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Nederlog

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Crisis: GOP Taxes, On Flynn, Trump´s Madness, Tax Scam, Nuclear Arms, Good Film

Sections                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 2, 2017
3. Extra: Orwell Rolls in his Grave
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday
, December 2, 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 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.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from December 2, 2017
1. The GOP Plan Is the Biggest Tax Increase in American History,
     By Far

2. Flynn Flipped. Who’s Next?
3. As Trump Has a Mental Meltdown, the Sycophants Around Him
     Doing Nothing Endanger Us All

4. The GOP Tax Scam Two-Step: Explode the Deficit With Cuts for
     Rich, Then Screw the Poor

5. Big Rocket Man
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. The GOP Plan Is the Biggest Tax Increase in American History, By Far

This article is by Ryan Grim on The Intercept. It starts as follow - and incidentally, Trump's tax plan has passed the (corrupt) Senate, 51 for, 49 against:

The tax bill moving its way through Congress is routinely referred to as a $1.5 trillion tax cut. And, in some ways, that’s true: on net, it would reduce the amount of taxes collected by the federal treasury by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

But that figure masks the eye-popping scale and audacity of the GOP’s rushed restructuring of the economy. Most immediately, the plan will take a large chunk out of state and local revenue that isn’t factored into that total. But more broadly, the bill cuts taxes by a full $6 trillion over a decade.

(...) But the key question is who gets a tax hike and who gets a tax cut. Put simply, the bulk of the tax cut is going toward the rich, while the tax increases go to everybody else.

And so the bill, properly described, is two things: the largest tax cut — and also the biggest tax increase — in American history.

Yes indeed. Before going on, let me quote (once again) Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who also was far from a leftist or a progressive:

"Taxes are what we pay for civilized society".

What the Republicans and Trump want is not a civilized society, but a society in which the rich few have all the advantages, and the poor many have to pay them, both directly, by being exploited, and indirectly, through having the taxes they have to pay that in an uncivilized society that the USA now has become are used to increase the riches of the rich.

Here is some strong evidence for what I just said:

The Tax Policy Center estimated that about 80 percent of the benefit of the tax plan will go to the top 1 percent, who will enjoy the following elements of the tax cut:

(...)

The ellipsis stands in the place of a long list that I skip, but that you can read by reading the original.

Here is the last bit that I quote:

As the New York Times noted, by 2027, people making between $40,000 and $50,000 would see a combined increase of $5.3 billion in taxes. Where would that money go? Folks earning more than $1 million would see their taxes collectively cut by $5.8 billion a year.

The list above brings the total well close to $5 trillion in tax cuts almost exclusively for the wealthy. The last major element of the bill, the doubling of the standard deduction, would benefit a broader range of people, but it comes at the expense of states, cities, and towns.

That is: The vast majority of the lower part of the middle class, who do earn between $40,000 and $50,000 a year are taxed $5.3 billion more in taxes that all go to the very few who earn more than $1 million a year.

And while the non-rich may get some small tax cuts, these tax cuts are taken from the states, cities and towns, that thereby have less money to pay for the services they provide for the non-rich.

I´d call this tax cut a corrupt fraud.


2. Flynn Flipped. Who’s Next?

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

Well, well, well.

We now have a better idea why President Trump went to such great lengths to shield Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, from the prying eyes of the F.B.I. and various congressional committees over the past year. Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, it didn’t work out as he had planned.

On Friday morning, Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition period in December 2016. He told the lies on Jan. 24 of this year, after Mr. Trump had been inaugurated and Mr. Flynn was sitting in his West Wing office.

(Ahem, ahem, ahem.) In fact, Flynn pleaded guilty, as he himself has said, to save himself and his family. And I am not saying that Flynn is not guilty of lying, but I am pointing out that such admissions of guilt, without legal proof, is far more common in the USA than in Europe.

Then there is this, that is quite correct:

It’s hard to find a precedent for how quickly Mr. Trump’s inner circle has become consumed by scandal. Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan made it into their second terms before the indictments of their inner circle started rolling in. In contrast, consider what’s happened in the last five weeks alone: The president of the United States’ former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and an associate have been arrested and charged with multiple federal crimes, including money laundering and tax fraud; one of Mr. Trump’s former foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with Russians; and now his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to the same offense, admitting that he committed federal crimes from inside the White House.

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

Who might now be swept up in the investigation? The next obvious candidate is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, who apparently played a key role in Mr. Flynn’s communications with Mr. Kislyak and who has his own problems with being truthful when making statements under oath.

Yes. And this is a recommended article.


3. As Trump Has a Mental Meltdown, the Sycophants Around Him Doing Nothing Endanger Us All

This article is by Kati Holloway on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
Delusion, and lots of it, is pretty much a prerequisite for dictators. The New Yorker's David Remnick notes that Finnish autocrat Urho Kekkonen reportedly opened his public orations with the line, “If I die…” Ugandan dictator Idi Amin decreed his official title was "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”
The list in the article of deluded or quite mad dictators is considerably longer in the article, but I leave that to your interests.

There is this about Trump:

Donald Trump, who (for now) remains a mere lowly president, but whose autocratic aspirations have been endlessly noted, has consistently shown a similar propensity toward magical thinking at odds with objective reality. To be sure, Trump has always had a contentious relationship with the truth, preferring to dispense what he called “truthful hyperbole,” a forerunner to “alternative facts.”
In fact, according to many psychologists, including myself, and quite a few psychiatrists, Trump has malignant aka grandiose narcissism (which is psychiatrese for megalomania) and this does not include ¨magical thinking¨.

Then again, also since I have been repeating now as a psychologist what is the diagnosis for Trump for 1 3/4 year now, I must suppose that most journalists think of psychology as I think of Chinese: It is quite interesting in principle, but beyond me. (I think they are quite mistaken if indeed I am correct, but then I am a psychologist who has read a lot of psychology, indeed nearly all in English.)

And incidentally: As I and others use the English language the phrase
“alternative facts” is a contradiction. A fact is what is given by a virtually undisputed true statement, as e.g. ¨The Nazis murdered millions of Jews¨, which means that the “alternative fact” that ¨The Nazis did not murder millions of Jews¨ is not a fact, and also not an ¨alternative¨ but simply is a plain and conscious lie.

Then there is this:
Since his election to president, Trump has promoted “1,628 false and misleading claims,” a number that grows daily, according to the Washington Post’s count. But Trump’s willingness to fib has always seemed to be linked to a pathological inability to sort fact from self-aggrandizing fiction, and recent reports suggest the president may be more than just the world’s most recognized liar. In private conversations with friends and staffers, Trump has begun raising the same lies and obfuscations as he does in public, indicating he may be so delusional he actually believes his own fabrications.
Ahem. Why don´t you read the diagnosis many psychologist have made of Trump?! (It is not written in Chinese, but in English, and it contains no mathematics at all.)

There is more in this article that seems to be based on a journalist´s guesses rather than on psychologists´ diagnosis, but it ends as follows:

“The more stress he’s under, the more delusional he’s going to become, the more out of control and, from a danger standpoint, the more enraged he’s going to become,” Harvard psychiatry professor Lance Dodes told Newsweek. “He is a far more sick person than people realize or want to realize. To say for example that he is even a con man is way too benign. He loses track of reality when it comes to a challenge to his sense of himself, which is extremely fragile. It’s out of his control—he is not clever like a fox, he is just very, very sick."
I more or less agree with that - but once again: The 24 Kb article that does define Trump´s madness (all in fairly clear English, all based on the diagnoses of the DSM-IV and DSM 5) is far more comprehensive and correct than the guesses of journalists.

In fact, here is the diagnosis of many psychologists and psychiatrist, quoted from the above file (and this is the DSM 5):

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM - 5, Cluster B) for "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" by The American Psychiatric Association (APA)

Here, according to The APA, are the 9 criteria for "Narcissistic Personality Disorder". If an individual has 5 out of the 9 they have a confirmed diagnosis of this illness. Many individuals have "traits" of narcissism but only about 1% of the population has clinical NPD.

"Summary : A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believe that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes."
In my psychologist´s opinion, Trump scores 9 out of 9.

4. The GOP Tax Scam Two-Step: Explode the Deficit With Cuts for Rich, Then Screw the Poor

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows, though I should first say that
Trump's tax plan has passed the (corrupt) Senate:

As Senate Republicans proclaimed on Friday that they have the votes to pass a $1.5 trillion tax bill whose contents have been kept secret from virtually everyone except corporate lobbyists, progressive lawmakers and activists are once more warning that the GOP is planning to use the massive deficit hole its plan would create to justify taking a sledgehammer to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—a ploy one group has termed the "tax two-step."

Indivisible released a video explaining the tactic, which has been utilized by Republicans for decades—but which might now be deployed on a scale never seen.

Yes indeed. And please note that the votes were on party lines and not based on any real knowledge of the tax law that subsidizes the few rich by stealing - ¨legally¨ - from the non-rich and the poor.

Incidentally, I know it is the law now, but laws that are passed by largely corrupt senators without any real knowledge of the laws and without any real discussion of the law are not legal in my eyes.

Here is some more:

Trump, as [Jeff] Stein notes, has given repeated nods toward "welfare reform"—despite promising during the presidential campaign to shield Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from cuts—while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has argued that the government must "bring spending under control."

"The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries," Rubio claimed.

Rubio is an evident liar: The driver of the national debt of the USA are primarily the enormous amounts of money that go to the Pentagon/the military.

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

"What's coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the Post. "Republicans are already saying 'entitlement reform' and 'welfare reform' are next up on the docket. But nobody should be fooled—that's just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs."

"Mark my words: As soon as the Republican tax bill passes, Republicans are going to insist on cutting Medicare and Social Security to cut the deficit," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) added in a tweet Friday. "We cannot let this disastrous bill pass."

It passed. As far as I can see the Republicans rather kill the sick and the poor than giving away a cent of their financial gains and their riches. And indeed this is also what I expect: Far more trouble for the poor, who will get even less money than they get now.

This is a recommended article.

5. Big Rocket Man

This article is by Gary Wills on The New York Review of Books:

Donald Trump has threatened “Little Rocket Man” with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”—not even seen, presumably, at Hiroshima or Nagasaki. We possess, after all, many more and much better (that is, much worse) explosives than were used by President Truman in 1945, when he incinerated those cities without Congress or the American people knowing we even had them.

The fact that President Trump (“old lunatic”) has a legally absolute power to destroy Kim Jong-un (“short and fat”) over dueling insults is so scary that Senator Edward Markey and Representative Ted Lieu are trying to restrict that absolute power, so that only Congress would have the authority to declare nuclear war. This seems not only reasonable but constitutionally necessary. The Constitution in fact denies the president the power to declare war and reserves it solely to Congress.

Well... yes indeed, although I wonder what Lieu and Markey really want, since - as Wills says - Congress has the power to declare war. I believe Wills is unclear here, for I´ve seen Lieu a few times and he seems a sensible man. Then again, it is also true that
since 9/11 the various American presidents have started wars as they pleased, so I take it Lieu wants to end that, and if so, he would be both correct and quite legal.

Here is Dick Cheney:

As Vice President Dick Cheney said of President George W. Bush’s war power in 2008, “He could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen [that phrase again]. He doesn’t have to check with anybody, he doesn’t have to call the Congress, he doesn’t have to check with the courts.”

As I understand it, at present a full atomic war, with the USA, Russia and China all involved (which would be quite easy once Trump has blown up North Korea) would destroy much of the earth, directly and indirectly (by radiation).

Here is the last bit that I quote:

Rather than consult the officers trained and reporting to the president, he has mocked the most experienced intelligence veterans (calling them political hacks), dismantled the government’s scientific bodies (as promoting hoaxes), drained the diplomatic agencies (as useless bureaucrats), and reduced or eliminated national commitments to other countries. He says he does not need expertise; he knows more than experts; he has a very good brain, which is his greatest and often his only resource. This neglect of necessary requirements for governing offers in itself grounds for impeachment, but he is hasty enough that in the long impeachment process he might be goaded to use the very nuclear power whose duties he has not prepared himself for using responsibly.

One could put the beginning of this quote as follows:

Either Trump is both sane and is by far the biggest genius there ever was (and he must be a far bigger genius than John von Neumann, who was the greatest mathematician of the previous century [2]) or else Trump is quite mad, which is what a psychologist like myself thinks.


And the ending is quite correct and very scary: If Trump gets involved in an impeachment he may well blow up the earth. And mad persons are quite hard to predict as to their actions.

This is a recommended article.

Section 3. Extra:

Finally, here is an extra bit, namely a really good documentary that dates back to 2004 and that I saw yesterday:
There are three things I should say about this documentary:

One. If you switch to this video, it says after the title ¨(Full Length 3hr Documentary)¨ Not so. It takes 1 hr and 45 min approximately, and is followed by another documentary I did not see.

Two. It is thirteen years old, and has a lot of information about Bush´s first presidency (which was improper: he was not elected, he was assigned the presidency by the Supreme Court: see the movie) and about the Iraq war, but it still is remarkably similar to today.

Three. I think it is a really good documentary, in part because it provides a definitely liberal (or progressive or left) point of view, which is honest and clear, and in part because it is mostly quite factual.

I was pleased to see it - which is not normal for me when judging documentary films that last over an hour: I usually think I would have gotten more from reading the same time, but not in this case - and I strongly recommend it.

------------------------------
Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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] John von Neumann was a really amazing man. If you want to know what a real genius is, he is one of the best examples. Then again, Von Neumann was not a madman at all, and therefore he worked i.a. for the American government.
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