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Nederlog

 Dec 13, 2016

Crisis: Noam Chomky, Trump Pro Rich, Trump Anti Government, Jill Stein
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Introduction

1.
Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Poor:
     An Interview With Noam Chomsky

2. Trump's War on Science
3. Trump Is Destroying Our Government 'From the Inside
     Out, the Way a Worm Slowly Devours an Apple'

4. Federal Judge Blocks Jill Stein's Pennsylvania Recount
     Effort

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, December 13, 2016.

A.
This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a fine interview with Noam Chomsky; item 2 is about Trump's decision to nominate the ExxonMobil CEO as Secretary of State (and shows Trump's war with science); item 3 is about Trump's war with government (which he dislikes: He wants "all power to the CEOs"); and item 4 is about Jill Stein's efforts to get
some security about the votes: it seems this has now been halted by two judges who act (and write) like Trump's men.

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in November 2016. But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. Since then it mostly wasn't (until and
including 10.xii).

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. [0]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: This was so-so till 18.xi and was correct since then (most or all days).

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. Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Poor: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

The first item today is by C.J. Polychroniou on Truthout:

This starts as follows:
The United States is rapidly declining on numerous fronts -- collapsing infrastructure, a huge gap between haves and have-nots, stagnant wages, high infant mortality rates, the highest incarceration rate in the world -- and it continues to be the only country in the advanced world without a universal health care system. Thus, questions about the nature of the US's economy and its dysfunctional political system are more critical than ever, including questions about the status of the so-called American Dream, which has long served as an inspiration point for Americans and prospective immigrants alike. Indeed, in a recent documentary, Noam Chomsky, long considered one of America's voices of conscience and one of the world's leading public intellectuals, spoke of the end of the American Dream.
This is another in the series of good, clear and honest interviews with Noam Chomsky. I will quote some from the beginning. There is considerably more in the original, that is recommended.

The interview starts as follows:

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, in several of your writings you question the usual view of the United States as an archetypical capitalist economy. Please explain.

Noam Chomsky: Consider this: Every time there is a crisis, the taxpayer is called on to bail out the banks and the major financial institutions. If you had a real capitalist economy in place, that would not be happening. Capitalists who made risky investments and failed would be wiped out. But the rich and powerful do not want a capitalist system. They want to be able to run the nanny state so when they are in trouble the taxpayer will bail them out. The conventional phrase is "too big to fail."

Hm. In a way, I quite agree: Chomsky is right that the rich and the powerful "want to be able to run the nanny state so when they are in trouble the taxpayer will bail them out".

But then again, it depends on what one understands by "capitalism".

Thus, if I look back at the 19th Century, or at the Twenties in the USA, I see the same class of the rich and powerful who wanted a nanny state they controlled to take care of their interests, and who indeed were more powerful in the 19th Century, at least, than the present rich and powerful. (The 19th Century was very cruel to the poor, who were mercilessly exploited.)

Then there is this on inequality:

Much has been said and written about economic inequality. Is economic inequality in the contemporary capitalist era very different from what it was in other post-slavery periods of American history?

The inequality in the contemporary period is almost unprecedented. If you look at total inequality, it ranks amongst the worse periods of American history. However, if you look at inequality more closely, you see that it comes from wealth that is in the hands of a tiny sector of the population. There were periods of American history, such as during the Gilded Age in the 1920s and the roaring 1990s, when something similar was going on. But the current period is extreme because inequality comes from super wealth. Literally, the top one-tenth of a percent are just super wealthy.
Yes, I quite agree. And the super wealthy are, accordingly, 1 in a 1000, and they have arranged it (by paying money to politicians) that they get nearly all the wealth, that also is mostly denied to the other 999/1000.

Put otherwise, in the present USA there are almost 325,000,000 men, women and children, of whom some 325,000 have most of the powers there are, which they tend to use to extend their own power and wealth, at the costs of the 999/1000, who have very little or no real powers.

This leads to democracy (in the USA):

Is the US then a democracy in name only?

The US professes to be a democracy, but it has clearly become something of a plutocracy, although it is still an open and free society by comparative standards. But let's be clear about what democracy means. In a democracy, the public influences policy and then the government carries out actions determined by the public. For the most part, the US government carries out actions that benefit corporate and financial interests.
Yes, though "democracy" (like "capitalism" and most other political or economical terms) is ill defined. But Chomsky is right in identifying democracy with the influence "the public" has over policy and politicians, and is also right in saying that "the public" has lost nearly all of its influence, while this was replaced - very intentionally, quite systematically, and since Reagan, and by virtually all politicians, both Republicans and Democrats - by the influence of the richest ("plutocracy").

And in fact, while I agree that the USA is - on the moment, before the Trumpian presidency - in several senses "open and free", I also insist that (i) very soon there may be laws that will much restrict the openness and the freedoms (for Trump seems to want to attack everyone who offended him, and to be able to do that he needs to redefine the First Amendment) while also (ii) if the openness and the freedoms are in fact used by the mainstream media to mostly distribute lies, deceptions and propaganda - which I think is the case: they serve the rich, and are paid well for doing that - then this openness and freedom is intentionally hollowed out by the people who should preserve it.

I think that is also a fact. Here is the last bit that I'll quote, which is about the very strong overlap between great wealth and great power:

Concentration of wealth yields to concentration of power. I think this is an undeniable fact. And since capitalism always leads in the end to concentration of wealth, doesn't it follow that capitalism is antithetical to democracy?

Concentration of wealth leads naturally to concentration of power, which in turn translates to legislation favoring the interests of the rich and powerful and thereby increasing even further the concentration of power and wealth. Various political measures, such as fiscal policy, deregulation, and rules for corporate governance are designed to increase the concentration of wealth and power. And that's what we've been seeing during the neoliberal era. It is a vicious cycle in constant progress. The state is there to provide security and support to the interests of the privileged and powerful sectors in society while the rest of the population is left to experience the brutal reality of capitalism. Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.

Yes indeed, although I doubt "[s]ocialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor" is a good slogan, again because both "socialism" and "capitalism" are not well- defined.

For me, it comes down to: More wealth and more power for the very rich, no wealth and no power for the rest. That also is the straight recipe for Trump and his government.

There is considerably more in the interview, which is strongly recommended.

2. Trump's War on Science

The second item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I shortened the long title some:

This starts as follows:
Over the weekend, news reports began to circulate saying President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Tillerson has served as CEO and chair of Exxon since 2006. Environmental groups have widely condemned the potential nomination. Exxon is facing multiple lawsuits over its role in covering up the science behind climate change. Tillerson is also known to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. (...) For more, we speak with Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth USA; Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law; and Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.
Yes, indeed. Also this article is from yesterday, and at the moment - early in the morning of December 13 - I do not know more.

Here is Carroll Muffett:

CARROLL MUFFETT: I’ll say that when the news first came out, I assumed it was a grim practical joke. As it became more real, our response is that it is irresponsible, and it’s unconscionable. It poses a threat not only to the planet, but to human rights. To put—to put the CEO of Exxon in charge of our negotiations on climate change, our negotiations on oil, on energy, on human rights, with countries around the world where this company has interests, where it has a track record of abuses, is patently irresponsible.
I did not think it was "a grim practical joke": I think it is entirely in line with Trump's program, that is neofascistic. And while I agree in a sense with Burnett that the decision "is irresponsible" and "unconscionable", of course from Trump's point of view it is quite responsible and quite conscionable: He is there to serve
the interests of the very rich, and this is one more way of doing that.

Something similar is true for Erich Pica:
ERICH PICA: I would say I agree with Carroll. At first I thought it was a joke. And then, you know, in thinking about it, Rex Tillerson should be indicted for corporate fraud and for lying to the American public, lying to the world, lying to their shareholders. And so, he should be strung up, and the company should be strung up, in the court of law for fraud. And instead, he’s being rewarded by President-elect Trump with perhaps one of the most important Cabinet picks in the U.S. government, the State Department, the head of the State Department. So it is kind of this interesting and weird Bizarro world that we’re now living in underneath—underneath Trump.
But this is by Bill McKibben (<-Wikipedia) and seems more to the point:
BILL McKIBBEN: (..) I was perhaps a little less surprised than Erich and Carroll by all of this. I think that what’s going on is that the Trump administration has decided to drop all pretense. They are fully engaged in full-on climate denial, and they are fully clients of the fossil fuel industry. (..)
And now, the world’s biggest fossil fuel company and, in many of the most recent years, the most profitable company on Earth, the biggest company the world has ever seen, is just basically going to be in charge of things.
(...)
What I think we need to say over and over and over again is the era of any pretense is over. These guys now own, lock, stock and barrel, the policy that they’re putting forward. As the planet goes south, everyone will start to realize exactly who and why it’s happening. And in that sense, and in that sense only, there’s something useful about all of this. The era of any pretense that we’re working hard to both deal with climate change and help the oil industry and whatever, that’s over. Now we’re doing one thing: Federal policy is going to be all about helping the fossil fuel industry.
Yes, indeed: With Trump in power the very rich (1 in a 1000, who own nearly everything, because they have it arranged so that 999 in a 1000 own nearly nothing) "now own, lock, stock and barrel, the policy that they’re putting forward". And that policy is indeed "all about helping the fossil fuel industry".

There is more in this article, which is recommended.

3. Trump Is Destroying Our Government 'From the Inside Out, the Way a Worm Slowly Devours an Apple'

The third item is b
y Ilana Novick on AlterNet:

This is from near the beginning and is here because of the following quote:

In Monday's column, Blow reminds us that, with his picks of an education secretary who hates public schools, an EPA head who denies climate change, an anti-abortionand anti-public health activist to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Trump is "trying to destroy these agencies from the inside out, the way a worm slowly devours an apple."He doesn't want to run the government, he wants to blow it up, and to do so specifically with officials who donated generously to his corrupt campaign.

Yes indeed: Trump does not believe in governmental power, and wants to see it replaced by the power of the rich, which is mainly invested in corporations.

Whether he will succeed in doing this remains to be seen, for one problem for him is that he heads a government, and if this government is bad it will reflect on him and his governors - but then he can try to meet this with extremely many lies, fantasies, deceptions and propaganda.

To end this article here is a quotation from Samuel Adams (<- Wikipedia) who seems to have prefigured the arrival of Trump and his government:

--- Samuel Adams quoted

“If ever the Time should come, when vain & aspiring Men shall possess the highest Seats in Government, our Country will stand in Need of its experiencd Patriots to prevent its Ruin. There may be more Danger of this, than some, even of our well disposd Citizens may imagine. If the People should grant their Suffrages to Men, only because they conceive them to have been Friends to the Country, without Regard to the necessary Qualifications for the Places they are to fill, the Administration of Government will become a mere Farce, and our publick Affairs will never be put on the Footing of solid Security.”

Yes, indeed: Trump lacks any real qualification for the job of president of the USA, and very probably will make a mess out of it. And if not, he will do all he can to benefit the richest, at the costs of the non-rich: See item 1.

4. Federal Judge Blocks Jill Stein's Pennsylvania Recount Effort

The fourth item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

A federal judge in Philadelphia on Monday ruled against Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein's lawsuit calling for a recount of the state's presidential election ballots as well as an examination of voting machines for signs of hacking.

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond said "suspicion of a 'hacked' Pennsylvania election borders on the irrational" in a 31-page ruling, dismissing Stein's effort to press forward with the recount.

The judge also argued that it appears impossible for a recount to now meet the deadline for Pennsylvania to certify its election results—which is Tuesday.

As I have said several times by now: While I don't like Jill Stein much, I think she was and is totally right in demanding a real proof that the elections (in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin) were fair.

I also think that Judge Paul Diamond seems very much of a Trump supporter - as I fear many more judges will be as soon as Trump is president: Most men, including most judges [1], are not brave and like those with a lot of power.

Here is some more:

"Dr. Stein has repeatedly stated that she has sought a Pennsylvania recount to ensure that every vote counts," Diamond wrote in his Monday ruling, according to CNN. "Granting her later than last-minute request for relief, however, could well ensure that no Pennsylvania vote counts. Such a result would be both outrageous and completely unnecessary; as I have found, suspicion of a 'hacked' Pennsylvania election borders on the irrational."

The Green Party is undecided as to whether it will appeal the decision.

"But one thing is clear," said a Green Party lawyer, Ilann Maazel, to the Associated Press. "The Pennsylvania election system is not fair to voters and voters don't know if their votes counted, and that's a very large problem."

Stein's push for a recount in Michigan was halted on similar grounds by a different federal judge last week.

I think by now it is too late, but I do not know what Jill Stein or the Green Party will decide.

And this is a recommended article.

--------------------------
Notes
[0] 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).

[1] First, judges are men (taken as covering both men and women).

Second, to illustrate the quality of most judges, here is a Dutch example: All of the Dutch Supreme Court (except for its Jewish president, who was very soon dismissed, and who soon died, but his - Jewish - wife was sent to the concentration camp and murdered) collaborated with the Nazis, and by far the most Dutch judges also collaborated with the Nazis. And my father and my grandfather, who were both arrested in June of 1941 for resisting the Nazis, were condemned to the concentration camp by Dutch judges, who told them they were "political terrorists".

After the war, almost all Dutch judges were retained, and worked on as judges.

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