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Nederlog

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Crisis: Tax Heist, On Orwell, On Allen Bloom, On JFK's Murder, On Trump Voters

Sections                                                crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 31, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, October 31, 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 31, 2017
1. The Huge Tax Heist
2. Novel Politics
3. The American mind continues to close
4. The Deep State’s JFK Triumph Over Trump
5. Stop Trying to Convince Trump Voters. Start
     Trying to Win
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. The Huge Tax Heist

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

You know the plot: The bank robbers set off a bomb down the street from the bank, and while everyone’s distracted they get away with the loot.

In the reality TV show we’re now suffering through, Donald Trump is the bomb.

The robbers are the American oligarchs who bankroll the Republican Party, and who are plotting the biggest heist in American history – a massive tax cut estimated to be up to 5.8 trillion dollars.

Around 80 percent of it will benefit the richest 1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Yes indeed. And here is how it will - probably - go:

If the plot succeeds, most Americans will be robbed in three ways.

First, they’ll lose tax deductions they rely on – such as the deduction on earnings they put into tax-deferred savings in 401k plans. Some 55 million Americans now rely on 401(k) plans to save for retirement. 

They’ll also lose the deduction for what they pay in state and local taxes. More than half of this deduction now goes to taxpayers with incomes of less than $200,000.

Republicans say the middle class will come out just fine because they’ll get a larger standard deduction. Not true. The average American’s tax bill will rise because the deductions they’ll lose will total more than the higher standard deduction Republicans are proposing.

I take it this is as Reich says it is. Here is more:

Second, most Americans will lose government services that will have to be eliminated in order to pay for the giant tax cut – including, very likely, some Medicare and Medicaid.

About $1.5 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts were quietly included in the budget resolution Republicans just passed, in order to get their tax bill through the Senate with just 51 votes. (No one paid much attention because Trump was attacking grieving combat widows.)

Third, most Americans will have to pay higher interest on their car and mortgage loans and other money they borrow, because the huge tax cut will explode the national debt.

Again I take it this is as Reich says it is. Here is his conclusion:

Putting all this together, the theft would be the largest redistribution from the bottom 90 percent to the richest 1 percent in history.

I agree and this is a recommended article.


2. Novel Politics

This article is by Kelly Cherry on The Smart Set. I have selected it because it is about George Orwell. It starts as follows:

A modern book immediately recognizable as political is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. His dicey lungs had kept him from serving in WWII. Nevertheless, he joined England’s Home Guard, which was something like a people’s militia. He had been writing numerous articles and reviews for journals, newspapers, and for his broadcasts on the BBC. One of the best prose writers ever, he wrote an essay, titled “Politics and the English Language,” about writing — specifically, writing clearly — that has pruned the prose in many other books and articles.
(..)

Why was the word “politics” included in the title?

Because he worked as a journalist and understood how important it is to write precisely what you mean. That can be difficult to do, but if you read Orwell you will become more aware of what truth and accuracy mean.

I don't quite agree for I disagree with the definition of "politics" that Cherry presumes, but let that be.

Here is more on Orwell and specifically about his best fiction, Animal Farm:

And here I want to talk about George Orwell’s fiction. Animal Farm, published in 1945 and still read widely, is a novel in which animals talk. A children’s book? No. A book that serves as a metaphor for the state. What state? Orwell makes it clear to us that he is letting us know what is wrong, terribly wrong, with the Communist state. Published just as the Cold War was heating up, the story takes place on a farm. It is an allegory. Merriam-Webster defines an allegory as “the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence.” To put it more simply, one thing is being described as another. Or, to use his own words, he was determined “to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.” In Animal Farm, the pigs hold a meeting during which they decide to carry out a revolution. The revolution is in service to what is now called “Animalism.” The pigs’ motto is “All animals are equal.”

Yes - but unfortunately for the majority of the animals, the pigs are a little smarter than the other animals, and also quite egoistic, and therefore much interested in their own power:

The pigs have begun to look like and act like humans. The clothe themselves. They walk like humans. They carry whips. The motto has been altered to “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” What we have now is a portrait-in-action of Soviet Communism. The state is more important than the individual, and the state itself is composed of pigs.

Actually, the portrait of Soviet Socialism (I would say) is there from the beginning.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this in my opinion rather simple minded article:

Every writer can learn from George Orwell. His prose was so clear that no one can misunderstand any part of it. His sense of fairness and justice was paramount. He wrote about politics, war, economic struggles, and how to write. You’ll certainly want to read his essay “Politics and the English Language.” And I suggest reading all his novels.

Well... yes and no.

I have read most of Orwell, and repeatedly, because he is indeed a quite clear and a quite honest writer, indeed unlike the vast majority of other writers, but I do not suggest you read "all his novels": "Animal Farm" and "1984" are enough, for the others are less good.

What I think you should read are "The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell", that were first printed in 1968, and that were several times reprinted in Penguin.

Together these are four volumes, but if Orwell is for you (and he is not for the stupid or the ignorant), then you will enjoy these volumes.


3. The American mind continues to close

This article is by Jonathan Kay on Standpoint.

This article is about Allan Bloom, whose book The Closing of the American Mind I first read in 1989, when it was the first book that I read about the enormous degenerations in university education that I had been witness to since 1977, but that hardly anyone else seems to have cared about (because in fact few people are - genuinely - interested in knowledge and in truth).

I also did review the book in 1989 and I have since both translated that review and annotated it, and you can read it here: Truth and value.

Back to the article:

Much of Bloom’s success no doubt was owed to his book’s inspired title, The Closing of the American Mind. But the timing was perfect, too, arriving on shelves in the fall of 1987, when political correctness was just becoming an acute force for censorship. I was a college student at the time. And reading Bloom’s book helped convince me that, no, it wasn’t just me: something really was wrong with the way my generation was being educated and politically programmed. 

Bloom was especially repelled by relativism, which he described as “the consciousness that one loves one’s own way because it is one’s own, not because it is good.”

Yes and no, though mostly yes: I arrived in the "University" of Amster- dam when I was 27, in 1977, and had then in fact been reading philosophy, logic and much more since 1965, and I knew since 1977 that almost everybody was frauded in the "University" of Amsterdam, in considerable part because all Dutch universities were in a unique situation between 1971 and 1995: In fact, the students had almost everything to say, and what the students wanted was leftwing politics much rather than real science, and this was also what they got (outside physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology, it seems) and all the time between 1971 and 1995.

I have told the story of this quite a few times in Nederlog, and if you are interested I refer you to the essays I wrote in 1988 and 1989.

Back to the article:

The author died in 1992, just before the advent of the world wide web exacerbated many of the problems he described. Social media, in particular, has reduced attention spans — making it difficult to teach students classic texts that are not immediately relevant to modern forms of self-identification. At the same time, these networks allow activists to shame heterodox ideas on a peer-to-peer basis.  

If Bloom spent a single day on Facebook or Twitter today, he would instantly recognise the “mixture of egotism and high-mindedness” that he detected among his own undergraduates. But he also would be shocked by the rigid ideological conformity that now is demanded of students on matters relating to race, gender and sexuality.

AND he would be struck by the stupidity, the ignorance, the anonymity, and the totalitarianism that characterizes billions of the clients of Facebook and Twitter, and that also is totally new in human history:

Billions of anonymous idiots that can scold and offend as they please, and who do, because none of them can be found (other than by the secret services and Facebook etc. and these say nothing).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

For as Bloom wrote, “The real community of man . . . is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers . . . of all men to the extent they desire to know . . . This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found.”

I tend to agree, but my own inference is the - very inegalitarian - fact that "the real community of man (...) the community of those who seek the truth" is limited (at best) to the 2% of the people who have an IQ over 130.

I am very sorry, but these seem to be the facts. As to the "University" of Amsterdam: In 1984 the average IQ of the students was 115; foreign languages other than English weren't read anymore; and nearly all mathematics was excluded from nearly all studies.

Since then the IQ probably approximates 100, and realizes Tony Blair's ideal: Everybody can get a university degree, provided he or she is willing to accept debts of around $100,000 or so, which he or she then has to pay off as a very well-behaved "intellectual" in the next forty years of his or her life. (And the rich are educated at Harvard and a few other elite universities against special prices.)

The democracy of education! Everybody is of the same length! Everybody has the same face! Ergo, everybody is entitled to the same education!


4. The Deep State’s JFK Triumph Over Trump

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. This is - as the title has it - about the murder of JFK, and the still continuing difficulties about who orchestrated that murder.

I select three bits, and the first is this:

But, barring the emergence of a courageous whistleblower-patriot like Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, I do not expect to live long enough to learn precisely who orchestrated and carried out the assassination of JFK.

And yet, in a sense, those particulars seem less important than two main lessons learned: (1) If a President can face down intense domestic pressure from the power elite and turn toward peace with perceived foreign enemies, then anything is possible. The darkness of Kennedy’s murder should not obscure the light of that basic truth; and (2) There is ample evidence pointing to a state execution of a President willing to take huge risks for peace.
(...)
I do hope to be around next April after the 180-day extension for release of the remaining JFK documents. But – absent a gutsy whistleblower – I wouldn’t be surprised to see in April, a Washington Post banner headline much like the one that appeared Saturday: “JFK files: The promise of revelations derailed by CIA, FBI.”

The main point is - of course - the following: "There is ample evidence pointing to a state execution of a President willing to take huge risks for peace".

I think that is true, but if you want to know McGovern's reasons - which are quite sound - you will have to read his article.

But here is one reason:

Journalist Caitlin Johnstone hits the nail on the head in pointing out that the biggest revelation from last week’s limited release of the JFK files is “the fact that the FBI and CIA still desperately need to keep secrets about something that happened 54 years ago.”

What was released on Oct. 26, was a tiny fraction of what had remained undisclosed in the National Archives.
I agree, for unless there is much to hide there is no reason "to keep secrets about something that happened 54 years ago".

One of the main persons Ray McGovern suspects is Allen Dulles. Here is his summary judgement:

And so, the big question remains: Did Allen Dulles and other “cloak-and-dagger” CIA operatives have a hand in John Kennedy’s assassination and subsequent cover-up? In my view and the view of many more knowledgeable investigators, the best dissection of the evidence on the murder appears in James Douglass’s 2008 book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

After updating and arraying the abundant evidence, and conducting still more interviews, Douglass concludes that the answer to the big question is Yes. Reading Douglass’s book today may help explain why so many records are still withheld from release, even in redacted form, and why, indeed, we may never see them in their entirety.

I did read several books about Kennedy's murder but I did not read James Douglass's book and I also do not have Ray McGovern's extensive knowledge of American security, but I learned to trust McGovern and I think the above is very probably correct.

And this is a recommended article, in which there is much more than I reviewed.


5. Stop Trying to Convince Trump Voters. Start Trying to Win

This article is by William Rivers Pitt on Truth-out. I select three bits from it, and the first is this:

You have to wonder what Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are thinking today. I'm sure neither were expecting their Sunday to be this quiet. These two stalwart bedrock pillar Senate Republicans dropped a couple of building-sized bricks on the White House last week, and all that came of the resulting DONK was yet another hashtagged rhetorical victory lap by Donald Trump.

According to normal political gravity, this was the sun rising in the West. Flake and Corker took Reagan's 11th Commandment -- "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican" – and fed it to the bears. Two major figures within the GOP brutally attacked a sitting Republican president on national television, using phrases like "debasing the nation" and "flagrant disregard for truth or decency," and in any other time in US history, it would have been a nine-days wonder.

This is probably correct, although I do not know. Here is more on Donald Trump:

Fact: Donald Trump is a feckless racist catastrophe who would gladly light the world on fire just to see his name printed in the last newspaper ever published. This is fairly common knowledge now. Fish swimming in the eternal night of the Marianas Trench know the president of the United States is an exceedingly dangerous clod, and yet he rumbles on like some colossal ball of pumpkin cobbler gone wild on hubris.

How? Why? What do you have to do? It's the most important question in the world right now, and we need to find a new answer, because all the ones we've come up with to date are lying by the side of the road with truck tracks up their backs.
Well... as to the first paragraph:

I'd much rather say what I think is very probably true (as psychologist and as philosopher): Trump is insane and apart from that Trump is trying to make the USA into a neofascist state. (In case you doubt that Trump is a neofascist, you probably have not read my definition of neofascism.)

And as to the second paragraph:

I do not think that it is "
the most important question in the world right now" "[w]hat do you have to do?", for - it seems to me - this depends a lot on who you are.

But the following is mostly correct in my view:

I don't have all the answers, but one is fairly self-evident: Math. About 20-30 percent of US voters are Trump supporters to the teeth. They are comprised of one of the strangest amalgamations in US political history -- some evangelicals, some wealthy whites, some rural poor whites, some underemployed blue-collar white laborers, some reality TV fans -- and in their eyes, Trump can do no wrong. By itself, this is not a massive coalition, but it becomes truly muscular when:

1. Half the country doesn't vote in the general election;

2. Two-thirds of the country doesn't vote in primaries or in the midterm elections.

That 20-30 percent becomes a juggernaut under such circumstances, and such circumstances are exactly what we've had here in the US for going on 50 years.

Then again, I am - once again - missing the stupidity and the ignorance that marks many of the US voters (and indeed also the voters from the other countries).

------------------------------
Note

I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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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