Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Crisis: On the USA, On China, On George Soros, On JFK, On Chomsky & Pollin

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 18, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday
, October 18, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from October 18, 2017
1. Thom Hartmann: The America I Knew Has Almost

2. As Party Gathers, Xi Jinping Displays a Firm Grip
     on Power

3. George Soros Transfers Billions to Open Society

4. Has Trump Cut a Deal with the CIA and FBI to
     Keep Concealing Key JFK Assassination

5. Blueprint for a Progressive US: A Dialogue With
     Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin
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. Thom Hartmann: The America I Knew Has Almost Disappeared

This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Like an alcoholic family that won’t discuss alcoholism (proving Don Quixote’s warning never to mention rope in the home of a man who’s been hanged), far too many Americans are unwilling to acknowledge or even discuss the ongoing collapse of democracy in the United States.

President Jimmy Carter took it head on when he told me on my radio program that the Citizen’s United decision:

“[V]iolates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.”

Yes indeed: quite so. The next bit that I quote is also quite on target (in my view, which meanwhile is quite informed):

This “complete subversion of our political system” grew, in large part, out of Richard Nixon’s 1972 appointment of Lewis Powell to the Supreme Court.  Powell, in 1971, had authored the infamous Powell Memo to the US Chamber of Commerce, strongly suggesting that corporate leaders needed to get politically involved and, essentially, take over everything from academia to our court system to our political system.  

In 1976, in the Buckley case, Powell began the final destruction of American democracy by declaring that when rich people or corporations own politicians, all that money that got transferred to the politicians wasn’t bribery but, instead, was Constitutionally-protected First Amendment-defined “Free Speech.”  The Court radically expanded that in 2010 with Citizens United.

Precisely. How in hell money = speech completely escapes me, but the - corrupted? anti-democratic? mostly stupid? - majority of the judges of the Supreme Court insisted that money = speech, which means that the richest billionaires have the most votes, by far the most "free speech", and the most power through their owning the most money = the most free speech (that is: according to Citizens United decision).

This is the final bit that I quote from this article:

As a result, there’s really very little democracy left in our democracy.  Our votes are handled in secret by private, unaccountable for-profit corporations.  Our laws are written, more often than not, by corporate lawyers/lobbyists or representatives of billionaire-level wealth.  And our media is owned by the same class of investors/stockholders, so it’s a stretch to expect them to do much critical reporting on the situation.

Precisely. There is more in this fine article that is strongly recommended. 

2. As Party Gathers, Xi Jinping Displays a Firm Grip on Power

This article is by Chris Buckley on The New York Times. This is from near the beginning:

On Wednesday, Mr. Xi opened another Communist Party congress, this time as the nation’s most powerful leader in decades, all but certain to receive a second five-year term. And after spending his first term tightening control on society, he is expected to enshrine his authoritarian vision for revitalizing the party — and perhaps position himself as indispensable to its survival.

“Currently, conditions domestically and abroad are undergoing deep and complicated changes,” Mr. Xi told some 2,300 party delegates and other dignitaries assembled in the Great Hall. “Our country is in an important period of strategic opportunity in its development,” he said in a calm, steady voice. “The outlook is extremely bright; the challenges are also extremely grim.”

With his two most recent predecessors as Chinese leader, Mr. Hu and 91-year-old Jiang Zemin, in attendance, Mr. Xi told his audience that under him Chinese socialism was entering a “new era.”

This is quite important, were it only because about 1 in 7 of all living persons lives in China. And China is still "socialist" or "communist", although both terms in fact stand for a kind of more or less dictatorial state capitalism (as was also the case in the Soviet Union), where the dictators are the leading members of the Chinese Communist Party, that has virtually all powers in China since the Chinese Revolution of 1949.

Here is an outline of Xi Jinping's program:

“Party leaders always feel peril close at hand, especially Xi, and that has not gone away,” said Deng Yuwen, a former editor with a Communist Party journal who now writes current affairs commentaries. “For him, this hard-line, centralized style of rule is the solution and must be consolidated.”

While Mao promoted class struggle and Deng Xiaoping embraced pragmatic capitalism, Mr. Xi’s vision of the party’s rule centers on restoring China to greatness — what he calls the “China Dream” — and it draws on both the fervent dedication of Mao’s era and the glories of China’s traditional culture that Mao tried to destroy.

To me, this sounds much like a continuation of state capitalism controlled by a more or less dictatorial Communist Party.

Here is more on Xi Jinping's personality:

“Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party is headed in the direction of strongman rule,” said David M. Lampton, the director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a longtime analyst of Chinese leaders. “The 19th Party Congress is more likely to look like a coronation than an institutionalized transition to a leader’s second term.”

And some more on the same subject:

What Mr. Xi wants to build now, Professor Pei added, is “a disciplinary state.” He continued: “It disciplines everybody. It disciplines the party, it disciplines Chinese society. And to enforce discipline, you have to have a very powerful security state.”

There is a lot more in this article, that is recommended.

3. George Soros Transfers Billions to Open Society

This article is by David Gelles on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager and a major Democratic donor, has given $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations, one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to a single foundation.

The gift, made quietly over the past several years but disclosed only on Tuesday, has transformed Open Society into the second-biggest philanthropic organization in the United States, behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It will also place Mr. Soros, a lightning rod for conservative critics, squarely in the middle of the social and political debates convulsing the country.

I say!!! Here is some more on George Soros:

“Given America’s place in the world right now, I think he’s making an enormous statement,” said Eileen Heisman, chief executive of the National Philanthropic Trust, a nonprofit that works with foundations. “He has a very clear point of view and he’s not trying to hide it.”

Patrick Gaspard, the vice president of the Open Society Foundations, who will take over as president at the end of the year, said the election of President Trump had given the organization’s work a new sense of urgency.

Yes, I agree. Here is a bit more on Soros's philantrophy:

Mr. Soros’s philanthropy is rooted in his past.

He lived in Nazi-occupied Hungary as a boy. With Budapest under Communist rule in 1947, he left for London and then the United States, where he found success on Wall Street.

There is more in the article, that is recommended.

4. Has Trump Cut a Deal with the CIA and FBI to Keep Concealing Key JFK Assassination Documents?

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

An unknown number of U.S government records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 54 years ago may remain secret after the legal deadline of October 26, the National Archives said Monday.

"While we continue to plan for an online release by the deadline, it is unclear what will be part of the release,” the Archive’s communications staff said in a statement to AlterNet. “Things are in flux.”

The Archive’s statement is the first official acknowledgement that President Trump is considering—or has approved—formal requests from the Central Intelligence Agency and other federal agencies to keep long-secret JFK files out of public view.

I suppose I currently belong to "the youngest" persons who do really recall Kennedy's murder in 1963 (when I was 13). And one major reason why this is still rather important is precisely the secrecry that surrounds his murder - and no: I have read several books about the murder, and one thing I agree with is that official story was a lie, although I do not know - of course - the true story.

And in fact I guess the remaining secret documents - "[a]n unknown number - will remain secret for the next 25 years (or more), simply because these documents may prove that the official story of the American government was intentionally falsified.

This is from the ending of the article:

If Trump and White House counsel Donald McGahn have agreed to requests from the CIA and other federal agencies to keep some JFK records secret, they will have to explain why,

The JFK Records Act requires the government to publish “an unclassified written description of the reason for such postponement” in the Federal Register, the daily newspaper of the U.S. government.

Given the amounts of secrecy that the secret services enjoy, it will probably be quite easy for the current American government to compose a set of lies.

But we shall see, and this is a recommended article.

5. Blueprint for a Progressive US: A Dialogue With Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin

This article is by C.J.  Polychroniou on Truthout. It starts as follows:
This is the first part of a wide-ranging interview with world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin. The next installment will appear on October 24. (...)

In the Trump era, what would an authentically populist, progressive political agenda look like? What would a progressive US look like with regard to jobs, the environment, finance capital and the standard of living? What would it look like in terms of education and health care, justice and equality? In an exclusive interview with C.J. Polychroniou for Truthout, world-renowned public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin tackle these issues. Noam Chomsky is professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT and laureate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Arizona. Robert Pollin is distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Their views lay the foundation for a visionary -- yet eminently realistic -- progressive social and economic order for the United States.

I like C.J. Polychroniou's earlier interviews with Noam Chomsky, and this is no exception. I will leave most of this interview to your interests, but I will quote two bits of it.

The first is from the first answer of Chomsky, and is about the totalitarian atmosphere [2] that currently pervades considerable parts of the USA:

Noam Chomsky: There is indeed a wave of social resistance, more significant than in the recent past -- though I'd hesitate about calling it "unprecedented." Nevertheless, we cannot overlook the fact that in the domain of policy formation and implementation, the right is ascendant, in fact some of its harshest and most destructive elements [are rising].

Nor should we overlook a crucial fact that has been evident for some time: The figure in charge, though often ridiculed, has succeeded brilliantly in his goal of occupying media and public attention while mobilizing a very loyal popular base -- and one with sinister features, sometimes smacking of totalitarianism, including adoration of The Leader. That goes beyond the core of loyal Trump supporters.... [A majority of Republicans] favor shutting down or at least fining the press if it presents "biased" or "false news" -- terms that mean information rejected by The Leader (..)
Precisely - and that is totalitarian in my view (but not - it seems - in the eyes of the anonymous editors of the Wikipedia, who only admit something may be totalitarian if it is a dictatorial state already - which to me (and to Orwell and to Chomsky) is utter nonsense). [2]

I quote one more thing from this fine interview, because it outlines Bill Clinton's massive corruption:
Of course, the big Wall Street players always hated being regulated and fought persistently, first to evade the regulations and then to dismantle them. They were largely successful through the 1980s and 1990s. But the full, official demise of the 1930s regulatory system came only in 1999, under the Democratic President Bill Clinton. (...) It then took less than eight years for hyper-speculation on Wall Street to once again bring global capitalism to its knees. The only thing that saved capitalism in 2008-09 from a repeat of the 1930s Great Depression was the unprecedented government interventions to prop up the system, and the equally massive bail out of Wall Street.
Quite so. There is a lot more in this interview, that is strongly recommended.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

[2] I quote the note I wrote yesterday on the same subject:

I found - rather to my consternation - that "totalitarian" (a concept that I know quite well since 1967) has been redefined to mean this (on Wikipedia):
Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state
recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. A distinctive feature of totalitarian governments is an "elaborate ideology, a set of ideas that gives meaning and direction to the whole society".
No, I am sorry: That definition is - intentionally? - partial. For one thing, it totally misses all psychology and all groupthinking, for most (though not all) of groupthinking is also totalitarian, albeit not in the sense in which the Wikipedia defines it.

I will soon write a Nederlog on the diverse meanings of "totalitarianism".
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