Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Crisis: Thought Control, Bob Corker, Oligarchs' Triumph, Corrupt Dunces, Dangerous Trump
Sections                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 19, 2017

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, December 19, 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 19, 2017
1. Thought Control, Trump-Style
2. “CorkerKickback?”: Sen. Supports Tax Bill After Last-Minute
     Provision Would Personally Enrich Him

3. The Triumph of the Oligarchs
4. Confederacy of Dunces: Neoliberals Jump the Shark in The New
     York Times

5. The Even More Dangerous Case of Donald Trump
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. Thought Control, Trump-Style

This article is by The Editorial Board on the NYT. It starts as follows:

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told not to use the terms “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based” in budget documents they are producing, The Washington Post reported last week.

Environmental Protection Agency contractors had done opposition research for the Republican Party and submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for emails of agency employees suspected of being critical of the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt.

They are just two recent examples of this administration’s continuing effort to mute, censor and spy on employees in federal agencies whose words or views don’t sync with President Trump’s agenda.

I think this is quite correct, and I also regard these events as the harbingers of the neofascist future Trump is plotting: Of course the neofascists are entitled to read all private e-mails of anyone so as to find out who might have criticized the degenerate sadofascistic creep Scott Pruit.

Human rights? Bullshit. Privacy (for the non-rich)? Treason. The USA is Trump's country, and Trump's country is neofascistic and insane.

Here is more:

The same month, word went out to federal agencies that department social media content and “outward facing” communications should halt, pending reviews from on high. Content for L.G.B.T.Q. communities was removed from White House and State Department websites. References to the threats posed by climate change were deleted from the White House website, along with Interior’s.

In March, the administration stripped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from the Department of Health and Human Services’ national survey of older Americans, an annual study that helps determine how to allocate federal funding to groups that aid elderly people. In April, the E.P.A. deleted its website’s climate section, saying that after a review the site would be “updating language to reflect the approach of new leadership.”

Except (possibly) if you are extremely rich, your rights on privacy have been totally voided if you live in the USA, and you also have losts all rights to think for yourself and state your ideas in public if you work for the neofascist Trump's government.

Here is the last bit of neofascist degeneracy and manipulation:

In August, it was reported that staff members at the Department of Agriculture had been given a list of replacements for the phrases “climate change,” “reduce greenhouse gases” and “sequester carbon.” In September, news emerged that a political appointee at the E.P.A. was striking the words “climate change,” which he referred to as the “double C-word,” from grant solicitations.

For these facts turn into non-facts by refusing to use the words appropriate for these facts.

And this article is recommended.

2. “CorkerKickback?”: Sen. Supports Tax Bill After Last-Minute Provision Would Personally Enrich Him

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
The Republican plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code is now one step closer to passing, after Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker abruptly switched his position and announced his support for the controversial bill. The surprise move came after a controversial last-minute addition to the bill that would personally enrich Corker. The provision would slash taxes on income from real estate LLCs; Corker is a real estate mogul. The New York Times reports those who will most benefit from the Republicans’ tax bill are big corporations, multimillionaires, private equity managers, private schools, liquor stores, lawyers, tax accountants and President Trump and his family. Meanwhile, Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced his support for the tax plan on Friday after an expansion to the child tax credit—even though the expansion won’t benefit the children of undocumented parents. Republican lawmakers are now pressing forward for a final vote on Trump’s tax plan this week. We speak with David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.
Yes indeed. We arrive at Corker after the next and last bit that I quote from this article:
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times reports those who will most benefit from the Republicans’ tax bill are big corporations, multimillionaires, private equity managers, private schools, liquor stores, lawyers, tax accountants and President Trump and his family. The tax bill will slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent down to 21 percent. It will raise an exception on the estate tax to $22 million, meaning people with tens of millions of dollars will receive a major tax cut. It would also keep intact the so-called carried interest loophole, which massively benefits private equity managers. And it will slash the tax rate for so-called pass-through income, benefiting Senator Corker, President Trump’s family and other real estate moguls. As The New York Times
reports, “Numerous industries will benefit from the Republican tax overhaul, but perhaps none as dramatically as the industry where Mr. Trump earned his riches: commercial real estate.”
Again I say: Yes indeed. As to Bob Corker: It seems he gains $ 1.1 million dollars each year by being corrupted. Then again, if you read some about his earlier actions, he seems to be made out of the corrupt and greedy cloth that all Republicans seem to be made of. He merely pretended to say "No" in order to get his $1.1 million each year.

In other words: He is a degenerate greedy corrupt and fraudulent profiteer from those who are even richer than he is, but then again this is all very typical for the Republicans.

And this is a recommended article.

3. The Triumph of the Oligarchs

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. This is from near the beginning:

Polls shows only about a third of Americans favor the tax plan. The vast majority feel it’s heavily skewed to the rich and big businesses – which it is.  

In counties that Trump won but Obama carried in 2012, only 17 percent say they expect to pay less in taxes, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another 25 percent say they expected their family would actually pay higher taxes.

Most Americans know that the tax plan is payback for major Republican donors. Gary Cohn, Trump’s lead economic advisor, even conceded in an interview that “the most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.”

Republican Rep. Chris Collins admitted “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’” Senator Lindsey Graham  warned that if Republicans failed to pass the tax plan, “the financial contributions will stop.”

Yes indeed - and I think Lindsey Graham and Chris Collins are both quite right: If they do not do what their very rich donors want, they cannot continue to profit from the very rich. And profiting from the very rich is what nearly all "representatives of the voters" do in fact, to the best of my - meanwhile quite extensive - knowledge. What Graham and Collins were saying is basically: If you are not corrupt, as a "representative of the voters", you will have no further chances to be corrupt. Be corrupt: The rich will pay you!

Here is some more on Trump's tax plan:

By passing it, Republican donors will save billions – paying a lower top tax rate, doubling the amount their heirs can receive tax-free, and treating themselves as “pass-through” businesses able to deduct 20 percent of their income (effectively allowing Trump to cut his tax rate in half, if and when he pays taxes).

They’ll make billions more as their stock portfolios soar because corporate taxes are slashed.
Yes indeed. And how did this happen? As follows:

The oligarchs are the richest of the richest 1 percent. They’ve poured hundreds of millions into the GOP and Trump. About 40 percent of all contributions for the entire federal election came from the richest 0.01 percent of the American population.

The giant tax cut has been their core demand from the start. They also want to slash regulations, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cut everything else government does except for defense – including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

In return, they have agreed to finance Trump and the GOP, and mount expensive public relations campaigns that magnify their lies.

That is, it happened by gigantic corruption. Here is the last bit I quote from Reich today:

They are living in their own separate society, and they want Congress and the President to represent them, not the rest of us.

The Republican Party is their vehicle. Fox News is their voice. Trump is their champion. The new tax plan is their triumph.

Yes indeed. I add that Reich ends his article by saying that the rich went too far and soon will loose their majorities in the Senate and the House, but (i) that is a mere possibility, so far, and (ii) I am very much less pro Democrats than Reich is, for the simple reason that the majority of the Democrats also seem much more interested in enriching themselves by corruption than in doing a proper job for their voters.

This is a recommended article. 

4. Confederacy of Dunces: Neoliberals Jump the Shark in The New York Times

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Last Monday, the New York Times carried what has to be one of the most ludicrous, Orwellian pieces of propaganda in recent memory. The title sums it up:  “Is the Democratic Party Becoming too Democratic?”

I say. I do so because I did not read it. Here is a first bit on its contents:

Welcome to the Orwellian World of the Liberal Elite

The article is so poorly argued that it wouldn’t be worth acknowledging if it weren’t for the fact that it stems from the war for control of the Democratic Party, and the stakes for the people, the party and the country couldn’t be higher.  If the neoliberals win this war, many voters—denied a real choice once again—will continue to stay home on election day, allowing extreme right wing candidates to continue winning elections with a relatively small percentage of eligible voters.

And this is what the writers of  “Is the Democratic Party Becoming too Democratic?” really had in mind:

To use their own [professors Askari and Masket] words:

Part of the problem for parties is our insistence that they be run democratically. That     turns out not to be a very realistic concept. Yes, we can hold elections within parties, but party leaders will always have vastly more information about candidates — their strengths and flaws, their ability to govern and work with Congress, their backing among various interest groups and coalitions — than voters and caucusgoers do.

It is John Atcheson who asks "Really?", but I do not:

I quite agree with what Askari and Masket argue, and would continue the argument by inferring, quite logically also, that what Askari and Masket are for is a system in which the elected are chosen by the elected and by the top leaders of the top parties. The rest is evidently unqualified, for they do not personally know the leaders nor the elected, and therefore should is totally denied any and all rights to vote as utter ignorants. Knowledge is power, and only the knowledgeable should have power.

But I quite agree with Atcheson that the whole argument is utter bullshit, though indeed it seems to appeal to the very many quite rich that currently are the thoroughly corrupted top of the Democratic Party.

Here is Atcheson's argument about the collapse of the Democrats during the past 40 years:
But the fact is, the real reason Democrats lost and have been losing for decades, is that their dependence upon corporations and the ultra-rich to fund campaigns has made it all but impossible for them to back policies that reverse the exploding crisis of income and wealth disparity, or to take stands on climate change that go beyond cynical cosmetics, or to take actions to rein in big banks and Wall Street.  As a result, the biggest block of voters has been the no-shows for several decades now.  This is what left the way open for the passionately ignorant minority to elect an idiot like Trump.
I quite agree, although there are some more causes, but this is a very important one: Members of the Senate and the House are in an excellent position to be extremely corrupted, and it seems most of them - 95% ? - are. (You may reject my "95%" and indeed I do not have any independent evidence - that is, other than 40 years of major bullshit on extremely important points, that led to the self-control of the "big banks and Wall Street" through six years of thorough corruption by Eric Holder.)

And this is from near the end of this article:

This article is exhibit A of the war the neoliberals are waging against a more democratic means of selecting candidates. The corporatist wing of the Democratic Party wants control, more than they want to win. The Rules and Bylaws Committee has six months to consider the changes proposed by the Unity Commission.
Yes indeed: I completely agree that "[t]he corporatist wing of the Democratic Party wants control, more than they want to win". And the reason is very simple: This gives these "representatives of the people" far better chances to enormously enrich themselves.

And they do not represent the people who voted for them: They represent those who pay them, which are the banks and the bank managers.

This is a recommended article.

5. The Even More Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

This article is by David Swanson on Washington's Blog. It starts as follows:

Twenty-Seven psychiatrists and mental health experts have produced a book called The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which I think, despite stating that the fate of the world is in the hands of an evil madman, understates the danger.

The case that these authors make is one that I believe would strike most readers not loyal to Trump as common sense. The evidence that they compile, and with which we’re mostly already familiar, strongly supports their diagnosis of Trump as hedonistic, narcissistic, bullying, dehumanizing, lying, misogynistic, paranoid, racist, self-aggrandizing, entitled, exploiting, empathy-impaired, unable to trust, free of guilt, manipulative, delusional, likely senile, and overtly sadistic. They also describe the tendency of some of these traits to grow ever worse through reinforcing cycles that seem to be underway.
Yes indeed. In fact, I do not know whether David Swanson is a psychologist (though I don't think so), but I am and I mostly agree with what he said. Also, the basic reason that I do so is not "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" but the psychiatric diagnosis of Trump that I read on March 14, 2016.

The reasons I agreed with that diagnosis are that (i) it is framed in observational terms, while (ii) I could very easily verify that Trump satisfies 9 our of 9 criterions (while 5 out of 9 is sufficient to say he has a grandiose or malignant narcissistic personality disorder), and also (iii) I do have a large amount of experience with a psychiatric patient (not myself, in case you ask), which has taught me a lot about the differences between the insane and those who are not insane.

To end the remarks on Trump's diagnosis:

What I agree to is this diagnosis of Trump. There may be better ones, but I did not read them. The diagnoses in
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump probably are more extensive than the diagnosis I agree to, which also explains quite a few terms in the above quoted list (18 instead of the 9 I agreed to), but again I did not read the book, indeed in considerable part because I am a psychologist.

But basically I agree with the diagnosis, which also has led me to say that Trump is a dangerous madman who should not be president of the USA (or any country).

Here is some on Obama vs. Trump:
Obama switched positions, lied, schemed, falsely marketed wars, reveled in the commission of murder, joked about using drone missiles on his daughter’s boyfriends, etc. But he spoke well, used a better vocabulary, avoided blatant racism, sexism, and personal bullying, didn’t seem to worship himself, didn’t brag about sexual assault, and so on.
I agree again. I much dislike Obama, indeed in part for the stated reasons, but I never thought he was (or is) insane, and I also never thought he was uninformed. I do think he is a clever schemer who worked himself up to the position of a multi-millionaire through his presidency, and I think he is a fraud, but he very probably also is quite sane. Unlike Trump.

Then there is this:
Trump was given the presidential nomination by media outlets that asked primary candidates questions that included “Would you be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of innocent children?” Had a candidate said no, he or she would have been disqualified. The authors fault Trump for his joining the long list of presidents who have threatened to use nukes, but when Jeremy Corbyn said he wouldn’t use nukes, all hell broke loose in the UK, and his mental state was called into question there.
As I said several times in Nederlog, I am not an American but a Dutchman, which is one reason why I did not see that all presidential candidates (not just Trump: all of them) agreed to being quite proud mass-murders of hundreds of thousands of innocent children, if given the chance. (And in fact I quite agree with Corbyn.)

Finally, here is the last part that I quote from this article:
That all these sexual harassers in the news, some of whom I am guessing are innocent but most of whom appear guilty, have convinced themselves that women don’t really mind the abuse can, I think, be only a small part of the explanation. The large part seems quite clearly to be that we live in a country of sadists.
Yes indeed. I drew a somewhat similar conclusion, for while I have no reasonable idea about how many American men are sadists (though surely considerably less than 50%, if only because most American men do not abuse their girlfriends or wifes), my own explanation for the sexual abuse that quite a few of the quite rich and quite powerful men indulged in is not so much that they were interested in sex (they can all buy as expensive a prostitute as are available) but rather that they are sadists: They wanted to abuse and hurt those whom they did abuse and hurt, and they got a lot of pleasure out of that. And they wanted to assure it really hurt by doing it to people who were not paid and in their power. [2]

This is a recommended article.


[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 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] This may not be true of all, but it certainly is true of the worst, like Weinstein.
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