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Nederlog

November 2, 2018

Crisis: Trump & Fascism, Exit Healthcare, Domestic Fascism, Trump´s Promises, Berners-Lee


Sections
Introduction

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

This is a Nederlog of Friday, November 2, 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 November 2, 2018:
1. Donald Trump, Fascism, and the Doctrine of American Mythology
2. Beware of the Real Gremlins This Season
3. The U.S. Is Facing Incipient Domestic Fascism, But Rightist Revolution
     Can Be Stopped

4. Trump´s 30 Broken Promises
5. Tim Berners-Lee: Tech Giants Like Google and Facebook Must Be
     Broken Up
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. Donald Trump, Fascism, and the Doctrine of American Mythology

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. This is from Intercepted, which is a weekly podcast that´s normally, and also in the present case, too long to excerpt properly, so all you will get are some bits. Here is the first bit:

Jeremy Scahill: At rallies, this man revels in chants calling for his political opponents to be locked up and jailed.

Crowd: Lock her up!

JS: We see thousands of children stripped from their parents’ arms and placed in camps, while their mothers and fathers are characterized as rapists, murderers, criminals.

DJT: We have gang members, we have predators, rapists, killers. A lot of bad people.

… That’s called an invasion of our country.

JS: We see the president leading the way in attempting to strip gay people, transgender people of their humanity. We see modern-day Brownshirts being openly encouraged to carry out violent acts.

DJT: Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.

JS: And we see the followers of this president and his ideology murder Jews because they are Jews, murder African Americans because they are African Americans, send bombs to politicians, and Jewish philanthropists and news organizations.

I think the above bit is essentially correct. Here is more, and ¨them¨ refers to democratically elected fascists or neofascists like Mussolini, Hitler and Trump:

JS: Many of them came to power through a democratic process. Trump intentionally revises history. He intentionally promotes a mythology of a country that never existed. He taps into the anger and the rage of white people in search of someone to blame, and he openly encourages them to act on their perceived victimhood.

DJT: For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They’ve allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.

JS: Yes, we see all of this in Trump. We see it every day. Trump must be confronted. The dangers he poses are grave. At the same time, we must not view Trump as some American anomaly, as just a modern-day iteration of history’s infamous fascists. After all, Trump is not a product of post-Versailles Germany. He’s a product of this empire. He’s a product of the United States.

[Patriotic music.]

JS: The question — “Is Trump a fascist?” — is to me a less interesting and less relevant question than why Trump’s message resonated so much that he won in 2016, and why he may well win again.
Well... yes and no, but mostly no, and my reasons are as follows:

First about the
democratically elected fascists or neofascists like Mussolini, Hitler and Trump.

In fact, this happened quite a few more times, and for me this means that something does not work in democracies, even though I am in principle for everybody having a vote, and also for proportional representation, that in fact is not the case in - at least - the present USA and the present Great Britain, and indeed never was the case, and that makes these countries much less democratic than they would have been had the vote been proportionally represented.

And my main difficulty is that in these supposed democracies there are too many voters who essentially have no proper ideas about democracy, representation, history, politics, or indeed most other things, but who vote on the basis of their own uninformed and unenlightened feelings that are mostly produced by political demagogues.

Is that still ¨a genuine democracy¨? You may object that you believe in democracties. I reply: So do I, but what if (i) the majority of all voters are stupid and ignorant (ii) the majority of the stupid and ignorant elect a fascist liar who was propelled by lies, and (iii) the result is a world war in which over 50 million people get killed?

And this happened and caused WW II, whereas WW III will probably be the end of humankind because this will be a nuclear war.

And second about fascism and Trump´s being a fascist.

I think Scahill is mistaken. I do not know why, but I think the reason is either that he does not have any good idea about what fascism really is (and my link gives my answer) or else because he knows that there are easily over 20 different definitions of fascism (the great majority of which are not logically proper definitions) and he thinks that is just too complicated.

In any case, I think Scahill is mistaken because it always is a good question, and especially about politicians who lie much of the time like Trump does, to ask what they really stand for, in terms of general political ideas and values, behind their lies to the public.

As I said, I have a reasonable definition of fascism that implies a list of eighteen criterions, that also was set up by me after considering 21 different definitions, and that shows that Trump is a neofascist simply because his public sayings show strong support for all eleven criterions that he is a neofascist.

Back to the article. Here is some on two scholars of fascism:

I’m joined now by two scholars of fascism. Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. She’s the author of several books, among them, “Fascist Modernities” and “Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema.” Her forthcoming book is called “Strongmen: How The Rise, Why They Succeed, How They Fall.” She’s also a columnist for CNN.com.

And Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky professor of philosophy at Yale University. Stanley is the author of “Know How,” “Language in Context,” “Knowledge and Practical Interests,” as well as “How Propaganda Works.” His latest book, which was released earlier this year, is “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.” Ruth, Jason, welcome both of you to Intercepted.

In fact, I do not know Ben-Ghiat at all while I do know a little about Stanley. I accept them as scholars of fascism because of their booktitles, but I will be more strict with them than I am with journalists.

Here is the last quote that I have from this long article:

Jeremy Scahill: Jason, I want to begin with you. In your latest book, you talk about how you’re going to talk about fascism in the book, and you say that you’ve chosen the label “fascism” for ultranationalism of some variety — ethnic, religious, cultural — with the nation represented in the person of an authoritarian leader who speaks on its behalf. As Donald Trump declared in his Republican National Convention speech in July 2016: “I’m your voice.” Jason, do you believe that what we are witnessing with Donald Trump’s ascent and the way he’s governing—is this fascism?

Jason Stanley: I make a distinction in my book between fascist politics and ideology and fascist government. Fascist government is when the institutions start to be corrupted and corroded by loyalty to the leader, and they start to collapse. And different fascist government appears in different forms. The resulting institutions after they’ve been taken over can look different—differently in different countries. And I don’t think there’s much of a doubt that what we’re seeing, including in the run-up to these midterm elections, are fascist tactics, classic fascist tactics.

RBG: I agree with Jason’s definition of fascism, and I agree that we’re seeing the use of rhetoric and tactics that remind us of fascism. I simply like to make a distinction. I like to use fascism only for situations where there’s a one-party state, because I think it’s very useful for us to see what is different and what stays the same over history. And also to recognize that we have rights. We are still in a — very flawed, but — we’re still in a democracy, and we need to exercise the rights we have.

Well... I am sorry, but I disagree with both academic scholars in fascism. Here are my reasons:

About Stanley: I am sorry, but ¨ultranationalism of some variety¨ is not a good definition of fascism, indeed also if I disregard my own definition for the moment. Here is a list of 21 other definitions of fascism, and while I disagree with all of them for various reasons, there are several which are a lot better and a lot more specific than Stanley´s ¨definition¨.

About Ben-Ghiat: I am sorry, but Stanley´s ¨definition of fascism¨ just was not a definition of fascism, because fascism is more complicated, and a real definition also looks different from a mere slogan like ¨ultranationalism of some variety¨. (See the last link for examples.)

Besides, Ben-Ghiat is simply quite mistaken in insisting that ¨I like to use fascism only for situations where there’s a one-party state¨ for this makes all fascist parties, groups, ideas, values and ideals non-fascist as long as they do not have the absolute power, which seems utter nonsense to me (and in fact the same principle is used in the neofascist re-definition of ¨totalitarianism¨ on Wikipedia).

Also, all of the above was quoted from the beginning of this long article, and though I disagree with these academic scholars of fascism the article is recommended.


2. Beware of the Real Gremlins This Season

This article is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

As we enter another long season of direful winter darkness, we are beset by back-to-back waves of spooks. First come the little costumed goblins on Halloween, seeking sweet treats from us to ward off any trickery they might pull. Cute.

But then, only six days later — eeeeeeek! — here come the real spine-chilling horrors of the season: Office-seeking politicians of the extreme right demanding votes on Election Day. Not cute. With devilish signals to their base, they promise to be more Trumpian than Trump, offering a Mephistophelian agenda ranging from the harsher treatment of the poor to the more plutocratic alchemy enthroning the rich over America's workaday people.

In the latter category is a truly dreadful GOP scheme to decimate public benefits that sustain all of us who are — or hope to be — middle-class. Of course, they can't come right out and say they intend to gut the middle class, so their candidates and officials have been speaking in tongues about it.
Yes indeed, especially the third quoted paragraph. Here is an expansion of it:

Just a year ago, McConnell, Trump & Company rammed into law a trillion-dollar tax giveaway for corporate elites, saying they didn't care that it would wildly inflate the deficit. Now, though, they say all of that red ink is suddenly of grave concern to them. So, to stem the flow caused by their boondoggle for the rich, Republicans intend to cut off the Social Security and health care payments that middle-class and poor families rely on.

This is not just diabolical; it's deliberately evil. And all politicians who support it should be condemned to the most hellish fate imaginable.

I think the first paragraph is quite correct. As to the second paragraph: I take it Hightower is angry, which also seems quite justified to me, but (i) ¨diabolical¨ does imply ¨deliberately evil¨ while there are more ¨hellish fates¨ than loosing medical care (such as being tortured to death).

Here is the second bit that I quote from this article:

Check out a 72-page report issued right before Halloween by his Council of Economic Advisers. While the Council's documents usually cast each of the president's policies in the best light, they do so in sober, quasi-academic language focused on the incumbent's policies. But the Council's Halloween report reads like an endless Trump tweet, focused on his perceived political enemies and riddled with fantasies, lies and paranoia about their policies.

In antiquated Joe McCarthy-style, the Trump advisers spew conspiracy theories about the proposals of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and other Democrats, frantically linking them with "Failed Socialist Policies" of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and other communist dictators. Bernie's common-sense ideas of "Medicare-for-All" and free college education, for example, are hysterically decried as totalitarian designs from China and the USSR. Likewise, the report compares Warren's true assertion that corporate giants are dodging their tax obligations to Lenin's demonization and killing of yeoman farmers.

In this ludicrous, right-ring political screed — paid for by us taxpayers — the fraidy-cat Trump scaremongers toss in the supposedly spooky word "socialism" 144 times — an average of twice per page. Among the horrors the Trumpistas cite is that senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stated that large corporations "exploit human misery and insecurity, and turn them into huge profits" and "giant corporations ... exploit workers just to boost their own profits."

I have not seen the report by the Council of Economic Advisers, but if Hightower is right - and I see no reason to doubt this - it is a combination of utter bullshit and stark propaganda. And this is a recommended article.


3. The U.S. Is Facing Incipient Domestic Fascism, But Rightist Revolution Can Be Stopped

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It has the following introduction:
The 2018 U.S. midterm elections mark a critical point in the era of President Donald Trump, as the potential Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives has unleashed a torrent of white supremacist vitriol in the run-up to November 6. In the past week alone, a militant Trump supporter was accused of mailing three pipe bombs to CNN and 12 bombs to people Trump frequently criticizes; two African-Americans were murdered by a white supremacist outside Louisville, Kentucky; and 11 Jewish worshipers were massacred in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a white supremacist who railed on social media against Jews who help refugees. Both the gunman and Trump have called immigrants “invaders.” Meanwhile, Trump has sharply escalated his attacks on immigrants, threatening to send as many as 15,000 U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and to rewrite the Constitution to revoke birthright citizenship. We speak with investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who says that fascism is on the rise in the U.S. Nairn has been a fierce longtime critic of the Democratic Party and its support for war and neoliberal policies, but he is calling for the public to mobilize to elect Democrats in the midterm elections.
Yes indeed - and I generally quote the introductions to such interviews on Democracy Now! that I review, for the simple reason that they are good and informative.

Here are Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn:

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the state of affairs in this country right now.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, this midterm election, this is it. The U.S. is facing incipient domestic fascism. The rightist revolution that Trump dragged to power has a chance to consolidate itself. The way to stop it is to vote the Democrats into control of at least one, and preferably both, houses of Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting you say that, because you’ve been a fierce critic of Democrats.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. I mean, for years, I’ve been documenting how many of the senior Democrats are complicit in war crimes, how they belong in prison. But we are now in an emergency situation in which there is a huge, fundamental difference between the Democrats and the Republicans at this moment. The Republicans would abolish democracy. They’re looking—because that’s the only way they can perpetuate their power. They have a minority of the votes. They have to rig the system so they can stay in power, as their minority of votes diminishes over time.
I agree with Nairn, although I think the situation is rather similar to the presidential elections of 2016. Here is more by Nairn:
But we are facing such a crisis in this country at this moment that you have to use your head. You have to be tactical. You have to, at this moment, vote in the warmongers who will preserve democracy to block the warmongers who would abolish it—and then, the day after the election, go back to the deeper work of creating real, better, more constructive political alternatives and also helping the base of the Democratic Party take back the party from the consultants, from the rich donors. But that’s for the day after the election is completed, and maybe the runoffs in Georgia and Mississippi, if they happen, after those are completed. Right now, the task is to stop the incipient fascism that Trump and the rightist revolution represents. And you can’t really say that you were working toward an anti-fascist goal if you’re not mobilizing for the Democrats right now. That’s the urgent reality that we’re living.
I think Nairn sketched it well when he said ¨You have to, at this moment, vote in the warmongers who will preserve democracy to block the warmongers who would abolish it¨.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, and it is again by Nairn:
And by the way, just on a mechanical level, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I mean, if the Republicans win this time, if they maintain control of both houses of Congress, and especially—and also if they maintain many of the major governorships that are up across the country, which will enable them to further rig House districts and do further, even more radical voter suppression, things will get much, much worse. Trump’s ability to incite, at the grassroots level, racist violence will go from just a few isolated incidents, which is what we have now, into the possibility of actual organized forces, paramilitaries. And up 'til now, the Supreme Court has been, in an ambiguous way, something of a check, because of the ambiguous position of Kennedy. Kennedy is gone now. He's replaced by Kavanaugh, who is part of the group of rightist Republicans on the court who are radical right and Bolshevik in their discipline. Anything that the Republican revolution wants to do, this Supreme Court will rubber-stamp it. And that’s new.
I fear Nairn´s expectation is quite realistic, and this is a strongly recommended article. 
4. Trump´s 30 Broken Promise

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Trump voters: Two years in, here’s an updated list of Trump’s 30 biggest broken promises.
In fact, that is an excellent summary of this article. There are in fact 30 broken promises with textual comments in it, and here are the first six:

1. He told you he’d cut your taxes, and that the super-rich like him would pay more. You bought it. But his 2017 tax law has done the opposite. By 2027, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest 1 percent will have received 83 percent of the tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — will pay more in taxes. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago just days after the tax bill became law, “You all just got a lot richer.” 

2. He promised that the average family would see a $4,000 pay raise because of the tax law. You bought it. But real wages for most Americans are lower today than they were before the tax law went into effect.   

3. He promised to close special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors but unfair to American workers, especially the notorious “carried interest” loophole for private-equity, hedge fund, and real estate partners. You bought it. But the new tax law kept the “carried interest” loophole.

4. He promised to bring an end to Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear program. You bought it. Kim Jong-Un hasn’t denuclearized. 

5. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful,” including “insurance for everybody.” You bought it. But he didn’t repeal and he didn’t replace. (Just as well: His plan would have knocked at least 24 million Americans off health insurance, including many of you.) Instead, he’s doing what he can to cut it back and replace it with nothing. According to the Commonwealth Fund, about 4 million Americans have lost health insurance in the last two years.

6. He told you he wouldn’t “cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” You bought it. But now he’s planning such cuts in order to deal with the ballooning deficit created, in part, by the new tax law for corporations and the rich. 
This is all quite true (and Reich is addressing ¨Trump voters¨), and the same holds for the other 25 broken promises. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Tim Berners-Lee: Tech Giants Like Google and Facebook Must Be Broken Up

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Expressing dismay that the World Wide Web he invented in 1989 has come to be overrun with hatred and controlled by a few giant tech companies who abuse user privacy to boost their bottom lines, Tim Berners-Lee argued in an interview with Reuters on Thursday that Silicon Valley titans like Facebook, Google, and Apple as well as corporate behemoths like Amazon should be broken up to allow more democratic alternatives to flourish.

"What naturally happens is you end up with one company dominating the field so through history there is no alternative to really coming in and breaking things up," Berners-Lee said. "There is a danger of concentration."

The man credited as being the father of the worldwide web—which officially turned 29 in March of this year—went on to argue that corporate control of the internet has strangled innovation, allowing a small number of massive companies to seize control of the web for their own profit-driven purposes.

Well, .... yes indeed - but then again I distrust Tim Berners-Lee for reasons I last explained on September 30 of this year (which I recommend you read if you didn´t before) in part because he was (and may be is, which I do not know) a member of DARPA and DARPA was already busy in 1969 trying to mold the future internet into the role it is now playing.

But as I said, Berners-Lee was right in his facts. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

"I am disappointed with the current state of the web," Berners-Lee concluded, noting that social media platforms like Twitter have become vehicles for propagating hate and lies rather than places of genuine human interaction. "We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked."

Berners-Lee's call for tech giants to be cut down to size comes amid a growing congressional push for an "Internet Bill of Rights," which would expand access to the internet, enshrine strong net neutrality rules, prevent mass data collection by tech giants, and restore essential privacy protections that have been systematically eroded by giant corporations.

Again, I say well... yes indeed, firstly because Berners-Lee provides no means whatsoever to tame the internet from a spying instrument for all governments and all rich corporations and no one else, while the "Internet Bill of Rights" sounds a bit interesting but seems most unlikely to me to ever become law (at least before the USA is socialist).

Anyway, 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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