Monday, Feb 27, 2017

Crisis: The Gulfwar (1991), US Race Laws, Bannon, Trump's Degeneracy, Big Pharma

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. On the Gulfwar (of 1991)
2. The Return of American Race Laws
What Does Steve Bannon Want?
4. Donald Trump Will Use Every Weapon to Stamp out the
     Grassroots Resistance

5. Big Pharma Quietly Enlists Leading Professors to Justify
     $1,000-Per-Day Drugs

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

Summary: This is an ordinary crisis log (after some days on the news about ME/CFS). There are 5 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is by me about the Gulf War, that officially ended on Feb 27, 1991, and was the first war I know about that was reported as pure propaganda; item 2 is about an article by Chris Hedges of the US race laws that are cropping up under Trump; item 3 is about an article about what Steve Bannon wants (in the NYT); item 4 is about Trump's attempt to lock up every protestor for ten to twentyfive years for "resisting arrest"; and item 5 is about yet another corrupt and fraudulent extension of the pharmaceutical corporations' extremely many abuses (that make it very many billions a year in profits).
As to the updating problem: The Danish site is OK again; the Dutch site is - still - stuck for me on February 22. Where it stuck for others I have no idea: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. They have been destroying my site now for over a year.)
1. On the Gulfwar (of 1991)

it is 26 years ago that president George Bush Sr. announced the ending of the Gulf War between Iraq and the USA (that was followed by another war that destroyed Iraq).
It had lasted less than two months.

I was 40 then and it was the first war that I knew that was presented in propaganda terms and reported in
propaganda terms by "embedded journalists".

And while I did have a computer then, in 1991, I did not have an internet, and had to rely on the paper (very much better than nowadays) and the radio (also very much better than nowadays). These days the same sources are absolutely horrible in Holland.

I also wrote a journal and here are three bits on how that war appeared to me (and these bits are also quoted in my autobiography). Here they are.

The first bit is about The Century Of Democracy, which was the Twentieth Century:
14.i.1991: A near century of democracies
A near century of democracy and capitalist and socialist exploitation has produced 2 (almost 3) world wars; hundreds of colonial wars; hundreds of millions unnecessarily starved people; several genocides; unprecedented tyrannies; unprecedented stupid hedonism, tempered by fear of what the neigbours might think, in the West; and a world close to several ecological disasters. There is a less shady side, which mainly is about (1) the rights of millions of people in the West (quietly avoiding the issue what they did with their opportunities) and (2) the welfare of idem (ditto), and (3) the growth of knowledge (idem again). Also interesting is what has not been achieved nor generally aimed for: Good general education; sensible planning; high culture; a civilized society. 
The forces molding this century have indeed been power, ideology and exploitation - and note: Everywhere "by the people, for the people, in the name of the people", for nearly all states claimed to be democracies. Everywhere this was a lie, though there are indeed great differences between being allowed to 4-yearly elect some incompetents from a small pool of incompetents or being tyrranized unceasingly by the same sort of incompetents ruling a police-state, who claim likewise it is in your interests (or you must be crazy).
I do insist that The Century Of Democracy did not produce good general education; nor sensible planning; nor a high culture of any kind; nor a civilized society. Instead what ordinary people did get were mostly lies, propaganda and bullshit. And the vast majority loved this because they did not know anything better than their own prejudices and ideologies.

The second bit is about the horrible bullshitters that "reported" the war (by lying, propagandizing and by a complete lack of all independent ethics):
21.i.1991: The people one sees in the media
Another interesting (and worrisome) thing is the sort of people that suddenly get virtually unlimited access to the media (and therewith immediately to literally millions of people). The people that suddenly can talk for hours on the situation in the world and reach hundreds of millions are: 
(1) the standard journalists, who do what they did before (moderating, say) only on a larger scale; 
(2) leading politicians, who also do what they did before (lying to the public in its and their interests), only on a larger scale, and more puffed up - for ain't these decisive times;
(3) special correspondents: Journalists who happen to be on a sensational spot, much like sports reporters (which is why very much is written the last few days about 3 American journalists who are reporting live from Bagdad: It makes many of their colleagues very envious);
(4) specialists: Flocks of so-called defense-experts, military experts, experts on the Middle East, experts of diplomacy, political experts and got knows what else. (The only thing missing sofar is an expert system, which also will be the only "expert" giving some sensible info.)
And that's it. You hear no writers, no philosophers, no psychologists, no sociologists (unless "expert in the Middle East" at the very least), no scientists, and not even priests - nothing. 
I don't suggest that these kinds of people, as they are on average now, could contribute much of genuine interest, and certainly I would expect mainly drivel, humbug and bullshit. But that is what we're getting now, and not from people humanly qualified or knowledgeable for anything but knowing whether Quattar has more anti-tank-missiles than Oman, or the other way around. 
In fact all of "the experts" were journalists that could be tweaked and manipulated by the military. No one with any academic training in any field that touched on the war was ever asked anything (that I heard, and I followed the war rather closely), quite possibly because they could not be relied on to lie reliably.

And the third bit is on the liars who pretended to be 'experts' and who posed as if they  were 'commentators':
22.i.1991: The idiots who are commentators
It is amazing what idiots most commentators are. Most seem to know very little - experts of defense, on Turkey, on the Middle East, on Iraq, etc. all apparently lifted from telephone directories of universities or earlier known at the BBC nearly all have very little specific expert information and lots of platitudes and generalities. A few know something, apart from recent events, that's not reported earlier, but it's always in the way of some statistical or technical information: Names of missiles and kinds of planes etc. and most is of the wowie-type: knowledge of jargon rather than based real understanding.
What is much more worrisome is a near total blank regarding knowledge from history, politics, sociology, economics, psychology - or what not in fact. All is discussed in terms of very primitive personalized psychological concepts: Nations are reduced to actions and plans of leaders, who are interpreted in simple psychological terms. To some extent, of course, this is adequate, but it is a very partial story (the main actors without the stage, the props, the other actors and the script), and it is also contaminated by propaganda:
Rather than radically saying something like: "OK, let's treat all as if they're scheming for personal power, glory, riches and status", instead all are treated in part as they pretend they are, and in part as Our Ideology frames them, and what people are seen as depends mainly on the purport of their latest sensational act: In terms of Our Values (that, moreover, are publicly presented as True and Reasonable). People "are" what they seem to be to our emotions - that's more or less what it comes down to. And our emotions are rarely guided by sensible thinking or adequate information, and seldomly controlled by a rational mind.
In brief, what I got in 1991 as "war" was only propaganda by propagandists that was designed to deceive the public - and that completely succeeded in doing so.

I return to 2017 and continue with Chris Hedges:

2. The Return of American Race Laws

The second item is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The warmup act for a full-blown American fascism and orchestrated race war is taking place in immigrant and marginal communities across the United States: Racial profiling. Random police stops. Raids at homes and businesses. People of color pulled from vehicles at checkpoints. Seizures of individuals with no criminal records or who never committed a serious crime. Imprisonment without trial. Expedited deportation hearings and removal proceedings that violate human rights. (..) Parents separated, perhaps forever, from their children. The hunted going underground. The end of the rule of law. The abandonment of the common good. The obliteration of a social state in which institutions and assistance programs—from public education to Social Security and welfare—make justice, equality and dignity possible.

Yes indeed. I think this is a fair sum-up although I prefer my term neofascism (<- definition), also because that provides some backgrounds and explanations. But Hedges is right that this is American racism.

Here is part of the reason why:

White Europeans who are undocumented are not being targeted. The executive orders of President Trump are directed against people of color. They begin from the premise that white Americans are the true victims of neoliberalism, deindustrialization and falling living standards. The Trump orders are written not to make America great again but to make America white. They are an updated version of the Nazis’ Nuremberg race laws, the Jim Crow laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Naturalization Act of 1870.

Perhaps, which I say because I haven't checked these earlier versions. Also, it is my guess that the present racism contains more propaganda and more ideology than before, namely to offset the gains that were made the last 60 years or so, but I may be mistaken.

Here are some of the present facts as they also struck me:

Militarized police kill with impunity, and the courts lock people away often for life. Rights are treated as privileges that can instantly be revoked. The poor, especially poor people of color, have been exempted from moral consideration. They are viewed as impediments to social cohesion. And these impediments must be eliminated. This is the template for what will come.

Yes. Then there is this on Steve Bannon (there is also more on him in the next item):

I share Bannon’s distaste for globalization, free trade agreements, the failure to put Wall Street bankers in jail, the bank bailouts and crony capitalism and would even concede that Americans wallow in the moral swamp of a culture of narcissism. He is right when he attacks the two major political parties as the one “party of Davos.” But his solution to the purported crisis—total war by the white race to regain its ascendancy—is insane (...)

I agree Bannon does not appear to be quite sane to me, and for a similar reason: He may not be insane as Trump is, but his recipes of combining the destruction of most of the government with an increased spending on the military and on nuclear weapons, and with a strong desire for major war, does not appear to me "sane politics" as I see that (and that within very broad margins).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article, and this time I partially disagree:

The central tenet of fascism is always that war cleanses society and that the “virtues” that war inculcates in its combatants and survivors provide a new moral vigor. Bannon knows no more about war’s reality, which I endured for two decades covering conflicts in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, than he sees in Hollywood movies. But war for him, which will come in a confrontation with the Islamic world and perhaps China, cannot arrive too soon.

No, I do not think so. First, I took considerable trouble to define fascism and neofascism, and my definitions are under the link. Second, I think Trump and Bannon are neofascists rather than fascists, and I'd say that the central tenets of neofascism are these (and I quote from my definition):

Neofascism has

(..) an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or state (..)

Then again, I do recommend the article. Here is more on Steve Bannon:

3. What Does Steve Bannon Want?

The third item is by Christopher Caldwell on The New York Times:

This starts as follows:

President Trump presents a problem to those who look at politics in terms of systematic ideologies. He is either disinclined or unable to lay out his agenda in that way. So perhaps it was inevitable that Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who does have a gift for thinking systematically, would be so often invoked by Mr. Trump’s opponents. They need him not just as a hate object but as a heuristic, too. There may never be a “Trumpism,” and unless one emerges, the closest we may come to understanding this administration is as an expression of “Bannonism.”

Mr. Bannon, 63, has won a reputation for abrasive brilliance at almost every stop in his unorthodox career — as a naval officer, Goldman Sachs mergers specialist, entertainment-industry financier, documentary screenwriter and director, Breitbart News cyber-agitprop impresario and chief executive of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
I don't like Caldwell's "not just as a hate object but as a heuristic, too", but I realize this is the New York Times, that just a few days ago "progressed" to writing that Mr Trump is also know to ... lie sometimes, which must be seen - I suppose - as an enormous gain in the truthfulness of their reporting. (Besides, the term "heuristic" is abused.)

Then again, I more or less like it that Bannon at least can think and has read books. My applause! Here is some more on what Steve Bannon thinks:
Mr. Bannon, unlike Mr. Trump, has a detailed idea, an explanation, of how American sovereignty was lost, and of what to do about it. It is the same idea that Tea Party activists have: A class of regulators in the government has robbed Americans of their democratic prerogatives. That class now constitutes an “administrative state” that operates to empower itself and enrich its crony-capitalist allies.

When Mr. Bannon spoke on Thursday of “deconstructing the administrative state,” it may have sounded like gobbledygook outside the hall, but it was an electrifying profession of faith for the attendees.
Hm. I do not think that is a sign of brilliant thinking: What Bannon sees or pretends to see is a "class of regulators in the government [that] has robbed Americans of their democratic prerogatives"; what he wants to replace it with is by a class of billionaire regulators who desire to destroy the government and to enrich themselves as much as possible while doing so.

And I think this is the replacement of the Democratic bullshit by the Republican bullshit. It is the exchange of one set of lies that serve one set of the extremely rich (the bankers and the internet providers), by another set of lies that serve another set of the extremely rich (the oil and coal billionaires).

I do not think that is brilliant thinking, for it is mere Republican ideologizing. Here is some more on Bannon's personality:

Those focused on Mr. Bannon’s ideology are probably barking up the wrong tree. There are plenty of reasons for concern about Mr. Bannon, but they have less to do with where he stands on the issues than with who he is as a person. He is a newcomer to political power and, in fact, relatively new to an interest in politics. He is willing to break with authority. While he does not embrace any of the discredited ideologies of the last century, he is attached to a theory of history’s cycles that is, to put it politely, untested. Most ominously, he is an intellectual in politics excited by grand theories — a combination that has produced unpredictable results before.

We’ll see how it works out.
This may well be right (and indeed Chris Hedges said a similar thing in item 2): Bannon seems to be a rightist "intellectual in politics" who is "excited by grand theories", and who also has - in spite of seven years of service in the U.S. Navy - little experience in real wars.

And I am a afraid that we might "
see how it works out" by seeing the start of a nuclear war (that we won't see the end of, since we will be dead).

4. Donald Trump Will Use Every Weapon to Stamp out the Grassroots Resistance

The fourth item today is by Douglas Williams on AlterNet and on The Guardian [1]:
This starts as follows:

Pundits say Donald Trump is “undermining democracy”. But their concern is often just about elite institutions: the media, the judiciary, the electoral system. What is ignored is the effect that the Trump administration will have on the social movements, which serve as pillars of the resistance. If these fall, our democracy will be irreparably harmed.

Democracy extends far beyond the ballot box – it includes the active participation of labor and racial justice movements in civil society. People tend to think that voting and electioneering are the sum total of democracy.
I mostly agree, and indeed it seems to me not just that "[p]eople tend to think that voting and electioneering are the sum total of democracy": It seems as if the majority
of the people who vote
are as stupid and ignorant as suggested here. [2]

Here is some more on the Trump government's policies:
In a country where police chiefs consider resisting arrest a hate crime punishable by ten years in prison and where state legislatures are considering immunity for those who run over protesters, the Trump administration has signaled that, actually, we are not tough enough on protesters and activists. As bad as this may be, however, it is this part of the executive order that is the most chilling:
  • “Following that review … make recommendations to the President for legislation …. defining new crimes of violence and establishing new mandatory minimum sentences for existing crimes of violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers, as well as for related crimes.”
That is: At present you may end up for ten years in prison because (according to the police who arrested you (!!!)) you have been "resisting arrest"; if Trump is to be believed, soon they may be put for 25 years in prison while the police officers who put them there will have immunity for running over protesters. [3]

And I do think (i) that may be quite likely and (ii) it will kill most protests and possibly quite a few protestors.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
If the resistance that everyone has been talking about is to be successful, it cannot be led by politicians in statehouses and Washington. It must be a grassroots effort that organizes communities for a common purpose: one rooted in the cause of social, economic, and political equality and justice. These efforts are building due to thisF administration’s naked disdain for working-class Americans, their families, and their communities.

Donald Trump and his administration knows this, and that is why they will use every weapon in their arsenal to stamp out the spirit of resistance and revolution that is bubbling to the surface.

Yes. And this is a recommended article.

5. Big Pharma Quietly Enlists Leading Professors to Justify $1,000-Per-Day Drugs

The fifth and last item today is by Annie Waldman on Truthdig and originally on ProPublica:

This starts as follows and is here mostly because I am ill since over 38 years, in which I have seen medical services grow worse and worse while the premiums I have to pay, forced by law, rose from 20 euros in the 1980ies to 173 euros a month in 2017 (while medical doctors still are among  the best paid, but also got their degrees in half the time it took between 1865 and 1980 [4]):

Over the last three years, pharmaceutical companies have mounted a public relations blitz to tout new cures for the hepatitis C virus and persuade insurers, including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to cover the costs. That isn’t an easy sell, because the price of the treatments ranges from $40,000 to $94,000 — or, because the treatments take three months, as much as $1,000 per day.

To persuade payers and the public, the industry has deployed a potent new ally, a company whose marquee figures are leading economists and health care experts at the nation’s top universities. The company, Precision Health Economics, consults for three leading makers of new hepatitis C treatments: Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and AbbVie. When AbbVie funded a special issue of the American Journal of Managed Care on hepatitis C research, current or former associates of Precision Health Economics wrote half of the issue. A Stanford professor who had previously consulted for the firm served as guest editor-in-chief.

That is, the sick degenerates who run the American pharmaceutical corporations teamed up with a bunch of sick degenerate professors in economy who desire to make millions of dollars a year.

Here is some more on these academics-for-hire (to be sure: for-profit-for- themselves-and-the-pharmaceutical corporations):

While collaboration between higher education and industry is hardly unusual, the professors at Precision Health Economics have taken it to the next level, sharpening the conflicts between their scholarly and commercial roles, which they don’t always disclose. Their activities illustrate the growing influence of academics-for-hire in shaping the national debate on issues from climate change to antitrust policy, which ultimately affect the quality of life and the household budgets of ordinary Americans — including what they pay for critical medications.

Here is the background on pharmacy in the USA - which the TTP, the TTIP and the TISA all want to urgently extend to Europe and everywhere else:

Prescription drugs on average cost more than twice as much in the U.S. as in other developed nations. That’s mostly due to name-brand drugs. They represent 10 percent of all prescriptions but account for almost three-quarters of the total amount spent on drugs in the U.S. Their prices have doubled in the past five years.

The U.S. grants drugmakers several years of market exclusivity for their products and remains one of the only industrialized countries that allows them to set their own prices. These protections have allowed the pharmaceutical industry to become one of the economy’s most profitable sectors, with margins double those of the auto and petroleum industries.

Yes indeed - but as I said, the pharmaceutical multi-national corporations probably will soon succeed in extending their vast powers to Europe.

Finally, this is how the degenerates who run pharmaceutical multi-national corporations really work:

Precision Health Economics allows drugmakers to review articles by its academics prior to publication in academic journals, said a former business development manager of the consulting group. Such prior review is controversial in higher education because it can be seen as impinging on academic freedom.

“Like other standard consulting projects, you can’t publish unless you get permission from the company,” the former employee said.

Precisely. And you also don't own your data and you are not allowed to publish them without allowance by the pharmaceutical corporatists.


[1] I am sorry but I strongly dislike The Guardian (and Huffington Post, and The Times and other papers and magazines) that forbid anyone from copying and commenting their texts. In the case of The Guardian I also know the reason: The Guardian exists to pay its journalists a lot of money (much rather than provide the real news honestly), and the previous chief editor preferred to bring the news rather than serve his journalists. Therefore he was dismissed, and The Guardian mostly destroyed: It now also comes with more spying Javascript than there is text in the articles.

And I think "papers" or "magazines" that went the way of The Guardian went the way of neoliberalism/neofascism: Anything is OK as long as it is profitable, for profit is our one and only moral norm.

[2] I am saying this not because it pleases me but because it seems to be both very true and very frightening, namely to have a majority of voters who vote not with their rational minds but from ideology and prejudice.

[3] Whereas in Holland you still get between 8 and 12 years for committing a murder.

[4] And I am sorry again, but I was there when the Dutch universities were completely (and intentionally) destroyed. And I know they are still standing there and still call themselves universities, but they give at most half as much as I received in education, which was far too little compared with what people had to learn from 1865 till 1980. Also, if you do not have an M.A. diploma of my quality and do not have a very high IQ, I cannot take any of your arguments seriously. People were not crazy between 1865 and 1980, but they were considerably more intelligent on average once they had made it as a student. (And that is the main reason for the difference, which seems to have been successful everywhere but in Finland: To please the strong tastes of the grossly average for an academic degree.)

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