Saturday, November 4, 2017

Crisis: Trump & The Law, Climate Change, Surveillance, GOP Promises, Internet Economy

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from November 4, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Saturday
November 4, 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 and since nearly two years (!!!!) 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 November 4, 2017
1. ‘Very Frustrated’ Trump Becomes Top Critic of
     Law Enforcement

2. U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change,
     Contradicting Top Trump Officials

3. U.S. Domestic Surveillance Papers Raise Rights

4. Recycled GOP Promises of ‘Trickle Down’
5. We Need New Rules for the Internet Economy
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. ‘Very Frustrated’ Trump Becomes Top Critic of Law Enforcement

This article is by Peter Baker on The New York Times.

But before reviewing this article here is first a quotation from "Executive (govern- ment)" (<-Wikipedia) that makes a point I learned at or before the age of 12 and under the term "trias politica", which - I take it - was all lost to president Trump:

In political systems based on the principle of separation of powers, authority is distributed among several branches (executive, legislative, judicial) — an attempt to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a small group of people. In such a system, the executive does not pass laws (the role of the legislature) or interpret them (the role of the judiciary). Instead, the executive enforces the law as written by the legislature and interpreted by the judiciary.

In case you are nearly as dumb as president Trump: The USA is based on the trias politica a.k.a. the separation of powers.

But president Trump (who may never have heard of it) doesn't like it at all:

One of President Trump’s biggest disappointments in office, by his own account, was discovering that he is not supposed to personally direct law enforcement decisions by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. So, instead, he has made himself into perhaps the most vocal critic of America’s system of justice ever to occupy the Oval Office.

Just this week, he denounced the criminal justice system as “a joke” and “a laughingstock.” He demanded that the suspect in the New York terrorist attack be executed. He spent Friday berating the Justice Department and F.B.I. for not investigating his political opponents. He then turned to the military justice system and called a court-martial decision “a complete and total disgrace.”

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

The repeated assaults on law enforcement cross lines that presidents have largely observed since the Watergate era, raising questions about the separation of politics and the law. But as extraordinary as Mr. Trump’s broadsides are, perhaps more striking is that investigators and prosecutors are so far ignoring the head of the executive branch in which they serve while military judges and juries are for the most part disregarding the opinions of their commander in chief.

“You know, the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” Mr. Trump said in a radio interview on Thursday on the “Larry O’Connor Show.” “I am not supposed to be involved with the F.B.I. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it.”

This is also why I said that I much doubt that president Trump has ever heard about the trias politica (but I know Trump lies whenever this seems convenient to him).

There were several responses, but the most impertinent was by the service boy of the rich bankers, the corrupt fraud Eric Holder:

The president’s Twitter posts and comments drew rebukes from Democrats and some Republicans. Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who served for six years under President Barack Obama, said Mr. Trump’s comments make the job of law enforcement officials more difficult.

“Combined with his improper attempts to influence Department of Justice actions, this demonstrates that he is a president who is willing to flout those norms that protect the rule of law,” Mr. Holder said in an interview.

That is, Eric Holder criticizes Donald Trump for doing what Holder excelled in, when it came to illegally protecting his friends, the very rich bankers.

Incidentally, while this article is not bad, it can be done a lot better. Here is a part of the treatment Kevin Drum gave to the same question, on Mother Jones:

Donald Trump does not like the civilian justice system:

“What we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock.”

Trump also does not like the military justice system:

And he’s also unhappy with his own Justice Department:

Yesterday he wrapped this all up and explained to WMAL host Larry O’Connor just how unhappy he is:

“The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump said. “I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI.”

Yes indeed. And it seems (again) as if the president of the USA doesn't have any ideas about the - legal, constitutional - limitations on his power.

And both articles I mentioned are recommended.

2. U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials

This article is by Lisa Friedman and Glenn Trush on The New York Times. It starts as follows (and is a bit surprising giving the previous item):

Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration’s position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.

Over the past 115 years global average temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes, the report says. The global, long-term warming trend is “unambiguous,” it says, and there is “no convincing alternative explanation” that anything other than humans — the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, the forests we destroy — are to blame.

Yes indeed, though in fact it is not so much about "the cars", "the power plants" or "the forests" "we" (which "we"?!? I never owned a car, a power plant or a forest) "destroy", but it is simply about the number of human beings.

Here is the most melancholic chart I know, once again. It sketches the outcomes of "The Limits to Growth" (and many related publications), that I first read in 1972 (when there were half as many human beings as there are now, a mere 45 years later):

The graphic also shows "the enormous influence" of climate scientists and activists over the last 45 years: None that can be noticed in the above graph.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

“This report has some very powerful, hard-hitting statements that are totally at odds with senior administration folks and at odds with their policies,” said Philip B. Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center. “It begs the question, where are members of the administration getting their information from? They’re obviously not getting it from their own scientists.”

Yes, evidently so. And the answer to the question is also simple: They get their information from their wishful thinking and their private interests, and these are, in their uneducated or greedily egoistic opinions, much more worth than any data any climate scientist gathered since 1972 - as you can see by the net effects on the policies these reports had: None whatsoever, by the above graph.

3. U.S. Domestic Surveillance Papers Raise Rights Concerns

This article is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

New documents obtained by Human Rights Watch reveal a Department of Defense policy that seems to allow monitoring of U.S. citizens and green card holders deemed by the executive branch to be “homegrown violent extremists”—even when they have “no specific connection to foreign terrorist(s).”

The organization says that the documents, obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, raise concerns about the government’s ability to gather data on citizens without obtaining a warrant. The group is especially concerned that “people who are exercising their legitimate, free-expression rights will be targeted for monitoring in a discriminatory or arbitrary manner” (..)
I can give you my opinion on who are the "homegrown violent extremists" that president Trump and his amazing team are protecting the USA from: They are anybody whose opinions differ from Donald Trump.

You may doubt this but I, who was taught 40 years ago today, at the "University" of Amsterdam, the fundamentally fascistic lie (according to Hannah Arendt) that
"Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist"
which has been maintained all these 40 years as THE principle on which the "University" of Amsterdam is founded, as well as the fundamental principle on which Dutch democracy is founded - for the Dutch have now been implementing since thirty years the political and legal protection of ALL Dutch illegal drugsdealers who are rich enough to become "personally protected" by some Dutch mayor:

You can deal in illegal drugs all you please, but a percentage must go to the Dutch politicians who have been protecting you excellent Dutch illegal drugs dealers.

And the Duch illegal drugs dealers have been dealing illegal drugs of all kinds all over Europe during the last thirty years, in which the illegal but "personally protected" drugs dealers turned over 300 billion euroos just in soft drugs, and probably double that - 600 billions, in thirty years - if you add hard drugs:

Illegal drugs are to Holland what extremely low taxes are to Luxembourg: A way to gain enormous profits for the corrupt politicians, lawyers and judges, and indeed also for the illegal dealers, planters etc.

At least: That is the principle I deduce from the facts that I have been 3 1/2 years threatened with murder by Amsterdam's mayor Van Thijn's personal friends, who were dealers in soft and in hard drugs, who were allowed to threaten me with murder and destroy my health for 3 1/2 years, after Van Thijn had given his personal friends his "personal permission", in writing, to deal in illegal drugs (both soft drugs and hard drugs) from the bottom floor of the house where I lived (instead of Van Thijn or any of his criminal lawyers or his personal criminal  political friends).

For I could get no protection whatsoever against murder threats from absolutely everyone I asked who worked for the City of Amsterdam while these things happened to me for 3 1/2 years, while I could get no reply whatsoever from the drugsfascistic terrorists that worked in the City of Amsterdam who have been protecting these drugsfascistic terrorists for THIRTY years now.

And I do not return to the article and the
“homegrown violent extremists”: I ask why?

I have not received any answer whatsoever since 1991, when the answers I received amounted to: We don't do anything whatsoever for you - die if you can, for we, the Amsterdam authorities, protect the interests of the illegal drugs dealers we gave permission to deal illegal drugs - soft AND hard drugs - from the bottom floor of the house where I had to live.

4. Recycled GOP Promises of ‘Trickle Down’

This article is by J.P. Sotille on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

It is really important that the Republican Party decorated its Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with the word “Jobs” because the GOP is going to sell this to their base using the magical thinking that giving a big tax cut to corporations is giving a big raise to workers. The idea is that you give more money to big businesses. The executives, in turn, will take that excess money and trickle it down onto their employees in the form of raises.

This wishful thinking is predicated on the people at the top suddenly feeling compelled to share this new windfall when they’ve refused to share all the windfalls of the past. For some reason, that didn’t happen with the previous two big tax cuts (Reagan/BushII) and, of course, GOP supporters of this deal say “middle class hasn’t gotten a raise in decades,” without pointing out that the severe wage/income gap began with the coming of Ronald Reagan’s tax cut (the graphed data is stark) and it has continued unabated, George W. Bush’s tax cuts be damned.

Yes indeed, although the previous two paragraphs are quite weak compared to this one:

You see, the average pay for an S&P 500 CEO is 271 times the pay of their average worker. And it’s 819 times workers making minimum wage. Amazingly, in 1965, the ratio was 20-to-1; by 1989, after the Reagan tax cuts, that ratio had widened to 59-to-1. Those dates – 1965 and 1989 – coincide with the high point of the Middle Class (1965) and the beginning of the end of the Middle Class (1989) as a mass phenomenon or what we called The American Dream.

This means that in thirty or forty years the incomes of the richest (on average) was over 13 times higher than it was in 1965, which together made it 271 times the pay of the average worker.

There also is another difference (entailed by deregulating the economy ever since Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin allowed this):

And 1989 was a point of acceleration for the financialization of the economy, which brings me to the point: this economy is a hoarding economy, not a productive economy. Hoarding is rewarded over production. Inflating stock prices with buy-backs is rewarded. Inflated valuations and speculation are rewarded. Exotic financial devices that repackage and sell debt are rewarded. Cutting the cost of labor is rewarded. And the people at the top are rewarded for stoking stock prices, no matter the P/E ratio. And shorting your own bad decisions is rewarded … and your simple greed is bailed-out if your bottom line was big enough.

That’s because this economy is a rigged game rooted in speculation and salesmanship and vaporware.

I agree and there is more in the article, that is recommended.

5. We Need New Rules for the Internet Economy

This article is by Armin Mahler on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:

There are still people out there who think that Amazon is nothing more than an online version of a department store. But it's much more than that: It is a rapidly growing, global internet giant that is changing the way we shop, conquering more and more markets, using Alexa to suck up our personal data straight out of our living rooms and currently seeking access to our front door keys so it can deliver packages even when nobody's home.

Facebook has also long since become much more than a social network for chatting with friends. It is a media company that earns billions in advertising by disseminating content without checking it first.

The list could go on - with Google, or Alphabet, as the company now calls itself, and others. What they all have in common are growth rates that would be impossible in the analog economy. And that they have amassed a dangerous amount of power - which is why they are increasingly facing political pushback.

I am not saying "No" at this point, but I am saying that all of this - in principle - was known to me by 1996, when I got internet access.

In fact, that is also the reason, together with the fact that my life was repeatedly threatened with murder by illegal drugsdealers that were "personally protected" by Mayor Van Thijn (see item 3), that I have always taken care that my real name only very rarely is used on internet.

Here is more from the article (and from this quote onwards it starts to get objectionable):

As diverse as the appraisals of the critics might be, they are right. There are, of course, plenty of advantages associated with digitalization, but digital capitalism badly needs new rules - because the old laws are no longer effective. They were made for an economy that traded in real goods and for which price was an important factor. That could all be taxed, controlled and, if need be, adjusted.

The digital economy, by contrast, is based on algorithms and its most powerful companies don't produce any physical products.

In fact, what are the "plenty of advantages associated with digitalization"?!

Yes, there are some, but this is so vague as to be utter bullshit. And indeed I also can see very few advantages of a technique that allows all the spying agencies anywhere to tap all internet traffic they can get, and use it for their own ends (in fact making everyone with internet connection in principle a fully owned digital slave) nor can I see very many advantages of allowing the big internet corporations to do the same, for their own economical ends, again treating all their private users as totally non-private human shit.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

That is why, first of all, the power of a company, and the abuse of that power, must be redefined. We cannot allow a situation in which these extremely large companies can swallow up potential rivals before they can even begin to develop.
Second, it must be determined who owns the data collected - whether, for example, it should also be made available to competitors or whether consumers should receive more in exchange than simply free internet search results.

Third, those disseminating content cannot be allowed to reject responsibility for that content. Demonstrably false claims and expressions of hate should not be tolerated.

And finally, those who earn lots of money must also pay lots of taxes - and not just back home but in all the countries where they do business
Here are my comments:

First principle: Overdue by at least 20 years, and - in my opinion - quite impossible by now. Besides, judges mostly follow the political lines, and why should I worry about the fact that (bolding added) "these extremely large companies can swallow up potential rivals before they can even begin to develop"? For the point is not really owning a lot of money, but using those extreme amounts of money for many kinds of illegal ends (and these illegal uses of extreme amounts of money have been going on ever since Lewis Powell Jr. attended the rich to these possibilities in 1972).

Second princple: No, this is - I think - intentionally misleading. The point is not (bolding added) "who owns the data collected" but who permitted their collection in the first place, for nearly all this data collection was unfair, illegal and in contradiction with the Constitution of the United States, and also with the understandings of law and morality elsewhere. (Private data ought to remain totally private, except for special legal ends. Currently, private data are gathered by all who have money without any real restrictions whatsoever.)

Third principle: Utter totalitarian bullshit. If I can express my likes, I ought to be able to express my dislikes (but not on Facebook), while the protest against "expressions of hate" is political correctness, that is both totalitarian and hardly sane. Besides, what is a "demonstrably false claim"? Who is supposed to demonstrate that? The secret services or the unknown "algorithms" of Facebook or Google? And aren't people allowed to lie anymore? Not even in their own interests? And again: Who is supposed to test whether people lie? [2]

Fourth principle: I agree with the (implied) statement that those who earn the most should pay the most taxes.

Anyway... these are the current opinions of Spiegel International.

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] These are important questions as well, for everyone I have ever known was quite dishonest each and every day, and indeed so was I: I have lied to the police, to civil servants and to others, and I did so mostly because this served my own interests.

And my points (summarily) are these: (i) everybody I know often lies, simply to defend his or her own private interests (ii) nobody I know is a billionaire with many rich lawyers (iii) rich billionaires and their lawyers can lie all they please, and probably will never be punished for anything they did but (iv) non-rich people who lie (about anything whatsoever) - probably - may be treated as anyone with a gram of marijuana is - still - in many US states: They may be imprisoned for five or ten years, if not more. (Or so I fear.)
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