in Trumpland, but Clinton Camp Should Be Wary
article is by Bill Blum on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
It’s no longer a rumor.
The first grand
drafted by Justice Department special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has
been filed. As expected by many who have followed Mueller’s work since
Paul Manafort Jr., Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager,
has been charged with violating federal law. Less anticipated is that
one of Manafort’s business partners, Richard W. (Rick) Gates III, also
has been indicted.
The 31-page indictment,
which CNN first reported on Friday, was unsealed early Monday. Signed
by Mueller himself, it charges Manafort and Gates with 12 counts
including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and
making false statements, among other offenses, stemming from their work
as political consultants on behalf of the former pro-Russian government
There are many more
treatments of the same facts, but I selected the present one because it
is fairly factual.
Here is one more bit:
In another development on
Monday—and one that, as far as I can discern, few saw coming—Mueller
and his team disclosed that George
Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old and heretofore obscure former Trump
campaign foreign policy adviser, had entered a guilty plea in a federal
district court in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5 to a single count of
lying to the FBI about his knowledge of, and involvement with, the
Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.
The charges against
Papadopoulos are set forth in a 14-page Statement
of Offense, signed by Mueller. In return for the guilty plea,
Papadopoulos is reportedly cooperating
with Mueller on other aspects of the Russia probe.
indictment is a body blow to the Trump administration. The Papadopoulos
guilty plea is a mortal threat—one that could, conceivably, bolster an
obstruction of justice charge against the president, leading eventually
to a call for impeachment. It is also, as explained below, a potential
threat to the Clinton campaign.
for more see this article, that is recommended, and also see item 3 and item 4 below.
Ominous Sign Trump Will Do Anything to Maintain His Grip on Power
This article is by Chauncy DeVega on AlterNet and
originally on Salon. It starts with a summary of the events that were
summarized in item 2. It continues, after outlining
"Trump's Twitter tantrum over the weekend", as follows:
On Sunday he recycled a whole series
right-wing talking points and conspiranoid fantasies about Hillary
Clinton and the Democratic Party pursuing a witch hunt against him. He
also resurrected the fictitious claim that Hillary Clinton somehow gave
away America's nuclear-grade uranium to Russia. In all, he railed
against Clinton as though she were the president and he was the
disgruntled loser of the 2016 presidential election.
then reached an all-caps Twitter climax with two words: "DO SOMETHING!"
say. Here is what DeVega makes of this:
practical matter, they are an effort to distract the public from
Mueller's investigation, and another signal that Trump's intimates more
likely than not colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election in his
name. Trump's Twitter rants are also an effort to prepare his public
and the right-wing propaganda machine for his next move: firing
Mueller, issuing blanket pardons to numerous people in and around his
2016 campaign, and declaring that the Russia scandal was a partisan
fishing expedition by Democrats who do not want to "Make America Great
"DO SOMETHING!" is also more sinister than the words of a desperate
president (and political party) willing to do anything to stay in
power. Trump's words are a command, a plea and a demand to his
supporters and other allies.
is the "something" that Trump wants done?
threatening violence and chaos if Mueller is not stopped and, by
extension, if the Democratic Party and his other enemies are not reined
in. This is not hyperbole. It is a reasonable conclusion based on
Trump's past and current behavior.
so. Here is some more:
"DO SOMETHING" is also an example of what has been called stochastic
terrorism, in which right-wing politicians, their toadies in the media
and conservative opinion leaders repeatedly threaten violence against
liberals, progressives and Democrats -- and then act shocked when said
outcome actually happens.
Psychologist Valerie Tarico explains the
elements of stochastic terrorism in more detail:
In this moment the
possibility of violence is very real. Donald Trump is the champion of white supremacists,
neo-Nazis and right-wing militias.
public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person
or group of persons.
repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized,
depicted as loathsome and dangerous — arousing a combustible
combination of fear and moral disgust.
images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past "purges"
against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language — all of
these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence
condemn it — claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the "tragedy."
possibly so. I want to comment on one thing that neither DeVega nor
psychologist Valetie Tarico seem to have seen:
described four-step "elements of stochastic terrorism" seem possible only
if large numbers of the public are quite unreasonable, which I
specify as stupid
it also seems to me that "the possibility of violence" is not
"very real" on "this moment", but we will soon see.
This Is Not Trump’s Watergate
This article is by
Andrew Cohen on The New York Review of Books. It starts as follows, and
is in fact also a continuation of the theme that was opened (today, in
Nederlog) by item 2:
The thirty-one-page federal indictment of the
former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner
Rick Gates on charges of money-laundering, conspiracy, bank fraud, and
false statements tells us that we have reached the end of the beginning
of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump team’s ties to
Russia. The unsealing of the charges early Monday
morning—fifty-one weeks after Donald Trump was elected president and
just a few hours after he again tweeted his disgust with the
investigation—means we are leaving the ungainly phase where virtually
all of the news we get about the investigation comes to us from unnamed
sources, all of whom are trying to spin
the story this way and that. We are entering instead the phase
where we all will be able to read, see, and hear at least some
specific, detailed allegations of criminal misconduct.
Yes indeed: It seems
as if - at long last - we will get some facts rather than endless
speculations spinned this way and that way.
Next, there is this,
which is about a comparison I have meanwhile seen quite a few
It’s easy to compare
it all to Watergate. An unhinged Republican president. The
nefarious men with whom he surrounded himself. The dirty tricks. The
undermining of democratic norms. The intrepid group of reporters trying
to get to the bottom of it all. A criminal case proceeding even as new
scoops emerge and legislators continue to investigate. But our
perceptions of the Watergate affair, some forty-five years later, are
shaped not by how it began but by how it ended. It is a tidy story and
we perceive it today as having an inexorable result: of course, a
crooked president had to resign in disgrace. But that’s surely not what
our parents and grandparents thought in June 1972, when the “third-rate
burglary” occurred, or in January 1973, when the trial of the
burglars began. To our predecessors, that time was as foggy and
inconclusive as today’s events are.
I think that is true
and - considerably more important - so is this:
The House of
Representatives in the wake of the 1972 election had fifty more Democrats than Republicans.
Following that election, the Senate was controlled by Democrats with a
majority of fifty-six to forty-four. Even then, with a Republican in
the White House, it took many months for Congress to rouse itself from
torpor and begin to investigate the scandal. Today, Republicans control
both the House and the Senate, and those numbers alone don’t tell the
whole story. Thanks both to partisan gerrymandering and incumbents’
fear of being challenged in a primary by a Trump supporter, there
are fewer moderates in both chambers than
there were in 1972, fewer legislators in states or districts who feel
the pull of bipartisanship. The center did not hold in 2016.
Yes indeed. And here
is Cohen's conclusion:
We are not dealing with
Watergate redux. This is a situation far more dangerous to the republic.
I think Cohen is
correct, and this is a recommended article.
Peek Behind the VW Tax Haven Curtain
This article is by Simon Hage, Martin Hesse and Blaz
Zgaga on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:
When Hans Dieter Pötsch
was asked in early 2013 about the tax-shelter schemes used by some
multinational corporations, his words seemed to reflect genuine
indignation. "For Volkswagen, let me be extremely clear, we have never
played such games."
At the time, the public
was still unaware of the vast diesel emissions deception being
perpetrated by the German automobile manufacturer, a scandal which has
come to be known as Dieselgate. As such,
Pötsch was able to hold forth, without fear of contradiction, on how
important "good citizenship" is for the carmaker. The term is used
these days to describe enterprises that adhere to the law, pay their
taxes and perhaps even demonstrate social responsibility.
In early 2013, though, Pötsch did leave a small detail unmentioned:
Since 2012, VW had maintained a holding company and a financing company
in Luxembourg, a country known for its business-friendly tax regime.
And in the ensuing years, the Wolfsburg-based automobile giant has
woven an almost impenetrable web of capital networks and cash flows
within Luxembourg worth a total of 17 billion euros.
fact at least part of the reason why the present article is here is
that I started a little bit over 50 years ago to work for a Dutch bank,
where I very soon learned that most European banks whose names were
then fairly popular in fact did not own
themselves but were owned by far more
obscure financial firms in Luxembourg.
This came then as a
surprise to me, mostly because these facts were (almost) never written
about in the ordinary media.
Clearly, the reasons
for this fairly obscure being controlled by Luxembourgian holding
companies were twofold:
it was very good for the profits of the holding companies,
and second, these holding companies were, mostly for obscure
financial reasons that again depended a lot on the Luxembourgian
government, vastly more obscure in their financial reporting than
the banks they controlled (for 51% or more).
think Volkswagen is now doing the same as most Dutch banks did in the
1960ies (and before): Increase their profits, and make the control of
the corporation and its finances far more obscure.
Here is more from the
Regarding the motivation
driving the shift to the Luxembourg model, the "good citizen" VW says
today: "The establishment of holding and financing companies in an
attractive regulatory location is done primarily for reasons of finance
strategy." Taking steps to avoid the multiple taxation of dividends,
the company says, "has nothing to do with a tax-shelter scheme." It
makes it sound like the company is trying to protect itself from the
perniciousness of German tax law.
I think these two propagandistic
pronouncements of Volkswagen should be translated as follows: (i) we
want more profits, and (ii) we are sheltering from the German laws, for
in Luxembourg this is far more difficult to see or control.
Here is the last bit from
the Spiegel International article that I quote:
The structure works as
follows: From 2014 to 2016, VW subsidiaries have transferred 5.8
billion euros to Luxembourg. The holding company there, VFL, declared
profits over that time period of 3.5 billion euros but paid only 1.7
million euros in taxes - a tax rate of just 0.05 percent.
Subsidiaries such as SEAT
and Skoda, of course, pay corporate taxes in the countries where they
are based and only transfer their net profits to Luxembourg. As such,
VW declares that it is "economically correct" that VFL pays no taxes on
the money transfers. Were the profits to be sent to a Germany based
holding company, VW would have to pay an additional 5 percent in
corporate and other taxes.
And that is how it
works. There is more in the article, that is recommended.
I have now been saying since
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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).
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 (!!).