Friday, July 21, 2017

Crisis: Legalized Theft, Police State, The Rich, Trump, The Right & The Media

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 21, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 21, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 21, 2017

The items 1 - 5 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. Jeff Sessions Wants to Make “Legalized Theft” Great Again

This is by Alex Emmons on The Intercept. I treated the theme yesterday as well, but here it is again, for this is the end of the state of law and the start of the age of legalized plunder:

Donald Trump’s Justice Department revived a federal program on Wednesday that gives state and local law enforcement more power to seize property from people who haven’t been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.

The practice — known as “civil asset forfeiture” — became widespread as part of the drug crackdown in the 1980s, after Congress passed a law
in 1984 that allowed the Department of Justice to keep the property it seized. At the time, forfeiture was billed as a way to undermine the resources of large criminal enterprises, but law enforcement saw it as a way to underwrite their budgets, and have overwhelmingly gone after people without the means to challenge the seizures in court.

The practice has become so widespread that in 2014, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than all home and office burglaries combined.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department reopened a specific loophole that allows state and local police to sidestep state laws through a practice known as adoptive forfeitures. The loophole allows state and local law enforcement to continue to pillage the property of citizens even in the face of local bans on the practice, as long as they refer the case to federal agencies after they seize property. They get to keep up to 80 percent of what they take, and can use it for their own budgets. The feds take a 20 percent cut of the loot.

There is more in the article, and it is recommended.

2. David Cay Johnston: GOP Budget Redistributes Money to the Rich & Helps Make U.S. a "Police State"

This is Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House Budget Committee approved its 2018 budget resolution. The budget aims to rewrite the tax code to favor the wealthy and to slash funding for Medicare and Medicaid. It would also add another $30 billion to Trump’s record-setting $668 billion request for Pentagon spending. The budget faces opposition from both moderate and conservative Republicans. We speak with David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and founder of

And here is a bit from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Mick Mulvaney. Now, of course, Donald Trump said he would never cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. But, David Cay Johnston, very quickly, can you summarize the House budget that was passed yesterday?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, yes. Well, this is what DCReport.orgmemo we wrote about at has not made a single major news organization, Amy. reported yesterday. This is a budget that increases the military, increases immigration, refers to those as appropriate uses of precious taxpayer resources. And the Trump budget is not designed to get people in a position where they don’t need government help at all, but it is clearly going in the direction of turning America into a police state. And that should get a lot of concern, especially that the

AMY GOODMAN: But, overall, if you can speak about what this budget means?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, what this budget means is less for those people who are needy, for people who are disabled, who are poorly educated and don’t have good jobs, who lost their jobs because of trade—one of Donald’s big issues—and, instead, lavishes more benefits and continues spending that benefits the wealthiest among us. And this goes to the Republican theme that I describe as: The biggest economic problem we have, according to the Republicans, is that the rich don’t have enough.
Yes indeed, and this article is recommended.

3. Worker Wages Flat, But Since 1978 CEO Pay Has Soared by 'Outrageous' 937%

This is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Wages for most American workers have remained basically stagnant for decades, but a new report published on Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that the CEOs of America's largest firms have seen their pay soar at a consistent and "outrageous" clip.

Between 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose by 937 percent, EPI's Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder found. By contrast, the typical worker saw "painfully slow" compensation growth—11.2 percent over the same period.

Mishel and Schieder also note that CEOs of "America's largest firms made an average of $15.6 million in compensation, or 271 times the annual average pay of the typical worker."

"While the 2016 CEO-to-worker compensation ratio of 271-to-1 is down from 299-to-1 in 2014 and 286-to-1 in 2015, it is still light years beyond the 20-to-1 ratio in 1965 and the 59-to-1 ratio in 1989," the report observes. "The average CEO in a large firm now earns 5.33 times the annual earnings of the average very-high-wage earner (earner in the top 0.1 percent)."

The USA is the land of the rich, organized for the rich and governed by the rich. There is more in the article, that is recommended.

4. Trump Declares War on Law Enforcement

This is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

With his domestic agenda in disarray and his conservative support wilting, President Trump lashed out at the direct threat to his presidency: the rule of law.

In an extraordinary interview with theNew York Times, Trump trashed his own attorney general, the deputy attorney general, former FBI director James Comey, the acting FBI director, and special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Their offense in the eyes of the president? Fulfilling the duties of their positions.

If the president has sometimes sounded like he thinks that the government’s top law enforcement officers should defer to his whims, Trump made clear that is exactly what he believes. He said as much again and again in the interview.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

5. The Right’s Long War on Media

This is by Jonathan Marshall on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Never in modern American history has a president so frontally gone to war with the media as Donald Trump, whose speeches and tweet storms blast critical stories as “fake news” and mainstream news outlets as “the enemy of the American people.”

“Get used to being stigmatized as ‘opposition,’” the head of media at Human Rights Watch warned reporters and editors shortly after the election. “[Trump’s] basic idea is simple: to delegitimize accountability journalism by framing it as partisan.”

So far, the Trumpian strategy seems to be working, at least with his base. A recent poll found that fewer than 10 percent of Republicans trust the media a lot, and 6 in 10 complain that the media “keep political leaders from doing their job.”

Trump’s critics, particularly in the media, portray his assault on the Fourth Estate as a “gift to tyrants everywhere” and as part of a radical campaign to “build an autocracy,” in the words of former Republican speechwriter David Frum.

I share their concerns, even as I readily acknowledge, and have often condemned, the major media’s widespread and sometimes blatant failings to report some subjects as accurately or fairly as they should.

But many of today’s righteous condemners of Trump fail to see that his attacks on the media are really the culmination of a relentless campaign over the past half century by conservatives to undercut institutions that stand in the way of their grab for power.

Yes indeed. There is more in the article, that is recommended.


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