March 10, 2019

Crisis: Sanders & Socialism, Warren & Big Tech, Nuclear War, Medicare for All, On Facebook

“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 10, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, March 10, 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 10, 2019:
1. Is Sanders Enough of a Socialist?
2. Elizabeth Warren Declares War on Big Tech

3. We’re Edging Closer to Nuclear War

4. Big Pharma, Insurers, Hospitals Team Up to Kill Medicare for All

5. Can Facebook Reinvent Itself?
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. Is Sanders Enough of a Socialist?

This article is by Paul Jay on Truthdig and originally on The Real News Network. It starts as follows:

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network, I’m Paul Jay.

Well, Donald Trump has framed the 2020 elections as a fight between socialism and capitalism. Here’s what he had to say at the State of the Union.

DONALD TRUMP: Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt Socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

PAUL JAY: Now, I suppose a lot of people like me, when I watch the State of the Union, it’s not so much about what the president says, it’s more the applause-o-meter. Who is getting up to applaud when? And you try to read the politics of the room. And as he was saying “America will never be a socialist country,” there’s Nancy Pelosi behind him, applauding.

Yes indeed. Then again, I think I should start this review with two observations:

One. The title of this article is - intentionally? - ambiguous, for it does not (even) ask whether Sanders is enough of a socialist for what. Besides, the whole article does not define the term ¨socialism¨, which also is hard to define sensibly. (See
Crisis: On Socialism for more.)

Two. Besides, Sanders is a politician who is trying to become the next President of the USA, which means that he has to speak fairly carefully, especially with regards to such things - I speak in a very general sense - as socialism (which, once again, is hardly ever decently defined).

I think both observations are valid. Here is some by Sanders himself:

BERNIE SANDERS: (..) So what democratic socialism means to me is having, in a civilized society, the understanding that we can make sure that all of our people live in security and in dignity. Healthcare is a human right. All people should have healthcare. You can’t get ahead in this country, in this world, unless you have a decent education. We have got to, as a right, end the kinds of discrimination, the racism and the sexism and the homophobia that exist. So to me, when I talk about Democratic socialism, what I talk about are human rights and economic rights.

And I think this answer by Sanders - probably - depends rather a lot on the two observations I made above.

Also, I think neither Sanders nor myself think that democratic socialism is the same as universal healthcare, a decent education, no racism, no sexism and no homophobia. In fact, the list I just provided, which comes from Sanders, seems to me quite compatible with almost any kind of vague leftism and almost any kind of liberalism.

Here is some more:

PAUL JAY: Eugene, what do you think?

EUGENE PURYEAR: Well, I have to say, this is one of the areas I’m most critical of Bernie. I mean, I think that he’s defining as socialism is really just a New Deal, Great Society liberalism, which certainly is good as far as it goes, it’s certainly much better than the unrealized dreams of those eras. It’s certainly a much better state of affairs than what we have now. But I think he was unable to really hit the core of the difference between capitalism and socialism and the idea that capitalism is a system where everything is produced for profit to be a commodity, and socialism is a system where the basic goods that people need to live, survive, and thrive are also not commodities.
So I think the reality is is perhaps what Bernie is portraying is as much as you can do within the U.S. system, but I think it’s not actually socialism. And I think that that is in and of itself an important distinction that I think has to be made here, that socialism is a system where profit is never going to be able to succeed over the needs of people. And I think that goes beyond what he was willing to say, despite the fact that certainly, all the things he’s saying I think, would be good and should be instituted right away. And there’s actually really almost no reason why all of them couldn’t be instituted tomorrow except for a lack of political will.

Yes, I basically agree with Puryear, though rather for the reasons I gave above than for the reasons Puryear gives, which have a lot to do with his understanding of the term¨socialism¨ (which are also not the same as mine).

Here is some more:

PAUL JAY: (..) I think Bernie, and to some extent to give some credit to Occupy too, but the extent to which Bernie has allowed socialism to be in the discourse in a very positive way, even if it isn’t what some of us might consider actual socialism, that being said, and I give Bernie tons of credit for that, and not just Bernie, but the whole movement that gave rise to Bernie has arisen. And it’s not just Bernie anymore, there’s lots of such candidates. That being said, I think again, there’s a way he could be going further than he is without stepping so outside the bounds of what’s possible within this kind of mainstream politics.

I think Jay is mostly correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

NORMAN SOLOMON: (..) At this historic moment, we have emphatically two huge imperative responsibilities. One is to fight the right, the xenophobes, the racists, the misogynists, this entire panoply of power that has fallen heavier than ever on people in the United States and consequently in much of the world, and that includes the militarization, not only further militarization of U.S. foreign policy, but also domestic militarization against people of color by the police forces, as Paul, you were just referring to. And the second imperative is to move forward a progressive agenda. And given, you might say, the objective conditions right now, a political coalition that is powered by a Democratic Socialist Movement and is open to an embracing of other progressive forces, I think that is absolutely essential.

I more or less agree, but since I did not know whether the ¨Democratic Socialist Movement¨ is anything, I searched for it, and what I found was a fairly clear definition of ¨democratic socialism¨ (see the link). Anyway, this is a recommended article.

2. Elizabeth Warren Declares War on Big Tech

This article is by Naomi LaChance on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on Medium on Friday her intention for “big, structural change” to the tech sector  if she’s elected president in 2020. Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said that her administration would break up tech giants Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Her broad plan proposes ways to reduce tech giants’ political and economic power, prioritizing ways to allow smaller businesses to compete in the marketplace. She would pass legislation saying that companies that make more than $25 billion annually from services such as Google Search, Amazon Marketplace and Google Ad Exchange would be designated as “platform utilities.” They would be barred from sharing data with third parties or owning a company that uses their platforms, which would stop Google and Amazon from prioritizing their own products in search results.

Warren also said she would appoint regulators who would use existing antitrust laws to undo mergers. For example, Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods, Facebook’s ownership of Instagram and Google’s ownership of smart home tool manufacturer Nest would be undone.

I like the above, but I agree that it is probably necessary to have Warren for president in 2020 to see the above realized.

Here is some more:

Julia Salazar, a New York State senator and democratic socialist, said in a statement that she supported the proposal. “I’m glad to see the dangers of monopolistic market power being taken seriously by a leading presidential candidate,” she said, adding, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other pro-Amazon politicians need to see the danger of sublimating all facets of our daily lives into a single all-encompassing company, which is clearly Amazon’s business model.”

The proposal would apply to Apple as well.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article.

3. We’re Edging Closer to Nuclear War

This article is by Stephen Kinzer on Common Dreams and originally on the Boston Globe. It starts as follows:

Last month two nuclear-armed countries, India and Pakistan, came to the brink of war. Their border skirmish was a scary message from the future. If controls on nuclear weapons continue to weaken, more countries will probably develop those weapons. Each time one does, its rivals are likely to do the same. Local conflicts will suddenly have the potential to explode into nuclear war.

Yes indeed - and I did not know of the conflict between India and Pakistan last month.

Here is more:

In a world where nuclear weapons are widely spread, political passion could turn an obscure dispute like this into global catastrophe.

That world is emerging. The Trump administration has been moving systematically to undermine accords that have kept nuclear proliferation within possibly manageable limits over the last half-century. Most recently it announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which regulates several classes of nuclear missiles.
Yes, I completely agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Senior policymakers around President Trump reject the very idea of arms control. They are resuming the wrecking rampage launched by President George W. Bush, who pulled the United States out of the Anti-Ballistic Missle treaty in 2001. That move left Russia and China free to develop a new generation of hypersonic missiles. All steps away from control of nuclear arms have effects like that. They also, however, make a stark political point. By renouncing arms control, the United States declares its wish for a world without treaties; if that frees other countries to build nuclear arsenals, so be it.

Yes, I think that is correct and this is a recommended article.

4. Big Pharma, Insurers, Hospitals Team Up to Kill Medicare for All

This article is by Karl Evers-Hillstrom on Common Dreams and originally on Open Secrets. It starts as follows:

Pharmaceutical manufacturers and health insurance companies don’t agree on much these days. As Congress introduces bills to address rising drug prices, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are engaged in a lobbying and public relations war with drugmakers over who is to blame.

But the giants of the healthcare industry agree on one thing: Medicare for All cannot become law.

Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a group comprised of major drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals, has spent the last several months lobbying members of Congress, running online ads and working with the media to drive down popularity of Medicare for All, a single-payer health platform that continues to gain popularity in the Democratic party.

The partnership includes some of the biggest names in the healthcare industry, including the American Medical Association (AMA), Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Yes, and I am strongly for Medicare for All. Here is a comparison between the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for all - and McDonough is a Harvard health professor:

Medicare for All is different, McDonough said, because there isn’t as much room for lawmakers to make concessions. Depending on the version of the bill, it would likely create stricter regulation on drug prices, eliminate the need for some private insurers and cut the bottom line for hospitals that rely on private insurance reimbursement rates.

“When you point a gun at somebody and say ‘we’re gonna kill you,’ don’t be surprised when they fight like it’s life or death,” McDonough said. “The ACA was not life or death for the insurance industry. Medicare for All is a death notice for a large chunk of the U.S. healthcare industry and they know it.”

Yes, I think that is correct.

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

Medicare for All is up against serious challenges — and it’s unclear whether the measure has enough muscle, or money, behind it.

Though the bill has drawn praise from several major unions, including National Nurses United, National Union of Healthcare Workers, American Federation of Teachers and Service Employees International Union, few industry groups — outside of those dedicated to backing single-payer health care — publicly support the bill.

The Medicare for All bill (H.R.1384) introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Feb. 27 has 106 co-sponsors in the House, far fewer than it needs to pass, and
does not have the support of House Democratic leaders.
Every attempt to completely overhaul the healthcare system has failed or become watered down due to opposition from the healthcare industry, from President Harry Truman’s universal health care plan in 1949 to President Bill Clinton’s universal health care plan in 1993. Supporters of Medicare for All are hoping this time will be different.

Yes, I think that is also correct, and this is a recommended article.

5. Can Facebook Reinvent Itself?

This article is by Kelly Hayes on Truthout. It starts as follows:

Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that Facebook would be shifting its focus from publicly shared content to “privacy-focused communications.” Zuckerberg’s announcement comes as new numbers from Edison Research indicate that users have been steadily ditching the behemoth platform. According to Edison, Facebook has 15 million fewer users today than it did in 2017, with most of those losses occurring in the coveted 12- to 34-year-old group. Have years of scandal finally caught up with the company? Or have younger users simply gravitated toward other platforms? Either way, Zuckerberg is now floating a new vision for the company — one that may seem curious to those who have kept track of Facebook’s very public missteps.

“We’re building a foundation for social communication aligned with the direction people increasingly care about: messaging each other privately,” Zuckerberg said in an interview on Wednesday.
Well... if you believe the digital gangster (according to English parliamentarians) Mark Zuckerberg who called his followers ¨dumb fucks¨ because ¨they trust me¨, then I think you must be extremely stupid.

And I think he is probably the biggest fraud there ever was, which means that I will regard every thing he says in public primarily as an attempt to lie or propagandize, and indeed he has made $150 billion dollars so far with frauding the stupid and the ignorant.

Here is some on how Facebook works:

In February, MSNBC reported that Facebook’s security team mines the company’s network for posts or comments that may be construed as threatening Facebook’s offices or employees. Upon identifying a user that Facebook deems threatening, Facebook’s security team may monitor the user’s posts and direct messages, or even use the app to track the user’s location. People the company has identified as threatening may be placed on what employees call a “BOLO list.” (BOLO is a law enforcement term that stands for “Be on the lookout.”)

I say: Zuckerberg etc. are still reading private posts by members, as if there is no privacy.
Then again, here is how they use it:

While some former employees defended the BOLO list as a necessary security measure, other former employees called the program “Big Brother-esque” and noted that people could potentially be added to the list for something as simple as saying, “Fuck you, Mark” or “Fuck Facebook.”

I am very glad that I always detested Facebook (see my On the sham called "Facebook").

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

Given Facebook’s sordid history of exploiting its user data, it’s hard to imagine the company successfully reinventing itself as a “privacy-focused” platform. Consumers who want to send encrypted messages already have options like the Signal app to facilitate those conversations. And if there’s anything users don’t associate with Facebook, it’s secure communication.

Yes, I think that is correct 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 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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