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."
the U.S. National Security Apparatus
2. None Dare Call It Treason
3. 'Too Big To Fail' Banks:
Bigger, Badder... and Here To
4. Obama Defends CIA Chief John
Gaza's Ruins, Impact on Children Most 'Severe': UN
6. Too Big to Fail Has NOT
Ended … It’s Only Gotten WORSE
This is a Nederlog of
Thursday, August 7. It is a crisis log.
There is an earlier Nederlog of today,
which is not about the crisis but that reproduces some English poetry I
wrote nearly thirty years ago, with a few comments. The poetry is fine,
but I do not know how many are interested.
The present file has six crisis items of various kinds, and ends with a
brief personal note.
And both of today's files are uploaded somewhat earlier than normal.
Has the U.S. National Security Apparatus Sprung Another Snowden-Style
item is an article by Ben Mathis-Lilley on Slate:
This starts as follows:
This is interesting. Incidentally - and as
Mathis-Lilley points out - there is no reason why this is a
leaker rather than several leakers, but I agree that several is
less likely than one.
The U.S. government
believes that a
new Edward Snowden–style leaker
is giving national security documents to journalists affiliated with
Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald, a suspicion that Greenwald has
hinted at confirming. From CNN:
Proof of the
newest leak comes from national security
documents that formed the basis of a news story published Tuesday by
the Intercept, the news site launched by Glenn Greenwald, who also
published Snowden's leaks.
article focuses on the growth in U.S.
government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the
cites documents prepared by the National
Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013, which is after Snowden flew
to Russia to avoid U.S. criminal charges.
The reason the government gives - new secret material from August 2013,
when Snowden was in Russia - is good, and it is also true that
Greenwald does not deny it.
Is it true? I don't know, but I agree the reason is good.
2. None Dare Call It Treason
item is an article by Richard Reeves on Truthdig:
Actually, the treason that
is intended is that of the present GOP, that has almost stopped
Congress from functioning: Congress has passed only 108
substantive bills, which is very much less than normal.
In fact, the title of the
article also was the title of a book:
"None Dare Call It
Treason," to quote the title of a popular right-wing tract of the
1960s, but the effect of Republican "governance" these last few years
is a pretty fair modern equivalent. Back in the day, the ‘Sixties, a
right-wing polemicist named John Stormer wrote that enormously popular
book—it sold more than 5 million copies—which began by accusing the
Congress of the United States, with help from the United Nations, of
secretly and directly funding communist militaries dedicated to the
overthrow of the United States government.
The case against the
present GOP is made as follows:
McConnell and Boehner
(...) are public officials sworn to uphold the Constitution and
sovereignty of the United States.
They are, of course, not
traitors by legal definitions, though they to do fit the classic
definition of endeavoring to "harm" the sovereign, and the nation as
well. The minority leader and the speaker have done their best to
prevent the president from presiding, and they have done even more to
prevent the Congress from legislating or fulfilling most of its other
I think that is true,
though I do not see how to change this (without a revolution).
3. 'Too Big To Fail' Banks: Bigger, Badder... and Here To Stay
item is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts with a
subtitle, that I reproduce because it gives a fair indication of the
contents of the article:
have done little or nothing to diminish systemic threat of large
financial institutions as FDIC and Fed regulators say "living wills"
are inadequate to avoid repeat of 2008 disaster
Yes, indeed. The
article starts as follows:
Nearly six years after
the financial crisis of 2008 that helped spur a global economic
meltdown, federal regulators in the U.S. on Tuesday declared that
much-touted reforms designed to curb the threat of so-called 'Too Big
To Fail' banks have done not nearly enough to end the prospect that
taxpayers will be left holding the bag when the next bubble bursts or a
new wave of Wall Street disasters strikes.
Presented in a joint
review by the Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Board
of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the
two financial regulatory bodies say that resolution plans (so-called
"living wills") submitted by eleven large banks—which included Wall
Street titans Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Barclays,
Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase,
Morgan Stanley, State Street Corp., and UBS—shared common flaws that
make the institutions a continued threat to the overall economy.
One main reason is
that the plans that the big banks must have, according to the
Dodd-Frank regulations, to ward off the risks of their collapses in
case of another crisis, simply fail:
"Each plan being
[put forth] is deficient and fails to convincingly demonstrate how, in
failure, any one of these firms could overcome obstacles to entering
bankruptcy without precipitating a financial crisis," said FDIC vice
chairman Thomas Hoenig in a statement. "Despite the thousands of pages
of material these firms submitted, the plans provide no credible or
clear path through bankruptcy that doesn't require unrealistic
assumptions and direct or indirect public support."
Actually, it would
seem to me that this is intentional: it keeps them Too
Big to Fail, which means that they keep relying on tax money to
save them if something goes wrong, and it also means that
the Too Big to Fail
status is giving the 10 biggest U.S. banks an annual taxpayer subsidy
of $83 billion.
So I would say that
now that the bankmanagers have found a way to make the people
pay for their losses, while they themselves are paid
for their gains, they would be crazy (for a banker, who
is out to get as many millions as he can, which is what they all are
doing, quite consciously and proudly also) to give up their status as
Too Big to Fail.
So in consequence (or
so I would say) there is this:
Even more troubling,
since 2008, the largest
banks in the U.S. have gotten larger, not smaller.
As the FDIC's Hoenig
conceded on Tuesday, "These firms are generally larger, more
complicated, and more interconnected than they were prior to the crisis
of 2008. They have only marginally strengthened their balance sheet to
facilitate their resolvability, should it be necessary. They remain
This in turn means
that the next crisis will be much bigger than the last one, while the
people's taxes are still supposed to keep the banks afloat in that next
Defends CIA Chief John Brennan Amid Resignation Demands
item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as
I should say that I find
the quoted "anonymous
government official" not
very credible. First, no one is indispensable. Second, I cannot see any
reason why the president should trust the head of the CIA, and
third, if he does, as he may, I see no reason why he would trust him "100 percent".
As CIA chief John Brennan
faces calls for resignation from critics in Washington, President
Barack Obama has continued to give him his steadfast support.
to The Hill, Obama's strategic friendship with Brennan, which
began during Obama's first presidential campaign, is likely to
withstand the backlash against the CIA director that arose in response
to revelations that the agency spied on the Senate Intelligence
"I think the president
trusts him 100 percent and that’s the key here," an anonymous
government official told The Hill. "He thinks he’s
indispensable, and he’s probably right. There are few people who know
more than Brennan about the intelligence landscape."
And indeed my question is rather: What does the head of the CIA know
about the president that the president doesn't want others to know? I
don't know, but it is a possible explanation for a "strategic friendship".
Here is a potted version of the qualities of Brennan that are evident:
Note that Brennan only
apologized ("privately") after it had been shown he
grossly lied and slandered, and had threatened the Senate with judicial
prosecution. So I can quite follow Udall, Heinrich, Wyden and McCain:
Members of the Senate
Intelligence Committee accused the CIA of hacking into senators'
computers as the committee compiled damning evidence of the agency's
illegal detention and torture program. Brennan initially denied the
in March that "nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we
wouldn't do that... that's just beyond the scope of reason in terms of
what we would do." But a few months later, an internal investigation
determined that the agency had indeed broken into the computer network
used by the committee's members. Agents had read through Senate
investigators' emails and sent false criminal referrals to the Justice
Department, a move that Feinstein said "undermined the constitutional
framework essential to effective congressional oversight of
intelligence activities or any other government function."
Brennan apologized privately
to the committee and the CIA released a statement saying its employees
"acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached"
between the agency and senators in 2009, when the investigation began.
Sen. Mark Udall
(D-Colo.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) both called
for Brennan's resignation.
Udall said the CIA's actions were "unprecedented" noting Brennan's
"abject failure to acknowledge any wrongdoing by the agency," while
Heinrich said, "I think it would be better for the agency if Director
Brennan stepped aside." Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. John McCain
(R-Ariz.) called the spying operation "unconstitutional." McCain said
the agency's actions were "worse
But the president likes
him so much (or has reasons to fear him) that he may stay.
Amid Gaza's Ruins,
Impact on Children Most 'Severe': UN Official
item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts with the
relief agencies warn that Gaza is on the "brink" of an international
health crisis as both water and power infrastructure have been
destroyed during Operation Protective Edge
The texts starts as
Addressing a UN
conference by phone, Pernille Ironside, who runs the UNICEF field
office in Gaza, said the agency estimates that roughly 373,000
Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience
as a result of the attack and will require immediate psycho-social
support. This is in addition to the 408 children reported as killed and
the thousands left wounded after three weeks of heavy shelling by
Well... it seems to me a
society like the Gazan one cannot cope with this, and also there will
be little or no help for the great majority of the 373,000 children.
"How can a society cope with
this? This is a deep, deep, deep wound," Ironside said.
As to the children, there is this (from much more):
As to Netanyahu's work
in his Operation
Protective Edge, there is this report:
"Many have lost one or
both parents, or other family members. Some have lost their entire
extended families," Watson continues. "All have experienced violence,
fear and instability at close quarters."
Relief workers who have
spent time with Palestinian children after the wars in 2008-9 and 2012
say that children who lost family members exhibit real physical
manifestations of their trauma including: night terrors, inability to
sleep, loss of bladder control, as well as refusing to eat, and
aversion to eye contact or physical touch.
to Mufeed al-Hasayneh, the Palestinian Minister of Public Works, Israel
has caused over $5 billion dollars in damage to homes and
infrastructure in the Gaza strip. Al-Hasayneh estimates that some
10,000 homes have been completely destroyed, and 30,000 homes partially
And this does not
mention the destroyed electricity and water.
There is one thing that probably also is foreseen in Netanyahu's plan
for Operation Protective
Edge: The Gazans will continue to suffer a lot, but in two or three
weeks this will not be big news anymore.
Too Big to Fail Has NOT
Ended … It’s Only Gotten WORSE
item is an article by Washington's Blog:
This starts as follows:
Yes, and Krugman wrote
that before the report reviewed in item 3
Last week, Paul Krugman said
too big to fail is over:
There was indeed a
large-bank funding advantage during and for some time after the crisis,
but it has now been diminished or gone away — maybe even slightly
reversed. That is, financial markets are now acting as if they believe
that future bailouts won’t be as favorable to fat cats as the bailouts
This news is part of
broader evidence that Dodd-Frank has actually done considerable good,
on fronts from consumer protection to bank capitalization ….
But as David Dayen notes,
Krugman’s stretching the facts:
The report [that
Krugman relies on for his claim that too big to fail] doesn’t
really say that future bailouts won’t be as favorable to the fat cats,
or even that market participants believe that: it does say that large
financial institutions would likely continue to enjoy lower funding
costs than their counterparts in times of high credit risk (see page 40).
Besides, there is this:
That seems quite cogent
to me. I also note (from a quote by Michael Winship) that Gretchen
Morgenson agrees with me (or I with her):
David Stockman – Ronald
Reagan’s budget director – writes:
The giant regulatory
diversion known as Dodd-Frank has actually permitted the TBTF
banks to get even bigger and more dangerous. Indeed, JPM and BAC
were taken to their present unmanageable size by regulators—ostensibly
fighting the last outbreak of TBTF—who imposed or acquiesced to the
shotgun mergers of late 2008.
So now these
same regulators, who have spent four years stumbling around in the
Dodd-Frank puzzle palace confecting thousands of pages of
indecipherable regulations, slam their wards for not having
sufficiently robust “living wills”. C’mon! This is just another
The very idea that $2
trillion global banking behemoths like JPMorgan or Bank of
America could be entrusted to write-up standby plans
for their own orderly and antiseptic bankruptcy is not
only just plain stupid; it also drips with political cynicism
and cowardice. If they are too big to fail, they are too big to exist.
In The New
York Times, columnist Gretchen Morgenson writes, “Six years
after the financial crisis, it’s clear that some institutions remain
too complex and interconnected to be unwound quickly and efficiently if
they get into trouble.“It is also clear that this status confers
financial benefits on those institutions. Stated simply, there is an
enormous value in a bank’s ability to tap the taxpayer for a bailout
rather than being forced to go through bankruptcy.”
Precisely! And that is
why they want things to remain as they are since 2009: The
bankers get the profits if the banks profit; the taxpayers have to pay
the bail out if the banks fail to profit or threaten to go under. It's
a win-win schema for the bankers, and a loose-loose schema for the
Anyway - there is a lot more in the article.
just to say that tomorrow there will be a longer piece on my health,
which may diminish the coverage of the crisis for a day, since I also
must do some other things.
 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.)
(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: