Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Crisis: U.S. Tax Bill, Riot Charges, Congress, A Slimy Man, On (neo)fascism, Quote

Sections                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 29, 2017
3. A great quotation (?)

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday
, November 29, 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 29, 2017
1. Senate Considers Making a Terrible Tax Bill Even Worse
2. 200+ Inauguration Protesters, Journalists & Observers Face
     Riot Charges From Mass Arrest

3. Congress Is Trying to Blow Up Our Elections AND Our System of
     Charities in One Fell Swoop

4. A Slimy Man Thrusting His Genitals
5. The American Roots and 21st Century Global Rise of Fascism 
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. Senate Considers Making a Terrible Tax Bill Even Worse

This article is by The Editorial Board of the New York Times. It starts as follows:

This is how Senate Republicans compromise these days: They could make their enormously unpopular tax bill, which lavishes benefits on corporations and wealthy families, more generous to real estate tycoons and hedge fund billionaires to win over a couple of lawmakers who say the legislation doesn’t do enough for small businesses.

Even by the collapsing standards of Congress this is astounding. The change demanded by the two unhappy senators — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana — would further lower the tax bills of people like President Trump who earn most of their income through limited liability companies, partnerships and other “pass through” businesses that do not withhold taxes on the money passed along to their owners. About 70 percent of all pass-through income goes to people in the top 1 percent of Americans who receive any income whatsoever.

Yes indeed. I want to concentrate for a moment on ¨Even by the collapsing standards of Congress this is astounding¨ and say this:

I have been closely following what has been happening in the USA for 4 1/2 years now, and wrote over 1550 files in that period (see the crisis index) in which I reviewed on average about 5 articles. This means that I´ve read - with an excellent M.A. degree in psychology, an excelllent B.A. in philosophy, and very courageous anti-fascist parents and grandparents - over 7500 articles relating to the crisis.

One of my conclusions is that the best explanation for very many decisions made by the American Senate and the American Congress is that a considerable majority of these are corrupt [2].

The present decision on the tax bill - that has not been made yet - is one prominent example.

Back to the article:

Because it would cut corporate taxes so deeply — to 20 percent, from 35 percent — this bill would blow a huge hole in the federal budget. Over the next 10 years, it would add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit. That hole would have to be filled somehow, someday. That would probably mean even higher taxes on the middle class in the future and cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other important government programs.

Yes indeed. There is one way out of this, but this requires a major economical crisis as in 1929. I believe that will come, but such a crisis also comes with enormous problems, and it is not certain it will arrive, nor when it will arrive if it does.

Here is some more on the fraudulence of the corrupt Senate:

The majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is trying to rush the bill to a vote by the end of the week. This self-imposed deadline is intended to give lawmakers and the public as little time as possible to analyze and understand the bill. The Senate has held no hearings on this legislation, which has been cooked up behind closed doors by Republicans without Democratic input.

In brief: The tax bill is mostly unread, unanalyzed, and not understood and it has been compiled exclusively by Republicans and behind closed doors.

The article ends as follows:

Republican senators have a choice. They can follow the will of their donors and vote to take money from the middle class and give it to the wealthiest people in the world. Or they can vote no, to protect the public and the financial health of the government. There’s no compromise on that.

As I said above, I think most senators are corrupt, which means that they will ¨follow the will of their donors¨. Democracy is dead in the USA (on the level of the Senate and Congress).

2. 200+ Inauguration Protesters, Journalists & Observers Face
Riot Charges From Mass Arrest

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

The first trial of the nearly 200 people arrested during President Trump’s inauguration is underway and involves six people, including one journalist, Alexei Wood, a freelance photojournalist and videographer based in San Antonio. The defendants were charged under the Federal Riot Statute and face multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including inciting or urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and multiple counts of destruction of property. We get an update from Jude Ortiz, a member of the organizing crew of Defend J20 and the Mass Defense Committee Chair for the National Lawyers Guild, and speak with defendant Elizabeth Lagesse, who is also a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit which charges D.C. police mistreated detainees after their arrests at the inauguration.

I wrote about this before and my concern then was mostly with the extra-ordinarily insane ¨legal punishments¨ these demonstrators risk: They may be put away for 60 years for protesting against Trump.

For me that is stark insanity. But there also is more, namely this:

AMY GOODMAN: Officials seized Trump protesters’ cell phones, cracked their passwords, attempted to use the contents to convict them of conspiracy to riot. Court filings reveal that investigators have been able to crack into at least eight defendants’ locked cell phones. Prosecutors want to use the internet history, communications, pictures they extracted from the phones, as evidence against the defendants in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit which charges D.C. police mistreated detainees, including using sexual abuse as a form of punishment. A complaint by four plaintiffs charges officers used excessive force, denied detainees food, water, and access to toilets. The D.C. Police Department has defended its officers’ actions, saying all arrests on January 20th were proper.

Yes indeed. This is on the utterly insane punishments these demonstrators may get:
JUDE ORTIZ:  (...) The judge has since ruled those are actually not even potential felony charges and instead are only misdemeanors. So that dropped the potential time that the defendants were facing from 75 years down to about 60 years, which is currently what most of the defendants are still facing.
Incidentally: I do understand that 60 years is the maximum punishment, but in Holland you have to be a gross mass murderer to risk punishments like this, while in Norway not even mass murderers can be legally convicted to more than 20 years imprisonment.

And there is this on cell phones (which I absolutely refuse to own):
ELIZABETH LAGESSE: (...) And in the process of being arrested, they took everyone’s phones. And to this day, as far as I know, none of the defendants have gotten their phones back, which has been a financial hardship and, as you can imagine, a privacy issue.
Yes indeed. I think this is extremely unfair and should be quite illegal, but then again everyone who has a cell phone should know that they can be taken by the American police. For more see below.

3. Congress Is Trying to Blow Up Our Elections AND Our System of
Charities in One Fell Swoop

This article is by Eliza Newlin Carney on AlterNet and originally on The American Prospect. It starts as follows:

There’s a great deal wrong with the House-passed tax overhaul bill, but its most heinous provision may be one that effectively blows up both the campaign-finance laws and the charitable sector at the same time.

By essentially repealing the so-called Johnson Amendment, a tax provision that bars charities from engaging in partisan politics, the House legislation frees up big donors to funnel even more unlimited, undisclosed money into campaigns, and, for the first time, to deduct that money from their taxes. The bill also threatens the credibility and viability of charitable groups, and would drastically reduce charitable giving—even as it robs education, housing, and health-care assistance from working families who invariably will turn to charities for help.

Yes indeed: This seems quite correct to me (perhaps apart from ¨its most heinous provision¨, but I agree it is heinous). 

Here is more, both on the lies that accompany the tax bill, and on the probably consequence:

The repeal’s backers say it protects free speech and religious liberty, but these are red herrings. Churches and charities are perfectly free to endorse candidates, they just can’t do it with tax-free money. The government’s bargain with such groups is: We will exempt you from taxes and let you raise tax-deductible contributions, if you stay out of partisan politics. This protects charities from government meddling, and ensures that taxpayers aren’t forced to subsidize endorsements of candidates they oppose.

Campaign-finance watchdogs hate the repeal because it would create incentives for all political money to flow into unrestricted, secret channels. Right now, super PACs may raise unlimited money, but they at least must disclose its sources. Social-welfare and trade groups may raise limitless contributions, which they need not disclose, and they spend hundreds of millions on campaigns under the guise of promoting issues—but at least that money is not tax-deductible.

The House bill creates the very real possibility that political players will create sham “charities” and “churches” to rake in massive, undisclosed, and now tax-deductible campaign donations that will become the new normal in American elections.

In brief: If the tax bill passes, one of its consequences will be that there probably will be very many sham projects that rake in completely undisclosed, totally unlimited and tax-deductible campaign donations.

That is to say: All power to the billionaires; no power to the non-rich. As as matter of law, also.

4. A Slimy Man Thrusting His Genitals

This article is by Abby Zimet on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Because the Sexual-Predator-In-Chief has no sense of probity or even prudence about revealing his bottomless jackassery, he has now ineptly blundered into the national conversation about the current deluge of news of sexual misconduct in what one scathing critic calls "the Garden of Dicks." Thus has Trump swiftly and ill-advisedly attacked Democrats accused of crimes that pale before his own, blithely endorsed Alabama Senate hopeful and serial child molester Roy Moore - "He denies it! Women are special!" - and newly backtracked on his infamous pussy-grabbing tape to suggest it's - his favorite thing besides lying, golfing, making up facts, lying, and (ewww) groping women - fake.
I agree (and there is one ¨lying¨ too many at the end of the quotation).

Here is more (and the article opens with pictures of these 16 women):

Leading up to the election, at least 16 women charged him with sexual assault or harassment going back over decades. Despite corroborating evidence, he called them all liars, and got away with it. Now, they're back in a short from Brave New Films' Robert Greenwald, who collected their tales of abuse into a "powerful and damning" whole. (...)They describe Trump grabbing their breasts and genitals, kissing and fondling them, sticking his tongue down their throat, walking in on them naked.

I say.

5. The American Roots and 21st Century Global Rise of Fascism

This article is by Mark Karlin on Truthout. This is from near its beginning:

Mark Karlin: Is the term "alt-right" a rebranding of a fringe white supremacist movement that has been in place for decades or should it be recognized as a distinct entity?

David Neiwert: It's definitely a rebranding of white supremacist thought, but it is much more than just that -- it's an entire rewiring of the movement and an expansion of it as well, which is why simply calling them "Nazis" isn't accurate. This isn't your grandfather's Klan. It's been rewired to not only take advantage of technology and its rapid changes, but to leverage them as weapons.
In the end, when you dig down into their thinking and examine the ideology they are promoting, it really isn't anything new, nothing that eugenicists and white supremacists of bygone days hadn't said already. But it's presented in social media in adroit and new ways that are very effective with young people whose exposure to real history is shallow to begin with.
I´d say this is mostly correct, but could have been put more clearly:

The ideas of the - extreme - right are old, but they now are put forward on the computerized a-social media, which means they can be addressed (just on Facebook alone) to two billion persons who all have handed out their total privacy to Facebook in return for getting advertisements about the things they are interested in, and who are in great part quite anonymous, and who all can ¨write¨.

Here is more:

In what respect is the rise of "alt-right" forces to the level of the White House shared by movements around the world?

The rise of the radical right in the US is just one piece of a global dark tide, and it's a frightening phenomenon, really. In Europe, the far right is rising, not just in the UK, where the Brexit vote reflected a rising nationalism, but in Germany, where the far-right party won an increasing share of seats in Parliament recently, and in places like Poland, where thousands of young xenophobic nationalists recently marched en masse, as well as Hungary, where the new prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is also an unabashed nationalist in the Trump mold.

I agree that the radical right is rising in many places and that this is ¨a frightening phenomenon¨, but I also have a partial explanation:

The radical right is rising because in many places, and certainly in Great Britain and Holland, the left has thoroughly and clearly abused its voters for the private careers of corrupt and fraudulent leaders like Tony Blair.

This is not a full explanation, but it is a partial one. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Why is it important to note, as you do in your book, that what Trump has unleashed is an incremental descent into fascism?

Americans have always fancied themselves immune to fascism. After World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, we patted ourselves on the backs and said, "It can't happen here!" And in telling ourselves that, we lied -- because fascism's own roots lie buried, in places, in [US] soil: The Nuremberg Laws were modeled on Jim Crow, the Brownshirts were inspired by the Ku Klux Klan, and both Hitler's  Lebensraum program and the Holocaust itself were built on the Nazis' admiration of the genocide of Native Americans in the United States.

I think this is a bit misleading: Neiwert is probably correct that the Nazis were - in part - inspired by the already existing extreme right in the USA, but the Nazis also were very bad without legal inspiration from the USA.

Besides, I once more insist that (1) Trump is a neofascist rather than a fascist (if you want to understand my meanings, click on the last two links: my definitions are clear, informed and much better than I´ve read anywhere on the internet), and (2) the most dangerous thing about neofascism (in my opinion) is that it is spread - it seems - mostly by anonymous people on Facebook.

But this is a recommended article.

3. Great quote (?)

This is about a very brief article on Washington´s Blog that is presented as ¨Great quote¨. Here is the quote:

What Orwell failed to predict is that we'd buy the cameras ourselves, and that our biggest fear would be that nobody was watching.
In fact, I do not think this is a great quote, because I realized all of this by myself in 2012, that got strongly confirmed by Snowden in 2013, though it does make a good point that I like to rephrase as follows:
What Orwell failed to predict is that billions of persons embraced loosing all their privacy and all their personal information by buying cell phones that spy on everything they do, want, say, photograph or film, by hundreds of spying institutions, that vary from the secret services to the rich corporarions, all for the privilege of being sent advertisements by some of the spies that might save them a few pennies.
It is utterly insane in my view, but this is what happened.


[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] Because this is a link to ¨
corrupt¨ in the Wikipedia, where it is said - once again - that
The examples and perspective in this article (...) do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
I like to say - once again - that anybody who believes there are ¨worldwide view¨s on almost anything whatsoever either must be an ignorant fool or a conscious fraud.

There are only two norms that an encyclopedia must satisfy: What it says must be true and it must be said in a clear style.

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