July 8, 2018

Crisis: Poor People, Family Reunifications?, Nuclear Disarmament, Protesters, An Email


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 8, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, July 8, 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 July 8, 2018:
1. Do Poor People Have a Right to Health Care?
2. The Trump Administration’s Family Reunification Plan Is a Fiasco
3. A Year After Adoption of Historic UN Treaty, Support for Nuclear
     Disarmament Stronger Than Ever

4. Prosecutors Drop All Remaining Charges Against Trump Inauguration

5. Two Email Messages
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. Do Poor People Have a Right to Health Care?

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

The 16 Kentuckians who recently won a lawsuit challenging the legality of Medicaid work requirements include a law student with a rare heart condition, a mortician with diabetes, a mother of four with congenital hip dysplasia and a housekeeper with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a mixed bunch, united by two grim facts: They live at or below the federal poverty level, and they’re caught in the cross hairs of a debate over what society owes its neediest members.

Their lawsuit argued that insisting that people work a certain number of hours a month in order to receive Medicaid benefits, like other requirements the state was planning to demand, is illegal because it runs counter to Medicaid’s purpose — to ensure that low-income people have access to decent care. The lawsuit also contended that such requirements would imperil the plaintiffs’ health by depriving them of the only medical insurance they could afford. The new rules, which would have stripped recipients of their benefits if they failed to meet monthly hours-worked quotas and strict reporting standards, were simply oblivious to the realities of low-wage living in Kentucky, and America in general.

I am quite interested in the possibilities that do and do not exist for ill people, for I am ill for nearly forty years now and I have ME/CFS since January 1, 1979, which until March of 2018 (!!!) was - in Holland - not the "serious chronic disease" it is since then (according to the Dutch national health council), and indeed I was never considered to be a person who was ill with a serious and chronic disease (and I am pensioned now since 2015, but again have a lesser pension than the minimal one, this time because I lived two years in Norway).

And I can be very brief about the above quotation: It is - given the treatments that I did and did not get the last 40 years - anyway a miracle that I am still alive, but I would have been certainly long dead if the above sketched regulations had been introduced in Holland.

As is, I could - barely - survive on money from study loans and the dole (never for an ill person, although I have a "serious and chronic disease" since 40 years).

Here is more from the article:

Those statements are but the latest salvo in a protracted national reckoning over Medicaid, a program that has been in place for more than half a century and now insures one in five Americans, or roughly 74 million people. In January, the federal government announced that it would reverse decades of precedent and allow states to tie Medicaid coverage to work requirements. The move is part of a wider conservative-led campaign to restrict the number of people who benefit from social safety-net programs. It also reflects persistent national ambivalence over the question of whether health care is a human right or an earned privilege — and, if the latter, how “earned” should be defined.

For me health care is a human right. It should not be "an earned privilege" simply because people may be born with an illness of some kind, and because few can pay the huge medical costs that - at least in Holland, so far - a few really need, or else they will die.

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

Given all this, it would seem that the Trump administration’s push to enact work requirements is aimed not at improving health, or even at cutting costs — there are more effective ways to do both — but rather at stigmatizing Medicaid, a program that has become less maligned in recent years, as more Americans have become insured under it. In one 2017 poll, 74 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of Medicaid.

But while most Americans agree that poor people should have health insurance, they also believe that people of all income levels should earn their benefits — the same poll from last year found that 70 percent of respondents supported Medicaid work requirements.

In fact, I think the situation (for ill people, especially chronically ill people) in the USA is worse than a "push to enact work requirements [that] is aimed not at improving health, or even at cutting costs (..) but rather at stigmatizing Medicaid":

What Trump's government is trying to do is to make people who are chronically ill and not rich commit suicide - as I would have been forced to, had his rules been the Dutch rules. (I know, for I am ill for nearly forty years now, and I got almost no help, neither medically nor socially.)

If you are against Medicaid in the USA, you are against people. And this is a recommended article.

2. The Trump Administration’s Family Reunification Plan Is a Fiasco

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

When the Trump administration instituted its “zero tolerance policy,” which prosecutes immigrants for entering the country illegally and separates parents from their children as a means of deterrence, critics argued it was not simply cruel and immoral but ill-conceived. Less than two weeks after the president used an executive order to formally end the practice of family separation, and days after a federal judge imposed multiple deadlines for reunification, their worst fears have come to fruition.

According to a New York Times report published Thursday, administration officials are scrambling to meet the court’s demands, with as many as 3,000 children’s lives hanging in the balance. Overseeing the gargantuan undertaking is the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has relied on identification bracelets, registration numbers and “careful logs” to track the movements of those detained. But as the Times reveals, the office has been routinely subverted by Customs and Border Protection.

“In hundreds of cases, Customs agents deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family with a ‘family identification number,’ according to two officials at the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the process,” writes the Times’ Caitlin Dickerson. “As a result, the parents and children appeared in federal computers to have no connection to one another.”

Yes indeed - except that it is worse. Here are two reasons:

First, the U.S. government has abducted "as many as 3,000 children" from their parents, which means that it is indulging in kidnapping, which is a very serious crime.

And second, because "Customs agents deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family with a ‘family identification number" with the "result, [that] the parents and children appeared in federal computers to have no connection to one another": This is obvious sadism on the side of these "Custom agents".

And this is a recommended article.

3. A Year After Adoption of Historic UN Treaty, Support for Nuclear Disarmament Stronger Than Ever

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

As nuclear disarmament advocates marked the one-year anniversary of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), polling found grave concerns among Europeans regarding U.S. nuclear weapons and widespread support for the historic agreement.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) commissioned a YouGov survey in time for the anniversary of the agreement, which the group spent years advocating for, convincing the majority of the world's nations to participate in negotiations and 59 countries to sign. Citizens of Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany—all of which host U.S. nuclear weapons—were surveyed.

"The survey results show a clear rejection of nuclear weapons by those Europeans living closest to U.S. nuclear weapons, and who are likely to be targets of any nuclear attack or at risk from any nuclear weapons accident," reads ICAN's report on the poll. "More than simply demonstrating a 'not in my back yard' mentality, Europeans are even more strongly in favor of a comprehensive ban of all nuclear weapons worldwide than simply removing the weapons from their own soil."

Well... yes and no, although my "no" is based on considerations that Julia Conley cannot know, which are that I am Dutch; that my parents also were strong opponents of nuclear arms; that I demonstrated for the first time against them in the early 1960ies; and that I know the Dutch and Holland since more than 65 years.

And these facts make me less optimistic, in part because I think any civilized person is against nuclear arms, and in part because nearly all information about nuclear arms is still mostly kept secret from the population. Thus, I demonstrated against the nuclear arms that were (probably) located near the Dutch city of Volkel since 1964 (and most of the other Sixties) but it was only admitted accidentally by the drunk ex-prime minister Lubbers in 2013 (!!) that they were really there all the time.

Here is some more from this article:

Nearly three-quarters of Germans and two-thirds of Italians reported that they wanted U.S. weapons removed from their country, while more than half of respondents in the Netherlands and Belgium said the same.

The poll found that at least four times as many people were in favor of their country signing the TPNW, with more than two-thirds of respondents in each country favoring the treaty. Strong majorities also expressed support of financial institutions divesting from the nuclear weapons industry.

"All responsible states should prohibit nuclear weapons by joining the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons," said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN. "By doing so, they would not only listen to their citizens, they would also fulfill their key responsibility: protect its populations from one of the worst atrocities on the basis of international human rights precepts."

I agree, but see above why I am not optimistic this will succeed.

4. Prosecutors Drop All Remaining Charges Against Trump Inauguration Protesters

This article is also by Julia Conley, but I found it on Truthout, although it appeared originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
More than three dozen defendants in the year-long #DisruptJ20 trial celebrated Friday evening after prosecutors dismissed all remaining charges against them, following a number of failures to prove the protesters were guilty of wrongdoing.

“The state failed at silencing dissent and today our movement is stronger than it was on #J20,” tweeted Dylan Petrohilos, who was charged with conspiracy, rioting, and destruction due to his participation in planning to protest — even though he did not attend. “I’m proud of all my co-defendants, and everyone in the streets who resisted fascism and state violence.”

This is a bit of Good News (that is rare in the crisis series). Here is some more:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped charges against 38 people who were among the 234 arrested on January 20, 2017 at a protest against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Some of the charges had carried sentences of more than 60 years in prison.

The government initially charged the protesters with felony rioting, but were able to secure  only one guilty plea to the charge. Twenty pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Note the utter craziness of prosecuting people who protested "against President Donald Trump’s inauguration" with charges that "carried sentences of more than 60 years in prison". (In Holland you have to commit several murders to risk a similar sentence.) And this is a recommended article.

5. Two Email Messages

This article is by Robert Paul Wolff on his site. It is basically a display of two e-mails Wolff (who is an 84 year old professor emeritus, who qualifies himself on his site as an atheist (in religion), a Marxist (in economics) and an anarchist (in politics)) has lately received.

I only briefly mention the first mail, which is an invitation to Wolff to call 30 numbers with a brief scripted message that ends with asking those called "
Will you be able to attend the Town Hall?  Thank you."

I suppose this is a quite normal and widely used approach to contact volunteers (like Wolff) and ask them to do things, such as calling politicians to ask them things to do.

The other email is considerably longer and is from Philip Green, a well-known political theorist and a radical activist, who also is a professor emeritus and who is the author of many fine books.

Green is 85 at present and is known to Wolff since more than 80 years. This mail - from one political theorist in his 80ies to another political theorist in his 80ies - is much more interesting than the previous one.

I shall excerpt it here for my comments, but it is recommended that you read the whole mail (which you get by clicking item 5 above). It starts as follows, and the deletions are indicated by "(...)" and I say immediately at the beginning that I like it but it is too emotional and too vague - as I will explain in my comments:

I.    The Present

Engels proclaimed in the 19th Century that the choice was "Socialism or Barbarism."  The suspense is over. The barbarians are not at the gates, they're inside. (...)
Yes indeed - on the (probably correct) assumptions that this is about the USA and in fact addresses these points: the Republicans have the Senate, the House, the government, and the Supreme Court, and they use that to favor the very rich by giving them a lot more money and to disfavor the poor, by taking as much as they can from them.

I agree, for these are simple facts.
II.  The Constitution

Stalin famously asked "How many divisions does the Pope have?"  The answer is not recorded, though we know the Pope won in the end.  Donald Trump has asked, over and over again, "How many divisions does the Constitution have?"  And the answer, over and over, has been crystal clear to him: None.  Lots of handwringing by liberal lawyers on MSNBC, exegeses of what this or that passage really means, outcries by Democrats. Drops of fresh tears in the ocean of salt. The 14th and 15th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act are dead. In the latter case Vladimir Putin, the international gangster whose boots he lovingly licks, will help cement the elimination of "free and fair" elections. The 1st and 2nd Amendments are perverted beyond recovery; due process (Amendments 4, 5, and 6) and the Rule of Law have been effectively abolished, the DOJ turned into a "Handmaid" of tyranny. (...)
This is in fact - I think - about the effective destruction of the Constitution. I think Green is mostly correct in saying (after several Supreme Court judgements) that "The 14th and 15th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act are dead. (..) The 1st and 2nd Amendments are perverted beyond recovery; due process (Amendments 4, 5, and 6) and the Rule of Law have been effectively abolished (..)" - and here I concentrated on the basic laws that should determine what the USA is, legally and politically.

And as far as I know the evidence, which is pretty far, I think Green is right, although it is also - still - true that quite a few of the lower courts are still trying to uphold the ideal of the law as-it-was, from the Sixties till the Eighties.
III.  The Police State

Concentration camps.  A legitimized Gestapo that rules at will, wherever it goes, with brute force behind it.  Geheimestaatspolizei. Violence cannot be contained  at a border. The knock on the door is the Law. Militarized police enforce White Supremacy. As one German commentator put it, we have "Anti-Semitism without Jews." (...)
I think this is exaggerated, and not because this may not be the eventual outcome (it very well may be), but because German Nazism was considerably worse than the present USA.

Then again, I have said many times that in my opinion Trump is both a madman and a neofascist, which also means that the above sketch of an eventual police state does appeal to Trump.
IV.   "Totalization"

Let us celebrate all those clever accommodationists who predicted the "end of ideology," the "triumph of liberal democracy," and best of all, the end of "totalizing theories," i.e.  Marxism, i.e., "totalitarianism."  Just as the final totalization of all, the unregulated "free" market, was taking over everywhere.
Totalization: in a perfect inversion of Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice, there is no sphere of social living that can justly resist that take-over, nothing that can't be bought or sold, no scrap of welfare that can't be dispensed with, except of course the military budget (...)
I think this is too vague (and I am not a Marxist since nearly 50 years). It is in fact in part about totalitarianism (which is correctly and classically defined by me, and intentionally and falsely defined on the Wikipedia, which probably has been taken over by the rich).

And - as far as I can see - what this tries to say can be summarized by three theses:

the Republicans have the Senate, the House, the government, and the Supreme Court, and they use that to favor the very rich by giving them a lot more money, and to disfavor the poor, by taking as much as they can from them;

(2) the Republicans are moving in a totalitarian way, and are trying to get absolutely everything they want, which is effectively what the rich want, and are mostly but not always succeeding; and

(3) the Republicans are trying to reduce absolutely everything to "the market", and deny there is anything that does not fit their market model, which is simply that the rich are the best, and always right, because they - some of them - can buy everything there is on offer in a "market".

But I agree this is all a matter of my interpretation.
V.  Fascism

The climb may have  been difficult, but the descent is proving to be easy.The  recipe is simple. The Devil's Bargain: the plutocracy gets the votes of the white supremacy tribe–by no means limited to the so-called "working class." In return, the Authoritarian Populist mob, its appeal to violence unrestrained, gets to rule over its opponents in the name of "The People." When I hear that phrase I reach for my passport. (...)
This is also exaggerated and too simple. As I said above, I think Trump is a neofascist, but neofascism - if well defined - is a political ideology that goes beyond the factual rule in the streets of the stupid and ignorant rightists (although these are indeed being used).
VI.   Resistance

The police are either legitimate or they are not.  If they are, nothing more to be said.  If not, nothing will come out of nothing. Not marches in the park, not articles in The Nation, not even female veterans of combat running for office everywhere. Good for morale. But they only understand force. (...)
I think this should have been called "The Police", simply because resisting is far wider than resisting the police, which is what this quoted bit is about. I agree that much of the present American police force seems to understand only force, but I do not think it is wise to recommend using force against the police (simply because the police will mostly win, and those who resisted will have to spend many years in jail).
VII.   The Future?

Nothing is fixed; it's not only shit that happens.  But,

"...imagine a boot, stamping on a human face..."
The quote is from George Orwell. And I think - if Trump does not destroy the world by nuclear arms - that it presently looks as if a kind of neofascism is the most probable future.

My reason is mostly that the internet has turned out to be the perfect tool for finding out everything about anyone, which is being done now for at least 17 years by the NSA and very many other secret services (from anywhere), and besides also by the very rich like Google and Facebook, and this gives far too many powers to the very few in the secret services, who anyway only work the government, while as Lord Acton said
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,..."
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 (!!).
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