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Nederlog

Friday, December 15, 2017

Crisis: Exit Net Neutrality, The Tax Bill, Revolution?, Back To Slavery, On The Pentagon
 
Sections                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 15, 2017
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, December 15, 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 15, 2017
1. FCC Votes to Repeal Net Neutrality (Video)
2. Republicans Agree on Tax Bill “Of, By and For the Political Donor
     Class” with Tax Cuts for the Rich

3. Is Revolution in the U.S. Brewing?
4. The Right Is Attempting to Roll Back the 20th Century
5. Lavishing Money on the Pentagon 
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. FCC Votes to Repeal Net Neutrality (Video)

This article is by Anonymous (no writer given) on Truthout (that also misdates it to December 11). It starts as follows:
The FCC voted along party lines Thursday to repeal the "net neutrality" rule adopted in 2015. Tech Crunch writes:

The order passed today, “Restoring Internet Freedom,” essentially removes the FCC as a regulator of the broadband industry and relegates rules that prevented blocking and throttling content to the honor system. The FTC is now ostensibly has that role, but it is far from an expert agency on this topic and cannot make preemptive rules like those that have been in place for the last few years.

As expected, the vote was 3 to 2 along party lines (...)
I think this is the main news of today, worldwide indeed, although I have little idea at present how this will work out for Europe (but the main internet corporations are American).

And it went as I - and Gore Vidal, nine years ago - expected and did not like. Here are two reactions, from more cited in the article:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has expressed concern over the public comment process prior to the FCC's vote, immediately declared his intent to sue the FCC over its vote:

I will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of #netneutrality. New Yorkers and all Americans deserve a free and open internet.
Yes, but it doesn´t follow people will get what they deserve, that is, if they are not rich or paid by the rich.

Here is more:
This vote to destroy #NetNeutrality is an outrageous attack on our free and open internet, one that puts “We the Powerful” over “We the People.” It’s totally unacceptable, and I’m going to do everything I can in Congress to overturn it.
— Senator Jeff Merkley
He is being paid for that, but he has just been defeated.

Anyway... as far as I am concerned, that was Net Neutrality.

Now we have an internet schema were spying by very many secret services and by many rich corporations is the norm, since 09/11 at least, and that was designed to be the main controller of everyone already nearly fifty years ago by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who also ¨foresaw¨ (that is: wanted and created) the change to authoritarian neofascism then, that he warmly welcomed...

More on this topic later.

2. Republicans Agree on Tax Bill “Of, By and For the Political Donor Class” with Tax Cuts for the Rich

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Republicans in Congress say they have reached a deal on final tax legislation that will overhaul the U.S. tax code, dramatically impacting not only household income, but also healthcare and domestic spending. The plan would slash taxes by nearly $1.5 trillion, with the vast majority of the cuts benefiting major corporations and the richest Americans, including President Trump’s own family. A final vote could take place next week. We speak with David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and founder and editor of DCReport.org.
And this is the other major attack on the poor and the non-rich by American´s richest, who have been investing in the interests of the richtest since 1972 - see Lewis F. Powell Jr. - and who have won nearly all the fights since then.

Here is Trump´s defense of his taxplan that enriches the rich by stealing from the poor and the non-rich:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: (..) In the tax plan agreed on by the House and the Senate, the corporate tax rate would be reduced to 21 percent from the current 35 percent. Middle- and low-income families would receive smaller, temporary tax cuts. President Trump touted the bill at the White House on Wednesday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our tax cuts will break down—and they’ll break it down fast—all forms of government and all forms of government barriers, and breathe new life into the American economy. They will unleash the American worker. They will tear down the restraints on discovery, innovation and creation. And they will restore the hopes and dreams of the American family. Millions of middle-class families will win under our plan.
I think Trump was - very consciously, also - lying through his teeth. Here is the approximate real truth:
AMY GOODMAN: (...)

David Cay Johnston, is this tax bill worse than most people think? Explain what it is you understand that the House and the Senate have agreed on.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, this is a fantastically wonderful tax bill if you’re a billionaire, a hedge fund manager or one of the 143 Americans whose job last year paid over $100 million. You’re going to just enjoy this bill to the hilt. On the other hand, the Republicans have managed, with this bill, to do what I would have thought was impossible. They are about to enact a tax cut that is wildly unpopular, that surveys show a majority of Americans oppose, because they understand that this is a tax bill of, by and for the political donor class. And it clearly reveals something you’ve heard me say before about the real Republican agenda, that the Republicans believe that America’s pressing, overwhelming economic problem is the rich don’t have nearly enough, and they’ve got to get more to the rich.

Yes indeed. And here is how Tump will get richer personally, in terms of his own tax plan:

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, Donald Trump, personally, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this bill. He owns over 500 enterprises. And his tax rate, assuming he’s really paying taxes—and we don’t know, because he’s the only presidential candidate or president since the late '70s who hasn't shown us his tax returns—he’s likely to see his tax rate fall by somewhere between 30 and 50 percent. So he’s a huge beneficiary, despite all his claims that, you know, “I’ll pay more. I’ll pay more.” It’s just not true. Other members of his Cabinet, like multibillionaires Wilbur Ross and Betsy DeVos, are going to save enormously on their investments.

And the same for the very few very rich. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

3. Is Revolution in the U.S. Brewing?

This article is by Eric Ortiz on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Get ready, America. According to a new study on inequality and revolutions throughout history, the United States soon may experience a profound paradigm shift, Inverse reports (with a hat tip to Lee Camp). A team of scientists at Washington State and 13 other institutions conducted the study, and their findings, published in the journal Nature, could have major implications on today’s world.

From the news release on the study:

The study gathered data from 63 archaeological sites or groups of sites. Comparing house sizes within each site, researchers assigned Gini coefficients, common measures of inequality developed more than a century ago by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini. In theory, a country with complete wealth equality would have a Gini coefficient of 0, while a country with all the wealth concentrated in one household would get a 1.
(..)
… The researchers’ models put the highest Ginis in the ancient Old World at .59, close to that of contemporary Greece’s .56 and Spain’s .58. It is well short of China’s .73 and the United States .80, a 2000 figure cited in the Nature paper. The 2016 Allianz Global Wealth Report puts the U.S. Gini at .81 and [Tim] Kohler [the study’s lead author] has seen the U.S. Gini pegged at .85, “which is probably the highest wealth inequality for any developed country right now.”

That means the United States “has one of the highest levels of inequality in the history of the world. This fact worries Kohler, a professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology at Washington State.

If you think this makes it even slightly more probable that there is a revolution brewing in the USA, I think you must be quite stupid and ignorant: This measure is far too uncertain, and there are many other relevant factors that it leaves totally undiscussed.

Here is some more:

Unrest in America is nothing new. In 1969, the country was raging with discontent. At the time, Gil Scott-Heron, the soul and jazz poet and author, was a student at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, the alma mater of famous poet and social activist Langston Hughes. There, Scott-Heron witnessed the struggle for equality and social change firsthand. His experience inspired him to write a poem called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in 1970.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

Well... I like Gill Scott-Heron (and I think his complete poem - much longer than what I quoted - is quoted in the article) but I was born in 1950 and I recall the Sixties quite well, and the possibly revolutionary years then, that did not come about, were 1967 and 1968, I am rather certain (also with the near revolution in France of 1968, that I went to witness twice in 1968).

But OK. The article ends as follows:

Now it’s déjà vu all over again in America. The country has become a corporatocracy (see the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality) run by greedy oligarchs who love war (see the tax scam). If Americans want a more just and fair society, the people must take action. The revolution will not come to us. We must create the change we want to see.

Yes indeed. And I do not think a revolution is brewing in the USA. See the next item:


4. The Right Is Attempting to Roll Back the 20th Century

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

The Republican Party's "tax reform" bill has passed both chambers of Congress. After differences between the House and Senate version are worked out, it will likely soon be signed by President Donald Trump. This legislation is more than a grotesque effort to take money from the poor and working class and give it to the very richest Americans and corporations. In reality, it is an effort to wholly remake American society by undoing the social progress of the New Deal, the Great Society and the civil rights movement.

This effort has been met with surprisingly little resistance from the American people.

Why?

This is a good question, and I think the answer must include three main factors:

First, the greatest part of the American population is not intelligent and does not know much to start with; second, the interests of the greatest part of the American population have been consistently attacked from Ronald Reagan onwards, both by Republican and Democratic lawgivers (nearly all paid by the rich, with something like 10 lobbyists each); and the mainstream media have been ever more consistently lying, propagandizing and simply not or hardly mentioning many of the things that do or should interest the majority of Americans.

For more, see here and here. Then there is this:

Unlike the Republicans and movement conservatives, the Democratic Party is terrible at translating complex questions of public policy into simple narratives that evoke emotion and, in turn, action from the American people. Moreover, while the Republican Party systematically works to roll back the 20th century by eliminating programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act -- with the apparent goal of creating a Malthusian dystopia -- many prominent Democrats and other liberals are instead obsessed with enforcing purity tests for sexual harassment within their own party.

In fact, I seem to be considerably less positive on the Democrats, for I think they are playing sexual harassment and Russia-gate in order to escape criticisms of their own consistent pro-rich and pro-bankers support ever since Bill Clinton. I think the Democrats simply have been bought by the rich, indeed starting with the two Clintons.

Then there is this:

To a significant degree, the American people have been exhausted by Trump and the Republican Party's authoritarian and petit-fascist assaults on reality, truth and, yes, even the country's citizens. Many Americans have been driven into a sense of learned helplessness by Trump's presidential victory and the years of civic and cultural rot that enabled that outcome. Consequently, it has become difficult to imagine what a real and sustained resistance against the Republican Party, Donald Trump and the ascendant right would even look like.

Possibly so, but I think my three fundamental factors explain more and explain it better.
But here is some more, and so far I have quoted from the beginning:

Ultimately, this assault on American democracy and society should not be a surprise. It has been operating both in the shadows and plain sight for decades. In an effort to understand the true goals and larger context for the Republican Party's tax reform legislation, I recently spoke with Nancy MacLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. MacLean is also the author of the controversial new book "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America," which was nominated for the 2017 National Book Award.

I wil quote just two bits from this interview, and here is the first bit:

(Nancy McLean: ) This is the ethical system that allows people like Paul Ryan to feel heroic and self-righteous as they inflict harm on other people. At its most basic, this libertarian moral system says that it would be better for people to die than to get health care financed by government from taxes paid for by others. You can die. Period.

Yes indeed - I quite agree. And the interview ends, after a lot more, as follows:

(Nancy McLean: ) So these people don't just want to get rid of Obama’s legacy. They want to reverse the whole 20th-century model of citizen-driven government and make it so that property reigns supreme. That’s the beginning and the end of it. The American people need to realize that we’re going to be in ever-deepening trouble.

I think she is right and this is a recommended article.


5. Lavishing Money on the Pentagon

This article is by Jonathan Marshall on Consortiumnews. This is from near its beginning:

President Trump this week signed into law a $700 billion blueprint for military spending in the current fiscal year. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes funding for more troops, more weapons, more interventions abroad, and more active wars, with Trump’s enthusiastic blessing. “We need our military,” he declared at a White House signing ceremony.

In addition to lavish spending on new weapons — like $10 billion for purchases of the disastrous F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — this Christmas legislation for the military includes all sorts of smaller presents, including billions of dollars to fund NATO’s European Deterrence Initiative (whatever happened to Trump’s demand that our allies pay for their own defense?), missile defense systems of doubtful efficacy, and development of a new cruise missile that would violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia.

There is considerably more in the article, but this is indeed were most of the taxes the Americans pay go to: To the department of war, called ¨defense¨.

And this is from near the ending of the article, which is about the auditing the Pentagon does, namely none whatsoever:

Taxpayers should also reflect on the fact that the Pentagon has never passed a full audit and has only a foggy idea of where all its money goes.

“The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced,” Reuters reported last year.

“The Defense Department’s Inspector General . . . said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. . .

“For years, the Inspector General – the Defense Department’s official auditor – has inserted a disclaimer on all military annual reports. The accounting is so unreliable that ‘the basic financial statements may have undetected misstatements that are both material and pervasive.’”

But war is good for you, or so Trump seems to think.

------------------------------
Note

[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 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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