Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

Crisis: Terrorizing, Obama, Taxes, Chomsky, Trump's Gibberish, Hundred Days

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Terrorizing the Vulnerable
Obama Under Fire for $400K Speech to Wall Street 'Fat Cats'
3. This Isn’t Tax Policy; It’s a Trump-Led Heist
Noam Chomsky: US Is the "Most Dangerous Country in the

5. 100 Days of Gibberish—Trump Has Weaponized Nonsense
Trump’s Hundred Days of Rage and Rapacity

This is a Nederlog of Thursday
, April 27, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with six items and six links: Item 1 is about the latest article by Chris Hedges (and the review is a bit smaller than normal, mostly
because of this particular text); item 2 is about the fact that Obama's first speech to the rich bankers has been agreed to and will give him a mere $400.000 (which probably is just a small bit of what he will be rewarded with by the same party); item 3 is about
a decent article in the New York Times on Trump's tax policies; item 4 is about a decent interview with Noam Chomsky; item 5 is about Trump's style of speech, that indeed seems to be mostly gibberish; and item 6 is about a good article by Ralph Nader on Trump's first 100 days.
April 27: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site is now suddenly also on time, but meanwhile - after 16 months - I have concluded this probably is a mistake. (They did it well from 1996 till 2015, and within minutes at most. I think this is to limit the readings of my site.) These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them.)

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. Terrorizing the Vulnerable

The first article today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This is from near the beginning and is in fact the only bit that I'll quote from this article:
The acceleration of arrests by the Trump administration among the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the United States is spreading panic throughout communities such as Elizabeth, where at least half of the population is foreign-born. Elizabeth police officers in February joined ICE agents in raiding a popular small business in an unsuccessful attempt to arrest a woman, who at the time was with her two small children. The February raid, especially because of the participation by the police, along with the call by the Trump administration for widespread deportations, has radically reconfigured life in this depressed New Jersey city outside of New York City, as it has in most other immigrant communities.

Undocumented parents of U.S. citizens are signing power-of-attorney papers so that if they are seized by ICE agents someone will have the legal authority to care for the children they leave behind. Businesses in immigrant communities have seen a precipitous drop in sales as families hoard what little money they have so they will have some resources if they are deported. Employers who hire the undocumented often abuse workers, including through wage theft, knowing that their employees will not report them. Undocumented people who witness criminal activity or are victims of crime usually refuse to go to the police. Those who drive do so without insurance, a driver’s license or registration, and no one carries foreign passports or papers that can identify them as noncitizens. Landlords are extorting higher rents. And some parents, fearful of taking their children to school or of having undocumented children in school, are keeping their sons and daughters home.
There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended: Chris Hedges is quite right millions of people who live in the USA are threatened now. (I also note that there was no article by Chris Hedges on Monday, which I found a bit odd. Did he perhaps  switch to publishing on Thursday?)

2. Obama Under Fire for $400K Speech to Wall Street 'Fat Cats'

The second article is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows - and I guess this is the first of many more, although there may be less or no news about them, for true desert needs remuneration (in a "neoliberal" world):

Former President Barack Obama is garnering criticism for netting a whopping $400,000 for his first major speech since leaving office—a speech to Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, scheduled to take place in September.

Progressives were deeply disappointed by Obama's approach to Wall Street during his presidency, and many are condemning his lucrative Wall Street speaking fee as an apparent retroactive reward for his administration's soft stance toward the one percent.

While Obama railed against "fat cat bankers" on the campaign trail, during his tenure as president he oversaw the massive bailout for the firms responsible for the 2008 crisis, picked former Wall Street executives for his cabinet, and not a single banker went to jail.

Yes, basically he was a fraud who specialized in saying one thing, and mostly doing the other, and especially if these other things were giving the bankers untold riches and vast illegal possibilities to enrich themselves. And now he is going to be remunerated by those he helped so very much.

And indeed, the last of the above paragraphs states the mechanism Obama used quite well. Here is some more:

As Aaron Blake writes in the Washington Post, there are many problems with the arrangement:

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did this, too, as have Hillary Clinton, Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan. And the more that Wall Street firms give out-of-office presidents and big-name politicians these paydays, the more they become the norm. Other presidents will know that such payments are on the table, and it risks coloring their decisions with regard to Wall Street and special interests.

Which is already happening with Obama, retroactively.

"Whether fair or not, it's not difficult to look at Wall Street paying $400,000 to Obama as a reward for [the lack of prosecutions for anybody involved in the financial crisis]. In that way, it's tough on both precedent and Obama's presidency," Blake observes.

Hm. I think this is too weak: If you state - quite truly - that this has been happening since Bill Clinton, that is for the last 26 years, you do not anymore

"risk coloring their decisions with regard to Wall Street and special interests"

(as Aaron Blake wrote) but you are announcing this meanwhile is the new standard of "fairness", of "morality", of "decency" and of payment: People who allow bankers to satisfy their desires more or less as they please will get to be multi-millionairs paid by the bankers, as did the Clintons and as will Obama + family: True desert deserves remuneration.

Or that's about what it has come down to in the USA. And my own guess is that Obama will receive a lot more from the bankers in effective payment for his great and willing services to their interests, though I do not know how well that will be reported.

3. This Isn’t Tax Policy; It’s a Trump-Led Heist

The third article is by Nicholas Kristof on The New York Times:

This starts as follows:

What do you do if you’re a historically unpopular new president, with a record low approval rating by 14 points, facing investigations into the way Russia helped you get elected, with the media judging your first 100 days in office as the weakest of any modern president?

Why, you announce a tax cut!

And in your self-absorbed way, you announce a tax cut that will hugely benefit yourself. Imagine those millions saved! You feel better already!

I’m deeply skeptical that President Trump will manage to get a tax reform package passed into law, and that’s just as well. Trump’s new tax “plan” (more like an extremely vague plan for a plan) is an irresponsible, shameless, budget-busting gift to zillionaires like himself.

This isn’t about “jobs,” as the White House claims. If it were, it might cut employment taxes, which genuinely do discourage hiring. Rather, it’s about huge payouts to the wealthiest Americans — and deficits be damned! If Republicans embrace this “plan” after all their hand-wringing about deficits and debt, we should build a Grand Monument to Hypocrisy in their honor.

Trump’s tax “plan” is a betrayal of his voters. He talks of helping ordinary Americans even as he enriches tycoons like himself.

Yes indeed, and Kristof is quite right that this "plan" (bolding added) "is an irresponsible, shameless, budget-busting gift to zillionaires like himself".

There is a whole lot more, but this is indeed what it seems to come down to.

4. Noam Chomsky: US Is the "Most Dangerous Country in the World"

The fourth article is by Dan Falcone om Truth-out:

This is from near the beginning (and there is an alternative with much material by and on Chomsky on Democracy Now!):

Daniel Falcone: What do you make of the distressing lack of discussion on climate change and nuclear proliferation in the mainstream media?

Noam Chomsky: If you want to learn something about nuclear weapons and why these issues are not being reported, take a look at the March 1 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, where there is an absolutely spectacular article by two real experts -- Hans M. Kristensen and Ted Postol from MIT. They discuss the new targeting systems that have been invented under the Obama Modernization Program that's now being escalated by Trump, and it's extremely dangerous. What they claim based on disclosed information is that the US missile systems have been improved by such a huge factor that they are now capable of instantly wiping out the Russian deterrent.

This is massive overkill and nuclear stability is gone, and of course, the Russians know this. What that implies is that if they ever feel a threat, they're just going to be compelled to launch a preemptive strike because otherwise they're dead, you know? And that means we're all dead. This is the most important news that's come out in I don't know how long.

Yes indeed, and I agree with Chomsky. There is also this:

With the emergence of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it looks like business as usual with the cabinet members and their institutional roles. Is this cabinet in particular especially dangerous to the planet?

It's incredible what's happening, and what's more astounding still is that there's no comment. By now -- since November 8 -- the United States is literally alone in the world in first of all refusing to join in efforts to do something about it -- but even worse, dedicated to making the situation worse. Every part of [the world] is trying to do something. The United States alone is trying to destroy it, and it's not just Trump, it's the whole Republican Party. You just can't find words for it. And it's not reported. It's not discussed.

Incidentally, (bolding added) "[t]he United States alone is trying to destroy" the world because its present government denies the reality of climate change and because its present government vastly expanded the - anyway enormous - nuclear and military capabilities. There are other reasons, but these are the two most important, and I mostly agree with Chomsky.

I also agree that one of the most awful things is that - indeed - these eventualities are not reported nor discussed indeed except for the non-mainstream media, which are
read, but mostly by a minority of the minority that did have a somewhat decent education. And this was not so in the 1970ies, indeed.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this interview, which is about Trump's appointments:

So the cabinet appointments in particular look like people deliberately chosen to undermine the function of the agencies?

Every single one: education, environment, labor -- every single one is selected to undermine any aspect of government that's of any help to people, and that doesn't benefit the super-rich. And it's absolutely systematic. The interesting question will be how long Trump's constituency can fall for the con game. I mean, they're being kicked in the face more than anybody else. But they still have faith in their man.

Yes, I quite agree with the first bit: it does seem as if "every single" appointment was "selected to undermine any aspect of government that's of any help to people, and that doesn't benefit the super-rich".

As to Trump's supporters: I feel rather certain that the majority is stupid and ignorant, but I probably care less about them, for all I care about -  if the world's population does get as far as 2021, which I am not certain of, at all - is that Trump is not re-elected, and that only needs a small diminution in his votes.

There is a lot more in this article, and it is recommended.

5. 100 Days of Gibberish—Trump Has Weaponized Nonsense

The fifth article is by Lindy West on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
With only a week left of his first 100 days in office – traditionally a milestone for American presidents – Donald Trump sat down with the Associated Press to reflect on his accomplishments (sic) and preemptively brag about future ones. This remarkable artefact, a transcript of which AP then released in full, captures, more than any other piece of media (except perhaps Trump’s Twitter feed), the unifying ethos of the Trump White House: weaponised nonsense.
This is originally from The Guardian, where there also is an explanation available of what "weaponised" means in this context. I leave this to your interests. [1]

And I have written already about Trump's interview with associated press (see here) but indeed this is such nonsense that it bears revisiting some more, and here is a prize bit:

In my second favourite moment in the interview (..) Trump describes a meeting with Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings:

“Well he said, you’ll be the greatest president in the history of, but you know what, I’ll take that also, but that you could be. But he said, will be the greatest president but I would also accept the other. In other words, if you do your job, but I accept that. Then I watched him interviewed and it was like he never even was here. It’s incredible. I watched him interviewed a week later and it’s like he was never in my office. And you can even say that.”

The Talk Of The President Of The USA. And please note that he is quite serious. (And he doesn't drink nor uses illegal drugs. He says, probably correctly.)

In my previous review, I quoted a bit with quite a few inserted "[unintelligble]"s. Here is a fuller explanation:
Sixteen times during the interview, which took place in the Oval Office, Trump’s speech is recorded as “unintelligible”, either because he was mumbling like a weirdo or because an aide was talking over him and didn’t want to be quoted in the interview – both of which, the Toronto Star notes, are “highly unusual”. Highly unusual is our normal now.
I did not know that some of Trump's inarticulate nonsense was outvoiced by aides.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

We must keep calling these ideas what they are, and to do that we need a shared understanding of what words mean. That’s why Trump’s 100 days of gibberish aren’t just disorienting and silly – they’re dangerous. Trump approaches language with the same roughshod imperialist entitlement he’s applying to the presidency (and, by extension, the world) – as though it’s a resource that one man can own and burn at will, not a vastly complex collective endeavour of which he is only a steward.
In fact, Ms. West dedicates part of her article to language, but her ideas are too vague for me to comprehend. (I'm being polite.) But she is quite right that Trump talks and writes a lot of gibberish, and that this is quite dangerous for several reasons.

6. Trump’s Hundred Days of Rage and Rapacity

The sixth and last article today is by Ralph Nader from his site:
This starts as follows:

The Lawless-loving corporatists have worked overtime to besmirch the word “regulation” (or law and order for corporations) and edify the word “deregulation,” to help bring about their dream state of  dismantled or weakened regulation.

Yes indeed! And I did select deregulation as the main legal thing I opposed (and this link is to 2015, but the original is from January 2013, before my knowing of Snowden) but still very well worth (re-)reading), and indeed my opposition was against the systematic breaking down of many laws that protect(ed) very many merely in the name of "freedom" and "liberty", which was and is utter bullshit:

The freedoms and the liberties that were served by deregulations were only the freedoms and the liberties of the rich to exploit the poor as much as they can.

Here is Nader on regulations and deregulations:

Government regulations have led to life-saving motor vehicle standards. They have required safer pharmaceuticals, improved the safety of mines, factories and other workplaces, and diminished the poisonous contaminants of air, water food and soil. According to the Center for Auto Safety, the federal programs for highway and vehicle safety have averted 3.5 million deaths in the US since 1966.

In an industrialized economy with corporations, hospitals and other commercial activities producing old and new hazards, regulations are needed to foresee and forestall many human casualties and damage to the natural world.

The role of sensible regulations has been all but ignored by Donald J. Trump in his regime’s first 100 days of rage and rapacity.  The Trump administration continues to take away basic protections that save both money and lives. With his cruel and monetized Republicans controlling Congress, he has eliminated 13 safeguards issued by the Obama administration.

I agree mostly (and the 3.5 million averted deaths in the US since 1966 are at least partially Ralph Nader's work, indeed (!!)), though I like to point out that deregulation is considerably older than Trump, as indeed also is indicated by my publications about it, which also were not by far the first.

In fact, here is a link to the Wikipedia on deregulation (which incidentally does not appear to be quite honest) and there it is said (minus a note number):

Deregulation gained momentum in the 1970s, influenced by research by the Chicago school of economics and the theories of George Stigler and others. The new ideas were widely embraced by both liberals and conservatives. Two leading 'think tanks' in Washington, the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, were active in holding seminars and publishing studies advocating deregulatory initiatives throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Cornell economist Alfred E. Kahn played a central role in both theorizing and participating in the Carter Administration's efforts to deregulate transportation.

That is, deregulation - = taking away the protections of the many, to serve the greed of the few, all motivated in terms of "liberty" and "freedom" - is older than 40 years, and some of its propagandists are named in the last quote.

Then there is this (and we're back in Nader's article):

Disastrously for our country, Trump has joined forces with the Republicans in Congress to immobilize our government’s research and action regarding accelerating climate change. Here he even is scaring big business, including the insurance industry.

The worst of Trump’s egregious attacks on regulatory protections are coming out of his mindless Executive Orders (EO) to federal agencies. While many are of dubious legality – they would require Congressional legislation – his intent is clear: roll back major protections of Americans wherever they eat, breath, drink, work, drive and receive healthcare.

Trump is a Republican, but Nader is right that his Executive Orders tend to be mindless and must be approved (but the Republicans hold the majority in Congress, which anyway seems thoroughly corrupted), and he is certainly quite correct (in my opinion) in identifying what Nader calls Trump's intent: To "roll back major protections of Americans wherever they eat, breath, drink, work, drive and receive healthcare", simply because he does so or is trying to do so.

There is also this:

In addition, Trump has broken his campaign promises, surrounding himself with Wall Street insiders and intensifying Obama’s belligerent and militaristic foreign policy around the globe. He is also demanding that Congress add fifty-two billion dollars more to the already bloated Pentagon budget, decried by many liberals and conservatives. Fifty-two billion dollars is far greater than all the combined federal regulatory budgets for the agencies that provide the health, safety and economic protections for Americans from costly corporate crimes, abuses and frauds.

Yes indeed. And in fact I would say that the probability is that Trump is preparing for war, for there is no need at all for this huge extra investment in the military given that the USA is far more powerful militariliy than any other country.

The article ends as follows, which I found rather depressing:

Only you, the American people, one-by-one and by joining together, can answer these questions.

I found this rather depressing because half of the American people (that took the trouble to vote, is true) supported Trump, and because anyway I do not expect much
of "the American people", but then again I also realize that all real changes are started by the few.

Anyway, this is a recommended article.


[1] I dislike The Guardian since it moved into Blatcherism/Blairism with the appointment of Viner, the making of The Guardian uncopyable, and the addition of at least as many - invisible, extremely hard to read - Javascript programs as there is readable text. Also, I dislike most slang and most neologisms, and I found it utterly ridiculous to explain "weaponised" by a fairly long fairly unreadable article, and therefore I leave you on your own.

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