September 9, 2018

Crisis: War On Terror, America Murdered, The Rich Democrats, On Deregulation, On Capitalism


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 9, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 9, 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 September 9, 2018:
1. The United States' Pyrrhic Victory in the War on Terror
2. America is Being Murdered Right in Front of Our Eyes
3. The Establishment’s Bi-Partisan Fear of Popular Revolt
4. The Dangerous Myth of Deregulation
5. No, Capitalism Will Not Save the Climate
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 United States' Pyrrhic Victory in the War on Terror

This article is by Nick Turse on Truthdig. This is from not far from the beginning:
The American Legion focused on the fiscal irresponsibility of Trump’s proposed march, but its postponement should have raised an even more significant question: What would “victory” in the war on terror even look like? What, in fact, constitutes an American military victory in the world today? Would it in any way resemble the end of the Civil War, or of the war to end all wars, or of the war that made that moniker obsolete? And here’s another question: Is victory a necessary prerequisite for a military parade?
Well... I am not much interested in these questions, and I also disagree with the title: While it may be true that the USA has scored few victories since 1945, this does not mean that it has not killed many, and in fact mostly civilians.

Anyway. Here is some more:

Today, almost 17 years after the war began, two years after Nicholson took the reins, one year after Trump articulated his new plan, victory in any traditional sense is nowhere in sight. Despite spending around $900 billion in Afghanistan, as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction determined earlier this year, “between 2001 and 2017, U.S. government efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan mostly failed.” According to a July 30, 2018, report by that same inspector general, the Taliban was by then contesting control of or controlled about 44% of that country, while Afghan government control and influence over districts had declined by about 16% since Nicholson’s predecessor, General John Campbell, was in command.
I agree that was and is not a victory at all (and remind the reader that Afghanistan was, before the invasion by the Soviet Union, a pleasant, nice a peaceful nation (in the 1960ies)).

Here is a sort of sum-up:
Expressed differently, the United States has not won a major conflict since 1945; has a trillion-dollar national security budget; has had 17 military commanders in the last 17 years in Afghanistan, a country plagued by 23,744 “security incidents” (the most ever recorded) in 2017 alone; has spent around $3 trillion, primarily on that war and the rest of the war on terror, including the ongoing conflict in Iraq, which then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld swore, in 2002, would be over in only “five days or five weeks or five months,” but where approximately 5,000 U.S. troops remain today; and yet 74% of the American people still express high confidence in the U.S. military.
It turns out that the U.S. military, whose budget and influence in Washington have only grown in these years, now wins simply by not losing — a multi-trillion-dollar conventional army held to the standards of success once applied only to under-armed, under-funded guerilla groups.
I think that is mostly correct, but not quite, though indeed this depends also on what one understands by "a major conflict". But - for example - they murdered Salvador Allende and destroyed his developing democracy, and they instituted the arrival of the Shah of Persia over his rivals, although indeed both seem to have been engineered, in part at least, by the CIA.

Then again there also is another way of looking at the American military, namely as the generators of great profits for some great American corporations, and that without any of the children of the heads of corporations running the risk to ever be drafted.

War simply is very profitable for some, and for the USA, which almost cannot loose any non- nuclear war, or at least for the military-industrial complex that is behind the making of enormous profits, the profits may very well be the real concern.

2. America is Being Murdered Right in Front of Our Eyes

This article is by Lucian K. Truscott IV on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This starts as follows:
You want to know what being anonymous does? It protects you, and nobody else.  You want proof? Have a look at the cowardly, lame-ass, anonymous op-ed by a “senior official in the Trump administration” in The New York Times.  A pathetic cri de coeur penned by a con artist working for a con man inside the bunker of the White House didn’t protect immigrant children from being taken from their mothers and thrown into cages during the so-called “zero tolerance” policy on the border. Anonymous hasn’t protected the nearly 500 immigrant children who are still being held apart from their families by the Department of Health and Human Services.
I agree and indeed am against anonymity on the internet, indeed except if you have a very good reason, which few have: Most anonymous folks simply want to scold or enjoy their sadism without ever being found out by those whom they denigrate.

Also, I grant I was too optimistic about average men: I never thought they were intelligent or learned, but what with over 2 billion members of Facebook there are considerably more very stupid people than I thought.

Then again, there is considerably more in this article, but the start set the pattern, and I think Truscott simply got too angry.

I will skip the rest except for one more bit:

You want to see some of the “quiet resistance” by Anonymous The New York Times tells us he or she is responsible for in its headline for the op-ed? Donald Trump has told 4,229 lies in the first 558 days he’s been in office, according to the Washington Post.  That’s almost eight lies a day. An what do we get from Anonymous?

Pathetic whining about Trump’s “amorality.” “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”

Gee, you think so?

Heard anything from Anonymous or any of the other “quiet” resisters in the Trump White House about the firehose of Trump lies? Me neither.

I agree with Truscott on the morality of the anonymous writer in The New York Times, while I disagree (as a psychologist) with the anonymous writer: clearly, there is a definite "first principle" that guides Trump's decision making, namely the prime status of Trump's interests and values over everything else.

3. The Establishment’s Bi-Partisan Fear of Popular Revolt

This article is by Gareth Porter on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
The two most powerful think tanks in Washington, representing center-left and center-right political elites, have responded to the populist shocks of the 2016 presidential election by trying to reposition themselves and the Democratic and Republican Parties as more sympathetic to populist concerns even while maintaining their attachments to the interests of big business and the complex of war-making.

The Center for American Progress (CAP), linked to the Democratic Party establishment, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is close to the Republican Party, have issued two long papers in recent months reflecting their high anxiety over the rapid growth of populism on both sides of the Atlantic — especially in light of the shocking success of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton and mainstream Republicans during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

But the papers suggest that neither organization is ready to depart from the economic and military policies preferred by the powerful elites that still control the two major parties. And the more recent paper attacks Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders for being insufficiently hawkish in regard to Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Yes, this all seems correct. And as to "the powerful elite" "that still control the" Democrats: These are Hillary Clinton (whom I suspect again expects to battle with Trump in 2010), Nancy Pelosi, Tom Perez etc. I think they started selling out under Bill Clinton, and they still are, and indeed the two Clintons by themselves assembled more than $100 million dollars, after Bill's presidency.

And that - a lot of money for themselves - seems the main end of both the leading Democrats and the leading Republicans, and as long as that is the case, plutocracy rules and democracy is dead.

Here is more:
The authors of that paper further identified a series of “striking commonalities” between left-wing and right-wing populism in the United States regarding attitudes toward key issues: “deep suspicion of America’s overseas military actions; alarm about the rise of a surveillance state; mistrust of major institutions; and suspicion of global elites.”
In fact, I have no idea what most writers mean by "populism", and in fact I think there is no core meaning (except perhaps: what ordinary voters want, and demonstrate for or against, as contrasted with what the rich leaderships of either American party pretend they want).

And as a matter of fact, I do share the four concerns mentioned in the last quoted paragraph.

Here is more:
The authors refer to a “deepening frustration” over a globalization that had brought “unprecedented worldwide growth” but also “led to economic stagnation and structural unemployment, particularly in the West.” They further acknowledge that the financial crisis of 2008 had an “impact on the middle class in developed economies as well as confidence in the free enterprise system’s ability to deliver shared prosperity.”

The authors warn that the “threat of authoritarian populism will not recede unless a new generation of political leaders offers a credible agenda for improving people’s lives that is more appealing to the public than the populist alternatives.”
Maybe I should remember you that what Porter is quoting comes from the propagandists for the - rich and arrived - Democrats and those of the Republicans: This is not science, but propaganda, and the above is pure propaganda.

Besides... the promise of "a credible agenda" by "
a new generation of political leaders" reminds me very strongly of the Dutch Healthcouncil, that for forty years blocked most scientific research into ME/CFS; now, after forty years, decided ME/CFS is "a real and serious disease"; and attempts to gladden the heart of the 40,000 Dutchmen with presumed ME/CFS for whom there is just one (1) medical doctor in the whole country: First, "ME/CFS" is going to disappear as a name, so all of the little research that has been done will be much harder to find, and (2) my ex and I (who both have the disease for forty years, in which we even never were declared to be ill, except in the first three months since it started with Pfeiffer, should be enormously grateful for the future arrival of new and better trained medics...

I am sorry, but (1) I think my ex and myself have been frauded, intentionally, by 9 out of 10 of the Dutch medics whom we asked for help: There was none for us, and (2) being a psychologist I know that 30 randomly selected doctors are sufficiently many to conclude that 9 out of 10 Dutch doctors are liars, frauds and incompetents about almost all non-regular diseases, and (3) refuse all help to those they classified as "psychosomatizers": Dutch doctors as a rule are far more interested in money than in patients.

You may disagree with me as soon as you have survived 40 years in which you and your ex were not declared ill although both had a "serious and chronic disease" all the time and you got an average of 9,3 (out of 10) on your M.A. or higher (that was made without going to lectures: Too ill).

Back to Porter:
Furthermore, Singh and Pletka use the joint statement to push for toughening the US and European stances toward Russia, and to accuse two main left-wing opponents of the Democratic Party centrist establishment — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders — of having been apologists for Russia or Russian President Vladimir Putin, or very close to it. In both cases, however, the charges are without foundation and amount to a reversion by CAP and AEI to McCarthy-style political smears.

They write that Stein “justified Russian aggression” by declaring that “NATO has been surrounding Russia with missiles, nuclear weapons, and troops.” And in an interview with me last week, Singh said, “Stein is an apologist for Russia and for Putin. She is inclined to say the U.S. is to blame.”
Again I should remind you that Porter is reviewing propaganda. And while I never had much sympathy will Jill Stein what Singh and Pletka write about her is just totalitarian bullshit.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The attacks on Stein and Sanders provide further evidence that these centrist power centers have been unable to resist clinging to familiar policies and political strategies long after they have proven to be a path to political disaster.
Perhaps, though I would rather say that "the attacks on Stein and Sanders provide further evidence that these centrist power centers" are much more interested in the profits their leading members make than in anything else, including all ordinary politics. This is a recommended article.

4. The Dangerous Myth of Deregulation

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

Trump and his appointees are on a binge of deregulation that masks another kind of trickle-down economics, where the gains go to the top and the rest of us bear the risks and losses.

They say getting rid of regulations frees up businesses to be more profitable. Maybe. But regulations also protect you and me — from being harmed, fleeced, shafted, injured, or sickened by corporate products and services.

So when the Trump administration gets rid of regulations, top executives and big investors may make more money, but the rest of us bear more risks and harm.

Yes, precisely so - and in fact I treated deregulation in 2015: Crisis: It's the deregulation, stupid! - which is in fact a copy from January 16, 2013.

Here is some more:

Trump’s Labor Department is reducing the number of workers who are eligible for overtime pay. And it’s proposing to allow teenagers to work long hours in dangerous jobs that child labor laws used to protect them from. Again, more profits for business, more cost and risk for the rest of us.

Trump is weakening banking regulations put in place after the financial crisis of 2008, even rolling back the so-called Volcker Rule that prevented banks from gambling with commercial deposits. The result: More profits for the banks, and more risk on you and me.

Yes, quite so - although my "Crisis: It's the deregulation, stupid!" gives a considerably more systematic approach.

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

Trump’s gang of industry lobbyists and executives who are busy deregulating the same industries they once represented will no doubt do very well when they head back into the private sector.

But the rest of us won’t do well. We may not know for years the extent we’re unprotected – until the next financial collapse, next public health crisis, next upsurge in fraud, or next floods or droughts because the EPA failed to do what it could to slow and reverse climate change.

Don’t fall for it. Trump’s binge of deregulation is just another form of trickle-down economics – where the gains go the top, and nothing trickles down except risks and losses.

I agree, although I consider deregulation, both as a concept and as a legal fact, considerably more important than the mere propaganda lie of "the trickle down economy". This is a recommended article.

5. No, Capitalism Will Not Save the Climate

This article is by Karin Nansen on Common Dreams and originally on The Ecologist. Nansen - not to be found on the ever worsening Wikipedia, where almost every Americam filmstar is found - is Chair of Friends of the Earth, which is the world's largest grassroots environmental federation - and she starts as follows:

We are facing deep-rooted climate, social, and environmental crises. The current dominant economic system cannot provide solutions. It is time for system change.

For Friends of the Earth International this means creating societies based on peoples’ sovereignty and environmental, social, economic, and gender justice. We must question and deconstruct the capitalist logic of accumulation.

The climate catastrophe is interwoven with many social and environmental crises, including oppression, corporate power, hunger, water depletion, biodiversity loss and deforestation.

I agree - Yes! "It is time for system change" - but I recognize this article also contains a good bit of propaganda.

Here is more on capitalism:

Equality and reciprocity

At its heart sits an unsustainable economic system, the sole aim of which is endless growth and profit. This system concentrates wealth, power, and obscene privilege with the few.

Corporations and national elites are empowered by that very system to exploit people and their livelihoods with impunity.

We must tackle climate change and the associated social and environmental crises by taking rapid and bold action to address the common root causes; privatization, financialization and commodification of nature and societies, and unsustainable production and consumption systems.

The magnitude of the crises we face demands system change.

That system change will result in the creation of sustainable societies and new relations between human beings, and between human beings and nature, based on equality and reciprocity.

Well... I agree, but then again, apart from "capitalism must go", this is hardly an agenda. Also, I think that the announced "system change will result in the creation of sustainable societies and new relations between human beings" is a bit too optimistic (especially if capitalism must go), for (i) this may not work, for many possible reasons, and besides (ii) I am 68 and have seen announcements of The New Man (or Human Being) for the last 60 years at least: I do get a little uneasy (and never saw A New Man).

Here is some more:

Expansion of capital

But we cannot create these societies and assert people’s rights without increasing people’s power. We need to reclaim politics.

This means creating genuine, radical, and just democracies centered around people’s sovereignty and participation.

International law must put people above corporate profit, ensuring binding rules for business and mechanisms that guarantee access to justice for victims of transnational corporations.

System change calls for an articulation of the struggles against oppression; that is, patriarchy, racism, colonialism, and class and capitalist exploitation.

It demands commitment to the struggle against the exploitation of women’s bodies and work.
Well... but how do "we" "reclaim politics"? Besides, I do not myself think international law can be changed in any major way prior to the destruction of capitalism. But how that is to happen is not said in this article.

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

System change must address people’s individual and collective needs and promote reciprocity, redistribution, and sharing.

Solutions include public services achieved through tax justice, social ownership and co-operativism, local markets and fair trade, community forest management, and valuing the wellbeing of people and the planet.
And that requires commensurate international and national public policies that empower people to fight for a democratic state that ensures rights and provides environmentally and socially just public services, and active popular participation; a state that guarantees peoples’ rights to water, land and the territories, food, health, education, housing, and decent jobs.

No, I am sorry: The last bit consists of a list of ideals that - in my considered opinion - will become practically possible only if capitalism has been destroyed (and maybe not then either).
And this is a recommended article, but it seems too optimistic for what I know of politics.


[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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