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Nederlog

 Nov 14, 2016

Crisis: Fascism, Coen, Reich, Lauria, Germanos, Greenwald
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Fascism Rising
2. 2016 Election Thank You Notes
3.
Robert Reich: Why We Need a New Democratic Party
4. The Political World After Trump’s Win
5.
In Wake of Trump Victory, Progressives Urge
     Democratic Party Overhaul

6. Trump Will Have Vast Powers. He Can Thank Democrats
     for Them.
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 14, 2016.

A.
This is a crisis log with 6 items and 6 dotted links and it consists of some further deliberations on the meanings of Trump's election as president of the USA:

Item 1 is an article on the rise of fascism in the USA, but it seems not too well informed about fascism, neofascism or "neoliberalism"; item 2 is by Ethan Coen and is short and funny (in a bitter way); item 3 is about Reich's pleading for a New Democratic Party (and I think this will be difficult); item 4 is about Trump's win and is decent; item 5 is about what to do with the Democratic Party; and item 6 is about Glenn Greenwald on the enormous powers Trump gets, mostly thanks to Obama.


-- 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. And it still does (on 11 - 13 xi.2016).

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: This worked correctly on 11 and 12 xi.2016, but not the day before nor on 13.xi.2016.

And I think now this happens intentionally on both my sites, for this did not happen for 20 years on the one, nor for 12 years on the other. (13.xi.2016).

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. Fascism Rising

The first item today is by Stephen Hopgood on AlterNet and originally on Open Democracy:

This starts as follows:

Is this how it begins? With rage, with the demands of the entitled millions who feel their birthright has been stolen, with those who claim “we built this country, we fought its wars, when is it our turn?” Donald Trump is by any stretch of the imagination an awful candidate to be president of the most powerful state on earth, a sexistracist, impulsive narcissist who lies with abandon and hates with fervour.

Hm. Yes and no. First, I think Donald Trump is a kind of fascist, but not a classical one, but a neofascist (and see below in [2] how I define these terms).
This is not a serious difference, at least not in journalism, but the other one is:

It did not begin with Donald Trump. In fact - I think, but with a lot of evidence that is spread over the currently nearly 1400 flles (!!) I wrote about the crisis since September 1, 2008 - Trump's election is the outcome of Reagan's and Bush Sr.'s policies in the 1980ies and early 1990ies, of Clinton's "neoliberal" Third Way policies that supported the rich, of Bush Jr.'s "neoliberal" policies that supported the rich, and of Obama's "neoliberal" policies that again supported the rich.

Again one way of describing the last 35 years since Reagan became president that is - while it is one-sided and partial - considerably more adequate than the propaganda of the Republicans and of the Democrats is that ever since Reagan, indeed quite possibly due to Lewis Powell's pleadings, the political elites of both the Republicans and the Democrats have been vastly corrupted, with many millions of dollars (some of which enriched the Clintons), that stimulated these politicians to do what the richest wanted them to do.

This is also to say that I think that the elites that run the Democratic Party have consistently frauded their electorates ever since Bill Clinton (a fraud for the rich) became president, and they frauded their electorates because they were rich to start with, got a lot richer with corrupting moneys from the banks, and decided to stop socialism, to stop social democracy - see the "Third Way" - and to go for the "neoliberal" ticket all the way, while pretending that this served their voters, which were lies from the very start. Indeed the same lies were copied by other false careerist "social democrats" like the awful Blair and the horrible Kok. (I think the Republicans did the same, but since they have been the party of the rich for a long time, I blame them less.)

But this is not the sort of thinking that is familiar to Stephen Osgood. He blames Donald Trump mostly, who is the "he" in the next quotation:

And now he is the standard bearer for an increasingly familiar social coalition, angry white working class men (and women) with weak formal education and weaker job prospects, along with disaffected white middle class conservatives, many of them religious, who are furious that they lost the culture wars. We’ve seen this coalition before: it’s a breeding ground for fascism. Liberals need to wise up and fast.

No, the least this is, is misleading. First, I do not quite see why this would be a breeding ground for fascism: It's not the poor uneducated whites who are capable of drawing up a fascist or neofascist agenda, but these agendas are drawn up by diverse leading elites. And second here is - once again - a quote from the mathematical physicist Peter Woit, who simply stated the evidence (I quoted this first on November 11):

Most of the explanations one hears of Trump’s success don’t hold up if you look at exit polling numbers:

  • Sexism: more white women voted for Trump than for Clinton.
  • Racism: many counties that went solidly for Obama in the past went to Trump this election. Many Trump voters last voted for an African-American President.
  • Revolt of the rural poor whites: While New York City went heavily to Clinton, nearby Suffolk County on Long Island, with a median family income of $100,000, went for Trump.
  • Ignorance, lack of education: Most white college graduates voted for Trump.

So it's not "the poor whites" who elected Trump: Trump's voters come from many places, including the richer and the rich.

The following is also at most half right:

For Trump’s constituency, his obvious and stupefying flaws are irrelevant. He’s a policy-lite hand grenade intended to spark a revolution. From his admiration for Putin to his authoritarian style, right down to the machismo, sexual bravado and contempt for minorities, the outlook for human rights in the US—let alone globally—under Trump is catastrophic. For his coalition, human rights are a shell game pushed by cosmopolitan liberals to steal the nation away from its legitimate, mainly white, heirs. Make no mistake about it, the right is on the move—in Britain, Hungary, Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, India and now, far more importantly than any of those, in the United States.

My main reasons to say this is at most half right are that (i) "the right is on the move" for quite a long while now (in Holland it started not long after 2000 with the rise of first Fortuyn and a bit later Wilders), and also (ii) "the right" also has been on the move ever since Bill Clinton declared socialism was impossible, and social democracy was old hat, and he was for the "Third Way", which in fact was the "neoliberal" way, which was vehemently pro rich while pretending to be for the poor.

Again the following is also at most half right:

After Brexit, I argued that winter was coming for human rights. Well, it’s here. 

It’s here because the liberal democratic market model that has underpinned forty years of human rights growth is broken. It is here because what was supposed to happen, trickle down affluence, never did in any meaningful way. The age of rights, four decades of a newly potent set of claims for dignity, equal treatment and protection—for civility, for vibrant opposition to authority—were built on what Trump supporters have come to see as a lie. For them, human rights were not heralds of a new era of fair shares for all but a way to steal the inheritance of real Americans.
I think by now that "Brexit" is a vague analogy which is much employed by people who do not want to admit that the "neoliberal" sell-out of virtually all liberal, progressive, social democratic and socialist ideals started with the multi-millionaires Bill Clinton and Tony Blair who earned part of their fame, and many of their millions, with insisting that "neoliberalism" was the way, the only way, and also the safe way, with men like them at the helm. (And indeed, this was a huge success for their personal fortunes.)

Also, the writer seems to miss entirely that the "neoliberal" era started over 35 years ago, and that the 35 years previous to that (from 1945 till 1980) were the decades for human rights growth.

And the article ends as follows, in what seem to me vagueries without reasons:

So, what is to be done? For human rights on the global scale, fight Trump and Trumpism. Fight fascism. Stop this ill-starred pursuit of failing global norms and institutions like the ICC, criminalizing the crime of aggression and a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity, and go where the struggle really is, on the ground, in national legislatures, in national courts, where there really is an “us” versus “them”. Embrace domestic, rather than international, politics. The struggle is now about democracy, democratic organization, reaching out, building coalitions of support that weaken the fascist base and getting into, in a serious way, class, race and identity.

So all in all this article seems to locate the beginning of "fascism" with Trump (after Hitler) while it doesn't seem to have any sense of the long history of "neoliberalism", which is the propaganda term for neofascism, and that started in the 1970ies and came to fruition under Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.

2. 2016 Election Thank You Notes

The second item is by Ethan Coen on The New York Times

This is here mainly because I like the ironies. It starts as follows (and is not long):

Such a surprise! So many people to thank!

1. Jill Stein voters: You helped elect a man who pledges that he will, in his first hundred days, cancel contributions to United Nations programs to fight climate change. If your vote for Ms. Stein did not end up advancing your green agenda, it did allow you to feel morally superior to all the compromising schmoes who voted for Hillary Clinton. And your feelings about your vote are more important than the consequences of your vote. So — thank you!

2. Gary Johnson voters: Thank you, for similar reasons.
In case you are offended: I do not say that their being also (completely irrealist) contenders for the presidency of the USA was the only or the main
reason for Trump's winning, but I do think they contributed. [3]

There is this on Comey and Weiner:

3. James Comey: Your publicity coup may have affected the outcome of the election. Or it may not have. But it will certainly breed speculation that it did. Such discussion will in some way serve the reputation of the F.B.I. Or not. You had to bravely contravene bureau protocols to make your contribution, so to you we owe a special thanks!

4. Anthony Weiner: You also found a surprising way to contribute! Thank you, sir — your act never gets old!

This is about the same as for the Stein and the Johnson voters: The actions of Comey may not have destroyed Hillary Clinton's chances (she owes most of the reasons for her failings to herself, her policies for the rich, and her husband and his policies for the rich), but they probably did contribute.

There is more that I skip, but here is the end, which I think is justified:

8. The American electorate. Because in the end, we all did it together. We did it! We really did it!

Indeed. And this is a recommended article.

3. Robert Reich: Why We Need a New Democratic Party

The third item is by Robert Reich on AlterNet and originally on RobertReich.org:

This starts as follows:

It is time for a New Democratic Party.

The old Democratic Party has become a giant fundraising machine, too often reflecting the goals and values of the moneyed interests.

It has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused on raising campaign money from corporate and Wall Street executives and getting votes from upper middle-class households in “swing” suburbs.

Yes, indeed (and compare the first article) - but I see two immediate problems: (i) if indeed Reich's idea is for a New party, it seems rather a lot of funding is necessary, and I do not see from whence that will come (since the Old Democratic Party got most of its funding from the rich bankers, who again were served by the Democratic Party's elite, to the above effect in Reich's second paragraph), while also (ii) it will be quite difficult, even with a lot of funding, to destroy most of the Old Democratic Party (which presumably will keep some of its funding from the rich bankers).

And these are not the only problems I see. Here is more from Reich:

We need a New Democratic Party capable of organizing and mobilizing Americans in opposition to Donald Trump’s Republican party, which is about to take over all three branches of the U.S. government.

A New Democratic Party that will turn millions of people into an activist army to peacefully resist what is about to happen – providing them with daily explanations of what is occurring in Trump’s administration, along with tasks that individuals and groups can do to stop or mitigate their harmful effects.

This doesn't do anything to answer the two problems I raised: These are mere desires, which will not be realized without good funding.

Then there is this on the Democratic Party's ideology (which is in fact for the rich):

A respected Democratic political insider recently told me most people were largely content with the status quo. “The economy is in good shape,” he said. “Most Americans are better off than they’ve been in years.”

Wrong. Recent economic indicators may be up, but those indicators don’t reflect the insecurity most Americans continue to feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience.

Put otherwise: It goes more or less OK for the richest 10%, to which most of the Democratic elites belong, but it goes wrong for the remaining 90% - and has been going wrong for them since Reagan became president, and since Clinton destroyed social security while enriching the rich.

The following is adequate:

Median family income is lower now than it was 16 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Workers without college degrees – the old working class – have fallen furthest.

Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top. These gains have translated into political power to elicit bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, favorable trade deals and increasing market power without interference by anti-monopoly enforcement – all of which have further reduced wages and pulled up profits.

Yes, indeed - and "[m]ost economic gains (..) have gone to [the] top" also with the dedicated help of Bill Clinton (who became a multi-millionaire because of it) and Barack Obama (who hopes the same).

Here is more on how Clinton and Obama did it:

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

Democrats also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify – with the result that large corporations have grown far larger, and major industries more concentrated.

I agree - but I am not really sure whether Reich indeed wants a New Democratic Party or wants to Renew the old Democratic Party. And both
seem quite difficult.

4. The Political World After Trump’s Win

The fourth item is by Joe Lauria on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

This election has struck what should be a fatal blow to the Clintons’ Democratic Leadership Council movement. Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the center-right at about the same time that Tony Blair did with the British Labour Party. Both parties cut many of their traditional ties to labor unions in the 1990s to embrace the economic neoliberalism of their 1980s predecessors Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: welfare reform, deregulation of the financial sector and “free trade.”

The effect on workers across the old industrial belts has been devastating. Millions have been pushed out of a middle-class lifestyle. They have seen their plants close and jobs shipped to cheap labor markets overseas. Or they have lost out to robotics.

They’ve also seen the economy shift from production to financial speculation. And they’ve seen the greatest transfer of wealth in decades to the obscenely rich.
Yes, indeed: This seems to me to be along the lines of a factually correct analysis. And according to this analysis it are Bill Clinton and Tony Blair who - very willingly, and certainly moved by expectations to profit themselves a lot, which they also did - destroyed socialism, destroyed social democracy, destroyed the trade unions for the most part, destroyed the incomes of the 90%, and very much helped the bankers to make 20 millions a year, for which both indeed were duly paid by the rich, for Bill Clinton now is worth some $120 millions (take or leave a few) and Tony Blair now is worth about the same (in pounds).

So the personal projects of Clinton and Blair succeeded extremely well (both are muli-millionaires), though indeed at the costs of hundreds of millions who became poorer or did not gain anything the last 35 years.

Here is some more on the character of Bill Clinton and also on the character of the present Democratic Party:

Last week, we learned in a leaked speech that Bill Clinton gave last year that he denigrated Corbyn, saying Labour “went out and practically got a guy off the street to be the leader” of the party. “When people feel they’ve been shafted and they don’t expect anything to happen anyway, they just want the maddest person in the room to represent them.”

Bill Clinton’s remarks were typical of the Democrats’ smugness and their contempt for ordinary people. So there was some satisfaction in seeing the humiliation of these careerist and corporatist Democrats on Tuesday.

Now, the Democratic Party had better figure out how they can serve the interests of those blue-collar workers or the party can expect more of the same. So far they are blaming everyone and everthing for having created this workers’ backlash: sexism, the media, FBI Director James Comey (Clinton pinned it specifically on him), Vladimir Putin, Green Party candidate Jill Stein and even Clinton cheerleader Bernie Sanders (for “poisoning the youth vote”).

I agree about Bill Clinton (and repeat that his personal future and his personal income gained an enormous amount through his policies). As to the Democratic Party: This will remain the same as long as the present elite heads it, but then the present Clintonite and Obamite elites will probably soon leave it and tend to their riches. How the Democratic Party can be transformed after 26 years of corruption is not clear to me now.

Finally, there is this on the present Democratic elite:
As it turned out, the Democrats managed to lose the White House to Trump on their own. Though the Democratic leadership won’t admit it, they now know that Sanders was running the right campaign to defend workers’ interests and would have been the right messenger to carry that message. However, to protect their own privileged class interests and those of their donors, establishment Democrats left the country open to the dangerous victory of Donald Trump.

Yes, this seems true in at least two respects: The Democrats lost the White House through their own incompetence, dishonesty, immorality and their backing up the few rich at the costs of the many poor. And Bernie Sanders would have been their right choice to defeat Trump, but Sanders did not make the presidential elections through manipulations of Hillary Clinton's associates - or so it seems.

And this is a recommended article.

5. In Wake of Trump Victory, Progressives Urge Democratic Party Overhaul

The fifth item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As Hillary Clinton puts partial blame for her electoral defeat on F.B.I. Director James Comey, some progressives are calling for an overhaul of the Democratic Party, with new officials that represent grassroots, not corporate, interests.

On ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that Comey's renewed investigation "did not help" because "it changed the conversation. The conversation should've been about middle class people. The conversation should've been about how to raise the minimum wage and strengthen Social Security."

Addressing host George Stephanopoulos's comment that "a lot of Democrats complain that that party has been basically hollowed out under President Obama," the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair said that what the way to come back is "to have a vision to strengthen the grassroots" and to "make the voters first, not the donors first."

Hillary Clinton is still indulging in propaganda: Comey may have contributed to her defeat, but basically the defeat of Clinton is her own fault, because - like her husband - she chose for the rich and against the poor.

And I am sorry, but I think Ellison is lying/propagandizing as well: Clinton's campaign was not about "middle class people" nor about "the minimum wage", while Social Security has already been mostly destroyed by Bill Clinton in the 1990ies.

In contrast (?) here is Robert Reich (also reviewed above):

In former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich's assessment, "It is time for a New Democratic Party" as it "has become a giant fundraising machine, too often reflecting the goals and values of the moneyed interests." A new party, instead, he wrote,

will do everything possible to advance the progressive agenda at state and local levels—getting big money out of politics, reversing widening inequality, expanding health care, reversing climate change, ending the militarization of our police and the mass incarceration of our people, and stopping interminable and open-ended warfare.

What happened in America on Election Day should not be seen as a victory for hatefulness over decency. It is more accurately understood as a repudiation of the American power structure, including the old Democratic Party.

Issuing a similar message, Sanders supporter Jonathan Tasini wrote that the election results make room for "a difficult but urgent mission—shaking the Democratic Party down to its foundation, ejecting the failed Bill/Hillary Clinton economic and global worldview and standing up for a set of populist, sound economic, and foreign policy principles that could earn majority support."

Yes, but the problems I see with this are that (i) really creating a New Democratic Party will take a lot of money and considerable time, while (ii) removing the elites from the Old Democratic Party will be very difficult, apart perhaps from the Clintons and the Obamas, simply because the rich bankers
will still protect and fund their kinds of political Democrats
.

Then again, the situation is very difficult, and this is a recommended article.

6. Trump Will Have Vast Powers. He Can Thank Democrats for Them.

The sixth and last item is by Glenn Greenwald on Common Dreams and originally in The Washington Post:

This starts as follows:

Liberals are understandably panicked about what Donald Trump can carry out. “We have a president-elect with authoritarian tendencies assuming a presidency that has never been more powerful ,” Franklin Foer wrote this past week in Slate. Trump will command not only a massive nuclear arsenal and the most robust military in history, but also the ability to wage numerous wars in secret and without congressional authorization; a ubiquitous system of electronic surveillance that can reach most forms of human communication and activity; and countless methods for shielding himself from judicial accountability, congressional oversight and the rule of law — exactly what the Constitution was created to prevent. Trump assumes the presidency “at the peak of its imperial powers,” as Foer put it.

Yes, indeed - and speaking for myself, I would also add that (i) the ideas and the ideals of Donald Trump are mostly neofascist (that he may call "neoliberal"), while also (I am a psychologist: I know what insane people are like) (ii) Donald Trump himself is not sane. Especially the last will make Trump's presidency extremely dangerous.

Then there is this - and I disagree with the first statement:

Sen. Barack Obama certainly saw it that way when he first ran for president in 2008.
(...)
Yet, beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance.

Yes indeed, he did all the things summed up in the second paragraph, and yet I am supposed to believe his - extremely carefully orchestrated - propaganda from 2008 that he was a genuine progressive liberal?! I don't: he was a fraud from the word go, as was Bill Clinton.

There is also this, that goes more or less as I see it:

Obama’s approach to executive power flipped so quickly and diametrically that’s it is impossible to say if he ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint. As early as May 2009, Jack Goldsmith, a Justice Department official under George W. Bush, celebrated Obama’s abandonment of his promises to rein in these authorities, writing that “the new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit.” He added that the “Obama practices will be much closer to late Bush practices than almost anyone expected in January 2009.”

First, I disagree with Greenwald "that’s it is impossible to say if [Obama] ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint": Since all we have from 2008 on Obama was very carefully orchestrated propaganda to make him president, while we have eight years of his serving the rich, I think the sensible conclusion is that he did what he meant to do (and lied to his voters, as is very easy, and as he does very well and very charmingly).

Indeed, here are a number of things Obama did and signed and furthered, nearly all of which were in the tradition of Bush Jr:

This same dynamic — Democrats endorsing vast expansions of executive powers — repeated itself time and again, both within the national security realm and outside it. Obama issued numerous signing statements purporting to nullify legal obligations, invoked radical secrecy privileges to avoid lawsuits, eroded long-standing Miranda rights for terrorism suspects, waged a war in Libya even after Congress voted against its authorization and pioneered novel means of using executive orders to circumvent congressional (i.e. democratic) approval in a wide array of domestic policy arenas.

And of course, Obama aggressively expanded the system of mass surveillance, including on U.S. soil, that had been secretly implemented by the National Security Agency after 9/11.
The article ends as follows:
With Trump looming, there is much talk of uniting across ideological and partisan lines to impose meaningful limits on executive authority, and those efforts are justified. But, as progressives were repeatedly warned, a matrix of power that has been defended and legitimized for 15 years by both parties will be very difficult to uproot.

Yes, indeed - as I have pointed out several times in this Nederlog. To repeat it: The Clintons were frauds. Obama was a fraud. Both were much for the rich, and against the non-rich. Both extremely increased the powers of the government, which were taken from the people. Both were more like Republicans than like
(real) Democrats. And at least the Clintons became multi-millionaires through their policies.

O, well... and this is a recommended article.

--------------------------
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 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.

Also, I am rather certain that most (not: all) of those who style themselved as "neoliberals" in fact are neofascists as defined (even though they probably do not like the term).

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.)

[3] I think this holds as I formulated it. (Also, I grant that I neither like Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson, but this seems an aside.)


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