who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. US attorney general says
banks under investigation not
'too big to jail'
Chairman of key House committee agrees to
with NSA reform bill
3. More Aggressive NSA Reform Bill Moves
Forward in the
4. Cecily McMillan's guilty
verdict reveals our mass
acceptance of police violence
5. The Four Biggest
Right-Wing Lies About Inequality
6. Trans-Atlantic Supplicant:
Merkel Chooses Unity over NSA
This is the Nederlog of May 6.
It is a crisis issue.
This is about the following subjects: Holder seems to have had a
revelation (no, not really) about 'too big to fail'; two reports on the
more correct NSA Reform Bill in the House, one a bit optimistic, one a
bit pessimistic; news that now you can be convicted to 7 years in
jail in the US if you elbow a policeman who grabs your
breast; Reich on four lies on inequality; and a piece on Merkel, who
seems to think controlling Putin is more important than protecting
Germans against the NSA.
attorney general says banks under
investigation not 'too big to jail'
The first item is
article by Reuters on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say?! For years the
same Mr Holder has insisted and, what is a lot worse, acted as if there
are banks with managers that are 'too big to jail' - but now, during the last
two years of Obama's administration he denies it?
The US Justice Department
is pursuing criminal investigations of financial institutions that
could result in action in the coming weeks and months, US attorney
general Eric Holder said in a video, adding
that no company was "too big to jail."
The comments, made in a
video posted on the Justice Department's website on Monday, came as
federal prosecutors push two banks, BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse AG
, to plead guilty to criminal charges to resolve investigations into
sanctions and tax violations, respectively, according to people
familiar with the probes.
While Holder did not name
any banks, he said he is personally monitoring the ongoing
investigations into financial institutions and is "resolved to seeing
"I intend to reaffirm the
principle that no individual or entity that does harm to our economy is
ever above the law," Holder said in the video. "There is no such thing
as 'too big to jail.'"
Indeed, the article also mentions this, at the end:
Hmm. Well... I read it
this way - and I admit this is speculative, but then Mr Holder has
given me a plain contradiction to make sense of:
The Justice Department
has come under fire for bringing few marquee cases against major
financial institutions or their executives in the wake of the 2007-2009
In March 2013, Holder
told a US Senate committee that it can "become difficult" to prosecute
major financial institutions that have been accused of wrongdoing
because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to
the economy. He quickly backtracked on those comments.
The Justice Department has
pursued other criminal investigations of financial institutions in the
past few years, but many have resulted in deferred or non-prosecution
agreements, under which a bank is not actually indicted.
(1) Mr Holder still thinks that especially managers of big
banks should not
be prosecuted or even bothered, but
(2) he has recognized this is a bit difficult in a state of law, so
(3) he now, in the finest Obama traditions, backtracks formally, though
(4) he still will not prosecute any managers of big banks, and
to reach "agreements" under which part
of the profits are returned, for
his releasing all managers from any guilt,
(5) quite as he also did with the pharmacological corporations:
(6) everybody profits (except for millions of patients and of
that persons in leading positions of banks or
governments don't take seriously,
That seems to me the rational expectation, and I see
no reason to change it until Holder prosecutes both Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein
with the explicit end of jailing them: There seem to be sufficient
reasons to do so.
2. Chairman of key House committee agrees to
proceed with NSA reform bill
The next item is an
article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as
The chairman of a key
committee in the House of Representatives agreed to move on a major
surveillance overhaul on Monday, after months of delay.
The decision, by the
Republican chairman of the House judiciary committee, Bob Goodlatte of
Virginia, breathes new life back into the USA Freedom Act, a
legislative fix favoured by privacy advocates to prevent the US
government from collecting domestic data in bulk.
The judiciary committee
is expected to take action on an amendment encapsulating the provisions
of the USA Freedom Act on Wednesday at 1pm. Congressional aides
expected it to pass the committee with bipartisan support, setting up a
fight on the House floor.
Goodlatte, who had been
hesitant to endorse the bill, written by former committee chairman
James Sensenbrenner, will now vote for it personally.
Goodlatte’s decision comes
despite pressure by the House Republican leadership, which preferred an
alternative bill, written by the House intelligence committee
leadership, that would permit the government to acquire Americans’ data
without a specific prior judicial order for it.
That is good news,
but as usual the devil is in the detail, for which I advice you to read
all of the last dotted link. The same news is also on Truth Dig:
Aggressive NSA Reform Bill Moves Forward in the House
next item is an
article by Peter Z. Scheer on Truth Dig:
starts as follows:
After a half-year in
stasis, the USA Freedom Act—the most aggressive of various NSA reform
measures—is headed for markup by the House Judiciary Committee.
Markup is a process by which
lawmakers make speeches and offer amendments, and it’s the first tremor
of life the Freedom Act has shown since October.
is some more there, but overall it is considerably less welcoming than
McMillan's guilty verdict reveals our mass acceptance of police violence
The next item is
article by Molly Knefel on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The verdict in the
biggest Occupy related criminal case in New York City, that of Cecily
down Monday afternoon. As disturbing as it is that she was found
guilty of felony assault against Officer Grantley Bovell, the
circumstances of her trial reflect an even more disturbing reality –
that of normalized police violence, disproportionately punitive
sentences (McMillan faces seven years in prison), and a criminal penal
system based on anything but justice. While this is nothing new for the
over-policed communities of New York City, what happened to McMillan
reveals just how powerful and unrestrained a massive police force can
be in fighting back against the very people with whom it is charged to
There is rather a lot
more, that also explains how extremely limited and partial (to the
police) the judiciary investigation was, but I should say that I
dislike Ms Knefel's use of pronounds, like "our" in the title: Even if
there was any mass acceptance of this verdict - which I much doubt - it
is not my acceptance.
In any case, and whatever happened: By my standards (and European
standards as well) it is plain crazy to convict someone to seven
years imprisonment for elbowing a policeman in the face (who
grabbed her right breast). Or if it is not plain crazy: it is not real
justice, but political mock "justice".
But yes, these days such plain crazyness or mock "justice" are the
standards according to which quite a few American judges act. (There
are also some who don't, is also true.)
5. The Four Biggest Right-Wing Lies About
The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as
Even though French
economist Thomas Piketty has made an air-tight case that we’re heading
toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the
nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t
stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.
Herewith, the four
biggest right-wing lies about inequality, followed by the truth.
Here are the lies,
with recommended right-wing policies. To see Robert Reich's comments,
you'll have to click the last dotted link - and the ellipses "(...)"
indicate text left out:
Lie number one:
The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators. So we dare
not tax them.
Lie number two:
People are paid what they’re worth in the market. So we
shouldn’t tamper with pay.
Lie number three:
Anyone can make it in America with enough guts, gumption, and
intelligence. So we don’t need to do anything for poor
and lower-middle class kids.
Lie number four:
Increasing the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs. So we
shouldn’t raise it.
And yes: I agree they
are all lies (though - and see my on
Frank Zappa, of May 1 - this does not mean they are not
believed widely, and indeed you can deceive a majority of none too
intelligent people about nearly everything nearly forever, it seems, by
sufficient amounts of propaganda, lies, and misdirections:
that is one of the reasons the rich are not unhappy with democracy).
Trans-Atlantic Supplicant: Merkel Chooses Unity over NSA
Finally for today, an article by the Spiegel staff on the
Spiegel's English site:
This starts as follows:
It continues as follows:
In the world of
diplomacy, moments of candor are rare, obscured as they are behind a
veil of amicability and friendly gestures. It was no different last
Friday at the meeting between US President Barack Obama and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.
Obama welcomed Merkel by
calling her "one of my closest partners" and a "friend" and took her on
a tour of the White House vegetable garden as part of the four hours he
made available. He praised her as a "strong partner" in the Ukraine
crisis and thanked her many times for the close cooperation exhibited
in recent years. The birds in the Rose Garden sang happily as the
But then Obama made clear
who had the upper hand in this wonderfully harmonious relationship.
When a reporter asked why, in the wake of the NSA spying scandal,
the no-spy deal between Germany and the US had collapsed, Obama avoided
giving a clear answer. He also dodged a question as to whether Merkel's
staff is still monitored. Instead, he stayed vague: "As the world's
oldest continuous constitutional democracy, I think we know a little
bit about trying to protect people's privacy." That was it.
Merkel, when asked if
trust had been rebuilt following the NSA revelations,
was much less sanguine. "There needs to be and will have to be more
than just business as usual," she said.
defeat with a smile on one's face is part of political theater, then
Angela Merkel delivered a virtuoso performance.
Yes, indeed. Part of the
reason, at least according to the seven members of the Spiegel staff
who wrote this article, is the situation in the Ukraine, in which they
may be right (but see below).
And Merkel and her government also go considerably further:
government, complains Konstantin von Notz, the senior committee
representative from the opposition Green Party, has prioritized foreign
policy interests and intelligence cooperation ahead of the interests of
Germany's own parliament. "It is an attempt to disempower the
Bundestag," he says. Should a majority of committee members share his
opinion when it meets on Thursday, von Notz adds, then the
parliamentary body will have no choice but to challenge the government
at the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's highest judicial body.
Merkel's government has agreed to provide the parliamentary
investigative committee with only limited access to its NSA files.
I note that the parliament,
like the American Congress, is denied the facilities to do its
work, because of "reasons of state" (here: the bullshit that
one cannot trust parliamentarians not to sell out what they learn).
Not only that:
And it is an insane
opinion of Mr Harris, in my estimate: First, it criminalizes
all reporting (of materials the US government doesn't like) and contradicts
the First Amendment, and second it extends American insane supposed
laws - that are, as yet, mere opinions - to everywhere. Third,
this is a mere opinion by a bunch of lawyers who do the dirty
work for their government.
from the far-left Left Party and from the Greens have spoken of
"sabotage." They were also nonplussed when they learned last week that
the government has based its position in part on legal guidance
provided by an American law firm.
The expertise came from
the Washington DC-based firm Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris &
Cooke and essentially means that anyone who has anything to do with
Snowden, even journalists, is a potential criminal. "We are of the
opinion that if Snowden provides classified information or documents to
the Bundestag or to German diplomats who interview Snowden, such acts
give rise to criminal exposure under the laws of the United States. The
United States would have jurisdiction to prosecute these acts
regardless of where they occur," writes firm partner Jeffrey Harris. It
is an interpretation that also applies to SPIEGEL and other media
outlets that have seen and reported on large numbers of documents
provided by Snowden.
In any case, I find it odd that the German government seems to
take this serious: it is a mere opinion, by a bunch of lawyers, anyway
not the most reliable profession, and it strongly violates
existing European laws.
Whether the NSA
investigative committee will now be able to fulfill its mission seems
uncertain. And it doesn't look as though other institutions are
prepared to shine much light on the affair either.
Also, to reiterate Merkel's
Merkel (..) is
convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin can only be reined in
if Europe and the US stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the Ukraine crisis
and she is even prepared to sacrifice the NSA investigation to that
end. That also means applying a double standard.
Well... that is one way
of reading it. Another is that she does not really care whether
she is surveilled, nor does she really care
about the number of Germans that are surveilled: all must bow to The
Threat Of TerrorismTM, and Trust ObamaTM, and Merkel, of course, To Do The
I don't know: there are more possible readings and interpretations.
Anyway - there is a lot more under the last dotted link, but none of it
is encouraging nor does it seem to be a sign of courage on Merkel's
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
This took so long because both my ex and myself were (and are, to the
best of my knowledge: we separated a long time ago) ill since 1.1.1979.
This entailed many things, and one was that I did not attend university
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: