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Nederlog

 Dec 3, 2016

Crisis: "Terrorism", Twitter, Engelhardt, Reich
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
At Least Four Kinds of Terrorism Are Targeting Our
     Grandchildren

2. Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim
     Registry for Trump

3. Was 11/8 a New 9/11?
4. Trump’s Trickle-Down Populism
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, December 3, 2016.

A.
This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links and it consists (mostly) of some further deliberations on the meanings of Trump's election as president of the USA:

Item 1 is about "four kinds of terrorism", but in fact abuses the term "terrorism"; item 2 is about the morality, honesty and character of the CEOs or owners of the biggest computer corporations: They seem to have none, except for Twitter; item 3 is about an article by Tom Engelhardt; and item 4 is about an article by Robert Reich.

-- 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 - 17.xi.2016). 18.xi. was correct as
was 19.xi. 20.xi again was a stinking mess, as was 21.xi and 22.xi. It was correct on 25.xi. And horrible on 26.xi and 27.xi and indeed ever since till 1.xii. But on 2.xii it was correct.

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. But not on 16 and 17.xi.
18.xi. was correct as were 19, 20, 21 and 22.xi. This also was
correct between Nov
25 and Nov 30, 2016, and since then.

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. (And this is not "automatic": it changes from day to day.)

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. At Least Four Kinds of Terrorism Are Targeting Our Grandchildren

The first item today is by Paul Buchheit on AlterNet (with a somewhat shortened title [2]):

This starts as follows:
Four decades of American narcissism and greed and exceptionalism have allowed the super-rich to dictate the future path of our nation. We're paying the price now, with environmental disasters, nonexistent savings for half of our families, Americans dying because of expensive health care, and a growing fear of blowback from desperate victims of our foreign wars.
In fact, these are the "Four Kinds of Terrorism" in Paul Buchheit's title. I am sorry, but except - possibly, since this is also not certain - for the last item that is an abuse of words. I'll give my definition of "terrorism" again:

Terrorism: Attempt to get one's way in politics or religion by violence and murder, directed especially at civilians.

There's more there, but awful as "
environmental disasters, nonexistent savings for half of our families, Americans dying because of expensive health care" are, they should not be styled terrorism, nor confused with them.

The following is also misleading in my opinion, although the end makes sense:

The richest people in the world create most of the pollution, yet are the least likely to feel guilty about the effects of their behavior, and the least likely to suffer from the impending environmental damage. This could lead to terror-filled years for the generations to follow us. Even the CHANCE of such misery for their grandchildren should motivate the super-rich to address the root causes of global warming. Instead, they have plans to retreat to impregnable "safe rooms" with food and water, oxygen, medical supplies, and all the amenities for a year or more of underground living.
First, I am not very much interested in comparing a few of the attitudes of "the richest people" with others: Pollution is systemic and a matter of policy, and the attitudes of the rich are not important. Besides, while I agree environmental damage is bad, it is not "terror-filled" in any literal sense of "terror".

Next, "[e]ven the CHANCE" also seems a mistake, and for two reasons: Quite a few of the very rich are deluded about climate-change, so they either do not allow these chances at all, or consider them too small to care for. I think that is
a very serious mistake, but this seems to be the fact (for some).

What Buchheit seems right about is that there is a genuine possibility that the rich are out to reproduce only themselves and some of their eager servants: "
they have plans to retreat to impregnable "safe rooms" with food and water, oxygen, medical supplies, and all the amenities for a year or more of underground living".

In fact, I foresaw similar things in 2012, when I wrote out the following hypothesis about the very rich. They may want:
To bring about a radical and fast diminution of the world population, now that unskilled human labor can be mostly replaced by computers
(..)
I don't mind being regarded as a cynic. And there is a vast population problem, that may be much lessened by killing a vast number of people. One way is by denying them the necessities to live, while keeping them repressed by military forces. This has happened before, e.g. in the Ukraine Famine aka Holodomor and in the Great Famine in Ireland.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
The breakdown in taxes began in the 1970s, when University of Chicago economist Arthur Laffer convinced Dick Cheney and other Republican officials that lowering taxes on the rich would generate more revenue. Conservatives have contorted this economic theory into the belief that all tax reductions are beneficial. It was proved wrong from the start. Several economic studies have concluded that the revenue-maximizing top income tax rate is anywhere from 50% to 75%. Yet our next president wants to cut taxes on the rich.
I don't think Cheney needed conviction from Laffer to help the richest, but it might have happened in some sense. (I think Cheney may have gotten the propaganda he wanted.) But in general, here is the Wikipedia, from the article on Laffer, on the so called "Laffer curve" that also was not initiated by Laffer:
Numerous leading economists have rejected the view that a tax rate cut of current federal US income taxes can lead to increased tax revenue. When asked whether a “cut in federal income tax rates in the US right now would raise taxable income enough so that the annual total tax revenue would be higher within five years than without the tax cut,” 96% of economists surveyed in 2012 disagreed. In response to this survey question, Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago joked: “That’s a Laffer.” According to Greg Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, most economists have been very skeptical of Laffer's contention that decreases in tax rates could increase tax revenue, at least in the United States. In his textbook, Mankiw states, "there was little evidence for Laffer's view that U.S. tax rates had in fact reached such extreme levels."
Anyway... I think this is not a good article, mostly because it simply abuses the concept of terrorism.

2. Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim Registry for Trump

The second item is by Sam Bidle on The Intercept (again with a somewhat shortened title [2]):

This starts as follows:

Every American corporation, from the largest conglomerate to the smallest firm, should ask itself right now: Will we do business with the Trump administration to further its most extreme, draconian goals? Or will we resist?

This question is perhaps most important for the country’s tech companies, which are particularly valuable partners for a budding authoritarian. The Intercept contacted nine of the most prominent such firms, from Facebook to Booz Allen Hamilton, to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry, an idea recently resurfaced by Donald Trump’s transition team. Only Twitter said no.

I say. This seems to me reasonably good evidence about the attitudes of the mega-rich owners of these companies: They will support whoever increases their profits, also if this screws the rights or the safety of their customers or their workers.

And there are in fact three quite important things that will make either for a huge difference with all previous American governments, or for a less huge one:

  • How are the rights of minorities protected?
  • How much surveillance will there be of innocent persons?
  • How is press freedom protected, especially of the non-mainstream media?
As far as I am aware: The rights of minorities - Muslims, blacks, Mexicans, for example - will not be protected; there will be as much surveillance of everyone as is possible (which may include forbidding encryption); and the press freedoms will be destroyed, as will the non-mainstream news.

I do not say this will happen, for much depends on the Democrats, on the courts, and on what remains of the free press, but I think the possibilities listed
in the previous paragraph are priorities of Trump.

Back to the eager willingness of the leaders of the largest computer companies to serve Trump. Here is - for one example - the CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty:

Shortly after the election, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty wrote a personal letter to President-elect Trump in which she offered her congratulations, and more importantly, the services of her company. The six different areas she identified as potential business opportunities between a Trump White House and IBM were all inoffensive and more or less mundane, but showed a disturbing willingness to sell technology to a man with open interest in the ways in which technology can be abused: Mosque surveillance, a “virtual wall” with Mexico, shutting down portions of the internet on command, and so forth.

There is this on a "Muslim registry" in the USA:

But the proposed “Muslim registry,” whether it be a computerized list of people from two dozen predomina[n]tely
Muslim nations who enter the country (as revealed in Kris Kobach’s fatuously exposed Homeland Security agenda) or a list of all Muslims in the U.S., is both morally appalling and effectively pointless.

Hm. That depends - I would say - on what use Trump (and his ministers) want to do with this "registry". It certainly is not "effectively pointless" if Muslims, like the Japanese Americans in the first half of the 1940ies, are to be locked up, e.g. if there are more wars with Muslim countries.

We will find out, and I fear this will not be nice.

Here are the corporations that The Intercept asked whether they would "
do business with the Trump administration to further its most extreme, draconian goals":

Facebook:
Twitter: “No,” (..)
Microsoft:
Google:
Apple:
IBM:
Booz Allen Hamilton:
SRA International:
CGI:

Here are the answers: Twitter said No; Microsoft answered with bullshit; Booz Allen Hamilton declined to comment; all the others didn't even answer.

I cannot say I am amazed. (But this is quite frightening.)

3. Was 11/8 a New 9/11?

The third item is b
y Tom Engelhardt on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

For decades, Washington had a habit of using the Central Intelligence Agency to deep-six governments of the people, by the people, and for the people that weren’t to its taste and replacing them with governments of the [take your choice: military junta, shah, autocrat, dictator] across the planet.

I agree, and there is a list of some of these "replacements" under it, that I'll leave to your interests. These "replacements" were mostly kept out of the news between 1950 and 2000, but then there was a change:

At least those acts remained largely covert, undoubtedly reflecting a sense that this wasn’t the sort of thing you should proudly broadcast in the light of day. In the early years of the twenty-first century, however, a new mindset emerged. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, “regime change” became the phrase du jour. As a course of action, there was no longer anything to be covert about. Instead, the process was debated openly and carried out in the full glare of media attention.

No longer would Washington set the CIA plotting in the shadows to rid it of detested governments and put in their place more malleable client states.  Instead, as the “sole superpower” of Planet Earth, with a military believed to be beyond compare or challenge, the Bush administration would claim the right to dislodge governments it disdained directly, bluntly, and openly with the straightforward use of military force.  Later, the Obama administration would take the same tack under the rubric of “humanitarian intervention” or R2P (“responsibility to protect”).  In this sense, regime change and R2P would become shorthand for Washington’s right to topple governments in the full light of day by cruise missile, drone, and Apache helicopter, not to mention troops, if needed. (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq would, of course, be exhibit A in this process and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, exhibit B.)

Yes indeed, and I think Engelhardt is quite correct in stressing that the USA was (and still is) "the “sole superpower” of Planet Earth, with a military believed to be beyond compare or challenge".

Here is Engelhardt on the presidential elections:

In 2016, did the American people leave the CIA in a ditch and potentially do to themselves what the Agency (and more recently the U.S. military) had done to others? In other words, in the strangest election of our lifetimes, have we just seen something like a slow-motion democratic coup d’état or some form of domestic regime change? Only time will tell, but one sign of that possibility: for the first time, part of the national security state directly intervened in an American election. In this case, not the CIA, but our leading domestic investigative outfit, the FBI.

I think myself this was "a slow-motion democratic coup d’état", and I don't think James Comey's interference in the elections was very important (but I may be mistaken, although a proof of this is difficult or impossible):

I think we have seen now 15 years of ever more authoritarian government that completely denied the rights of all of its inhabitants not to be surveilled without proof of suspicion, at least.

Here is more on Trump's government:

Donald Trump’s administration, now filling up with racists, Islamophobes, Iranophobes, and assorted fellow billionaires, already has the feel of an increasingly militarized, autocratic government-in-the-making, favoring short-tempered, militaristic white guys who don’t take criticism lightly or react to speed bumps well.  In addition, on January 20th, they will find themselves with immense repressive powers of every sort at their fingertips, powers ranging from torture to surveillance that were institutionalized in remarkable ways in the post-9/11 years with the rise of the national security state as a fourth branch

of government, powers which some of them are clearly eager to test out.

Yes, indeed - and this is in good part also thanks to Obama. And as I said above, in item 2 (and yes: I am repeating myself, but these things are important): Under Trump, the following are very important:

  • How are the rights of minorities protected?
  • How much surveillance will there be of innocent persons?
  • How is press freedom protected, especially of the non-mainstream media?
As far as I am aware: The rights of minorities - Muslims, blacks, Mexicans, for example - will not be protected; there will be as much surveillance of everyone as is possible (which may include forbidding encryption); and the press freedoms will be destroyed, as will the non-mainstream news.

I do not say this will happen, for much depends on the Democrats, on the courts, and on what remains of the free press, but I think the possibilities listed in the previous paragraph are priorities of Trump.
There is considerably more that I leave to your interests. I will just quote the ending:

What the Trump administration does to us in the years to come could prove a grim period to live through but a passing matter, at least when compared to the possible full-scale destabilization of life on Earth and of history as we’ve known it these last thousands of years.

This would, of course, put 9/11 in the shade. The election victory of 11/8 might ultimately prove the shock of a lifetime, of any lifetime, for eons to come. That’s the danger we’ve faced since 11/8, and make no mistake, it could be devastating.

I more or less halfly agree. I think the two greatest risks there are for humanity are a nuclear war and the destruction of nature, and while I think the Trump government will increase both risks considerably, both risks are also known since 1945 and the mid-1950ies respectively.

But the great risks with Trump's government are mentioned above. And I have no idea about how this will play out, except that I am not optimistic.

This is a recommended article.

4. Trump’s Trickle-Down Populism

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Last Thursday President-elect Donald Trump triumphantly celebrated Carrier’s decision to reverse its plan to close a furnace plant and move jobs to Mexico. Some 800 jobs will remain in Indianapolis.

“Corporate America is going to have to understand that we have to take care of our workers,” Trump told The New York Times. “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” Vice President-elect Michael Pence added, as Trump interjected, “Every time, every time.”

The “free market” is really a collection of rules about how the economic game is played. Trump says he wants to renegotiate trade treaties that he believes causes America to “lose.”

But Trump has shown no interest in changing the rules that for over three decades have imposed unrelenting pressure on American companies to cut their payrolls by shipping jobs abroad or replacing them with automated machinery.

Ahem: the "free market" is not "really a collection of rules about how the economic game is played": It is a piece of crude propaganda. The rest in these paragraphs is more or less correct, but this - I am sorry - is just false.

Then there is this:

It’s “trickle-down” economics dressed in populist garb.

But as long Wall Street pushes corporations to maximize shareholder returns, American workers will continue to lose good-paying jobs to foreign workers or to homegrown robots. Payrolls are the biggest single cost on most companies’ balance sheets, so squeezing them is the easiest way to boost profits and share prices.

Again I think this is somewhat mistaken. First, ""trickle-down" ecomomics" was and is a populist lie. It is not economics, it is just propaganda, and it always was propaganda. And second, it is not just "Wall Street" that "pushes corporations to maximize shareholder returns": Again the primacy of profits has long been part of economic propaganda for the rich, with economists like Milton Friedman insisting - for many years also - that to have the highest possible profit was the only moral norm that CEOs had.

Then there is this, that seems mostly correct:

It doesn’t have to be this way. For more than three decades – from the end of World War II through the early 1980s – large corporations were responsible to their workers and communities as well as to their shareholders. They treated workers as assets to be developed – retraining them with higher skills as the companies moved to higher value-added production, or for new jobs as the companies expanded, and resorting to layoffs only as a last resort.  

This was partly due to strong trade unions, and also a government that had become a central player in the economy during the preceding years of depression and war. These two national emergencies required CEOs be “industrial statesmen” rather than relentless profit-seekers.

Yes, and the economical theory behind that was mostly due to - the liberal, pro-capitalist, but fair-minded - Keynes (<- Wikipedia), whereas the new "economic theory", that was in fact based on greed and egoism and the baloney of the "Laffer curve" was due to Milton Friedman and associates:

But a radically different vision of the corporation erupted in the 1980s when corporate raiders mounted hostile takeovers – using high-yield junk bonds, leveraged buyouts, and proxy fights against the industrial statesmen, who, in their view, were depriving shareholders of the wealth that properly belonged to them.

During the whole of the 1970s there had been only 13 hostile takeovers of large companies. During the 1980s, there were 150. Raiders mounted more than 2,000 leveraged buyouts.

Now, workers were costs to be cut. Since American manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 at nearly 20 million jobs, about 8 million of those jobs have been lost to cheaper foreign labor or to automation. According to MIT researchers, those losses accelerated after the 2001 recession, when competition from China surged.

Yes - and 8/20 = 40% of the jobs there were before Reagan started his strongly pro-rich campaign that only respected profits for the rich, and disregarded any of the interests or rights of the non-rich: These have all been intentionally destroyed, because the rich  think profits should only go the rich, and not be somehow shared with those that generated these for them for very many years.

--------------------------
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 sorry and you will get the full titles by clicking on the dotted links. (I just don't like big letters, and the format I've chosen is normally quite adequate. Also, I think long titles are nearly always a mistake, but that is secondary.)

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