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Nederlog

Oct 25, 2016

Crisis: Trump's "Reality", CETA, Corporate Tax-Breaks, Total Dictatorship
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Donald Trump's Surreal Alternate Reality
2. Democracy Prevails as People's Revolt Leaves
     Corporate Trade Agenda "In Tatters"

3. Watch Out For The Coming Corporate Tax-Break
     Trickery

4. The Path to Total Dictatorship: America’s Shadow
     Government and Its Silent Coup
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 25, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a fine article on Trump's "surreal alternate reality" (that I explain as a psychologist, which I am: he is not sane); item 2 is about the CETA (which I agree was defeated, but which I think may come back because it in fact introduces neofascism legally, and the rich will gain a lot by that); item 3 is a fine article about the corporate tax-break trickery; and item 4 is an excellent article about the Deep State and the path to total dictatorship that the present USA seems to follow since 9/11 (and not because of the terrorists: because of the rich).


-- 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. (It was OK on October 22, but not before.)

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. Donald Trump's Surreal Alternate Reality

The first item today is by Paul Waldman on AlterNet and originally on The American Prospect:

This starts as follows:

If you've been around politics and campaigns for even a little while, you probably have a pretty clear sense of what happens behind closed doors with Hillary Clinton and her close advisers. They plan which battleground states she'll visit in the few remaining weeks, go over polling data to see where she's strong and where she's weak, consider how to react to each day's developments in the news, practice for the final debate on Wednesday, talk about the key messages she should emphasize—those kind of things. There's not much mystery there.

But when you consider Donald Trump's campaign, one question dominates all others: What the hell are they thinking?
(...)
I absolutely cannot fathom what goes on when Donald Trump and his inner circle sit down to talk about how things are going.

Yes, indeed. I will illustrate the - quite justified - quandaries and questions of Paul Waldman below, but I can - more or less - answer his question "What the hell are they thinking?".

Or rather: I do not presume to speak for those who are campaiging for Trump, but as for Trump I think (as a psychologist, also) that Trump is not sane; that he suffers from grandiose narcissism; that this is a well-known psycho-pathology; that this is difficult to cure (in part because those who suffer from it deny all problems); and that it is especially this that caused most of the insanities, offensive comments, and utter bullshit that has rolled out of Trump's mouth the last year.

I have argued this since March 14, 2016 so I will only take one example (there will be a few more at the end):

Consider that faced with the most profound crisis of his campaign—the release of a videotape in which he brags about sexually assaulting women, which was then followed by a dozen women (so far) coming forward to say, "Yes, he did that to me"—Trump's response has been to argue that the women are liars because they're too ugly for him to sexually assault. Other than proclaiming, "Yes, I'm guilty of it all, and I plan to keep on doing it," could there possibly be a worse way to handle those charges?

That is to say: Trump has insisted to Billy Bush that he can grab any woman by the pussy that he is attracted to because he is "a star":

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, that’s her, with the gold. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

DONALD TRUMP: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.


There is more in this Nederlog. As to Trump's responses (quoted - in very small part - above): Trump does not deny that he can grab women by the pussy, because he is "a star": he merely denies he did anything to the women who accused him of sexually abusing them, and does so by insisting they are too ugly for him and by threatening them with court cases.

I do not think that is sane behavior for a presidential candidate. Here is Paul Waldman's response:

At the moment we have no way of knowing whether Trump truly appreciates that reality. What we can say is that he seems to be living in an epistemological universe of his own making. And it isn't just because he thinks that the way to show women you're not the kind of guy who would sexually assault people is to call some women too ugly to grope.

I think I can say "whether Trump truly appreciates that reality": There is a full year of evidence that he does believe what he says (or most of it, at least). So my answer to Paul Waldman's question

You can look at this kind of shameless rejection of reality as politically effective brazenness. But what if he actually believes what he says?

is simply that he does believe most of what he says. Here is the ending of Waldman's article, that underlines my point:

Right now, Trump has settled on a campaign strategy that involves belittling women in sexist terms, squabbling with his own party's leadership, not bothering to mount much of a ground campaign to get voters to the polls, whining about media conspiracies against him, and generally acting as though he doesn't need to persuade any more voters as long as he hangs on to the ones he's got. Only from an alternate reality could he or anyone who works for him think that's going to work. Trump's failure to appreciate his actual reality is part of what would make him such a dangerous president—but it's also what may keep him from ever getting the chance.

For as I said: A presidential candidate who does these things is not sane, and yes, he does these things because he is living in "an alternate reality" - which is not sane. (And a great part of the Trump supporters are also living in "an alternate reality", but not so much because they are mad, but mostly because they are very ignorant and quite stupid.)

And this is a recommended article.


2.
Democracy Prevails as People's Revolt Leaves Corporate Trade Agenda "In Tatters"

The second item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

With a Monday deadline, the European Union failed to reach consensus on the pending Canada-EU trade agreement, prompting campaigners to celebrate what they declared to be its final demise.

After negotiations fell apart late last week, Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel said Monday that he will not be able to join the other 27 EU nations and sign the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) because of entrenched opposition in the region of Wallonia to its pro-corporate provisions.

Despite this, European Council president Donald Tusk and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are refusing to concede that the Thursday signing ceremony is no longer possible.

As I have said before, I am glad that the campaigners against CETA are glad, but I do not quite share their enthusiasism: They won a fight, indeed, but they did not yet defeat the CETA, as indeed also is clear from Tusk and Trudeau's reactions (that are, in part at least, explained by item 4 below, which applies - in a modified form - to Europe as well).

The CETA may still be mostly secret; the CETA will take most powers from all European governments, all European judiciaries, all European parliaments, and all European inhabitants, but Tusk and Trudeau are very much for it, for it probably will make them rich, while it is what all the CEOs of all the multi-nationals want: All power. And Tusk and Trudeau serve the powerful few, and not the many.

Here are the arguments that moved the Walloons in their very justified choice:

Representatives from the Socialist-led region have expressed skepticism over the agreement's Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, echoing the same concerns that critics of the deal have long-shared: that it inflates the power of multinational corporation at the expense of people and governments.

Dismissing media rhetoric that Wallonia's hold-out vote was "exasperating all of Europe," the U.K.-based Global Justice Now pointed out on Monday that the region, alternately, is "voicing concerns of millions of citizens."

Yes, indeed. The article ends as follows:

Echoing Barlow's statement that the entire EU trade agenda now lies "in tatters," coupled with the downfall of CETA's "toxic sister deal," the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Taylor added, "This is an ideal opportunity to create a trade regime that prioritizes people, while safe-guarding their health, their rights, and the environment."

"If it takes the Walloon government to throw a spanner in the CETA works and create the political space for an open discussion on what Europe really needs, we fully support them," wrote Paul de Clerck, economic justice campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, in a Friday op-ed. "Our European decision-makers should grasp this opportunity. Now is the chance for the EU to light the way ahead, reclaim social democracy, and lead on establishing an economic system that contributes to a more equitable and sustainable world."

No, this seems to me to be a little too enthusiastic, again. First, no new "trade regime" needs to be created: The old system first has to be saved, which has not definitely happened yet, in spite of enthusiasms on the campaigners' side. And second, it seems to me "trade regimes" are baloney + bulllshit anyway, but for more I refer you to item 4.

3. Watch Out For The Coming Corporate Tax-Break Trickery

The third item is by Dave Johnson on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

One of the biggest fights coming up in the newly elected Congress next year will be “corporate tax reform.”

If you follow policy news you’ve been hearing that Congress wants to “reform” corporate taxes (again). When you hear talk of “reform” from our corporate-captured Congress it means you need to run as fast as you can — and organize. The way they use the word, it always means give them more and We, the People get less.

Yes, indeed (and there is a good explanation of the "corporate-captured Congress" below, in item 4). Here is more on "the coming corporate tax-break":

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) might be Senate Majority Leader after the election. In a Tuesday CNBC interview he said he is hoping to work with Republican House Speaker Paul “Gut the Government” Ryan on “some kind of international tax reform tied to a large infrastructure program.” In the interview Schumer said:

If you can get overseas money to come back here, even if it’s at a lower rate than the 35 it now comes back at, and you can use that money for a major constructive purpose such as infrastructure, if you did an infrastructure bank, for instance, you could get $100 billion in equity in the bank and get a trillion dollars of infrastructure.

When Schumer says “at a lower rate” he is talking about a “tax holiday” allowing corporations to pay less than the 35% tax rate they owe (minus deductions for taxes already paid overseas) on some $2.5 trillion of profits they have stashed in “overseas” tax havens. These corporations owe around $720 billion or so on those profits. So rewarding them for tax dodging with a lower tax rate means handing them up to hundreds of billions of dollars that the country needs for schools, health care and yes, infrastructure repair.

These tax-dodging, multinational corporations used schemes and tax havens to dodge paying taxes they owe. Meanwhile other corporations — usually smaller, domestic companies — paid their taxes. This gave the multinational corporations that used schemes and tax havens to dodge paying their taxes an advantage over the honest, domestic companies that did pay their taxes.

Yes, indeed: Precisely so - and remember that the money not paid by the big corporations has effectively been stolen by them.

Here is some more:

The top corporate tax rate used to be 52 percent. Under Reagan it was 46 percent. Then Congress “reformed” taxes and dropped the rate to just 35 percent. Corporations used to shoulder 32 percent of the total tax burden. It has fallen to only 10 percent of the burden. That is a drop of two-thirds. See if you can guess who pays that two-thirds difference. (Hint: it isn’t corporations or their wealthy owners. It is cuts to schools, infrastructure, health care and all the things that used to make our lives better. This is one part of the economic squeeze everyone feels.)

On top of that they are also trying to sell a scheme that lets them off the hook for profits made outside of the country. See if you can guess how fast every corporation moves its profit centers and production out of the country if that passes. (Hint: every single corporation will move every job, factory, profit center etc out of the country if that passes.)

Under Eisenhower the corporate tax rate was still higher, but let's concentrate for the moment on the years 2000-2010. Here are two images from the Wikipedia's "Corporate Tax in the USA":

Here are first "the deferred corporate foreign earnings" of the major US companies (and note the totals are in Millions of Dollars):


And next the amount of taxes that the American government received in the same years (and note the totals are in Billions of Dollars, and also note the profits - the red line - have been growing a great amount):


I say. And here is the lesson Dave Johnson draws:

What we need to do instead is close that loophole that lets giant, multinational corporations hide $2.5 trillion in profits in “overseas” tax shelters, and make them pay the $720 billion or so of taxes they owe now, plus the $90-100 billion or so of taxes they will dodge every year after. Period.

Revenue neutral, Schumerutral. Just make these giant, tax-dodging, multinational corporations pay what they owe. Don’t reward them for tax-dodging. And restore the 52% corporate tax rate instead of cutting it even further.

I entirely agree. But it probably will not happen. And that is explained by today's final article:

4. The Path to Total Dictatorship: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup

The fourth and last item is by John Whitehead on Washinghton's Blog and originally on the Rutherford Institute:

This starts as follows:

“Today the path to total dictatorship in the U.S. can be laid by strictly legal means, unseen and unheard by Congress, the President, or the people. Outwardly we have a Constitutional government. We have operating within our government and political system … a well-organized political-action group in this country, determined to destroy our Constitution and establish a one-party state…. The important point to remember about this group is not its ideology but its organization… It operates secretly, silently, continuously to transform our Government…. This group … is answerable neither to the President, the Congress, nor the courts. It is practically irremovable.”— Senator William Jenner, 1954 speech

Unaffected by elections. Unaltered by populist movements. Beyond the reach of the law.

Say hello to America’s shadow government.

A corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country, this shadow government represents the hidden face of a government that has no
respect for the freedom of its citizenry.

First something about the opening quotation and John Whitehead (<-Wikipedia). The opening quotation is by William E. Jenner (<- Wikipedia), who was a conservative lawyer and a follower of Joseph McCarthy (<-Wikipedia).

I certainly don't like McCarthy and very probably I also don't like Jenner, but both were lawyers, and both were conservatives, and the same is true of John Whitehead. Then again, I like John Whitehead and reviewed several of his articles in Nederlog, and the main reason is given by the item on John Whitehead, which is the same as for the Rutherford Institute:

History and legal actions

Since its founding, the Rutherford Institute has expanded its aims from defending the religious liberties of Christians to include defending the religious liberties of all Americans, as well as working to preserve rights such as free speech and the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure.

And so far as I have been abled to see, Whitehead did that very well.

So here is Whitehead's take on the American government, by which he means, primarily at least, "America’s shadow government" mentioned above:

No matter which candidate wins the presidential election, this shadow government is here to stay. Indeed, as recent documents by the FBI reveal, this shadow government—also referred to as “The 7th Floor Group”—may well have played a part in who will win the White House this year.

To be precise, however, the future president will actually inherit not one but two shadow governments.

The first shadow government, referred to as COG or Continuity of Government, is made up of unelected individuals who have been appointed to run the government in the event of a “catastrophe.”
I say, which I do because I did not know this. Then again, this does not seem very important (I can't judge it, but go by the above), whereas the second shadow government is known to me, and from several sides as well:

Yet it is the second shadow government—also referred to as the Deep State—that poses the greater threat to freedom right now. Comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes, this government within a government is the real reason “we the people” have no real control over our government.

The Deep State, which “operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power,” makes a mockery of elections and the entire concept of a representative government.

First, here is a reference to a Nederlog with considerably more on the Deep State (and note this contains a considerable amount of text and links). Here is more on it:

So who or what is the Deep State?

It’s the militarized police, which have joined forces with state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to establish themselves as a standing army. It’s the fusion centers and spy agencies that have created a surveillance state and turned all of us into suspects. It’s the courthouses and prisons that have allowed corporate profits to take precedence over due process and justice. It’s the military empire with its private contractors and defense industry that is bankrupting the nation. It’s the private sector with its 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, “a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.” It’s what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as “a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies”: the Department of Defense, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a handful of vital federal trial courts, and members of the defense and intelligence committees.

I think Mike Lofgren (<- Wikipedia)'s description - a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies (plus the list that follows it) - is best, and Mike Lofgren is an interesting man (and the second of the last two links is to an interesting interview he had with Bill Moyers).

Here are some dominant interests of the Deep State that will remain in force no matter who the next president will be:

Just consider some of the key programs and policies advanced by the shadow government that will continue no matter who occupies the Oval Office.

Domestic surveillance. No matter who wins the presidential popularity contest, the National Security Agency (NSA), with its $10.8 billion black ops annual budget, will continue to spy on every person in the United States who uses a computer or phone. Thus, on any given day, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.
Yes, indeed - and see yesterday's item 2 on this: All Americans with internet computers or cellphones are spied upon (and not because "they are terrorists"). In fact, it's the same with all people anywhere with an internet computer or a cell phone:
Global spying. The NSA’s massive surveillance network, what the Washington Post refers to as a $500 billion “espionage empire,” will continue to span the globe and target every single person on the planet who uses a phone or a computer. The NSA’s Echelon program intercepts and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax and email message sent anywhere in the world. In addition to carrying out domestic surveillance on peaceful political groups such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and several religious groups, Echelon has also been a keystone in the government’s attempts at political and corporate espionage.
Again, these circa 4 billion people who are spied upon are not spied upon because they are "terrorists". They are spied upon because the very few who govern want all the power they can get, and computers (and cellphones) now are the prime means of finding out everybody's values, ideas, priorities and concerns.

The next is an item of which I skip the text (you can read it by clicking the last dotted link):
Roving TSA searches.
Here is more on the "war on terror" - for which see Goering:

      

This is Whitehead's view:

USA Patriot Act, NDAA. America’s so-called war on terror, which it has relentlessly pursued since 9/11, will continue to chip away at our freedoms, unravel our Constitution and transform our nation into a battlefield, thanks in large part to such subversive legislation as the USA Patriot Act and National Defense Authorization Act. These laws completely circumvent the rule of law and the rights of American citizens. In so doing, they re-orient our legal landscape in such a way as to ensure that martial law, rather than the U.S. Constitution, is the map by which we navigate life in the United States. These laws will continue to be enforced no matter who gets elected.

Yes, indeed. (And as before: "Terror" was used as Goering said at the Nuremberg Trial, even though very few people in the West were killed by terrorists.)

There is this on the heavily militarized U.S. police:

Militarized police state. Thanks to federal grant programs allowing the Pentagon to transfer surplus military supplies and weapons to local law enforcement agencies without charge, police forces will continue to be transformed from peace officers into heavily armed extensions of the military, complete with jackboots, helmets, shields, batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, assault rifles, body armor, miniature tanks and weaponized drones. Having been given the green light to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts, America’s law enforcement officials, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, will continue to keep the masses corralled, controlled, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

Indeed. Next, here are five items that all come with texts, that I suppress the texts again, and tell you you can read all of by clicking on the last dotted link:
SWAT team raids.
Domestic drones.
School-to-prison pipeline.
Overcriminalization.
Privatized Prisons.
There is this on endless wars:
Endless wars. America’s expanding military empire will continue to bleed the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour). The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. Yet what most Americans fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with enriching the military industrial complex at taxpayer expense.
Note that the "Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety" - which I think is sufficient proof to show what the rulers of the USA want: War and war profits. They are not there to help "the public". They are there to serve themselves and the few rich.

Here is a sum-up:

Are you getting the message yet?

The next president, much like the current president and his predecessors, will be little more than a figurehead, a puppet to entertain and distract the populace from what’s really going on.

As Lofgren reveals, this state within a state, “concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue,” is a “hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

The Deep State not only holds the nation’s capital in thrall, but it also controls Wall Street (“which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater”) and Silicon Valley.

This is fascism in its most covert form, hiding behind public agencies and private companies to carry out its dirty deeds.

It is a marriage between government bureaucrats and corporate fat cats.

I did get the message, but I am following the crisis very closely, since June 10, 2013. (But I think it is neofascism rather than fascism. [2])

Here is the last bit, that again mostly is a quote from Muke Lofgren:

As Lofgren concludes:

[T]he Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change… If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda.

In other words, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, as long as government officials—elected and unelected alike—are allowed to operate beyond the reach of the Constitution, the courts and the citizenry, the threat to our freedoms remains undiminished.

Quite so. And this is a strongly recommended article, that you can read in full by clicking this link.

---------------
Note
[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]
By neofascism I mean this system:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
Indeed, in case you object to the term "(neo)fascism", you may use any other term (say: "Our Very Fine And Great American Democracy") as long as you define it as above.

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