June 30, 2019

Crisis: On James Murdoch, On Concentration Camps, On the Republicans, Chomsky on 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 June 30, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 30, 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 30, 2019:
1. How James Murdoch Uses Philanthropy
2. Concentration Camps Should Be Liberated. We Can’t Wait Until
3. Oregon Republicans End 9-Day Walkout
4. Noam Chomsky: Democrats may have handed Trump the 2020
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. How James Murdoch Uses Philanthropy

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

The mission of Unite America is lofty. As its name implies, the little-known group wants to heal a political system that has become “more divided and dysfunctional with each election cycle.”

Its bipartisan mission is an implied critique of Fox News, which has been identified, in study after study, as a principal cause of the polarization that Unite America seeks to cure. Yet a few months ago, Unite America received a “strategic investment” from a surprising source: a foundation run by James and Kathryn Murdoch. Their last name might ring a bell; James is a son of Rupert Murdoch, the founder of Fox News, and for nearly two decades he was a top executive in his father’s businesses.

The donation is quite a paradox. Fox has consistently promoted conspiracy theories and white nationalism while demonizing leaders of the Democratic Party. Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a frequent target of its slanted coverage, has bluntly described the network as a “hate-for-profit racket.” Yet while many Americans have been harmed by the toxins of Fox News, it has helped enrich the Murdoch family. James and and his wife Kathryn, like other members of the family, are billionaires. Until last year, James was even hoping to take charge of the family’s empire but his brother Lachlan got the nod from their father, who is now 88 years old.

A question arises: What is going on here?

I did not know any of the above. But I can give Maass's answer to the last question: James Murdoch is trying to buy sympathy for himself by investing in philantrophy. Well... Maass may be right, but I do not know. Here is some more:

Alongside his wife, James Murdoch is trying to cast himself as a member in righteous standing of the effort to repair the damage his family helped cause. In addition to the infusion into Unite America, James and Kathryn Murdoch have donated $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, which combats the sort of hate crimes that Fox News is widely regarded as encouraging. Through their foundation, which is called Quadrivium (the Latin word for “crossroads”), they have also donated at least $4.25 million since 2013 to the Environmental Defense Fund — a group fighting against the skepticism of climate change that Fox News has ceaselessly promoted. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which posts and links to articles that criticize Fox’s skewed reporting on science and the environment, has received more than $1.75 million from their foundation.

I say, for I also did not know this. And it seems as if James Murdoch and his wife gave at least 5 million dollars to diverse instutions - which I agree is not really much for a billionaire but then it is rather a lot for anybody else.

Also, it seems Maass is more convinced than I am that Murdoch does spend some of his money in the way he does because he wants to buy sympathy. He also has an argument:

A new debate has been set off by the philanthropy of the Sackler family, which owns the company that makes OxyContin, the brand-name drug at the center of the opioid epidemic. In the past year, the family has been shunned by nonprofit organizations that used to line up to accept their donations. This is the result, in part, of a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general that described the Sackler family as trying to donate their way out of trouble.

“The Sacklers used their ill-gotten wealth to cover up their misconduct with a philanthropic campaign intending to whitewash their decades-long success in profiting at New Yorkers’ expense,” the suit said.

The Sacklers might be somewhat unique in the annals of tainted fortunes because their company, Purdue Pharma, is legally connected to an epidemic
that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Well... I'd say the Murdochs, or at least Rupert Murdoch, and the Sacklers are rather different. I agree - I think - with Maass that Rupert Murdoch tries to sell a very rightwing program by lies and propaganda, which indeed I do not like at all, but it also seems fairly certain that the Sacklers (or some of the leading ones) differed extremely little from major hard drugs sellers, who sold their opiates under the false pretense (that they knew to be pretense) that these were not addictive, while they were, which also did result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans (over a period of some 20 years).

I think that is different from lying to the public for a very rightwing cause. Anyway - here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Chiara Cordelli, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago who has written about the ethics of philanthropy, believes that giving away tainted money should not necessarily be a silent act. “If my money comes from Fox News, and I want to use the money to promote causes that Fox News undermines, then I should at least publicly explain my rationale for doing that, and I should disavow Fox News’s views on those matters,” Cordelli said in an interview. “Otherwise it seems the donation is nothing else but a way to clean up a reputation.”

No, not quite. Except for the last statement, what Cordelli says is her personal opinion. I happen to agree with her, but that is my personal opinion, but I also think that the personal opinions of others (like James Murdoch) may well be different, for various reasons.

And I do not quite agree with her last statement, and especially not with the "nothing else" in it.

For all I know, James Murdoch's opinions may be honest, though I do not know. And besides, I do not worry much about his motives as long as I do not personally know him,
and am thankful (a bit, at least) for the millions he spent on what are, in my opinion, decent ends. And this is a recommended article.

2. Concentration Camps Should Be Liberated. We Can’t Wait Until 2020.

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

“Yes, we do have concentration camps,” began the stinging critique of the Trump administration’s immigration detention facilities. It was written earlier this week by the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune, in the reliably conservative state of Utah.

Andrea Pitzer, author of the definitive book on the global history of concentration camps, agrees. So do people who were once forced to live in another era’s concentration camps.

But amid the debate about what to call immigration detention facilities, few people have disputed the truly terrible conditions that exist within them. Migrants have long reported awful experiences in immigration custody, but in recent months, an increase in the number of people, especially families and children, crossing the border and being detained has led to severe overcrowding.

Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier was granted access to a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, and wrote in her report about it that “the conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities.” They “felt worse than jail.” The kids she examined were forced to endure “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.”

Well... I agree that the facts reported in the last two quoted paragraphs are probably facts, and I strongly dislike them.

Then again, somebody who says "
Yes, we do have concentration camps" is saying something rather ambiguous, which I know because I know quite a lot about the German concentration camps that the Nazis did run, because both my father and his father were locked up in them as "political terrorists" in 1941, which my grandfather did not survive.

In fact, there have been concentration camps in some sense at least since the beginnings of the 20th Century, when the English locked up the Boers (whom they were fighting) in them.

And while I do not think any of the camps described as "concentration camps" (which is in fact a term that has been mostly removed from Wikipedia) was pleasant or healthy, I think most people who hear the term "concentration camp" will think of the Nazist concentration camps, which I think were probably the worst, although those in the Soviet Union do not seem to have been much better.

Also, while I completely disagree with the policy of locking up people because they are political refugees, and while I detest the facts mentioned by Sevier, I do not think that the - present - American concentration camps (if one wants to call them that, which the present Wikipedia certainly does not) were as serious or as dangerous as the camps that the Nazis used.

Here is some more on my last point:

Over the past year, seven children have died in U.S. immigration custody or shortly after being released. These deaths occurred after 10 years during which not a single child died. Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, told The Atlantic that the stench in some detention facilities is so horrible that it was hard for her to even have a focused conversation with the children. Babies didn’t have diapers. Young kids were forced to care for infants who they didn’t even know. Clothes were covered in snot and excrement. Baby bottles were used without being properly cleaned and sterilized.

I do not know whether the above facts are correct, but will suppose they are. Then again, in the Nazis concentration camps within around 3 years 6 million Jews were murdered.

I think they were considerably worse. Here is some more:

This is why we say that cruelty is the point. It’s not an accident. These systems are cruel by design. The idea is to make it miserable to deter people from coming to the U.S. These detention centers are reckless and dangerous.

As many have pointed out, we need to remember exactly how and why the teenage diarist Anne Frank actually died. She was not gassed to death in a Nazi death camp. Instead, she died of neglect, malnutrition, and disease
And right now, today, we have prison camps across the United States where the same thing is happening.

Well... I again am quite willing to agree that the American camps "are cruel by design", but I disagree that "the same thing is happening" in the USA as in Nazi Germany, indeed not because the Americans are incapable of that, but because I know the horrible facts about the Nazi concentrarion camps quite well.

As I said: They were worse than the present American camps, though I agree that the American camps are cruel, and I also agree that no refugee and no child should be locked up in such camps.

This is from the ending:

I always wondered how concentration camps lasted for so many years during the Holocaust, but now that we have our own, I see how. It’s a mix of fear, indifference, and lack of political will.

No. This may be true of the American camps, but it is less true of the Nazist concentration camps, which existed in explicitly fascist and totalitarian countries, where terror was quite normal against anyone who deviated from the Nazist norms. But this is a recommended article.

3. Oregon Republicans End 9-Day Walkout

This article is by Andrew Selsky and Sarah Zimmerman on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Republican lawmakers returned to the Oregon Senate on Saturday, ending an acrimonious nine-day walkout over a carbon-emissions bill that would have been the second-such legislation in the nation.

The boycott had escalated when the Democratic governor ordered the state police to find and return the rogue Republicans to the Senate so the chamber could convene, and a counter-threat by one GOP senator to violently resist any such attempt. Senate Republicans fled the state to avoid being forcibly returned by the Oregon State Police, whose jurisdiction ends at the state line.

Democrats have an 18 to 12 majority in the Senate but need at least 20 members — and therefore at least two Republicans — to vote on legislation.

Nine minority Republicans returned to the Senate on Saturday after Senate President Peter Courtney said the majority Democrats lacked the necessary 16 votes to pass the legislation aimed at countering climate change.

I say, for I did not know anything of this. And I agree with "the Democratic governor", because "people's representatives" should be present while voting, and the above sketched situation, where 9 Republicans refused to do so because then they might have lost, is a sketch of something that is criminal, in my opinion and that of "the Democratic governor".

Here is some more:

The House had previously passed the bill, one of the centerpieces of Oregon’s 2019 legislative session, which is scheduled to end late Sunday.

One of the Republicans absent Saturday was Sen. Brian Boquist, who had told state police when to come heavily armed and to send bachelor officers if they were going to forcibly return him to the Senate during the walkout. Senate Republican leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., on Friday refused to condemn Boquist’s words, only saying the comments were unhelpful.

As I just said, in my opinion Boquist is a criminal. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The Republicans, though, painted their boycott as a triumph.

“Our mission in walking out was to kill cap and trade,” Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger told reporters Friday. “And that’s what we did.”

Democrats had said the climate legislation was critical to make Oregon a leader in the fight against climate change and will ultimately create jobs and transform the economy.

The bill, if passed, would have been the second in the nation, after California, to cap and trade pollution credits among companies.

Well... I am willing to agree with Baertschiger that the Republicans achieved what they wanted to achieve, but he is probably not willing to agree that they succeeded in that by behaving criminally. And this is a recommended article.

4. Noam Chomsky: Democrats may have handed Trump the 2020 election

This article is by Amy Goodman on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you share your analysis of President Trump? You have lived through so many presidents. Explain President Trump to us and assess the massive response to him.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Trump is—you know, I think there are a number of illusions about Trump. If you take a look at the Trump phenomenon, it’s not very surprising. Think back for the last 10 or 15 years over Republican Party primaries, and remember what happened during the primaries. Each primary, when some candidate rose from the base, they were so outlandish that the Republican establishment tried to crush them and succeeded in doing it—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum. Anyone who was coming out of the base was totally unacceptable to the establishment. The change in 2016 is they couldn’t crush him.

But the interesting question is: Why was this happening? Why, in election after election, was the voting base producing a candidate utterly intolerable to the establishment? And the answer to that is—if you think about that, the answer is not very hard to discover. During the—since the 1970s, during this neoliberal period, both of the political parties have shifted to the right. The Democrats, by the 1970s, had pretty much abandoned the working class.

Meanwhile, the Republicans shifted so far to the right that they went completely off the spectrum. Two of the leading political analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, about five or 10 years ago, described the Republican Party as what they called a “radical insurgency” that has abandoned parliamentary politics.

I agree mostly with Chomsky. Here is more by him:

Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes.

Yes, I agree. Here is more by him:

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.

I agree again.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article - and "this issue" is Russia-gate:

The Democrats invested everything in this issue. Well, turned out there was nothing much there. They gave Trump a huge gift. In fact, they may have handed him the next election. That’s just a—that’s a matter of being so unwilling to deal with fundamental issues, that they’re looking for something on the side that will somehow give political success. The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those. They’re looking for something else—the Democratic establishment. I’m not talking about the young cohort that’s coming in, which is quite different.

Yes, I quite agree and this is a strongly 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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