February 15, 2019

Crisis: Trumpian Emergency, FBI vs. Trump, Green New Deal, More Emergency, Some Rich People

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 15, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, February 15, 2019.

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 three 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:

. Selections from February 15, 2019:
1. A Trump-Made Emergency
2. McCabe Says Justice Dept. Officials Had Discussions About Pushing
     Trump Out

3. The Green New Deal Is Indeed a Big Deal

4. McConnell Confirms Trump Will Declare National Emergency to Build Wall

5. Message From Some Very Rich People: ‘Please Raise Our Taxes’
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 Trump-Made Emergency

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:

With his intention to declare a national emergency at the southern border, President Trump is planning to take executive overreach to dizzying new heights. The damage to American democracy threatens to linger long after his administration is no more than a dank memory.

Cornered into accepting a budget deal that lacked the $5.7 billion in border-wall funding he demanded, the president could not handle being labeled a loser by conservative commentators like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. His solution: Sign the bill while simultaneously declaring a national emergency that, at least in his mind, would allow him to shift funds and order the military to start building his wall.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, announced the move on Thursday afternoon. “President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” she said.

To repeat: The influx of migrant families at the southern border does not constitute a national security crisis, much less a bona fide emergency. There is, at this point, a worsening humanitarian crisis, actively fueled by the draconian policies of the administration. But the suffering on display requires thoughtful policy adjustments, not a steel monstrosity.

I think I agree with everything the above paragraphs say. Here is more:

This fit of presidential pique is about more than a wall. It constitutes a reordering of the power dynamic between the branches of government. Mr. Trump aims to usurp one of Congress’s most basic responsibilities, the power of the purse.

Confronted with this power grab, every lawmaker should be bellowing in alarm.

Yes, I agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The poison cherry atop this sundae is that Mr. Trump is subverting American democracy for a cause opposed by a majority of the public. Polls show that most Americans do not want a wall at the southern border. And most definitely do not approve of Mr. Trump’s faking a national emergency to make an end run around Congress. Two recent polls showed that two-thirds of Americans opposed it.

Not that any of this seems of interest to the president. “I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want,” he insisted to reporters last month, sounding more like a huffy kindergartner than a world leader.

Well... I can't say I am much impressed by the fact "that Mr. Trump is subverting American democracy for a cause opposed by a majority of the public" for the simple reasons that "American democracy" has been hollowed out very much since 1980, and the "majority of the public" has been neglected often. And this is a recommended article.

2. McCabe Says Justice Dept. Officials Had Discussions About Pushing Trump Out

This article is by Adam Goldman and Matthew Haag on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, said in an interview aired on Thursday that top Justice Department officials became so alarmed by President Trump’s decision in May 2017 to fire James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, that they discussed whether to recruit cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office.

The dire concerns about the president’s actions also prompted Mr. McCabe to order the bureau’s team investigating Russia’s election interference to look into whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey. The F.B.I. also began examining whether Mr. Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

Mr. McCabe’s explosive remarks were made in an interview with “60 Minutes” scheduled to air in full on Sunday.
I say, for I did not know any of this (like almost everybody else). First, here is some information on Andrew G. McCabe. And I agree these remarks are "explosive", because it shows the FBI may organize the removal of the president, which is the opposite of democratic.

Then again, I know already that the FBI is quite undemocratic. Also, I agree that Trump should be removed as a president, mostly because I am a psychologist who agrees with many psychologists that Trump has megalomania (also known by the psychiatrese "Narcissistic Personality Disorder"), which is explained here (by psychiatrists, in 2016).

But there also are several problems with removing Trump, that boil down to the fact that the next three of four candidates for the presidency (if Trump has been removed) may not be insane, but otherwise are almost as bad as Trump.

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

“There were meetings at the Justice Department in which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” Mr. Pelley said. “These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what to do with the president.”

Note that it seems that the FBI was not supported by Congress or the Senate (who indeed would seem to me to be "the highest levels of American law enforcement", but I may be mistaken). And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. The Green New Deal Is Indeed a Big Deal

This article is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The most visionary resolution to emerge from Congress in recent years, encompassing both the climate crisis and economic inequality, has captured the imagination of many Americans. In less than a year we went from having never heard the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to watching the impressive, young rookie congresswoman achieve more in a month than most of our representatives do in a year as she rolled out the Green New Deal (GND) resolution along with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). While the resolution is not yet a full-fledged piece of legislation, it does lay out a blueprint for future bills.

Yes, this seems all correct to me. Here is more:

First, it is critical to understand that Ocasio-Cortez did not create the GND—rather, the idea was borne out of the same movement that birthed the Democratic lawmaker’s candidacy. An account of the proposal in Politico details how Justice Democrats, the organization that recruited Ocasio-Cortez and ran her campaign, was founded by young organizers who cut their teeth on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Another organization, Sunrise Movement—also created in 2016—crafted the GND proposal together with Justice Democrats.

I think all of this is correct as well (but I have to say I strongly dislike introducing ad hoc abbreviations like "GND", both in principle and also here, because "Green New Deal" clearly refers to Roosevelt's New Deal, whereas "GND" does not and is merely an ad hoc measure. Bsds f svng lttrs s s mprtnt wh nt sv n vwls?!?!).

Here is more:

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would vote on it, saying, “it will give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.” In truth, McConnell likely is attempting to use the vote to crush Democratic chances in 2020. Markey countered on Twitter, “this isn’t a new Republican trick,” and speculated that, “By rushing a vote on the #GreenNewDeal resolution, Republicans want to avoid a true national debate & kill our efforts to organize.”

I think Markey is right about McConnell. Then again, there is also this:

Just as in the case of “Medicare for all,” the public actually loves the idea. A poll conducted in December found that a whopping 92 percent of Democrats and even 64 percent of Republicans supported the idea of a GND, which is perhaps why so many Democratic presidential contenders say they support it.

I think that is correct (and "GND" = "Green New Deal", in case you forgot that). Here is the ending of this article:

The beauty of the GND resolution is that it is still an idea, but it is a bold and beautiful one. Relative to the grim political climate, it may be just the antidote to our collective despair.

Perhaps, though I think I would have pointed out (instead) that McConnell cannot properly test the Green New Deal before seeing it: All there is at present is - a good - resolution. And this is a recommended article.

4. McConnell Confirms Trump Will Declare National Emergency to Build Wall

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. This starts as follows:

Just ahead of a series of votes on a "compromise" border deal in the U.S. Senate and House on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that President Donald Trump plans to sign the legislation to avert another government shutdown but will also declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

McConnell said that he would support the bill that was negotiated with Democratic leaders—which will provide $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fences in Southern Texas and boost the budget of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by over $500 million—as well as the the emergency declaration.

I say. What I am especially concerned about is the emergency declaration. Here is more:

When Trump first floated the idea of a national emergency last year, legal scholars immediately and forcefully denounced the threat, arguing that such a move would be "constitutionally illegitimate."

While White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed
McConnell's announcement with a statement posted to Twitter, critics turned to social media to echo the past warnings from legal experts that declaring a national emergency to circumvent lawmakers and fund the border wall would be an abuse of presidential power (..)

Well... I agree this "would be an abuse of presidential power", but I doubt it is "constitutionally illegitimate", mostly because the Constitution is not long and also not very clear on a number of points.

Here is some more:

Denouncing Trump's pursuit of funding for "a racist and needless wall, against the backdrop of Congress' express refusal to fund such a barrier," Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, in a statement, warned that an emergency declaration "will constitute an outrageous abuse of power—perhaps the most dangerous yet by the unstable and increasingly autocratic President Trump."

I agree with Weissman. This is from the ending of this article:

"Unfortunately, this president continues to operate as if the rule of law, checks and balances, and the will of the people do not matter," Abigail Dillen, president of the environmental legal firm Earthjustice, said in a statement. "President Trump's act is a shameful repudiation of the values at the heart of our democracy."

"The federal government has already waived dozens of laws to build destructive, polluting, and unnecessary border barriers, and now, this administration is shoving aside the constitution to try to build a symbol of hate," Dillen noted.

I suppose Dillen may be mostly correct, and this is a recommended article.

5. Message From Some Very Rich People: ‘Please Raise Our Taxes’

This article is by Julia Conley on Naked Capitalism and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Imploring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow them to contribute to the state’s future in a way that benefits all New Yorkers, four dozen millionaires are demanding that lawmakers pass a “Multi-Millionaires Tax” to raise billions of dollars for education, infrastructure, and other programs for the greater good.

Forty-eight millionaires sent a letter to Cuomo and the New York State Assembly as lawmakers weigh proposals for closing the state’s $2.3 billion deficit—arguing that raising their taxes could provide the state with an additional $2 to 3 billion per year.

“We millionaires and multi-millionaires of New York can easily invest more in the Empire State, and lawmakers like you have a moral and a fiduciary duty to make sure we do so,” wrote the Patriotic Millionaires, including former Blackrock executive Morris Pearl and filmmaker and entertainment heir Abigail Disney.

“The taxes we’re talking about will not affect people’s quality of life. They will not have any fewer private airplanes or boats because of this tax.” —Abigail Disney, Patriotic Millionaires“Raising taxes on high-income New Yorkers like us in order to invest in our people and our communities is not just the right moral choice, it also happens to be in the long-term economic best interest of everyone, including millionaires like us,” they added.

I say, for I did not know this, and I also like this. Here is more:

Cuomo has dismissed proposals to tax the rich at a higher rate, saying it will send the richest New Yorkers, who he says pay about half of the state’s income taxes, fleeing the state—a claim Pearl debunked in his testimony.

“I will tell you as someone who knows a lot of rich people in New York, the rich people who make decisions on where to live based mainly on taxes do not live in New York, and they have not lived in New York in decades,” Pearl said. “It would be a colossal mistake for us to compromise the things that actually make rich people want to live in this state in order to appease these fictional New York millionaires who care enough about taxes to leave if we expand the millionaires tax.”

The group added in its letter that since 2009, when New York passed a Millionaires Tax affecting households making $300,000 or more, the number of millionaires in New York has risen 63 percent.

Furthermore, the millionaires wrote, “Most of us will literally not notice the difference” in their tax bills if their rate is raised.

Well... I think Cuomo was lying, and do so mostly (1) because the millionaires and billionaires just got millions from Trump and (2) because they pay much less taxes - percentually - than has been the case since the 1940ies.

Besides, as these 48 millionaires said, since 2009 "
the number of millionaires in New York has risen 63 percent".

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

Pearl added that his wealth provides such an enormous cushion that he—and, very likely, most other extremely high earners—couldn’t pinpoint how much Trump’s tax cuts had saved him.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure exactly,” Pearl told the Times. “I pay so much lower taxes than people who work for a living anyway, that I’m not overly worried about it.”

The Patriotic Millionaires have condemned President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law, with member Eric Schoenberg calling the tax code a “monstrosity” and Disney releasing a viral video before the 2018 midterm elections warning of the GOP’s plan to pass even more tax cuts for the rich.

I say again, although I am not much impressed by the moral decency of these 48 millionaires, although that probably plays a role as well. I am somewhat impressed by their arguments that
higher taxes would not be unfair because millionaires and billionaires anyway "
pay so much lower taxes than people who work for a living anyway", simply because they are realistic. 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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