Sunday, August 20, 2017

Crisis: Leading Incompetents, Bannon, Arms, Non-violence, Spiegel & Trump

Sections                                                                     crisis index

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


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, August 20, 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 [1] 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 (usually) 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 August 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:

This article is by Ryan Grim on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

There is no one left in the White House who has any idea what they’re doing. At least nobody conservative.

President Donald Trump never tires of reminding audiences that he is not a politician, and he proves it on an hourly basis. He is by turns a nationalist, a populist, and a demagogue — but rarely acts as a traditional conservative.

As the previous occupant of the White House once said, a president’s “success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics.” With the far-right White House strategist Steve Bannon gone, the team left behind appears to be ill-equipped to maneuver the political challenges needed to turn the administration’s ambitious policy goals into successes. The chasm between Trump’s approach and that of his nominal allies in the Republican-controlled Congress is about to be sharpened in relief — and the resumes of his remaining staffers are ill-suited to overcome the gulf.

I say. In fact, I do not think that "there is no one left in the White House who has any idea what they’re doing" - or at least I do not think that those left in the White House think so.

Besides, many of the appointments that Trump's government made were in fact appointing people who do not believe that the American government should play an important role (De Vos, Carson and quite a few more) and indeed are destroying parts of the government, or so it seems to me (and in fact this is quite like what Reagan tried to do in the 1980ies).

So I don't know how this will work out, but I agree with Grim that "the White House" seems more and more filled with incompetents (although they may think themselves otherwise).

2.  Steve Bannon’s Apocalyptic ‘Unravelling’

This is by Alistair Crooke on Consortiumnews. In fact, it is a repeat of March 9, 2017, that I reviewed on March 10. I'll repeat my review:

This starts as follows:

Steve Bannon is accustomed to start many of his talks to activists and Tea Party gatherings in the following way: “At 11 o’clock on 18 September 2008, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke told the U.S. President that they had already stove-piped $500 billions of liquidity into the financial system during the previous 24 hours – but needed a further one Trillion dollars, that same day.

“The pair said that if they did not get it immediately, the U.S. financial system would implode within 72 hours; the world’s financial system, within three weeks; and that social unrest and political chaos could ensue within the month.” (In the end, Bannon notes, it was more like $5 trillion that was required, though no one really knows how much, as there has been no accounting for all these trillions).
I say. I do so because I did not know this, although I recognized there was an economical crisis happening on September 1, 2008, when I first wrote about it (in Dutch). Of course, the Dutch government did not believe so, until some months later, for that is how accurate and truthlike Dutch governments are normally.

In case you want to know what I wrote about the financial crisis nearly 10 years ago, you need to be able to read Dutch, but it is quite interesting and starts here. And on September 18, 2008 (when the above-mentioned scandal happened) I was writing about Keynes.

Incidentally - back to the last quote - I suppose that the explanation for "
it was more like $5 trillion that was required, though no one really knows how much, as there has been no accounting for all these trillions" is that this amount of money was simply printed (and the connection of money and gold (<- Wikipedia) has been cut by Richard Nixon in 1971).

But this is a supposition I make: I don't know. Here is more on Bannon:

But, Bannon says — in spite of all these esoteric, unimaginable numbers wafting about — the Tea Party women (and it is mainly led by women, he points out) get it. They know a different reality: they know what groceries now cost, they know their kids have $50,000 in college debt, are still living at home, and see no jobs in prospect: “The reason I called the film Generation Zero is because this generation, the guys in their 20s and 30s: We’ve wiped them out.”

And it’s not just Bannon. A decade earlier, in 2000, Donald Trump was writing in a very similar vein in a pamphlet that marked his first toying with the prospect of becoming a Presidential candidate: “My third reason for wanting to speak out is that I see not only incredible prosperity … but also the possibility of economic and social upheaval … Look towards the future, and if you are like me, you will see storm clouds brewing. Big Trouble. I hope I am wrong, but I think we may be facing an economic crash like we’ve never seen before.”

Well... firstly, Bannon is only speaking metaphorically when he says "the guys in their 20s and 30s: We’ve wiped them out": No, he (or they) have not: They merely took all the money they could get from them, and then left them with huge debts for their education at the homes of their parents.

And secondly, here is a link to a Wikipedia lemma about Generation Zero, which I link to because it mentions a crisis theory (that appears nonsense to me [1]) that seems to occupy Bannon's mind a lot. This is from the last linked Wikipedia lemma:

Historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film said that it focused on a key aspect of Strauss and Howe's theory: "the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one”. Bannon, Kaiser states, was "very familiar with Strauss and Howe’s theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while.”

There also are supposed to be three earlier turnings, which I point out because Alastair Crooke also seems to take them seriously, whereas I don't. I will come to that in a moment, after quoting the last bit of Crooke from this article, and commenting on it:

And here, precisely, is the paradox: Why — if Trump and Bannon view the economy as already over-leveraged, excess-bubbled, and far too fragile to accommodate even a small interest rate rise — has Trump (in Mike Whitney’s words) “promised  … more treats and less rules for Wall Street … tax cuts, massive government spending, and fewer regulations … $1 trillion in fiscal stimulus to rev up consumer spending and beef up corporate profits … to slash corporate tax rates and fatten the bottom line for America’s biggest businesses. And he’s going to gut Dodd-Frank, the ‘onerous’ regulations that were put in place following the 2008 financial implosion, to prevent another economy-decimating cataclysm.”

The obvious answer to "the paradox" Crooke raises is that it is not a paradox, and it all is easily explained by noting that Trump and his billionaire friends have one rule and one motive that caps all other rules and all other motives: Profit. They will try to realize every profit they can, also if this is supposed to be silly in the longer term, and they do so because they know that wealth = power.

So for me this is not paradoxical at all, but not so for Alastaire Crooke, who proceeds to unfold Bannon's crisis theory. I will leave that to your interests. For me it is nonsense [1], although I suppose it might clarify Bannon's mind a little.

3.  Arms Bazaar: Needs Wars, Eats lives

This article is by Paul Rogers on Common Dreams. This is from near the beginning:

Such wars and rumors of wars require constant supplies, and this is where that perennial of human activity, the arms bazaar, comes in. The informative journal Defense News sums it up neatly with a report on military industries under the headline “A return to prosperity? Defense revenues climb for the first time in 5 years”.

The report lists the top hundred military companies, and in a helpful way. While highlighting businesses that may have many other interests, Defense News in this case focuses solely on their military-related activities. The results are most revealing. Take, for example, the top seven corporations with their country of origin and their defence revenues in 2016:

1. Lockheed Martin, United States: $43,468 billion
2. Boeing, United States: $29,500bn
3. BAE Systems, United Kingdom: $23,621bn
4. Raytheon, United States: $22,394bn
5. Northrop Grumman, United States: $20,200bn
6. General Dynamics, United States: $19,696bn
7. Airbus, Netherlands/France: $12,321bn

Even from such bare details, several important truths can be extracted or inferred. The first is the American dominance of the field, which is even more pronounced in that much of BAE Systems’s revenue comes from the company's US-based activities. This leads to a second point, that all seven are transnational to varying extents. Airbus, for example, is active across western Europe, which allows it to use its clout with more governments. A third element is that these are very large outfits. Lockheed and Boeing each has annual military revenues larger than the entire GDP of Uganda, whose population is 39 million.

A fourth point is that this sheer wealth enables huge operations.
Yes indeed. There is more in the article, that is recommended. I refer my readers - once again - to Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex" (<-Wikipedia), that explains rather a lot rather well.

4. Nonviolence Is the Perfect Answer to Neo-Nazis

This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. This is from the - short - article:

The truth is that white supremacist groups are pretty small. Their views are so obviously vile that they just don’t appeal to very many people. Generally speaking, then, the answer isn’t to fight them, it’s to outnumber them. If they announce a rally, liberals should mount a vastly larger counter-rally and…do nothing. Just surround them peaceably and make sure the police are there to do their job if the neo-Nazi types become violent. If antifa folks show up with counter-violence in mind, surround them too.

Nonviolence isn’t the answer to everything, but it is here. The best way to fight these creeps is to take their oxygen away and suffocate them. Fighting and bloodshed get headlines, which is what they want. So shut them down with lots of people but no violence. Eventually they’ll go back to their caves and the press will get bored.

Of course, all of this depends on our president not doing anything further to support their cause. If that happens, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

I more or less agree, but (and I wrote about this before: see here) I really dislike the bullshit term "antifas" ("Are they against tones, as in 'do re mi fa'?!?!") when you mean (or seem to mean) anti-fascists.

5. Spiegel International on Trump

My title is motivated by the fact that this section reviews two articles by Spiegel International. The articles seem to be causes by a change of standards in - at least - Spiegel International after Charlottesville.

Here they are, in the order in which they were published:

This article is a Spiegel Editorial by Spiegel's editor Klaus Brinkbaumer. It starts under a large picture of hooded Ku Klux Klan members gathering around a burning cross in 1939. This is from near its beginning:
Trump is a racist. He is a preacher of hate. Those who pretend he is not, those who portray him as merely being an unpolished, somewhat chaotic old man, as a person who explicitly sought to avoid becoming a slick politician, are merely enabling him. "Trump tests ideas on Twitter and then he repeats and repeats them so often to the point that they have been learned," says German cognitive scientist and linguist Elisabeth Wehling, who is currently at the University of California in Berkeley. Many Americans, she says, see the world as a fundamentally aggressive place, as a dichotomy between good and evil. Trump, she says, precisely articulates these people's reality. In an uncertain time of change, the president has identified the scapegoats: immigrants and the elite. And just in case there is another terrorist attack in the U.S. in the future, Trump has already identified who is to blame -- namely the liberal judges who are now allowing refugees into the country. The White House is supposed to be home to America's moral compass. Instead, though, it currently houses the country's chauvinist-in-chief.
Yes, I think that is correct. The other article is by Christoph Scheuermann:

This has the following not far from the beginning, that summarizes events in Charlottesville:

Those who may still have doubts as to how fanatic, how potentially violent the right wing has become in the United States should take the time to watch the Vice News piece. It shows white nationalists with torches on the eve of the demonstration: private militias in camouflage, apparently armed with automatic weapons, men waving swastika flags, anti-Semites, homophobes and fascists from across the country. They all swarmed into the liberal university town in rural Virginia.

It was a bellowing, braying mob of 500 right wingers, the largest collection of nationalists the U.S. had seen in years. A demonstration of hate, so obviously full of hostility and resentment that there could be no doubts about who was marching through the streets of Charlottesville. And then a car sped into a group of counterdemonstrators, driven by a right-wing supporter. One woman died, a 32-year-old legal assistant from Charlottesville named Heather Heyer, and 19 others were injured. The fanaticism and violence was so evident that it should have been clear to every politician that the only possible response was a clear condemnation of right-wing horror.

And this is from near the end:

Former CIA head John Brennan said Trump's words were "a national disgrace," calling them "ugly and dangerous." Scott Taylor, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, spoke of "a failure of leadership, which starts at the top, with him." Republican Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina said Trump's "moral authority is compromised."

Even hard-bitten television journalists reacted with disbelief. "Wow," gasped CNN anchor Jake Tapper immediately after airing the Trump press conference. Chuck Todd of MSNBC said: "What I just saw gave me the wrong kind of chills." Even on Fox News, Trump's favorite broadcaster, there was talk of "moral bankruptcy."

Trump is the first president to offer his protection to right-wing extremists, and he has lost the ability to distinguish between good and evil -- if he ever possessed it in the first place.

I say. I think this selection from Spiegel International shows that something changed in Spiegel and possibly in parts of Europe after Charlottesville.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better.

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