This is a Nederlog
of Thursday, December 17, 2015.
was an earlier Nederlog today, that was not a crisis blog, and is in
Dutch, apart from the introduction. I like it - "Facts about Sex",
though in Dutch - and I think it will still teach quite a few
things to most readers, but it was written in January 1980, and handed
for points in psychology, which it got. (And incidentally I did write
rather a lot between 1970 and 1980, but most was for my private use.)
The present file
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is
about the death of democracy in the USA; item 2 is about the
excellencies of Norway (I agree and I lived there for nearly three
years, and should have stayed there: my life would have been very
different and very probably much better); item 3 is about a new attack
on the poor and the remains of the US middle class by the Federal
Reserve, that works only for the rich; item 4 is about how the US
Department of "Justice" slanders an excellent critic of the US bankers
as a jihadist while systematically, and since 2007, refusing to do
anything against fraudulent bankers; and item 5 is about the GOP
clowns, who most recently competed about how many children they are
willing to kill.
I agree none of the items that follow will make you happier, but then such are the times.
Is Being Dismantled Before Our Eyes
first item is
by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
Tuesday’s debate was held in Las
Vegas at the Venetian casino, owned by Republican billionaire backer
Sheldon Adelson. Adelson and fellow billionaire Donald Trump held a
private meeting before the event. We speak to former New York Times
columnist Bob Herbert, distinguished senior fellow with Demos, on the
state of the Republican race.
This is from the beginning of the article:
AMYGOODMAN: I wanted to
read the first
paragraph of a piece
by Ed Kilgore in New York magazine. He writes, "If the
Republican presidential contest was an act of dramatic fiction rather
than a lurid [and] sometimes horrifying reality show, tonight’s
candidate debate at the Venetian in Las Vegas would end with the
proprietor of that gilded palace of sin, Sheldon Adelson, coming
onstage to name a victor, who would be awarded with a personal
endorse- ment and a super-pac check for $500 million. Why mess with snap
polls and focus groups when a real player in the process can put his
money where his mouth is?"
Precisely. In case you need an argument, here
is one: Since the Supreme's Court decision in favor of Citizens United,
corporations = persons and money = votes in the USA, so that indeed a
billionair now can spend most of his money for advertisements and
campaigns that suit his or her own ends.
And that really is the end of demoracy and the beginning of plutocracy
in the United States, all done by judicial fiat of the majority of the
Here is Bob Herbert:
BOBHERBERT: Right. So we’re
democracy being dismantled right before our very eyes. This has been
going on for a long time. So, this was a Sheldon Adelson-CNN debate. It wasn’t just a CNN-sponsored
debate. You have the leading Republican candidate is a billionaire,
Donald Trump; all the Republican candidates willing to genuflect before
Sheldon Adelson, you know. And I just think that it’s—someone—in the
press, in the media and in the public—needs to wake up to this. What
are we debating? We’re debating how we can erode our democracy further;
how we can give up our civil liberties and our civil rights; how we can
prevent people, on the basis of their religion, from even entering the
country, certainly from participating in our daily lives and that sort
of thing. We’ve seen—I know we’re not talking about the economy, but
all of this is together—we’ve seen what’s happened in the way that the
economy has been hijacked to be in the services of the very wealthy.
And I think it’s potentially catastrophic. I mean, we are losing the
United States as we had come to know it or as we were taught growing up
in civics lessons and history books were the things that made the
United States special.
I agree, except that I'd say instead of "we are losing the
United States" that we have lost the
United States: Democracy is dead since Citizens United;
billionairs' super-pacs rule supreme, and indeed mostly in secret.
There is just one chance to turn the tide somewhat, and that is in case
Bernie Sanders wins the presidency and isn't shot thereafter. But the
chances of that happening, although not quite zero, are small. (So yes,
I am quite pessimistic.)
2.By Sharing Prosperity Most
Evenly, Norway Wins Again
The second item is by
Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as
follows, and part of the reason this is here is that I lived for 2
years, 7 months and 15 days in Norway, in the middle 70ies, and was
crazy enough (the biggest mistake of my life) to return to
where I fell ill on 1.1.1979, and never got better.
After that I was kept out of sleep for 7 years (which is a form of
torture and was mostly done on purpose), did
not get any help, and was sorely discriminated as a citizen living
above the illegal drugsdealers that were (and are) protected by
the mayor of Amsterdam, the district attorney of Ansterdam, the
Amsterdam municipal police, and all Dutch judges for more than
25 years now.
For soft drugs were
and are illegal in Holland, and are only "tolerated"
(illegally) by Dutch mayors because they turn over at
billion illegal dollars a year merely in soft drugs. (Source: Parliamentary Van Traa-report.)
living Dutchmen except myself (that I know of) sees any problem in
this - corrupted
mayors, corrupted police, corrupted judges, and corrupted district
attornies, all to help make incredibly large illegal profits
for the illegal
trade in illegal drugs - to the best of my knowledge, the
last 25 years.
Anyway... that was a
small personal bit. The article starts as
For the 12th year in a row, Norway has
earned the honor of being listed as the best country in the world to
The ranking appears in the United
Nations Development Programme's 2015
Human Development Report. The agency uses the Human Development
Index (HDI) to score nearly 200 countries on factors including life
expectancy at birth, average years of schooling, and gross national
income per capita.
"Norway has over time managed to
increase its income, and at the same time ensured that incomes are
relatively evenly distributed," Jens Wandel, head of UNDP’s
administrative department, told
the Norwegian News Agency.
"Norway has also succeeded in investing
in education and in health. In addition, Norway has a high level of
equality between men and women, and these things typically go hand in
hand with a high human development level," Wandel said.
It is all quite true,
though I could name a few negative points as well. But yes, I was stupid
enough to leave Norway, where I could have lived (and did live) a very
healthy life, and also could have studied, and where my life would have been very many times better than it was in Holland.
Bernie Sanders Calls Fed Rate Hike Bad News for Working Families
third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
The Federal Reserve's announcement
on Wednesday that it would raise interest rates 0.25 percent was met
with strong criticism on Tuesday with Sen. Bernie Sanders blasting the
decision as "bad news for working families" and the country's
"disappearing middle class."
The rate hike is the first since the
2007 financial crash, and economists have long-warned
that employment and wage growth are still far too low to justify the
"At a time when real unemployment is
nearly 10 percent and youth unemployment is off the charts, we need to
do everything possible to create millions of good-paying jobs and raise
the wages of the American people," Sanders said.
"When millions of Americans are working
longer hours for lower wages, the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise
interest rates is bad news for working families," he added.
Economists are concerned that
Wednesday's rate hike will imperil the country's incomplete economic
recovery by stagnating job growth and wages. This mostly threatens
those at bottom of the employment pyramid, who were most impacted by
the recession—and even in the recovery saw national income shift four
percentage points from wages to corporate profits.
I think Bernie Sanders was quite right in "blasting the decision", but I also
think that the Federal Reserve these days only works for the interests
of the rich, and that given that, since this does favor the rich, this
outcome was predictable.
4.Bill Black: A
“Jihadist” Against the Banks?
The fourth item is by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
Yves here. You cannot make this stuff
up. This Real News
Network segment features Bill Black discussing, based on his first-hand
experience of having the Department of Justice attempting to quash
Black’s expert witness testimony in a fraud case because Black is a
“jihadist” against banks. Since when is calling out fraud tantamount to
conducting a religious war? Only if you are a devout adherent of cult
of elite finance.
I had lunch with a prominent journalist
yesterday who told
me how much more difficult it has become over time to do intrepid
reporting about major financial firms. Led by the major PR firms, they
fight tooth an nail over every point in a story, even inconsequential
ones. This is similar to the “take no prisoners” strategy banks adopt
in regulatory fights, where every issue is contested, so as to
establish the baseline than any change that is even slightly
unfavorable to their interest is deemed to be an offense. The intent is
not just to wear down the other side, but to get the ones that are
already captured or are co-optable to internalize that viewpoint. As
this Real News Network story demonstrates, that approach appears to
have succeeded in spades at the Department of Justice.
Here is the video:
I hope readers will circulate this Real
segment on Bill Black widely.
The video is quite good, and here it is:
Here is a bit from it:
BLACK: I say I’ve officially
arrived because on the record, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the
case said that the court shouldn’t listen to me because I was waging,
quote, jihad, unquote (...) So you know, it was designed to be
prejudicial and to discredit the folks. But this is how far the Justice
Department has fallen. Not only will they not prosecute the elite bank
frauds that drove the crisis, but anyone that wants them to do their
job they’re treating as a terrorist.
And it’s truly amazing. It isn’t simply
that they’re not prosecuting the elite bankers whose frauds caused this
crisis. They are actually acting as a collection agency, they being the
Justice Department, for the absolute worst fraudulent institutions. And
they are prosecuting people and putting hundreds of small-time folks in
prison on the basis of thoroughly false theories of the case in which
they, the Justice Department, go in as a matter of routine. They claim
that the institutions which are the largest criminal enterprises in the
world–so in the case I was just in in Miami, was JP Morgan and
Countrywide. Two of the largest criminal enterprises in the world. And
we know criminal enterprises, because the United States of America has
said that what they were doing was fraudulent front to back.
There is considerably more in the article or
the video. But this is "justice" in the USA, as implemented by the
Department of "Justice": For the richest frauds, and only willing to
prosecute very small fry, for crimes these probably did not do, while slandering those who criticize the fraudulent rich bankers as terrorists.
Children Could You Kill? The GOP Debates in Brief
fifth and last item today is by William Rivers Pitt on Truthout:
In this line of work, if you do it long
enough, you tell yourself that you've seen everything. Nothing can
surprise you. It's a comforting fiction, a callus on the soul that
allows you to observe and report without being subsumed by it all.
Nothing is more unnerving than being deprived of context, to arrive at
a moment when you can't say, "Well, I've seen that before." I have no
metric for what I witnessed last night.
A debate moderator sought to test a
candidate's qualifications on the basis of how many children that
candidate is willing to kill. This wasn't some basement-born hack-ass
radio show that only reaches three blocks. This happened on CNN with
banners flying and theme music to boot. The audience, to its credit,
had the decency to boo Hewitt. Nevertheless, it happened. That is where
we are. That is who we are.
Well... not everyone. But I agree this is
frightening. Here is some about the "consistency" of the GOP:
A few things I learned last night:
Santorum thinks terrorists are bad unless they want to buy a gun.
Graham believes we have to fight them over there so we don't have to
fight them over here, a pitch-perfect echo of George W. Bush, whose
presidency Graham said with podium-pounding passion that he misses. At
one point, Mike Huckabee intoned, "You've got to bake your own bread in
order to fight the battles," at which point my brain went into vapor
lock. The Iraq war never happened, and it's all Hillary Clinton's
fault. Ted Cruz said, "Ronald Reagan defeated Soviet communism. I will
do the same thing." Look out, Soviet communism: The Batman villain from
Texas is gunning for you.
I take it the GOP candidates all said
that. Here is Pitt's conclusion:
We may as well nuke ourselves, because
we're clearly doomed according to the "best" (ha) GOP candidates -
unless one of the bloviators on that stage last night kills enough
children to prove their standing to be president. Salvation by
slaughter. A new Gospel, inked in blood. Again.
I agree. All I can say is that at most one
of these sick clowns can be elected, and hopefully none.