Nov 16, 2016

Crisis: Sherman, McCauley, Wallach, Cole
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How Trump Won—and How Candidates Will Win From
     Now On

2. Ugly and Unprepared, 'Knife Fight' Breaks Out in Trump

4. The Way to Stop Trump

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, November 16, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 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 interpretation of one reason why Trump won (I think it is mostly mistaken); item 2 is about Trump's transition (and I have little to say); item 3 is about the TPP (but I think it is far too positive about "people's power"); and item 4 is about an article by the new director of the ACLU (who seems to like Obama and to be more confident than I am about American democracy and his chances to stop Trump and his new laws).

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days. And it still does (on 11 - 15.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. It was OK on 14.xi.2016 and on 15.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.

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. How Trump Won—and How Candidates Will Win From Now On

The first item today is by Jeremy Sherman on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Caveat: Trump’s win was no landslide. There are many plausible explanations for it, including that it was a fluke. Here is one among many speculations I think is worth considering about why he won and what it means for future elections.

Consider the possibility that the election was not decided on issues, values, character, scandal or national direction, but on confidence. Trump postured as the infinitely confident candidate. Though most of us thought he would lose, he campaigned throughout as though he were infallible.
Really now? I agree that "[t]here are many plausible explanations" for Trump's win, and also (although Sherman does not consider this) that it is difficult or impossible to prove or disprove them, because one is talking about the decisions of millions of individuals.

But then Sherman starts to exaggerate. For his "possbility" is just one of very many untractable hypotheses; it is formulated in an extremist way: "
the infinitely confident candidate"; and besides projections of confidence seem to be much less what Trump's stance was about than the pretension that there is no truth and that there are no facts: There are only statements, with varying amounts of propaganda attached to them.

And this is in fact the postmodernistic myth, with which I am acquainted since 1977 (!!) [3], and there is something to it, but not quite what Sherman says:
Trump employed a formula for giving the impression of absolute invincibility. It’s not a complicated formula. It simply requires an unfailing ability to treat truth and reality as trivial, an ability to play presiding judge over every decision, and a handful of rhetorical tricks for turning the table on everything and everyone in his way, retaliating against all challenges with counterchallenges tenfold.
Then again, Sherman is right in insisting that the postmodernistic "ability to treat truth and reality as trivial" was an important part of Trump's ideology.

Indeed, here is some more on this, for this kind of postmodernism goes back to Bush Jr and his campaign:

Reporter Ron Suskind recounts a conversation with Bush’s campaign manager, Karl Rove:

[Rove] said guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Note that Rove was talking contradictory trash: On the one hand he says that everything is illusion, and on the other hand he affirms that that's "the way the world really works"; and on the one hand he says that all that Bush Jr's campaign pushed were illusions, and on the other hand he affirms he is making real history that way, namely by pushing illusion after illusion.

Then again, postmodernism often works if your end is to convince ignorant people or stupid people, for neither has any preparation for dealing with carefully crafted systems of lies that are intendend to deceive the ignorant and the stupid, and the chances are the greater if all of this happens in the context
arguments where there is little or no feedback from the real facts.

Here is Sherman's lesson:

Going forward, the question is what could ever trump feigned invincibility? I’ll argue that the only thing that can is hyper-confident exposure of the formula for feigned invincibility. In other words, with relentless unshakable confidence, drawing attention to the opposition’s realism-be-damned confidence formula. To name it is to tame it. Expose how simple the formula is. Play the judge of the self-appointed judge.
I disagree. First, one of Trump's main strengths was not his projection of invincibility, but his use of the postmodernistic notions that there is no truth, there are no facts, and everything is just propaganda and words, without any
reality that the terms are or could be about.

And second, you don't meet a pretense of feigned invincibility with your own pretense of feigned invincibility: You meet it by showing there are real
facts and real truths, and these are other than the lies about them.

Then again, this is bound to be difficult if your audience consists of tens of millions of
ignorant or stupid people who want formulas to clothe their ignorance or stupidity and to support their choices, while the mainstream media all embraced Trump for much of his career as a presidential candidate, and refused to check his very many lies.

It may be a bit easier to correct political lies if political lies are not anymore just promises, but relate to actual policies, but then I did not see this happen during the first four years of Bush Jr.'s government either.

2. Ugly and Unprepared, 'Knife Fight' Breaks Out in Trump Transition

The second item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

While Republicans have been outwardly celebrating their victories, President-elect Donald Trump's transition to power is reportedly mired in chaos and infighting as competing factions duke it out to see whose version of "Make America Great Again" will dominate under the new world order.

A "knife fight" is how one source described the backroom disagreements over "key cabinet appointments and direction, both for internal West Wing positions and key national security posts," CNN reported.

On one side is the newly-appointed and highly-controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon, who—as chairman of the inflammatory Breitbart News and a figurehead within the global alt-right movement—is seen as a political outsider who is expected to hold significant influence over Trump's international policy decisions.

On the other side, CNN reported, are "more traditional Republican operatives" such as Trump's chief of staff and former Republican Party chair Reince Priebus.

I say. I merely copied that for your information (and I do not much trust CNN).
Here is some more:

On Tuesday, the "traditional" Republican flank suffered another blow when Mike Rogers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that he would no longer be serving as national security senior advisor to the Trump team, saying: "Our work will provide a strong foundation for the new transition team leadership as they move into the post-election phase, which naturally is incorporating the campaign team in New York who drove President-elect Trump to an incredible victory last year."

Rogers' departure is the most recent amid the "Stalinesque purge"—as one source called it—of the team assembled by former transition leader New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was replaced last week by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Again I merely copied this, but I have one remark: It seems - see the end of Chris Christie on Wikipedia - that Rogers' departure is closely connected with
Christie's dismissal (and two of his associates).


The third item is by Lori Wallach (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams (and this is less about Trump, though he will be mentioned):

This starts as follows, with a message that I find very hard to believe:
The news that the White House and Republican congressional leaders have given up on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is welcome. That the TPP would be defeated by Congress if brought to a vote signals that Trojan-horse “trade” agreements that expand corporate power and shrink Americans’ wages are simply no longer politically viable. People power beat the united forces of a U.S. president, the Republican congressional leaders and the entire corporate lobby.
That is, I do understand why Lori Wallach would say so, for she is the founder and director of Global Trade Watch, and she opposes the TPP etc., and clearly
she would like it very much if "[p]eople power
beat the united forces of a U.S. president, the Republican congressional leaders and the entire corporate lobby",
and indeed so would I - but I haven't seen much evidence of people power against the TPP, the TTIP, the CETA and the TISA [4], while it seems rather certain to me that the TPP is off (for now) because Trump is against it, in the first place.

Here is Lori Wallach's view of things:
Six years of relentless, strategic campaigning by an international movement of people from the TPP countries united across borders to fight against corporate power is why the TPP is all but dead.  

Thanks to years of campaigning by people across this country, since its February 2016 signing, the TPP could not garner a majority of support in the U.S. House of Representatives.

First, I note that the TPP is not completely dead yet, which is correct. Second, it seems almost certain to me that Obama would have succeeded in pushing it through in his last months as president if he would have been followed by Hillary Clinton as president. And third, while I do not deny that there were "[s]ix years of relentless, strategic campaigning by an international movement of people", I must say that not much of that reached me - and I have been following the crisis closely since September 2008 (that is, for more than eight years, in currently more than 1380 files).

So no, I do not believe Lori Wallach's view. Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

That the TPP pushed by the most powerful forces in the world is not being implemented represents the American public’s resounding rejection of  trade policies that not only failed to live up to its proponents’ promises over the past 20 years, but caused real damage to working people and the environment.

The only way forward is to create new rules of the road for globalization that put people and the planet first while harvesting the benefits of expanded trade. And we must roll back the existing “trade” deals and extreme investor-state dispute settlement regime that have caused people and the planet so much damage.

As I said, I think the TPP is in difficulties because Trump rejected it, and Trump is going to be the next president of the USA, and not because  of "the American public’s resounding rejection of  trade policies".

Besides, if Trump alters his opinion, the TPP is still not quite beaten and may be fully restored (and would pass the Republican Congress and Senate).

Finally, while I would like it very much if the interests of the "people and the planet" were put first, but I see very little reason to believe this will happen.

4. The Way to Stop Trump

The fourth and last item today is by David Cole (<- Wikipedia) onThe New York Review of Books:

This starts as follows (and David Cole, as the above link shows, is going to be the next director of the ACLU (<-Wikipedia)):

The stunning upset election of Donald Trump has left many Americans wondering what has become of their country, their party, their government, even their sense of the world. Purple prose has been unleashed on the problem; comparisons to fascism and totalitarianism abound. Commentators claim that Trump’s election reflects a racist, sexist, xenophobic America. But we should resist the temptation to draw broad-brush generalizations about American character from last Tuesday’s outcome. The result was far more equivocal than that; a majority of the voters rejected Trump, after all. There is no question that President Trump will be a disaster—if we let him. But the more important point is that—as the fate of American democracy in the years after 9/11 has taught us—we can and must stop him.

Hm. I think that the references to Trump's fascism (more correctly: neofascism - see note [2]) and totalitarianism are (mostly, more or less) correct, as are the references to his racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Also, if "we should resist the temptation to draw broad-brush generalizations" from Trump's election (why?), then why should we not resist the suggestion that "[t]here is no question that President Trump will be a disaster—if we let him"?

And note that the last statement in fact covers three claims: (i) it is self-evident that Trump will be a disaster - but not if you are pro-Trump; (ii) Trump is a disaster - but not according to Trump; and (ii) the American people can stop Trump, if they want to - which seems (at least to me, although it displeases me) not likely with a Republican Senate, a Republican Congress, a Republican government, and a Republican majority in the Supreme Court.

Then again, Cole indicates the problems with the Trumpian government quite well:

The risks are almost certainly greater than those posed by any prior American president. Trump, who has no government experience, a notoriously unreliable temperament, and a record of demagoguery and lies, will come to office with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and, once he fills the late Antonin Scalia’s seat, on the Supreme Court as well. His shortlist of Cabinet appointees offers little hope that voices of moderation will be heard. Who, then, is going to stop him? Will he be able to put in place all the worst ideas he tossed out so cavalierly on the campaign trail? Building a wall; banning and deporting Muslims; ending Obamacare; reneging on climate change treaty responsibilities; expanding libel law; criminalizing abortion; jailing his political opponents; supporting aggressive stop-and-frisk policing; reviving mass surveillance and torture?

There is this by David Cole on restrictions imposed on Bush Jr by 2009:

By the time Bush left office in 2009, he had released more than five hundred of the detainees from Guantanamo, emptied out the CIA’s secret prisons, halted the CIA interrogation program and extraordinary renditions, and placed the NSA’s surveillance program under judicial supervision. His claims of uncheckable executive power had been rejected, and the Geneva Conventions applied to all detainees.  Bush did not introduce these reforms because he came to realize his wrongs. His memoir, like that of his vice-president, Dick Cheney, is entirely unrepentant. But Bush was nonetheless checked—by American civil society, international criticism, and, for the first time in history, the Court and Congress.

I suspect David Cole is far more positive about Obama and his government than I am. Completely apart from that, he is talking about the end of Bush Jr's government, while we are in fact considering the start of Trump's government, and I don't think these two are fairly comparable.

Then there is this on the American laws:

Much of what Trump has proposed is patently illegal. Torture violates the Constitution, international law, and the Geneva Conventions. Deporting or singling out Muslims for discriminatory treatment violates the freedom of religion. Congress cannot expand libel, whose contours are determined by the First Amendment. The right to terminate a pregnancy remains protected by the Constitution, and the Supreme Court strongly reaffirmed that right just last year. A bipartisan Congress ended the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata in 2015, after a court of appeals ruled the program illegal. And the terms of our climate change treaty preclude backing out for four years.

I say. I suppose David Cole knows the term deregulation: The laws that protected the middle class and the poor, for example, have been systematically broken down ever since Bill Clinton was president. It seems to me that Trump will continue this, and the above presentation is far too optimistic. (Consider just the First Amendment: This has been tortured into meaning that money = votes and that corporations = persons by the Supreme Court. And I do not see why libel cannot be much extended by Trump, with the help of the Senate and the Congress, while press freedom may be very much restricted, again with the same help.)

But then here is the ending of David Cole's article:

We live in a constitutional democracy, one that is expressly designed to check the impulses of dangerous men. It will do so if and only if we insist on it.

I am sorry, but I don't think so. First, the USA is a constitutional republic much rather than a democracy, in legal terms. (The founding fathers were not democrats, and also did not provide for it.) Second, if the constitution was designed "to check the impulses of dangerous men", it failed to check the rise of Donald Trump. Third, I think democracy is mostly dead in the USA: There is no mainstream news anymore that gives the facts and investigates whether claims are true. It disappeared when advertisements left the paper press and moved to the internet. And fourth, it is difficult to trust the law if very many good laws have been deregulated as if these changes were just, and if we are assured by a lawyer that the law will remain only if "we, the public" insist on it.

I like the ACLU, but I do not see much reason to believe it will stop Trump. And indeed it did not stop Obama either, and he was both a Democrat and a lawyer.

[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.

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] As I have explained before, the academic year 1978-1979 in Amsterdam was officially opened by the historian professor Brandt who announced to the world and the University of Amsterdam the following crude lie (literally, albeit in Dutch):
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist"
And that was the beginning of 17 years of postmodernism in the Dutch universities, which also was embraced by most of the students (who studied some science, but who thought there is no truth and there are no facts...),
and carried the day for 17 years because the Dutch universities were effectively given to the students in 1971 (in a rule that was completely unique in the world).

There is a lot more on this in various places on my site.

[4] I am sorry, but if I did not see the evidence that would support Lori Wallach, it is not because I did not try to find it, nor that I am ignorant about the TPP, TTIP, TISA and CETA. And while I grant I read some evidence about some demonstrations against some of these, I have not read evidence that made it clear to me that these demonstrations influenced the reception of these (mostly secret (!)) "laws" in the Senate or Congress.

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