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Nederlog

May 27, 2019

   Crisis: The European Elections, Impeach Trump?, Corporatism & the Law, On Democracy


“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 May 27, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, May 27, 2019.

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from May 27, 2019:
1. The Right and the Greens Gain Ground in EU Elections
2. Impeach Trump? Most 2020 Democrats Tiptoe Past the
     Question

3. Why Corporatism Will Dominate US Policy for Decades to
     Come

4. Impeaching Trump and the Failure of Democracy

The items 1 - 4 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 Right and the Greens Gain Ground in EU Elections

This article is by Lorne Cooke, Lori Hinant and Mike Corder on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

The hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades drew to a close Sunday with the anti-immigrant far right and the pro-environment Greens both projected to gain ground at the expense of the continent’s longtime political center.

Turnout was estimated at a two-decade high over the four days of balloting across the 28 European Union countries. The elections were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU altogether.

Well... I have to admit that I never believed in the European Union, and indeed never voted except once, in 1971, and that only because I then had to vote, which has since been retracted.

Also, I have to add that these "hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades" were in fact voted for by 51% of the possible voters, which is just barely over half of the possible voters.

Here are a few outcomes:

Exit polls in France indicated that Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigrant National Rally party came out on top in an astonishing rebuke of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has made EU integration the heart of his presidency.

Le Pen said the expected result “confirms the new nationalist-globalist division” in France and beyond.

Exit polls in Germany, the EU’s biggest country, likewise indicated the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and its center-left coalition partner also suffered losses, while the Greens were set for big gains and the far right was expected to pick up slightly more support.

I don't like Macron at all and also don't like Le Pen at all. As far as Germany is concerned, it seems that that the (far) right gained less than expected or feared.

Here is one more bit on the Greens-as-were-elected-in-the-European-Parliament:

Early projections Sunday suggested the Greens would secure 71 seats, up from 52 in the last election, five years ago. The Greens appeared to have done well not just in Germany but in France and Ireland.

“The Green wave has really spread all over Europe, and for us that is a fantastic result,” said Ska Keller, the group’s co-leader in the Parliament.

I suppose so, but as I said: I have not voted at all for nearly 50 years and expect I shall never vote at all. One reason is that I do believe in politics, but not in those who manage to get elected and corrupted in parliaments.


2. Impeach Trump? Most 2020 Democrats Tiptoe Past the Question

This article is by Elana Schor and Juana Summers on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

Democratic leaders in Congress have argued that impeaching President Donald Trump is a political mistake as the 2020 election nears. Most of the candidates running to succeed him seem to agree, for now.

Fewer than one-third of the 23 Democrats vying for the nomination are issuing calls to start the impeachment process, citing evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report they believe shows Trump obstructed justice. Most others, including leading contenders Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have found a way to hedge or search for middle ground, supporting investigations that could lead to impeachment or saying Trump’s conduct warrants impeachment but stopping short of any call for such a proceeding.

Yes indeed. Well... my own position on impeaching Trump is this:

(1) I think - as a psychologist and a philosopher - that Trump is insane and also is a neofascist, which means that I would want to impeach him as very dangerous, were it not for one fact, namely that (2) the Senate will almost certainly - being made up of a majority of Republocans - refuse to impeach Trump, and also for one major uncertainty, namely (3) it is completely unknown how much free television time Trump will get "to defend himself" (all of which he may use to advertise and propagandize himself).

Here is some more:

White House hopefuls may win praise from liberal activists by pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for an impeachment inquiry, but those who fall short of insisting are unlikely to take heat from early-state primary voters more focused on other issues.

“People talk about it and people have opinions about it, but health care is much more salient to them,” Sue Dvorsky, a former head of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in an interview. “I just don’t see Democratic activists here all worked up about impeachment. They trust Pelosi.”

I do not trust Dvorsky and indeed also think that if you are a Democrat who does trust Pelosi you must be extremely stupid and/or ignorant, but OK.

Here is some more:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s running second in most polls, told CNN this past week “it may be time to at least begin the process” which could result in impeachment. But he warned in the same interview that Trump could try to exact political gains from any impeachment effort. Pete Buttigieg said last week that Trump “deserves impeachment,” but the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, stressed that he would defer to Pelosi on the timing for taking any formal steps.

Well... I trust Bernie Sanders and do not know Buttigieg. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Pelosi and other House leaders have signaled clearly that they want to pursue investigations into Trump, including two lawsuits where they scored victories this past week, rather than start a consuming and politically uncertain impeachment process. If the House did vote to impeach Trump, the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate to support conviction in order to remove the president from office.

Given the slim likelihood of that, it’s no surprise to Democrats outside the nation’s capital that impeachment isn’t gaining steam among the candidates.

I suppose this may well be correct, and this is a recommended article.

3. Why Corporatism Will Dominate US Policy for Decades to Come

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Remember when Republicans ran on a law and order platform?  Well, nowadays, we’ve got a President – in fact an entire Party -- at war with the idea of the rule of law in general, and any constraints on corporations in particular.  Democrats console themselves with the idea that this can all be righted in the next election.  Vote Trump out, retain the majority in the House, and win the Senate.  Problem solved.

Except it isn’t.  McConnell and Trump are doing everything they can to hand over the Judiciary -- lock, stock and barrel -- to a collection of extreme partisans who have no regard for the rule of law and regardless of who wins the election, that could leave us with a country which is firmly in the hands of the oligarchy.  Since 1801, when Marbury v Madison established the right of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, the Judiciary has had the power to strike down laws, statutes, and some government actions such as executive orders.  As long as this power remains in the hands of extremist ideologues, democracy and the rule of law are threatened, and corporations and monied interests will continue to get a free pass.

Well... I think I like Atcheson (based on what I read by him since 2013), but I think the above is mistaken, for the Republicans like those laws that they like, and in fact are trying their best to get both laws and judges to their liking, in which they also have been succeeding a long time.

Anyway... here is some more:

Beginning with Bush v Gore, conservatives in the modern Court began to toss precedent out the window, and embrace partisanship.  Now there is no core jurisprudence governing their deliberations; it is all about power and advancing a conservative, corporate-friendly agenda, with little or no regard for what the Constitution says.  Originalism is now a pretext invoked – with no coherent or consistent philosophy – only when it furthers the agenda of extreme right-wing ideologues, corporate shills, or the ultra-rich. 

The only constraint on the Court’s extremist views is Justice Roberts’ concern about his legacy as the Chief Justice.  In a few cases, it has tempered his decisions, as in his vote on Obamacare, but his corporatist bias remains his legal polestar.  Indeed, one could argue that Obamacare – with its preemptive capitulation to the health insurance industry – was a corporate-friendly law.

I think the above is mostly correct. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
Trump and McConnell are doing everything possible to pack the courts with folks who have a higher regard for business than they do for the Constitution, and if they succeed, long after Trump and his Congressional sycophants are gone, the corporate hacks passing themselves off as originalists could be dominating the judiciary, and keeping the nation well to the right of where it would otherwise be.
Yes, I agree with this. And this is a recommended article.
4. Impeaching Trump and the Failure of Democracy

This article is by Andrew O'Hehir on Salon. I have abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

After a week when Donald Trump’s push toward authoritarian rule appeared to accelerate dramatically, talk of impeachment is everywhere. Trump’s apparent or obvious “high crimes and misdemeanors” are without number, like the stars in heaven or the sands upon the Red Sea shore. Those who despise him can pick from an abundant café menu of possible reasons to impeach. If I’ve finally and belatedly come around to favoring impeachment — which I’ve long viewed as a futile and puritanical exercise — it’s not exactly for the same reasons as MSNBC viewers steeped in the paranoid (or at least paranoia-inducing) arcana of the Mueller report.

Trump’s sustained assault on the First Amendment and freedom of the press reached a crescendo last week with the indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on numerous charges drawn from the notorious Espionage Act of 1917. That alone would be reason enough to impeach any president, or at least it would be if so many Americans weren’t so blinkered by partisan politics that they have effectively stopped caring about such things.

Well... I have given my opinion on impeaching Trump above and I do not like it that O'Hehir is accusing "many Americans" while saying nothing about the American press and the American media, that are mostly responsible for the opinions "many Americans" have.

Besides, O'Hehir also leaves unmentioned in the above bit that the Senate will almost certainly refuse to impeach Trump.

Then there is this on the American press and media:

If that sounds like a self-serving, excessively high-minded or downright puzzling opinion, I hasten to add that the narcissistic and sometimes catastrophic failures of the American media have contributed to this problem, to a very large extent. If Americans are no longer convinced that the press has a critical role to play in democracy, and are likelier to perceive it as a warped tool of politics, most useful for coddling one’s own side with infantile propaganda or gouging out the eyes of one’s enemies, our profession needs to take a long look in the mirror before deciding whose fault that is — and even whether that perception is unfair.

Well... yes and no, but largely no because O'Hehir does not even distinguish between the mainstream aka corporarist media and the non-mainstream media, which I think is a major mistake.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
If Americans have largely lost touch with what the First Amendment is supposed to mean as a legal and philosophical principle, and whom it is meant to protect, that too is symbolic of much larger failures. It stands as a shining example, perhaps the primary one, of the way all the dire warnings issued about democracy’s innate tendency toward self-corruption and self-stupefaction, from Plato to Nietzsche and beyond, have come true. Democracy has become a religion, in an age when religion has become hypocrisy.
No, this is also mostly mistaken:

First, the vast majority of all adult Americans simply have no ideas about "
what the First Amendment is supposed to mean as a legal and philosophical principle" for the simple reason that the vast majority have no consciously reasoned out ideas about law or philosophy.

Second, they do not have to have them either, for all they have to do is to read the First Amendment. Here it is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I am willing to agree that this is not very clear, but I am also insistent that the interpretation of the First Amendment that the majority of the Supreme Court adopted in the Citizens United case was based on a sick "interpre- tation" of the First Amendment. (For more, see here.)

Third, "[i]
f Americans have largely lost touch with what the First Amendment is supposed to mean" this must be mainly the case because of the awful qualities of the mainstream aka corporatist media - but

fourth, O'Hehir blames this not on parts of the press or the media (also forgetting about the First Amendment) but on "
democracy’s innate tendency toward self-corruption and self-stupefaction". I think that is bullshit.

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 3 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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