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Thursday, Apr 13, 2017

Crisis: Allan Nairn, The VIPS, Trump's Attack Illegal, Sanders-Style Democratic Agenda


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Allan Nairn: Only Mass Disruption From Below Can Stop
     Right-Wing Revolution & Trump's Absolute Power

2.
Intelligence Experts to Trump: Rethink Syria Escalation
3. Donald Trump’s Syria Attack Trampled Many Laws
4. With Eyes on 2018, Dems Prep Sanders-Style Populist
     Economic Agenda

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday
, April 13, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four links: Item 1 is about a good interview by Amy Goodman of Allan Nairn; item 2 is about a memorandum of the VIPS to Trump (which I agree with); item 3 is about how Trump's attack on Syria broke many laws; and item 4 is about how the Democrats are preparing "a Sanders- style populist economic agenda", that I believe to be mostly fraudulent with the present pro rich pro banker Democratic leaders.
April 13: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; and even the Dutch site was correct today (but hasn't been correct most of the time for more than 16 months now). These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession.

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Allan Nairn: Only Mass Disruption From Below Can Stop Right-Wing Revolution & Trump's Absolute Power

The first article today is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
As President Trump’s administration continues to be rocked by investigations and scandals, we continue our conversation with award-winning investigative journalist Allan Nairn. We asked him to talk more about his assessment of the opening months of the Trump presidency.
To start with, here is a link to Allan Nairn on Wikipedia. He seems to be - from my classical leftist point of view [1] - a decent guy, who also got badly beaten up, together with Amy Goodman, by Indonesian soldiers in 1991.

Here is his first estimate:

ALLAN NAIRN: It’s not just the Trump presidency. It’s a right-wing revolution, which has captured control, up to this moment, of the presidency, the House, part of the Senate and now the Supreme Court. And if they abolish the legislative filibuster in the Senate, which they may, then they will have total, absolute control of all branches of government and will enter a radically new phase beyond anything that’s happened so far, because there will be absolutely no constraints on what they can do.
Yes, that is how it seems to be to me as well. Here is more on what Trump did:
Trump brought in a collection, a coalition, of broadly rightist elements—racists, neofascists, the Republican establishment, the Koch brothers, oligarchs, all sorts of elements with their own very well-defined agendas for radical change in the U.S. Now, some points of those agendas clash, so that’s caused some of the problems—for example, on the repeal of Obamacare. But on 80 percent of things they agree, and they’re moving forward. They’ve already systematically started repealing constraints on pollution, constraints on police forces, that have been—had previously been placed under federal supervision because their involvement in killing of civilians, often with racist motivations. They are moving to give Wall Street and corporations complete license to commit crimes.
I again agree. Here is more:
ALLAN NAIRN: (..) Trump has essentially sent subversives into the Cabinet, atop the agencies, to dismantle, destroy the agencies. In the words of Steve Bannon, to—how did he put it? To deconstruct the administrative state. Gorsuch, the new Supreme Court justice put in by Trump, his mother, Anne Gorsuch, was Reagan’s EPA administrator. She was one of two such Cabinet appointees sent in by Reagan to dismantle their respective departments. The other was the head of Interior. When I say "dismantle," I mean dismantle all aspects of their work and regulations that run counter to the interests of corporations and polluters and may be favorable to the interests of what are seen as liberal or Democratic interest groups.
Yes, I think this is also correct. And in Trump's case it aren't just two departments that are ready to be dismantled: It are most departments. Then again, this may have been due to the influence of Steve Bannon, who may be on his way out. (But then again I am reporting very recent facts about Bannon, that may change again.)

Here is more by Allan Nairn on some of the backgrounds of the Trumpian revolution
Now, with Trump in—and not just Trump, but Trump and the whole radical Republican rightist establishment—they’re trying to do it with every department, every department that has within its mission any kind of service to the poor, service protecting the rights of working people, protecting the rights of protesters, protecting the rights of women, or that has within its work any kinds of projects or regulations that inconvenience corporations and rich oligarchs. This administration is trying to dismantle those functions of government across the board. It is systematic. It is sweeping. And Bannon is entirely right when he makes the claim that it’s revolutionary. You know, he compared himself to Lenin, kind of a Lenin from the other direction, from the radical right. And it’s true. They are engaged in a truly revolutionary project. And it has to be stopped.
I think this is right as well, though I do have a remark: It seems to me that Nairn is correct in saying that it seems to be Trump's "mission" to destroy "any kind of service to the poor, service protecting the rights of working people, protecting the rights of protesters, protecting the rights of women, or that has within its work any kinds of projects or regulations that inconvenience corporations and rich oligarchs".

Now let's be clear about saying what sort of program that is: It is authoritarian, it is extremely right-wing, it is quite neofascistic in my sense, it is anti-democratic, and it seems to be motivated by two sources, of which one is completely irrational: The more or less rational source is to try to increase the gains and profits of the rich; the quite irrational source seems to be a deep hate against the poor, against working people, againts protesters, and against women's rights.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this quite good interview:
AMY GOODMAN: You have an enormous irony, where here you have President Trump accusing the Obama administration, President Obama himself, of surveilling him, of wiretapping him, yet, at the same time, in Congress, they roll back privacy protections, the whole internet privacy act that has now been written into law. Can you talk about the significance of this, which would seem to join right and left?

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. I’m actually a little surprised that the—what I guess is the—maybe the majority of the population, or at least the majority of younger people in the United States, who essentially live their lives online, are not completely up in arms about this, are not storming Washington about this, because what they’ve done is they’ve made it easier for online private, profit-making corporations to sell the most intimate details of your life. You’d think people would object to that.

But what it also shows is that much of this new government’s agenda is strictly corporate. Strictly corporate.
Again I agree with Allan Nairn, and I should add that my own explanation for the fact that "the majority of younger people in the United States" in fact (bolding added) are
"
not storming Washington about this, because (..) they’ve made it easier for online private, profit-making corporations to sell the most intimate details of" their lives, simply because the majority is either not intelligent enough to understand the enormous dangers of the secret services' knowing everything about anyone, or - in case they are - they simply do not know enough about programming (<-Wikipedia) [2].

And I should add here that my attitudes have shifted somewhat since I learned in June of 2013 about Edward Snowden: At that time I was more inclined to believe that a strong countermove against the autocratic anti-democratic secret services would be possible.

Well...I overestimated the intelligence and the knowledge of the majority. I am sorry and it has happened before (e.g. in 1988). And this is a very good interview that is recommended.


2. Intelligence Experts to Trump: Rethink Syria Escalation

The second article is by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) on Truthdig, and originally on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)*

SUBJECT: Syria: Was It Really “A Chemical Weapons Attack”?

1 – We write to give you an unambiguous warning of the threat of armed hostilities with Russia – with the risk of escalation to nuclear war. The threat has grown after the cruise missile attack on Syria in retaliation for what you claimed was a “chemical weapons attack” on April 4 on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province.

2 – Our U.S. Army contacts in the area have told us this is not what happened. There was no Syrian “chemical weapons attack.” Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died.

READ: The Pandora’s Box of War

3 – This is what the Russians and Syrians have been saying and—more important—what they appear to believe happened.

And the VIPS agree that - in this case - the Russians and the Syrians (those for Assad) are probably right, and I agree with the VIPS. And I agree with the VIPS not because I
am a specialist in intelligence (I am not, while most of them are), but because I have been following quite a few since 2013, and they seem reliable and honest, while some of them also were brave, and I do not know anything comparable about the people who
are still serving in American intelligence.

There is more there that you can read by clicking on the last dotted link. Here are the general point of view and the general sense of values that moved the VIPS:

14 – We believe it of transcendent importance to prevent relations with Russia from falling into a state of complete disrepair. Secretary [Rex] Tillerson’s visit to Moscow this week offers an opportunity to stanch the damage, but there is also a danger that it could increase the acrimony—particularly if Secretary Tillerson is not familiar with the brief history set down above.

15 – Surely it is time to deal with Russia on the basis of facts, not allegations based largely on dubious evidence—from “social media,” for example. While many would view this time of high tension as ruling out a summit, we suggest the opposite may be true. You might consider instructing Secretary Tillerson to begin arrangements for an early summit with President Putin.

I agree. There is more in the original, and the memorandum is signed by a long list of names, that includes William Binney, Thomas Drake, Philip Giraldi, John Kiriakou, Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley, Peter Van Buren, and Kirk Wiebe. [3]

3. Donald Trump’s Syria Attack Trampled Many Laws

The third article is by Marjorie Cohn on Truthdig and originally on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

With 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, each armed with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, Donald Trump went from scoundrel-in-chief to national hero, virtually overnight. The corporate media, the neoconservatives and most of Congress hailed Trump as strong and presidential for lobbing bombs into Syria, reportedly killing seven civilians and wounding nine.

“The instant elevation of Trump into a serious and respected war leader was palpable,” wrote Glenn Greenwald. This sends Trump a frightening message: Bombing makes you popular.

Yes, though I have to add that is not so much because of Trump as because of the combined force of the mainstream media plus the average stupidity, ignorance and
lack of ethics in considerable parts of the American population, for if you are stupid
enough to applaud the bombing of defenseless civilians, I think this must be because
you are stupid, ignorant and not moved by ethical considerations (but instead by the
ordinary moral considerations of your very own group).

Here is more by Marjorie Cohn:

Two wrongs don’t make a right. The use of chemical weapons is illegal, immoral and intolerable. If it was an intentional attack, it constitutes a war crime. Anyone responsible for the horrific April 4 events in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed over 80 people, including at least 20 women and 30 children, should be brought to justice. But Trump’s bombing of Syria, a sovereign nation, was illegal, under both U.S. and international law.

As the previous article explains, it is not certain who used chemical weapons, but I agree with the last sentence.

In fact, here is one of those who signed the memorandum that is the subject of the previous article:

Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and director of the Council for the National Interest, stated on the Scott Horton show that “military and intelligence personnel” in the Middle East, who are “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, call the allegation that Assad or Russia carried out the attack a “sham.”

Giraldi said the intelligence confirms the Russian account, “which is that they [attacking aircraft] hit a warehouse where al-Qaeda rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties.” Moreover, Giraldi noted, “Assad had no motive for doing this.”

I do not know, but I trust those who signed the memorandum in the previous article
considerably more than the present intelligence (for many had high functions in intelligence but left or were dismissed for having genuine ethical concerns).

Finally, this is part of the reasons why Trump's attack was illegal:

Two days after Trump’s bombing occurred, the President sent a letter to congressional leaders informing them of his attack on Syria. The War Powers Resolution, passed in the wake of the Vietnam War, requires that the President report to Congress within 60 days of initiating the use of military force.

The resolution, however, allows the President to introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in only three situations: First, after Congress has declared war, which has not happened in this case; second, in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” which has not occurred; third, when there is “specific statutory authorization,” which there is not.

I agree. And this is a recommended article.

4. With Eyes on 2018, Dems Prep Sanders-Style Populist
Economic Agenda

The fourth and last article today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Democrats are working on a populist economic plan,  la Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to be unveiled as soon as early summer, Politico reported Wednesday.

Top party members are crafting "a strong, sharp-edged, bold economic message," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have met twice, in addition to other staff meetings, to hammer down a "populist" economic agenda that is meant to "unite both wings of both caucuses," one aide told Politico.

Infrastructure and trade are expected to be top components.

I say, but I don't believe it. Or to put this with somewhat more precision: As long as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton are the top of the Democratic Party, the top of the Democratic Party is pro rich and pro bankers, while its present efforts are mostly fraudulent: They try to catch the non-rich voters, but what they want is an endorsement of their - more liberal, somewhat more progressive - rich men's agenda.

And this is what the Democrats are aiming at, next year:

"We're spending a lot of time on this," Schumer said Tuesday, adding that Democrats will make their new proposals a central part of the 2018 midterms. If all goes according to plan, next year's elections will mirror the 2006 midterms, when Democrats took back the House and Senate after criticizing then-President George W. Bush over issues like national security and healthcare.

In addition to honing their message, Democrats are hoping President Donald Trump keeps taking missteps on the economy, an issue that became central to both his and Sanders' campaigns. Trump has since gone back on many of his economic promises—among other things.

"On every issue the president talked about—on the wall, on tearing up the Iran deal, on immediate healthcare repeal—[Republicans] are coming face-to-face with reality in a very painful way," said Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, current chairman of the New Democrat Coalition.

Well... the Democrats might succeed, indeed not from the honesty of their motives, but because the Republicans have turned far more right than is compatible with the Constitution.

But - speaking for myself - I don't trust the Democrats as long as they are led by the Pelosis, Clintons and Schumers for they are not genuine democrats while they are rich  deceivers.

---------------
Notes

[1] I have to grant that this is written with some irony. It is difficult to explain my irony in a brief note, but it comes to this: My parents were both communists for 45 years, and were sincere and intelligent persons, but without much education, and my grandparents were anarchists or communists, while I got "a communist education" and was a communist until I was 20, when I freed myself from Marxism by a lot of reading.

So I do know "the classical Left" quite well. I also disagree with it in several respects - for example: I dislike "state socialism" and I don't agree "everybody is equal" or that "everybody is equivalent", to name two points - but overall I am much more of a classical Leftist than the "leftists" which have overtaken the classical Leftists since - especially - the frauds Bill Clinton and Tony Blair proposed the fraudulent "Third Way" and the sick Blatcherism.

Also, I don't think you are a Leftist because you are politically correct or support homosexuals or transgenders: Political correctness is a totalitarian attempt to substitute
"correct English" for the terms the - "leftist" - activists dislike, and I am strongly against it (that is: I am for free speech, and against political correctness), and while you may be a homosexual or a transgender by my values, I am neither, and I do not see why I should be.

And for me (since the late 1970ies, indeed - and yes, I was politically active then, in the university) political correctness + pro LGBTQ is about what "leftism" is these days,
and if that is what "leftist" does mean, I am simply not a "leftist" (compared with my parents, grandparents, and their political friends and comrades, who were very real - and quite courageous - Leftists).

It so happens that I believe "leftism" - say: Blatcherism - was a planned complete deviance from the real Left, that I hope will disappear as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair disappear.

And this is why I say I am a classical Leftist but not a "leftist", for the "leftists" are not Left, because I agree far more with classical Leftists than with either "leftists" or rightists, although I am neither a Marxist nor a social democrat.

[2] As it happened, I learned Fortran (for mainframes, on cards) in 1973 (a bit); Applebasic in 1980; GWBasic in 1987, Turbo-Pascal in 1988, Turbo-Prolog in 1989, Smalltalk in 2003, Assembler plus some C in 2007, and Javascript in 2008, and I can program quite well and own a PC since 1987. (I do it a lot less than I did because I have little energy and many other things to do.)

It appeared to me in the 1980ies (when I got my first PC) that anybody who had a computer should learn to program it, but it - still - seems far less than 1 in a 100 try to do so: Computers are widely used, but are ill understood by most of their users.
Alas.

[3] All links in this paragraph are to Wikipedia-lemmas on these persons, except for the last item, for Kirk Wiebe has no Wikipedia-lemma, but is mentioned in Binney's.


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