Nov 9, 2016

Crisis: America Abyss, Democracy's Last Stop, 10 Threats
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America and the Abyss
2. This Could Be Democracy’s Last Stop. Vote.
10 Threats To Take Seriously This Tuesday

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

Yesterday was the day of the presidential elections in the USA. Early on Wednesday morning it seems Trump has won the elections and the NUSA will soon be surrected (NUSA = New|Neofascist United States of America).

But it isn't certain yet as I write (which is very early - Dutch time - in the morning of November 9). And I gathered three articles written the day before yesterday.

A. This is a crisis log with 3 items and 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about a good article by Andrew Sullivan (but I understand more about fascism and neofascism); item 2 is about an article by Michael Winship who explains yesterday's elections may well be American democracy's last stop; and item 3 is about an article by Robert Kuttner on the elections.

I note again that all of the above articles were written before the elections, while I just read (at 9.50 AM Dutch time) that Clinton conceded the victory to Trump.

More later or tomorrow.

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It was OK for two days now, but again didn't work out in Holland the last days: It keeps being horrible most days.

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. It did most of the last week so that is something. (But did not work yesterday, again.)

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. America and the Abyss

The first item today is by Andrew Sullivan (<- Wikipedia) on The New York Magazine:

This starts as follows:

The most frustrating aspect of the last 12 months has been the notion that we have been in a normal, if truly ugly, election cycle, with one extremely colorful and unpredictable figure leading the Republican Party in an otherwise conventional political struggle over policy. It has been clear for months now, it seems to me, that this is a delusion. A far more accurate account of the past year is that an openly proto-fascist cult leader has emerged to forge a popular movement that has taken over one of the major political parties, eroded central norms of democratic life, undermined American democratic institutions, and now stands on the brink of seizing power in Washington. I made this argument at length in April, when Donald Trump was on the brink of securing the nomination. Everything that has happened since has only made my fears more pressing.
Please, therefore, discount the following as the product of an excitable outlier if you see fit. I sure hope you’re right. But as it seems more evident by the day that Donald Trump could very well become the next president of the United States, it is worth simply reiterating the evidence in front of our nose that this republic is in serious danger.

Yes, I agree, although I should add that I have myself never believed that the USA was "in a normal, if truly ugly, election cycle, with one extremely colorful and unpredictable figure leading the Republican Party in an otherwise conventional political struggle", for the simple reason that I have believed since March - as a psychologist with an excellent degree - that Donald Trump is insane, and indeed I also never believed these were normal elections, with Republican candidates like Trump, Carson, Christie and Cruz.

Also I like to say that I like the present article although I have little in common with Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, conservative and Roman Catholic (while I am straight, liberal and atheist).

Here is some by Sullivan on some of the failings of Trump's character:

He has no concept of a non-zero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides. A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace. (This is one reason why he cannot understand the entire idea of free trade or, indeed, NATO, or the separation of powers.) In any conflict, he cannot ever back down; he must continue to up the ante until the danger to everyone around him is so great as to demand their surrender. From his feckless business deals and billion-dollar debts to his utter indifference to the damage he has done to those institutions unfortunate enough to engage him, he has shown no concern for the interests of other human beings.
I mostly agree (though I do not believe in the "free trade" promised by the propagandists of the TPP, TTIP, CETA and TISA: that is not free trade but propagandistic bullshit to protect the multi-national corporations).

In any case, while the above is more psychological than anything else, I agree Trump is insane and a great danger for humanity.

Here is more on Trump, and this time it is more on policies:
He sees the judicial system as entirely subordinate to his political and personal interests, and impugned a federal judge for his ethnicity. He has accused the Justice Department and FBI of a criminal conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton. He has refused to accept in advance the results of any election in which he loses. He has openly argued for government persecution of newspapers that oppose him — pledging to open up antitrust prosecution against the Washington Post, for example. He is the first candidate in American history to subject the press pool to mob hatred — “disgusting, disgusting people” — and anti-Semitic poison from his foulest supporters. He is the first candidate in American history to pledge to imprison his election opponent if he wins power.
Yes, indeed. And the bigger his win, the greater his brutality will be. There certainly are people in danger in the USA if Trump wins.

Then there is this by Andrew Sullivan (who wrote considerably more than I quoted):
We are told we cannot use the term fascist to describe this. I’m at a loss to find a more accurate alternative.
Well... my own (very informed) definitions of the terms "fascism" and "neofascism" are in a note. I do recommend them to your interest, and conclude that - as I use terms - Trump is a neofascist, rather than a fascist.

Here is more on Trump's failures of character and the American system:
Some — including many who will be voting for Trump — will argue that even if the unstable, sleepless, vindictive tyrant wins on Tuesday, he will be restrained by the system when he seizes power. Let’s game this out for a moment. Over the last year, which forces in the GOP have been able to stand up to him? Even his closest aides have been unable to get him to concentrate before a debate. He set up a policy advisory apparatus and then completely ignored it until it was disbanded. His foreign-policy advisers can scarcely be found. He says he knows more than any general, any diplomat, and anyone with actual experience in government. He has declared his chief adviser to be himself. Even the criminal Richard Nixon was eventually restrained and dispatched by a Republican Establishment that still knew how to run the country and had a loyalty to broader American institutions. Such an Establishment no longer exists.
I agree that Trump will not "be restrained by the system when he seizes power" and indeed for at least two reasons: There is no longer a Republican Establishment which is dedicated to maintaining the law while being conservative, and also if they would have been capable of stopping him, they should have done that at least half a year ago, and they did not.

Here is some more on the radical dangers of Trump if he is the next president:
Who can temper or stop him then? A Speaker who reveals the slightest inclination to resist him will be swiftly dispatched — or subjected to a very credible threat of being primaried. If the military top brass resist his belief in unpredictable or unethical or unlawful warfare, they will surely be fired. As for the administration of justice, he has openly declared his intent to use the power of the government to put his political opponent in jail. As for a free society, he has threatened to do what he can to put his media opponents into receivership.

What is so striking is that this requires no interpretation, no reading of the tea leaves. Trump has told Americans all of this — again and again — in plain English. His own temperamental instability has been displayed daily and in gory detail.
Yes, indeed - and no, a Trumpian society will not be free, it will not be democratic, and it will be quite dangerous for anyone who is not pro Trump.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
I have long had faith that some version of fascism cannot come to power in America. The events of the past year suggest deep reflection on that conviction. A political hurricane has arrived, as globalization has eroded the economic power of the white working classes, as the cultural left has overplayed its hand on social and racial issues, and as a catastrophic war and a financial crisis has robbed the elites of their credibility.

I did not and do not have such a faith: Fascism or neofascism always seemed possible in the USA and indeed also in Europe. I probably also do not agree to
Sullivan's - conservative, Catholic - explanations.

But this is a good article which contains a lot more than I quoted and which is recommended. (You are adviced to read it all, also because this manner of article and this kind of - conservative, Catholic - author may soon be forbidden in the USA: They criticize The Leader and that is a serious crime.)

2. This Could Be Democracy’s Last Stop. Vote.

The second item is by Michael Winship on Truthdig and originally on Moyers and Company:

This is from near the beginning (and starts with a quote):

[Trump] didn’t care. He never has cared. His contempt for the democratic processes and for the norms of self-government is matched only by the deep contempt he has for all the suckers who mistake his contempt for the American experiment for their deep disappointment in it. He has measured their intelligence by his heavily leveraged net worth and found them hilariously lacking. We are all the subcontractors who build his indomitable ego for him and, as such, he can stiff us according to his customary business plan. His campaign long ago became a sickening charade performed by a grotesque charlatan.

And so it is. Look, too, at how Trump and his followers at a rally in Reno, Nevada, on Saturday responded to a man with a “Republicans against Trump” sign. Before someone shouted “Gun!” and the moment turned even uglier, Trump had looked down and said, “Oh we have one of those guys from the Hillary Clinton campaign. How much are you being paid, $1,500?” As the crowd booed, Trump said, “Okay. Take him out.”

The protester, a Reno resident named Austyn Crites, described himself as Republican and a fiscal conservative. He told The Guardian he was grateful to the police who removed him from the auditorium for interrogation — they kept him from being further kicked, choked and pummeled by the gang of Trump supporters who surrounded him. Still, he said, “The people who attacked me — I’m not blaming them. I’m blaming Donald Trump’s hate rhetoric… The fact that I got beat up today, that’s just showing what he’s doing to his crowds.”

I am sorry Mr. Crites was beaten up, but he is mistaken: If Trump is responsible (and he is) then so are his supporters, who are all adult Americans who believe themselves to be sane. (If Crites were right, the U.S. Army - for just one example - could do what it pleased, on the bullshit argument that they were ordered to do what they did, e.g. in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. No, they could not: Everybody has a personal responsibility to see to it that the international laws are heeded.)

But this seems correct on Trump's insane character:

Remember what Trump said when a protester was dragged out of a February rally in Las Vegas: “I love the old days — you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks… I’d like to punch him in the face.”

By now, you’ve heard it all before and the litany of lies, outrageous claims and insults has climbed so high that many of us have become numb and weary from the sheer repetition of Trump’s buffoonery. You can only go to so many demolition derbies before the sight of flaming car wrecks becomes routine.

What’s more, you can argue that far more insidious and frightening are the dog whistle attacks appealing to the baser instincts of the bigoted and ignorant.
Yes, indeed. And it seems around 50% of the American voters are ignorant and bigoted, and want something that is not distinguishable from neofascism, as I have defined it (and as has been explained sufficiently well by Trump) [2].

Here is the last bit that I'll quite from this article:
Add it all up and to me, this is what it comes down to: Do you want to live in a United States where anger, prejudice and fear rule, and dissent is viewed as treason, or in a country where we try to meet every issue from terrorism to education with clear eyes and a rational mind? This year’s choices are far from perfect, but nonetheless a choice must be made. To quote a founding father who believed in such things: liberty, once lost, is lost forever. This could be democracy’s last stop. Vote.

As I said: If Trump wins, the USA will be the NUSA = the Neofascistic United States of America, and if Trump wins it seems that is what the voters want, in majority.

And what they probably will get if he wins is outlined by the third article:

3. 10 Threats To Take Seriously This Tuesday

The third item is by Robert Kuttner on AlterNet and originally on The American Prospect:
This starts as follows:
If Donald Trump is elected president, we are at severe risk of ceasing to be a constitutional democracy.
Actually, I think something considerably stronger is true:

If Donald Trump is elected president, it is a proof that constitutional democracy is over in the (N)USA, for the simple reason that he could become president mainly because he has been given several billions of free access on the mainstream media, who also all embraced him until October 2016.

I think that is simply true - and "democracy", at least if it translates as "government by the people" has been passed for quite a while in the USA, where the ordinary people have hardly any influence on politics for a long time now.

And here are five of the ten threats Robert Kuttner discusses, with some text but not all of it (there is more in the original):
But Donald Trump would make Nixon look like Thomas Jefferson. The idea that separation of powers would somehow restrain Trump is a fantasy.

Threat Number One: Defining Political Opposition as Treason.
Threat Number Two: Selective Prosecutions. Imagine a rogue Justice Department being used to settle Trump’s scores. Trump gets to appoint U.S. Attorneys, as well as sub-cabinet officials.

His idea of great federal prosecutors are former U.S. Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie. And there are even worse people out there. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division would be flipped into a Division of Voter Suppression. The elections of 2018 and 2020 will probably be held on schedule, but they are likely to be, well, rigged.
Threat Number Three: A Police State. If you think the NSA and the FBI are menacing civil liberties and equal justice now, just wait until we see Trump’s appointees.
Threat Number Four: A Politicized IRS.
Threat Number Five: The Courts. At least we have the independent judiciary, right? Well, far right.

I agree with all of that, in the sense that I think all are considerably more likely than not if Trump is the next president.

Here is a summary from Robert Kuttner:

Bottom Line: The Trump threat to destroy constitutional democracy doesn’t just come from one wild and crazy guy. It is a slightly cruder version of the strategy of the whole Republican Party. One of our two major parties is hell bent on destroying our system.

Result: Deepening loss of legitimacy for democratic constitutional government itself.

Regardless of who wins, decent Americans need a mass movement to reclaim our democracy.

Again I think something stronger is true if Trump wins the elections: American democracy is dead. The Constitution is dead. Both have been intentionally destroyed by Trump and the Republican Party, because these want all the power they can get, which is all the power for the rich and the rich only.

Here is H.L. Mencken's comment on American politics:

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who tell them the truth.
 -- H.L.Mencken


[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).

I am saying this not because I want to offend but because I want to explain, and my own explanatory definition of neofascism is this:
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.

And this is fascism as I defined it:
Fascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror, that propounds an ethics founded on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian, rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
See the following if you are interested: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. (This lists 22 definitions of the term "fascism", and critically reflects on them.)

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