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Nederlog

January 13, 2015
Crisis:  Angry Right, Paris, Financial Storm, Democratic Populism, Feinstein
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















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Sections
Introduction

1. Angry right’s secret playbook: How it uses a good story
     to peddle an agenda America hates

2. The Paris Mystery: Were the Shooters Part of a Global
     Terrorist Conspiracy?

3.
Surprising New Findings Point to Perfect Storm Brewing
     in Your Financial Future

4.
Striking Populist Tone, Mainstream Dems Push Robin
     Hood Tax Plan

5. Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate of Leak Prosecutions,
     Demands Immunity For David Petraeus


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is a criticism of a former rightist about the tactics the liberals use; item 2 is about the motives of the murderers of the staff of Charlie Hebdo and others; item 3 is about economy (that turns out hardly to have studied credit, it seems); item 4 is about a plan of the Democrats to get more votes; and item 5 is about Dianne Feinstein's opinions.

Also, I should say I uploaded an improved version of Tour - Directories, that gives the main opening directories of the site (that comprises nearly 500 MB).

And I am continuing the summaries section with brief daily summaries like the previous paragraph, so that my readers at least can use the
summaries to find out what is in Nederlog.

1. Angry right’s secret playbook: How it uses a good story to peddle an agenda America hates

The first item today is an article by Edwin Lyngar on Salon:
This starts as follows - and I should explain that Edwin Lyngar used to be right wing and now is a liberal:
This recent midterm election was my first real setback since I became a committed liberal (after years on the other side), and what I don’t understand is why so many well-meaning liberals refuse to fight dirty.  Sure, some Democratic politicians “sling mud,” but the “professional left” (as they are often derisively called) spend too much time debating the exactitude of certain issues and not enough time shutting down the bad ideas of the opposition. It might speak well to one’s character, but it’s an ineffective way to do battle. There is a place for self-examination, but it’s not on the battlefield. Sometimes the proper reaction to cruelty or stupid ideas is disgust or even a well-timed insult.
And it ends as follows:
I call on my fellow liberals to embrace the rough stuff. Engage in battle with people who hate you and feel free to throw crazy right back, even if you only half believe it. Let it out and taste it on the way by. See if it flies. If it doesn’t, screw it — just fix it up next time. Refer to your political opponent as “the honorable shithead from New Jersey.” Use the words, images and for god’s sake, the passion of the street. People who hate and fear you will always hate you unless they die out, change their minds or we can beat them in a heated contest of ideas. You’re not playing checkers — and they’re winning by giving zero shits about reality, so cut the crap and fight like you mean it.
Well...  I don't know, for several reasons. First, the average liberal is
considerably better educated than the average rightist. Second, if somewhat widely adopted it will bring down the debate to an exchange of insults. But third,
it is true that the Democrats in Congress are too polite - and will pronbably remain so (and/as many are on the leash of their well-paying lobbyists).

There are more reasons, but I do agree (up to a point) that I do not really see why the Democrats - if they were really serious - should not give as they get. And also I recalled an item of Bill Maher, of over three years ago:
 

This is funny.

2. The Paris Mystery: Were the Shooters Part of a Global Terrorist
Conspiracy?
The next item is an article by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

In the days since the siege at the Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo, the press and social media sites have been consumed with the possible answers to one question: Beyond the two shooters, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who is responsible for the attack that killed 12 people at the magazine’s offices?

On Friday, shortly after the gunmen were killed by French forces in a raid on a printing plant outside of Paris, a source from within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) provided The Intercept with a series of messages and statements taking responsibility for the attacks, asserting that AQAP’s leadership “directed” the raid on the magazine to avenge the honor of the Prophet Mohammed.

Moments after The Intercept published these statements, an AQAP official, Bakhsaruf al-Danqaluh tweeted, in Arabic, the exact paragraphs the AQAP source provided us. Within an hour of that, AQAP’s senior cleric, Sheikh Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, released an audio statement through AQAP’s official media wing, praising the attack. “Some of the sons of France showed a lack of manners with Allah’s messengers, so a band of Allah’s believing army rose against them, and they taught them the proper manners, and the limits of freedom of speech,” Nadhari declared. “How can we not fight the ones that attacked the Prophet and attacked the religion and fought the believers?”
Well... that is just the problem - I mean:
“Some of the sons of France showed a lack of manners with Allah’s messengers, so a band of Allah’s believing army rose against them, and they taught them the proper manners, and the limits of freedom of speech,” Nadhari declared. “How can we not fight the ones that attacked the Prophet and attacked the religion and fought the believers?”
You should not murder your religious opponents. Clearly, if you have sufficiently many fanatics you can murder quite a few of your opponents, but it is both immoral and illegal to do so. You can criticize; you can offend; but when you start murdering your opponents because they are your opponents, simply because they criticized and offended you, verbally and in drawings, it shows you have ceased being civilized and have turned into a dangerous fanatic who admits no other views but his very own.

There is more I could say, but since that is all fairly obvious to anyone who is civilized, I will not, though I will point out that the Sheik's opinions contradict those of Chris Hedges, that I reviewed yesterday.

There is considerably more, for which you can use the last dotted link.

3.
Surprising New Findings Point to Perfect Storm Brewing in Your Financial Future

The next item is an article by Lynn Stuart Parramore on Alternet:
This is basically an interview with economist Alan Taylor. It starts - after an introduction - as follows, with Taylor speaking (and "GDP" = "Gross Domestic Product" - what a country produces):
Our project compiled, for the first time, comprehensive aggregate credit data in the form of bank lending in 17 advanced countries since 1870, in addition to some important categories of lending like mortgages.

What we found was quite striking. Up until the 1970s, the ratio of credit to GDP in the advanced economies had been stable over the quite long run. There had been upswings and downswings, to be sure: from 1870 to 1900, some countries were still in early stages of financial sector development, an up trend that tapered off in the early 20th century; then in the 1930s most countries saw credit to GDP fall after the financial crises of the Great Depression, and this continued in WWII. The postwar era began with a return to previously normal levels by the 1960s, but after that credit to GDP ratios continued an unstoppable rise to new heights not seen before, reaching a peak at almost double their pre-WWII levels by 2008.

And there is this:
The first time we plotted credit levels, well, we were almost shocked by our own data. It was a bit like finding the banking sector equivalent of the "hockey stick” chart (a plot of historic temperature that shows the emergence of dramatic uptrend in modern times). It tells us that we live in a different financial world than any of our ancestors.

This basic aggregate measure of gearing or leverage is telling us that today’s advanced economies' operating systems are more heavily dependent on private sector credit than anything we have ever seen before. Furthermore, this pattern is seen across all the advanced economies, and isn’t just a feature of some special subset (e.g. the Anglo-Saxons).

And the reason that "today’s advanced economies' operating systems are more heavily dependent on private sector credit than anything we have ever seen before" is the deregulation, that started in 1980, and has progressed further and further, and allowed banks to swallow up much of the private sector (including money reserved for pensions).

But there is also something that somewhat amazes me: First, there is Taylor saying

(...) most economic textbooks have had little to say about the role of credit, at least outside the traditional money and banking courses.

I find that pretty amazing for a supposed science, though indeed in my view economics is not much of a real science (like physics), if only because nearly all  economists consistently failed to predict crises, and much of economy is strongly ideologically loaded.

And second, Pikkety's name and book are not mentioned at all. But OK..."most economic textbooks have had little to say about the role of credit".

4. Striking Populist Tone, Mainstream Dems Push Robin Hood Tax Plan

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Taking a cue from the progressive playbook in what observers are interpreting as more populist tack, mainstream Democrats on Monday unveiled a new economic "action plan" to redistribute wealth from top earners to lower and middle classes.

Among the components included in the proposal, introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) with backing from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, is a Financial Transaction Tax, also known as a Robin Hood Tax, which for years has been a staple of progressive budgetary plans.

The tax places a 0.1 percent fee on financial transactions that, under the action plan, will be rolled in with new reductions in tax breaks for the top 1 percent of earners and placed in the pockets of low- and middle-income households.

The new taxes will reportedly add up to roughly $1.2 trillion over the next decade, which would in turn fund a 'paycheck bonus credit' of $2,000 a year for couples earning less than $200,000.

Then again, this is a mere plan that will not make in the GOP-led House.
The article ends as follows:

Though observers note that the plan is not likely to make any traction in the new GOP-led House, many say that it is an indication that progressive views are now being more openly considered by centrist Democrats.

 The Hill reports that the new plan "suggest[s] that Democrats want to offer a sharper contrast on income inequality and paycheck issues to voters now that Republicans do run both sides of the Capitol."

Along a similar line, Rob Garver at The Fiscal Times writes:

With no chance of passage, the proposals are meant not to become law—but to tell voters where the party stands. Democrats, the evidence suggests, have decided that the economic populist route, as popularized by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, might be the one that takes them back to partial control of Congress in 2016.
Perhaps. That is: I agree the rising and rising inequalities in incomes and power is the strongest theme to give the Democrats a lead in Congress in 2016, but I would not be amazed if they chose another theme, such as global warming, because that would not show how many Democrats have furthered the rise of inequalities.

5. Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus

The last item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts with a number of quotes from Dianne Feinstein that I will quote in part. The first is from 2010 (and al boldings seem to be Greenwald's):
When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released his latest document trove—more than 250,000 secret State Department cables—he intentionally harmed the U.S. government. The release of these documents damages our national interests and puts innocent lives at risk. He should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.
Note that Julian Assange is not an American (but an Australian).

And there is this on Snowden, from 2013:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday said the 29-year-old man who leaked information about two national security programs is guilty of treason. . . . “I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters.

The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution. “He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.”

And now there is this from January 11, 2015:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged the Department of Justice not to bring criminal charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus over his handling of classified information.

This man has suffered enough in my view,” Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, explaining why she doesn’t think Attorney General Eric Holder should seek an indictment.

Here is Glenn Greenwald's comment on the last quote:
David Petraeus, the person who Feinstein said has “suffered enough,” was hired last year by the $73 billion investment fund KKR to be Chairman of its newly created KKR Global Institute, on top of the $220,000/year pension he receives from the U.S. Army and the teaching position he holds at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Let us all pause for a moment to lament the deep suffering of this man, and the grave injustice of inflicting any further deprivation upon him.
Yes indeed. And here is Greenwald's conclusion:
This generous mentality of mercy, forgiveness and understanding - like Obama’s decree that we Look Forward, Not Backward to justify immunity for American torturers - is reserved only for political officials, Generals, telecoms, banks and oligarchs who reside above and beyond the rule of law.
Quite so - it really is the new American aristocracy. For more, use the last
dotted link.

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