March 9, 2019

Crisis: On Elizabeth Warren, On Anti-Semitism, Russia-gate, Trump Knew, Corporate Rule, ME/CFS

“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 March 9, 2019
     B. About ME/CFS

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 9, 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:

A. Selections from March 9, 2019:
1. Elizabeth Warren Praised for Plan to Break Up Tech Giants
2. It’s Time to Tell the Truth

3. Liberals Are Digging Their Own Grave With Russiagate

4. Trump knew it all, from the beginning

5. The 'We the People Amendment' against Corporate Rule
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. Elizabeth Warren Praised for Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

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

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her plan for how to break up the nation's technology behemoths on Friday. 

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for president, laid out her proposal in a Medium post entitled "Here's How We Can Break Up Big Tech." In the post, Warren argued that it's essential to crack down on the unfair market advantage enjoyed by Amazon, Facebook, and Google in order to boost competition and fuel innovation.

Well... I very probably agree with Warren´s plan, but have no idea of its chances of succeeding, though I do assume it will have little chance as long as Trump is president of the USA.

Here is some more:

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout praised the plan, calling it as a sign that a "new anti-monopoly movement is happening, and Warren is coming out swinging at the right targets!" Agreeing with Warren, she added, "The big tech monsters are conglomerates with too much power that they use to extract wealth and data from all us of us as if we are subjects in their feudal regimes."

I agree with the above. Here is some more:

Warren described the problem thusly:

Today's big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.

The impacts of this power, she wrote, are clear:

With fewer competitors entering the market, the big tech companies do not have to compete as aggressively in key areas like protecting our privacy. And some of these companies have grown so powerful that they can bully cities and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange for doing business, and can act—in the words of [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg—"more like a government than a traditional company."

The tech giants have utilized a two-pronged strategy to amass this power, Warren said: using mergers to eat up potential competitors—like Facebook buying Instagram—and getting passes from federal regulators who've failed to assert their authority to block anti-competitive mergers.

I agree with the above. Here is some more:

Warren proposed her own two-pronged strategy to counter the tech giants:

First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as "Platform Utilities" and broken apart from any participant on that platform. [...]

Second, my administration would appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers.

Making such changes, she argued, would make sure "that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last."

"Sen. Warren’s proposal rightly recognizes that digital platforms have become the core infrastructure of our economy," said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and author of multiple deep-dives into Amazon's threats to an open market. "If we're going to restore competition and protect the free exchange of goods and ideas, then we cannot allow Amazon and other big tech companies to continue to use their control of this infrastructure to privilege their own goods and services at the expense of their competitors."

Calling Warren's proposal "smart and practical," Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller said it also showed that it's been a "good week for anti-monopolists."

I more or less agree to the above, but - as I said - I have no ideas about the chances on success Warren´s plan has, although I do assume it has little chance of succeeding under president Trump. And this is a recommended article.

2. It’s Time to Tell the Truth

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

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution Thursday condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, white supremacy and other forms of hate, following a week of debate among congressional Democrats. The controversy began after some lawmakers accused Democratic Congressmember Ilhan Omar of invoking anti-Semitic tropes while questioning U.S. foreign policy on Israel. The House leadership initially drafted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in what was seen as a direct rebuke of Omar. But many progressive Democrats said Omar, one of the first two Muslim Congresswoman in U.S. history, was unfairly being singled out. The split within the Democratic Party forced the leadership to withdraw its initial resolution and then present a much broader one. Congressmember Ilhan Omar voted for and praised the new resolution in a joint statement with fellow Muslim lawmakers Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and André Carson of Indiana. We speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist and member of the newspaper’s editorial board. His latest piece is headlined “Keep It Up, Ilhan Omar.”

I say, which I do because while I did know some of the above, I was unaware that Omar ¨voted for and praised the new resolution¨.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: (..) Gideon Levy, your response to the debate and the final passage of the resolution on Thursday in the House of Representatives?

GIDEON LEVY: It’s wonderful that the House deals with anti-Semitism. It’s wonderful that the House condemns anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism should be condemned. But the context is very suspicious and very troubling. Let me be very frank with you, Amy. We have to say the truth: The Israeli lobby, the Jewish lobby, are, by far, too strong and too aggressive. It’s not good for the Jewish community. It’s not good for Israel.

What is happening now is that some kind of fresh air, some kind of new voices are emerging from Capitol Hill, raising legitimate questions about Israel, about America’s foreign policy toward Israel and about the Israeli lobby in the States. Those are very legitimate questions, and it is more than needed to raise them. But the Israeli propaganda and the Jewish propaganda in recent years made it as a systematic method, whenever anybody dares to raise questions or to criticize Israel, he is immediately and automatically labeled as anti-Semite, and then he has to shut his mouth, because after this, what can he say?

This vicious circle should be broken.

Yes, I think Levy - who, of course, is Jewish himself - is quite correct. Here is some more by him:

GIDEON LEVY: (..) And it’s about time to say the truth, and, yes, Amy, to ask: Do we support automatically and blindly the occupation? Is it legitimate to criticize the occupation? Maybe it is legitimate to handle Israel as South Africa was handled. Maybe BDS is something that we should consider. Those questions are even not legitimate to raise in the United States. And maybe now this vicious circle will be broken, and people will have the courage, the guts and the power to ask questions. Yes, everything is questioned. Even God is questionable.

So, the relations with Israel is not questionable? I saw the other day a congressman say that nobody should question the relations between the United States and Israel. Excuse me? Nobody should question the relations between Israel and the United States? Here, from Tel Aviv, I claim that those relationships are corrupted and are bad for peace and bad for Israel for the long run, because the United States let Israel go crazy, continue the occupation, do whatever it wants, and gets this automatic and blind support.

Yes, I think I agree (and I strongly dislike Nethanyahu myself) and this is a recommended article.

3. Liberals Are Digging Their Own Grave With Russiagate

This article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. This starts as follows:

“This new Cold War [is] more dangerous than the preceding Cold War,” Professor Stephen Cohen tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, has a new book out that addresses the possibility of a U.S.-Russia armed conflict in the near future. Part of the current rejection of the Kremlin that has brought the two nations to this dangerous brink, according to Cohen, is rooted in the U.S. political elites’ desire to maintain their ability to determine the world order.
Joining the two is Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, to discuss the neo-McCarthyism that has been unleashed by Russiagate and what the journalist calls “Trump derangement syndrome” that leads liberals to buy into hysteria surrounding Russia so long as it serves an anti-Trump agenda. While vanden Heuvel argues that the American left is making significant progress on domestic issues, even progressive leaders such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren “have to some extent bought into this new Cold War.”

I think the above is mostly correct, and this also is the first article (that I recollect: I reviewed more than 10,000 articles in the last nearly six years) that - sensibly - discusses the oddness I have named several times in Nederlog, namely that Russia is now almost 30 years (!!) as capitalistic as is the USA.

Here is more:

Robert Scheer: (..) How do you do red-baiting without a Red? Or am I reading Putin wrong, is he really a secret KGB commie?

Stephen Cohen: Well, from the beginning Putin has said he is, and presented himself as—and more or less governed almost 20 years as—certainly a non-communist, and I would say an anti-communist. So as I was working on this book, roughly since the Ukrainian crisis of 2014—and the book ends quite late, at the end of 2018—two questions kept running through my mind. Why is it that throughout my lifetime, American presidents were not only supported but encouraged to deal with the communist leaders of the Kremlin, particularly regarding nuclear weapons and other security issues, and keep us safe? They were communist leaders. But today, Putin, who sits in the Kremlin, is an anti-communist. And when President Trump went to meet with Putin—it was in Helsinki in July last year, I think—it was called treason. So it was OK to deal with the communists, but it’s not OK to deal with the anti-communist. The second question that comes to my mind, and is threaded through this book indirectly and then directly, the Democratic Party—but not only—have so embraced this phenomenon of Russiagate, whose, let’s be candid, core allegation is that Trump is somehow beholden to the Kremlin, or the Kremlin put him in power. I can find no evidence for that, but it’s become a kind of urban or Washington myth.
Yes indeed: All of the above seems quite correct to me, and indeed I have asked myself quite similar questions, indeed since quite a long time.

Here is more (and incidentally vanden Heuvel is married to Stephen Cohen):

Katrina vanden Heuvel: (..) So I just believe that cold wars are lousy for progressives; they’re lousy for women, men, and children, but they fatten the defense budgets, they empower war parties on both sides, they close space for dissent, they close space for independent groups. And you’re right, Steve and I have lived in Moscow off and on, certainly since ‘85, Gorbachev years. And I have seen how [the] previous Cold War, if not narrowed, shut down the space for exchange, for dialogue. And so it’s a very Alice in Wonderland, scrambled politics moment, which I know you feel.

Yes, I agree. Here is some more, this time by Scheer:

RS: And yet you’re being attacked all over the place. Why? Because to use Al Gore’s phrase, you’re dealing with an inconvenient truth. And the inconvenient truth, as I see it, is it’s convenient for the Democrats to blame Putin for their failure in the elections. So the inconvenient truth is Hillary lost the election because she was a lousy candidate and represented conservative politics at a time when populism was what the country needed, and Bernie Sanders was defeated. We’ve also got a case now of Trumpwashing. Whatever the U.S. has done, the torture of prisoners, the invasion of countries irrationally, anything—we have Trumpwashing. You know, you mention Trump, everything else goes. So I want to turn to Katrina here, because it seems to me the left is at the weakest position that it’s been in my lifetime. And I’ve been around a long time.

I agree with Scheer´s analysis why ¨the Democrats (..) blame Putin for their failure in the elections¨, namely - in the end - because ¨Hillary lost the election because she was a lousy candidate¨.

I do not know whether I agree with Scheer that ¨
the left is at the weakest position that it’s been in my lifetime¨, although I agree with him that it is weak.

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

RS: And I think this is a society that is in crisis and cannot face it. And this whole Russiagate, this whole hysteria is a way of avoiding a serious inquiry into what ails us. The clarity of the moment requires recognizing this rot at the core. And at the core is this notion of American exceptionalism. It came up in the presidential election; here’s Donald Trump saying he’s going to make America great again, and Hillary Clinton said it’s always been great. Right there, you had the problem. If we are such an exceptional nation, and all the major crimes have been done by other people, then we are to be trusted with the planet’s future.

And what I think is at work here is this, again, Trumpwashing—suddenly the FBI, they’re virtuous. The CIA doesn’t lie to us. The NSA doesn’t lie to us. Anytime the U.S. is involved in the world, it must be on the side of the angels. And so the most powerful nation in the world that can really seal the future of the planet will go on as an unexamined phenomenon now, not responsible for any major problems. That is the mood of the moment. And what they will do, as you point out, is redbait or McCarthy-bait anybody who gets in the way of that narrative.

Yes, I think the above is mostly quite correct, and this is a recommended article.

4. Trump knew it all, from the beginning

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on Salon. I abbreviated the title. This is from not far from its beginning - and VandeHei and Allen are two journalists:

VandeHei and Allen report that historians tell them there are only two previous scandals that even come close to what we are dealing with now: One is Watergate, and even Americans who weren't alive at the time have heard plenty about that one. The other would be Teapot Dome, a bribery scandal under the manifestly corrupt Warren G. Harding administration in the 1920s.

Trump's scandals include the Russia investigation, of course, which the Axios authors call one of the greatest counter-espionage cases of all time; the Stormy Daniels campaign finance scandal; the lies about the Trump Tower Moscow project (which is likely also part of the Russia counterintelligence investigation); the more than 100 contacts between Russian agents or emissaries and members of the Trump campaign; Michael Flynn's inexplicable lies to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador; the firing of James Comey and other acts of obstruction of justice; and the granting of security clearances to Trump's daughter and son-in-law over the objections of the intelligence agencies.

Their list does not include all the administration officials under suspicion of corruption while in office or the scandals swirling around the president's family business, which he refused to give up upon taking office and is still closely involved with, even promoting his resort properties and private clubs with personal appearances nearly every weekend.

Yes, I think the above is correct. Here is some more:

Even the purveyors of Beltway conventional wisdom are starting to see that regardless of what Robert Mueller's eventual report may conclude, what we already know makes this the most scandal-plagued presidency in history. And the big question that hangs over all of it is the proverbial one uttered years ago by Sen. Howard Baker, who was the ranking Republican on the Senate Watergate Committee: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

It's tempting to believe that Donald Trump is just too dim to have known what he was doing.

Yes indeed, although I do not believe myself that ¨Trump is just too dim to have known what he was doing¨. And there still is Baker´s question: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

Here is Parton´s answer to Baker´s question:

Donald Trump is a narcissistic control freak, particularly when it comes to his cashflow. When it comes down to it, most of these scandals are about money -- including his Russia entanglements, now that we know about the Moscow project. So to answer Howard Baker's question: It's pretty clear that the president knew everything, and knew it all from the very beginning.

I think that may very well be correct, and this is a recommended article.

5. The 'We the People Amendment' against Corporate Rule

This article is by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap and Greg Coleridge on Common Dreams. This is from near its beginning:

The We the People Amendment (HJR 48), introduced by Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA), would establish that:

  1. “The rights protected by the Constitution...are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities...shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People.”

  2. “Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures...The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

  3. “Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.”

The rigging or fixing of our political and economic systems to benefit corporations and economic elites predates the current moment, transcends any one political party or business entity, and is more deeply rooted than any single law or regulation. It’s foundational (i.e. validated by Supreme Court decisions), historical (i.e. going back well over a century) and substantial (i.e. numerous Constitutional Amendment “rights” have been bestowed upon corporate entities and to spending/investing money in elections).

Yes indeed: I completely agree with the above. Here is some more:

The “fixers” for corporate agents and economic elites in all these schemes has been Supreme Court Justices. Despite no reference to corporations anywhere in the Constitution, the Supreme Court concocted time and again that the civil and property rights of corporations trump human and community rights, which disproportionately harms people of color, the poor, working people, seniors and children.

By hijacking the Constitution, corporations and economic elites have gained multiple tools to not merely influence elections, but to capture government with all its power to create or overturn laws and regulations to serve their interests. Business corporations have become the single most powerful institution of governance in our nation while billionaires are co-conspirators in the system of legalized bribery otherwise known as political elections and pay-to-play law making. Government is broken because the system is fixed.

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

The We the People Amendment is authentically grassroots and populist. It is honest, transparent, visionary and anti-establishment. It’s time we tear down our mental walls and act to expand the democratic space that makes possible this and so many other needed constitutional, political, economic and social structural changes.

Self-governing people don’t simply work to elect better representatives, pass better laws, enact better regulations or merely suggest that certain conditions that “may” or might be done. They take charge of their lives, communities, government and, yes, especially their Constitution.

It’s time to take control away from the “fixers” responsible for the constitutional governing rules that has legalized corporate rule and oligarchy.

The We the People Amendment is one fundamental way to democratically fix our democracy crisis. It’s time We the People act like the self-governing people that we supposedly are, and make it happen. Our planet depends on it.

I more or less agree, but also think this is a little (at least) too optimistic. But this is a recommended article.

B. About ME/CFS

          1. NICE CFS/ME consultation draft 29 September – 24 November 2006

This article is on Dxrevisionwatch, which is the only site on ME/CFS that I watch daily, mostly because it is part of the 35 sites I load daily to study and report the news. There was no news on Dxrevisionwatch for quite a while, which is the reason I now do report yesterday´s arrival of the above.

I did briefly look at it but did not study it closely. I suppose it is all quite reasonable, because Dxrevisionwatch is written by a very intelligent person who has no ME/CFS, but who takes care of a family-member with ME/CFS. If you are smart yourself and have ME/CFS, this article very probably is interesting, and it also is recommended.

Also, as a personal aside: I have ME/CFS for over 40 years now, and I am personally quite sick both of the vast majority of medical doctors my ex (who also has ME/CFS for over 40 years now) have met, who lied, and lied, and lied, and also of the vast majority of anonymous patients with ME/CFS who dogmatize about everything, while hardly anyone got as much of a B.A. in anything.

This is also the main reason why I rarely write about ME/CFS these days.

[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 3 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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