Saturday, Mar 25, 2017

Crisis: Trump Defeated*2, Trump & Church, Russia, American Cowardice

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. In Major Defeat to Trump & Ryan, House GOP Pulls Bill To
     Repeal Obamacare

2. House Obamacare Repeal Is Yanked in Major Defeat for Trump
     and the GOP

Surveillance State Goes After Trump
4. Call Grows for 'Total Shutdown' Over Alleged Trump-Russia

5. The 16th Anniversary of American Cowardice

This is a Nederlog of Saturday
, March 25, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with five items and five dotted links - and the first two items chart a considerable relief of mine: Item 1 is about a major defeat of Trump, for he did not succeed pushing through his healthcare program (that would have left 24 million Americans without health insurance); item 2 is about the same fact; item 3 is about Trump and Senator Frank Church; item 4 is about a demand that Trump's government be shut down, which seems an impracticable exaggeration by the Democratic Party in my eyes; and item 5 is about American cowardice, and is quite good (but is originally from 2013).
March 25: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site again stuck on Sunday last (March 19). If over a year of signs are correct, this means it will NOT be updated for at least another week (and possibly (!!!) tomorrow - while
the Danish site worked OK all week).

Where my site on stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. has been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. In Major Defeat to Trump & Ryan, House GOP Pulls Bill To Repeal Obamacare

The first article today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This has the following text, which is a considerable relief to me:

House Republicans have pulled a bill to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act after failing to secure enough votes despite heavy lobbying from President Trump. The bill was opposed by the entire Democratic party as well as some moderate Republicans and many members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

The bill was projected to leave 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 than under Obamacare. The bill also included over $275 billion in tax breaks for wealthy Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) praised the news. "The defeat of the disastrous Trump-Ryan health care bill is a major victory for the working families of this country and for the hundreds of thousands who attended rallies and town hall meetings in opposition to this bill," Sanders said. "What the defeat of this bill shows is that the American people will not accept legislation that provides huge tax breaks to billionaires while 24 million people are kicked off their health insurance, massive cuts are made to Medicaid and Planned Parenthood and premiums for senior citizens are dramatically increased. Our job is to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it. Our job is to guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege."

I completely agree with the first two of the quoted paragraphs, which indeed only report facts. The reason this is a considerable relief to me is - quite simply - that I think it is totally inhuman to take health insurance away from 24 million persons (1 1/2 times the total Dutch population), though indeed this is also one of the fairly direct consequences of Trump's ideology, which I have described as neofascism (<- a better definition than any I have found).

The third paragraph is mostly by Benie Sanders, and while I like Sanders, and also like his proposals on health care, I think that his statement that "the defeat of this bill shows is that the American people will not accept legislation that provides huge tax breaks to billionaires while 24 million people are kicked off their health insurance" (etc.) is - in my estimation, at least - too optimistic about "the American people".

That is: I wish Sanders was right but - so far, at least - I have not seen much evidence that either "the American people" or indeed a sizeable majority of "the American people" think what Sanders thinks. (I may be wrong, but I also want to be realistic.)

2. House Obamacare Repeal Is Yanked in Major Defeat for Trump and the GOP

The second article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This starts as follows, and continues the story started in item 1:

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have stunningly failed their first major legislative test, as a bill to repeal Obamacare and defund Medicaid was pulled from the floor 15 minutes before voting was to begin. A chorus of “No” could be heard in the live feed from House chambers before the video link went dead.

Ryan’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid was a high-risk gamble seen as testing the right-wing GOP ideology of replacing government programs assisting millions with privately run systems said to cut costs and expand personal liberties. Ryan’s bill went beyond Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge to kill Obamacare by unleashing the first major defunding of Medicaid, an anti-poverty program serving millions for nearly half a century.

"Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s gonna remain the law of the land until it’s replaced," Ryan said in a press conference afterward. "We did not have quite the votes to replace this law.”

I am quite pleased, though not stunned. But I agree that "president Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have [..] failed their first major legislative test", and that this may be quite important also for other laws the Trumpian government proposes.

The reason I am quite pleased is simply that I think it is totally inhuman to take health insurance away from 24 million persons, although that seems not to have been the reason why it wouldn't be accepted by the House.

Here is the probable reason why: The Republican right wing did not think repealing Obamacare was inhuman enough:

The decision to pull the bill came after so-called Freedom Caucus members refused to budge despite concessions from their leadership and the White House. While Trump threatened that anyone voting against the bill wouldn’t be re-elected in 2018, the libertarian Koch brothers countered they’d spend millions to defend members voting no, claiming the repeal didn’t go far enough.

The House action is a major defeat for Trump, underscoring that he lacks political experience and clout to lead his party to enact major legislation. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had personally lobbied 120 members of Congress and “left everything on the field” in negotiations. Spicer said there were no plans to revive the repeal.

And I think the second quoted paragraph is correct in saying that "[t]he House action is a major defeat for Trump, underscoring that he lacks political experience and clout to lead his party to enact major legislation".

This is a recommended article.

3. Surveillance State Goes After Trump

The third article is by Dennis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:
Since Donald Trump’s election, former Special FBI Agent Coleen Rowley has been alarmed over how Democratic hawks, neocons and other associates in the “deep state” have obsessed over “resurrecting the ghost of Joseph McCarthy” and have built political support for a permanent war policy around hatred of Russia.

Rowley, whose 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, compared the current anti-Russia hysteria to “the ‘Red Scare’ fear of Communism” famously associated with legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who collaborated with Sen. Joe McCarthy’s hunt for disloyal Americans in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In an interview, Rowley told me that while Trump was wrong about his claim that President Obama ordered a surveillance “tapp” of Trump Tower, the broader point may have been correct as explained by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, who described how U.S. intelligence apparently picked up conversations by Trump associates while monitoring other targets.

This may be quite correct (and has been pointed out by others): Trump was not "tapped" for the simple reason that phones are not tapped anymore (which made Comey's answers very easy) but they may well have been monitored, directly or indirectly.

Here is some more:

Coleen Rowley: I think the Chairman Nunes said [Wednesday] that Trump was monitored instead of wiretapped. And these are terms of art that for three weeks or so, no one has fully understood and so there’s been all this confusion. Trump, himself, did not understand, and was clumsy in saying “my campaign was wiretapped.” Wiretapping itself is almost obsolete. It means tapping into a wire, that’s the old way, when the way communications used to go over wires and now they’re digital and they… Snowden, if you remember, all of the disclosures from Edward Snowden, and other NSA whistleblowers, there’s something going on now called collect it all, massive surveillance. And that is done, there are some targets, but then lots and lots of Americans are incidentally monitored… they aren’t monitored but their conversations, and their phone numbers that they’re dialing and their e-mails that they’re e-mailing are collected.

Yes indeed - and the "collecting" also is done automatically, which means the NSA can deny that what is collected is also being read by humans, which they present as a denial of any collecting, which again is a lie.

And there is this on Senator Frank Church:

And I’ve just got to add one more thing, the NSA whistleblowers including Edward Snowden all warned for really now for two or three years, we have been warning the American public that this “collect it all” is really a recipe for, not only a lack of privacy, but even for hurting our own democracy. If you go back to Frank Church, for instance, the reason the Church committee… well it was because Frank Church, Senator Frank Church was, himself, under surveillance by the NSA.

Yes, but I should stress that Frank Church never knew he was surveilled by the NSA, for that was made known only in 2013. (See: Secret Cold War Documents Reveal NSA Spied on Senators.)

Here is - once again - what Senator Church said on August 17, 1975 (!!):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

4. Call Grows for 'Total Shutdown' Over Alleged Trump-Russia Collusion

The fourth item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle worth quoting:
'We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House,' declares Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)
In fact, I agree with Lieu, but not for Lieu's reasons: I think Trump is not a legitimate President of the United States because I think someone who has that function (of the most powerful man on earth) must be quite sane (and apart from his/her political convictions), and I think (as a psychologist) that Trump is not sane, which therefore disqualifies him.

Lieu's argument is quite different and starts as follows:

As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) continues to cast doubt about his ability to lead a credible probe into the Trump campaign's alleged connections with Russia, a Democratic congressman has called for "a total and complete shutdown" of the president's agenda until the FBI finishes its investigation into the matter.

In his statement issued Thursday, the same day CNN reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that the FBI has information showing associates of President Donald Trump communicated with "suspected Russian operatives," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) also questions the legitimacy of the president and calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged collusion.

Referring to the CNN reporting, which came the same week as FBI Director James Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that there is an "open and ongoing" investigation into possible links, Lieu states: "The bombshell revelation that U.S. officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded withe the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda. We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House.”

And I disagree with Lieu (at least) on two grounds. The first is that - it seems to me, regardless from who is president - that you cannot stop a government or a president
on mere suspicions. And the second is that I also do not believe these mere suspicions: They are far too much like excuses for Hillary Clinton's failures to become president, and indeed, while they are known since the beginning of November of 2016, I still haven't seen any credible evidence for these accusations. (And this doesn't mean the accusations are false; it does mean that you can't start seriously believing or acting on an idea that so far is little more than a fantasy.)

Here is some more:

Lieu is far from alone in his call.

In a message posted this week to his Instagram account, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore said that the Trump "has no legitimacy until the FBI—and an independent investigative committee" complete probes into possible Russian connections. He added: "The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate needs to bring a halt to all business being done in the name of this potential felony suspect, Donald J. Trump. No bill he supports, no Supreme Court nominee he has named, can be decided while he is under a criminal investigation."

Yes, but again Trump is - so far - only a "potential felony suspect", and - much as I dislike Trump - that does not appear to be enough for me to "halt [..] all business being done", and indeed there also will not be sufficient support for this in either the House or the Senate.

5. The 16th Anniversary of American Cowardice

The fifth and last item today is by Tom Engelhardt on TomDispatch:
This starts with an introduction:
I’ve posted many “best of TomDispatch” pieces over the years, but never one of mine. I’m on the road right now, but TD’s schedule will return to normal this coming Sunday. In the meantime, partially because I’ve had the grim anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, one of the great disasters of recent American history, on my mind, I thought I’d repost this 2013 piece on all the anniversaries we don’t acknowledge that are connected to the (former) Global War on Terror and the various unending wars, conflicts, raids, and dust-ups of every sort that emerged from it. As it happens, the 14th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, launched on March 19, 2003, passed earlier this week in the usual tomb of silence, even as the latest version of the American war in Iraq continued to rev up.
Yes indeed. Here is one bit from this 2013 piece:

Or to pick another not-to-be-missed anniversary that, strangely enough, goes uncelebrated here, consider the passage of the USA Patriot Act, that ten-letter acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”? This October 26th will be the 11th anniversary of the hurried congressional vote on that 363-page (essentially unread) document filled with right-wing hobbyhorses and a range of provisions meant to curtail American liberties in the name of keeping us safe from terror.  “Small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats rushed to support it back then. It passed in the Senate in record time by 98-1, with only Russ Feingold in opposition, and in the House by 357-66 -- and so began the process of taking the oppressive powers of the American state into a new dimension. It would signal the launch of a world of ever-expanding American surveillance and secrecy (and it would be renewed by the Obama administration at its leisure in 2011). 

Or what about celebrating the 12th anniversary of Congress’s  Authorization for Use of Military Force, the joint resolution that a panicked and cowed body passed on September 14, 2001?  It wasn’t a declaration of war -- there was no one to declare war on -- but an open-ended grant to the president of the unfettered power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” in what would become a never-ending (and still expanding) “Global War on Terror.”

Or how about the 11th anniversary on January 11th -- like so many such moments, it passed unnoted -- of the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, that jewel in the crown of George W. Bush’s offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice, with its indefinite detention of the innocent and the guilty without charges, its hunger strikes, and abuses, and above all its remarkable ability to embed itself in our world and never go away?
I think that is quite good, and there is a lot more in the article, which is recommended.


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