April 18, 2019

Crisis: Extinction Rebellion, Public Banking, Power & Powell Jr., U.S. Elections, Hey Democrats...

“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 April 18, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, April 18, 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 April 18, 2019:
1. On Extinction Rebellion
2. The Public Banking Revolution Is Upon Us

3. Getting Serious About Power

4. Why the US Elected a Despot, and Why It's Poised To Do It Again

5. Hey, Democrats: Want four more years of this criminal lunatic?
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. On Extinction Rebellion

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

Extinction Rebellion. That’s the name of the movement shutting down Central London this week in a series of direct actions, as activists close bridges, occupy public landmarks and even superglue themselves to buildings to demand urgent action to combat climate change. Police have arrested more than 300 people so far, and the protests are continuing. Today, activists have halted trains at Canary Wharf—a financial hub of the city—with two protesters climbing a train car and another supergluing his hand to a train window. We speak to Clare Farrell, one of the co-founders of the environmental action group Extinction Rebellion, and Farhana Yamin, international environmental lawyer who helped draft the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement. On Tuesday, she was arrested after gluing both of her hands to the ground outside the Shell building in Central London.

I say, which I do in part because Chris Hedges wrote about Extinction Rebellion. You find my review of his article under the last link.

My review was not optimistic, for what I still think are good reasons - basically: (i) you cannot make a real revolution that is non-violent, and (ii) a real revolution will probably only succeed in a time of economical crisis - but then I am also willing to concede that my reasons are mostly based on the acts of three generations of my family, viz. my grandfather, my father and myself, and that family is quite special (at least in the sense that I do not know anyone else - other than my brother - with such a background).

Then again, the present article is about the present, and it is true that Extinction Rebellion has created something that looks a bit like a rebellion.

Here is some more:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Extinction Rebellion. That’s the name of the movement shutting down Central London this week in a series of direct actions as activists close bridges, occupy public landmarks and even superglue themselves to buildings to demand urgent action to combat climate change. Police have arrested more than 300 people so far, and the protests are continuing. Today, activists have halted trains at Canary Wharf—a financial hub of the city—with two protesters climbing a train car and another supergluing his hand to a train window. Earlier this week, protesters shut down Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus, with others supergluing themselves to the British headquarters of the Shell Oil Company. This is Farhana Yamin, a leading climate lawyer and Extinction Rebellion activist who superglued her hands to the pavement in front of the Shell building.

FARHANA YAMIN: Stop lobbying governments to delay action. These prove to me that the legal process is pretty broken right now. And we’re having to break law rather than make law, because of the inaction of 30 years now of these companies.

Yes indeed. Then again, while I agree with Yamin on one level the points I made above still stand, at least in my opinion.

Here is some more:

AMY GOODMAN: The protests are taking place across Europe and around the world as part of a week-long campaign organized by Extinction Rebellion. The group started in the United Kingdom just last year and has now spread to dozens of countries. The growing collective of activists are demanding governments commit to legally binding measures to slash consumption, reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

I say. Well... I admit Extinction Rebellion seems larger than I expected in February.

Here is some more:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Clare Farrell, as co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, could you talk about the urgency that you and the supporters of your movement feel right now and why you felt it so necessary to do this massive civil disobedience?

CLARE FARRELL: Well, yes. As Farhana says, it’s been well over 30 years of denial and time wasting, really, and we’ve pushed ourselves up against the edge of a window of time frame that we have to act. And, you know, carbon emissions are still going up. They’re set to go up again this year. So, globally, the facts are quite clear that we’re on a catastrophic course, and we’ve wasted a huge amount of time. We’re not prepared to stand by and watch us waste the very small window that we have left.

Well... this is correct in so far as the governments and the oil companies are concerned (to keep it simple) but I believe it is not correct in so far as realistic chances on a real revolution are concerned.

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

CLARE FARRELL: Just to say, this is the start of a campaign of mass civil disobedience. The intention is that it isn’t over after a few days, but the intention is that, you know, it will catalyze and inspire others to take forward their own actions and become a big mass movement all over the world. So, I hope, in the months and weeks beyond this, that we will see many, many more actions coming up.

Since they have started, I hope they succeed, although it is my expectation they will not (and some hundreds or thousands of activists will be arrested and convicted). Anyway.... this is a strongly recommended article.

2. The Public Banking Revolution Is Upon Us

This article is by Ellen Brown on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

As public banking gains momentum across the country, policymakers in California and Washington state are vying to form the nation’s second state-owned bank, following in the footsteps of the highly successful Bank of North Dakota, founded in 1919. The race is extremely close, with state bank bills now passing their first round of committee hearings in both states’ senates.

I like Ellen Brown, in part because she has been pleading for public banking for a long time. This article is not about public banking itself, but about the present movement to start more public banks, and if you want to know more about public banking, you will probably have to read (at least) the last two links.

Here is some more:

The time is also right for bringing the bill, as a growing public banking movement is picking up momentum across the U.S. Over 25 public bank bills are currently active, and dozens of groups are promoting the idea. Advocates include a highly motivated generation of young millennials, who are only too aware that the old system is not working for them and a new direction is needed.

Banks now create most of our money supply and need to be made public utilities, following the stellar precedent of the Bank of North Dakota, which makes below-market loans for local communities and businesses while turning a profit for the state. The Bank of North Dakota was founded in 1919 in response to a farmers’ revolt against out-of-state banks that were foreclosing unfairly on their farms. Since then it has evolved into a $7.4 billion bank that is reported to be even more profitable than JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, although its mandate is not actually to make a profit but simply to serve the interests of local North Dakota communities. Along with hundreds of public banks worldwide, it has demonstrated what can be done by cutting out private shareholders and middlemen and mobilizing public revenues to serve the public interest.

Yes indeed: I agree. Here is the ending of this article:

Whenever it happens, says Sen. Hasegawa, “I see a public bank as almost inevitable because of the current financial structures we’re required to live under.” State infrastructure needs are huge, and the existing funding options—raising taxes, cutting services and increasing debt levels—have been exhausted. Newly-created credit directed into local communities by publicly-owned banks can provide the additional funding that local governments critically need.

Whichever state wins the race for the next state bank, the implications are huge. A century after the very successful Bank of North Dakota proved the model, the time has finally come to apply it across the country.

I hope Ellen Brown is correct, and this is a recommended article.

3. Getting Serious About Power

This article is by Caroline Fredrickson on Common Dreams and originally on The American Prospect. It starts as follows:

It was 1971 and Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, who had been president of the American Bar Association and a member of the board of the giant tobacco company Philip Morris, had come to believe that American capitalism was facing a dire threat. Americans were angry about corporate abuse and corporate pollution; President Richard M. Nixon had responded by signing the National Environmental Policy Act and creating the Environmental Protection Agency through executive order. Across the country, activists marched for Earth Day, and Congress passed the first air pollution standards. Ralph Nader and other consumer advocates had successfully fought for safer cars and other products.

Powell believed that corporate America needed a decisive response to this perceived threat to the free-enterprise system. In a lengthy memo, the soon-to-be Supreme Court justice laid out his concerns and proposed responses to the Chamber of Commerce, where he served as chairman of the education committee.

Yes indeed: This is all quite correct and here is more on Lewis Powell Jr. Also to understand properly what Powell did, or at least started, I think you have to read The Powell Memo, which you will find under the last link.

Here is some more from this article:

The document he penned, now known as the Powell Memo, has been described as the road map for conservative dominance of public policymaking. For any such plan to be successful, Powell understood, conservatives would have to fund a broad array of institutions that would exert control over the levers of power, including the courts, the legislature, and the media. Importantly, the tobacco lawyer insisted, it would require “careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.” What Powell grasped is that policy victories come after gaining control of the levers of power—and not before.

The impact has been devastating.

Yes indeed - I completely agree, and Powell's Memo was followed by Reagan, since when - also see the next article - "the top .01 percent saw their income rise by 322 percent, while income for the bottom 90 percent rose by just .03 percent" which is certainly in part due to Powell Jr.

Here is some more:

Progressives are unlikely to adopt the hierarchical approach that works on the right, but we do need something like a Powell Memo of our own, an overarching strategy that focuses on winning and maintaining power, not just on issues; one that recognizes the need for large-scale and long-term investment in progressive infrastructure—think tanks to generate ideas, media to disseminate them, lawmakers to enact them, and judges to uphold them.

Well... I agree in principle, but then again the principle I agree with seems to be undercut by the fact that "progressives are unlikely to adopt the hierarchical approach".

Here is the ending of this article:

Lewis Powell himself did not see his plan come together all at once, but on the right, there was quick recognition that he had correctly analyzed the problem, and conservatives were serious about a solution. Like the right, we must be ruthless in thinking through which procedures and rules will make it easier for us to win electoral, legal, and legislative victories. We can pursue all this with a clear conscience—because unlike the right, in a fair election we win.

I basically agree, except with the very last bit, that "[w]e can pursue all this with a clear conscience—because unlike the right, in a fair election we win": No, I have a clear conscience irrespective of the number of those who do or might support me. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Why the US Elected a Despot, and Why It's Poised To Do It Again

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

There’s an emerging conventional wisdom that says the way for Democrats to win in 2020 is to move to the center and pick up some of those centrist votes. This is the perspective being pushed by the neoliberal establishment, the mainstream media, and the bulk of the paid political pundits.

There are two things wrong with this.

First, there is no center, or to be more precise, it's miniscule. Too many pundits confuse independents with centrists, when fact, the vast majority of them lean one way or another.

Yes, I think the above is correct. In fact, I think that apart from the mainstream media, the neoliberals and "the bulk of the paid political pundits" the main persons who are Democrats and centrists are the rich Democrats who at present (and since Bill Clinton) control the Democratic Party, and who seem to me not primarily centrist but corrupt (and see below if you disagree).

Here is some more:

Second, the real prize in electoral politics is the no shows. To see why this is so, we can examine the last two elections.  In 2016, about 58 percent of eligible voters turned out, and Trump won—thanks to the electoral college—with only a little above 27 percent of the voters, while Hillary Clinton got about 28 percent.  Let’s look at the numbers from 2016:

  • 65.8 million voted for Clinton;
  • 62.9 million voted for Trump;
  • 6.9 million voted for a third-party candidate; and
  • 96 million didn’t bother to vote.

There are nearly 231 million eligible voters in the US, but only 135 million voted in the 2016 election.

Yes indeed: 96 million Americans did not vote in 2016 - which is almost 1 1/2 times the number of votes either candidate got.

Here is a partial explanation:

The reality is, people are legitimately cynical about the Democratic party—in fact about both parties. The Smith Project revealed the depth of the people’s cynicism.  For example:

  • Eighty-six percent of all voters believe political leaders are more interested in protecting their power than in doing what’s right for the American people.
  • Eighty-three percent believe the country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists, and other interests for their own gain.
  • Further, 79% believe that powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions, and PACs use campaign and lobbying money to rig the system to serve themselves and that they loot the national treasury at the expense of every American.

And if you want to understand where Trump gets his support from, here’s a stat from the Smith Project that ought to make it obvious.  Some 77 percent of Americans prefer candidates who “take on the political elites and special interests” to those who conform to a set ideology.  Trump voters aren’t voting for anything, they're voting against the status quo.

And all those cynics are right. The system is rigged. For example, between 1980 and 2015, the top .01 percent saw their income rise by 322 percent, while income for the bottom 90 percent rose by just .03 percent.

Yes indeed, and this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Hey, Democrats: Want four more years of this criminal lunatic?

This article is by Lucian K. Truscott IV on Salon. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

It’s hard to know who to be more disgusted with: the liberal media or the Democrats. They’re forming circular firing squads around the glass-topped anchor tables on MSNBC and CNN. They’re sniping at each other on op-ed pages. They’re posting unhinged, granular takedowns of their opponents on Facebook. They’re tweeting out quotes from decade-old speeches targeting each other for departures from liberal orthodoxy. They’re catching fellow Democrats for slips of the tongue, or use of the hands, or backroom misbehavior like -- gasp! -- yelling at a staffer!

And you know who’s watching? The white supremacist in chief; the man who ordered babies to be kidnapped from their mothers at the border; the author of the transgender ban in the armed forces; the man who appointed industry lobbyists to watch over our public lands, our air, our water and the safety of our transportation system; the man who has turned the Supreme Court into a rubber stamp for racism; the man who has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a greater leader than the three American presidents who preceded him; the man who has paid off porn stars, grabbed women’s pussies, and wants to put them in prison for having abortion

I more or less agree with the above, although I should mention - and see the previous article - that the title might have been better addressed to the non-voters (of which there are many more than either Democrat or Republican voters).

Then again, I agree with Truscott on most of the Democrats and the - so-called - "liberal media".

Here is some more:

WFT, Democrats? WTF, liberal media? Did we learn nothing over the last three years? We’ve watched Trump appoint a cabinet full of halfwits and criminals; we’ve watched him hollow out the government with budget cuts, neglect and ignorance; we’ve listened to him rail and screech his racism at public rallies and Fox TV interviews; we’ve listened to him tell thousands of lies; we’ve watched him excoriate the American system of justice, his own intelligence and defense experts and military leaders even while he found reason to heap praise on despotic foreign leaders who jail their own citizens without trial and assassinate political opponents with impunity; we’ve seen him walk away from international treaties and alliances with friends and embrace enemies; and we’ve been witness to a debasement of American culture and values so astounding that he praises white supremacists, supports accused child molesters and befriends murderers. He bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it, and he was right. That isn’t enough?

Well... I agree with the above, but then again I must admit that neither most Democrats nor the "liberal media" seem to care much. Also, as I said at the start of this review: There are many more non-voters than there are either Democrats or Republicans (as votes).

Here is the ending of this article:

You want four more years of this shit? Four more years of Trump turning the White House into a criminal enterprise? Four more years of racism and gay-baiting and Muslim-hating, and demolition of democratic norms and government institutions and the rule of law? Go on another cable show, pen another op-ed, tweet out another rumor, trash another fellow Democrat.

Keep it up.

Truscott is clearly angry. I am not but I am not an American, although I think he is mostly 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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