Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Crisis: Ralph Nader, Crony Capitalism, Trump´s Taxes, Russia & China, On The NYT

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 24, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, October 24, 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 24, 2017
1. Ralph Nader: Trump’s Anti-Consumer Agenda
     Hurts His Voters

2. How to End Crony Capitalism
3. Trump’s Proposed Tax Overhaul Would Give
     Billions to Trump & Cabinet

4. Russia-China Tandem Changes the World
5. Where the New York Times Fails to Understand
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. Ralph Nader: Trump’s Anti-Consumer Agenda Hurts His Voters

This article is by Ralph Nader on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised regular people, “I will be your voice,” and attacked the drug industry for “getting away with murder” in setting high prices for lifesaving medications. But as president, he has declared war on regulatory programs protecting the health, safety and economic rights of consumers. He has done so in disregard of evidence that such protections help the economy and financial well-being of the working-class voters he claims to champion.

Yes indeed. Here is more:

This assault began with Mr. Trump choosing agency chiefs who are tested corporate loyalists driven to undermine the lifesaving, income-protecting institutions whose laws they have sworn to uphold.

At the Food and Drug Administration, Mr. Trump has installed Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former pharmaceutical industry consultant, who supports weakening drug and medical device safety standards and has shown no real commitment to reducing sky-high drug prices. At the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, a billionaire investor in for-profit colleges, has weakened enforcement policy on that predatory industry, hiring industry insiders and abandoning protections for students and taxpayers.

And in fact this is just a small part of Trump´s nominations of people in positions where they will destroy the public rights rather than protect them.

Here is some more:

Draconian budget cuts, new restrictions on health insurance, diminished privacy protections and denying climate change while putting off fuel-efficiency deadlines and auto safety standards will hurt all Americans, including Mr. Trump’s most die-hard supporters.

The article ends as follows:

Championing a consumer agenda should be a good way to win elections.

Perhaps, though I must add that it did not work for Ralph Nader. Then again, two reasons (from quite a few more) is that the ordinary candidates of both the Republicans and the Democrats lie, whereas these are the only choices that Americans can make that may win an election.

And this is a recommended article.

2. How to End Crony Capitalism

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

The largest corporations and richest people in America – who donated billions of dollars to Republican candidates the House and Senate in the 2106 election – appear on the way to getting what they paid for: a giant tax cut.

The New York Times reports that business groups are meeting frequently with key Republicans in order to shape the tax bill, whose details remain secret. 

Speed and secrecy are critical. The quicker Republicans get this done, and without hearings, the less likely will the rest of the country discover how much it will cost in foregone Medicaid and Medicare or ballooning budget deficits.

Well... I would say that the main problem in American democracy is not whether the Republicans can rob the poor and give to the rich with sufficient ¨[s]peed and secrecy¨, but is the fact that the American mainstream media keep lying about it.

And in fact, as Robert Reich points out, the American Democrats are almost as bad as the American Republicans in robbing the many to pay the rich few:

Lest you conclude it’s only Republicans who have been pocketing big bucks in exchange for political favors, consider what Big Tech – the industry that’s mostly bankrolled Democrats – is up to. 

It’s mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers – including senior advisors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign – to help scuttle a proposed law requiring Google, Facebook, and other major Internet companies to disclose who is purchasing their online political advertising.

Here is more by Robert Reich:

There you have it, folks. Big money is buying giant tax cuts, allowing Russia to interfere in future elections, and killing Americans. That’s just the tip of the corrupt iceberg that’s sinking our democracy. 

Republicans may be taking more big money, but both parties have been raking it in.

As I have said quite a few times, I have not seen much good evidence at all that Russia has been interfering in past elections, and certainly not that it is interfering in future elections.

This article ends as follows:

Democrats should be fighting for commonsense steps to reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests – public financing of elections, full disclosure of all sources of political funding, an end to revolving door between government and business, and attempts to reverse the bonkers Supreme Court decision “Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.”

For that matter, Republicans should be fighting for these, too.

Here´s a wild idea. What if the anti-establishment wings of both parties came together in a pro-democracy coalition to get big money out of politics? 

Then it might actually happen. 

No, for this is mere wishful thinking. And most of the Republicans like most of the Democrats are simply enriching themselves and the rich, while lying about it.

And wishful thinking also is not the way to end crony capitalism.

3. Trump’s Proposed Tax Overhaul Would Give Billions to Trump & Cabinet

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

As the Senate narrowly passes a budget bill that clears the path for a historic tax reform, we’ll look at how President Trump’s proposed tax overhaul would shower billions of dollars in tax cuts upon the wealthiest Americans—including President Trump’s family and members of his administration. An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows President Trump’s family and Trump’s Cabinet members would, combined, reap a $3.5 billion windfall from the proposed repeal of the estate tax alone. Trump’s plan would cap the tax rate on “pass-through income” at 25 percent—a move that would also shower millions in savings upon millionaires and billionaires. We speak with economist James Henry of the Tax Justice Network and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, whose latest piece is titled “Nine Reasons Trump’s Tax Plan Will Hurt You.”

This is from the beginning of this article:

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to President Trump’s efforts to dramatically rewrite the U.S. tax code, critics slamming the plan, saying it would massively redistribute wealth to the richest 1 percent of Americans—including President Trump and members of his administration. An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows President Trump’s family and Trump’s Cabinet members would, combined, reap a $3.5 billion windfall from the proposed repeal of the estate tax alone. The plan also calls for slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent down to 20 percent. Earlier this year, Trump proposed cutting the corporate tax rate to as low as 15 percent.
This is Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Mr. President, this is not a bad budget bill. It is an horrific budget bill, an extremely cruel bill and the most unfair budget ever presented in the modern history of our country. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, this budget provides $1.9 trillion in tax breaks for the top 1 percent. At a time when millions of working families are struggling to keep their heads above water, this budget cuts Medicaid by a trillion dollars. Fifteen million Americans could lose their health insurance.

And here is David Cay Johnston on the Trump tax plan:

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, essentially, what the Trump tax plan, to the extent that we know what it is, Amy, is a plan to give tiny little tax cuts to most Americans, raise taxes on perhaps one in five families and shower benefits on people who earn millions of dollars a year. If you make $40,000 to $50,000, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates you’ll get a tax savings of about $8 a week. If you make an income of $10 million, you’re going to save about a million-and-a-half dollars a year. As much as two-thirds of the tax cuts will go to the 1 percent.

There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended. 

4. Russia-China Tandem Changes the World

This article is by Gilbert Doctorow on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

Much of what Western “experts” assert about Russia – especially its supposed economic and political fragility and its allegedly unsustainable partnership with China – is wrong, resulting not only from the limited knowledge of the real situation on the ground but from a prejudicial mindset that does not want to get at the facts, i.e. from wishful thinking.

Russia may not be experiencing dynamic growth, but over the past two years it has survived a crisis of circumstance in depressed oil prices and economic warfare against it by the West that would have felled less competently managed governments enjoying less robust popularity than is the case in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Moreover, as stagnant of Russia’s GNP has been, the numbers have been on a par with Western Europe’s very slow growth.

Meanwhile, Russian agriculture is booming, with the 2017 grain harvest the best in 100 years despite very adverse climatic conditions from early spring.
No, I don´t think that the asserted blindness of ¨Western “experts”¨ is adequately explained by wishful thinking: If they are ¨experts¨, and if they do not even admit some of the most basic of facts, they are not misled by their own wishful thinking, but they are acting as intentionally lying ¨experts" who are out to deceive their public.

Here is some more:

The chief reason for the many wrongheaded observations is not so hard to discover. The ongoing rampant conformism in American and Western thinking about Russia has taken control not only of our journalists and commentators but also of our academic specialists who serve up to their students and to the general public what is expected and demanded: proof of the viciousness of the “Putin regime” (...)
Again I am sorry, but while you can appeal to wishful thinking to explain considerable parts of the blindness of many non-experts, the same reasons do not hold for purported ¨experts¨ who are supposed to have spend years of their lives to learn Russian and to learn about Russia: If these lie, they lie very intentionally, and presumably because lying and deceiving their public pays well.

Here is some more:
Although vast amounts of information are available about Russia in open sources, meaning the Russian press and commercial as well as state television, these are largely ignored. The sour grapes Russian opposition personalities who have settled in the United States are instead given the microphone to sound off about their former homeland. Meanwhile, anyone taking care to read, hear and analyze the words of Vladimir Putin becomes in these circles a “stooge.” All of this limits greatly the accuracy and usefulness of what passes for expertise about Russia.
And again I say that if educated experts on Russia lie, they lie not because they are ignorant, but they lie very probably because they have been paid.

This is from near the end (after a lot more, that I leave to your interests) here is a sum-up that corresponds to the title of the article:
In my view, the de facto Russian-Chinese alliance matches the de jure US-West European alliance. The net result of both is the partition of the world into two camps. We now have, in effect, a bipolar world that broadly resembles that of the Cold War, though still in a formative stage since many countries have not signed on definitively to one side or another.
While in fact the previous Russian-Chinese alliance (of the Seventies and Eighties) was based on the socialism of Russia, that completely disappeared in the Nineties, when Russia, with lots of help from the Americans, became a capitalist nation like the USA...

I think this article is far too much for the ¨experts¨ on Russia: If indeed these are experts, they are not being deceived by wishful thinking, but it is far more probable that they deceive their public because they have been paid to do so.

5. Where the New York Times Fails to Understand War

This article is by David Swanson on  Washington´s Blog. It criticized an article in The New York Times that I reviewed yesterday, and it starts as follows:

Let’s read a New York Times editorial from Monday:

“The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. While the number of men and women deployed overseas has shrunk considerably over the past 60 years, the military’s reach has not. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere.”

That’s a big “elsewhere” that includes Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, etc.

That is true. The criticism continues as follows (and the beginning is a quote from the NYT):

“An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as ‘unknown.’ The Pentagon provided no further explanation. There are traditional deployments in Japan (39,980 troops) and South Korea (23,591) to defend against North Korea and China, if needed,”

The gratuitous claim that what U.S. troops are doing halfway around the globe is defensive helps explain why this extreme militarism is tolerated. This editorial will go on to scratch its head in bewilderment, but the U.S. would not have gotten into these wars without the hard work of the New York Times, which has so normalized the mouthing of patent nonsense in defense of permanent war that it goes unnoticed even in an editorial lamenting permanent war.
There is considerably more there. I am a bit halfway between: While I agree with some of the criticisms of David Swanson, I also thought the reporting in the NYT was less bad than it had been for quite a while.


[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 (!!).

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