Monday, July 31, 2017

Crisis: On Fascism, "Think Tanks", Trumpcare, Bernie Sanders, Mainstream Bullshit

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 31, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 31, 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 31, 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. Fascism and the Denial of Truth: What Henry Wallace Can Teach Us About Trump

This article is by Thomas J. Scott on Truth-out, that turns back to Vice President Henry Wallace (<-Wikipedia) of 1944. The article starts as follows:

What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they? These are the questions that the New York Times posed to Henry A. Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt's vice president, in April 1944.

In response, Wallace wrote "The Danger of American Fascism," an essay in which he suggested that the number of American fascists and the threat they posed were directly connected to how fascism was defined. Wallace pointed out that several personality traits characterized fascist belief, arguing that a fascist is "one whose lust for money and power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends."

Wallace also claimed that fascists "always and everywhere can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power." Fascists are "easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact" (my italics), he contended. Moreover, Wallace noted that fascists "pay lip service to democracy and the common welfare" and they "surreptitiously evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion." Finally, Wallace identified that fascists' primary objective was to "capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they keep the common man in eternal subjection."

I say. But Wallace was rather correct about fascism (that I define under the last link), which these days tends to manifest itself disguised as "neoliberalism" and "free marketism" - a.k.a. We Rich Ought To Be Able To Exploit Everyone Non-Rich Without Any Restraints Whatsoever -but is in fact for the most part more or less straight neofascism (as defined by me under the last link).

Incidentally, if you don't check the links in the previous paragraph you will remain ignorant - and I did do a reasonable amount of work on them. In fact, here are two fine articles I wrote in 2016: Crisis: Approaching neofascism: Five major changes in the USA since 1970 and also this (that lists a small part of my research) On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions (this considers no less than 21 definitions):

And in fact this is a quite good article. It ends as follows:

For Trump, facts mean nothing. They are contrary to the desires of his political base. Connecting to his base is visceral; intellectualism is the antithesis of Trump's immediate political objectives. By denying the existence of truth-based politics, Trump solidifies his populist vision and perpetuates one of fascism's greatest mechanisms for acquiring absolute power: the force of emotion conquering the force of reason. As Timothy Snyder states in his insightful book On Tyranny, "To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so."

This is a recommended article.

2. Hacked Emails Show UAE Building Close Relationship With D.C. Think Tanks That Push Its Agenda

This article is by Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons on The Intercept. This starts as follows:

The United Arab Emirates has one of the most repressive governments in the world. The Gulf dictatorship brutally cracks down on internal dissent and enables abusive conditions for its massive migrant labor force. It also plays a key role in the bloody war in Yemen, running a network of torture prisons in the “liberated” parts of the country.

That makes it all the more shocking that the UAE is so rarely criticized by leading U.S. think tanks, who not only ignore the Gulf dictatorship’s repression, but give a privileged platform to its ambassador, Yousef Al-Otaiba. Otaiba is a deeply influential voice in U.S. foreign policy circles, and is known in Washington for using his pocketbook to recruit allies.
The latest batch of hacked emails passed to The Intercept and other outlets by “GlobalLeaks” provide insight into how Otaiba manages to find — or buy — so many friends in D.C. think tanks. The documents offer a glimpse into how a small, oil-rich monarchy can obtain such an outsized influence on U.S. foreign policy, showing the ambassador obtaining favors from Obama administration veterans — including Hillary Clinton’s presumptive Defense Secretary — and making large payments in return.

This is a fairly interesting article, that also displays the truth about the so-called "Think Tanks": These are not think tanks but propaganda tanks, indeed from the start (often in the 1950ies or 1960ies) onwards (so even their name is propaganda).

3. The Republican Failure to Repeal Obamacare Is Hardly the End of the Story

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

The demise of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is hardly the end of the story. Donald Trump will not let this loss stand.

Since its inception in 2010, Republicans made the Affordable Care Act into a symbol of Obama-Clinton overreach – part of a supposed plot by liberal elites to expand government, burden the white working class, and transfer benefits to poor blacks and Latinos.

Ever the political opportunist, Trump poured his own poisonous salt into this festering wound. Although he never really understood the Affordable Care Act, he used it to prey upon resentments of class, race, ethnicity, and religiosity that propelled him into the White House.
Now, having lost that fight, Trump will try to subvert the Act by delaying subsidies so some insurance companies won’t be able to participate, failing to enforce the individual mandate so funding won’t be adequate, not informing those who are eligible about when to sign up and how to do so, and looking the other way when states don’t comply.

In brief, Trump will do his best to deny tens of millions of American citizens any healthcare. There is more in the article, that is not very happy, but seems quite justified to me: A recommended article.

4. Bernie Sanders on the Right-Wing Ideology that Rules Our Economy

This article is by Bernie Sanders and was originally published in 2009. It starts as follows:


THE LATE MILTON FRIEDMAN WAS A PROVOCATIVE TEACHER AT MY ALMA MATER, THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO. He got his students involved with their studies. He was a gifted writer and communicator. And he received a Nobel Prize for his contributions to economics.

But Friedman was more than an academic. He was an advocate for, and popularizer of, a radical right-wing economic ideology.

In today’s political and social reality, the University of Chicago’s estab­lishment of a $200 million Milton Friedman Institute (in the building that until now has housed the renowned Chicago Theological Seminary) will not be perceived as simply a sign of appreciation for a prominent former faculty member. Instead, by founding such an institution, the university signals that it is aligning itself with a reactionary political program supported by the wealthiest, greediest, and most powerful people and institutions in this country. Friedman’s ideology caused enormous damage to the American middle class and to working families here and around the world. It is not an ideology that a great institution like the University of Chicago should be seeking to advance.

Well... (1) economy is not a real science (and agrees with this diagnoses with psychology, sociology and quite a few more), in part because (2) economy - strongly - tends to be propaganda for the rich (or their exploitative models). And as to Milton Friedman: He was a gifted propagandist, who got his Nobel Prize essentially by writing propaganda, that was sold as "science".

I do not think he was more or different. This article is well worth reading and it ends as follows:

Now we have a case study for what happens when the ideology of Milton Friedman becomes the operating ideology of the government. Under Bush, the median family income has declined by thousands of dollars. Millions of Americans have entered the ranks of the poor. Some 7 million have lost their health insurance. Some 3 million have lost their pensions. And the gap between the very rich and everybody else has grown much wider.

Our country is due for a transformation. We have endured years of right-wing ideology, and we are eager to move in a different direction. I believe that we will see a major reordering of social and economic priorities and that this last general election represented a repudiation of right-wing economic arguments.

In the Bush era—a period in which some of Friedman’s greatest admirers managed the U.S. economy—the top 400 families in this country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion.

Yet we have children in this country who have no health care, children who are undernourished, and children who sleep out on the streets. From an economic perspective, from a moral perspective, and from a philosophical perspective, the ideology of Milton Friedman is dead wrong.

Precisely. And eight years onwards - for this article was originally published in 2009 - the situation is considerably worse, with a megalomaniac as president, who in my - quite informed - opinion is best described as a neofascist, who is trying his best to ruin whatever remains from American democracy.

And this is a recommended article.

5. Can Trump Find the ‘Great’ Path?

This is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

On June 29, when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, how they had lost to Donald Trump, I expected the usual excuse – “Russia! Russia! Russia!” – but was surprised when Podesta spoke truthfully:

“Even though 20 percent of his voters believed he was unfit to be president, they wanted radical change, they wanted to blow the system up. And that’s what he’s given them, I guess.”

For those millions of Americans who had watched their jobs vanish and their communities decay, it was a bit like prisoners being loaded onto a truck for transport to a killing field. As dangerous and deadly as a desperate uprising might be, what did they have to lose?

In 2008, some of those same Americans had voted for an unlikely candidate, first-term Sen. Barack Obama, hoping for his promised “change you can believe in,” but then saw Obama sucked into Official Washington’s Establishment with its benign – if not malign – neglect for the average Joe and Jane.

In 2016, the Democratic Party brushed aside the left-wing populist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who might have retained the support of many blue-collar Americans.

A considerable part of this article is a sum-up, as indicated above. But it is well worth reading and ends as follows, which gives Parry's views after his sketch of what Trump might have done if he were a somewhat honest or somewhat honorable president:

But do I think any of this will happen? Not really. Far more likely, the Trump presidency will remain mired in its “reality-TV” squabbles with the sort of coarse language that would normally be bleeped out of network TV; the Democrats will continue substituting the Russia-gate blame-game for any serious soul-searching; the Republicans will press on with more tax cuts for the rich; and the Great American Experiment with Democracy will continue to flounder into chaos.

I agree, although one major guilty party is missing: Most of this is possible because the majority of the American electorate believes in the propaganda they are fed by the mainstream media.

       home - index - summaries - mail