November 8, 2018

Crisis: 2018 Midterms, On Trumpism, Oceans Heating Up, Pro-Democracy, A Political Philosopher


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 8, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, November 8, 2018.

In fact, the present Nederlog is mostly about the outcomes of the American elections of November 6, that I could not report yesterday because Nederlog is written very early in the morning.

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 8, 2018:
1. 2018 Midterms: Blue Wave, Red Undertow
2. America Rejects Trumpism
3. Oceans Are Heating Up Faster Than We Thought
4. Now Is the Time for a Bold Pro-Democracy Agenda for America
5. When You're Right, You're Right
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. 2018 Midterms: Blue Wave, Red Undertow

This article is by Robert Borosage on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

The 2018 election is blue wave with a harsh red undertow. First, the wave: Democrats took the House, moving towards flipping over 30 seats, took seven gubernatorial races and counting, and made significant gains in down-ballot races –winning over 330 state legislative seats, six state legislatures and breaking 4 GOP supermajorities, with more victories to come.

But the red undertow gives Republicans a larger majority in the Senate – with Republicans consolidating their hold on conservative, largely white and rural states. Transformative Democratic candidates – Gillum in Florida, O-Rourke in Texas – made stunning runs, only to fall short by the smallest of margins. Stacy Abrams’ historic race for governor in Georgia remains too close to call as this is written.

Yes. And I should say that the present article was the best that I've read on the outcome of the elections that may be summarized as follows:

House Results                      Senate Results          Governor Results

223     197                       46       51                23          26

Dems gained 28 seats         Dems lost 2 seats      Dems gained 7 seats

Also, in actual fact I think I would say this was a blue wavelet rather than a blue wave, but then I also suppose this is mostly a subjective judgement, at least with outcomes like the above.

Here is some more from the article:

Trump’s manic, unhinged, dishonest and scurrilous campaigning insured that he would be, as he put it, “on the ballot.” No doubt his blend of hate and fear helped build Republican turnout.

His results were decidedly mixed. He surely aided Democratic takeover of the House, while helping Republican victories in the Senate. Hand-selected candidates like the scabrous Kris Kobach in Kansas lost, as did Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Teflon no longer.

The new Democratic House will feature over 100 women. A new wave of progressive legislators – younger, more female, more diverse, more progressive –will energize the Democratic caucus.
Yes, this is mostly correct - but (once again) if Trump was "manic, unhinged, dishonest and scurrilous" (and I agree) but still got about half of the votes, why not say that at least most voters for him must have been struck with stupidity or ignorance or both?!

But no: American journalists do not write these things, although they ought to be very obvious.

Here is some more:

Democrats flipped the Colorado and Maine Senate, the New York Senate and House, the New Hampshire Senate and House. Democrats, fueled by the energy of grassroots organizing, now are in full control in New York, Illinois, Colorado, Maine and New Mexico. These “laboratories of democracy” can now begin to forward progressive alternatives on everything from money in politics to climate change.

Similarly, across the country, progressive ballot initiatives fared well. Voters in Arkansas and Missouri – Arkansas and Missouri!! – passed increases in the minimum wage. Michigan passed Automatic Voter Registration, Maryland same-day registration.The most dramatic victory came in Florida, where voters restored voting rights to ex-felons who had served their time, restoring the right to vote to an estimated 1.4 million citizens.

I agree these are gains, although I would add that especially since Trump's extra-ordinarily many presidential lies, I would not say they are big gains.

Here is some more:

Turnout was dramatic. Exit polls, which surely will be revised, reported that 29 percent of the electorate were people of color, a new midterm record. Women constituted the majority of voters and voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. Over 2/3 of voters considered the economy excellent or good (up from little more than one-third 2 years ago), yet Republicans still fared poorly. Independents went to Democrats dramatically (55-41 in the ABC exit poll); Trump won them in 2016 and Republicans in the 2014 midterms. The Democratic margin among young voters – 18-29 –was almost double what it was for Clinton in 2016 and three times the margin for Democrats in 2014. Similarly college educated white women who favored Republicans in 2014 voted dramatically for Democrats (61-38 in the ABC exit poll)

I have the same remark as I made under the previous quotation: I'd say these are definite gains, but not large ones.

Here is the ending of this article:
Trump dubbed himself the “magic man,” the day after the election. Con man would be more accurate –and Americans are increasingly not falling for the scam. The 2018 election exposed once more how divided the country is – but it also showed how strongly the tide is running against Trump’s hateful brand of politics and the party that he continues to deform.
I am less optimistic. And I am so because I completely agree that Trump is a con man, and insist that everyone with an IQ of 100 or higher and a minimal knowledge of politics should see this. But no: Great numbers of American voters still vote for an insane con man.

The only explanation that makes sense (to this philosopher and psychologist) is that large numbers of American voters are
stupid or ignorant. This is a recommended article.

2. America Rejects Trumpism

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

Make no mistake: America has rejected Trumpism.

No one seriously expected the Senate to flip, because Democrats had to defend 26 seats in that chamber, compared with only nine held by Republicans.

The real battleground was the House, where Democrats had to achieve a net gain of 23 seats to get the 218 needed for a majority.

They did.

Trump wasn’t on the ballot but he made the election into a referendum on himself.

So Americans turned against House Republicans, who should have acted as a check on him but did nothing – in many cases magnifying his vileness.

The nation has repudiated Trump, but do not believe for a moment that our national nightmare is over.

I agree at best halfly with Reich. That is, I agree with his statement of the factual outcomes, but not with his interpretation of them, for I don't think that (to quote Reich's title) "America Rejects Trumpism", and I don't simply because about half of the American voters still vote for Trump.

Here is more from Reich:

Trump still occupies the White House and in all likelihood will be there for two more years.

The Republican Party remains in control of the Senate.

Fox News is still Trump’s propaganda ministry. (The line between Fox and Trump, already blurred, vanished completely at his last pre-election rally when Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Jeannine Pirro joined him on stage.)

The American people will be subject to more of Trump’s lies and hate, as amplified by Senate Republicans and Fox News.

Trump can be expected to scapegoat House Democrats for anything that goes wrong. American politics will almost certainly become even meaner, coarser, and uglier. We will remain deeply and angrily divided.

Yes, I think this is all correct or probably correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Most worrisome, America still won’t respond to real threats that continue to grow, which Trump and his enablers have worsened – climate change; the suppression of votes, and foreign intrusions into our elections; the most expensive and least efficient healthcare system in the world; and, not least, widening inequalities of income, wealth, and political power.

I agree with Reich, but this is also one of my reasons to say that the Americans so far have not rejected Trump. This is a recommended article (but I disagree with its title).

3. Oceans Are Heating Up Faster Than We Thought

This article is by Tim Radford on Truthdig and originally on Climate News Network. It starts as follows:

The seas are getting hotter – and researchers have thought again about just how much faster ocean warming is happening. They believe that in the last 25 years the oceans have absorbed at least 60% more heat than previous global estimates by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had considered.

And they calculate this heat as the equivalent to 150 times the annual human electricity generation in any one year.
The oceans cover 70% of the Blue Planet, but take up about 90% of all the excess energy produced as the Earth warms. If scientists can put a precise figure to this energy, then they can make more precise guesses about the surface warming to come, as humans continue to burn fossil fuels, release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and drive up the planetary thermometer.

“There will have to be an even more drastic shutdown of fossil fuel investment and an even faster switch to renewable sources of energy”

Yes. I also did not find this a very clear article, so I just quote its ending:

But the result also suggests that internationally agreed attempts to hold planetary warming to a maximum of just 2C – and the world has already warmed by around 1C in the last century – become more challenging.

It means that there will have to be an even more drastic shutdown of fossil fuel investment and an even faster switch to renewable sources of energy such as sun and wind power.

I agree, but I must add that I have been following the environment since 1972, and I have seen too few and too small changes the last nearly fifty years, which makes me expect more of the same.

4. Now Is the Time for a Bold Pro-Democracy Agenda for America

This article is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

While supporters of pro-democratic voting reforms on Wednesday celebrated a number of key state-level wins on Election Day, the Democratic Party is being called upon to go much further by making voting rights a central issue going forward and embracing a slate of changes that would dramatically improve civic participation and end GOP suppression tactics.

Among the successes from Tuesday's ballot:

  • Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a measure which restores voting rights for 1.4 million state residents with past felony convictions.
  • Michigan voters approved a measure enacting automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration.
  • Voters in Nevada also approved automatic voter registration.
  • In Maryland, voters supported a state constitutional amendment allowing same-day voter registration.

The outcomes, says the NYU School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice, add up to "a massive win for democracy." But these changes still leave in place an electoral system—one plagued by long lines, voter suppression efforts, malfunctioning machines, Big Money, and partisan redistricting—badly in need of reform.

Well... yes and no. Yes, voting right should be a central issue, but no the outcomes of the election of November 6 was not "a massive win for democracy", especially not since even the process of voting is "plagued by long lines, voter suppression efforts, malfunctioning machines, Big Money, and partisan redistricting".

Here is more:

"Despite Tuesday's good news, we have so much more to do to strengthen our democracy," they conclude. "Let's get to work."

OtherWords editor Peter Certo urged Democrats to step up to that task by supporting "a host of radical pro-democracy reforms."

"In that they can take inspiration from a stunning movement in Florida, where voters re-enfranchised over 1 million of their neighbors with felony convictions. And from Michigan, Colorado, Utah, and Missouri, which all passed initiatives to support citizen-led redistricting. And from Maryland, Michigan, and Nevada, which all made voter registration easier," he wrote.

Offering his post-midterm advice to the Democratic leaders on Wednesday, Washington Post contributor Ronald A. Klain said they should make it a top priority to pass "a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act and reverse Republican voter-suppression efforts. The cause of democracy should not be carried by Democrats alone, but that is what it has come to. The greatest democracy in the world should not be the one where it is hardest to participate in the democratic process."

Yes, or at least more or less. But once again: "The greatest democracy in the world should not be the one where it is hardest to participate in the democratic process" does not imply that the USA indeed is "the greatest democracy in the world" but that democracy is (at least) very seriously threatened in the USA.

5. When You're Right, You're Right

This article is by Robert Paul Wolff on his site:
One week ago, I made the following prediction, based on the assumption that the Democrats would take the House but not the Senate:

"The day after the results are in, Trump will without the slightest evidence of unease or hesitation pivot to being a non-partisan supporter of DACA guarantees, comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure spending, guarantees for those with pre-existing conditions, and whatever else Democrats want that does not negatively affect his own financial interests.  Overtly, covertly, or implicitly, but in all events unmistakably, he will communicate it to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer that he will work cooperatively with them for the next two years so long as they squelch the Democratic lust for investigations of him or his family and allow him to summarily shut down the Mueller probe.

This will pose a terrible dilemma for the Democrats, and I fear there is a grave danger that they will succumb, in which case they will pave the way for Trump’s re-election and the death of what remains of constitutional democracy in America."

It turns out I was exactly correct.
First, I provided a Wikipedia link to Robert Paul Wolff not because it is informative, but to support my notion that Wikipedia is politicized towards the right, simply because you get loads and loads more information on very minor film stars or on minor sports' figures. (And no, this is not my only argument: There are many more.)

And second, I do not think Wolff was "exactly correct", for the simple reason that he was mostly speculating, and most of his speculations have - so far, at least - not shown themselves to be correct.

But I agree the Democrats won, though it was not a large win. Here is more:
 How should the Democrats respond to Trump's press conference today?

1.  They should make a great show of cooperating with Trump while passing a series of bills, which they send to the Senate, calling for:

   a. Guarantees of protection for those with pre-existing conditions
   b. Infrastructure
   c. Protection for DACA recipients
   d. Comprehensive immigration reform
   e. Reuniting of children separated from their parents
   f. Protection of the Mueller investigation.
I think these are all good ideas. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
3.  They should leave impeachment strictly alone until Mueller issues his report.  If, in effect, he labels Trump an unindicted co-conspirator in impeachable acts, they should allow that report to simmer and bubble until they see whether Republicans decide they want to get rid of Trump.  Only when they have 2/3 of the Senate should they initiate impeachment proceedings.
Yes, I think this is a good idea as well, and indeed it seems as if the next four (!!) replacements of Trump (on the extremely improbable assumption that the first three will be impeached) are all very conservative Republicans.

Now I do not think that has any fair chance of happening, but I do think Trump himself will be only with great difficulty impeached, and will probably survive this in the present political set-up.
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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