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Nederlog

February 5, 2018

Crisis:  Constitutional Crisis, Kennedy III, Trump's Strategy, On Privatization, On Robert Parry



Sections
Introduction   

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 5, 2018.

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 5, 2018. Incidentally, there also is a new crisis index today, that starts in the beginning of 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from February 5, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Constitutional Crisis in Slow Motion
2. Joe Kennedy III, Just Another False Progressive Idol Like JFK
3. Trump’s Divide-and-Conquer Strategy
4. Taxation by Another Name: Our Devotion to Privatization Will Cost Us
5. How and Why We Should All Be Like the Late Journalistic Giant Robert
     Parry

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. Constitutional Crisis in Slow Motion

This article is by Charles M. Blow on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Donald Trump will destroy this entire country — its institutions and its safeguards, the rule of law and the customs of civility, the concept of truth and the inviolable nature of valor — to protect his own skin.

We are not dealing with a normal person here, let alone a normal president.

This is a damaged man, a man who has always lived in his own reality and played by his own rules. When the truth didn’t suit him, he simply, with a devilish ease, invented an alternate reality. There were no hard and fast absolutes in his realm of rubber. Everything was malleable, and he had an abundance of gall and a deficit of integrity to push everything until it bent.

Yes, I think that is quite true. In fact, being a psychologist I decided nearly two years ago - agreeing with other psychologists - that Trump is not sane, which also was confirmed half a year later by several professors of psychiatry and one of cognitive psychology.

And meanwhile there seem to be over 70,000 psychologists and psychiatrists who agree, although there are - of course - psychiatrists who insist that rather than declaring a man like Trump insane, they declare "the American people" - all 330 million, presumably - "psychotics": See Allen Frances, who not only seems to think that Trump is sane (without knowing him), but also that he can diagnose 330 million Americans he doesn't know either. For more on him, see here.

Then there is this:

His attempts to smear the truthseekers with lies are failing. Sure, some die-hards — millions of them actually — will continue to believe, but the truth is a funny thing: It will not forever be hidden. Everything eventually finds its way to the light.

But take no solace in that, folks. The closer Mueller gets to the full truth, the more Trump’s panic will grow. He will feel more and more like a cornered animal, and it is very likely that he will resort to his final, unthinkable options.

Firing Mueller is a definite possibility.

People say that would create a constitutional crisis, but I say we are already trapped in a slow-motion constitutional crisis, or constitutional train wreck.

Well... I agree Trump may fire Mueller, and I also agree with Blow that the USA is, since Trump became president, "in a slow-motion constitutional crisis", though I definitely do not agree - in the context of American politics, where extremely many things happen in secret, or at least behind screens that are not often torn down - that "the truth is a funny thing: It will not forever be hidden."

Besides, if the truth only starts appearing after fifty to a hundred years - as happens regularly e.g. because fifty years seems to be a fairly normal period after which personal notes and secretive files may be released - at best it appears very stunted, since it has been kept away from most for fifty years.

Anyway... here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Trump will never put the country above himself. And his Republican assistants in the legislature have so bought into Trumpism that they now know that they will share his fate.

Buckle up, folks: This ride will get much rougher before it finally comes to an end.

I agree with this and this is a recommended article.


2. Joe Kennedy III, Just Another False Progressive Idol Like JFK

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

My first political memory is the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK). I was 5 years old, home from kindergarten on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963. I was in the living room in a small apartment in the liberal, racially integrated neighborhood of Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. The television was on because my mother had been watching soap operas on CBS.

After Walter Cronkite announced that Kennedy had been proclaimed dead, I relayed the news to my mother, who was ironing sheets in an adjacent hallway. She burst into tears. My recollection of Kennedy’s death is forever linked to an image of my mother quietly sobbing in a haze of white steam. At my age, I of course had no idea why anyone would weep over Jack Kennedy’s death.

Later it came into focus. My parents were postwar liberal Democrats. Kennedy was something of a hero in my household.
I say. It so happens that I am eight years older than Paul Street, and I am also Dutch, and I recently found out why I do not remember the first time Kennedy was shot: It happened in Holland at a time I had gone to bed.

And in fact this is a fairly long article that exposes the following:

Sadly, however, my young parents and their generation of smart young liberal Democrats granted JFK far more love and respect than he deserved.

Five and a half decades later, so do liberal Democrats who pine for a new Jack Kennedy in the White House.

But JFK spent the lion’s share of his presidency on the wrong side of each of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—another assassinated 1960s icon with whom Kennedy is often absurdly conflated—called “the triple evils that are interrelated”: racism, economic injustice (capitalism) and militarism.
In fact, I think this is quite well done in the article - which is recommended - but I will leave all of that to your interests, apart from the following bit:

The most nauseating claim made by members of the liberal Jack Kennedy cult holds that JFK heroically saved humanity from nuclear annihilation during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. I have already shown in previous Truthdig columns (see my essay “The Cuban Missile Crisis vs. the Korean Missile Crisis” from August 2017) that the truth is precisely the opposite. “In effect,” the British journalist Joseph Richardson noted five years ago in an article properly titled “JFK’s Lunatic Priorities During the Cuban Missile Crisis,” “Kennedy’s government was prepared to risk a nuclear conflagration to safeguard US prestige. [Kennedy’s] Secretary of State Dean Rusk jubilantly exclaimed after the first Soviet ships opted not to run the American blockade that ‘we’re eye ball to eye ball and I think the other fellow just blinked.’

Had the Soviets not blinked, it is likely Rusk would not have been around to give his reaction.” But for Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s determination to let humanity survive and the heroic intervention of a Soviet submarine commander named Vasili Arkhipov beneath the Western Atlantic in the early evening of Oct. 27, 1962, it seems likely that Kennedy’s reckless naval blockade and nuclear machismo would have set off World War III.
And in fact I included this bit mostly because I want to draw your attention to Vasili Arkhipov
The last link is to the Wikipedia file on him, which says - among other things - that Arkhipov's refusal to consent to a Russian nuclear strike "saved the world".

I think the article on Arkhipov is quite interesting, and I hope there are American military men who are as rational and reasonable as he seems to have been.

Here is the ending of this article:
We don’t need another hyper-opulent, outwardly liberal pseudo-progressive, Harvard-minted Kennedy to pretend to lead us out of the darkness of authoritarian capitalism, racism, militarism, empire, patriarchy and ecocide. We could, however, use another Dr. King and another great social justice and peace moment like the one King and his cohorts formed and led beneath and beyond the U.S. election cycle in the 1950s and 1960s.
Yes indeed - but unfortunately men like Dr. King are very rare indeed. But this is a recommended article.

3. Trump’s Divide-and-Conquer Strategy

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

If Robert Mueller finds that Trump colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election, or even if Trump fires Mueller before he makes such a finding, Trump’s supporters will protect Trump from any political fallout.  

Trump’s base will stand by him not because they believe Trump is on their side, but because they define themselves as being on his side.

Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy.

Most Americans are not passionate conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. But they have become impassioned Trump supporters or Trump haters.

Polls say 37 percent of Americans approve of him, and most disapprove.
As regular readers probably noticed, I have been reviewing many of the articles by Robert Reich. My main reasons to do so is not because I agree with him (I quite often do, but sometimes don't) but because I regard him as an honest and intelligent man.

This time is no different but - basically because I live in Holland and not in the USA - I do not know to what extent Reich is correct in saying that most Americans "
have become impassioned Trump supporters or Trump haters".

In fact, I hope Reich is correct, especially because Trump is not sane and should be removed as president as soon as possible, and be replaced by someone who is sane (even if Republican).

Here is some more by Reich:

The Republican Party used to stand for fiscal responsibility, state’s rights, free trade, and a hard line against Russian aggression. Now it just stands for Trump.

Pro-Trump Republicans remain the majority in the GOP. As long as Trump can keep them riled up, and as long as Republicans remain in control of at least one chamber of Congress, he’s safe.

I think this is correct. And this is from Reich's ending:

It’s the divide-and-conquer strategy of a tyrant.

Democracies require sufficient social trust that citizens regard the views of those they disagree with as worthy of equal consideration to their own. That way, they’ll accept political outcomes they dislike.

Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is to destroy that trust.

In fact, I don't know. There are two reasons.

The first is that, although I am rather sure that Trump would like to be a tyrant, I am not sure whether his divide-and-conquer strategy (which I agree he has) is due to his plans or is due to his madness. But Reich may be right.

And the second is that I think it is false to describe most democrats as believing that "
the views of those they disagree with" are "as worthy of equal consideration to their own":

I think that is both factually false in most cases - and for good psychological reasons: after all, they decided (correctly or not) that the views they subscribe to are more rational or more reasonable than the views they rejected - and it also is too idealistic.

But anyway... this is a recommended article.

4. Taxation by Another Name: Our Devotion to Privatization Will Cost Us

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

Trump used the State of the Union address last week to ballyhoo his infrastructure initiative, and folks jumped all over it, and rightly so.

What the critics are missing is that all the problems they identify with the infrastructure plan, are just specific examples of what’s wrong with the small-government/market-friendly policies embraced by both major parties.

Ever since St. Ronnie Reagan declared that government was the problem not the solution, Republicans have been gutting government like it was a fresh-caught fish. But the DLC Democrats – now the neoliberal elitists – essentially embraced the same general philosophy, even if they didn’t carry it to the same lunatic extremes as Republicans.  Remember, it was Clinton who declared the end of the era of big government, deregulated Wall Street and the big banks, cut welfare, forged corporate-friendly trade agreements, and turned the media over to the likes of Fox and Clear channel by neutering the FCC.

The justification for all this was that business could and would perform functions more cheaply and more efficiently than government, and that unshackling it from regulations was the engine of economic growth.

Yes indeed:

I think it is both correct to say that the fundamental problems that the present USA has started in 1980, with Reagan, and that an important reason for that was his insisting (quite falsely) that government was the problem not the solution, and I certainly think it is quite correct to blame Bill Clinton - "who declared the end of the era of big government, deregulated Wall Street and the big banks, cut welfare, forged corporate-friendly trade agreements, and turned the media over to the likes of Fox and Clear channel by neutering the FCC" - for that, and indeed also for turning the Democrats to supporters of the big banks and the rich, which indeed made them appear like lighter versions of the Republicans.

Besides, while the thesis "that business could and would perform functions more cheaply and more efficiently than government" is propaganda - it should say something like "some businesses could and would perform some functions more cheaply and more efficiently than some parts of the government" - it also totally avoids mentioning that in a democracy the government is controlled by the people, whereas private businesses are never controlled by the government, but by private and generally mostly secret private interests.

Here is more on the differences between privatizing and not privatizing:

It turns out that privatizing public functions, over time, almost always costs more on net.  In a study examining the costs of privatizing government functions, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) found that it cost more to contract out functions in thirty-three out of the thirty-five job classifications they examined than it would to keep them in government. On net, POGO found that contracting out services to the private sector cost twice as much as doing the function in-house with government workers.

In short, you can pay relatively less taxes to have a function done or managed by government—an entity that is answerable to you at every election; or more to have it overseen and performed by a private entity who is likely to do a poorer job, one that isn’t answerable to you. You’re paying “taxes” either way.  Government taxes are simply more transparent, less costly, and more accountable than the “taxes” you pay to private entities.

Finally, the private sector will determine which projects get funded, and which don’t. That means the most profitable venture is likely to be the one to get done, not the most needed.  It also skews public policy from ventures which don’t offer a clear opportunity for profit, or investments that are inherently less profitable—things like storm drains, flood control projects, or bridges on less travelled roads.

I think this is all mostly correct, but I also grant this is just one investigation (though indeed there are more similar ones).

Here is more:

In the end, Trump’s infrastructure plan is simply another in the long line of policies designed to benefit the private sector, and keep the public sector sufficiently small and ineffective that it can be controlled and contained by plutocrats.

Now, there’s a link between why we have an idiot in the White House, and the fact that both parties have given up on government and embraced the private sector.  People understand at a very basic level that we need an effective government, and that many roles are performed best by government.  They know that corporations and the rich have taken over government and used that power to feather their own nests.

They also know that neither party is willing to stand up to the Oligarchs and Plutocrats that control government today.
Yes, I think this again is mostly correct - but mark where it lands people who agree with this analysis: Not with the present government; not with the Republicans; and not with the Democrats either ("neither party is willing to stand up to the Oligarchs and Plutocrats").

And while I agree this analysis is probably correct, it also shows why it may be rather impopular (at present, at least).

There is also this on the Democrats:

But the Democrat’s embrace of the Oligarchy is a little less transparent.  For example, in 2016 Hillary Clinton claimed to take climate science seriously—which would mean leaving 80% of the fossil fuels we’ve already found in the ground to have a ghost of a chance at avoiding catastrophe—but she backed industry fracking initiatives, backed the XL pipeline, and advocated oil exploration for new fossil fuels on federal lands.

This kind of duplicity is emblematic of neoliberal Democrats, and it’s this kind of chicanery made enough voters choose to stay home or simply not to vote for the Democratic candidate that Trump was able to win with about 27 per cent of the rabid, angry and deluded.
(..)
And that is why the 27 percent of the voters who are passionately ignorant could put an ignoramus in the White House.
I think this is also probably correct, but again it means that people who agree with this analysis have little left to vote for.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
If Democrats want to win, they will have to embrace a new New Deal. One rooted in progressive values and a willingness to divorce themselves from the Oligarchy and embrace the power of the government to do good.

Well... the present Democrats - with Clinton and Pelosi in the lead - simply seem to be sold to the banks (that also made the Clintons quite rich).

And my own thesis is that as long as Clinton, Pelosi and Perez are in power, the Democrats are sold to the banks, and will do little to try to save the Americans from the Republicans as long as saving them does not make them personally rich as well (with a few exceptions).

But this article is interesting and recommended.


5. How and Why We Should All Be Like the Late Journalistic Giant Robert Parry

This article is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Robert Parry, the editor of Consortium News, died unexpectedly on January 27 at age 68.

His work inspired generations of journalists, but it’s possible you’ve rarely encountered his writing, or have simply never heard of him. So here are three amazing things about him:

First, Parry was one of the greatest American investigative reporters of the past 50 years, at the level of Seymour Hersh. While he was best known for breaking the Nicaraguan side of the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, that was but one gumball in the giant gumball machine of political malfeasance Parry uncovered during his career. (He won the prestigious George Polk award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work on Iran-Contra.) If you don’t read his books and website, you’ll always have a distorted view of recent U.S. history.

Second, precisely because he was so good, he was forced to the margins of the U.S. media, so far out that he had to start Consortium News in 1995 and depend on reader donations. His fate is especially educational because he was so non-ideological. Unlike, say, I.F. Stone, he wasn’t a socialist or radical. He just had basic, boy scout-like principles, such as “reality is important” and “the government shouldn’t lie all the time about everything.” Yet this was enough to make it impossible for him to work for his former employers such as the Associated Press and Newsweek, which he said tried to suppress his most explosive investigations holding the powerful to account.

Third, despite the impression his journalism sometimes gave off, he didn’t have superpowers. As he would modestly say, any committed, curious human being could do what he did. (What he wouldn’t mention is that becoming as good as he was requires working extremely hard every day for your entire life.)

In fact, I know a fair amount of Consortium News and by Robert Parry, simply because I had decided by 2012/2013 - when my Crisis series started to get really serious, after my Crisis: Christmas sermon: Hypotheses about CF+SS and its getting confirmed a whole lot by Edward Snowden in 2013  (see: Crisis: On Edward Snowden) - that he was a good and sensible journalist, and that he also had few peers.

And I checked his site daily since 2012, and reviewed many articles. I think the present article is quite good, and I also had my own bit about Robert Parry earlier. This is a recommended article.

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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