Friday, May 12, 2017

Crisis: Comey & Impeachment, Trump & Pai, Trump's Qualifications, Worker Ownership

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Could Firing of James Comey Mark the Beginning of the End for
     Trump Presidency?

2. Donald Trump’s Ajit (Pai)-prop
The First Word That Comes to Mind When We Think of Trump

'An Idea Whose Time Has Come': Lawmakers Roll Out Plan to
     Expand Worker Ownership


This is a Nederlog of Friday
, May 12, 2017.

This is a crisis log with four items and four links: Item 1 is about Comey's firing and Trump's impeachment (and I consider the latter unlikely, at least now); item 2 is about Pai, computers and internet (and I have given up on both, and briefly explain); item 3 is about Trump's qualifications (and I thought it at least a bit funny); and item 4 is about worker ownership, which happens to be an idea that is some 200 years old, "whose time has now come", at least to some lawmakers in the USA.

It is also May 12 today, which some may know is international ME-day (or ME/CFS). I have that disease now since 1.i.1979, and I have given up completely on anonymous patients, since in fact I think they do much more harm than good, what with their massive ignorance about science and scientific procedures, and their often rather sickening totally anonymous prose. I chose today to pay no attention to this, except by providing a reference to last year: I believe in science and in expertise, and not in bullshit and anonymous accusations that one should shut up because one is more intelligent than the average not well-educated, ever tired, non-scientific patient, with brain-fog and hardly any knowledge of any science.

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for no less than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 12: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was againon time today. The Dutch site is off again and today is there on the first page, but the NL that is this time shown is from May 7, and nobody told
anyone that to get the proper NL you have to reload once of several times ....

They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most and without any problem, as indeed is the work of ISPs.

I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

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 like the plague.)

And what changed is that you have to refresh (and refresh and refresh and refresh) to get the latest, which is again NOT as it was before, from 1996 till 2015, and which for me this only serves to make it extremely difficult for naive users to get the latest from my site - that for them may seem to have stuck somewhere in 2016 or 2015.

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. Could Firing of James Comey Mark the Beginning of the End for Trump Presidency?

The first article today is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!
This is from a five-part series of interviews with Glenn Greenwald:
This starts with the following introduction:
Many people are comparing Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey—who only weeks earlier had confirmed the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to sway the 2016 election—to the Saturday Night Massacre when President Nixon fired independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Is Comey’s firing the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency? For more, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald.
I say. To start with, here is a link to the Saturday Night Massacre (<-Wikipedia). This happened in 1973, which is 44 years ago. And I tend to think this is not very relevant, and not because Trump is a better man than Nixon (he isn't), but because the situation was rather different, as were the politics of the day.

Here is more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: NBC is reporting this month—this morning House Oversight Ranking Member Elijah Cummings has called for emergency hearings with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Comey. So, Glenn, can you say what the significance of that meeting might be, and also the speculation by some that this is really the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is what we were getting at earlier, which is, if you’re the Trump administration and you really believe that Jim Comey has access to incriminating evidence, on some level, the last thing you would want to do is so publicly fire him, especially in the most humiliating manner possible, not notify him—

Greenwald is right, but he doesn't quite answer the question. And to spell out what I said above:

I think an impeachment of Trump now, what with him leading in Congress and in the Senate, is rather improbable. (Speaking for myself, I think an impeachment is justified, if only because a man like him never should be president of the USA, but indeed I also  think it rather unlikely at present.)

The above bit continues as follows:

GLENN GREENWALD: He learned it from TV. So they fired him in the most humiliating, vindictive manner possible. You could not have converted somebody into an enemy more reliably than what they did. And I think a lot of people would agree in Washington, Comey is a very shrewd operator. He knows how to stick knives into people’s backs without his fingerprint. The last person you want as an enemy freelancing against you is Jim Comey. So I think there’s going to be all kinds of really fascinating developments, now that Comey is freed from what had been this kind of stifling role as FBI director, where he really couldn’t speak publicly about much of anything.

Yes, but Greenwald speaks mainly about the trouble a man like Comey might cause.
I think he is right, but I also don't think Comey is the most important, for what is most important now are the - real - political relations between the various parts of the government (especially) and also the honesty of the press.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

GLENN GREENWALD: So I think one of the most difficult tasks, literally, on the planet is to try and divine the thinking of the Trump White House. You never know the ratio of malice versus ineptitude. They’re so inept as a staff. It could just be they have no idea how to do anything, or it could be the way they did it to Mitt Romney: They wanted to humiliate him in as public of a manner as possible.

Yes - hardly anyone knows what really happens in the Trump White House these days.

And this is a recommended article.

Donald Trump’s Ajit (Pai)-prop

The second article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Democracy Now! (and this is not an interview but an article):
This starts as follows:
“You’re fired!” When Donald Trump ousted FBI Director James Comey Tuesday night, it was more than just another of Trump’s shocking executive actions. Comparisons to Watergate are chillingly relevant; Comey was investigating potential collusion between the Russian government and Trump’s presidential campaign. Just days earlier, Comey asked the Justice Department, run by Trump crony Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for more resources for the investigation. Trump’s termination of Comey echoed President Richard Nixon’s firing of the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, Archibald Cox, in what was called “The Saturday Night Massacre.”
For a bit more on that Massacre, see the previous item. Here is more on what is happening now:
Behind the headline-grabbing chaos, though, decades of progressive policy achievements are being quietly undone by the army of loyalists that Trump is assembling around him. Over at the Federal Communications Commission, for example, newly installed Chairman Ajit Pai is doing everything he can to eliminate rules protecting net neutrality on the internet, while allowing big, pro-Trump broadcasters to further consolidate. This will lead to increasingly restricted democratic dialogue in our society, further strengthening Trump’s grip on power.
Yes, precisely: "decades of progressive policy achievements are being quietly undone", and that is quite important.

Then again, I should add that, indeed since Nixon's presidency, it seems the Republicans have always tried to do so when they were in power, and (I am reading about the 1967 Diggers now, in considerable detail, and plan writing some about them in Nederlog rather soon) it turns out that already in 1967, during Reagan's governorship of California, there were complaints by the Diggers that Reagan nominated people in departments these people were known opponents of, precisely as Trump did in 2017, that is, 50 years later.

As to the internet and computers: I agree Ajit Pai is out to eliminate every rule that protects internet neutrality, and I also agree this will lead to "
increasingly restricted democratic dialogue" in the USA (and probably elsewhere). It seems also considerably more likely than not he will (eventually) succeed if Trump remains president.

I must say that I am personally rather a lot further: I am by now a complete opponent of the internet, and of computers and cellphones communicating through the internet, and my reason is that almost everything that almost everybody does, says, or writes on the internet is being stolen by the greedy fascists who run the secret services, and indeed now also by some ISPs (in the USA, where the ISPs now can sell whatever they know to whomever they please).

For me these are the foundations of a neofascism from the very rich that will know everything about anyone, and be abled to take out anyone who does not think as the government, or the deep state, or the secret services, or the police want him or her to think, do, say and value, and this will also probably in complete secret, as indeed has been happening in the USA now.

This will also start an extremely unequal society were most men are menials to the rich, and were poor people without any talent may be left to die without any help (as illustrated by Trumpcare).

And to be sure what it is I am against: An internet and computers that run on public cables with texts that are not unbreakably encrypted. And I see very little reason to expect an internet and computers that will differ from that. (Indeed, I would not be amazed if soon everybody is forced to have an internet computer and a cellphone, "to protect everyone from terrorism", all without any encryption of anything, that is, from others than the rich and the secret services and the police, to be sure.) [1]

There will be more on this in later Nederlogs. Back to the article:
Take another example: Many people watch video on the internet using Netflix. But imagine an ISP with ownership interest in another, competing service deciding to slow down Netflix in order to frustrate those users and drive them to its service. With strictly enforced net neutrality rules, this type of conduct would be illegal. In the internet that Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, is trying to construct, with net neutrality rules scrapped, it would likely become the norm.
Yes, I completely agree. But one's slowed down computers will still download all personal details to the secret services, and probably will do that very fast - for You Might Be A Terrorist (who does not belong to Our Fine Secret Services).

Here is more:
To take the hypotheticals one step further, imagine an activist website dedicated to organizing resistance to President Trump’s immigrant ban. Such a site, now, would be freely accessible. But without the protection of net neutrality, there would be nothing to stop an ISP from slowing down traffic to and from the site, rendering it useless.
Precisely. (Though one's slowed down computers will still download all personal details to the secret services, and probably will do that very fast - further see above).

Here is more on how Trump may hope his voice, his speeches, and his tweets will be spread all through the USA:
The Sinclair Broadcast Group is reportedly attempting to purchase Tribune Media for $4 billion, giving it control of more than a third of the country’s local TV stations.

Sinclair is more than just a TV network, though: It has for many years exploited the public airwaves to promote a right-wing political agenda. “They’ve rolled out the red carpet for President Trump,” Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “Right after the election, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, indicated that he had struck a deal with Sinclair for favorable coverage, where they would air Trump speaking at length without interruption. ... They’ve hired multiple Trump spokespeople, mouthpieces from the administration, to come on the air, give the administration’s views.”

This is all extremely depressing (for people who hold personal freedom and democracy high), and that is one reason why I have the next item:

3. The First Word That Comes to Mind When We Think of Trump Is...

The third article is by Katie Serena on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

According to a new poll from Quinnipiac University, approval of President Donald Trump has dropped to a near-record low of 36 percent. On top of that, 61 percent of those polled said he was not honest, 56 percent of the respondents said he lacked leadership skills and 66 percent expressed that he wasn’t level-headed.

I say. I agree with all of the critical judgments on Trump, and I am pleased that this seems to have broken the roughtly fifty/fifty popularity of the Republicans and the Democrats. (But I do not know how reliable this poll is, unfortunately.)

Here is more:

But it was a data set nestled in the middle of the poll that achieves a certain kind of beauty. Question 9 of the poll asked, “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?”

The word “idiot” was repeated 39 times, more so than any other. The second most cited word? “Incompetent.” In third place? “Liar.”

Other crowd favorites included “disaster,” “bigot,” “narcissist,” “racist,” and almost charmingly, “buffoon.” When asked by Quinnipiac’s pollsters, 13 respondents said they thought the commander in chief of the United States of America was an “asshole.”

Well... I do not think Trump is an "idiot", but I agree he is an "incompetent", a "liar",
and a "narcissist". There is also this:

Of the 46 words listed (uttered by five or more people) only 4 were positive (“good,” “great,” “smart” and “strong”). All other words published were either negative or neutrally factual (“president,” “American,” etc.)

Again, I do not know how reliable this poll is. And there also was this:

Given that, it’s little surprise that 58 percent of those polled considered the president’s first 100 days to be “mainly a failure.” (Only 38 percent called it “mainly a success.”)

In brief, Trump is not doing well with the voters, or so it seems. And this is a recommended article.

4. 'An Idea Whose Time Has Come': Lawmakers Roll Out Plan to Expand Worker Ownership

The fourth and last article today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This has a subtitle that gives an indication what the article is about:

'Giving workers a seat at the table and their fair share of the profits they help produce is one way to even up the playing field and give hardworking Americans a chance to create an economy that works for everyone'

I say! And I do, because my parents were - honest, sincere, very courageous - communists, as was a grandfather, while two other grandparents were anarchists,
and this means that I know this "idea whose time has come" in fact goes back to
the 1820ies.

And if Robert Owen is too early, certainly sharing the profits with the workers who make the products, is an idea that was already quite well worked out in the 19th Century (but indeed also was hardly practised, and the poor of the 19th Century were very many and very poor indeed).

Here is an idea that may bring this old ideal a bit closer, if indeed it becomes law:

Amid increasing corporate power and dwindling worker profits, a coalition of lawmakers on Thursday put forth one solution that just may take off.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) teamed up to put together two bills that would make it easier to form and operate employee-owned businesses, which have been "proven to increase employment, productivity, sales, and wages in the United States," according to a statement from Sanders' office.

With nearly 10,000 such businesses already in the U.S. and studies showing that employee ownership boosts productivity and profit, there is ground for support.

I agree. As to the chances that the proposed law also becomes law, there is this:

"And believe it or not," remarked Jessica Bonanno, chief financial officer and director of employee ownership programs at The Democracy Collaborative, "this is a policy idea that might actually have a chance, since prominent Republicans like Ronald Reagan have long favored employee ownership, which leverages firm structure, rather than social programs, to improve family economic outcomes." 

"In an era of hunger for solutions to inequality," Bonanno wrote in an op-ed published at Common Dreams, "this may be an idea whose time has finally come."

"Simply put," said Sanders, "when employees have an ownership stake in their company, they will not ship their own jobs to China to increase their profits, they will be more productive, and they will earn a better living."

Sanders is right in principle, although this last point is not very important (in my eyes, at least). There is also this, that sounds realistic:

The WORK Act, which was also introduced in the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), "would provide more than $45 million in funding to states to establish and expand employee ownership centers, which provide training and technical support for programs promoting employee ownership," according to a press statement. The proposal is modeled on the success of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center.

The second piece of legislation would establish "a U.S. Employee Ownership Bank to provide $500 million in low-interest rate loans and other financial assistance to help workers purchase businesses through an employee stock ownership plan or a worker-owned cooperative." A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

Finally, there is also this:

"Since about 1980, our economy has grown, but the top 10 percent of Americans have taken all the gains, leaving nothing for anyone else," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is a co-sponsor of the WORK Act. "That's not a level playing field—it's a rigged system. Giving workers a seat at the table and their fair share of the profits they help produce is one way to even up the playing field and give hardworking Americans a chance to create an economy that works for everyone."

In fact, according to real leftists, at least, the wage system, in which poor people are forced to poor paying jobs for rich owners, and make a product while working that they do not own at all, is the system in which incredibly much gets stolen from the poor by the rich, both legally - for a century, wages that were hardly sufficient to survive on were given to the poor by the rich, while everything they produced was taken from them - and non-legaly:

The wage system is and was a system of exploitation of the poor by the rich, that was meant to keep the poor poor and the rich rich, and that worked that way for hundreds of years, in which there were hundreds of millions of very poor who had to work hard and much for nearly all their lives, with a couple of tenthousands of extremely rich men who took all the profits for themselves, and insisting that paying a poor man enough not to starve was fair to the poor and the rich. [2]

It is not, for basically it is fraud and abuse, and therefore I hope this will become law
in the USA.


[1] To be sure (in case you missed it): I am not against computers (I first learned programming in 1973) nor against the internet. I am against computers on an internet that is not working with unbreakable encryption, and I am against these instruments of fascism and terrorism because with breakable encryption, or without any encryption, as is mostly the norm now, they are just that, for they provide the full privacy of anyone to the secret services (indeed possibly now of most governments).

[2] In case you want to know more about this, there is e.g. this (that I only am reading now, and should have been reading 50 years ago, for it is quite well done and quite clear: "What Is Communist Anarchism?" - Alexander Berkman (<- Wikipedia) (This was first published in 1929, and is also known as "What Is Anarchism" and  "The ABC of Communist Anarchism". See the first few chapters, that are mostly on the wage system.)

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