June 28, 2018

Crisis: Disappeared Children, Ocasio-Cortez, Working, Mick Mulvaney, On The Democrats


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 28, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 28, 2018.
1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from June 28, 2018:
1. Help Us Find the Children the Trump Administration Has Taken From
     Their Parents

2. 28-Year-Old Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wins Primary
3. Why Work Isn’t Working in Trump’s America
4. Mugger Mick Mulvaney—Trump’s Sadist-in-Chief
5. Can You Hear Us Now? On Why Documenting the Daily Outrage Is Not

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. Help Us Find the Children the Trump Administration Has Taken From Their Parents

This article is by The Intercept (it seems) on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

For more than a year, top officials in the Trump administration threatened to prosecute parents caught crossing the southwest border illegally and separate them from their children in the process. The aim was deterrence. The government tested the enforcement measure in pockets along the U.S.-Mexico divide throughout the second half of 2017. Then, on April 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the tactic a border-wide reality, calling for a program of “zero tolerance.” By that point, the number of family separations that had already taken place was well into the hundreds. There would be thousands more in the weeks that followed. Babies, toddlers, and asylum-seekers were all swept up in the crackdown.

A recent injunction from a federal judge ordered the government to begin reunifying the families it has separated, but questions remain: Can the government do it? Will it? And who are these children? Where are they? And where are their parents?
Well... the last three questions are the most important in this first quotation. Then again, being a psychologist, I think that the motives that are provided for the governments' extreme cruelty, which are "deterrence" and "zero tolerance" are insufficient:

I think that if the government indulges in sick cruelty and in the separation of small children from their parents, there is - very probably - another motive or two, and the motives I have in mind are sadism and racism.

And incidentally, I define sadism as follows (and there is more in the original, under the last link):
Sadism: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others or from causing others pain or misery.
Indeed, there is much more sadism in human beings than  most are willing to admit: Very many people derive much pleasure from being in positions of power and by hurting, denigrating, demeaning or displeasing others. It probably does not arouse most of them sexually, but they wouldn't do it if it did not please them. And this kind of pleasure seems to be one of the strongest motivators of those who desire to be boss: To let others feel they are inferior.

"We never hurt each other but by error or by malice." 
   (Sir Robert Chambers, possibly inspired by Dr. Johnson)

I think it is quite evident that sadism (and racism) are involved as well, besides "deterrence" and "zero tolerance", but I grant I have an M.A. in psychology (which does make a difference).

Here is some more from this article:
The government has provided varying counts of the total number of families it has separated. Overlapping timelines make a precise figure difficult to pin down. Recently, the government has claimed that 2,047 children taken from their parents after the order officially went into effect remain separated. But counts that factor in separations before the policy became official reflect a larger impact: The Intercept tallied as many as 3,700 in June, and McClatchy reported the real total could be as high as 6,000.
But what’s even more unclear is the fate of the children the government has already taken in custody, and who has been sent to dozens of facilities across the country, thousands of miles away from their detained, and sometimes already deported, parents. Reports have emerged revealing a bureaucracy that was deliberately thrust into chaos, with children walking away from shelters, attempting to jump off the windows of foster homes, and being flown across the country on late-night flights and transported through city streets with their heads covered by blankets. Parents and lawyers, meanwhile, have had to frantically call hotlines and are put on hold for hours, with operators telling them they have no information, including where their children are or when they’ll see them again.
That is to say: (i) the American government probably has no clear idea of how many children it kidnapped, because (ii) the "bureaucracy (..) was deliberately thrust into chaos", while it also involved (iii) children "being flown across the country on late-night flights and transported through city streets with their heads covered by blankets", while parents and lawyers who try to find their kidnapped children are being told systematically that "they have no information, including where their children are or when they’ll see them again".

How does this differ from intentional cruelty and sadism? I see no difference and this is a strongly recommended article.

2. 28-Year-Old Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wins Primary

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
In a stunning upset and the biggest surprise of the primary season this year, 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley in New York in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Crowley is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, and he’d outraised Ocasio-Cortez by a 10-to-1 margin. Crowley was widely viewed as a possible future House speaker. Yet Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley after running a progressive grassroots campaign advocating for “Medicare for All” and the abolition of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to Democracy Now! about her historic campaign.
I like it that she won, but she still has to defeat a Republican to get a seat. Also, there is a whole lot of information about her in many papers, which is probably also motivated by the facts that she is young and attractive.

Then again, she is also sensible:
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It’s time to fight for a New York that working families can afford. That’s why I’m running for Congress. This race is about people versus money. We’ve got people, they’ve got money. It’s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same, that a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us. What the Bronx and Queens needs is Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee and criminal justice reform. We can do it now. It doesn’t take a hundred years to do this. It takes political courage. A New York for the many is possible. It’s time for one of us.
I quite agree, in fact especially about "corporate money", for it is corporate money, that is, more specifically: the possibility for elected "representatives of the people" to get personally rich by accepting loads of corporate money, that has completely corrupted nearly all Democrats.

Back to the article. Here Ocasio-Cortez explains her values by reference to Bernie Sanders, for whom she campaigned:

AMY GOODMAN: You are, Alexandria, a Democratic Socialist, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. What does that mean to you? And can you also talk about, having worked for Bernie Sanders, what his campaign has meant and the example you’re using?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah, absolutely. Well, for me, one of the things that democratic socialism means is that, in a modern society, where we have the resources and the capacity to ensure that every person can be duly educated, can have access to healthcare, and that we can afford and have the ability to house people in our economy, that a moral society guarantees a basic level of dignity for people in the United States of America. And that’s what that means to me. That’s what my values are.

As far as the Sanders campaign, I think that what the Sanders campaign and working on the Sanders campaign did for me was that it showed that a grassroots movement is still possible in the United States.
Yes. There is considerably more in the original, that is strongly recommended.
3. Why Work Isn’t Working in Trump’s America

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. This is from near its beginning:
[T]he overall U.S. labor force is shrinking, something that also helps suppress official unemployment statistics. The civilian U.S. labor force participation rate (LFPR)—the percentage of all work-eligible, nonmilitary Americans 16 years and older who are employed or actively seeking work—is currently below 63 percent, its lowest point since the late 1970s.

While Trump boasts about the recent U3 “breakthrough,” he is silent about the shrinking U.S. labor force—something he used to harp on when Barack Obama was in the White House. During the 2016 campaign, Trump ripped government reports of falling unemployment rates for falsely inflated numbers because so many Americans were not in the labor force. “Our real unemployment rate … is 42 percent,” Trump insanely told Time magazine in August 2016, “because you have 90 million people that aren’t working, 93 million to be exact.”
In fact, as Street will explain, the official numbers from the government are hardly accurate - and I could not resist in documenting one of the incredibly many lies of Trump.

Here is more on "prime-age U.S. males":
“Prime-age” (25- to 54-year-old) U.S. males are generally past schooling but too young to retire. They are becoming less attached to the labor market over time. Fully 11 percent of them are neither employed nor seeing work today, up from 4 percent in 1950. This reflects the collapse of the job market for “unskilled workers” left behind by technological change and corporate globalization, something that millions of working-age men face: the ugly choice between work for miserable wages or life without employment.
I think this is correct, and the explanation is basically that computers now are as good or better than low skilled workers in many jobs, and are cheaper.

Also, while I can quote bits from the middle Sixties of the previous century - over 50 years ago (!!) - that anticipate on the freedom from most work for the many, because the work could be done by a computer, what has in fact happened is completely the opposite:

Another reason to be concerned about the declining LFPR is that wage levels no longer permit most U.S. households to get by without more than one wage- or salary-earner contributing to family incomes. The nation’s LFPR was much lower in the 1950s and 1960s, but that had to do with something good: the ability of families to get by on a single full-time job. The subsequent near murder of U.S. unions and related long-term wage stagnation have made it impossible for most folks to live decently on one job per household. “Now,” the leftist economics blogger Pete Dolack writes, “everybody works and still can’t make ends meet.”
Well, yes but: "the ability of families to get by on a single full-time job" has been destroyed at least in part by the "feminists" of the late 1960ies (and later) who all insisted (mostly as academics or students in the late 1960ies, it seemed) that it was highly desirable for "women" to work as men did - which in my eyes (and since then till now) made the "feminists" one of the strongest forces to make everyone, and not just the males, wage-slaves of capitalism.

And they succeeded spectacularly well, but I refuse to call them "feminists": Making wage-slaves out of women is not and never was my idea of feminism.

Anyway... here is more on how everybody who is not rich gets exploited in the current USA:

U.S. job growth for years has been “strong,” but for what kinds of positions? Low-wage and often temporary McJobs with no prospects for advancement and benefits. Jobs that pay so poorly that hundreds of millions of Americans have to borrow money or supplement full-time employment incomes with food stamps
and visits to food pantries to survive.

The exorbitant interest rates we pay on credit cards and for other forms of modern-day debt peonage (including payday loans and “rent to purchase” contracts that amount to usury) combine with inflation to mean that our wages are not merely stagnant but actually declining in real terms. “If we earned a sustainable income,” Truthdig’s Chris Hedges notes, “we would not have to borrow money to survive.”

Precisely. Here is more by Street, who outlines - correctly, I think - that he is one of the "officially marginalized “radicals”" who not only objects to not paying working people enough, but who also objects to the kind of - "monotonous, narrow, highly specialized and alienating tasks" nearly all not highly educated workers are forced to do:

It is left to officially marginalized “radicals,” such as myself, to go beyond the standard quantitative measures (unemployment, job creation, wage rates, etc.) to mention the spiritually deadening estrangement and despotism that reigns across what Marx called the “hidden abode of capitalist production.” Much of what passes for meaningful and supposedly dignity-conferring work under capitalism consists of the performance of monotonous, narrow, highly specialized and alienating tasks conceived for workers by employers and employers’ labor experts with no higher purpose in mind than churning out profits for the nation’s obscenely wealthy investor class.

I think Street is quite right. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:

We have endured a half-millennium of capitalism, of societies and nations ruled (whatever their varying and changing outward political forms, including “parliamentary democracy”) by unelected and overlapping dictatorships of money, class and empire.

This profit-, accumulation- and growth-addicted regime has brought us to previously unimaginable levels of social disparity—three absurdly rich people
now have as much wealth between them as the bottom half of the U.S. population—paired with a pace of environmental destruction that poses the
near-term risk of human extinction. It’s long past time to, in Marx’s words, “expropriate the expropriators.”

Yes, I agree - and as to expropriating the expropriators, see my "On Socialism" (from 2015). I do not know whether this is possible, but it seems the future of mankind is one of three: (i) the neofascism that Trump and the Republicans are trying to create (where most human beings are effectively sub-humans), or (ii) a democratic kind of socialism (that is possible but will be very hard to realize), or (iii) death for all because of a nuclear war or the collapse of the environment.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Mugger Mick Mulvaney—Trump’s Sadist-in-Chief

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Mr. Mulvaney’s title seems uninterestingly bureaucratic—director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). But as Trump’s chief hatchet man extraordinaire, Mugger Mick Mulvaney is easily one of the cruelest, most vicious presidential henchman in modern American history. From his powerful perch next door to the White House, he is carving a bloody trail against tens of millions of Americans who are poor, disabled, frail, and elderly. He has gone after defenseless children and injured or sick patients with little or no access to health care.

I am quite sure that Ralph Nader knows a whole lot more about Mulvaney than I do, but I do believe Nader, and like to add a bit of my own:

My own theory, since Trump became president, is that the Trumpian government is out to kill many Americans who are not rich, and that they are trying to do so by taking away all their possibilities to stay alive. This has the added advantage to them that killing them is not necessary: If you have taken their houses, their jobs, their money, and their food stamps, all they can do is suicide, which I think also is Mulvaney's end.

Here is more by Nader:

A human wrecking ball, Mugger Mick has pushed to eliminate the Meals-on-Wheels assistance for isolated elderly, to increase rents for poor tenants, to severely gut SNAP (food stamps) and nutritious food standards, and to diminish Medicaid. In addition the Trump administration wants to impose work requirements in Medicaid as a condition of eligibility.  Many adult Medicaid recipients are already working. Where will the new jobs come from? Those who want to work but can’t find jobs are not Mr. Mulvaney’s concern.

His hellish agenda, undertaken on behalf of his plutocratic rulers, is comprehensive. He wants to smash consumer, environmental, and workplace health and safety standards. To Mugger Mick, killing and disabling Americans doesn’t even qualify as collateral damage. To Mulvaney’s fevered, psychopathic mind, eliminating Americans’ health and safety protections is worth it if it means “efficiency” and less spending of tax dollars (..)
As I said: "To Mugger Mick, killing and disabling Americans doesn’t even qualify as collateral damage." I agree, though indeed Mulvaney does not need to dirty his own hands.

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

Nowhere has Mugger Mick been more blatant about his ugly mission than in his efforts to freeze and dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB was created after the Wall Street collapse of the economy, which displaced millions of workers and drained trillions of dollars from pension and mutual funds. Remember Wall Street then had to be bailed out by America’s taxpayers.

Mulvaney has jettisoned ongoing enforcement actions, driven or reassigned personnel, zeroed out the CFPB’s first quarter budget, and prioritized the protection of Wall Street in the CFPB mission statement.  How grotesque a response to the corporate crime wave in this country that has been stealing trillions of dollars from defenseless consumers, workers, and investors!

I agree - and the only consolation (if that is what it is) I can derive from this excellent article is that Mulvaney also makes it probable Wall Street may soon collapse again, indeed in a more spectacular fashion than in 2008. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Can You Hear Us Now? On Why Documenting the Daily Outrage Is Not Enough

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Can you hear us now?

Ben Jealous and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just showed Democrats how to win.  Both backed  single-payer health care, a living wage, criminal justice reform, a more humane immigration policy, and both ran grass roots campaigns that didn’t hew to the party machine’s middle-of-the road, center-right, corporate-campaign- driven spin machine. Both refused fossil fuel money.
Yet the party leaders in Congress and the DNC, continue to think they can ignore the progressive groundswell growing beneath them and run on how bad Trump is. Their underlying aim seems to be to win over a few Trump voters while preserving their corporate benefactors by running the same middle of the road campaign that’s lost them thousands of seats and millions of followers. 
I completely agree with the first quoted paragraph, but I think the second quoted paragraph might have been changed by not only mentioning the "corporate benefactors" of the Democratic Party, but by saying what I think is correct:

The large majority of the elected Democrats are there for the same reason as the large majority of the elected Republicans: Personal riches. (Just one example: The two Clintons assembled since Bill's presidency something like $120 million, indeed often by "talks to rich bankers" for which they were paid 250,000 dollars or more per three quarters of talking.)

Here is more from the article:

Drain the swamp? Hell, Trump is turning the whole country into a foul, fetid, stinking swamp.  And the Democrats and the press just loves to tell you about it.  Can’t say enough what a hypocritical, ADHD, narcissist, buffoons Trump and his administration are. They’re practically gleeful about it.

And so, with just over five months until the midterms, they’re still thinking they can ignore their increasingly progressive base, and use Trump and his cronies’ corruption and stupidity to make a great blue tsunami sweep across the nation.

They’re wrong.  Dead wrong.

I believe Atcheson may very well be correct, althouh I do not hope so. Here are Atcheson's two reasons to think so:

There’s two reasons for this, and both have to do with turnout, and midterms are all about turnout.

Griping and whining about Trump will increase turnout among the passionately ignorant


If you don’t build it, they won’t come

Honest men and women may differ about the notion that “if you build it they will come,” but no one has ever suggested that if you don’t build it they’ll come.  Yet that’s exactly what the Democrats are doing, at the moment.
Well... yes and no.

I don't agree with the first point, for I think one has every right to gripe and whine about Trump. It is possible Atcheson is correct in presuming that there are considerably more ignorant (and stupid, and conformist, and egoistic wishful thinkers) than already voted for Trump, but I think Trump deserves to be criticized, and not criticizing him indeed may have the same effect.

And while the second point is correct, I think the probable reason for it should also have been mentioned, which is that the Democrats do not build a progressive opposition, simply because most of them have been bought by the rich, which again is also the reason why many Democrats vote rather often for Republican plans.

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

Republicans have been playing this whole bait and switch game since Reagan.  When they’re in power, they give giant tax cuts to the rich and corporations under cover of trickle-down and supply side claptrap, then use the resulting inevitable deficits to justify attempts to cut popular social programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, student loans and grants, and aid to children in need, among others.  When Democrats are in power, Republicans scream about how deficits will sink the economy, and use it to keep them from enacting anything for the poor or middle class.

It’s bad enough that Pelosi, Schumer and the rest of the over-the-hill gang running the party seem to think preemptive capitulation is smart politics; but it’s far worse that it is – literally – a gift to Republicans, who could and should be on the ropes.

I agree completely with the first paragraph, but I differ about the second: I think Pelosi, Schumer etc. do not think that "preemptive capitulation is smart politics", but I do think that "preemptive capitulation" helps them a lot in getting personally richer. And this is a recommended article.


[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 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail