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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Crisis: Trump and: Power, Empire and Identity, Poland



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Introduction

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 23, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, July 23, 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 23, 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. 5 Reasons Why Extraordinary Presidential Powers Make It Very Difficult to Nail Trump, His Family or His Team

This is by Kali Holloway on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The Trump team has established a consistent pattern when confronted with evidence of their own wrongdoing. The strategy involves not just lying and denying, but also trying to kill—politically speaking—the messenger. The New York Times reports that Trump’s lawyers are currently on a mission to dig up old dirt to smear special counsel Robert S. Mueller and others on his investigative team. Coupled with the research into the scope of Trump’s pardoning powers his legal team is investigating, per the Washington Post, it’s hard to see how this president will actually have any accountability for wrongdoing.

In other words, if you’re hoping to see Trump—or his sons or associates—in prison stripes any time soon, you should know just how unlikely that looks.

Here are five reasons Trump will get off scot-free after all is said and done.

The five reasons are these, and I merely give the reasons and not the text, except for the fifth:

1. He may obstruct the investigation by firing Mueller.
2. He may begin issuing pardons—for himself and his family.
3. He has a complicit Republican party.
4. Ditto the DOJ and FBI.
(...)
5. Trump believes laws are for the little people.

All politicians lie and obfuscate, but it's rare to see an operator who cares not one whit about the appearance of impropriety. Ryan J. Reilly at the Huffington Post offers a laundry list of ways Trump ignores the laws that bind the rest of us, and presidents who came before:

Examples abound. Does Trump have massive conflicts of interests? Well, the president is exempt from conflict-of-interest laws. Do officials think Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, shouldn’t be given permanent security clearance? Well, Trump has the power to grant him clearance anyhow. Does someone want to sue Trump for his actions before he became president? Well, his lawyers say they can’t (a questionable claim). Did Trump violate the law? Well, the sitting president is
immune from prosecution. 

This is not a president who abides by the law or thinks it applies to him. So much investigation into pardons and mudslinging at this stage of the game suggests a tremendous wrongdoing may be revealed. It’s just unlikely we’ll be able to do much about it.

I think the main reason is the fifth. This is a recommended article.


2. Donald Trump and the Coming Fall of American Empire

This is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Even as President Donald Trump faces ever-intensifying investigations into the alleged connections between his top aides and family members and powerful Russian figures, he serves as commander in chief over a U.S. military that is killing an astonishing and growing number of civilians. Under Trump, the U.S. is re-escalating its war in Afghanistan, expanding its operations in Iraq and Syria, conducting covert raids in Somalia and Yemen, and openly facilitating the Saudi’s genocidal military destruction of Yemen.

Meanwhile, China has quietly and rapidly expanded its influence without deploying its military on foreign soil.

A new book by the famed historian Alfred McCoy predicts that China is set to surpass the influence of the U.S. globally, both militarily and economically, by the year 2030. At that point, McCoy asserts the United States Empire as we know it will be no more. He sees the Trump presidency as one of the clearest byproducts of the erosion of U.S. global dominance, but not its root cause. At the same time, he also believes Trump may accelerate the empire’s decline.

McCoy argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the beginning of the end. McCoy is not some chicken little. He is a serious academic. And he has guts.

And this is the beginning of a long interview, that is recommended.


3. The Demolition of U.S. Global Power

This is by Alfred McCoy on AlterNet and originally on TomDispatch.com. It starts as follows:

The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.

From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since the end of World War II.  However unwittingly, Trump is ensuring the accelerated collapse of American global hegemony.

There is considerably more in the original.


4. How Kaczynski Is Driving Poland Away from Europe

This is by Jan Puhl on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:

The nucleus of Poland's political power lies not in the parliament in Warsaw, not in the presidential palace, but in a windowless, slightly strange looking building that most resembles a multistory car park. It's not quite part of Warsaw's city center, although downtown's many new glass and steel skyscrapers are still just in sight.

Every day, an official car picks up Jaroslaw Kaczynski from his apartment in the Zoliborz neighborhood and brings him to this office block at 84-86 Nowogrodzka. The building houses a sushi restaurant, a copy shop and an insurance company -- and the headquarters of Kaczynski's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Its chairman uses a separate entrance. In the mornings, a team of young staff members supplies him with books, newspapers and printouts. All in Polish, because Kaczynski only reads Polish sources. At midday, a procession of black limos starts arriving, delivering ministers -- and occasionally the president of the Polish National Bank -- to the Nowogrodzka office to pick up directives and seek advice.

Despite holding no formal government office, Kaczynski is Warsaw's undisputed leader. Together with his late twin brother, Lech, he founded the PiS party in 2001 and twice led it to victory. In 2015, he hand-picked its presidential candidate Andrzej Duda, at the time an unknown member of the European Parliament, who went on to win the vote. He also personally selected current Prime Minister Beata Szydlo. Both politicians are widely seen as Kaczynski's willing stooges.
(..)
The ruling PiS party is already doggedly distancing Poland from Europe's central values. It has restricted the power of the country's highest constitutional court and filled top positions in public radio and television as well as major state-owned companies and the intelligence services with loyalists. In the past week, it turned its attention to reforming the independent Polish judiciary with the aim of giving parliament, in which the Law and Justice has a majority, and the president, chosen by the Law and Justice party, the power to appoint judges -- even in the Supreme Court -- who were previously nominated by the independent National Judiciary Council.

There is considerably more in the original.


5. Trump won on “white fright”: Why identity politics win elections

This is by David Masciotra on Salon. It starts as follows:

The United States of America has become a giant church basement where members of Alcoholics Anonymous congregate to commiserate over their self-made problems. Sobriety never lasts, because white Americans continue to redefine their bottom. In October of 2016, anyone reasonable would have assumed that the election of a grotesquely ignorant and incompetent clown would inspire rehabilitation, but the protectors of white fragility and the enablers of white ignorance quickly came to the rescue.

America’s problem is not racial resentment, mainstream reportage and even progressive reaction insisted, it is economic anxiety. “No one saw the election of Trump coming,” countless analysts proclaimed — but they should have, they whined, because of growing dissatisfaction with globalization, international trade and wage stagnation.

Christopher Parker, a political scientist at the University of Washington, not only predicted the nomination and presidential victory of Donald Trump. He also accurately forecasted the flatulent rise of the white reactionary constituency when the Tea Party was in its embryonic stage.

This is the start of an interesting interview that is recommended.

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