April 25, 2018

Crisis: On The DNC, Wall Street & Profits, Trump A Traitor, Melting Ice, Chomsky Interviewed


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 25, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, April 25, 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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from April 25, 2018
1. Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street
2. Wall Street Admits Curing Diseases Is Bad For Business
3. 'The Evidence Suggests Trump Is a Traitor': Pulitzer-winning Reporter
     David Cay Johnston

4. New Study Shows Melting Ice Could Spell Disaster Faster Than
     Previously Thought

5. "A Complete Disaster": Noam Chomsky on Trump and the Future of US

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. Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street

This article is by Norman Solomon on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Exactly 200 days before the crucial midterm election that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress, the Democratic National Committee filed a 66-page lawsuit that surely cost lots of money and energy to assemble.
Announced with a flourish by DNC Chair Tom Perez, the civil lawsuit—which reads like a partisan polemic wrapped in legalisms—sues the Russian government, the Trump campaign and operatives, as well as WikiLeaks and its founding editor, Julian Assange.
To emphasize that “this is a patriotic—not partisan—move,” Perez’s announcement of the lawsuit on April 20 quoted one politician, Republican Sen. John McCain, reaching for the hyperbolic sky: “When you attack a country, it’s an act of war. And so we have to make sure that there is a price to pay, so that we can perhaps persuade the Russians to stop these kind of attacks on our very fundamentals of democracy.”
In fact, I think - like Solomon - that this lawsuit looks like a fraud: The Russian government will not be touched at all by the outcomes of American legal processes, and the same holds for Trump and his operatives, at least as long as Trump is president.

So in fact the only one who is really attacked by the DNC is Julian Assange (who presently does not even have internet), while the quote the DNC took from McCain seems pretty crazy, because he completely confuses real attacks and verbal attacks, and indeed makes verbal attacks and disagreements a reason to style those who disagree (with him) as enemies of democracy - which is out and out totalitarian, in Orwell´s and my sense, but not in the - sick - Wikipedia´s sense, which has redefined the term so that it means only what Brzezinski chose to mean by it.

Here is more on the DNC lawsuit:

The DNC’s lawsuit amounts to doubling down on its fixation of blaming Russia for the Democratic Party’s monumental 2016 loss, at a time when it’s essential to remedy the failed approaches that were major causes of Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the first place. Instead of confronting its fealty to Wall Street or overall failure to side with working-class voters against economic elites, the Democratic National Committee is ramping up the party leadership’s 18-month fixation on Russia Russia Russia.

In brief: The DNC is trying to mask or to deny ¨its fealty to Wall Street or [its] overall failure to side with working-class voters against economic elites¨ and does by screaming about Russia.

I think that is wholly correct. Here is more:

The most unprincipled part of the lawsuit has to do with its targeting of Assange and WikiLeaks. That aspect of the suit shows that the DNC is being run by people whose attitude toward a free press—ironically enough—has marked similarities to Donald Trump’s.

Early in his presidency, Trump proclaimed that news media are “the enemy of the American people.” Of course, he didn’t mean all media, just the outlets providing information and analysis he doesn’t like.

What Perez and the DNC crew are now promoting via the lawsuit is also harmful, though more camouflaged. The lawsuit’s key arguments against WikiLeaks are contrary to the First Amendment, and they could be made against major U.S. newspapers. Unauthorized disclosures are common, with news outlets routinely reporting on information obtained from leaks, hacks and various forms of theft.

I think that is also mostly correct. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

In view of the national Democratic Party’s deference to corporate power, we might see why the DNC is taking the current approach. It would be a much steeper uphill challenge to actually champion the interests of most Americans—which would require taking on Wall Street, a key patron of both major political parties.

Nor would it be easy for the Democratic Party to advocate for U.S.-Russia détente that could reduce the risks of nuclear conflagration. Such advocacy would enrage the kingpins of the military-industrial cartel complex as well as most of the corporate-owned and corporate-advertised news media.

How much easier it is to make some political hay by targeting Russia with a civil lawsuit. How much more convenient it is to show utter contempt for the First Amendment by suing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

2. Wall Street Admits Curing Diseases Is Bad For Business

This article is by Lee Camp on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Goldman Sachs has outdone itself this time. That’s saying a lot for an investment firm that both helped cause and then exploited a global economic meltdown, increasing its own wealth and power while helping to boot millions of Americans out of their homes.

But now Goldman Sachs is openly saying in financial reports that curing people of terrible diseases is not good for business.

In fact, I think I am considerably less shocked by Goldman Sachs´s behavior than Lee Camp (who also is thirty years younger than I am).

And my reason is Milton Friedman (in 1962, but this seem to have been THE norm for Friedman): Profit and only profit, of private individuals running private corporation without any responsibility whatsoever to anyone. Here is Friedman:

"Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundation of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals decide what the social interest is?"
This "norm" - we got no responsibility whatsoever except enlarging our own profits - is one of the reasons I think Friedman was a neofascist, in my sense. And indeed if "self-selected private individuals" cannot "decide what the social interest is" then no one can. Besides, the rich also are "self-selected private individuals" and they do understand what their "social interests" are: Their own interests and no one else's, precisely as Friedman put it.

In fact, I think I can logically deduce from Friedman´s ¨norm¨ that he would be much for keeping people ill, or indeed killing them, if only this were profitable. And keeping people ill (while you can cure them) is an assured way of making profits from medicines, so Friedman ought to have been strongly for keeping people ill (if this is profitable).

Here is more by Camp:

In a recent report, a Goldman analyst asked clients: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” Salveen Richter wrote: “The potential to deliver ‘one-shot cures’ is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy. … However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies. … While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.”

Yes, a Goldman analyst has said outright that curing people will hurt their cash flow. And he said that in a note designed to steer clients away from investing in cures. Can “human progress” have a bottom?
As I have just explained, Salveen Richter could have quoted Milton Friedman. Here is more by Camp:

This analyst note is one of the best outright examples I’ve ever seen of how brutal our market economy is. In the past, this truth would not have been spoken. It would’ve lived deep within a banker’s soul and nowhere else. It would’ve been viewed as too repulsive for the wealthy elite to say, “We don’t want to cure diseases because that will be bad for our wallet. We want people to suffer for as long as possible. Every suffering human enriches us a little bit more.”

In fact, I doubt it, simply because Milton Friedman implied the same, in 1962 - and he was much embraced for it, at least by ¨the right¨.

Here is more by Camp:

And believe it or not, the Goldman note gets even worse. The analyst says, “In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients. …”

Decreases the number of carriers? Goldman Sachs … is in a financial partnership … with fucking infectious diseases.

Let that sink in. Sit with that and decide whether you want to keep your seat on spaceship earth.
Again, Milton Friedman´s rule implies that if more sick imply more profits for your firm, you ought to try to make more sick, and Friedman would also insist that that is your only ¨social responsibility¨.

Here is a sum-up by Camp:
They aren’t even trying to cure infectious diseases that make them piles of cash. Instead, the moneyed interests are complaining to their clients that they need to avoid curing these diseases. Because not only do they lose money on the patient who no longer needs meds, they also lose money because that patient won’t pass the disease onto others.

I agree, but Milton Friedman has been here before, in 1962: If killing people makes a profit for your firm, you ought to kill them; if making people ill makes a profit for your firm, you ought to make them ill, for profit and only profit is the only thing that counts (for the rich). And this is a recommended article.

3. 'The Evidence Suggests Trump Is a Traitor': Pulitzer-winning Reporter David Cay Johnston

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

The saga of President Donald Trump consists of several parallel and intersecting stories.

There is the structural dimension. Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton was not entirely unpredictable or shocking. America's crisis in civic literacy, political polarization, rampant anti-intellectualism, deeply embedded sexism and racism, greed, broken schools and weakened democratic institutions, as well as a hollowed-out public sphere where people confuse celebrity with human worth made the election someone like Trump nearly inevitable.

There is Donald Trump the man, who seems to revel in the very worst human values. His closest family members -- including his father and grandfather -- taught him the "value" of unrepentant greed and ambition. He also displays the symptoms of malignant narcissism, as well as sociopathy.

I do not quite agree with DeVega on Trump, but I let that pass. As the title says, basically this is an interview with David Cay Johnston, and this was a link in case you want to know more.

Then there is this in the interview:

How was Donald Trump able to defeat Hillary Clinton and win the White House? 

Well, a series of events came together. First of all, Hillary Clinton had a lot of baggage and as Donna Brazile's book “Hacks” shows, she ran a poor campaign and did not listen to the advice of people who told her she needed to pay attention to what Trump was doing. 

Secondly, the Republican challengers were a clown car of utterly unqualified people, which meant his lack of qualifications was not so noticeable. The one qualified candidate in that field was John Kasich.

Next, Donald ran on an economic platform that on the surface spoke to inequality and frustration. For example, in 2012, the bottom 90 percent of the Americans reported a smaller income than in 1967. Donald tapped into that problem, but he’s a con artist who promised to drain the swamp and then stocked it with swamp monsters.

Another factor was the utter failure of journalists to vet Donald Trump.
I think this is mostly correct. Here is more:

You have studied and written about Donald Trump for three decades. What does the public need to know about his background to understand his behavior as president?   

Here are the key things people should know about Donald Trump. He comes from a family of criminals: His grandfather made his fortune running whorehouses in Seattle and in the Yukon Territory. His father, Fred, had a business partner named Willie Tomasello, who was an associate of the Gambino crime family. Trump's father was also investigated by the U.S. Senate for ripping off the government for what would be the equivalent of $36 million in today's money. Donald got his showmanship from his dad as well as his comfort with organized criminals.

I think it is very important for religious Americans to know that Donald Trump says that his personal philosophy of life is revenge. He has called anyone who turns the other cheek -- which is a fundamental teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount -- a fool, an idiot or a schmuck.
I say, which I do because I did not know several things in the first paragraph quoted above.
And I think myself that ¨religious Americans¨ who voted for Trump are not very relevant, simply because most are stupid or ignorant or else are fond wishful thinkers, but I admit that Johnston is right in taking them serious simply because there are so many of them.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this interview (and it is David Cay Johnston who is talking):
The November elections are the most important American elections since the Civil War, and I'm including 1932.   

Based just on normal historic averages, the Republicans should lose control of the House by about four seats. They should lose control of the Senate as well, although the map is pretty awful for the Democrats. If Republicans retain control then I believe what will happen over time is that someone who shares Trump's dictatorial and authoritarian tendencies but doesn't have his baggage -- someone who is a competent manager and just as charismatic -- will eventually arise and you can kiss your individual liberties goodbye. That will take time but it's the trend we are heading towards.

I completely agree with the first paragraph, and mostly with the second, and this is a recommended article.

4. New Study Shows Melting Ice Could Spell Disaster Faster Than Previously Thought

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Bolstering concerns that so-called "feedback loops" should be considered a legitimate and serious concern, a new study shows that a worrying hypothesis put out just three years ago about the impacts of melting Antarctic ice may already have started coming true.

In a paper published in Science Advances, researchers at the University of Tasmania and other institutions found that the melting of Antarctica's glaciers has begun to trigger a "feedback loop" in which that melting's effects on the oceans cause even more ice sheets to deteriorate, and so on.

Chris Mooney of the Washington Post described the feedback loop phenomenon as "one of the most worrisome predictions about climate change" in an article about the findings.

"What we found is not only a modeling study but is something that we observed in the real ocean," Alessandro Silvano, one of the researchers, told the Post.

"Our study shows for the first time actual evidence of this mechanism. Our study shows that it is already happening."

In fact, I have been - occasionally: there are many things one can rationally worry about -  worrying about feedback loops ever since I read the ¨The Limits to Growth¨ in 1972/3.

Then again, I seem to know more about feedback loops than Conley or Mooney: There is no need to put the term between quotes, and the whole idea is more than a hundred years old (at least).

And this I also knew in 1972/3. Then again, as the above quotation makes clear (to some extent), there is a particular kind of feedback loop busy that make Antarctic ice melt considerably faster:

As Common Dreams reported in 2015, NASA climate scientist James Hansen first raised concerns about the feedback loop then. As the Post reports, Hansen explained that the melting of glaciers would create fresh water, blocking cold salt water from sinking to the bottom of the ocean and protecting the ice shelves from melting: 

When cold surface water no longer sinks into the depths, a deeper layer of warm ocean water can travel across the continental shelf and reach the bases of glaciers, retaining its heat as the cold waters remain above. This warmer water then rapidly melts the glaciers and the large floating ice shelves connected to them.

The continuous melting cycle could soon begin to cause rapidly-rising sea levels and destructive hurricanes and other storms.

"That would mean loss of all coastal cities, most of the world's large cities and all their history," said Hansen when his paper on the feedback loop theory was released.

Quite so. Then again, this will probably take several tens of years, so ordinary people need to pay absolutely no attention whatsoever, just as they did when the ¨The Limits to Growth¨ were published....

Anyway: this is a recommended article.

5. "A Complete Disaster": Noam Chomsky on Trump and the Future of US Politics

This article is by C.J. Polychroniou on Truthout. It starts as follows:
Just how bad are things with Donald Trump in the White House? And what does having a racist, misogynist, xenophobic and erratic president who continues to enjoy unquestionable support from his base tell us about the state of US politics and the dangers to the future of democracy in the US and in the world on the whole? Noam Chomsky shares his thoughts on these and other related questions in an exclusive interview with C. J. Polychroniou for Truthout.
Yes indeed, and as usual with the interviews of Polychroniou that I have read, it is a good interview. I will quote four bits from it, but there is much more in the interview (that you can get by clicking the above title).

Also, in the quoted bits that follow all quoted bits that are not in bold are Chomsky´s. Here is the first bit:
C.J. Polychroniou: (...) But, really, how bad is it having Trump in the White House?

Very bad. As Trump began his second year in office, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced their Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, citing increasing concerns over nuclear weapons and climate change. That's the closest it has been to terminal disaster since 1953, when the US and USSR exploded thermonuclear weapons. That was before the release of Trump's Nuclear Posture Review, which significantly increases the dangers by lowering the threshold for nuclear attack and by developing new weapons that increase the danger of terminal war.

On climate change, Trump is a complete disaster, along with the entire Republican leadership. Every candidate in the Republican primaries either denied that what is happening is happening or said ... we shouldn't do anything about it. And these attitudes infect the Republican base. Half of Republicans deny that global warming is taking place, while 70 percent say that whether it is or not, humans are not responsible. Such figures would be shocking anywhere, but are remarkably so in a developed country with unparalleled resources and easy access to information.

Quite so.

Also, while I agree that the opinions of the Republicans mentioned above are indeed crazy or ¨shocking¨, simply because they totally contradict real science, I think I may be a bit more specific on the causes of this ¨shocking¨ craziness ¨in a developed country with unparalleled resources and easy access to information¨:

I think there are three or four important underlying causes: stupidity, ignorance, wishful thinking and the - utterly sick - thesis that there simply is no truth, which means that everything in the end only depends on wishful thinking, and not on real information, real knowledge, or real science.

And incidentally: The asocial media like Facebook, with several billions of members, have given something like 2 billion people the possibility to publish their usually complete ignorance of real science and the wishful thinking they hold to be real.

Here is more Chomsky:

When we turn to matters of great though lesser import, the conclusion is the same: disaster. While Trump's antics occupy the attention of the media, his associates in Congress have been working intensively to advance the interests of their actual constituency -- extreme wealth and corporate power -- while dismantling what is of value to the general population and future generations.

Yes indeed, I think that is also wholly correct, as is the following, which I (also) selected because it is a bit slogan-like, unlike most of what Chomsky writes or says, and indeed he also is dealing with a slogan:

In general, "make America great" means great at destroying, and that's where the greatness ends. It's by no means entirely new, but is now raised to a higher level and becoming a matter of principle.
Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine interview:
What's your overall sense about Trumpism? What is it really all about, and do you think Trumpism is showing us the future of right-wing politics in the US?

Trumpism is one of many manifestations of the effects of the neoliberal policies of the past generation. These have led to extreme concentration of wealth along with stagnation for the majority. There have been repeated crashes of the deregulated financial institutions, each worse than the last. Bursting bubbles have been followed by huge public bailouts for the perpetrators while the victims have been abandoned. Globalization has been designed to set working people throughout the world in competition with one another while private capital is lavished with benefits. Democratic institutions have eroded.
The real surprise in the election was the Sanders campaign, which broke with a long tradition of pretty much bought elections, and was stopped only by machinations of the Obama-Clinton party managers. The Democratic Party is now split between the donor-oriented New Democrat managers and a growing activist social democratic base.
I mostly agree, but I may be more pessimistic about the Democrats than Chomsky, indeed in considerable part because the ¨managers¨ of the Democrats are lavishly funded by bankers and mostly do what these bankers want, while the ¨growing activist social democratic base¨ lacks both the power and the money to get the power (and risk being abused again in the way Hillary Clinton abused Bernie Sanders in 2015-16).

But there is considerably more in the interview that is strongly recommended.


[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 (!!).

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