Sunday, July 2, 2017

Crisis: U.S. Media, Health Care, Privilege, U.S Economy, Over-Criminalization, Wolff

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 2, 2017

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, July 2, 2017.

There are this month some changes in the formatting of Nederlog, and I should also warn my readers that I may be denied an internet connection. More later: I am trying to do what I am supposed to do, but sofar without success.

Update later on July 2, 2017: I did - at long last - succeed in updating my account (after 3 days of troubles doing so). So internet will continue for me. (And I am relieved.)

The changed formatting is explained in section 2 that shows the new formatting of the crisis articles in Nederlog, which is essentially a link + a single quotation from the link (but still mostly without comments by me).

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and my health.

Since I am still looking at 35 sites every morning what I will do from July 1, 2017, is to list the items I selected as worth reading, and give one quotation from the selected files to show you whether you might be interested.

I still will give hardly any comments (as I did before, until the end of May 2017): I lack the health to do so (but there are a few lines of explanation sometimes).

2. Crisis Files

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now
list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

A. Selections from July 2, 2017

The items 1 - 6 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. ‘I’m President and They’re Not’: Trump Attacks Media at Faith Rally
President Trump began his holiday weekend getaway with another denunciation of the news media, using a celebration of American veterans and freedom at an evening rally to thunder that he would not allow the “fake” media to stop his agenda.

Speaking to raucous supporters at a faith rally at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Mr. Trump brought the crowd to its feet by condemning news organizations.

“The fake media is trying to silence us,” Mr. Trump told the crowd at the concert hall, after returning to Washington briefly from his weekend getaway at his golf club in New Jersey. “But we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president and they’re not.”

This is from The New York Times, and it is a fairly long article. The above quote is the start of the article. (And for president Trump's mental condition, see here.)

2. Health Care 2017: A Physician’s Perspective
Capitalism has been made into a “sacred cow” by the right wing of America. Like any other human system, capitalism has many faults. The unintended consequences and injustices of capitalism are most glaring in our health care system. Medicare spends about two percent of their health care “dollar” on administrative work. Health insurance companies spend anywhere from 40 percent to 20 percent of the health care dollars they charge on non-productive administrative work, like advertising and lobbying congress for more profit potential. In general these companies run convoluted systems that make a mess of the daily living experiences of America’s sick and their families. Inscrutable communications, arcane accounting practices and explanation of benefits (EOB), details that no one can understand create a nightmare of paperwork for every American with a significant health problem. The system is broken, is a burden on all who get sick (and that’s all of us) and is not being addressed responsibly by politicians. America requires radical changes in our health care system.
This is from Truthdig and is by a working physician.

3. What Happens If Trump’s White House Invokes Executive Privilege?

Donald Trump’s presidency has been defined by a central theme: Trump’s belief that ordinary rules and laws do not apply to him.

Trump has made clear that he believes it is up to his personal discretion to order torture – even though torture is illegal under all circumstances. In ordering a military strike against Syria in April, Trump brushed aside constitutional requirements that Congress approve such action unless the U.S. faces imminent attack. And he has defended his presidency by falsely claiming that the president is incapable of having conflicts of interest.

This is from Alternet.

4. Jim Chanos: U.S. Economy is Worse Than You Think

Lynn Parramore: Let’s talk about perceptions of the U.S. economy. You’ve pointed out that surveys asking how people feel about the economy show optimism, while actual hard numbers look disappointing. What do you make of this gap?

Jim Chanos: It’s intriguing that people are reporting they’re feeling better, particularly in the corporate sector, but even among consumers. People say they feel good about the economy and yet they apparently don’t have any money at the end of every month to keep spending.

We’re seeing weak consumer spending numbers in both auto and housing, which are big drivers of the economy. With unemployment so low and the expansion where it is, these figures should be better than they are. There are portents of even worse things when you look at state and federal tax receipts, which are down, and other leading indicators.

It could all just be a soft spot in an ongoing expansion — time will tell. But the narrative we were told is that animal spirits would take us to the next level of economic activity. That clearly is not happening in mid-2017. We’re 8 years into an economic expansion, and economists say that the modern U.S. economy has never gone more than 10 years without a recession. So as recoveries go we are well into it.

This is from Naked Capitalism and is the start of the interview. There is considerably more under the last link.

5. The Over-Criminalization of American Life

While the corporate media devotes itself to sports, entertainment, dining out and the latest political kerfuffle, America has become the Over-Criminalization Capital of the World. The proliferation of laws and administrative regulations, federal, state and local, that carry criminal penalties has swollen into the tens of thousands.

The number of incarcerated Americans exceeds 2.3 million, with the majority being non-violent offenders–often for War on Drugs offenses.


This is from Washingtons Blog. Yhe main point is the graphic (and yes, I do know the American population also grew during all of the above years, but far less than the number of incarcerated Americans).

Far more troubling is the increasing evidence of the profound mental instability of the President.  Rather than speculate on what the future holds, I will refer you to this recent analysis by my son, Tobias, who thinks more deeply and passionately about current political affairs than I can manage.

To be brutally honest, I am deeply fearful that Trump will act impulsively and dangerously on the international scene, moved in his infantile narcissistic way by an imagined slight.  We must ask seriously whether the senior military would collectively refuse to obey an irrationally self-destructive order coming from the Oval Office.
This is by Robert Paul Wolff (<-Wikipedia). He says about himself:
As I observed in one of my books, in politics I am an anarchist, in religion I am an atheist, and in economics I am a Marxist.
I am an atheist, something like a philosophical anarchist (who is philosophical because I believe that the basic limits on anarchism are the same as on rational thinking and reasonable acting: the average stupidity and ignorance), and I am not a Marxist (since 1970, when I was 20), but my parents were real, sincere, honest, very courageous and quite intelligent Marxists (but without a good education) [1], indeed quite unlike the vast majority of Dutch "Marxists" most of whom were unreal, insincere, dishonest and cowardly (and who ceased to be "Marxists" as soon as they could not earn anymore with pretending they were, mostly in 1991, and as documented by the Dutch - horrible, extremely insincere - booklet "Alles moest anders") [2].

Finally, I do follow Wolff, although I often do not quite agree with him, because he writes better than the vast majority of "academic philosophers", and because he is sincere, unlike all the "Marxists" I met in the University of Amsterdam, who indeed mostly were "Marxists" because that was very popular then in the University of Amsterdam in the Seventies and early Eighties. (For more see Note 2 from yesterday.)

[1] My parents were very courageous, as was my father's father, because they were in the communist resistance against the Nazis in WW II, when also my grandfather and my father were arrested in June 1941 and convicted as "political terrorists" to concentration camp imprisonment. My father survived over three years and nine months of four German concentration camps; my grandfather was murdered; my mother was not arrested (but brought the Dutch communist paper "Truth" around, and worked for Jewish children in hiding).

Eventually, my father was knighted in 1980 (less than three months before his death).

[2] According to - at the very least - many tens of the mostly communist members of the student party ASVA in the Seventies and Eighties I - who opposed the ASVA because I was pro real science and anti political ideology - was, for those two reasons, and because I also had created a student party, a "fascist" and a "terrorist".

Many tens of them screamed both terms at me when I gave the - invited - public speech that caused my removal from the faculty of philosophy and the denial of the right to take the M.A. in philosophy (that was almost done then).

And I never told these lying degenerates about my real communist parents, because my parents were real communists, and none of the "communists" from the ASVA were real. (Hardly anyone knew much about Marx either, as I did.)

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