June 28, 2019

Crisis: On Elizabeth Warren, The USA & Russia, Nader on "Socialism", Trump's Secret Tax

“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 June 28, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, June 28, 2019.

I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing Crisis files for six years now, since I started to do so after June 10, 2013, which taught me about Snowden.

I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time. (This still continues: I have ME/CFS since 40+ years.)

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 28, 2019:
1. The Warren Wing
2. What Russia Rightfully Remembers, America Forgets
3. Ralph Nader: Who Will Go After Trump's Corporate Socialism?
4. Trump’s Secret Tax on Ordinary Americans
The items 1 - 4 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. The Warren Wing

This article is by Ryan Grim on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Elizabeth Warren’s political obituary was written in a thousand hot takes, each one burning hotter than the last. She seemed to be the latest challenger who President Donald Trump had trolled into oblivion, deftly exploiting identity fractures on the left. But standing center stage at the first Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday night, Warren was back.

Her presidential campaign rolled out of the gate with anemic small-dollar fundraising, raising less than $300,000. Mired in the single digits, she was eclipsed in media attention by an embarrassing pair of contenders: Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman, and Peter Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was paraded around magazine offices as the candidate with brains — never mind the Harvard law professor.

But on the ground, Warren began connecting with audiences starting the first day she hit the trail — and launching her campaign early allowed her to more or less put “Pocahontas” behind her and reset with an endless stream of new policy ideas. So far, she has risen in the polls along with Bernie Sanders, suggesting that the left is growing its share of the vote. The second choice of most Joe Biden voters, meanwhile, is Sanders, suggesting that he and Warren could continue rising together for some time. But at some point, the two will naturally begin to cannibalize each other, which will test the good will that has long existed between their respective camps.

Well... I like Elizabeth Warren, and I also like Bernie Sanders, and so far, of all the  Democratic candidates for the presidency, that is it. I have three simple reasons for that position:

(i) I like both of them because of their political histories (I know that of Sanders fairly well, and also know some of Warren's political history, both mostly from reading in the past 10 years, that again got reported in Nederlog); (ii) I do not know much or anything from most other Democratic candidates, which may be in part caused by my not being an American, but I also found little or nothing about them during my 10+ years of reading (which was and is pretty substantial); while also (iii) becoming president (more or less like becoming a member of the Senate or of Congress, but more so) these days is a virtual guarantee of getting rich (which appeals to all sorts of frauds).

Also, one of my hopes - I don't know how realistic this is, indeed especially because of the ignorance of most Americans about their own politics, which is illustrated by the fact that the loudmouth Biden now is the most popular Democratic candidate - is that Sanders + Warren will become the team that opposes Trump in the coming presidential elections.

Anyway. Here is some more:

Warren has returned to top-tier status the same way she rose a decade ago, through her use of plain storytelling, connecting her own upbringing “on the ragged edge of the middle class” to the country’s broader problem of economic inequality and immobility.
The Depression loomed especially large in her family lore. “I wasn’t born until long after the Depression, until after World War II, but I grew up as a child of the Depression, because my grandmother and grandfather, my aunts, my uncles, my mom and my dad, all my older cousins had lived through the Depression,” she said. “And it was such a searing experience in Oklahoma, that the Depression hung around our family like a shroud. It was always there.”

I think that is a decent and somewhat interesting background. On a personal note: I am less than a year younger than Warren, but while both my mother and father's personal histories and chances also were considerably hurt by the depression, this did not play a large role in the histories I heard, probably because my father, mother and father's father all were in the communist resistance against the Nazis, and both my father and his father were arrested in 1941 and sent to concentration camps, that my grandfather did not survive.

Here is some more on Warren:

Warren’s path to becoming a prominent left-wing, anti-corporate politician was anything but direct. She was for decades what a political consultant might refer to as an infrequent voter, often missing midterms and primaries. And, despite her formidable education and intellect, she was a low-information one at that.
“This happens over the space of a decade, I began to open up the questions I asked. I started with the question of the families who use bankruptcy. But over time it becomes, So why are bankruptcies going up in America?” she said. “What was changing in the 1980s and 1990s? What difference was there in America?”

The answer to that question, she said, led her to become a Democrat. “I start to do the work on how incomes stay flat and core expenses go up, and families do everything they can to cope with the squeeze. They quit saving. They go deeper and deeper into debt, but the credit card companies and payday lenders and subprime mortgage outfits figure out there’s money to be made here, and they come after these families and pick their bones clean. And that’s who ends up in bankruptcy. So that’s how it expands out,” she said. “And by then, I’m a Democrat.”

I like the above story as well and there is considerably more in this article, that is recommended.

2. What Russia Rightfully Remembers, America Forgets

This article is by Scott Ritter on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

On June 6, President Trump commemorated the 75th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, popularly known as D-Day, when approximately 160,000 U.S., British, Canadian and Free French soldiers landed in and around the beaches of Normandy, France. Speaking at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, where the remains of 9,388 American fighting men, most of whom perished on D-Day, are interned, Trump promoted the mythology of American omniscience that was born on the beaches of Normandy. “These men ran through the fires of hell, moved by a force no weapon could destroy,” Trump declared. “The fierce patriotism of a free, proud and sovereign people. They battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy and self-rule. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization.”
What Trump overlooked in his presentation was the reality that the liberation of Europe began long before the D-Day landings. And the burden had almost exclusively been born by the Soviets.
In his defense, Trump is not alone in promoting an America-centric version of history; his speech was simply the latest in a series of historically flawed remarks delivered by a succession of American presidents ever since they began giving speeches at Normandy in commemoration of D-Day.

Yes indeed: That is quite true. Also, as a European - with a good grasp of the second World War, unlike many now living Europeans - I can assure you that a similar false picture of WW II exists in Holland and - so far as I know - most other Western European countries.

Here is more Western mythology:

It was as if the road to Berlin had ended with Americans capturing the Nazi capital, compelling Adolf Hitler to commit suicide and thereby ending the 1,000-year Reich. But that honor fell to the Soviets, who, in a two-week campaign, lost more than 81,000 killed and a quarter of a million men wounded seizing Berlin from fanatical Nazi defenders.

President Obama continued the tradition of minimizing the Soviet role in the Second World War. “Here,” Obama said, speaking on the beaches of Normandy in 2014, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, “we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are. We don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is. We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril. We come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world.”

I just said "Western mythology" and here is part of the reason:

On June 22, 1941, the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany. Some 3.8 million Axis soldiers, backed by more than 6,000 armored vehicles and 4,000 aircraft, launched a surprise attack along a continuous front that ran from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south. Known as Operation Barbarossa, the German offensive decimated the defending Soviet forces, breaking through the front lines and driving deep into Soviet territory, initiating a conflict that would last nearly four years. During that time, more than 26 million Soviet citizens would die, including 8.6 million soldiers of the Red Army (these are conservative numbers—some estimates, drawing upon classified information, hint that the actual number of total deaths might exceed 40 million, including more than 19 million military deaths).

The reason is simply that the Soviet Union fought a major war against the Germans for three years, and lost at least 26 million persons in it, including 8.6 million soldiers (and quite probably more, namely 40 million persons and more than 19 million soldiers).

Here is some more of the same facts:

Given the sad state of affairs between the United States and Russia today, it is hard to imagine that during the Second World War the two nations were part of a “Grand Alliance” that included Great Britain (France and China were brought in at the conclusion of the war). But the reality is that the United States and the Soviet Union, while confronting the same enemy in the form of Nazi Germany, fought two different wars. In its fight against Nazi Germany and Italy, the United States lost 183,588 killed in action or missing, 560,240 wounded and 108,621 prisoners of war. In the first six months of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union lost 802,191 killed, 1,336,147 wounded and 2,835,482 prisoners of war.

In brief, the Soviet Union lost more than 26 times as many men as the Americans did, besides having to fight on their own soil, of which a considerable part was destroyed by the Germans.

So while I do admire the USA, and especially the soldiers who died or got wounded in WW II, I do insist, as does Scott Ritter, that the Russians did a lot more to win WW II than the Americans.

This is from the ending of this article:

Why does this matter? Because facts matter. History matters. The hubris and arrogance derived from our one-sided, exaggerated and highly inaccurate version of the Second World War, where American forces liberated Europe with the assistance of their North Atlantic allies, carries over to this day. It feeds a narrative that gives credence to the fictitious omnipotence of NATO and the total disregard for any Russian perspective regarding the future of a continent the Soviets liberated through the blood and sacrifice of tens of millions of their citizens.

Quite so. There is a lot more in this article, which is strongly recommended.

3. Ralph Nader: Who Will Go After Trump's Corporate Socialism?

This article is by Ralph Nader on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Donald J. Trump’s 2020 election strategy is to connect his potential Democratic opponents with “socialism.” Trump plans to use this attack on the Democrats even if Senator Bernie Sanders, who proudly calls himself a “democratic socialist,” doesn’t become the presidential nominee (Sanders has been decisively re-elected in Vermont).

Senator Elizabeth Warren is distancing herself from the socialist “label.” She went so far as to tell the New England Council “I am a capitalist to my bones.”

Sanders and Warren are not what they claim to be. They are both updating Roosevelt’s New Deal and more closely resemble the Social Democrats that have governed western European democracies for years, delivering higher standards of living than that experienced by Americans.

Yes indeed: I agree with Nader that - according to my own well-founded understanding of socialism - (i) neither Sanders nor Warren is a socialist (as I use that term, and see the last link), while (ii) both are most like social democrats.

Here is some more - but here it also gets complicated and confusing:

The original doctrine of socialism meant government ownership of the means of production—heavy industries, railroads, banks, and the like. Nobody in national politics today is suggesting such a takeover. As one quipster put it, “How can Washington take ownership of the banks when the banks own Washington?”

Confronting Trump on the “socialism” taboo can open up a great debate about the value of government intervention for the good of the public. Sanders can effectively argue that people must choose either democratic socialism or the current failing system of corporate socialism. That choice is not difficult. Such an American democratic socialism could provide almost all of the long overdue solutions this country needs: full more efficient Medicare for all; tuition-free education; living wages; stronger unions; a tax system that works for the people; investments in infrastructure and public works; reforms for a massive, runaway military budget; the end of most corporate welfare; government promotion of renewable energies; and the end of subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power.

I disagree with both paragraphs (though I like and admire Nader).

As to the first paragraph: I am hardly interested in what American politicians "in national politics today" think about socialism. Firstly, I do not know most of them, and secondly I am quite sure the vast majority has far less knowledge of socialism than I have.

Indeed, as to not wanting "
government ownership of the means of production":

My point is that there were many socialist states, governments and countries between 1917 and 1991. And while I agree few were socialist in a sense I approve of, their politics, laws, systems of distribution of property, dominant values and ideas were all different from the same in capitalist or fascist states, which likewise existed between 1917 and 1991.

As to the second paragraph: This is based on two fallacies. First, Bernie Sanders is not a democratic socialist (like George Orwell was) but a social democrat. And second, the American capitalists do not indulge in corporate socialism, but - far more correctly - in capitalist solidarity of the few rich.

And indeed, if these two "translations" are inserted into the second paragraph, it all becomes reasonable in my (informed) terms.

Here is a bit more:

Now, it is even easier to make the case that our political economy is largely controlled by giant corporations and their political toadies. Today the concentration of power and wealth is staggering. Just six capitalist men have wealth to equal the wealth of half of the world’s population.

The Wall Street collapse of 2008-2009 destroyed eight million jobs, lost trillions of dollars in pension and mutual funds, and pushed millions of families to lose their homes. Against this backdrop, the U.S. government used trillions of taxpayer dollars to bail out, in various ways, the greedy, financial giants, whose reckless speculating caused the collapse.

I think this is all correct, but it has little or nothing to do with who is or is not called "socialist" in the USA.

Here is the ending of this article:

The gigantic corporations have been built with the thralldom of deep debt—corporate debt to fund stock buybacks (while reporting record profits), consumer debt, student loan debt, and, of course, government debt caused by drastic corporate and super-rich tax cuts. Many trillions of dollars have been stolen from future generations.

No wonder a small group of billionaires, including George Soros, Eli Broad, and Nick Hanauer, have just publicly urged a modest tax on the super wealthy. As Hanauer, a history buff and advocate of higher minimum wages, says – “the pitchforks are coming.”

Yes, I mostly agree and this is a recommended article, though I disagree with Nader's usage of the term "socialist" and related terms.

4. Trump’s Secret Tax on Ordinary Americans

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

It’s bad enough that the Trump administration has now imposed tariffs on America’s closest trading partners – because those tariffs will raise prices on everything from clothing to cars.

Even worse — and this will come as no surprise — Trump and his enablers are lying about the consequences of these trade wars.

First, a bit about tariffs: Tariffs operate exactly like taxes – on you.

Trump claims that “tariffs are… being paid to the United States by China…“ That’s baloney. Average Americans end up bearing the financial burden.

When the U.S. imposes tariffs on a country, like China, that raises costs for companies doing business there. And then those companies pass on their increased costs to you in the form of higher prices, as even Trump’s own economic advisor Larry Kudlow acknowledged .

Yes indeed. Here is more:

I haven’t even mentioned the costs to American workers of losing their jobs
because China and other nations subject to Trump’s tariffs retaliate by raising tariffs on our exports to them.

Here’s another lie they’re trying to push: Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, claims that tariffs aren’t paid by American consumers because ”it’s relatively easy to substitute other goods” from other countries. Mulvaney also predicts a jump in U.S. production of consumer goods to fill the gap.

This, my friends, is total rubbish.

I agree - and it is "total rubbish" because the main costs in most products are wages, and the wages in the USA - still - are a lot higher than those in China or India.

Here is the ending of this article:

Once again, Trump’s economic nationalism is hurting ordinary Americans without creating a single new job.

Know the truth about tariffs – and spread it.

Yes, I agree 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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