is a crisis blog.
There are 5 items: item 1 and item 2
are two different articles about the same event (the fast track is -
initially, at least - defeated); item 3 is about a
turn to the left in Spain; item 4 is about the
second of three
interviews that Paul Jay of the Real News made with Robert Scheer; and item
5 is a very fine piece by Ellen Brown on the TPP, TTIP, and the
TiSA. (This may
sound boring, but when these are accepted, your life will
change, and not for the better, unless you are a rich
I also added a remark
about Marx and Marxism to yesterday's
because I think it may clarify my relations to to Marx, Marxism and
1. Fast Track Derailed? House Deals Blow to
Corporate-Friendly Trade Agenda
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
Though it wasn't the
resounding rejection progressives had hoped for, the U.S. House of
Representatives on Friday dealt a serious blow to President Barack
Obama's corporate-backed trade agenda, while erecting a major stumbling
block for proponents of Fast Track, or trade promotion authority.
After a tense showdown
and multiple votes in the chamber, a final decision on Fast Track was
ultimately deferred, affording a delay that critics say could further
scuttle the trade authority.
I say. I was quite
curious about the outcome, and this is one of the first reports, that I
found late yesterday. (There is another one as the next item, that was
written a bit later.)
Here are two reactions.
"I applaud the House of
Representatives for the vote today," said
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a statement after the vote. "While the
fight will no doubt continue, today’s vote is a victory for America’s
working people and for the environment. It is clearly a defeat for
corporate America, which has outsourced millions of decent-paying jobs
and wants to continue doing just that."
Yes, that seems more
or less correct. And no, a deferment means there will be another
on it, so the fight is not won and indeed will continue.
As Lori Wallach of Public
Citizen's Global Trade Watch pointed
out after the vote, "Passing trade bills opposed by a majority of
Americans does not get easier with delay because the more time people
have to understand what’s at stake, the angrier they get and the more
they demand that their congressional representatives represent their
This story is developing.
Yes, for one very basic
criticism of the TPP just is that it is a secret treaty, that
will effect the lives and chances of hundreds of millions of
under Obama's planned "fast track" this treaty also could hardly be
discussed - in so
far as it could be read - and not at all amended, and both
measures are firmly anti-democratic (and indeed are kept
seems, because in actual fact they embody vast changes, nearly all of
which only favor the very rich).
Here is another view of the outcome:
2. House Rejects Obama's Corporate-Friendly
Trade Deal In Stunning Defeat
item is an article by Adam Johnson on Alternet. The subject is the same
as in the previous item, but this was written a bit later:
House of Representatives rejected the Trade Adjustment Assistance
provision of the TPP this afternoon - the first in a series of trade
bills - designed to lessen the blow of any potential (and very likely)
negative effects resulting from the broader Trans-Pacific Trade deal.
The reaction in Washington appears to be genuine surprise, mostly at
the number of Democrats who broke ranks and voted against party
leadership, including President Obama who had been lobbying fellow
Democrats for support for weeks.
There is also this:
Progressive Caucus is celebrating the vote as an unqualified victory,
writing in a fundraising email this afternoon "Corporate forces
try to bring "fast track" back -- but today's vote is one of the
biggest progressive victories in years. As we celebrate, let’s take a
second to remember how far we’ve come. Just a few months ago, this
corporate-backed trade agreement was a done deal. The fix was in. Most
Americans didn’t even know what TPP stood for, and the media was silent
on the issue. But that was before bold progressives fought back hard."
I do not think
this is "an unqualified
victory", because it is a
victory but it is not "unqualified",
for there will be another vote in the coming week. But the rest of the
quoted paragraph is true.
3.Podemos-Backed, Anti-Austerity Leftist
Becomes Madrid's New Mayor
item is an article posted by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
Manuela Carmena, a
71-year-old retired judge who ran on an anti-austerity,
anti-corruption, anti-eviction platform, is set to become the next
mayor of Spain's capital, Madrid, after her leftist Ahora Madrid protest party on Thursday agreed to
an alliance with the Socialist party.
toReuters, "The victory of her left-wing alliance in the
national capital is another blow to the [Popular Party] after its rout
in municipal and regional elections last month when austerity-weary
Spaniards abandoned the party in droves."
I say. And there also is a
leftist mayor of Barcelona now, also a woman.
The reason to list it here is mainly that I like this development, and
indeed I also am an opponent of Blairite and other propaganda
that socialism or leftism is dead: Both could be quite alive,
if only there would be considerably more honest and non-totalitarian
politicians, who also knew something about economics and the social
sciences themselves. 
4. Robert Scheer: Plundering Our Freedom
With Abandon (Part 2
item is an article that was posted by Jenna Berbeo on Truthdig:
To start with, the
previous item in this series I reviewed here.
And this is the video of the second part:
I'll be following this as
well, and start with this bit:
JAY: Yeah, so you’ve get
this problem of Silicon Valley is
making tremendous amounts of money cooperating with the government in
all this, and you’ve got this kind of libertarian thread, we’re told,
within their ideology and outlook.
SCHEER: Oh, that we’re
self-made people in all we do. And
there’s a contradiction, by the way. That’s what my book is all about,
this contradiction, that—first of all, let me—.
JAY: Let me just remind
everybody, this is—the book
Robert’s talking about is They Know Everything About You: How
Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are
SCHEER: Yeah. And let me
apologize. I’m usually the
interviewer, so maybe I’m playing that role also, interviewing myself.
But first of all let me say
I’m really not that interested in my own
history. And I’m very interested in where we are now. You know, yes,
I’ve done a lot of real, you know, I think, interesting, important,
blah blah blah blah blah. But I get kind of bored thinking about it.
And I’m now 79 years old, and maybe I should be sitting on some
retirement funny farm (..)
I am somewhat
interested in the contradiction between the libertarian ideology
("Freedom!", "No Government!") and the fact that the
libertarians-with-a- corporation make enormous amounts of money
by cooperating with the government, but then again this is more a
problem for them than for me,
because I am quite aware libertarianism is an ideology.
Second, I copied the information for Robert Scheer's latest book again,
and third, while it is true he is 79, he is also one of the most
youthful looking 79 years old people I know of.
Here is a personal detail I
didn't know, which must have made a considerable difference to
SCHEER: (..) And let me
explain, by the way. I love the internet. I love the new technology.
I’m not a Luddite. I have to say that. I run an internet publication.
I’ve done it for over nine years now, and we’ve won a lot of awards. I
love the technology. I’m an early adopter to everything.
For one thing, when growing
up, they didn’t use the language of learning disabilities or
differences or dyslexia or anything, but I had a pretty pronounced
case, and I had a hard time with cursive, I had a hard time with
spelling. And as a result I ended up studying engineering, because I
really had a hard time writing essays and so forth.
That is, Scheer is a dyslexic (<-
Wikipedia), and as he also explains his children have similar or worse
difficulties, even while they are, as he is, quite intelligent.
This is a
considerable handicap, which I know a bit better than most, because I
have had a good friend who was both very intelligent and very
dyslexic, who also studied engineering, indeed by a very circuitous
route because he simply couldn't write grammatically, and who also had
a daughter of whom precisely the same is true. And both of
their lives were considerably different from what they would have been
had they not been dyslexic. For one thing, neither went
to a university because they couldn't write, even though otherwise they
were easily intelligent enough to do so. (There really was no
difference between them
and other intelligent men and women I have known - except that they
write and had trouble reading. )
Indeed, there also is
talked to plenty of people with learning issues who are successful, and
we all agree this technology has been incredibly liberating. So I only
could become a writer because of computers.
JAY: Yeah, same with me.
I can’t spell.
I say. I don't have
these problems at all, and this may be one of the reasons why I was an
early adopter of computers (in 1980 a good friend bought an Apple II;
in 1987 I started with an Osborne computer, and have been computing
ever since) until ca. 2000, but since then I am not.
That is, I do have a decent recent desktop which is rather
fast, but I don't have a laptop; I don't have a cell phone; I don't
have a broad screen; I don't even have a working printer (mostly
because I hardly ever use a printer); and I rather do not have them
either, mostly because I don't need them, I am home nearly always, and
I never liked phones (also not in the 1960ies, when everything
was still analog). 
And as to cell phones, there is also this, which is quite correct, and
one of the reasons why I will never buy one:
downside is most people don’t ever go anywhere without the little
machine, and the little machine, even when you think it’s off, can be
controlled by the CIA and the NSA, the FBI, and be spying on your
entire family and intruding on your home in violation of the Fourth
Amendment, without a warrant, and can see where you ate and who you ate
with and correlate it with other data, and because of cheap storage
space and massive, powerful computers, can do biometric comparisons.
And so we have no privacy. And we can discuss that, ‘cause that’s what
my book is about, without privacy.
Next, there is rather a
lot about the Constitution which I skip, not because it isn't
interesting but because I know these ideas rather well. I agree the
Constitution was a great idea, but I will leave this to your interests.
In fact, I
will quote just one more thing:
SCHEER: So on the
left, what is healthy and good is an idea of an equal playing field, at
least, of equal opportunity, of public education, of helping people
when they’re down so they can get up again, of some social
responsibility. That’s why I’m on the left. I’m not a right-wing
libertarian. You know, and if I would — previously I’ve said I’m a
bleeding heart liberal, only liberals have sold out so much I worry
about that label. Yet people could attack people on the left and say,
wait a minute, it gives rise to totalitarianism. Look at those
governments around the world that claim to be socialist. They’re
I agree that is why I
also am on the left - in the end it is about power and ethics, and I do not
want the few to lord it over the many, while I think any somewhat
decent society is based on giving equal rights and a fair
living standard to all.
As to liberalism: I
am a liberal,
but the meaning of that term is vague. For me it has specifically to do
with having equal rights for all (although I agree we
all are different, also in capacities), and maintaining individual
liberties, including the right to express any idea. And I choose
the term "liberal" because it seems best - and in my case I mean
especially the thoughts of John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville.
(I don't care about how many disagree, and indeed my understanding
of the term is more philosophical than political. )
This also relates to totalitarianism:
I am a real anti-totalitarian, and never believed any country
in the Soviet block was "socialist" in any sense I could
subscribe to, after I had visited the GDR in 1964, and had been nearly
out of the country because of my radical opinions.
5.Fast-track Hands the Money
Monopoly to Private Banks — Permanently
item is an article by Ellen Brown
(<- Wikipedia) that I found on Washingtons Blog, but that originates
on Ellen Brown's The Web of Debt:
It is well enough that
the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary
system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before
— Attributed to Henry Ford
In March 2014, the Bank
of England let the cat out of the bag: money is just an IOU, and the
banks are rolling in it. So
wrote David Graeber in The Guardian the same month,
referring to a BOE paper called “Money
Creation in the Modern Economy.” The paper stated outright that
most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong. The
result, said Graeber, was to throw the entire theoretical basis for
austerity out of the window.
The revelation may have done
more than that. The entire basis for maintaining our private extractive
banking monopoly may have been thrown out the window. And that could
help explain the desperate rush to “fast track” not only the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the Trade in Services Agreement
(TiSA). TiSA would nip attempts to implement public banking and other
monetary reforms in the bud.
First, here is the
explanation why the fact that money is merely an IOU undermines the
whole argument for a "private
extractive banking monopoly" -
and note the stress here is on "private":
If money is just an IOU,
why are we delivering the exclusive power to create it to an unelected,
unaccountable, non-transparent private banking monopoly? Why are we
buying into the notion that the government is broke – that it must sell
off public assets and slash public services in order to pay off its
debts? The government could pay its debts in the same way private banks
pay them, simply with accounting entries on its books. What will happen
when a critical mass of the populace realizes that we’ve been vassals
of a parasitic banking system based on a fraud – that we the people
could be creating money as credit ourselves, through publicly-owned
banks that returned the profits to the people?
It is not hard to predict that the international bankers and related
big-money interests, anticipating this move, would counter with
legislation that locked the current system in place, so that there was
no way to return money and banking to the service of the people – even
if the current private model ended in disaster, as many pundits also
And that is precisely the
effect of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which was slipped
into the “fast track” legislation now before Congress. It is also the
effect of the bail-in policies currently being railroaded into law in
the Eurozone, and of the suspicious “war on cash” seen globally; but
those developments will be the subject of another article.
I note that the TiSA
is another secret treaty that was in part made public very
recently on Wikipedia. In fact, I got to know about it only on May 29, last. And here is a summary of
what this secret treaty (very much supported by Obama)
seeks to achieve, in secret, regardless of any
of the billions ordinary members of any of the countries
involved (for these treaties are secret, and remain secret
four or five years after their adoption (!)):
TiSA involves 51
countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil,
Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The deal would liberalize
global trade in services covering close to 80% of the US economy,
including financial services, healthcare, education, engineering,
telecommunications, and many more. It would restrict how governments
can manage their public laws, and it could dismantle and privatize
state-owned enterprises, turning those services over to the private
In a report from Public
Services International called “TISA
versus Public Services: The Trade in Services Agreement and the
Corporate Agenda,” Scott Sinclair and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood note
that the already formidable challenges to safeguarding public services
under GATS will be greatly exasperated by TiSA, which blocks the
emerging trend to return privatized services to the public sector.
Communities worldwide are reevaluating the privatization approach and
“re-municipalizing” these services, following negative experiences with
profit-driven models. These reversals typically occur at the municipal
level, but they can also occur at the national level.
I quite agree: I pay far
too much in premiums for health costs, water, electricity and gas, all
of which have been privatized in Holland, all of which have
managers who "earn" grossly obscene amounts of money, none
of which offers more than extremely minimal "services", that also are
chock-full of propaganda,
and all of which treat ordinary customers and ordinary
men as if they have no serious rights.
be sure, this doesn't dissolve all problems, but in actual fact few
people really know much about the real politics
and economics of
capitalism and socialism, and there are considerably more potentially
viable models of either
than most know. I am for individual liberties and decent
incomes for all, and as long as the system under which I
and really does put the promotion of individual liberties first, I care
less about whether it is regulated
capitalism or non-totalitarian socialism. (Also, in either
case, the basic problem is power: How to prevent
that a few get nearly all the power or nearly all the income.)
having read the dyslexia article: Both were quite good at mathematics,
and indeed better than most.
 I think I never liked phones because I found they interfere
a lot: I like to do the things I do in private, in my own pace, without
being interfered with, while a telephone is the perfect way to
interfere with whatever one is doing: The phone rings, and you have
to answer it (and generally you don't learn much).
 Indeed in ordinary Dutch
political terms I am not a "liberal", because the "liberal" party is in
fact the conservative party. But since I haven't seen anyone in Holland
I could vote for since 1971, which also is the last time I voted, and
only because until 1971 every adult Dutchman had to vote, I
don't much care.