from September 15, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
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.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from September 15, 2018:
1. Ten Years After the Crash, We’ve Learned Nothing
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:
2. Donald Trump, the Democrats, and the Illusion of American
3. A 'Nervous Breakdown' of the Executive Branch
4. Trump’s Economic Boom Is Only for the Rich
5. On 10th Anniversary of Wall Street Crash, Warren Says:
Break Up the
Banks and Jail the Bankers
Years After the Crash, We’ve Learned Nothing
This article is by Matt Taibbi
on Common Dreams and originally on Rolling Stone. It starts as follows:
Ten years ago, on Saturday,
September 13th, 2008, the world was about to end.
The New York Federal
Reserve was a zoo. Imagine NASA headquarters on the day a giant
asteroid careens into the atmosphere. That was the New York Fed: all
hands on deck, peak
The crowd included future
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner,
then-Treasury Secretary (and former
Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson, the representatives of multiple
regulatory offices, and the CEOs of virtually every major bank in New
York, each toting armies of bean counters and bankers.
The asteroid metaphor fit.
In the twin collapses of top-five investment bank Lehman Brothers and
insurance giant AIG, Wall Street saw a civilization-imperiling ball of
debt hurtling its way.
Yes, indeed. I have got
one remark on Holland (where I have to live, unfortunately): The abobe
was not at all true in Holland, according to the Dutch
government. The Dutch were ruled then by the utter idiot
who only in October started to realize something might have
and then recommended all Dutch ¨to cycle a little faster¨. Yes, he did.
Back to the article:
The legend of that meeting,
in hagiographic reconstructions like Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too
Big to Fail, is that the tough-minded bank honchos found a way to
scrape up just enough cash to steer the debt-comet off course.
In Too Big To Fail, the
“superstar” chief of Goldman, Lloyd Blankfein, along with “smart” Jamie
Dimon of Chase, “fighter” John Mack of Morgan Stanley, and other titans
brokered the deal of deals, just in time to stave off a Mad Max
scenario for us all.
The plan included a federal
bailout of incompetent AIG, along with key mergers – Bank of America
buying Merrill, Barclays swallowing the sinking hull of Lehman, etc.
With respect to the fine
actors in the film, the legend is bull.
Taibbi, but you´ll have to read his full article to get most of his
He also discusses three myths about the crisis of 2008, which I will
only name here (there is considerably more text in the
But history is written by
the victors, and the banks that blew up the economy are somehow still
winning the narrative. Persistent propaganda about what happened 10
years ago not only continues to warp news coverage, but contributed to
a wide array of political consequences, including the election of
The most persistent myths
Myth#1: The crash
was an accident
Myth #2: The crash was
caused by greedy homeowners
Myth #3: The bailouts
were about saving capitalism
Myth#1 is a
because the crash was not an accident, but the direct
outcome of over
20 years of successive deregulations,
each of which made the rich
more powerful, and the non-rich less powerful.
Myth#2 is a
because the crash was not caused by greedy homeowners, but
by the rich
Myth#3 is a
because the bailouts were not about saving capitalism but about
and protecting the incomes and profits of the big banks.
There is a lot
Here is more by Taibbi:
The public to this day has
no understanding of the scale of the intervention.
To put it in perspective,
the War on Terror has cost America about $5.6 trillion since 9/11, or
million an hour.
The bailouts probably dwarf
that effort. Most studies suggest it was a world-war-level mobilization
of cash, a generation of savings used to plug a single hole.
The Special Inspector
General of the TARP put the gross government outlay at $4.6 trillion, with over
$16 trillion in guarantees. Bloomberg concluded the rescue expenditure
trillion. Fortune (which saluted the investment as
hugely profitable for America in the end) put the number
at $14 trillion. The Levy Institute at Bard College did probably
the most extensive study, and put the number at $29
That is, there still
are rather different (in fact, mostly conservative) estimates,
did take a whole lot of money, that was mostly taken
from the taxes,
and fed to the rich so that they could remain rich.
Here is more:
The bank-state merger
brokered 10 years ago this week socialized the risks of the financial
sector, and essentially converted Wall Street into a vehicle for
annually privatizing a big chunk of America’s GDP into the hands of a
few executives. The same people who were minutes from being
(deservedly) destitute 10 years ago are now a permanent aristocracy.
Just look at the numbers.
The average finance-sector salary last year was over $375,000, or five
times the rate of the rest of the private sector. While the rest of
the economy mostly ran in place, just the average Wall Street bonus
grew 17 percent in 2017, to $184,220, or about three times the median
income for an American household.
I think the above
diagnosis is quite correct. Here is the last bit that I quote
Outside Manhattan, the pain
was just starting. In 2008, 861,664
families lost their homes, and homeowners lost
a breathtaking $3.3 trillion in home equity (coincidentally, this
was the TARP inspector’s
estimate for the entire net outlay of the bailout). By 2011, a full
million homeowners were underwater on their homes.
Out there, in foreclosure –
er, flyover – country, the only way out of the crisis was a big hit.
You either foreclosed and lost your credit rating forever, or you sold
your home, usually the chief investment in your life, at a gigantic
loss. But a major principle of the bailout is that the banks never had
to take any losses at all. Not one cent.
Precisely. This is a
strongly recommended article, with a lot more than I
Trump, the Democrats, and the Illusion of American Greatness
This article is by
Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Team Trump says the
president can’t be indicted, and he’s indicated he may use the power of
the pardon to launder the crimes of his associates. This week on
Intercepted: Constitutional law professor Zephyr Teachout is running to
be the New York attorney general and she has vowed to put Trump and his
organization in her legal sights if she wins. She talks about why she
believes Trump may have violated the emoluments clause, the foreign
money he has received since becoming president, and her plan to
undermine his potential pardons. Socialist academic Dr.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor talks about socialism, capitalism, and what
real resistance looks like in Trump’s America. On the 17th anniversary
of 9/11, the longest continuous U.S. war in history continues in
Afghanistan. Rep. Barbara Lee tells the story of her historic lone vote
against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force and the
harassment and death threats she received after her speech on September
14, 2001. Jeremy analyzes the U.S. opposition to the International
Criminal Court, what the tributes to John McCain tell us about the U.S.
empire, and why the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times was neither
heroic nor an act of resistance. With insurgent progressive candidates
challenging — and sometimes beating — Democratic establishment
candidates, the future of the Democratic Party is at a crossroads. We
speak with Nathan Robinson, the editor of Current Affairs magazine, and
Intercept Senior Politics Editor Briahna Joy Gray about the state of
left politics, the midterm elections, and the reappearance of Barack
Then again, I will not
most of that and part of the reason is that Zephyr Teachout lost to
Andrew Cuomo, while the rest of the reason is that this article
consists of a considerable amount of text, of which I will
two bits, both by Jeremy Scahill.
This is the first bit:
The horrid stain
that is Donald Trump’s presidency has opened a space for the most
intellectually dishonest power brokers in the American empire to
fellate themselves and each other as they dream of a day when a good
guy like George W. Bush, a mass murderer, or Bill Clinton, a
belligerent warmonger who spent eight years attacking the poor and
building up the prison industrial complex, can return decorum to
America. Trump is definitely an anomaly. And he does indeed pose his
own unique threats to peace in the United States and around the world,
but largely, he’s an anomaly in circumstance and style.
I agree. Here is the last
bit, and it is about the 16 years of Democratic presidents, who in
mostly worked for the rich:
JS: As I
look at it when we look back at the last 16 years of democratic
presidents: Two terms of Clinton, two terms of Obama.
What you largely had come
out of those 16 years was a push even further to the right in this
country. Certainly, with its domestic politics did the lives of poor
people get better as a result of the Clintons and the and Obama? No.
Did the war stop? No, they expanded. Did the Republicans mainstream
many of their ideas within the institutional Democratic party? Yes, yes
they did. And I look at that and then I compare it to what did Hillary
Clinton’s people say, they wanted? They said we want women to run for
office. We want young people to run for office. We want black people to
run for office. We want people of color, LGBTQ — and in so many races
that we have seen just in the past year, you see the Hillary Clinton
wing of the Democratic Party coming in and endorsing incumbent
conservative in some cases old white male Democratic candidates against
the very people that they said that they wanted to run.
I agree, and
there is a
whole lot more in this recommended article.
'Nervous Breakdown' of the Executive Branch
article is by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa on Truthdig and originally
on The Washington Post. It starts as follows - and John Dowd was Donald
Trump´s personal attorney:
John Dowd was convinced that President
Donald Trump would commit perjury if he talked to special counsel
Robert Mueller. So on Jan. 27 the president’s then-personal attorney
staged a practice session to make his point.
In the White House residence, Dowd peppered
Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking
stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost
“This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted
at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I
don’t really want to testify.”
The dramatic and previously untold scene is
recounted in “Fear,” a newly published book by Bob Woodward that paints
a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth
interviews with administration officials and other principals.
Yes, this seems all true, and in fact the
article is a review of Woodward´s ¨Fear¨.
Here is some more:
Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia
about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West
Wing for days. Learning of the appointment of Mueller in May 2017,
Trump groused, “Everybody’s trying to get me”—part of a venting period
that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as
Woodward, an associate editor at The Post,
sought an interview with Trump through several intermediaries to no
avail. The president called Woodward in early August, after the
manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The
president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an
audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work
would be “tough,” but factual and based on his reporting.
A central theme of the book is the stealthy
machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control
his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally
and for the nation he was elected to lead.
Yes indeed - and I add to the last quoted
paragraph that in my psychologist´s opinion Trump is insane, simply
because he very probably has a
grandiose or malignant narcissistic
personality disorder, which makes him, in my opinion, and
of many psychologists and psychiatrists utterly unfit to be
of the USA.
Here is some more:
Woodward describes “an administrative coup
d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior
aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so
he couldn’t see or sign them.
Again and again, Woodward recounts at length
how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity
and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream
perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.
I am not amazed one bit, but admit
have been writing about Trump a lot. Here is the last bit that I quote
from this article:
On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay
Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his
deputy, James Quarles, where Dowd and Sekulow reenacted Trump’s January
Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles
why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going
to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that
transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys
overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he
was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ “
“John, I understand,” Mueller replied,
according to Woodward.
Later that month, Dowd told Trump: “Don’t
testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”
But Trump, concerned about the optics of a
president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle
Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.
“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told
Dowd, according to Woodward.
“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied.
“Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”
The next morning, Dowd resigned.
I say. And this is a recommended article,
with a lot more than I quoted.
Economic Boom Is Only for the Rich
This article is by Amanda Marcotte on AlterNet and
originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
2018 midterm elections are looming, with widespread expectations that
the historic unpopularity of Donald Trump will lead to big gains for
the Democrats come November. But the political media, always ready to
inject some drama and tension into what is already a stressful
election season, believes it has found the fly in the ointment:
The economy. The narrative that's taken hold is that the economy is
doing smashing and the only question is whether or not Trump will
be able to take credit, or whether voters hate him so much that they
will vote against his party anyway.
The reporting is quite
true, though what it reports on is quite false: At most 10% of the
Americans got better from the blooming economy, and these are almost
exclusively the rich or their - well earning - servants, and not the
90% of all non-rich.
Here is more:
The reality is that
ordinary Americans may not be feeling the effects of this allegedly
booming economy, and Trump administration policies that line the
pockets of the rich while undermining social safety net programs
Americans rely on will only make the impact of income inequality worse.
Quite so. And this
the 90% of the non-rich Americans:
barely getting back to where they were before the crash of a decade ago
and, unfortunately, the value of work doesn't seem to have improved
nearly as much as it should have. One particularly telling trend
is that earnings actually went down for people who have
full-time jobs. The American dream, in which a person can work full
time and create a proper nest egg for herself, continues to be elusive
for huge chunks of the country.
Precisely. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
House Republicans are already working on a planthey
call "Tax Reform 2.0," which is designed to make tax cuts for the
wealthy permanent, along with other policies that favor the
wealthy and upper middle class while leaving out poor people and people
who are struggling to save money out of the loop entirely. Worse,
progressive economists fear that this will be used as an excuse to gut
programs that help keep people out of poverty.
Yes indeed: quite so. And
this is a strongly recommended article.
"The Tax Scam 2.0 is yet
another part of a well-worn conservative playbook: Explode deficits
with massive tax cuts, then ask the middle class to pay the price
through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other priorities that
are important to a majority of Americans," Alexandra Thorton, tax
policy director at the Center for American Progress, said in an emailed
5. On 10th
Anniversary of Wall Street Crash, Warren Says: Break Up the Banks and
Jail the Bankers
This article is by
Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
marking the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and
the start of the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression,
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared Thursday night that the only
way to avoid another crisis is to break up the Wall Street banks that
caused it and hold wealthy executives accountable
for their crimes.
"Oh, yeah. Give me a chance,"
Warren said when asked
by Andrew Sorkin of the New York Times if she still supports
breaking up big banks, many of which are far larger than they were
before the 2008 crash.
"We have got to change the
rules," Warren declared, highlighting her effort to implement a 21st
century Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial and investment
banking. "This Congress rolling back regulations on the biggest
financial institutions, rolling back regulations on Wall Street, this
is absolutely the wrong direction for us to go."
Asked if the United States
is prepared for another crisis—which a bipartisan
deregulatory measure passed in March makes far more likely—Warren
responded: "No, not even close."
Sen. Warren. Here is some more:
In addition to pushing for
stronger safeguards against big bank speculation, Warren also argued in
a tweet on Thursday that "we need to start holding Wall Street
executives accountable" if we are to avoid another crash.
Far from being held
accountable for their actions, former Lehman Brothers executives and
staffers are reportedly
holding a ritzy tenth anniversary get-together on Saturday to
celebrate the anniversary of their firm's collapse.
"I introduced the Ending
Too Big to Jail Act to force law-breaking bankers to trade in their
pinstripe suits for orange jumpsuits," Warren said, highlighting
legislation she unveiled in March.
Precisely. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
Thanks to the Obama
administration's bailouts and the Trump administration's massive gifts
to Wall Street in the form of tax cuts and deregulation, America's five
biggest banks—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo,
and Goldman Sachs—have raked
in more than $583 billion in combined profits since the crisis,
according to a new analysis by Public Citizen published this week.
In an op-ed
for USA Today on Friday, Morris Pearl—former managing
director of the financial firm BlackRock Investments and now chair of
the Patriotic Millionaires—argued that by allowing Wall Street firms to
continue to expand and engage in risky betting, the Trump
administration is actively heightening the risk of another major crisis.
Quite so, again. And
this is a strongly recommended article.