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Friday, Mar 24, 2017

Crisis: You Have Been Sold, On Robert Mercer, Republicans, USA Is Sinking


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Senate Republicans Just Sold You Out to Advertisers
2. Jane Mayer on Robert Mercer & the Dark Money Behind Trump
     and Bannon

3.
Republicans Can't Agree on How Much They Want to Destroy
     Our Health Care System, Delay Congressional Vote

4. This Ship (United States) is Sinking Says Former Bush Official 
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, March 24, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four dotted links: Item 1 correctly says that everyone with a computer or cellphone has been sold to the advertisers; item 2 gives information I did not know (and you probably did not either)
about the billionaire Robert Mercer, who is behind Trump, Bannon and Conway; item 3 is about an article about how some extreme rightwing Republicans are trying to destroy health care as much as they can (but the article did not give numbers, which was a mistake); and item 4 is about an interesting interview that Abby Martin had with Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Colin Powell's assistant.
March 24: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site again stuck on Sunday last (March 19). If over a year of signs are correct, this means it will NOT be updated for at least another week.

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. Senate Republicans Just Sold You Out to Advertisers

The first article is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

In a 50-to-48 vote along party lines, the U.S. Senate decided to kill FCC rules blocking your ISP from selling your browsing history to the advertising industry without permission. Should the change pass the House, as is expected, the likes of Comcast and Verizon will be able to make money disclosing what you buy, where you browse, and what you search from your own home, all without asking permission.

So... the neofascists - I mean: the rich corporatists - destroyed another part of the few remaining freedoms of the non-rich: They made everyone - except the rich and very rich, of course - into sub-humans, for now the internet providers are free to steal all your private information, and they can advertise, propagandize and exploit you as something worse than a slave, for a slave had real privacies.

As I also said two days ago:

Personal computers - since around 2000 - are by far the best way to make all 7 billion people there are totally subservient - mostly without knowing it - to the secret services in their vicinities.

Since very few are seriously interested in computing, and the vast majority is both conformistic and also may be very happy to be abled to discriminate anybody who is not quite like them in the crudest and "anonymous" (anonymous for every ordinary user, but not for the secret services) way possible, I am quite pessimistic.

And this made me more pessimistic, for this gave the ISPs the same "rights" as the secret services appropriated: They can spy on anything you do with your computer or cellphone, so that you are completely known to those who want to exploit you as much as they can.

Here is some more on the decision:

In an immediate signal that the vote will only benefit monied corporate interests and not the roughly 70 percent of Americans with a home broadband connection, the Internet & Television Association trade group gloated over their congressional victory:

“We appreciate today’s Senate action to repeal unwarranted FCC rules that deny consumers consistent privacy protection online and violate competitive neutrality. … Our industry remains committed to offering services that protect the privacy and security of the personal information of our customers. We support this step towards reversing the FCC’s misguided approach and look forward to restoring a consistent approach to online privacy protection that consumers want and deserve.”

As far as I can see every quoted statement of the Internet & Television Association trade group was a gross and deliberate lie, as indeed is also made out by Sam Biddle:

It’s unclear how the broadband industry could be “committed” to user privacy while backing regulatory changes that would permit the sale of users’ private data.
(...)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation decried the vote as putting “ISP profits over your privacy” and a potential “crushing loss for online privacy”:

ISPs act as gatekeepers to the Internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn’t be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent.

But now they are. Incidentally, the late Gore Vidal (<- interesting link) said in 2009 or 2010 that he estimated it would take some 10 years to fully commercialize the internet, and he seems to have been right.

Here is a final bit from this article:

The EFF further warned that without the FCC protections, ISPs would not only be able to commodify your browser history, but “[hijack] their customers’ search queries and [redirect] them to a place customers hadn’t asked for” and “inject ads into your traffic based on your browsing history.”

I hate advertisements and I hate propaganda, and I also hate neofascism and all secret services of any state, so this may be a reason for me to stop computing completely: I don't want to be the forced advertising victim of rich neofascists.

Also - once again - I am glad I was born in 1950 and not later: I did have 15 good years in my life (between 1965 and 1980), but I am afraid people much younger than
I am will have far less pleasant lives than I had, also while they are not ill: They will be completely known to the few rich who will exploit them as much as they can.

2. Jane Mayer on Robert Mercer & the Dark Money Behind Trump and Bannon

The second article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

We look at Robert Mercer, the man who is said to have out-Koched the Koch brothers in the 2016 election. The secretive billionaire hedge-fund tycoon, along with his daughter Rebekah, is credited by many with playing an instrumental role in Donald Trump’s election.
(..)
To talk more about the Mercers, we speak with Jane Mayer, staff writer at The New Yorker. Her latest piece is headlined "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency." She is also author of "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right," which just came out in paperback.

I say, for I did not know about Robert Mercer. To start with, here is a small introduction to the man:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to look at the man who is said to have out-Koched the Koch brothers in the 2016 election. His name is Robert Mercer, a secretive billionaire hedge-fund tycoon who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is credited by many with playing an instrumental role in Donald Trump’s election.

Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, said, quote, "The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution. Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." Before Bannon and Kellyanne Conway joined the Trump campaign, both worked closely with the Mercers. The Mercers bankrolled Bannon’s Breitbart News, as well as some of Bannon’s film projects. Conway ran a super PAC created by the Mercers to initially back the candidacy of Ted Cruz.

The Mercers also invested in a data mining firm called Cambridge Analytica, which claims it has psychological profiles of over 200 million American voters. The firm was hired by the Trump campaign to help target its message to potential voters.

While the Mercers have helped reshape the American political landscape, their work has all been done from the shadows. They don’t speak to the media and rarely even speak in public.

Well, it certainly is true that I missed the Mercers, and I have been following the news closely since 2013. Incidentally, also because it wasn't mentioned, both the Mercers and the Kochs were in turn enabled by the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2010.

Here is more on Robert Mercer (<-Wikipedia):

AMY GOODMAN: (..) Jane Mayer, welcome back to Democracy Now! The beginning of the piece talks about a former colleague of Mercer’s saying, "In my view, Trump wouldn’t be president if not for Bob." Explain who Robert Mercer is.

JANE MAYER: Well, he’s a, as you’ve mentioned, a New York hedge-fund tycoon. He’s a computer scientist, a kind of a math genius and uber-nerd, who figured out how to game the stocks and bonds and commodities markets by using math. He runs something that’s kind of like a quant fund in Long Island, and it’s called Renaissance Technologies. He’s the co-CEO. And it just mints money. So he’s enormously wealthy. He earns at least $135 million a year, according to Institutional Investor, probably more.

And what he’s done is he has tried to take this fortune and reshape, first, the Republican Party and, then, America, along his own lines. His ideology is extreme. He’s way far on the right. He hates government. Kind of—according to another colleague, David Magerman, at Renaissance Technologies, Bob Mercer wants to shrink the government down to the size of a pinhead. He has contempt for social services and for the people who need social services.

Most of that is supported by the Wikipedia-lemma on Mercer. And this is on his daughter Rebekah:

JANE MAYER: (..) Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of this hedge-fund tycoon, Bob Mercer, sort of cornered Trump and said, "You know, we’d like to give money to your campaign. We’ll back you, but you’ve got to try to, you know, stabilize it." And basically, she said, "And I’ve got just the people for you to do the job." And they were political operatives who the Mercer family had been funding for a couple of years, the main one being Steve Bannon, who is now playing the role to Trump—he’s the political strategist for Trump—that’s the role he played for the Mercer family prior to doing it for Trump. So, these are operatives who are very close to this one mega-donor. The other was Kellyanne Conway, who had been running this superfund, as you mentioned in your introduction, for the Cruz campaign, that was filled with the money from the Mercers. And so she became the campaign manager. Bannon became the campaign chairman.

I say, again. There is more in the article, that is recommended.

3. Republicans Can't Agree on How Much They Want to Destroy Our Health Care System, Delay Congressional Vote

The third article is by Steven Rosenfeld on  AlterNet:

This starts as follows (and I am writing this early Friday morning, March 24):

No matter when the House votes on repealing Obamacare—it was scheduled for Thursday but abruptly postponed—President Trump and the House GOP have shown the nation that the Republican Party’s most extreme elements are in the driver’s seat.

Instead of anything resembling political discipline or party unity, the arch right-wing House Freedom Caucus has demanded a series of increasingly draconian measures to be put in the Obamacare repeal legislation to secure their yes votes.
I say. Here is a little bit of background information: The House (<- Wikipedia) has 435 voting members, while the House Freedom Caucus (<-Wikipedia) has 30 (or 29) members. This gives a little perspective (that should have been supplied).

Here is more:
The White House and House Republicans know they have to pass something to save face, as they have gotten off to the least-productive start of any recent presidency. However, beyond the question of whether any legislation that suffices in the House is doomed in the Senate, is the emerging reality that the House’s most ideological Republicans now know that they have power to hold that body hostage to their bottomless whims.
Meanwhile - on Friday morning - I can add that Trump decided yesterday that either the new laws that retract Obamacare will be voted in on in Friday or else Obamacare will stay, but I do not know why.

Here is more on the House Freedom Caucus:

As of late Thursday, it appears the Freedom Caucus is on a rampage that neither Ryan nor Trump can satisfy or defuse. The nation is seeing a primetime display of boundless extremists who, once they are given concessions, keep demanding more. Millions of Americans who value Obamacare can only hope that these Republicans continue their stampede sufficiently to derail any repeal. 

Look at how the week began. On Monday, Ryan, responding to this hard-right flank, revised his legislation that would strip health care coverage from 14 million people in 2018 and grow to 24 million in a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Ryan added a punitive work requirement for low-income Medicaid recipients.
I do hope that "these Republicans continue their stampede sufficiently to derail any repeal" of Obamacare, but I must add that there are 29 or 30 members of the House Freedom Caucus, while there are 237 Republicans in the House.

Here is some more:
By Thursday, the Freedom Caucus had met with Trump and were said to extract more concessions, namely a pledge to repeal Obamacare’s “essential health benefits.” These require insurers to cover services including emergency-room visits and hospital stays, mental health, maternity, preventive care and prescription drugs. The Freedom Caucus’ rationale was that not everyone uses these, so why should they be included in all health plans and premiums?
This last argument sounds precisely like this: "Because not everyone gets cancer (or any of the other things that not everyone uses or gets), why should cancer be included in health plans?" The same holds for any disease, so the honest case should be: "If you can't pay healthcare, you should not be insured for it either. The rich don't need health care, so no one needs it. If you're poor and get ill, we Republicans of the House Freedom Caucus think you ought to die or to get healthy by yourself."

Here is the end of the article:
The House Republicans and White House said they expect to bring an Obamacare repeal bill to the floor as early as Friday. Whether the elements of that legislation will doom its passage in the Senate is an open question. But for now Americans have seen who holds the power in the House. It’s not Ryan. It’s not Trump. It’s the most extreme right-wing Republicans. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

As I said above, the issue will be decided today. But I don't quite agree with the conclusion of this article that "[t]he lunatics have taken over the asylum", and I don't
because the House Freedom Caucus has 29 or 30 members on a Republican total of 237. This doesn't mean that I regard the other 207 Republicans in the House as exampes of sanity, but I do think that these numbers should have been given.


4. This Ship (United States) is Sinking Says Former Bush Official

The fourth item is not a text but a video by Abby Martin (<-Wikipedia):
The video is on Youtube where it has the following introduction:
Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign invasions.

Hear a rare insider's view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the corporate media, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.
This introduction is correct so far as I know, and Lawrence Wilkerson (<- Wikipedia) is a fairly interesting man because he is one of the very few with a prominent career like he had who is now "honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign invasions".

I liked the interview (which seems a bit older than 2017).

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