Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Crisis: Trump´s Tax Cuts, On Vietnam, Trump´s Racism, New McCarthyism, Big Institutions

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 27, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 27, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from September 27, 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 Glenn Trush and Alan Rappeport on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

President Trump will propose a sweeping rewrite of the federal tax code on Wednesday, outlining a plan to reduce rates for corporations and individuals and eliminate some popular deductions, in a move that will set off a scramble among powerful groups eager to protect their tax breaks.

The proposal will call for slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, doubling the standard deduction for individual taxpayers and slightly increasing the bottom tax rate to 12 percent from 10 percent, according to two officials briefed on the details of the blueprint.

The framework, which has been agreed upon by Republican leaders in the House and Senate, leaves most of the details to Congress but proposes a reduction in the individual rate to 35 percent from 39.6 percent, while leaving the door open for an unspecified, higher bracket for the wealthiest Americans. The plan would also, for the first time, create a 25 percent tax for “pass through” businesses, which account for the vast majority of business income in the United States and are currently taxed at individual rates.

Pulling the tax code levers inevitably creates winners and losers, but the scant details of the plan, including how it will be paid for and which deductions are on the chopping block, make it impossible to determine the distributional effects and whether it will actually help middle-class taxpayers and not the wealthiest Americans.
I should start by saying this is from The New York Times, which explains the phrase that 
¨it [is] impossible to determine the distributional effects and whether it will actually help middle-class taxpayers and not the wealthiest Americans.¨
To me it would seem that it is by far the likeliest that Trump´s tax reforms will not help the middle class (what is left of it), and that they will help the rich and the very rich a great lot. 

Then again, I agree that my estimates are based on my - very well fact-based, and totally uninterested - prejudices, while the prejucides of the New York Times are - it would seem to me - considerably less well fact-based, and much more interested.

We will see what will emerge later. And here is one more bit for The NYT, which shows how they propagandize:
The White House is trying to navigate a narrow path on an issue that administration officials believe can reboot Mr. Trump’s presidency. It is an attempt to assuage the demand for lower taxes among wealthy party donors without being perceived by Mr. Trump’s working-class base as giving a windfall to the rich.

For clearly to say that Trump is trying ¨to assuage the demand for lower taxes among wealthy party donors without being perceived by Mr. Trump’s working-class base as giving a windfall to the rich¨ does amount to: Trump is pleasing the rich a whole lot, but he tries to avoid that he is found out by the non-rich - which seems considerably more honest, to me at least.

But this is a recommended article, because it does carry some information about the USA´s new taxes.

2. Vietnam Myopia, 50 Years Later

This is from Daniel Goldberg on Truthdig. It starts as follows (and is here mostly because I recall the Vietnam War very well and demonstrated a great lot against it, in the second half of the Sixties):

Official history is never going to be cool. There is no way that the political perspective of the historian, playwright and activist Howard Zinn could have gotten 18 hours of real estate on PBS as Ken Burns and Lynn Novick did for “The Vietnam War.”

Burns is a uniquely talented documentary artist and a masterful self-promoter whose new work has gotten the requisite acclaim by mainstream media like The Washington Post and The New Yorker and been met with equally predictable contempt by most writers who identify with the anti-war movement.

In fact, I neither know Burns as ¨a uniquely talented documentary artist¨ nor as ¨a masterful self-promoter¨ (mostly because I don´t have a TV since 1970, while I am also fairly critical about what I do view on Youtube (and don´t like long series, normally)), but I do know a fair amount about Vietnam and I also lately wrote about both Vietnam and Burns on Vietnam, namely on September 22, 2017, which is recommended.

Here is some more about Burns & Vietnam:

On the plus side, it is a significant accomplishment to have the PBS audience definitively told that Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon lied to the public repeatedly when they suggested that the war during their administrations was about protecting America from communism. By the end of 1965, the actual rationale for the dreadful conflict was to save face for presidents and their administrations rather than any moral or national security reasons. This perspective was radical at the time, and to have it validated in the closest thing America has to official history is a big deal.

To be sure: In the opinion of Mr. Goldberg. And there are two sides to this opinion:

(i) I did know - as a Dutchman - indeed also ¨by the end of 1965¨ that ¨the actual rationale for the dreadful conflict was to save face for presidents and their administrations rather than any moral or national security reasons¨, and indeed most of the - leftist - people I knew then also knew this (over 50 years ago, indeed), which also means that to me (and I suppose nearly all of the left of the 1960ies) ¨to have it validated¨ does not seem ¨a big deal¨, but then again:

(ii) I never visited the USA, never went there to school, and probably saw less of American TV the last 50 years than almost anybody else (who lived the last 50 years or more), and therefore it may seem considerably more to Mr. Goldberg (who certainly saw a lot more TV than I did).

And there is also this on the minside, again according to Goldberg:

On the other hand, “The Vietnam War” is not the balanced view of the war that its makers claim it is. The power of propaganda is not limited to influence on poorly educated fans of populist demagogues. As David Halberstam demonstrated in his Vietnam book, “The Best and the Brightest,” well-educated elites also can succumb to magical thinking in pursuit of status.

In an interview with Charlie Rose (who called the series “amazing”), Burns insisted that his team was determined not to put a “thumb on the scale.” Geoffrey Ward (writer of Peter Coyote’s voice-over narration) was supposedly so committed to objectivity that he often purged adjectives. Nonetheless, the power of conventional wisdom on the production is so powerful that within the first minute, Coyote’s voice insists that the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, America overconfidence, and Cold War miscalculation.” As The Dude said in “The Big Lebowski”: “That’s your opinion, man.”

I say. How can one be objective while Burns' ¨team was determined not to put a “thumb on the scale”?

Also, as to Peter Coyote´s comment (written by Ward) that ¨the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, America overconfidence, and Cold War miscalculation”:

I do not think that the people who started the war were ¨decent¨; and I do not think that they suffered from ¨fateful misunderstandings¨; but I am willing to agree that the Americans were ¨overcomfident¨ and also seem to have mostly believed the ¨Cold War miscalculation¨ - in fact: propaganda - that if one nation fell for ¨communism¨ many more would follow.

Anyway... by this time I do believe I will miss little if I miss The Vietnam War” (and one good reason for missing it for me is that it is very long).

3. Trump's Political 'Genius' Exposed: It's Just Shameless Racism

This is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

I have written many essays about Donald Trump here at Salon. In those essays I have argued that among others things Donald Trump is a serial liar, malicious and malevolent, an ignoramus, a racist, a fascist, a misogynist and a bigot. To this point in Donald Trump's presidency the evidence for all those claims is overwhelming. But I have also wondered if Donald Trump is a political genius whose idiot-savant insights -- along with likely assistance from Russia -- helped him win the 2016 presidential election.

Trump's recent behavior has finally provided an answer to that question.

At a rally in Alabama last Friday, Donald Trump fired a racist fusillade at the African-American players in the NFL who have exercised their First Amendment rights to protest police brutality and social injustice in the United States.

Trump said “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!" It is clear that he does not like "uppity" and "disrespectful" black people.
And I have reviewed some of the articles that DeVega wrote on Nederlog (though far fewer than he wrote), and I mostly liked them, with some disagreements. Indeed, one disagreement he and I seem to have is that to say that Trump is a fascist is to say very little in fact, simply because the term ¨fascism¨ is quite ill-defined (as can be seen here, which is recommended: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions).

But I quite agree he is a racist (and he seems to be acting in an illegal manner: The president is there for the executive work, not the legal work: That should be done by the courts).

This article ends as follows:

So is Donald Trump a political genius? The answer is absolutely not.

Donald Trump is just a 71-year-old year old man who has decades of life experience being a racist bully. Now he is just using those traits to appeal to the lowest common denominator among the American public. This is no great parlor trick, and no display of three-dimensional chess. It is all just habit for Donald Trump.

I agree.

4. The Rise of the New McCarthyism

This article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Make no mistake about it: the United States has entered an era of a New McCarthyism that blames nearly every political problem on Russia and has begun targeting American citizens who don’t go along with this New Cold War propaganda.

A difference, however, from the McCarthyism of the 1950s is that this New McCarthyism has enlisted Democrats, liberals and even progressives in the cause because of their disgust with President Trump; the 1950s version was driven by Republicans and the Right with much of the Left on the receiving end, maligned by the likes of Sen. Joe McCarthy as “un-American” and as Communism’s “fellow travelers.”

The real winners in this New McCarthyism appear to be the neoconservatives who have leveraged the Democratic/liberal hatred of Trump to draw much of the Left into the political hysteria that sees the controversy over alleged Russian political “meddling” as an opportunity to “get Trump.”

Already, the neocons and their allies have exploited the anti-Russian frenzy to extract tens of millions of dollars more from the taxpayers for programs to “combat Russian propaganda,” i.e., funding of non-governmental organizations and “scholars” who target dissident Americans for challenging the justifications for this New Cold War.

I completely agree with this, and I must add that (by far!) the best explanation that I can think of for this utterly mindless following of the propaganda that the many are served on mainstream media these days, is that those who honestly believe in this propaganda - which I think the majority does - must be even more stupid and more ignorant than I thought they were. (And I am sorry for this, but these seem to be the facts.)

Here is a part of my reasons:

The evidence, as usual, is vague and self-interested, but sure to be swallowed by many Democrats and liberals, who hate Russia because they blame it for Trump, and by lots of Republicans and conservatives, who have a residual hatred for Russia left over from the Old Cold War.

I agree, though it would seem to me as if the Democrats and the liberals (not all, but most) also seem to hate Russia because they - still, though without good reasons - look upon (capitalist) Russia as if it is the (socialist) Soviet Union.

Then there is this on the Washington Post and evidence:

Of course, the Post evinces no evidence tying any of this to the Russian government or to President Vladimir Putin. It is the nature of McCarthyism that actual evidence is not required, just heavy breathing and dark suspicions.

Precisely - but if you can introduce McCarthyism in 2017, 60 years after McCarthy died, and 27 years after the Soviet Union ceased being socialist, indeed without any good evidence as well, then it shows that by far the largest part of those who believe this must be pretty mindless (for they all could have known a lot better than they do, simply by viewing some of the non-mainstream media).

This article ends as follows, after a considerable lot more:

Arguably, if fascism or totalitarianism comes to the United States, it is more likely to arrive in the guise of “protecting democracy” from Russia or another foreign adversary than from a reality-TV clown like Donald Trump.

The New McCarthyism with its Orwellian-style algorithms might seem like a clever way to neutralize (or maybe even help oust) Trump but – long after Trump is gone – a structure for letting the neocons and the mainstream media monopolize American political debate might be a far greater threat to both democracy and peace.

I more or less agree, but I think that (i) ¨the neocons and the mainstream media monopolize American political debate¨ since 25 to 40 years now, in so far as I can see (which is quite far: I do know quite well what happened since 1970), and also (ii) I worry less - it seems - than Robert Parry (and than Glenn Greenwald) about what may happen ¨long after Trump is gone¨ because I think - as a psychologist, which neither Parry nor Greenwald are - that Trump is insane, and that he might very well start a nuclear war (which probably will finish most human beings).

But this is a recommended article, for I do agree for the greatest part with Robert Parry.

5. Big Institutions—Immunities, Impunities and Insanities

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams and originally on his site. It starts as follows:

One of the first times I used the phrase “institutional insanity” was in 1973 to describe the behavior of scientist Dixy Lee Ray, chairperson of the presumed regulatory agency, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). I pointed out that her personal and academic roles were quite normal. But her running of the AEC—pressing for 1,000 nuclear plants in the U.S. by the year 2000 (there are 99 reactors left in operation now), and going easy on a deadly, taxpayer subsidized technology that was privately uninsurable, lacked a place to put its lethal radioactive wastes, a national security risk, replete with vast cost over-runs, immunities and impunities shielding culpable officials and executives, should a meltdown occur and take out a city or region (all to boil water to produce steam to make electricity)—was a case study in “institutional insanity.”

I say - and no, I did not know about this example of the phrase “institutional insanity”, but its use by Nader seems quite justified: Just imagine what it would be like to have 1,000 nuclear plants (or more) by now, instead of ¨just¨ 99.

And Nader also seems quite correct about the dangers of the 99 that are in operation. Here is more:

Both the AEC and its successor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), captured by the atomic energy industry, operate this way to this day, no matter the near misses, the spills, growing corporate welfare outlays, and the inadequate maintenance of aging nuclear power plants.

Our moral and ethical codes and our civil and criminal laws were originally designed to hold individuals accountable. The kings of yore operated under a divine right of being above the laws.

With the rise and proliferation of ever more multi-tiered governmental and corporate bureaucracies, methods of immunity, impunity and secrecy were built into these structures to shield them from moral/ethical codes and laws. Increasingly, we are ruled by no-fault big corporations and their no-fault toady governments.

I think Nader is again quite correct, and indeed it seems true - in my extensive experiences with the City of Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam (both run by bureaucrats), the State of Holland, and the Judiciary of Holland, three of which protected the illegal drugs dealers that turned over more than 300 billion euros of illegal soft drugs since 1987 [2], and probably a whole lot more if all illegal drugs are counted - in Holland at least, that no City bureaucrat, no University bureaucrat, no State bureaucrat and no Judiciary bureaucrat has any responsibility whatsoever (that I could exact in any way).

And in Holland this is the case since 1977 or 1987, and because I have tried very many times to get the sadofascistic terrorists
in court, for letting me be terrorized by drugsdealers or madmen for seven years together, while I all the times even failed to be heard or read by the bureaucrats who defended them (whose normal answers were: ¨We don´t know anything whatsoever about anyone doing anything wrong¨ and  whose normal ¨answers¨ to my information was completely none whatsoever - and see ME in Amsterdam if your read Dutch) I think I have been mostly forced to write and not be replied by Dutch bureaucratic fascists, sadists, or utter moral degenerates. (And I do not know what part of the more than 300 billion euros of illegal soft drugs that have been turned over the last thirty years does go to the bureaucrats and the politicians. I do know that it is totally impossible for any normal Dutch citizen to get anyone in the bureaucracy in court for dealing illegal drugs: I tried for 30 years, in which over 300 billion euros of illegal soft drugs were turned over in Holland.)

Here is Nader on the kind of illegalities that have become totally ordinary in the USA over the last 40 years:
Some comparisons are in order. If your neighbor entrusted you with her savings and paid you a fee for doing so, you then purchased stocks for her account while you’re selling them for your account, deceiving the cheated neighbor in the process, would you escape the law? That is just some of what the Wall Street Barons did on a massive scale about ten years ago. No one was prosecuted and sent to jail for this corporate crime wave.
Quite so. The article ends as follows:
Facebook, Google and Equifax can misuse your personal information to your perceived disadvantage and they repeatedly get away with it.

The White House under Bush/Cheney can unconstitutionally ignite wars, lie to the people about the reasons, produce millions of casualties and untold destruction of innocent peoples’ homelands, get re-elected and later retire with huge speech fees without being chased by the “sheriffs.”

It is doubtful whether you would allow your hamlet’s political leaders to get away with such violent assaults, even if they wanted to do so.

If our moral/ethical/legal codes cannot reach up to the tops of these institutions on behalf of wronged, injured individuals and communities and societies, we’ll get what we’ve been getting, which is worse and worse immunities/impunities with each passing decade.

Isn’t this a fault/no fault paradox worth thinking about?

Again I quite agree, and especially with this paragraph:

If our moral/ethical/legal codes cannot reach up to the tops of these institutions on behalf of wronged, injured individuals and communities and societies, we’ll get what we’ve been getting, which is worse and worse immunities/impunities with each passing decade.

As I have indicated, I have tried for thirty years now to get something like a decent answer from the University of Amsterdam, from the City of Amsterdam, or from the State of Holland, for my sickening discrimination during at least 10 years, that included 7 years of insufficient sleep, 7 years of murder threats by people who lived in the same house as I did, a completely worthless totally unscientific ¨education¨, 12 years of being scolded as ¨a fascist¨ and ¨a terrorist¨ by the Stalinist degenerates from the ASVA, and 30 years of protests against the soft drugs dealers that threatened to murder me ¨if you do anything we aren´t pleased with¨.

I say, for these are all simple facts: I am not heard in Holland, and I have not - even  - been replied to in any rational fashion by any bureaucrat or any politician who lived in Holland since 1977.


[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 (!!).

[2] I am - of course - speaking here about the total yearly turnover in (merely)  illegal soft drugs in Holland (a good part of which gets sold in the rest of Europe), and not about just the drugs shop I lived above (which still exists, and still seems to thrive).

As for the numbers of 10 billion euro each year: These are directly derived from the Parliamentary Van Traa Inquiry published in 1997. If you read Dutch, here they are.

And since these were published, what I have read in the Dutch media about soft drugs in Holland were only lies. O, and these are just the figures for soft drugs. If the hard drugs are also counted, it probably is closer to 30 - 50 billion euros each year:

The Dutch are very good dealers/traders!
      home - index - summaries - mail