July 25, 2018

Crisis: Medicaid in Maine, NY Daily News, People's Budget, Democratic Socialism, On Crisis


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

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 25, 2018:
1. A Vote Expanded Medicaid in Maine. The Governor Is Ignoring It.
2. Tronc Fires Half the Staff of the New York Daily News 
3. House Progressives Introduce 'People's Budget'
4. The Rebirth of Democratic Socialism
5. We´re Living a Constitutional Crisis
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. A Vote Expanded Medicaid in Maine. The Governor Is Ignoring It.

This article is by Abby Goodnough on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Brandy Staples, a 39-year-old breast cancer survivor, had expected to become eligible for Medicaid coverage this month after Maine voters approved an expansion of the program last fall. Instead, she found herself in a courtroom here on Wednesday, watching the latest chapter unfold in a rancorous, drawn-out battle over whether she and thousands of other poor people in the state will get free government insurance after all.

Ignoring the binding vote, Gov. Paul LePage has refused to expand the program, blasting it as a needless, budget-busting form of welfare. He vetoed five expansion bills before the issue made the ballot, plus a spending bill this month that provided about $60 million in funding for the first year. Earlier this month he went so far as to say he would go to jail “before I put the state in red ink” by adding at least 70,000 more low-income adults to the state’s Medicaid population of 264,000.

Well, in that case Paul LePage ought to be in prison, because he ignores the law to implement his own neofascistic ideology, and also shows himself a sadist, who much rather drives people to suicide than helping them.

Here is some more:

Medicaid expansion is also emerging as a potent issue in gubernatorial and congressional races in Florida, Georgia and Kansas, among others. Here in Maine, where supporters of expansion have sued the LePage administration over its failure to act, the legal conflict has spilled into the race to replace Mr. LePage, who is finishing his second term.

Janet Mills, the state’s attorney general, is also the Democratic candidate for governor. She refused to represent the administration in the court case, leaving it to a private lawyer from Boston.

Ms. Mills said in an interview last week: “If for some reason Medicaid expansion isn’t implemented in the next five and a half months, I will do it on Day 1.”

I hope Janet Mills wins, and I also hope she prosecutes LePage in order to satisfy his own desire to be in jail if his ideology cannot be implemented. And this is a recommended article.

2. Tronc Fires Half the Staff of the New York Daily News

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
In New York City, the new owner of the New York Daily News says it will fire half the staff of the longtime newspaper. Among those who were fired was editor in chief Jim Rich, who tweeted, “If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.” In the 1980s, the New York Daily News employed 400 journalists. After the latest firings, the newspaper will have only 45 people in its newsroom staff. The New York Daily News’s owner, Tronc, is also the publisher of The Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant. For more we speak with Democracy Now!’s Juan González, a longtime columnist for the New York Daily News.
I say, which I do because I did not know this. In fact, I think it is quite important, as Juan González explains rather clearly:

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, before we move on with our first story, this is kind of your alma mater. This is the place you worked for almost 30 years—the New York Daily News. Now the latest round of cuts, half the staff has been fired by the new owner, Tronc.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, Amy. Unfortunately, I expected that this was going to happen once Tronc took over. Tronc, of course, is the successor to the old Tribune company. That was the company that when I first got to the Daily News in 1987 was running the Daily News and provoked a strike of the 2,500 employees of the newspaper back then. And back then, I would say in the late 80s, early 1990s, there were about 450 people in the newsroom. I think there were more in the 50s, but by the late 80s and beginning of the 90s, we had about 450. So to go now to 45—one tenth of the staff—you’ve got to think that New York City back then had maybe seven, seven and a half million people. Today, New York City has eight and a half million people. So you’re talking about a much bigger city, many fewer reporters. It’s just a tragedy, what’s happening to the newspaper business. Not the fact that papers are not publishing as many papers, because obviously they have websites, but that the staffs continue to shrink of the people who are actually producing original news. It’s ludicrous to think that you can put out a major news site covering New York City with just 45 people.

Yes indeed (and in fact it seems like AlterNet, that also was sold, and now has most of the news effectively tweeted by something or someone that calls itself or himself "Cody Fenwick").

Back to González and what he said: I observe two points. First, there are nearly half as many inhabitants in New York as there are inhabitants in all of The Netherlands. And second, it is a pity that González doesn't mention how many papers (with how many journalists) are surviving in the present New York.

In any case, he is quite right in this:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, that’s the big question in the media today, is how do you provide local news? Because there will always be national outlets and networks and cable systems to produce the national news, but who is going to cover your local school board, your local city council, the decisions that affect your zoning and changes in your city or your town, if fewer and fewer reporters every day are doing that?

Precisely. And the answer is no one. This is a recommended article.

3. House Progressives Introduce 'People's Budget'

This article is by Jake Johnson on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Offering an ambitious alternative to the House GOP’s “morally bankrupt” 2019 budget proposal—which demands over $5 trillion in cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and other life-saving programs—the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Tuesday unveiled a budget that calls for massive investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and education while proposing significant cuts to the completely “out-of-control” Pentagon budget.

Titled The People‘s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward (pdf), the CPC’s plan also calls for a ban on “any expansion of U.S. combat troops in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and many other countries,” demanding an immediate end to “the policy of funding endless wars.”

The electorate is looking for a new vision for the country and for foreign policy in particular,” Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, noted in a statement on Tuesday. “The People’s Budget embodies that new vision by investing in the interests of the people over the interests of the arms industry and the billionaire class.”

Clearly, this budget plan has not the remotest chance of being implemented. Then again, I do like it, for this plan seems obviously a lot better to me than the budget plan the Republicans are implementing, and while it will not be implemented, at least it can be compared with the trash (except for the very rich) that the Republicans are implementing.

Here is some more:

Highlighting the Trump administration’s deeply inhumane immigration agenda—which has been a boon for the private prison industry—the CPC’s budget also calls for scaling back “exorbitant funding for immigration detention and enforcement; creating due process, fairness, and accountability in the system; and eliminating the profit motive in immigration detention.”

“As Trump pushes to ramp up excessive border spending and hire more border patrol agents, we’re saying no,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the First Vice Chair of the CPC, declared on Tuesday. “I just returned from the border and what I saw was heartbreaking—kids in cages, awful conditions, and continued family separation. We can’t keep funding this broken system.”

While the People’s Budget stands no chance of passing the Republican-dominated Congress, Jayapal noted that the CPC plan is a “moral document” aimed at articulating House Democrats’ vision and priorities for the months ahead.

Yes, and I agree in this with Jayapal. This is a recommended article.

4. The Rebirth of Democratic Socialism

This article is by E.J. Dionne on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

“Socialism has known increments of success, basic failure and massive betrayal. Yet it is more relevant to the humane construction of the twenty-first century than any other idea.”

With those words, the late Michael Harrington began his book “Socialism,” published in 1972. In his day, Harrington was often called “America’s leading socialist.” He was also one of the most decent voices in politics, a view shared not just by his friends but also by most of his critics.

Harrington founded Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which, in the often splintered politics of the left, was a breakaway group from the old Socialist Party.
In case you want to know a bit more about Michael Harrington, this was a link, and he was an interesting man. Then something about socialism, which is a quite ambiguous term:

I know a lot about it because both of my parents were communists, as was one grandparent, whereas two other grandparents were anarchists (as I am since I was 20).

Because it seems to me that most Americans know very little of it, while what they think they know is often false, here is one remark about the supposed socialism of the Soviet Union and its allies (that collapsed in 1991):

I do not think the Soviet Union or its allies ever were socialist in the sense I acknowledged, or indeed the sense that Marx and Engels attached to it (and I think this since I visited the GDR in 1964, which did not appear socialist to me at all, but that appeared as a totalitarian dictatorship to me).

In fact, this may be a fairly popular position right now, at least among intellectuals, but it was not as long as the Soviet Union existed. Then again, quite a few intellectuals assume that the Soviet Union and its allies were not socialist, but were in fact a form of state capitalism, by which they meant that the state, that is really: the communist party, owned everything and distributed everything (with a lot going to the few leading members of the CP, and little going to everyone else).

I think that analysis has considerably more truth in it than the thesis that this was real socialism, but I also disagree with it. It seems to me that a term like "party totalitarianism" is better, (with totalitarianism as defined by me), by which I mean that they were totalitarian; and everyone was subject to the leaders of the party, who had the absolute monopolies on truth, on goodness, and on dividing the riches.

Back to the article:

Socialists have had quite a journalistic run since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old DSA member, defeated veteran Rep. Joe Crowley, a genial and rather liberal stalwart of the old Queens Democratic machine, in a primary last month.

Opinion has been divided, roughly between those who see her as the wave of the future and those who warn of grave danger if Democrats move “too far to the left.”
I certainly do not belong to those "who warn of grave danger if Democrats move “too far to the left”" but I also do not yet know what to think of Ocasio-Cortez, mostly because she is too young to have build a reputation, and because I know that for most Democrats who do get elected, there is a large difference between getting elected (on proposals voters like) and being elected (when on can enrich oneself).

I hope Ocasio-Cortez is and remains honest, but I have seen too many "leftists" who were not.

Here is the ending of this article:

Our new left should attend to the realism Harrington preached. Social reform in our country has usually depended on alliances of the center and the left, and outright warfare between them only strengthens the right. The word “democratic” must always be given priority over the word “socialist,” and broad coalitions are the lifeblood of democracies.

But Ocasio-Cortez and, if I may use the word, her comrades are shaking up politics in constructive and promising ways. For this moderate social democrat, that’s a cause for cheer.

I agree with the first paragraph, but disagree with the second in that "social democracy" these days means Tony Blair or the narko-nazis from the Dutch "social democrats" who meanwhile have taken care that at least 300 billion dollars worth of all manner of "recreative drugs" were spread through Europe in the last 30 years.

Then again, I am willing to agree this is in part my association with the to social democratic parties I know best, and it may be a bit different in the USA. And this is a recommended article.

5. We´re Living a Constitutional Crisis

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

I keep hearing that if Trump fires Mueller, we’ll face a “constitutional crisis.” Or if Mueller subpoenas Trump to testify and Trump defies the subpoena, it’s a “constitutional crisis”. Or if Mueller delivers substantial evidence that Trump is guilty of colluding with Russia or of obstructing justice, and the House does nothing to impeach him, we have a “constitutional crisis.” 

Well, I have news for you. We’re already in a “constitutional crisis.”

Possibly so, but what is a “constitutional crisis”? Incidentally: I have read the Constitution of the USA (and The Federalist Papers, and some American law), and I merely want to know.

Here is some more:

You see, the Constitution is a tiny document. It requires that presidents and others in positions of power be bound by norms, unwritten rules, and long-established understandings of their constitutional responsibilities. 

Yet look at what’s happened since January 2017:

Trump fires the head of the FBI and conjures up a plot that the FBI installed a spy in his campaign; blames the entire Mueller investigation on a conspiratorial “deep state” that’s out to remove him from office; uses pardons to demonstrate to people already under investigation that they don’t need to cooperate because he can pardon them, too; and asserts that the appointment of the special counsel was unconstitutional, and that he has the power under the Constitution to end the investigation whenever he wants.

I agree with the first paragraph, but in effect this means that what "The Constitution" means must be rather ambiguous, precisely because of "norms, unwritten rules, and long-established understandings".

And in fact this is the case. As to the other two paragraphs: I agree with Reich that what Trump is doing is a combination of madness and neofascism (see the links if you did not yet!), but then Trump believes or at least asserts his combination of madness and neofascism is constitutional.

Here is more:

Beyond this, he berates judges who disagree with him, and journalists and news organizations that criticize him; uses the presidency like a personal fiefdom to enrich himself and his family; unilaterally breaks treaties, starts trade wars with long-standing allies, and cozies up to some of the most murderous dictators in the world; treats Americans who didn’t vote for him and disapprove of him as his enemies; and tweets and holds rallies with his followers that fuel division and hate.   

There is no exact definition of a constitutional crisis. Presumably it’s when the United States Constitution is in crisis. And it is in crisis now, today, because the president of the United States is abusing it to entrench his power.

I again agree with the first paragraph and more or less with the second - although I still have not much of an inkling of "constitutional crisis" beyond agreeing in fact that the USA is in crisis, and it is because it has a president who is both insane (as I and some 70,000 other psychologists have been saying since 2016 or before) and a neofascist (and my definition is adequate and was arrived at before I knew anything about Trump).

And this is from the ending:

A malignant megalomaniac facing no countervailing power will continue to expand his terrain until he is stopped.

With this I completely agree - and megalomania is the proper English term (since 1890) which is much better than the psychiatrese "narcissistic personality disorder" that the sick Wikipedia prefers (that also removed the whole term "megalomania") I do not know for what contributions. And 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 (!!).
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