Friday, July 28, 2017

Crisis: GOP vs Health, Anti-Russia, On Protesters, Media & Truth, Inclusive Capitalism

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 28, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 28, 2017.

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 28, 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. The GOP Is Willing to Destroy Our Democracy If That's What It Takes to Repeal Obamacare

This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The runaway train that is the Republican-led Senate’s assault on health care safety nets is nearing its fateful conclusion.

At stake is not just the American health care system but the architecture of democratic self-governance. The nation will either be ushered into unprecedented lawlessness on political, policy and personal fronts led by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, or the culmination of the GOP’s increasingly manic seven-year assault on Obamacare will be a return to some semblance of constitutional governance and politics serving the public interest.

The Senate’s mounting crescendo has been an unfiltered display of disregard for the rules of democracy. The Republicans have shown themselves to be the party that cares most about their power, political gamesmanship and serving their wealthy patrons. But the lawlessness they have embraced is multi-layered.

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

2.  PBS’ Anti-Russia Propaganda Series

This article is by Rick Sterling on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
The U.S.-government-supported Public Broadcasting System (PBS) recently ran a five-part series dubbed “Inside Putin’s Russia”. With a different theme each night, it purports to give a realistic look at Russia today. The image conveyed is of a Russia that is undemocratic with widespread state repression, violence and propaganda. Following are significant distortions and falsehoods in the five-part documentary.

Episode 1: “How Putin Redefined what it means to be Russian”

In this episode, the documentary:

–Claims that Russian identity is based on “projection of power.”
In reality, “projection of power” characterizes the U.S. much more than Russia. For the past two centuries the United States has expanded across the continent and globe. The last century is documented in the

book Overthrow: American’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. The U.S. currently has nearly 800 foreign military bases in over 70 countries. In contrast, Russia has military bases in only two countries beyond the former Soviet Union: Syria and Vietnam.

This was just the first of no less than twentyone very false statements that are dealt with in this article, which is recommended.

The next three items are all from the Off-Guardian - which is definitely not The Guardian - that I lost a bit during my transition to a new Ubuntu. These articles are all from July, 2017:

3. Mass Arrests of Protesters: Outrageous in Russia, Barely Worth Mentioning in US

This article is by Adam Jones on the Off-Guardian. This is from the beginning:

Major media’s relative lack of interest in the mass arrests by Metro DC police on Inauguration Day is a fact noted by activists and journalists since the incident almost six months ago. One way to measure the dearth of coverage is to compare the attention paid to comparable protester arrests in Russia last month.

On June 12, over 1,700 Russians throughout the country were arrested for “unauthorized protests” in opposition to President Vladimir Putin and government corruption. “Dozens”—including opposition leader Alexei Navalny—were kept in jail longer than a day, but the vast majority were let go immediately. (Navalny, as well as some others, got between 15–30 days in jail.)

More than 200 Americans were arrested on January 20 after “rioting” broke out in downtown Washington, DC, in the hours leading up to and after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Some were let go over the next few weeks, but the bulk of the 200+ still face 10–80 years in federal prison for “felony rioting.”

It’s important to note at least two major differences between the two events: At the Moscow protests, there was no apparent property damage or assaults on police; the protesters’ “crime” was protesting in sections of the city that were not “authorized.” It should be remembered, though, that there’s no public evidence that the vast majority of those arrested in DC—who included journalists, medics and legal observers—had been responsible for any of the vandalism or the objects thrown at police that did occur that day. As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, told FAIR in January (1/31/17):

In their charging papers, [DC prosecutors] are acknowledging that the people that broke the law, that form the basis for their actions against the larger group, are not the people that they then have arrested in the larger group. They even, in some of the charging papers, appear to be holding people who were arrested responsible for actions that occurred after they were in custody, which I don’t believe people have the, you know, time-travel capacity to be doing this. And it really shows the indiscriminate nature of the police arrests.

The other major difference is the penalty faced by those arrested in Moscow and other cities in Russia is far less severe than the 10–80 years in federal prison faced by the 200+ awaiting trial in US federal court.
As I have pointed out repeatedly, a state where people can be put into prison for 10 to 80 years for protesting is not a democratic state, nor a state of a law: it is a quite neofascistic and very totalitarian state.

And I am talking of the USA. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

4. Our media are not fit for purpose

This article is by Philip Roddis on the Off-Guardian. This is from the ending of the article:
Here I’m accused at times of conspiracism; of supposing thousands of journalists like Humphreys to be consciously mendacious. In fact no such supposition is needed. My insistence that ‘our’ media are not fit for purpose stands up to Occam’s Razor, resting on but few premises:

  • The two already cited: (a) lack of independence from Washington, especially in wars hot or cold; (b) deep, culturally imbibed assumptions of America as capable of mistakes, yes – blamed on specific administrations so the slate can be wiped clean every four or eight years (useful thing, ‘democracy’) – but fundamentally a force for good.
  • Widespread ignorance of history and even basic geography, not just by media consumers but its producers too.
  • A combination of economic and other forces making once investigative journalists reliant for war coverage on official sources in military and intelligence circles. For example the stark choice for reporters in Iraq of being chaperoned by army units else excluded altogether from the war zone.
  • A market driven matrix of incentive and disincentive, effective with only occasional need for outright lying, that keeps major media and career focused journalists on message re aspects of state interest too critical to be challenged in any sustained way. A key text here is Herman & Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, which sheds a great deal of light on how relentlessly dominant but highly misleading narratives can be sustained by subjectively honest journalists; never more so than when demonisation gives cover for wars of profit in the name of humanitarianism. It’s not that the real and very material drivers of such wars are completely hidden. Snowden and Assange helped of course, but we needn’t hack US intelligence to see that America has for decades harboured plans to reshape the oil rich middle east (...) You can even find some of the evidence in mainstream media. What you won’t find there, however, is any consistent narrative that joins up the threads in ways that suggest, if only as alternative possibility, that the reasons given for ‘our’ wars are seldom the real ones. Such counterarratives must wait a decade or two before being fearlessly served up by an intrepid Guardian, an unshakably truth seeking BBC.
  • Yes, indeed. Incidentally the purpose the (mainstream) media are not fit for is that of simply and honestly telling the truth. I agree, and this is a recommended article.

    5. ‘Inclusive Capitalism’, Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet

    This article is by Paul Street on the Off-Guardian. This starts as follows:
    A recent Washington Post and ABC poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans think that the Democratic Party “stands for something.”  Fifty two percent say it’s about nothing more than opposing Trump.

    The 37 percent is right. The Democratic Party stands for something, alright.  It stands for the socio-pathological system of class rule and environmental ruin called capitalism – and for capitalism’s evil Siamese twin imperialism.

    So does the far more openly right-wing Republican Party, of course, but that’s fairly common knowledge.  It’s more complicated with the Democrats, who like to pose as being “on the left” while carrying water for Big Business.

    It’s nothing new. Long before the rise of dismal, dollar-drenched neoliberal era Dems and Robert Rubin associates like Bill Clinton and Barack Hamilton Project Obama, the Democrats stood in the lead of the profits regime. This goes all the way back to that savage Indian-killer Andrew Jackson and up through that quintessential corporate liberal Woodrow Wilson, New Deal hero Franklin Roosevelt (who boasted about having saved the profits system during the Great Depression), the handsome proto-neoliberal Jack Kennedy, the blood-drenched Lyndon Johnson, and even poor old Jimmy Carter – the Christian peanut farmer whose cabinet was stocked with corporate hatchet men (If you want some basic historical background on all that, read Lance Selfa, The Democrats: A Critical History [Haymarket, 2012], and Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States).

    I do think there is a considerable difference between Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy on the one hand, and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on the other hand, so I don't quite agree, but this is a recommended article, that ends thus:

    Forget just the profit system and economic growth. The damage inflicted by capitalism, not humanity as such (the point bears repeating), will be too great for homo sapiens itself to survive without a radical and indeed revolutionary shift in public priorities and social organization.  But Roberts is quite right to suspect that the changes required to rescue a decent future are “impossible under capitalism.” The profits system is long past its use-by date and now poses a profound existential threat to human survival.  When do the Clintons unveil a new Coalition for Sustainable Ecocide?

    It’s ecologically sustainable “socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky” at this stage of developing capitalist geocide. “The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros rightly argued 16 years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.” We make the leap beyond Obama’s, the Clintons’, and Pelosi’s system or its game over for humanity along with the countless other species homo sapiens is wiping out under the soulless command of capital.

    Yes indeed.


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