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Nederlog

August 23, 2018

Crisis: A Comparison, Warren & Anti-Corruption, Trump´s Survival, Money & Politics, A Good Day



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from August 23, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 23, 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 August 23, 2018:
1. There Never Was Anything Like This
2. Elizabeth Warren Introduces Sweeping Anti-Corruption Legislation
3. Will Trump Survive?
4. Calling for Ten Million More Voters, a Few Billionaires, and a Just
     Congress

5. A Good Day
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. There Never Was Anything Like This

This article is by Charles Pierce on Common Dreams and originally on Esquire. Incidentally, the full title is ¨I Lived Through Watergate. I Lived Through the Saturday Night Massacre. There Never Was Anything Like This¨, but that title simply is too long for Nederlog. The article starts as follows:

Nobody can deny that this already is the single most awesome infrastructure week ever.

For a long moment on Tuesday afternoon, the Deputy Finance Director of the Republican National Committee, and the president*'s longtime fixer, was copping a plea; the president*'s former campaign manager was getting slugged for bank fraud; the president* himself was off to another wankfest, this time in West Virginia; and the folks at Hardball went to the electric Twitter machine and told us that Omarosa has another secret audiotape to reveal on that show Tuesday night.

I lived through Watergate. I lived through the Saturday Night Massacre, when it looked like the Constitution was being barbecued over an open flame. There never was anything like this.

Well, I was alive as well when these things happened, but I am neither a journalist nor an American. But I do recall Watergate quite well, and I think the above reaction may be like that of quite a few more - elderly - Americans, and this is why I quoted it.

Incidentally, I do not know Esquire at all, and it seems Pierce has adopted two conventions I am not familiar with: He writes ¨president¨ when referring to Trump, and ¨President¨ when he refers to any president of the USA, and also he does not write either ¨fuck¨ or ¨f**k¨ or ¨f*ck¨ but he writes ¨fck¨. (I also think the ¨*¨ refers to a footnote that is missing in the edition I quote.)

Here is the background to Pierce´s opinion:

The bare facts are that Paul Manafort was convicted of eight of the 18 charges that were brought against him and, at virtually the same hour, Michael Cohen signed a plea deal in which he brought at least the payoff-to-porn-stars element of this scandal right into the president*'s lap. Let's look at the last one first. This is the money shot right here. From The New York Times:

He made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payment was “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

Just fcking wow.

Yes. And here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

This is a mortal blow to the administration*, which may stagger around for a year or so before it falls over and crushes people, but there is no way I can see that this gets any better for the president* or the people around him. The president* and his fixer paid off Stormy Daniels, and also paid off a tabloid media company, in order to bury stories about the president*'s wandering Donald, and did so in direct violation of even those campaign finance laws that Anthony Kennedy left in place. That's an open admission of a crime involving the President* of the United States and, as CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin pointed out, that's something that never happened even during Watergate. In the immortal words of Micheal Ray Richardson, the ship be sinking.

In fact, I do not know what will happen, but I found this at least an interesting opinion. For more thoughts about what may happen, see item 3, item 4 and item 5.
2. Elizabeth Warren Introduces Sweeping Anti-Corruption Legislation

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

Confronting the “rot” of corruption that has poisoned every corner of the American political system and rigged government to work solely in the interests of the rich and well-connected, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would address the flagrant ethics abuses of the Trump White House while also taking on the systemic crisis that gave rise to the thoroughly crooked status quo.

“Let’s face it: there’s no real question that the Trump era has given us the most nakedly corrupt leadership this nation has seen in our lifetimes,” Warren said in a speech unveiling her ambitious anti-corruption platform at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “But they are not the cause of the rot—they’re just the biggest, stinkiest example of it.”

Officially titled The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act (pdf), Warren’s bill proposes transformational changes to the way Washington functions in an effort to create a government that works for the needs of the public—not the needs of lobbyists working to pollute the planet, imprison more Americans, and hike live-saving prescription drug costs for profit.

In fact, I dealt with Warren´s anti-corruption legislation yesterday - see here - but since I still lack the time, the health and sufficient knowledge of American law to read through her proposal, I am now also quoting the present article, because I think it is clearer.

Here is a sum-up of what Warren´s legal proposals would achieve:

If enacted, Warren’s ambitious measure would:

  • Completely ban foreign lobbying;
  • Bar members of Congress and congressional candidates from accepting campaign donations from lobbyists;
  • Require the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) release the tax returns for federal candidates, including the president and vice president;
  • “Padlock the revolving door” by imposing a lifetime ban on lobbying by former presidents, members of congress, and agency chiefs;
  • Ban members of Congress from owning and trading individual stock; and
  • Establish an “independent anti-corruption agency dedicated to enforcing federal ethics laws.”

“Our national crisis of faith in government boils down to this simple fact: people don’t trust their government to do the right thing because they think government works for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected and not for the American people. And here’s the kicker: They’re right,” Warren said in her address on Tuesday. “I’d love to stand here and tell you that this was some sudden drop after Donald Trump was elected, but that wouldn’t be true. This problem is far bigger than Trump.”

I like all six points, and I agree with Warren that Trump - I would say - crowns 38 years of ever increasing corruption in the Senate, in Congress, and also in government, for all of this formally was started with Reagan´s administration, that started in 1980.

Then again, I fear Warren´s proposal will not make it, in part because the Senate and Congress have been thoroughly corrupted by lobbyists.

Finally, I normally do not quote Tweets, but I´ll quote two Tweets from Warren that also form the end of the present article:

Our government systematically favors the rich over the poor, the donor class over the working class, the well-connected over the disconnected. This is deliberate, and we need to call it for what it is – corruption, plain and simple.

These reforms have one simple aim: to take power in Washington away from the wealthy, the powerful, and the well-connected who have corrupted our government and put power back in the hands of the American people.

In fact, I agree with the second Tweet but not quite with the first, and my reason is that one may favor ¨the rich over the poor, the donor class over the working class, [and] the well-connected over the disconnected¨ as in fact the Republicans did at least from the 1950s onwards, but that only the last 18 or 28 years introduced ever-increasing legalized possibilities for corruption.

But this is a minor criticism (and Tweets are too short for any rational and reasonable communication), and this is a strongly recommended article.


3. Will Trump Survive?

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

Many of the “insiders” I talk with are convinced that Cohen’s virtual naming of Trump as an criminal co-conspirator, combined with other bombshells Cohen can set off, and Mueller’s likely findings of Trump’s collusion with the Russians, his longstanding business fraud, and obstruction of justice, will all spell the end. Democrats will take back the House, begin an impeachment, pile up overwhelming evidence of impeachable offenses, and put enough pressure on Republican senators to convict him and send him packing.

I think this is way too optimistic. No president in history has been convicted by the Senate of impeachment. Regardless of what happens to the House, Republicans will almost certainly remain in control of the Senate after November, anyway, and so far they’ve displayed the integrity of lizards. Fox News and the rest of the right-wing sleaze media will continue to distort and cover up – convincing 35 to 40 percent of America that Trump is the victim.

Yes, I agree with Reich. Here is one more bit from this brief article:

And Trump himself will never voluntarily resign. He’ll lie and claim a conspiracy to unseat him. Most Americans already knew he’s a crook and a liar. After all, he’s spent his whole career engineering scams and riding above the law. But he’s a superb conman, an entertainer-demagogue capable of sowing so much confusion and instigating so much hate and paranoia that he has already survived outrages that would have broken any other loathsome presidency – Helsinki, Charlottesville, firings and coverups, racist slurs, clear corruption.

We’ll be lucky if he loses in 2020. And even if he loses, we’ll be fortunate if he concedes without being literally carried out of the Oval Office amid the stirrings of civil insurgency.

Yes, I agree again. And this is a strongly recommended article.
4. Calling for Ten Million More Voters, a Few Billionaires, and a Just Congress

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It has a subtitle that I quote:
What is the movement demanding a bold and ambitious progressive agenda missing most? Money.
I quoted this because I strongly agree - and the Republicans have money, and loads of it, which in the end was organized by Lewis F. Powell Jr.´s 1972 Memorandum, that also strongly favored the rise of neoliberalism.

Here is the beginning of the article:

About 80 days separate the people from the November 6th Congressional elections. Judging by the past midterm turnout, at least 125 million age-eligible voters will stay home. Too many people say: “Can’t be bothered;” “politicians don’t care about me;” “all politicians lie so why should I be part of that game;” “I’m not into politics;” “Nobody I like.”

Whoever finds the way to bring ten million or so of these non-voters to the polls in swing Congressional Districts will solidly control the Congress. Control of the House of Representatives by the Democratic Party stops most of Trumpism in its tracks, assuming the Democrats use their power and uphold their sworn duties in domestic and military/foreign matters under the Constitution.

Yes, I quite agree, although the assumption that ¨the Democrats¨ - and especially the Clinton + Pelosi Democrats will - ¨use their power and uphold their sworn duties in domestic and military/foreign matters under the Constitution¨ is pretty strong.

Here is more on money & politics:

What’s it worth in costs compared to benefits? How do we achieve a progressive Congress, committed to the needs and rights of the American people and not beholden to the big corporations? A mere half a billion dollars would achieve that objective—about what the Koch brothers’ network intends to spend this year.

The benefit of increasing the turnout of informed voters is a more enlightened Congress. A new and improved Congress could produce huge savings in dollars, lives, health, safety, and improve the environment. In addition, a new Congress could end boomeranging illegal wars, enact a long-overdue increased minimum wage, corporate tax reform, facilitate faster conversion to solar-renewable energy, and restore our public facilities with good local jobs. Our public transit, national parks, schools, highways, bridges, libraries, and community health clinics all need repairs. Ending massive, taxpayer-funded corporate welfare and taming the bloated, skyrocketing military budget that is devouring our public resources are also benefits of rebuilding a responsive Congress.

I think all of this is - probably - correct. But where to find ¨half a billion dollars¨? Here is Nader´s answer:

Five billionaires could provide the money with one resolute meeting! Our country has more than that number of concerned philanthropists with records of enlightenment. They are worried about the downward direction of our country and what it means to the children and grandchildren, and to our precious environment, to our need for stable peace. They want to be good ancestors. They can make a very quick decision and start making it happen.

Are any possible benefactors listening? If so, contact us at nader.org.

Probably so, although Nader may be left out. But in any case, I think these are reasonable ideas and this is a strongly recommended article.


5. A Good Day

This article is by Robert Paul Wolff on his site. Incidentally, Wolff is an 84 year old former academic philosopher who describes himself politically as an anarchist, economically as a Marxist, and religiously as an atheist. The - brief - article starts as follows:
What are we to make of yesterday’s events?  I am going to resist the natural temptation of the left-leaning public intellectual to seek some deep and of course contrarian interpretation. My personal reaction is this:we are in a war, a long, difficult, frustrating war.  It is hard to keep my spirits up as I watch, day after day, the cruel, heartless, unjust, exploitative actions taken both by my sworn enemies and by my supposed friends.  I am eighty-four years old, and I despair of living long enough to see anything remotely resembling justice, equality, or even simple decency break out in the land of my birth, my maturity, and my old age. So I have decided to enjoy to the full every good day with which I am blessed, and yesterday was a good day.
I more or less agree although I am 16 years younger than Wolff, and see item 1. Here is some more:
Two thoughts, one about the Manafort verdict, the other about the Cohen affair and the performance of Cohen’s lawyer, Lannie Davis.

The Manafort verdict was puzzling, as many TV commentators noted.Why find Manafort guilty of one of the four charges of failing to file a foreign bank account and hang on the other three, when the evidence in all four was identical?  Why was he not found not guilty on any of the 18 charges?
I agree, but I do not think the answer matters very much, and besides Manafort has to stand more judicial prosecutions.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
There was a great deal of discussion this morning of the unusual fact that Cohen’s guilty plea was not accompanied by a an agreement to turn state’s evidence, even though Cohen chose, as he did not have to, to implicate Trump in his plea of guilty to the two campaign finance charges.  After the formal proceeding, Cohen’s lawyer made very public statements that his client had big info on Trump and the Trump Tower meeting and wanted to talk.  Broadcasting this, rather than saying it privately to Mueller, was, various talking heads observed, very odd.  Meanwhile, the Washington Post had a cryptic statement to the effect that Mueller does not need Cohen’s testimony.  My speculative hypothesis:  Mueller has everything he needs about that meeting without Cohen, and Cohen is desperately trying to sell a deal to Mueller to reduce his jail time.
I think this also may be right. And 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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