July 1, 2018

Crisis: The "Democrats", "Fascism", "Socialism", The Supreme Court, The WTO


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 1, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, July 1, 2018. (The quotes in the above are caused by the fact that words are being used in the American sites I mostly read that are extremely vague.)
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 July 1, 2018:
1. Make Way for Young Democratic Leaders
2. 'Fascism Is at the Door Step'
3. Interest in Democratic Socialism Surges
4. The Supreme Court Is a Slurring, Undemocratic Mess
5. WTO Faces Existential Threat in Times of Trump
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. Make Way for Young Democratic Leaders

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Whatever its larger meaning or impact, Representative Joseph Crowley’s stunning loss to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in last Tuesday’s primary election already has set off one tremor within the Democratic Party: It has thrown House leadership into chaos.

Mr. Crowley is chairman of the Democratic caucus, making him the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. He also was the heir apparent to the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. Ms. Pelosi, now 78, has herded Democratic cats for nearly 16 years and has made clear her desire to stay put if the party wins back the majority in November. But she’s expected to face a serious challenge to her rule after the election, whether or not the party reclaims the majority. A swelling segment of Ms. Pelosi’s caucus — especially younger lawmakers — feel it is time for a change, and at least 20 Democratic candidates have pledged not to support her for leader if they win their races.

Actually, while I agree that Ocasio-Cortez's win was a surprise, I feel not compelled to predict or to infer a "House leadership [thrown] into chaos". My reason is simply that she is just one politician, and also I don't like sensationalism.

Then again, I think the sooner Pelosi is pensioned off, the better it is for everyone except Pelosi.

Here is a bit about how her generation - the politicians of around 80 - have manoeuvred to get and keep as much of their personal power over the rest of the Democrats as was possible:

For too long, this regime has clung to power at the expense of future leaders. Neither of Ms. Pelosi’s two chief deputies, Steny Hoyer, the party whip, and Jim Clyburn, the assistant leader, is a remotely viable successor. Like Ms. Pelosi, both men are just shy of 80 and have occupied top-tier posts for over a decade. At this point, the caucus leadership has gone from stale to downright ossified.

In fact, I am less concerned about their ages as I am about their keeping the power in the Democratic Party for 10 to 15 years, and indeed also because I think Pelosi and many other Democrats are corrupt: They seem to be into politics not to help those who elected them, but to help themselves getting richer.

And in fact, I think that is what most Democrats (and also most Republicans) are these days: Corrupt, and doing what their rich corrupters want them to do.

Here is the ending of this article:

Because of this regime’s failure to foster new talent, the caucus lacks a deep bench — or any bench, really — of members ready to assume Ms. Pelosi’s mantle. At this point, some in the caucus are toying with the idea of using Mr. Hoyer as a temporary placeholder for a couple of years until a younger replacement can be properly groomed for the job.

Such a stopgap measure, obviously, is not the kind of fresh approach and generational change that many of the House Democrats have been hoping for. But this is what happens when leaders focus more on maintaining their own power than on preparing their party for the future.

Yes, and my guess is also that it won't work, although I don't know. But I think the sooner Pelosi stops as a leader of the Democrats, and indeed also Hilary Clinton, the better it is for the Democrats. And this is a recommended article.

2. 'Fascism Is at the Door Step'

This article is by Michael Moore on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. It starts as follows:

Bill Maher has long been warning that Donald Trump is instituting a slow-moving coup to undermine American democracy.

He found a likeminded guest in Michael Moore, who appeared on HBO's Real Time on Friday night.

Moore laid out what he sees as the best way to fight Donald Trump—all out war and mass resistance to counter Republicans who will stop at nothing to control the majority of Americans.

"They are relentless, they are motherf*ckers to the core," he said. "This is the beauty and the genius of Trump and why you have to step back for a second and admire him the way Patton admired Rommel. When Trump says he's going to do something he's going to do it. He is relentless... and we never act like that on any of the things we say we believe in."

Moore said that he thinks Americans can stop Trump, but only if they're all-in.

Well... first of all, I am seeing a whole lot less of Bill Maher than I did some years ago, and the reason is simple: anonymous neofascists have made it more or less chance whether anything that pops up with "bill maher" is what it says is it is. It rarely is, and I gave mostly up. (And I think this is the future of the internet.)

Next, while I agree with Maher that there is something like "a slow-moving coup" I also think this has been going on since 1980, indeed also under "Democratic" presidents like Clinton and Obama.

Finally, while I agree with Michael Moore that it is possible that "Americans can stop Trump" (?!), I do hope there is at least one reader who does not understand the meaning of "motherf*ckers". (I am sorry, but I find this starring such utterly ridiculous nonsense.)

That is, without irony, I am not impressed. Here is a bit more about Moore:

"Fascism is at the door step," he said. "People are afraid to use the word, but I think we have got to be very serious about this. FDR and Churchill defeated fascism. And one of those people was in a wheelchair and the other was a drunkard, to be kind... if they defeated fascism, look at what we've got."

Moore compared the fight to what Martin Luther King faced, and said we have much better odds now. King started getting serious death threats at age 26 and lived with them for the rest of his life while raising four young children. Is the resistance willing to do the same?

"What are people willing to commit to? What would you give your life for?" he asked. "What would you be willing to actually put yourself on the line for? That moment is now. We are going to lose our democracy if we haven't already. We have no choice, my friends. We have to rise up."

Here we have more extremely stupid prejudice, this time about the term "fascism": "People are afraid to use the word", I suppose because they are not really sure that God will not blow them op the minute they do, indeed quite like "motherf*cker".

Then again, Moore is more or less right, but one of the things that sickens me is quite different:

I have almost two years ago considered over twenty different definitions of the term "fascism" - see here: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions, and some were good, some bad, and some utterly ridiculous - and indeed I used a Wikipedia item to get the definitions (so that is not hard to find) - but even so, in the one and a half year that passed I have read very many articles that included the term "fascism", but I have not read a single article by a single author that gave anything like a reasonable definition of that term "fascism".

Finally, as to Moore's "What are people willing to commit to? What would you give your life for?" "What would you be willing to actually put yourself on the line for?":

I do have a rather good idea about fascism and the Dutch:

In May 1940, the Dutch were occupied by the German Nazis. Both of my parents, who were communists mostly because of the Nazis, went into the resistance almost immediately, as did the Dutch Communist Party, that had then about 10,000 members.

Of these members, around 2000 were killed by the Nazis, and my father and his father were arrested by the Nazis, and condemned to concentration camp punishments, which my grandfather - also a communist, and for the same reasons as his son - did not survive.

In May 1945, when the later prime minister Piet de Jong landed in Holland, very briefly after the war, he was told that "70% of the Dutch were leaders of the Resistance".

Well... these were 100% liars. Judging by what I know of (Dutch) persons, and judging by the fact that over 100,000 Dutch Jews were murdered by the Nazis, my own conclusion is that there can have been hardly more than 50,000 to 100,000 real opponents of the Nazis in Holland, and possibly a little more, but not much.

This means at most 5% of the Dutch resisted the Nazis. The rest collaborated (for various reasons, some good, some bad).

So... back to Moore's questions: I do not think there are more than 1 in 20 Americans willing "to actually put yourself on the line for", for I do not think Americans are that different from the majority of the Dutch. And see the next bit:

3. Interest in Democratic Socialism Surges

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning primary win over Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, interest in democratic socialism—the label Ocasio-Cortez unabashedly uses to describe her platform and political outlook—has surged exponentially, prompting corporate TV networks to feature segments on the term and driving a record-breaking membership boost for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
Well... Ocasio-Cortez's win was a single win by a single person. I agree I did not expect it, but otherwise I am not much impressed.

Also, in view of the previous item: I could write a very similar report as I just did on the meaning of "socialism", with the general point that many use it but few or none that I have read (other than Orwell, to be sure, but he was very intelligent and died 68 years ago) have given anything like a decent definition of this - indeed rather difficult - term.

And Ocasio-Cortez is not an exception:

In an interview on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" Thursday night, Ocasio-Cortez—who is one of DSA's 42,000 members—was given a chance to explain the core principles of democratic socialism to an audience of millions.

"I believe that in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live," Ocasio-Cortez told Colbert, who claimed that democratic socialism is "not an easy term for a lot of Americans."

I am sorry, but whatever "socialism" means it does not mean that. In fact, as you may know, there are far more political parties in Holland and in the Dutch parliament than there are in the USA: There are Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, GreenLefts, Socialists, Christians, Liberals, a Pro Animal Party (all in the present Dutch parliament) and some more.

And I would not know of any Dutch party that would deny that they "believe that in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person in [Holland] should be too poor to live".

Which is to say that Ocasio-Cortez's statement is not a statement of what "socialism" means in any sense. (If you want my meaning of the term, there is this: On Socialism from 2015).

Here is some more on this almost complete lack of any clear meaning:

In an attempted takedown of Ocasio-Cortez's ambitious progressive agenda, Fox News host Sean Hannity inadvertantly demonstrated why many Americans view democratic socialism favorably, particularly during a time of staggering inequality, soaring healthcare costs, environmental degradation, and falling wages.

"Many are hailing Cortez as a rising star on the political landscape, but in reality, her views, her policy positions are actually downright scary... Look very carefully," Hannity ominously warned in a Wednesday night segment. "This is the future, this is the modern Democratic Party."

The camera then proceeded to show a list of widely popular proposals like Medicare for All as well as basic, humane principles like "Women's Rights" and "Support Seniors."

As Vice summarized, "Sean Hannity accidentally made a great argument for socialism."

I am sorry, but that was simply bullshit.

4. The Supreme Court Is a Slurring, Undemocratic Mess

This article is by Pete Certo on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
The Supreme Court is a real piece of work. Over the last few days it’s been popping off far-right proclamations like a drunk uncle at Thanksgiving. Except this uncle gets to make the rules in your house, and he can stay there until he dies.
Well... I am not an American. I have read the Constitution and I have read some American law  and also some about the American system of law, but that it about the extent of my knowledge - which I admit is not very much, but is certainly better than the knowledge of the majority of the Americans.

Anyway... one of the main things I do not understand is why people who have been nominated to the Supreme Court are nominated for life. My own feeling is that they should be nominated for ten years, and then be reconsidered or else simply dropped.

The main reason for my feeling is that politics in the USA is set around a four year of eight year rhythm, while Supreme Court judges are nominated for what may be thirty or forty years. And my other reason is that - surely - one should be able to reconsider one's choices for the Supreme Court.

Anyway... this is what I think, indeed more or less regardless of politics. Here is more about Supreme Court judges:

When the last court seat opened up in early 2016, President Obama appointed the boringly centrist judge Merrick Garland. But the GOP-controlled Senate refused to seat him, or even to hold a single hearing. This was an almost unprecedented obstruction.

Instead, they held the seat open till they had a Republican president, who appointed the hardline conservative Neil Gorsuch.

Senate Republicans then changed the chamber’s rules so Gorsuch could be seated without the votes needed to clear a filibuster. That gave them the fifth vote they needed to disenfranchise voters, gut unions, religiously discriminate, and god knows what else.

Yes, that was evidently quite unfair. But then again, with my rule in place, Gorsuch and any other nominated judge could be removed after ten years.

Here is some more from the article:

The malapportionment will only get worse as progressive voters — and an ever larger share of the U.S. population — cluster in the bigger states underrepresented by our system. Meanwhile, lawmakers will continue drawing maps amplifying their own advantage and passing laws suppressing the votes of everyone else, with the likely backing of a Supreme Court even more conservative than it is now.

Under these conditions, electoral politics can seem hopeless.

Yes indeed. I have given my own solution above, but I don't think that will be adopted.

There is also something else which seems to me quite wrong with the Supreme Court, at least as it was the last ten years or so: Their interpretations of the Constitution, as e.g. in the Citizens  United's case, are absolutely appalling (as indeed at least one former Supreme Court judge, in his nineties, has argued, quite clearly also).

And again, while I do not think that misinterpretations (of various kinds, for various motives) of the Constitution can be avoided, at least the length of their influence on the politics of the USA can be lessened by having each and every Supreme Court judge having to be reconsidered in their appointments every ten years. And this is a recommended article.

5. WTO Faces Existential Threat in Times of Trump

This article is by Martin Hesse on Spiegel International. This is from near the beginning:

The director general then speaks about how free trade can help countries recover from earthquakes or hurricanes, listing off a few examples and making a plea for stronger WTO involvement. He ends his talk with a sort of disclaimer: "As ever, precisely how we do this is up to our members."

It is a single sentence that perfectly describes the fundamental dilemma facing the WTO. It is essentially a system of trade treaties between its members, the adherence to which is monitored and moderated by the Geneva-based organization. In times of crisis, everyone looks to the 630 men and women who work in the Centre William Rappard, but the WTO takes no initiative. Everything it does, the organization never tires of repeating, must be at the initiative of its members.

The members, though, in particular U.S. President Donald Trump, have ensured that the WTO is itself being rocked by an earthquake at the moment. And when it is over, the global trade order could lie in ruins.

Well... you get just two bits from this rather long article, simply because it turned out to be badly written and not very clear at all.

The above is more or less clear. The following might be clear:

Ever since Trump introduced punitive tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, it has become clear just how serious the threat facing global economic regulations has become. And that the U.S. president isn't shying away from openly attacking the system of global trade that has been in place since the end of World War II. "The WTO has been a disaster for this country," he ranted in March before imposing the punitive tariffs.

A Symbol of the Madness

Trump has also threatened the EU, and Germany especially, with automobile tariffs and has slapped $50 billion worth of duties on Chinese goods while threatening additional tariffs worth $200 to 400 billion more. Those now under attack from the White House have sought to defend themselves by imposing tariffs of their own -- with the motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson having recently become the symbol of the madness of this trade war.

It is the kind of escalation hardly anyone thought possible only a few months ago.

But all in all I didn't learn anything from this article, so I don't think you need to read it.


[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 (!!).
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