Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crisis: Exit Free Speech, Israel, Radical Right, For Trump Voters, Ralph Nader

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 20, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, July 20, 2017. There will be some news later today (or tomorrow) about an update of my Dutch autobiography.

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 with my health.

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.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 20, 2017

The items 1 - 5 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. U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel

This is by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

The criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the West. In France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing T-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors
compete with one another over who can implement the most extreme regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it
as “the Palestine Exception” to free speech.

But now, a group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

I say. Well... if this gets accepted (as it very well may be: the Senate is largely bought by the rich) that's the end of free speech: If you can get jailed for 20 years for expressing your opinion on a T-shirt, that's the end of all free speech. (One rarely gets as much as that for murder in Holland, at least till now.)

There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

2. Gaza on Verge of Collapse as Israel Sends 2.2M People "Back to Middle Ages" in Electricity Crisis

This is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts as follows (and shows why people may be for boycotting Israel):

Israeli-imposed restrictions have limited electricity in Gaza to barely four hours a day, creating a humanitarian catastrophe for its 2 million residents. In 2012, the World Health Organization warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. The U.N. now says the area has already become unlivable, with living conditions in Gaza deteriorating faster than expected. We go directly to Gaza to speak with Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. We also speak with Tareq Baconi, author of the forthcoming book, "Hamas Contained: The Rise & Pacification of Palestinian Resistance." He is a policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network.

Here is one quotation from the interview:

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Raji. Can you talk about what is happening right now in Gaza?

RAJI SOURANI: Well, it’s the 50th anniversary of belligerent, criminal Israeli occupation, and it’s 11 years since the siege on Gaza has been imposed, which is illegal, inhuman and consists collective punishment. And at this moment, I mean, the siege on the peak, we are living the biggest man-made disaster. And as the Israelis promised, rightly, they will send us to the Middle Ages, and they do—Gaza completely disconnected from the outside world, subjugated during this period to three offensives by Israeli. In the eye of the storm were civilians and civilian targets. And after all these years, we are unable to rebuild or reconstruct most of these destructions.
The last thing, Amy, we are having, it’s the electricity. Used to be six, seven hours a day. Now we are having only two hours. And you can imagine the drastic effect for this on all aspects of life, on medical care, on operations, on dialysis, on heart surgeries, on people who are suffering, on the food stuff should be fridged, and so on. All aspects of life in Gaza on the verge of collapse, and we are sure the worst yet to come, every day the Israelis bringing evil mind and evil practice to this part of the world.

I say. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

3. The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan to Hijack American Democracy

This is by Kristin Miller on AlterNet and originally on This starts as follows:
Author Nancy MacLean has unearthed a stealth ideologue of the American right. Her book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, tells the story of one James McGill Buchanan, a Southern political scientist and father of “public choice economics.” MacLean details how this little-known figure has had a massive impact on the ideology of the far right. None other than Charles Koch looked to Buchanan’s theories for inspiration. They are libertarian — but with a twist: bluntly, it “entails restrictions on the freedom of the great majority in order to protect property rights and the prerogatives of the most well off.” MacLean shows how this idea can be traced down through the last 60 years of right-wing politics, starting with Brown v. The Board of Education and continuing with the Koch brothers’ empire. And she demonstrates that those followers and those in thrall to the Koch billions are pumping up their fight under the new administration.
Well... these policies are "libertarian" in the sense of neofascism, in my sense (see the last link) and also see the above: they are restricting (bolding added)
"the freedom of the great majority in order to protect property rights and the prerogatives of the most well off”)
 which is described in the last link, and whic applies to Donald Trump.

But this is the start of a good interview that is recommended.

4. 6-Month Update for Trump Voters

This is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

So after six months, has he delivered what he promised you?

1. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful.” You bought it. But he didn’t repeal and he didn’t replace. (Just as well: His plan would have knocked at least 22 million off health insurance, including many of you.)

2. He told you he’d cut your taxes. You bought it. But tax “reform” is stalled. And if it ever moves, the only ones whose taxes will be cut are the wealthy.

3. He told you he’d invest $1 billion in our nation’ crumbling infrastructure. You bought it. But his infrastructure plan, which was really a giveaway to rich investors, is also stalled.

In fact, there are 12 points like the above three. The first ten all have the phrase "You bought it" and the last two the phrase "You believed it".

I agree (I didn't buy or believe any of Trump's extra-ordinarily many lies, but then I am not an American either) and indeed may well go further:

On the evidence of the last 40 years, the majority of Americans is incapable of maintaining a real democracy, mostly because they are - proudly - ignorant and believe the lies and deceptions they were told.

And this is a recommended article.

5. Detecting What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up and Top-down

This is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams and originally on his site. This starts as follows (and I quote most of the article):

The unraveling of a society’s institutions, stability and reasonable order does not sound alarms  to forewarn the citizenry, apart from economic yardsticks measuring poverty, jobs, wages, health, savings, profits and other matters economic.

However, we do have some signs that we should not allow ourselves to ignore. Maliciousness, profiteering and willful ignorance on the part of our political and corporate rulers undoubtedly contribute to worsening injustice. Let’s consider some ways that we as citizens, far too often, collectively allow this to happen.

  1. Democracy is threatened when citizens refuse to participate in power, whether by not voting, not thinking critically about important issues, not showing up for civic activities or allowing emotional false appeals and flattery by candidates and parties to sway them on important issues. Without an informed and motivated citizenry, the society starts to splinter.
  2. If people do not do their homework before Election Day and know what to expect of candidates and of themselves, the political TV ads and the plutocrats’ campaign cash will take control of what is on the table and what is off the table. This leads to the most important changes a majority of Americans want ending up on the floor.
  3. Too often, you have a grievance as a consumer, worker, taxpayer or citizen and you hit the wall trying to reach someone who should be helping you. Robots, either nonhuman or human, on the telephone are of little help. Repeated failure to productively voice one’s grievances leads to alienation, anxiety and withdrawal, rather than resurgence to demand remedy.
  4. When a majority of people think their government doesn’t work for them, but instead serves the rich and powerful, people begin to forget the good that government and honest civil servants at all levels do, or can do (see Jacob Hacker’s 2016 book, American Amnesia), thereby disregarding their crucial watchdog role as citizens. In the process, they passively surrender control of government to the plutocrats and oligarchs – leading to a corporate state defined by crony capitalism. The military industrial complex and the corporate welfarists know how to extract dollars for boondoggles from our government, which is all-too-willing to turn its back on taxpayers.
  5. When people make up their minds about an ideology or politician without the facts and relinquish any willingness to hear alternative views, societies become polarized. People are stereotyped, the marketplace of ideas goes bankrupt and instances of incivility and dehumanization increase.
  6. When people constantly consume media fueled by violence, political insults, crime and celebrity misbehavior, rather than giving voice to the good that people do every day in civil society or to important points of agreement between liberals and conservatives, the way we relate to news and each other becomes needlessly skewed. This problem has increased exponentially in recent years.
  7. If people of all backgrounds feel powerless, they will be powerless. This self-perception stifles democracy and often results in people turning their blame against one another and ignoring the power structures at the root of the problem.
  8. Readers think; thinkers read. That includes learning from the mistakes of societies throughout history that wrongly believed that they were impervious to crumbling from within. In our culture of virtual reality and Twitter-length propaganda, we all too often forget the valuable lessons of past mistakes.  History is a great teacher, as anyone who has studied how the bloody World War I was triggered by a teenager assassinating an archduke in Sarajevo or how a few rulers of autocratic nations, without institutional civic and political resistance, caused the deaths of 60 million people in World War II, can attest.
  9. At this point, some readers may be wondering about the powerful people who comprise the Wall Street and Washington supremacists. Aren’t they heavily responsible for the disintegration of our society’s economic and political health? Of course. But we citizens, day after day, let them get away with actions that embolden them further through what they see as our habitual passivity.
  10. Supporting good candidates who so often lose to silver-tongued bad candidates would be a start. Given what people think of Washington politicians, tens of millions of voters are choosing bad candidates. They may want to ask themselves whether the candidates and their rhetoric they bond with are hiding cruel records and votes against the voters’ own interests. The Washington Republicans’ current effort to take away or make less affordable health insurance, even of Trump voters, is a case in point.
Yes indeed. As I wrote under the previous article:

On the evidence of the last 40 years, the majority of Americans is incapable of maintaining a real democracy, mostly because they are - proudly - ignorant and believe the lies and deceptions they were told.

And that's it - and I am very sorry.

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