October 7, 2018

Crisis: Kavanaugh Confirmed, Moore Reviewed, Amazon, The Catastrophe, Fraudulent Wall Street


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from October 7, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, October 7, 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 October 7, 2018:
1. Kavanaugh Confirmation Followed Immediately by This Call: 'Impeach

2. ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Aims Straight for Trumpism’s Dark, Neoliberal Heart
3. Amazon’s Minimum Wage Hike Is Not What It Seems
4. Containing the Catastrophe
5. Breaking with Wall Street: Los Angeles Puts It to the Voters
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. Kavanaugh Confirmation Followed Immediately by This Call: 'Impeach Kavanaugh'

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

While throngs of protesters on the steps of the Capitol Building continued to demonstrate to the bitter end and shouts of "Shame on You!" from the gallery inside the Senate chamber as the vote proceeded, the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as the next associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday afternoon.

But in the immediate wake of his 50-48 approval—among the closest in U.S. history and along nearly strict partisan lines—his opponents immediately responded not with grumblings of defeat, but with promises to oust from office those who voted "yes" while also vowing to pursue the very serious allegations levied against Kavanaugh and raising the real possibility of impeachment proceedings for his lying to lawmakers during his confirmation process.

Yes indeed. And I had the choice of quite a few articles that brought the news that rapist Kavanaugh has reached the Supreme Court, but chose this one especially because I agree with its second paragraph, even though I think this rather unlikely in the present circumstances.

But I have seen and read the rapist Kavanaugh; I have seen that ¨the investigation¨ against him was an utter fraud; and I do not want him on the Supreme Court.

Here is some more on the second paragraph I just quoted:

"Brett Kavanaugh may have just been confirmed to the Supreme Court, but the grassroots movement that came together to oppose him will only continue to grow," declared Heidi Hess, co-director of the progressive group CREDO Action, immediately after the vote. "Eventually, when the dust settles and the right-wing fever that has overtaken Congress breaks, Kavanaugh will be impeached for lying under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, or for other criminal acts."

Well... honestly speaking, yes and no, and first my no:

I do not think that ¨the grassroots movement that came together to oppose him will only continue to grow¨ for the simple reason that there recently was a large amount of journalistic writing on Kavanaugh everywhere, but that amount of journalistic writing from now on will be a whole lot less - and besides, the ends of the grassroot movement require that Congress is taken by a majority of Democrats in November, which is not certain at all.

And then my yes, and for that I can simply repeat what I said above, with an addition:

I have seen and read the rapist Kavanaugh; I have seen that ¨the investigation¨ against him was an utter fraud; and I do not want him on the Supreme Court. Period. He is an incompetent.

My addition is that I strongly agree with the 2400+ law professors who signed a letter that states that they oppose Kavanaugh´s nomination, especially because of his extremely impolite and gross treatment of his Democratic questioners: A man like that should not be a judge, let alone be admitted to the Supreme Court.

Here is more from the article:

The progressive advocacy group Roots Action agreed, calling impeachment the only constitutional remedy for the devastating confirmation that has outraged millions nationwide. "The House of Representatives has impeached 15 judges, including one on the Supreme Court," the group declared in a email to supporters. "Now, we must demand that the House provide what hasn't yet happened — a full investigation of Kavanaugh's record, which includes perjury on numerous topics."

Well, yes - but this really depends on the House being retaken by the Democrats in November, and is senseless without that.

Here is some more on an impeachment of Kavanaugh (that I am for, in principle, in the end because I think he is much too light as a member of the Supreme Court, and because he has not been cleared of trying to rape Ford at all):

How could the impeachment proceed? According to Roots Action:

Many experts are saying that Republicans will likely lose control of the House in early January — setting the stage for House hearings to properly expose the facts, propel impeachment and force the Senate to convene a trial that could remove Kavanaugh from office. 

An uphill climb? Sure. But imperative. And that’s all the more reason to launch a strong campaign for impeaching Kavanaugh.

As Common Dreams reported earlier on Saturday, some political strategists are saying now is the opportunity for Democrats to conduct for themselves the investigation that the White House and the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary refused to conduct. Such an investigation could include public hearing in which witnesses could testify publicly and the pertinent facts excluded from the FBI's probe last week could also be presented to the public in a methodical and transparent fashion.

Yes and no, again: Yes, this is possible if and only if the Democrats take the House in November and no, I do not believe in any ¨experts¨ on the coming election. And this is a recommended article. 
2. ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Aims Straight for Trumpism’s Dark, Neoliberal Heart

This article is by Ben Norton on Truthdig. This is from near its beginning:

Fahrenheit 11/9” is anything but a superficial tale of a brainless and ineffectual orange marionette catering to the whims of a dastardly Russian bogeyman—that is to say, how MSNBC would have us see Donald Trump. On the contrary, this film is precisely what is needed: an enlightening and entertaining cinematic diagnosis of the rapid decay of the United States of America in the age of Trumpism, delivered from an uncompromising left-wing perspective, one that is willing to tear down liberal idols when necessary.

I would highly recommend the documentary, especially for those who live outside the U.S. and want to get a crash course on the trials and tribulations that have rocked this country in recent years.
In fact, this is another review of Fahrenheit 11/9” (which I did review before here) but I like Michael Moore and I also think this is a better review than the previous one.

Here is some more:

The movie also highlights the actual, real resistance to this systemic crisis—from wildcat teacher strikes spreading across the South, to a new wave of openly socialist people organizing the grassroots and running for office, to the resistance of indigenous peoples at Standing Rock.

“Fahrenheit 11/9” correctly—and terrifyingly—details the very serious threat that Trump and Trumpism pose to all of us. Crucially, it goes much deeper.

The documentary explores precisely who and what is responsible for giving birth to the monstrous far-right Donald Trump regime—and over a period of decades, not just a year or two.

While it is clear that Moore is a Democratic partisan, he is far from a party hack. His film rightly characterizes the Democrats as neoliberal centrists who lose because they are always willing to compromise and never willing to fight.

Yes, although I have two pieces of criticism:

First - and this is not a criticism of Moore - I think it is impossible to explore ¨precisely¨ the backgrounds of Trump in an ordinary film, simply because compared to written criticism this is not possible.

And second, I have been following especially American politics closely for over 5 years now and in more than 2000 articles in Nederlog, and I think that the main reason that so many Democrats turn out to be ¨neoliberal centrists¨ is that they are bought. (And no, I have no perfect proof, but this seems a good reason, that also will strongly tend to remain secret.)

Here is more:

The documentary is extremely critical of Barack Obama for his objectively right-wing policies (Obama’s shameful betrayal of Flint looms large), and Moore correctly identifies the Wall Street-funded ex-president as a facilitator of the Trumpification of America.

Likewise, Moore even more explicitly condemns the Clintons as the figures who paved the gilded path to Trumpism. The movie chronicles Bill Clinton’s wholehearted embrace of neoliberalism, from his cultivation of mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex to his wanton gutting of welfare.
Yes, I completely agree with the above assessments. Here is more:

“Fahrenheit 11/9” also astutely identifies how the corporate media pilloried Sanders, and really anyone to the left of Ronald Reagan, while preaching centrist piffle and extolling the virtues of the all-knowing Free Market. The film singles out the U.S. newspaper of record, The New York Times, as the Voice of Conventional Wisdom that just so happens to support every corporate bailout and “sell” every war while relentlessly demonizing Sanders and the broader left.

And then there is the corporate media’s profligate promotion of Trump. Disgraced CBS CEO Les Moonves really summed it all up when he proclaimed that Trump’s far-right campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. … The money’s rolling in, and this is fun!”

I think this is also mostly correct. There is also some - mostly justified - criticism of Moore in the article, but I leave that to your own interests:

Here is the ending:

The film is an even-handed and entertaining dive into the sinister bowels of American politics at a time of unprecedented crisis, confusion and imperial decline. It will make you angry; it will horrify you; it might even bring you to tears. And most importantly, it will inspire you to act, to try to stop the cancerous growth of neofascism before it is too late.

I think this is a bit strong, but OK. Also, while I agree with ¨the cancerous growth of neofascism¨ I should add that in 5 years of reading of 35 files a day, I still have to find the first definition of neofascism that makes any sense, other than my own, that is here, and that is justified in my On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions that I can strongly recommend.

3. Amazon’s Minimum Wage Hike Is Not What It Seems

This article is by Nicole Karlis on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near its beginning:

When Amazon announced on Tuesday it was raising the minimum wage for its U.S. employees to $15 an hour, effective next month, many saw it as a huge victory for progressives and labor advocates — and Amazon's response to the criticism.

"Today I want to give credit where credit is due," Sanders said in a statement. "What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon's hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be, and I think it will be, a shot heard around the world. Further, Mr. Bezos has indicated his support to raise the federal minimum wage. As the author of the $15 per hour minimum wage bill in the Senate, I look forward to working with him in this area,” he added.”

Yes, indeed - but it seems as if Jeff Bezos (who ¨earned¨ more than $155 billion dollars exploiting Amazon and its workers) has given with the left hand, while he was taking with his right hand:

Yet not too longer after Bezos's announcement, some Amazon warehouse workers began to allege that Amazon's minimum wage hike was little more than a publicity stunt. Multiple workers note that simultaneous to the minimum wage increase, the company dropped its bonus and stock incentives programs that were meant to award senior workers.

“It's a joke,” Amazon warehouse employee Vickie Shannon Allen told NBC News. “We get no more bonuses for not missing any work.”
Precisely. And many complained that there payments will get less rather than more. There is more in the article, and there probably will be more in Nederlog later.

4. Containing the Catastrophe

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

Anyone still unsure of how (or even whether) they’ll vote in the midterms should consider this: All three branches of government are now under the control of one party, and that party is under the control of Donald J. Trump.  

With the addition of Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is as firmly Republican as are the House and Senate.

Kavanaugh was revealed as a fierce partisan – not only the legal advisor who helped Kenneth Starr prosecute Bill Clinton and almost certainly guided George W. Bush’s use of torture, but also a nominee who believes “leftists” and Clinton sympathizers were out to get him.

In fact, I thought the videos of Kavanaugh´s hearing gross, because of Kavanaugh´s gross and immoral behavior. The videos are - i.a. - here and are strongly recommended if you have not seen them yet: Brett Kavanaugh: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Here is more:

Even under normal circumstances, when all three branches are under the control of the same party we get a lopsided government that doesn’t respond to the values of a large portion of the electorate.

But these are not normal circumstances. Donald Trump is President.

Need I remind you? Trump is a demagogue who doesn’t give a fig for democracy – who continuously and viciously attacks the free press, Democrats, immigrants, Muslims, black athletes exercising First Amendment rights, women claiming sexual harassment, anyone who criticizes or counters him; who treats the executive branch, including the Justice Department, like his own fiefdom, and brazenly profits off his office; who tells lies like other people breathe; and who might well have conspired with Vladimir Putin to swing the election his way.

I mostly (but not completely) agree. Here is more:

All this would be bad enough even if the two other branches of government behaved as the framers of the Constitution expected, as checks and balances on a president. But under Republican leadership, they refuse to play this role when it comes to Trump.

House and Senate Republicans have morphed into Trump sycophants and toadies – intimidated, spineless, opportunistic. The few who have dared call him on his outrages aren’t running for reelection.

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

Now that Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court, you can forget about the Court constraining Trump, either.

Kavanaugh’s views of presidential power and executive privilege are so expansive he’d likely allow Trump to fire Mueller, shield himself from criminal prosecution, and even pardon himself. Kavanaugh’s Republican brethren on the Court would probably go along.  

So how are the constitutional imperative of checks and balances to be salvaged, especially when they’re so urgently needed?  

The only remedy is for voters to flip the House or Senate, or ideally both, on November 6th.

Yes, I suppose that is all correct. And if neither the House nor the Senate gets flipped in November, the USA is in very deep trouble.

5. Breaking with Wall Street: Los Angeles Puts It to the Voters

This article is by Ellen Brown on Truthout. This starts as follows:

Wall Street owns the country. That was the opening line of a fiery speech by populist leader Mary Ellen Lease in 1890. Franklin Roosevelt said it again in a letter to Colonel House in 1933, and Sen. Dick Durbin was still saying it in 2009. “The banks – hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created – are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill,” Durbin said in an interview. “And they frankly own the place.”

Wall Street banks triggered a credit crisis in 2008-09 that wiped out over $19 trillion in household wealth, turned some 10 million families out of their homes, and cost almost 9 million jobs in the US alone; yet the banks were bailed out without penalty, while defrauded homebuyers were left without recourse or compensation. The banks made a killing on interest rate swaps with cities and states across the country, after a compliant and accommodating Federal Reserve dropped interest rates nearly to zero. Attempts to renegotiate these deals have failed.

In Los Angeles, the City Council was forced to reduce the city’s budget by 19 percent following the banking crisis, slashing essential services, while Wall Street has not budged on the $4.9 million it claims annually from the city on its swaps. Wall Street banks are now collecting more from Los Angeles just in fees than it has available to fix its ailing roads.

Yes indeed - and this article is (briefly) reviewed here mostly because I like Ellen Brown.

Here is a bit more:

Local governments have been in bondage to Wall Street ever since the 19th century, despite multiple efforts to rein them in. Regulation has not worked. To break free, we need to divest our public funds from these banks and move them into our own publicly-owned banks.

Precisely - but I skip a lot of detail and only quote the ending of this article:

The numbers are there to support the case for a city-owned bank, but a critical ingredient in effecting revolutionary change is finding the political will. Being first in any innovation is always the hardest. Reasons can easily be found for saying “no.” What is visionary and revolutionary is to say, “Yes, we can do this.”

As California goes, so goes the nation, and legislators around the country are watching to see how it goes in Los Angeles. Rather than criticism, Council President Wesson deserves high praise, for stepping forth in the face of predictable pushback and daunting legal hurdles to lead the country in breaking free from our centuries-old subjugation to Wall Street exploitation.

I agree 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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