October 8, 2018

Crisis: On Kavanaugh, Climate Report, ´Impeach Kavanaugh´, Trump´s Fortune, Jeff Bezos


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

This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 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 October 8, 2018:
1. Liberals, This is War
2. Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040
3. Kavanaugh Confirmation Followed Immediately by This Call: 'Impeach

4. The Dubious Fiction of Donald Trump’s Fortune Has Been Exposed
5. Many Amazon Workers Don’t Trust Jeff Bezos
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. Liberals, This is War

This article is by Charles Blow on The New York Times. This starts as follows:

Yes, Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court. Rue the day. Rend your garments.

Then, step back, view the entirety of the battle in which you are engaged, and understand that Kavanaugh is just one part of a much larger plan by conservatives to fundamentally change the American political structure so that it enshrines and protects white male power even after America’s changing demographics and mores move away from that power.

This, for them, is not simply a game about political passion and political principles. This is a game of power, pure and simple, and it’s about whether the people who have long held that power will be able to retain it.

For them, Trump is just a useful idiot, a temporary anomaly.

They are thinking generationally, not in terms of the next election cycle but in terms of the next epoch.

Well... I know politics and politicians for at least 50 years, and I think things are more complicated than was stated here.

First, an agreement: I think Blow is quite right when he speaks about the Supreme Court and Kavanaugh. Then again, one problem with the Supreme Court is that its members are the only members in any Supreme Court that are nominated for life, and this makes Blow quite correct
about the Supreme Court.

Second, I don´t think that (neither for the conservatives nor for the others) ¨Trump is just a useful idiot, a temporary anomaly¨.

I agree Trump is not sane (and I am a psychologist), but he also is a neofascist (and that is my definition, and is so far the only definition I have seen of ¨neofascism¨ on the internet (!!)), and he is considerably more of an extremist than any other American president.

But third, I do not think that the conservatives are ¨thinking generationally¨, that is, apart from the Supreme Court: everyday politics will make this too complicated.

Then there is this:

For instance, the constant pining about justices who will interpret the “original intent” of the Constitution feels far bigger than single issues like gun control.

In July, Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the “constitutional originalist Federalist Society,” as RealClearPolitics phrased it, told Fox News:

“Any Supreme Court confirmation is transformative. This is a court that is often equally divided. At the end of the day, I think what’s really important to remember is that there’s been a movement on the court toward being more originalist and textualist. In other words, the idea that law means something, it has determinate meaning. And that’s the trend that I think this president wants to continue.”

Yes and no.

I think that Leo is nominally right in his claim that ¨there’s been a movement on the court toward being more originalist and textualist¨, but this is only so with the stress on ¨nominally¨ for it seems to me that this originalism and textualism in fact is more of a pretext than real, for one of the main decisions that was reached that way was the Supreme Court´s decision of 2010 in Citizens United v. FEC, and that decision was (as I also said two days ago) totally crazy:

Corporations are NOT people and money is NOT free speech, and whose who say so must be either out of their mind or else totally political and not properly legal at all - some may be inclined to disregard the Supreme Court as in majority a bunch of rightwing politicians rather than a decent court of law back to 2010 rather than to 2018 (with the nomination of Kavanaugh).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, and it lists another grave danger for democracy in the USA:

But probably the biggest, gutsiest move is the call for a constitutional convention.

There are two ways that amendments to the Constitution can be proposed: One is by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, and the other is by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the states. The second method has never been used, but is now gathering steam among Republicans.

As Charles Pierce wrote in January in Esquire, the people pushing for a convention “have commitments from 28 state legislatures. They need 34 to trigger the Constitution’s provision for a ‘convention of the states.’”

Pierce continued: “If the convention is called, the disunion that has become a faith in some conservative quarters will run amok. Economic oligarchy will be established in law, and any political check on the powers of business likely will be eviscerated.”

Yes indeed. And while there are 6 states short for such a convention, the danger is real. This is a recommended article.

2. Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040

This article is by Coral Davenport on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

The report “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,” said Bill Hare, an author of previous I.P.C.C. reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization. “We were not aware of this just a few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world leaders under the Paris agreement, the 2015 pact by nations to fight global warming.

In fact, I think Bill Hare is mistaken about its being ¨a shock¨: I am following the climate/ environment since I read ¨The Limits to Growth¨ in 1972, and this change in expectations does not amaze me at all (and I have read many different expectations the last nearly 50 years).

Then again, I think Hare is right that the damage that is now foreseen by the I.P.P.C. ¨requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”¨

And that my own experience of the last nearly 50 years assures me will not happen - that is if seeing nearly 50 years of far too little and far too late actions by governments are any indication (and I think they are).

Here is more:

Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world economy within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion. But while they conclude that it is technically possible to achieve the rapid changes required to avoid 2.7 degrees of warming, they concede that it may be politically unlikely.

For instance, the report says that heavy taxes or prices on carbon dioxide emissions — perhaps as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100 — would be required. But such a move would be almost politically impossible in the United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China.

Well, what is ¨technically possible¨ does not coincide at all with what is politically possible, and what was politically possible the last nearly 50 years about the environment was consistently and for nearly 50 years far too little.

And I think this situation will continue until - at least - New York is flooded or some other disaster of a similar size has happened. (I am sorry, but I am simply generalizing slightly from nearly 50 years ot seeing far too little done to protect the environment, and I also do not believe in miracles.)

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

Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040, and at the lower temperature, the report shows. “It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime,” said Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report.

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent.

Well... in the first place 2040 is ¨only several decades in the future¨. As to the rest of the above quotation: I have no idea whether the measures proposed are technically adequate, but my experience since 1972 assures me that it is virtually certain (without an interfering large disaster, like the flooding of New York) that the technically required changes are most unlikely to happen in fact. And this is a recommended article.
3. Kavanaugh Confirmation Followed Immediately by This Call: 'Impeach Kavanaugh'

This article is by John Queally on Truthdig and originally 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.

Well... the ¨promises to oust from office those who voted “yes”¨ (for Kavanaugh) are quite to very irrealistic (I am quite sorry to say). I believe there is a small chance that Kavanaugh might be impeached, but not if the Democrats can not take the House or the Senate in November.

Here is more from the article:

“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.”

I quote it, but to me this seems wishful thinking. (And I agree with the wishes, but I disagree with wishful thinking, writing or speaking.)

Here is the last bit that I quote from this 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.”

Once again: Impeachment is virtually impossible without the Democrats winning the House (and will be quite difficult if they do).

4. The Dubious Fiction of Donald Trump’s Fortune Has Been Exposed

This article is by William Rivers Pitt on Truthout. It starts as follows:
A vital element of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was the fiction-filled autobiography he foisted on us, the beating heart of which was, “Vote for me because I’m a self-made rich man.” For a variety of reasons best contemplated after a tall glass of neat whiskey and a nap, it worked. Erasing the presidency of Barack Obama while enshrining “Owning the Libs” as a national policy priority became the grease to lubricate the machine. Nearly two years later the mythology of the billionaire president remains highly motivational to Trump’s still-frantic supporters.

That mythology took a torpedo shot below the waterline on Tuesday courtesy of The New York Times, which unleashed a meticulous 14,000-word analysis of the origins of Trump’s fortune. David Cay Johnston, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting, wrote of the Times report, “As the paper’s former tax reporter, and the journalist who has covered Trump the longest, I’m in a solid position to judge the depth and quality of their work. It is masterful.”

Well... I like David Cay Johnston, and I am pleased he is pleased, but I do not think that this New York Times report will do much to change the loyalty of Trump´s supporters.

Here is more on the New York Times report:

The details, based on a review of more than 100,000 Trump documents, are shattering. Instead of one “small” million-dollar loan from his father to get things started, Trump received over the years what would be today the equivalent of $413 million. That money started coming when his father put him on a $200,000-a-year salary when he was three years old.

Dodging taxes became a family affair. Trump and his siblings put together a sham corporation in 1992 called All County Building Supply & Maintenance, using it to hide massive financial gifts from their parents. Trump also helped his father undervalue his real estate holdings to avoid paying taxes. Many of the tactics used to dodge the tax man amount to “outright fraud,” in the words of the Times report.

When all was said and done, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion to their children in ways that allowed them to avoid paying approximately $550 million in gift and inheritance taxes. According to the Times report, and with the direct assistance of Donald Trump, the Trump family only paid about $52 million in taxes, a rate of about 5 percent. It’s amazing how rich you can get when you don’t pay your bills.

I suspect much or all of the above is correct, and I agree it is shocking. Here is the conclusion of this article:

Thanks to the report by The New York Times, the Trump mythology has been dealt a mighty blow. Many, if not most, of his supporters will brush it off as just another callow Deep State attack upon their beloved leader … but stories like this, like the slow dripping of water in a deep cavern, have a way of wearing down even the strongest stones. Donald Trump became president because enough people believed in the fiction he was peddling. It will be a hard sell going forward, and even harder with the creeping burn of time.

I am less optimistic than Pitt. In a sense, I agree that this report may ¨like the slow dripping of water in a deep cavern, have a way of wearing down even the strongest stones¨ - but then Trump needs to be president for only 4 or 8 years to make vast changes in the USA. And this is a recommended article.

5. Many Amazon Workers Don’t Trust Jeff Bezos

This article is by Naomi LaChance on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Many Amazon workers aren’t sure that the company’s decision to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour will actually result in more overall pay. The company will be getting rid of performance bonuses and its stock program, and employees had previously been expecting higher bonuses during the holiday season. Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world.
Yes indeed - and I concluded yesterday that 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 and I seem to have been quite right.

Here is one more bit from this article:

While independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders praised Bezos, many concerned workers did the paycheck calculations for themselves.

“I feel hugely disrespected,” a Maryland warehouse worker told The Associated Press about the so-called raise. “The ones who are loyal should be rewarded for loyalty, not smacked in the face.”

“Amazon isn’t giving its employees a raise, they’re taking money from us,” one Arizona worker told Yahoo. “It only looks good if folks don’t know the truth.” He said his hourly wage was being increased from $15.25 to $16.25, but that he had expected to earn a few thousand dollars from the now-cancelled incentive programs.

One Pennsylvania warehouse worker told The Associated Press she expects to make $3,000 a year less without the bonus. A worker who spoke with Wired said he expects to see a loss of $1,400 a year.

I say. And while this does not prove - as yet - that Amazon´s workers are right, I suspect they are. 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