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Nederlog

February 20, 2019

Crisis: Sanders for President, Amazon's Sickness, One True Choice, Bernie is Back, More on Sanders


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.







Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 20, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, February 20, 2019.

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 three 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:

. Selections from February 20, 2019:
1. Bernie Sanders Is Running for President
2. Movement to End Billion-Dollar Corporate Welfare

3. There Is Only One True Choice for Progressives in 2020

4. Bernie is Back

5. The Progressive Hope for a Sanders’ Presidency
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. Bernie Sanders Is Running for President

This article is by Robert Mackey on The Intercept. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows - after saying that The New York Times so far does not mention Sanders at all (while Common Dreams had the news that Sanders is running yesterday):

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent whose 2016 campaign for the presidency helped shift the Democratic Party to the left on issues like “Medicare for All” and free college tuition, announced on Tuesday that he is running for president again. The self-described democratic socialist immediately set an ambitious target for his supporters, calling on them “to be part of an unprecedented grassroots campaign of 1 million active volunteers, in every state in our country.”

I like Bernie Sanders mostly because he is honest while his program and opinions are credible. And while I should and do add that I rather often do not quite agree with him, I should also add that he is one of the very few American politicians who is honest, and one of the few whose programs and opinions are credible.

It is mostly for these reasons - including the total non-occurrence of as much as his name on The New York Times - that the present Nederlog is mostly given to his presidential candidacy for 2020.

Here is some more:

The appeal was also featured in an 11-minute YouTube video, in which Sanders laid out the rationale for his campaign, offering far more specifics on policy than rivals like Sen. Kamala Harris, whose website lacks a policy section.

I can immediately say that I neither trust nor like Kamala Harris. Here is one reason:

Hours before Sanders joined the race, Harris was asked by Fox News if his popularity in New Hampshire meant that she needed to move further to the left to compete in that state’s primary. “I will tell you that I am not a democratic socialist,” she replied.

And my reason is not that she is not a democratic socialist, but because I have heard very little or nothing from her that is credible, while anyone can talk almost infinitely long saying what he or she is not - which in politicians is almost always propaganda and/or evasion.

Here is some more, this time on Elizabeth Warren:

Another rival who is far closer to Sanders on the issues, and who has laid out specific, radical policies, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has attempted to distinguish herself from him by telling reporters, like Ruby Cramer of Buzzfeed News, that the core difference between the two is that “he’s a socialist, and I believe in markets.”

“I am a capitalist,” Warren told John Harwood of CNBC last year. “I believe in markets. What I don’t believe in is theft; what I don’t believe in is cheating,” she added.

I like Warren a lot better than Harris, and add that I also think she is mostly honest, which I do not think about the vast majority of other elected American representatives, but I don't much like capitalism, and especially not the American capitalism of and for the extremely rich that arose in the 1980s and 1990s.

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

Sanders, who would be the oldest nominee ever, at 79 on election day in 2020, told Vermont Public Radio on Tuesday morning that his age should not be a factor in the race. “We have got to look at candidates, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age,” Sanders said, adding that he has been blessed with good health and still has “a great deal of energy.”

“I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for,” he added.

The Sanders campaign reported that it had received more than $1 million in donations, from supporters in all 50 states, less than four hours after he announced his run.

Well... I have not been blessed with good health, for my ex and myself are now ill for more than forty years, and that illness has been denied by virtually all Dutch medical doctors until March 2018, since when I can say (without being slighted or offended by Dutch medics) that we do have "a chronic and serious disease" (but should wait another ten years or so, if the Dutch medical doctors are to be trusted, to be helped in Holland, which means that then I will be 50 years ill).

Anyway, back to Sanders: I do not mind his age very much, but this is especially so because he is one of the very few  American politicians who is honest and whose ideas and values I like. And I do think he should choose a good vice-president. But apart from his age, I think he is the best candidate for presidency. And this is a recommended article.

2. Movement to End Billion-Dollar Corporate Welfare

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

New York City is still reeling since Amazon announced last week that it was scrapping plans to build a major office facility in Queens. The decision came under mounting pressure from grassroots activists and local politicians who opposed the deal. Amazon had announced the project in November after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered Amazon nearly $3 billion in tax subsidies to come to the city. But local politicians and community organizers rallied against the tech giant and won. The lawmakers who took down Amazon say their victory is just the beginning of a major fight against tax subsidies for huge companies—which they call “corporate welfare.” We speak with New York State Assemblymember Ron Kim, who helped fight Amazon and introduced the End of Corporate Welfare Act to the state Legislature earlier this month.

I do like it that Amazon will not be trading from some headquarters in New York, for the simple reason that I agree with a British parliamentary report on Facebook that took 1 1/2 year in preparing, that describes Mark Zuckerberg as a "digital gangster". I think that is quite right, and the same applies to Jeff Bezos (who heads Amazon and is the richest person in the world).

Here is some background:

One of the leading opponents of the deal was Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens, the borough where Amazon was planning to build its new headquarters.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think it’s incredible. I mean, it shows that everyday Americans still have the power to organize and fight for their communities, and they can have more say in this country than the richest man in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Bill de Blasio has blamed Amazon for walking out on its plan to come to New York City, saying the tech giant, quote, “took their ball and went home.” Governor Andrew Cuomo is going after the local lawmakers who took down Amazon.

I more or less agree with Ocasio-Cortez, and I hope Cuomo disappears as fast as possible.

Here is Ron Kim:

ASSEMBLYMEMBER RON KIM: I was a bit taken back. I thought they were going to stick around to talk to our groups, to labor unions, to politicians, to figure out some sort of a reasonable compromise to coexist and be good neighbors, and for them to actually have meetings the day before, with the Mayor’s Office, to labor groups. And then, all of a sudden, without any notice, they’re pulling out.

This is very indicative of what Amazon has done before as a corporation. They say one thing; they do another. They’re only driven by profit. And it’s about time that we push back.
    (...)
This is a time not to play defense. We’ve got to play offense. You know, we’ve got moderate Democrats and corporate-driven politicians trying to court them back, saying, “Well, you know, maybe if we offer something else, but can you guys come back to the table to renegotiate?” This is not the time to renegotiate. These monopolies, we can’t rely on them to create quality jobs for our communities. You know, we spend too many years, we spend too many decades, subsidizing the growth of these mega-monopolies that are fundamentally designed to extract and exploit us. And instead of them extorting another dollar from us, we need to hold them accountable, moving forward.

Yes, I completely agree with Kim. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

ASSEMBLYMEMBER RON KIM: Something is desperately wrong in this country when 80 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, when we, as a nation, rank last, in all developed countries, in upward mobility, and the biggest corporations are paying 0 percent tax to the federal government. And they’re going from state to state trying to extort as much taxpayers’ money out of us. That is—we have shed the light on something that’s broken. And this is the time to seize that opportunity to set a new course for an economy that works for all of us. This is the time to do it.

And politically driven politicians that are stuck on this neoliberal ideology will continue to call people, activists as “socialists” and “communists,” “anarchists,” to protect the status quo, because the status quo enriches them. You know, the whole ecosystem around giving away corporate welfare, who benefits? Corporate-driven politicians, lobbyists, intermediaries that are just waiting on the sideline to get as much money out of that pie.

Again I completely agree with Kim, and this is a strongly recommended article.


3. There Is Only One True Choice for Progressives in 2020

This article is by Norman Solomon on Truthdig. This is from near its beginning

Now that Bernie has announced he’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, progressives will need to decide on how to approach the contest. Anyone with feet on the ground understands that the Democratic nominee will be the necessary means to achieve the imperative of preventing a Republican from winning another four years in the White House. So, who is our first choice — whose campaign deserves strong support — to be the nominee of a Democratic Party that has remained chronically dominated by corporate power?

Yes, I agree that the "Democratic Party that has remained chronically dominated by corporate power". This also is its main problem, and in my opinion this domination started under Reagan and Bill Clinton, and has been growing stronger and stronger since, so that at present I can hardly name a few elected Democratic politicians of whom I am fairly to very sure they are not paid, directly or indirectly, by the extremely rich Wall Street bankers.

There is considerably more in this article, but I quote just one more bit from it, that is near its end:

The concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to more and more disastrous momentum, from vast income inequality to out-of- control climate change to rampant militarism. For those who want the next president to fight for solutions that match the scale of such problems, the choice should be clear.

One of the most exciting aspects of the upcoming Bernie campaign is the enormous potential for synergies with social movements. There are bound to be tensions — that’s inherent in the somewhat divergent terrains of seriously running for office and building movements — but the opportunities for historic breakthroughs are right in front of us.

Meanwhile, corporate media outlets are poised to be even more negative toward the Bernie campaign than they were last time.

Yes, I agree with Solomon, and this is a recommended article.


4. Bernie is Back

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

It’s easy to forget the condescension and amusement that greeted him when he announced his first campaign for president, on May 26, 2015.

How, it was asked, could a rumpled, 73-year-old, self-described Democratic Socialist – a junior senator from tiny Vermont, who was born in Brooklyn, Jewish, hadn’t even been a Democrat for most of his political career, and eschewed money from super PACs – possibly triumph against Hillary Clinton?

In the end, he didn’t. But he triumphed in other ways.

Bernie won a surprising 46 percent of the pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. His primary campaign whipped up a storm of enthusiasm among young people and grass-roots activists. He garnered over a million individual donations, including $20 million in January 2016 alone ($5 million more than Clinton), with an average individual donation of $27.

Most importantly, he showed Democrats they could run successfully on policies like Medicare for all, free public higher education, and higher taxes on the wealthy – instead of the cautious “New Democrat” centrism of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.

Bernie Sanders put “progressive” back into the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I agree with all of the above. Then again, I am a little amazed (though not much) that Reich is as sympathetic to Sanders as he is (but all his facts are correct), mostly because - I take it - that Reich is not a democratic socialist, which again is based on his recent book (that I did not read) called "Saving Capitalism".

And for these two reasons, I would have expected that Reich (who is an intelligent man, whose ideas and values I usually like) would have supported Elizabeth Warren rather than Bernie Sanders.

Then again, he might but is praising Sanders anyway because he likes him.

I don't know and here is some more:

The American oligarchy is real. According to a study published in 2014 by Princeton Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern Professor Benjamin Page, although Americans enjoy many features of democratic governance, American policymaking has become dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans. The typical American has no influence at all.

This is largely due to the increasing concentration of wealth and economic power. In a recent research paper, one of my colleagues at Berkeley, Gabriel Zucman, found that the richest 1 percent of Americans now owns 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. That’s up from 25 to 30 percent in the 1980s.

The only advanced country Zucman found with similarly high levels of wealth concentration is Russia, whose oligarchy is notorious.

Yes, I quite agree. And here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

[I]n recent years, the American oligarchy has returned.

Bernie Sanders has done more than any other politician in modern America to sound the alarm, and mobilize the public to reclaim our democracy and economy. For that alone, we owe him our enduring gratitude.

I agree and this is a recommended article.

5. The Progressive Hope for a Sanders’ Presidency

This article is by Peter Bloom on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders has announced he is running again for President – though this time with considerably more fanfare. Unlike the last time he is no longer an afterthought or a spoiler. He is now a frontrunner who must be taken seriously as a legitimate threat to win both the nomination and the general election. For this reason, he has raised new hopes for fundamental progressive change to US politics both at home and abroad.

Regardless of what ultimately happens, Sanders to a certain extent has already won. His last run for the nation’s highest office dramatically changed the country’s political landscape. It revealed a thirst for a leftwing alternative that could effectively take on the power of oligarchs and return it to the people. At the very least, he helped break through the once thought impenetrable walls of the free market "Washington consensus" that have infested both parties.

Yes, I completely agree with Bloom. Here is some more:

Sanders does have though good reason to enter the race. It is the hope for real progressive change—one that does not simply accommodate the Left or seek to mitigate the worst excesses of capitalism—but legitimately and fundamentally transforms the country and the world into a freer, more equitable, and just place. More than any other of the nominees he comes to these positions out of a deep principle and not from following the prevailing political winds.

Again I completely agree. Here is some more:

The immediate critique, of course, is that he may only appeal to progressive voters—essentially handing Trump his re-election. These criticisms ignore just how overwhelmingly popular Sanders remains among voters across demographics, particularly younger voters and independents. It also represents his ability to articulate a progressive message that inspires people beyond traditional Democratic coastal strongholds.

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

Sanders represents the best hope for progressives and progress. To fulfill this mission, he must do more than rail against oligarchs. He must positively reveal what a different and more liberated society would and could look like. He must directly link current struggles ranging from the teachers strikes to Black Lives Matters to feminist resistance movements to those rejecting the corporate takeover of economic development by companies like Amazon into a popular front that simultaneously takes on elite power while point the way to a more democratic, secure, and emancipated future for all.

I mostly agree again, and this is a strongly recommended article.


Note
[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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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