Jul 11, 2016

Crisis: Legalized Murder, Iraq War, Obama's Lies, "Democratic" Platform
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Legalized Murder and the Politics of Terror
2. The Real Problem With the Iraq War: It Was Illegal
3. Obama: Out of Many Sides of His Mouth
4. Pro-Fracking, Pro-Colonialism, Anti-Single Payer: Dem
     Platform Disappoints 

This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 11, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links, but the crop is rather better than yesterday: Item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges that is quite good; item 2 is about an argument by Juan Cole that the Bush/Blair war against Iraq was illegal, and Cole is quite right; item 3 is about quite a few very stupid things Obama claimed in the past eight years (I think Obama is a great and charming liar, and I don't like him, but he is sane and Trump is not); and item 4 is about the Democratic Platform, that prevented nearly all of Sanders' specific points to become a part of the Democratic Platform.

Legalized Murder and the Politics of Terror

The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
  • Legalized Murder and the Politics of Terror
This starts as follows:

Police officers carry out random acts of legalized murder against poor people of color not because they are racist, although they may be, or even because they are rogue cops, but because impoverished urban communities have evolved into miniature police states.

Police can stop citizens at will, question and arrest them without probable cause, kick down doors in the middle of the night on the basis of warrants for nonviolent offenses, carry out wholesale surveillance, confiscate property and money and hold people—some of them innocent—in county jails for years before forcing them to accept plea agreements that send them to prison for decades. They can also, largely with impunity, murder them.

I think this is correct - and I should add, I believe, that I am looking at this from Amsterdam, Europe, and not from somewhere inside the USA.

But from what I have been reading and sometimes seeing (on video) the American police has changed a lot, in looks, in armaments, in practices, and in orientation in the last 25 years, and especially the last 15:

American policemen, in full black riot gear, look like the military busy controlling people in third world countries; they have many heavy duty   armaments - heaps of them - from the army, including plenty of tanks,
that makes them look as if they are an occupying army; they practice "the law" that seems to allow them to kill any black man without consequences to the policemen-killers; and if they are there "to protect and serve" then this only holds if "the very rich" is added to the end.

And it is especially the last point, that the American police now seems to be there
"to protect and serve the very rich", with all military equipment the American army gave them to do so, that makes their orientation quite different from what it was in the previous century:

They now are there to keep the country safe for the rich, much rather than protecting all citizens under a law that is equal and applied the same to all.

All of that also must have been mostly deliberate, as can be seen from the very heavy armaments the American police obtained from the American army.

Here is some more on how this worked out:

Those who live in these police states, or internal colonies, especially young men of color, endure constant fear and often terror. Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” calls those trapped in these enclaves members of a criminal “caste system.” This caste system dominates the lives of not only the 2.3 million who are incarcerated in the United States but also the 4.8 million on probation or parole. Millions more are forced into “permanent second-class citizenship” by their criminal records, which make employment, higher education and public assistance, including housing, difficult and usually impossible to obtain. This is by design.

The rhetoric of compassion, even outrage, by the political class over the police murders in Baton Rouge, La., and near St. Paul, Minn., will not be translated into change until the poor are granted full constitutional rights and police are accountable to the law. The corporate state, however, which is expanding the numbers of poor through austerity and deindustrialization, has no intention of instituting anything more than cosmetic reform.
Yes, and the major changes sketched in the first paragraph were instituted by Bill Clinton, and were continued by Bush and Obama. Also, most of those arrested are arrested on marijuana laws, rather than on violent crimes. [1]

The second paragraph makes clear that the poor do not have full constitutional rights, in part because the police are no longer accountable to the law: These days you may be killed by a police officer because your tail light didn't blink and you are black, all without any serious consequences for the officer.

And I think Chris Hedges is right in identifying the underlying cause:

Deindustrialization, which happened because (i) the poor in India and China are cheaper than the poor in the USA, and (ii) Bill Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama have deregulated the economy, that allowed the rich to transplant their industries to the places where they get maximum profits, which are always the places where they need to pay only minimal wages.

Here is an apparently alternative explanation, except that it isn't, for
"globalization" in its modern shape is due to the many
deregulations introduced by Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama, which made it possible to transplant whole industries and whole factories from the USA to - say - India:
Globalization has created a serious problem of “surplus” or “redundant” labor in deindustrialized countries. The corporate state has responded to the phenomenon of “surplus” labor with state terror and mass incarceration. It has built a physical and legal mechanism that lurks like a plague bacillus within the body politic to be imposed, should wider segments of society resist, on all of us.
We are here talking about the modern form of globalization, which is based on the combination of deregulation + austerity: The deregulations made it possible to transpose whole industries, and the austerity assures that the millions of victims get no compensation, little or no help whatsoever, and
will never have any chances to get a decent job. (Robots do these things better and cheaper, and as a poor man you have no rights transcending those of the robots that replaced you.)

There is this on "neoliberalism" (a propaganda term):

This downward spiral of violence and counterviolence will not be halted until the ruling ideology of neoliberalism is jettisoned and the corporate state is dismantled. Violence and terror, as corporate capitalism punishes greater and greater segments of the population, are, and will remain, the essential tools for control.

No one, with the exception of the elites, champions neoliberal policies. Citizens do not want their jobs shipped overseas, their schools and libraries closed, their pension and retirement funds looted, programs such as Social Security and welfare cut, government bailouts of Wall Street, or militarized police forces patrolling their neighborhoods as if they were foreign armies of occupation—which in many ways they are. These policies have to be forced on a reluctant public. This is accomplished only through propaganda, including censorship, and coercion.

Yes, indeed - and this is also an important part of the reason why I say "neoliberalism" is the propaganda name of neofascism: It is neofascism
in part because "
their jobs shipped overseas, their schools and libraries closed, their pension and retirement funds looted, programs such as Social Security and welfare cut, government bailouts of Wall Street, or militarized police forces patrolling their neighborhoods as if they were foreign armies of occupation". [2]

Also, none of these consequences of deregulation were or are "normal", precisely because deregulation was not normal but was a conscious attack
of the few rich
on the rights, the incomes, and the happiness of the many poor, and that attack was hugely successful, in part because it was orchestrated and implemented by the politicians of both important parties in the USA, and with the support of the very rich.

Here is one consequence:

The miniature police states are laboratories. They give the corporate state the machinery, legal justification and expertise to strip the entire country of rights, wealth and resources. And this, in the end, is the goal of neoliberalism. 

Yes, I mostly agree. This is again why I say "neoliberalism" is a propaganda term for neofascism, and neofascism is the rule of the rich, who are quite capable of destroying the lives of the poor they made themselves through deregulations: If you are poor and live in the West, you are too expensive
to be profitably employed, and therefore it is better for you to die. [2]

This is a recommended article.

2. The Real Problem With the Iraq War: It Was Illegal

The second item is by Juan Cole on Truthdig:
  • The Real Problem With the Iraq War: It Was Illegal

This starts as follows:

I won’t disguise my impatience with the release of the Chilcot Report on Britain’s involvement in the 2003-2016 Iraq War.  Most of it comes as no surprise to me.  I chronicled it at the time, and it wasn’t actually hard to find information about shenanigans if you looked hard enough. 

The report did not make a determination about whether the war on Iraq was illegal.  But that actually in my view is all that matters.  There have been noble wars that failed.  There have been noble wars that were pyrrhic in character.  Those like Tony Blair who continue to defend going to war do so on the grounds of noble war gone wrong.

Yes and no: I mostly agree with Juan Cole, but I don't think it is right to say that "actually in my view" "all that matters" is that the Chilcot Report "did not make a determination about whether the war on Iraq was illegal":

Even if Juan Cole did know all it says, it is still important that it all was written down and published, because it is an official report, because it testifies to many lies and dishonesties by the US and English governments around 2003, and because it shows not all of democracy is dead in Great Britain.

Next, about Tony Blair's defense that the Iraq war is a "noble war gone wrong" - which is not only inconsistent on the face of it (how can a war that went wrong be noble? how can a baby that grew into an old man be a baby?) but also is very clearly inconsistent legally.

This is from the United Nations charter (that was intended to stop aggressive warfare, having seen with WW II what this could lead to: 75 million people killed in 6 years, for one thing):

Article 39 of Chapter 7 goes like this:

Article 39

The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

In other words, it is the Security Council that decides if an international trouble spot should be responded to by war.  The Chilcot Report shows that George W. Bush had no intention of even seeking a UNSC authorization, and Tony Blair was among those (along with then Secretary of State Colin Powell) who convinced Bush that just falling on Iraq with no pretense of an international process would look bad.

But despite threats and secretly proffered bribes, Bush and Blair were not able to browbeat the UNSC into authorizing the war.  They blamed France, but it wasn’t just France.  If the UN General Assembly had voted, Bush and Blair would have lost very badly.  The world couldn’t be convinced that there was a casus belli (legal justification for war) here.

And the world was right, and Bush, Blair and Powell were wrong, and not just morally wrong but criminally wrong. And here is the logical consequence plus
some practical consequences:

So you can’t argue that Blair did the wrong thing because the outcome has been a disaster. 

He did the wrong thing because what he did was illegal in international law.  Moreover, his methods were dishonest.  He lied to his own cabinet, and he hid from them the possibility broached by his own Attorney General, that they could be prosecuted at the Hague for launching a war of aggression.  He also lied to the public, repeatedly saying he hadn’t decided on war when he long since had. 

Yes, indeed. This is a recommended article.

3. Obama: Out of Many Sides of His Mouth

The third item is by William Blum on Consortiumnews:
  • Obama: Out of Many Sides of His Mouth

This starts as follows:

Oh what fun we have with the nonsense that flows out of the mouth of Donald J. Trump. The man is suffocatingly banal, racist, dishonest, inarticulate, uninformed, uneducated, narcissistic, a bully, just plain stupid, and an asshole (or in the immortal words of my people — a schmuck!).

I would guess that as the boss of his own enterprises for many years, with the power and the habit of firing people, he eventually became deeply accustomed to not having his thoughts seriously questioned or challenged, to the extent that he really believes the crap that comes out of his mouth and doesn’t really understand what others actually think of him. But if we look at what comes out of the mouth of The Barack is there any reason to castigate The Donald for his supposedly outrageous or weird way of expressing himself?

I fully agree on everything said about Donald Trump in the above (he is: "suffocatingly banal, racist, dishonest, inarticulate, uninformed, uneducated, narcissistic, a bully, just plain stupid, and an asshole").

But - while I strongly dislike Obama, and think he is a major political fraud - I don't think he is evil in the same way as Trump is: Obama is not "banal", not "racist", not "inarticulate", not "uninformed", not "uneducated", not "narcissistic", not "a bully", not "plain stupid", and not "an asshole". Also, Obama is not at all insane, while I think Trump is (and I am a psychologist).

I think Obama is evil (more so than good) and that he works mostly for the rich, but he is also clever, well educated, polite, articulate, informed and charming  - all of which makes him much more capable than Trump.

Then again, I agree with Blum that Obama (also) said many stupid and inconsistent things, one of which is the following (registered by me also in 2009):

Here’s a sample:  –On numerous occasions, in reply to a question about why his administration has not prosecuted the Bush-Cheney gang for mass murder, torture and other war crimes, former law professor Obama has stated: “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards.”

Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent of any crime on such grounds. On other occasions, Obama, without apparent embarrassment, has stated that “nobody is above the law.”
If you don't look backwards no one can ever be guilty of any crime, and that is the reason why Obama doesn't look backwards to Bush-Cheney. He ought to; he knows he ought to as a former professor of law; but he much rather lies as blatantly as illustrated when among those guilty of major crimes is his own immediate predecessor: "I prefer to look forward" and cannot see any crime that way.

William Blum collected quite a few of such sayings by Obama. Here are two of them:

–Asked whether he would apologize for Washington’s role in Chile’s 1973 military coup which overthrew the democratically elected government and replaced it with a dictatorship, Obama replied: “I’m interested in going forward, not looking backward. I think that the United States has been an enormous force for good in the world.” (June 23, 2009)

–Question from CNN, 2008: “Do you think the US should apologize for any mistakes that it has made in the past?” Obama’s reply: “I don’t think the US should ever apologize for anything.”

The first is an example l spoke of above (and Obama has said thay he did not look backward on many occasions, which prevented him from discussing any evil whatsoever (for all known evil is past evil)).

The second is American Ex-Cep-Tio-Na-Lism ("We Are Better Than Anyone!") writ large: he doesn't even admit any mistake he would apologize for.

Here is the last one I'll quote:
–“I’m good at killing.” (Just imagine Trump saying this.) Obama has claimed the power to murder anyone anywhere by drone. Richard Nixon had an enemies list, but this drone king has a personal kill list.  Obama’s use of drones against jihadist leaders, and anyone else who happens to be too close, has essentially rescinded the leading principle that was established in the Magna Carta 800 years ago — the presumption of innocence.
Yes, I agree, even while I admit his main reason may have been preventing American military boots on the ground, for I agree with Blum this is fundamentally illegal: You can't legally kill civilians in countries you are not at war with, merely on the ground that you have some reasons to dislike them.

There are 32 bits of Obama's saying (I think), and they are recommended, although I don't think Obama and Trump are equivalent: Obama is not mad
and quite competent; Trump is mad and quite incompetent.

4. Pro-Fracking, Pro-Colonialism, Anti-Single Payer: Dem Platform Disappoints

The fourth and last item today is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:
  • Pro-Fracking, Pro-Colonialism, Anti-Single Payer: Dem Platform Disappoints
This starts as follows:
When contentious Democratic Party platform negotiations finally came to a close late on Saturday, progressives again left disappointed.

At the committee's final meeting in Orlando, Florida, supporters of Hillary Clinton successfully voted down amendments supporting a single payer healthcare system, a nationwide ban on fracking, as well as an amendment objecting to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and characterizing the settlements as illegal.

The losses stung progressives already dismayed by the committee's refusal to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal in the platform earlier that day, among other defeats.

I have commented on this yesterday, and am quite willing to repeat my reaction:

Almost every plan or proposal of Bernie Sanders gets - somehow - moved out of the way by the Democratic supporters of the big banks and their plans - Decent banking? Are you crazy? Ending corporate welfare? Are you insane? Helping senior citizens? Are you a moron: they have no power and no money?! - and this continued Saturday with the TPP. Are you bonkers? We Democrats want to live under neofascism! We Democrats want the multi-national corporations to take over the states! [2]

And no, I am not amazed, for Hillary Clinton got many millions from the bank managers, and they are all very much against these Sanders plans on the for them sound ground that they all diminish the profits of the rich.

This is the last bit I'll quote from this article:

Sanders supporters also vowed to "take the fight to Philadelphia" to the Democratic Party convention in a last-ditch effort to pressure the party to support the progressive issues at the core of Sanders' presidential run. The convention runs from July 25-28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Those opposing the TPP are hoping to force a floor vote on the trade deal at the party's convention. Both leading Democratic candidates publicly oppose the TPP.

I don't think the managers of the Democratic Party want anything that is typically Sanders, and that includes Hillary Clinton, who is just pretending to
be against the TPP as long as she is not elected as presidential candidate.

And while this is all very disappointing to Sanders' supporters, this is a recommended article - and also there still is the possibility that Sanders might choose to run as a Green Party candidate, having seen that the managers of the Democratic Party never wanted him, and can manipulate the majority of the Democrats they deal with to vote as they want.

But whether Sanders will do so is far from certain, and we will see at the Democratic convention. (And he might say "No", because he wants to be as certain as possible that Trump gets beaten.)

[1] It is important to see that most who are imprisoned in the USA are imprisoned because they broke (or are claimed to have broken: many convictions are by plea deals) the marijuana laws - which are totally insane
seeing that (i) marijuana is very probably the least dangerous mood-altering
drug (that includes the far more dangerous alcohol); (ii) marijuana has been freely available in Holland (always illegally, but freely) for over 30 years now without any dangerous consequences
to its users (except being shot by competing dealers as a dealer); (iii) marijuana is legal in Portugal since over 10 years without any dangerous consequences; and (iv) marijuana now also has been legalized in some American states.

Even so, the majority of the inmates in America's prisons are there because of the marijuana laws, and not because of any other crime.

[2] I have explained two days ago why I think "neoliberalism" is a propaganada term for neofascism, and this is well worth reading. To straighten your mind, here is a diagram I used there that I did not produce myself, but which is quite close to what I think:
I call the above system "neofascism" rather than "Winner-Take-All", but then my grandfather was murdered as a "political terrorist" in a Nazi concentration camp; my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days as a "political terrorist" in four Nazi concentration camps (both were in the resistance), whereas I never earned even the minimum income in Holland, although I got
a B.A. with an 8+ in philosophy and an M.A. with a 9.3 in psychology (both of which are extremely rare: straight A's in everything), also without following any lectures because I was also ill, and I was kept 7 years (!) out of sleep because I protested against a totally insane neighbor and later against two illegal drugs dealers who also threatened to murder me. Also, I was denied the right to take an M.A. in philosophy because I criticized my philosophy teachers truly. None of my attempts to go to court succeeded (i) because I am ill since 1.i.1979 and (ii) because none of those I wanted to go to court against - the City of Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam - even answered any of my many letters and mails: I am clearly a sub-human in their assesments (which is also the reason why the City police refused to do anything for me all these seven years).

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