Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog

Monday, Mar 27, 2017

Crisis: Warring Neofascists, Trump's Wars, Paul Ryan, Erdogan's Propaganda


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. The Warring Kleptocrats
2. Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and
     Savage as He Promised

3.
No, Paul Ryan, ‘Growing Pains’ Didn’t Kill Your Bill
4. Erdogan, in a Snit Over Ban on Turkish Campaigning Abroad,
     Hurls ‘Nazi’ Charge at 2 Other Nations

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday
, March 27, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four dotted links: Item 1 is about Chris Hedges' column on Truthdig; item 2 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on Trump's consistency as regards his war aims and his propaganda; item 3 is about an article by Robert Reich on Paul Ryan and the defeat of Trump's health care bill; and item 4 is - in fact - about Turkish state propaganda, which is extremely crude, and which suggests Erdogan is projecting psychologically.

Incidentally, I did already - more or less - satisfy one end for this year: I published more non-crisis item already in this year than in the whole of last year. (It is not very important, but I like this.)
March 27: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site now got stuck on Sunday March 26. It seems not that over a year of signs are correct, and this means that my Dutch site is now updated once a week - instead of immediately after (daily) updating, as xs4all succeeded in doing from 1996 till 2015.

Sorry mates, but I do not accept this. More later, for in this way I cannot run a decent website.

Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)

1. The Warring Kleptocrats

The first article today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The Trump kleptocrats are political arsonists. They are carting cans of gasoline into government agencies and Congress to burn down any structure or program that promotes the common good and impedes corporate profit.
Yes, that seems correct to me and the reasons are simply Trump's appointees together with Bannon's Leninism - the "deconstruction of the administrative state - which is an out-and-out attack on the forces of government and of democracy. (And I also think that "thieves" is better than "kleptocrats", but this is an aside.)

Incidentally, I have called this neofascism (<-definition) and defined it - among other things - as having only one norm: maximal profit for the corporations, and one main end: the dismissal of most of the state and of the government, and its replacement by corporate powers. (And I defined it that way before Trump.)

Here is some on Obamacare:
They ineptly have set themselves on fire over Obamacare, but this misstep will do little to halt the drive to, as Stephen Bannon promises, carry out the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Donald Trump’s appointees are busy diminishing or dismantling the agencies they were named to lead and the programs they are supposed to administer. That is why they were selected.
Yes, I agree that Trump's appointees have been appointed to destroy governmental agencies rather than to employ them.

There is this on the (mainstream) media:
It is all entertainment all the time. It is the result of a media that long ago gave up journalism to keep us amused. Trump was its creation. And now we get a daily “Gong Show” out of the White House. It is good for Trump. It is good for the profits of the cable news networks. But it is bad for us. It keeps us distracted as the kleptocrats transform the country into a banana republic.
Yes, and the media have gotten worse and worse ever since 1980 (which marks the rise of "neoliberalism" with Thatcher and Reagan [1]), though I also should remark that it is still possible (!!!) to get somewhat decent news by way of the non-main- stream media. (And indeed if these get forbidden - e.g. as purveyors of "fake news" - then neofascism has really and fully arrived in the USA. Right now, this is not - yet? - the case.)

This is about health care in the USA:
The battle over health care was all about the most effective way to hand money to corporations. Do we stick with Obamacare, already a gift to the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical industries, or do we turn to a sham bill of pretend care that gives even more tax cuts to the rich? This is what passes for nuanced political debate now.
(..)
Health care costs in the United States, where 40 cents of every health care dollar goes to corporations, are double what they are in industrial countries that have a national health service.
Yes, and indeed "Obamacare" was called "Romneycare" before it was called "Obamacare", because Obama's health care plan was mostly copied from a schema his Republican opponent had practised as governor of Massachusets.

And Hedges is simply right in insisting that health care in the USA is very much more expensive than elsewhere, simply because it favors the profits of the corporations much more than the health of the people.

There is this on the press and the media:
This censorship on behalf of corporations is the press’ steadfast lie of omission. And it is this lie that leaves the media at once distrusted by the public and complicit in Trump’s fleecing of America.
I agree, but with the side-remark that it is still possible (!!!) to get somewhat decent news by way of the non-mainstream media (that may be forbidden soon).

This is about the rise of neofascism, for indeed I would have replaced "kleptocrats" in the following quotation by "neofascists":
The kleptocrats have placed all citizens under surveillance. This is by design. They sweep up our email correspondence, tweets, web searches, phone records, file transfers, live chats, financial data, medical data, criminal and civil court records and information on movements. They do this in the name of the war on terror. They have diverted billions of taxpayer dollars to store this information in sophisticated computer systems. They have set up surveillance cameras, biosensors, scanners and face recognition technologies in public and private places to obliterate our anonymity and our privacy. They are watching us constantly. And when a government watches you constantly you cannot use the word “liberty.” The people’s relationship to government is that of slave to master.
Yes I agree, and also I am very frightened by these out-and-out neofascistic means, for if these are maintained, it will be the end of all democracy and of all somewhat decent government "for the people": It will give all powers to the rich, and make everybody who is not rich a fully known slave to his or her masters.

Also, I think this is the plan of the rich neofascists, and has been the plan for quite a long time: To take all the powers they can, and transform the public into effective slaves of the rich (though of course they will not be called "slaves", even though they are: they will probably still be called "Democratic Citizens - and see the next quote for the "rights" these "democratic citizens" have at present).

And in fact, the
neofascists have mostly succeeded already (and again I would have replaced "kleptocrats" in the following quotation by "neofascists"):
The kleptocrats have used the courts to strip us of due process and habeas corpus. They have constructed the largest prison system in the world. They have militarized police and authorized them to kill unarmed citizens, especially poor people of color, with impunity. They have overturned the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which once prohibited the military from acting as a domestic police force, by passing Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1021 gives the kleptocrats the power to carry out extraordinary rendition on the streets of American cities and hold citizens indefinitely in military detention centers without due process—in essence disappearing them as in any totalitarian state.
For all of these are simple facts, and all of these have been realized within 15 years of 9/11.

Here is Hedges' ending (where a
gain I would have replaced "kleptocrats" in the following quotation by "neofascists"):
The kleptocrats, in the end, have only one real enemy: us. Their goal is to make sure we are mesmerized by their carnival act or, if we wake up, shackled while they do their dirty work. Our goal must be to get rid of them.

I agree - but as yesterday's Nederlog entails, I am rather pessimistic, and indeed mostly for three reasons mentioned in this article: The neofascistic plan of knowing everything there is to know about anybody, coupled to the neofascist changes in the laws that were outlined in the previous quotation, together with the utter duplicity and falsity of very much of the mainstream media.

And this is a recommended article.

2. Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

The second article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump’s “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy — that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found — and in doing so, has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

Yes, and one reason to select this is that Trump is more consistent than many of his critics are willing to admit.

There is also this:

This escalation of bombing and civilian deaths, combined with the deployment by Trump of 500 ground troops into Syria beyond the troops Obama already deployed there, has received remarkably little media attention. This is in part due to the standard indifference in U.S. discourse to U.S. killing of civilians compared to the language used when its enemies kill people (...)
Yes indeed: Simply comparing the amounts of attention given to Americans killed : non-Americans killed by Americans = 1000 : 1. Indeed, I do not know whether the
1000 : 1 proportion is factually correct, but I do know there is extremely much more
attention given in the American media to Americans who have been killed, as contrasted to the virtually total lack of attention for those the Americans kill (and these numbers are very much higher than those of the Americans who got killed).

I agree this is quite normal in all countries - "Our soldiers are much more important than the soldiers of the enemy" - but this time it is more special, if only because the
Americans succeeded in killing extremely many civilians.

There is this on Trump's military aims, that comprise torture and killing the families of suspected terrorists (both of which are war crimes (<-Wikipedia)):

But what is becoming clear is that Trump is attempting to liberate the U.S. military from the minimal constraints it observed in order to avoid massive civilian casualties. And this should surprise nobody: Trump explicitly and repeatedly vowed to do exactly this during the campaign.

He constantly criticized Obama — who bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries — for being “weak” in battling ISIS and al Qaeda. Trump regularly boasted that he would free the U.S. military from rules of engagement that he regarded as unduly hobbling them. He vowed to bring back torture and even to murder the family members of suspected terrorists (...)
He did. The article ends as follows, and it repeats what I said about Trump's consistency:
But what Trump’s actions are not is a departure from what he said he would do, nor are they inconsistent with the predictions of those who described his foreign policy approach as non-interventionist. To the contrary, the dark savagery guiding U.S. military conduct in that region is precisely what Trump expressly promised his supporters he would usher in.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

3. No, Paul Ryan, ‘Growing Pains’ Didn’t Kill Your Bill

The third article is by Robert Reich on his site (and elsewhere):

This starts from Republican speaker Paul Ryan's failure to push through his - extremely bad - health care schema in Congress:

It was, he said, “the growing pains of government.”

Rubbish.

Apparently Ryan doesn’t grasp that he put forward a terrible bill to begin with. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing health coverage over the next decade, hardly make a dent in the federal debt, and transfer over $600 billion to the wealthiest members of American society.

The so-called “Freedom Caucus” of House Republicans, who refused to go along with the bill, wanted it even worse. Essentially, their goal (and that of their fat-cat patrons) was to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at all.

Yes, that seems true. Essentially, their message to the very many poor and non-rich Americans was: As far as we rich are concerned, you are better of dead, and so we will not help you anymore with staying alive.

Then there is this on the Republicans and governing:

In reality, the Republicans who are now control the House – as well as the Senate – don’t like government. They’re temperamentally and ideologically oriented to opposing it, not leading it.

Their chronic incapacity to govern didn’t reveal itself as long as a Democrat was in the White House. They let President Obama try to govern, and pretended that their opposition was based on a different philosophy governing.

Now that they have a Republican president, they can no longer hide. They have no philosophy of governing at all.

Hm. I don't quite agree:

First, I don't think all Republicans dislike government. I agree Steve Bannon doesn't like government, and there are quite a few Republicans who agree, but not all. And I think this is important to keep in mind as long as the Republicans have the majoritoes in yhe Senate and the House: If the Democrats want to achieve something, they will need the help of some Republicans.

And second, the Republicans do have a philosophy of governing, and this is both Bannon's and the neofascist "philosophy", which denies most powers that are now exercised by the government to the government, and reassigns these powers to the multi-national corporations.

That certainly is a "philosophy of governing" and it is firmly pro-rich, authoritarian and completely anti-democratic.

I think the following quotation also confuses this philosophy of government with the wish that the Republicans are incapable of governing and are rudderless:

So we have a congress with no capacity to govern, and a president who’s incapable of governing.

Which leaves the most powerful nation in the world rudderless. 

The country on whom much of the rest of the world relies for organizing and mobilizing responses to the major challenges facing humankind is leaderless.

I don't agree, for I think Trump is "organizing and mobilizing responses", though indeed not for humankind or democracy, but for the rich and for neofascist authoritarianism.

But I do agree with the ending:

(...) America and the rest of the world must hold our collective breath, hoping that the next elections – the midterms of 2018 and then the presidential election of 2020 – set things right. And hoping that in the meantime nothing irrevocably awful occurs.

Yes - and one of the "irrevocably awful" things that may occur with a man like Trump at the helm is a nuclear war (<-Wikipedia).

4. Erdogan, in a Snit Over Ban on Turkish Campaigning Abroad, Hurls ‘Nazi’ Charge at 2 Other Nations

The last article today is by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig (and it is mostly here as an
illustration of political madness):
This starts as follows:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants more power, and he’s not afraid of making enemies to get it.

This week, he accused Germany of “fascist actions” and called the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” after those countries barred Turkish officials from campaigning among expatriates in support of a referendum on constitutional changes that would transform Turkey’s government and vastly increase Erdogan’s authority.

In fact, I was rather amused by Erdogan's mad accusations, and - being a psychologist, among other things - I explain them in terms of psychological projection. What is that?
According to the Wikipedia:

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.

According to some research, the projection of one's unconscious qualities onto others is a common process in everyday life.

(..)

The Babylon Talmud (500 CE) notes the human tendency toward projection and warns against it: "Do not taunt your neighbour with the blemish you yourself have."

Well... the best short way of understanding Erdogan is that he is trying to become a fascist or an authoritarian dictator in Turkey. Here is how a Turkish paper depicted Angela Merkel:


Clicking the image leads to its source (outside Turkey)

Note she carries a gun, seems to have two Iron Crosses, and also gets presented with two Nazi-swastikas. It is ludicrous, but this is the present Turkish state propaganda.

This is quoted from The Independent, that outlines an explanation:

He attacked German chancellor Angela Merkel again on Sunday, accusing her of using “Nazi measures”, according to Agence France-Presse. In a televised speech, he said: “You are right now employing Nazi measures,” using the informal ‘you’ in Turkish in what has become an intense diplomatic dispute. He previously launched a scathing attack on Germany for stopping rallies in advance of the constitutional referendum, in which he repeatedly referred to Germans as ‘Nazis’.

He erroneously labelled the Dutch as “Nazi remnants” in a desperate bid to appeal to voters in the Turkish diaspora. The Netherlands is home to approximately 397,471 people of Turkish origin, who make up 2.4 per cent of the total population. Most of them hold dual nationality and are therefore eligible to vote in the Turkish referendum.

A ‘yes’ in the referendum would rewrite the constitution and transform Turkey from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, giving Erdogan unprecedented control to appoint ministers, pick senior judges, and dismiss parliament. …

And this is quoted from The Guardian, that outlines Erdogan's political ends:
Since the failed coup, The Guardian found that over 125,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs and about 40,000 others have been arrested, including 140 writers and journalists who were put behind bars under terrible conditions. Katie Morris, head of Europe and Central Asia for London-based freedom-of-expression advocates Article 19, said: “Prison conditions are dire and no evidence of involvement in the coup has been provided against those held in pre-trial detention, either publicly or in private.” In addition, 130 media outlets have been shut down since July.
All of that was Erdogan's doing. And this is a recommended article.

------------------------
Note

[1] According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of neoliberalism (minus note numbers):
Neoliberalism (neo-liberalism) refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.
I think that is a fair definition, but I also think this differs extremely little from the economy of neofascism, though it is also true that (i) neofascism (as I defined it) is a much wider ideology than the above defined economy, and (ii) not all neoliberals are
neofascists.

But it is very close to it, simply because a society in which a neoliberal economy is being practised successfully almost certainly is a society where the few rich are very much more powerful than the many non-rich.

In any case, here are three sites which criticize neoliberalism (most seem inspired by Mike Huben, who is a science/math teacher):
These are all recommended (and quite thorough).


       home - index - summaries - mail