crimes. Yet here they both are, standing firmly behind one of the planet’s most brutal and repressive regimes, arming it to the teeth with the full and undeniable knowledge that they are enabling massacres that recklessly, and in many cases, deliberately, target civilians.
Yes, indeed. And as I pointed out, the U.S. and the U.K. behave as large scale, military, state supported terrorists (as I have been saying since 2005 (in Dutch)).

5. All the President’s Misogynists: Why It Took So Long to Derail the Trump Train

The fifth and last item today is by Jodi Jacobson on Rewire [4]:
This starts as follows:

For well over a year, Donald Trump has been running a campaign based on blatant racism, sexism, anti-immigrant tirades, and fear-mongering. He has incited violence and encouraged vigilantism. He’s mocked people with disabilities. He has disrespected veterans, former prisoners of war, Gold Star families, the sitting president, and federal judges. He’s equated all refugees with terrorists and called for surveillance of mosques. He’s called women “pigs,” persistently criticized and objectified women for their looks, reportedly groped and harassed women who worked with him, and repeatedly even made suggestive comments about his own daughter.

Through all this time, the GOP establishment has continued to support him both explicitly and implicitly. On Friday, the dam finally broke with the release of what I would call Donald Trump’s “sex tape,” in which Trump brags about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity because of his so-called star power. The tape has brought condemnation by national and state level party leaders across the country, some of whom are calling on him to withdraw from the race.

And many of us are left asking: “What took so long?”

Yes, indeed: Both the sum-up and the question are good. Here is more on the strategy of the GOP:

Because their dominance is under threat, these corporate and religious forces seek to win and maintain power by diverting voters’ attention from real problems—access to education, health care, clean water, living wages, affordable housing, and accountable financial institutions among them—and instead rallying a base of increasingly ill-informed and angry white voters who feel their political dominance slipping away. Until now, they’ve used a strategy that began with the Powell Memo in the ’70s, and continued through the time of Lee Atwater and then Karl Rove to create and manage what they hoped would be a “controlled burn” of anger among their base, thus enabling the passage of laws—such as those stripping voters, women, and people of color of their rights—and installing judges who support their agenda to establish a foundation of control strong enough to withstand an inexorable tide of demographic change that is making the United States ever more diverse.

I agree, except for the very first bit: I do not think that the "corporate and religious forces" are "under threat". They probably were in the late 1960ies and in the 1970ies, when these threats did trigger the Powell Memo, but I am quite certain that since Thatcher and Reagan were nominated around 1980 the "corporate and religious forces" (and especially the corporate ones) have won nearly all the battles they were involved in.

My evidence is or should be clear, and here it is, once more (and this is one of quite a few graphics I could have chosen to make my point):


That is: From 1980 onwards the top 10% have - for 36 years now - increased and increased the incomes of the rich, while the bottom 90% have earned less and less. This also completely overturned the opposite tendency towards more equality, that ruled from 1949 till 1980.

Finally, there is this answer of Jodi Jacobson to her question:

So why was the sex tape the end? It has nothing to do with “locker-room talk,” to which I am sure even Mike Pence is no stranger.

Instead, Trump violated a key tenet of the GOP’s Madonna-Whore complex: “Hands off married white women.”

The now-infamous tape, in which Trump is heard bragging about an attempt—when he was newly married to Melania Trump—to pressure also-married NBC television personality Nancy O’Dell into sex—established Trump as a sexual predator of married white women, and ultimately of the “wives, mothers, daughters, sisters” of a male GOP lawmakers that sees such women as their charges, and who Trump threatened through “legitimate rape.”
(...)
The man who called Mexicans rapists is himself an admitted predator, but now it’s a problem because those women are the property of white men, and dominion over property is at the heart of the GOP agenda.

I think that may well be right. I also think that the crudeness of Trump's sexual bragging ...



... plays a role but I agree Jodi Jacobson may have seen this correctly, which I do because only this kind of crudeness (after many months of earlier crudenesses about very many other things) seems to have touched the leaders of the GOP:

Trump may very well try to grab the pussies of their wives or daughters!

I say!

---------------
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" destroy (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] In fact, the following is a repeat of a note I wrote on April 25, 2016:

By "fascism" I mean what the American Heritage Dictionary defines as follows:
"fascism" is defined as "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
By neo-fascism I mean - here - a fascism that does not occur through "the merging of state and business leadership" but that occurs through the subjection of state leadership to (external) business leadership, e.g. as foreseen by the TTIP's ISDSs (see Note 1).

The "(external)" is motivated by the fact that multi-national corporations that wish to attack a state over some of its decisions that caused a lowering of the expected profits of their CEOs, usually do not belong to the state they attack.


[3] They exaggerate their own importance because voting is absolutely nothing special; they falsely suggest Clinton is as bad as Trump; and they seem to have no understanding of either Trump's madness or his neofascism.

[4] Both Jacobson and Rewire are new for me. I owe their discovery to Democracy Now!

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