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Nederlog

December 9, 2015
Crisis: Trump, Hedges on democracy, More Trump, The Rich SUCCEEDED
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Introduction


Introduction

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 9, 2015.

This is a fairly small crisis file. (Yesterday I wrote nearly all of the circa 70 Kb on my autobiography, which was rather a lot.) There are 4 items in this file: item 1 is about Glenn Greenwald's reaction to Trump's proposal to ban muslims from entering the USA; item 2 is about a video with Chris Hedges, that I interpret as 'democracy is dead, in the US'; item 3 is more about Trump (and is not quite consistent); and item 4 is about Robert Reich, who correctly points out that the rich have bought American democracy, but who also is not quite consistent (for he seems to think that the rich still can be stopped
: no, for they succeeded).

1. Donald Trump’s “Ban Muslims” Proposal is Wildly Dangerous But Not Far Outside the U.S. Mainstream

The first item is by Glenn Greenwald. I took the one on Common Dreams, but it is also on The Intercept (and elsewhere):

This starts as follows:

Hours after a new poll revealed that he’s trailing Ted Cruz in Iowa, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump issued a statement advocating “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what’s going on.” His spokesperson later clarified that this exclusion even includes Muslim-American citizens who are currently outside the U.S. On first glance, it seems accurate to view this, in the words of The Guardian, as “arguably the most extreme proposal to come from any U.S. presidential candidate in decades.”

I think this may be a correct association: That Trump trailed Cruz, and that Trump a few hours later made a speech in which he wants to prohibit all Muslims - including American Muslims who travelled outside the USA - to enter the United States.

And I think Glenn Greenwald is also quite correct in pointing out that some writers in the New York Times and the New York Daily News who wrote that critics of  Trump were "overreacting" because Trump would never win the presidential elections were much too easy on Trump.

Surely, that was underreacting, and Glenn Greenwald said:

Given that an ISIS attack in Paris just helped fuel the sweeping election victory of an actually fascist party in France, it’s a bit mystifying how someone can be so sanguine about the likelihood of a Trump victory in the U.S. In fact, with a couple of even low-level ISIS attacks successfully carried out on American soil, it’s not at all hard to imagine. But Trump does not need to win, or even get close to winning, for his rhetoric and the movement that he’s stoking to be dangerous in the extreme.

Yes. If there are some Isis attacks on American soil, Trump might win the elections, and in any case his rhetoric is dangerous.

Glenn Greenwald ends his article as follows:

All that said, it’s important not to treat Trump as some radical aberration. He’s essentially the American id, simply channeling pervasive sentiments unadorned with the typical diplomatic and PR niceties designed to prettify the prevailing mentality. (...) Whatever else you want to say about him, Trump is a skillful entertainer, and good entertainers – like good fascist demagogues – know their audience.

I certainly do not think that Trump is a "radical aberration" in the Republican party, and he may not be one either when the Democrats are also taken into consideration.

But I am a bit doubtful about him being "
the American id", though that is mostly because of the Freudianism (which I think is quite unclear, also in Freud). And I am somewhat doubtful about Trump's being "a skillful entertainer": He does not entertain me, and I find both his language and his poses quite stupid.

Then again, this last fact may be mostly me, though I think I am correct when I say that Donald Trump is not intelligent - he merely inherited a great amount of money.

2. VIDEO: ‘Days of Revolt’ With Chris Hedges: The Fracking Revolution Must Be Local

The second item is by Jenna Berbeo on Truthdig:
Indeed this introduces a video, which is worth seeing. This is from the beginning of the article:

Linzey, the executive director and senior legal council for CELDF, explains that corporations can pre-empt or nullify community actions or can use their corporate constitutional rights to sue municipalities that attempt to pass laws to ban fracking projects.

“It’s almost like a myth in this country that we have the power to decide the fate of our own communities,” Linzey explains. “We don’t. And it’s basically because of this collection of corporate law and power that’s exercised against communities.”

“People think we have a fracking problem,” Linzey goes on to explain. “It’s not. It’s a democracy problem. It’s that it doesn’t matter what we want at the local level. It doesn’t matter that we don’t want fracking or corporate factory farms or corporate water withdrawals. It doesn’t matter because we are under a system of laws that doesn’t care what we want as a community.”
I think Linzey is quite correct, and I like to point out that the corporatists have been intrigueing and investing since 1980 or before to reach the position they currently have, where they effectively have left democracy, and make most of the laws by themselves, which are then made into laws by corrupt politicians. (And this is called plutocracy (<- Wikipedia).)

The video is here:

 

3. With Anti-Muslim Bombast, Trump Doubles Down on ‘Fascist Demagoguery’

The third item is by Deirdre Fulton on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump is doubling down on his xenophobic remarks about Muslims, even as they provoke widespread outrage and condemnation across the political spectrum.

On Tuesday, Trump defended his fascist plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” by comparing it with President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II.

“This is a president who was highly respected by all,” Trump said in morning TV interviews on Tuesday. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”

Actually, the last paragraph, in which Trump is quoted (which I also saw on video) shows why it is difficult for me to take Trump seriously: the argument he gives is plainly both very vague and quite illogical. [1] (And this is not limited to this argument of Trump: it is - in so far as I saw or read Trump - typical.)

Glenn Greenwald also gets quoted:
“[I]t’s important not to treat Trump as some radical aberration,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote on Tuesday. “He’s essentially the American id, simply channeling pervasive sentiments unadorned with the typical diplomatic and PR niceties designed to prettify the prevailing mentality. He didn’t propose banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. because it’s grounded in some fringe, out-of-the-mainstream ideas. He proposed it in part to commandeer media attention so as to distract attention away from his rivals and from that latest Iowa poll, but he also proposed it because he knows there is widespread anti-Muslim fear and hatred in the U.S.”
In fact, this is not quite consistent with the earlier passage from this article that I quoted: Either Trump is saying what many Americans think or else there was "widespread outrage and condemnation across the political spectrum", but not both, it seems to me.

4.
Look Who's Buying American Democracy

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows (and comes with a video of 2 m 50 s that's worth seeing):

According to an investigation by the New York Times, half of all the money contributed so far to Democratic and Republican presidential candidates—$176 million—has come from just 158 families, along with the companies they own or control.

Who are these people?  They’re almost entirely white, rich, older and male—even though America is becoming increasingly black and brown, young, female, and with declining household incomes.

According to the report, most of these big contributors live in exclusive neighborhoods where they have private security guards instead of public police officers, private health facilities rather than public parks and pools.

Most send their kids and grand kids to elite private schools rather than public schools. They fly in private jets and get driven in private limousines rather than rely on public transportation.

Yes, indeed (and there is more).

My problem is mostly that - currently - the rich have won, which means that democracy is fundamentally dead, and it has been replaced by plutocracy (of the 158, mentioned above, for example), that meanwhile also seems to have corrupted or convinced most of the legislature to adopt or interpret laws so that only the (very) rich benefit.

And again I point out that this defeat of democracy has been planned since the 1970ies, and has mostly succeeded already under Reagan and Clinton.

Here are Reich's final words (with a verbal mistake corrected):

These people [..] after all, are living in their own separate society, and they want to elect people who will represent them, not the rest of us.

How much more evidence do we need that our system is in crisis? How long before we make it work for all of us instead of a handful at the top? We must not let them buy our democracy. We must get big money out of politics.

I disagree for the most part.

The first paragraph simply is false: The rich are not "living in their own separate society". The (very) rich are living in the society in which everyone lives, but they have very much more money and very much more power than almost anyone else, and they have used their money to buy politicians and the law, and have mostly succeeded - and that is also the main reason that the many are poor and powerless, while the few are rich and powerful.

And the second paragraph seems misleading to me: The (very) rich have bought democracy, and have abolished it. (See item 2.) I agree with Reich that big money must somehow be gotten out of politics, but on the moment the (very) rich run most politics, most laws, and most politicians.

---------------------------------------------
Note
[1] In case you need an argument that the following argument 
“This is a president who was highly respected by all,” Trump said in morning TV interviews on Tuesday. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”
is very vague and quite illogical:

(1) FDR was not "
highly respected by all"
(2) He was highly respected, but this does not mean that
     everything he did was.
(3) "what he was doing" is unclarified, but presumably this
     refers to
(4) the internment of the Japanese Americans (<-Wikipedia)
     which I agree was quite wrong, but
(5) how and why this was "far worse" than what Trump
     proposed is again quite unclear.

And I have similar remarks - what does he mean? how does this follow? - on most arguments I have seen or heard by Trump. Also, I do not think this is intentional: Trump is vague and illogical.

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