February 16, 2019

Crisis: On Amazon, Phony Emergency, Trump's Emergency, Dictator Trump, Unstable Trump

“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 16, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, February 16, 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 16, 2019:
1. What Anti-Capitalist Organizing and Leftist Politicians Can Do
2. Phony Wall, Phony Emergency

3. Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

4. Dictator Trump

5. Why We Must Stop an Unstable Trump
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. What Anti-Capitalist Organizing and Leftist Politicians Can Do

This article is by Natasha Lennard on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

When Amazon, the monopsonistic retailer and ICE collaborator, announced last November that it would open its “second headquarters” in New York City, local resistance arose immediately. The day following the announcement, over 100 community activists, union leaders, and local politicians rallied in the Queens, New York, neighborhood of Long Island City — where Amazon planned to build – in opposition to the deal, which included $3 billion worth of government kickbacks.

Yet while resistance to Amazon’s HQ2 was swift and formidable, the task of stopping the deal appeared Sisyphean. So when Amazon announced on Thursday that it was canceling plans for the New York corporate campus, the news was met with delight and surprise. Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in history; Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised the company that he’d change his name to “Amazon Cuomo” were the deal to go through. It is rare to win against a corporate-government power nexus of this magnitude.

Yes indeed. Incidentally, as to monopsony: This is a link, that may explain it to those who like wonkish articles.

Here is some more:

The plan’s thwarting offers a lesson in the possibility of forceful collective struggle against seemingly unbeatable Goliaths. It also proves the need for left-wing politicians and organizers to challenge and replace conservative, capitalist Democrats if we are to wrest control of neighborhoods, cities, and public resources away from corporate interests and towards the good of existing communities.

Yes, I agree but to "replace conservative, capitalist Democrats if we are to wrest control of neighborhoods, cities, and public resources away from corporate interests" may be more difficult than stopping Amazon. But I agree this is necessary (if the rich are to be tamed democratically).

Here is some more:

“Let’s be clear who deserves the credit for this victory against Amazon — the working people of NYC who refused to let another company reap billions in corporate welfare at the expense of the City’s social welfare,” wrote New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, a longtime opponent to the Amazon deal, on Twitter.

Perhaps, but I do not know about this. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Some of the most vocal New York legislators who opposed HQ2 were newly elected through grassroots campaigns on democratic socialist platforms. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Julia Salazar are perhaps the most famous among them.
The victory against Amazon — and its dealmaker allies in New York’s leadership — shows the immediate material effects of upsetting the state and city’s historically centrist and corporate-friendly order, as represented by the governor and the mayor. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

Well... I think this is somewhat optimistic, but I like it that Amazon got blocked, and this is a recommended article.

2. Phony Wall, Phony Emergency

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

“I didn’t need to do this,” President Trump insisted at a Rose Garden appearance on Friday, as he declared a national emergency aimed at shaking loose a few billion dollars in financing for his beloved border wall.

The president’s assertion was both ludicrous and self-defeating. If a declaration was unnecessary and the wall on track (the wall is “very very on its way,” the president said earlier in the week), how could he claim to be addressing an emergency? As Mr. Trump explained it, “But I’d rather do it much faster.” A presidential desire for speed does not constitute a crisis — no matter how eager a president is to camouflage his failures.

In reality, the wall is not a done deal, and Mr. Trump has spent the past few months — the past two years, really — failing to convince either Congress or Mexico to pay for it.

Yes, I basically agree - and The Editorial Board is quite right that "[t]he president’s assertion was both ludicrous and self-defeating".

Here is some more:

Desperate to save face, the president and his team cooked up a nonemergency emergency with the aim of seizing funds already appropriated for other purposes. Currently, the plan is to pull $2.5 billion from the military’s drug interdiction program, $3.6 billion from its construction budget and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund. The White House plans to “backfill” the money it is taking from the Pentagon in future budgets.

And so, in a breathtaking display of executive disregard for the separation of powers, the White House is thumbing its nose at Congress, the Constitution and the will of the American people, the majority of whom oppose a border wall.

Even as he spun this as an act of strong leadership, Mr. Trump acknowledged that his declaration resolves nothing and creates a host of legal, legislative and political troubles. He predicted that the move would prompt swift legal pushback, which it did. Less than four hours after the announcement, a government watchdog group filed suit, demanding that the Department of Justice hand over “documents concerning the legal authority of the president to invoke emergency powers.” Soon after, the State of California announced its intention to sue.
I say, but I think the above is also correct. Here is some more on Trump's emergency:

Which brings us to the question of precedent. In defending his declaration, Mr. Trump and his team keep asserting that emergency declarations are not unusual. The president called them “a great thing” that other presidents have done “many, many times.”

Since 1976, such declarations have been used 59 times. But most have been uncontroversial and involved matters of foreign policy. Declaring an emergency simply because Congress refused to fund the president’s pet project is seen even by members of his own party as setting a dangerous precedent.
Yes, I think this is also correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised broader issues on Friday. “This issue transcends partisan politics and goes to the core of the Founders’ conception for America, which commands Congress to limit an overreaching executive,” she said in a statement with Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader. “The president’s emergency declaration, if unchecked, would fundamentally alter the balance of powers, inconsistent with our Founders’ vision.”

“We call upon our Republican colleagues to join us to defend the Constitution,” they added. “The Congress cannot let the president shred the Constitution.”

And I think Pelosi and Schumer are also right - and this is also why this and the next three articles are all about Trump's national emergency declaration. This is a recommended article.

3. Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

With one day left to pass a government spending bill before today’s midnight deadline to avert another government shutdown, both the House and Senate passed the measure Thursday that came out of the bipartisan conference committee earlier this week. The bill includes nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers out of steel, far less than the $5.7 billion requested by President Trump. Democrats quickly condemned the news, and consumer rights nonprofit Public Citizen vowed legal action against him. We speak with Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.

Yes indeed, and there also is an article by Weissman below. Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: Trump is set to speak this morning at 10 a.m. If he declares a national emergency, the consumer rights nonprofit Public Citizen has vowed legal action against him, saying the move, quote, “will constitute an outrageous abuse of power—perhaps the most dangerous yet by the unstable and increasingly autocratic President Trump,” unquote.

For more, we’re joined right now by the CEO of—the president of Public Citizen, Robert Weissman.

In fact, this shows how fast things may move, for though this article is from Friday morning, Trump did declare his national emergency and Weissman did start legal action against Trump (also both on Friday, February 15).

Here is more, by Weissman:

ROBERT WEISSMAN: (..) But the real big issue is going to be whether people turn out in droves to protest this and say, “Not only do we not want a wall, but we don’t want the president declaring emergencies to get around the will of Congress.” If this president is able to declare an emergency to build a wall, around a fictitious claim of urgency, against the express interest of the—express intent of Congress, there’s really no limit to what he might do in the future with an emergency declaration. People might think this sounds really scary, almost like martial law. They should think it sounds really scary, and they should act appropriately.
I think Weissman is mostly right. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

ROBERT WEISSMAN: (..) But what I’m most worried about is this president doing it not just this time, but again. It’s easy to imagine him declaring a national emergency to ban public protest and to deploy military domestically. He might trump up claims, as it were, about gang violence, and we suddenly have sweeps of people of color communities around the country. Those extreme scenarios, they’re not so extreme with this president. And whether or not they might move forward depends both on how the national emergency is treated in the courts, but especially by how it’s received by the American people and Congress.

Perhaps, and there is more by Weissman below. And this is a recommended article.

4. Dictator Trump

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

A president who claims he has an absolute right to declare a national emergency and spend government funds that Congress has explicitly refused to appropriate for the ends he seeks, is assuming the role of a dictator.

A president who shuts down government in order to get his way on a controversial issue, such as building a wall along the border with Mexico, and offers to reopen it as a concession when and if his opponents give in, is treating the government of the United States as a bargaining chip. This, too, is the behavior of a dictator.

As is spouting lies over what Trump terms an “undeniable crisis” at the southern U.S. border, which is in fact no crisis at all.  

Donald Trump is violating the Constitution. He is negating our system of government based on the rule of law. He is violating a president’s core responsibility to protect American democracy. 

I say, but I think I mostly agree with Reich. Then there is this:

We do not know yet whether Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to win the 2016 election. What we do know so far is that Trump’s aides and campaign manager worked with Putin’s emissaries during the 2016 election, and that Putin sought to swing the election in favor of Trump.

We also know that since he was elected, Trump has done little or nothing to stop Putin from continuing to try to undermine our democracy. To the contrary, Trump has obstructed inquiries into Russian meddling, and gone out of his way to keep his communications with Putin secret, even from his own White House.

I am sorry, but I mostly do not believe this, and my reasons are that I have been hearing for more than two years that Trump collaborated (or "colluded")with Putin, which was started by Hillary Clinton after she lost the elections, while there has been no evidence for this. (And yes, I do know how to program.)

Anyway - Reich and I disagree about this (and my opinions are strongly supported by the VIPS, who certainly know how to program).

This article ends as follows:

There is only one answer: Donald Trump must be removed from office. Impeachment should start immediately.

I agree with this, but not because Trump collaborated or colluded with the Russians, but because I am a psychologist who agree with many psychologists and psychiatrists that Trump has a serious personality disorder, which should exclude him from governing. And this is a recommended article.

5. Why We Must Stop an Unstable Trump

This article is by Robert Weissman on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Today's presidential declaration of a national emergency is an outrageous abuse of power – perhaps the most dangerous yet by the unstable and increasingly autocratic President Donald Trump. If this invocation of emergency on false pretenses is tolerated, it could justify almost limitless abuses of presidential and military power, including far-reaching clampdowns on civil rights.

This unlawful and unconstitutional action is going to be challenged in court, including by Public Citizen. On behalf of several Texas landowners and a Texas environmental organization that will experience firsthand the immediate impact of Trump’s illegal emergency declaration, we will sue to challenge his unconstitutional attempt to circumvent the legislative process.

I say, and I take it this article was written yesterday by Weissman, after his interview by Amy Goodman reported above.

Here is more by Weissman on Trump's declared emergency:

There is no serious claim to be made of an emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border to justify construction of a wall. Every halfhearted and palpably fabricated rationale to justify claims of emergency has been thoroughly and embarrassingly debunked: Unauthorized immigration is not surging, there is no terrorist invasion from Mexico, illegal drug traffic is channeled through legal ports of entry, not open border areas. The only crisis at the border is the buildup in Mexico of families seeking asylum in the United States – but those people are seeking legal entry into the United States, and the crisis is due to the Trump administration's refusal to afford them humane treatment.

I think all of this is quite correct. Here is some more:

Trump has declared an emergency to circumvent an explicit congressional decision not to fund the wall and to redirect funds in a way that would be illegal in the absence of an emergency declaration (and which we believe is illegal even with the emergency declaration).

If the president can merely cry "emergency" to override national law and contravene explicit congressional action—particularly when the claimed emergency is transparently fraudulent—then it is hard to know what limits exist on presidential power. What's to stop the president from declaring an emergency and limiting the right to protest? To round up people of color en masse to combat purported gang activity? To deploy the military on the streets to maintain order? To censor social media and Internet conversations?

I think this is correct as well. Here is the ending of this article:

It is imperative that Congress must act to stop Trump, and We the People must make Congress do that.

Well... the Democrats have the majority in the House, but I agree with Weissman that Trump should be stopped, somehow. Also, I think Weissman is quite right that Trump is unstable. 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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