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Nederlog

July 23, 2015
Crisis: Greece *2, Bernie Sanders, Progressives, Arctic Drilling
  "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















Prev- crisis -Next

 Sections

            Introduction
1. Europe’s Stark Choice: Resignation or Revolution?
2.
Greek parliament approves next phase in bailout reforms
3. Bernie Sanders’ Moment Of Truth: These Are the Political
     Fights He Could Win Right Now

4. Why Progressives Must Stay United
5. Cries of Betrayal, Calls to Organize as Obama Approves
     Arctic Drilling


This is a Nederlog of Thursday July 23, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: item 1 is about an article by Don Quijones about Greece, that I thought too radical, but that I recommend reading; item 2 is also about Greece, on The Guardiand, and that is
a whole lot less radical (but correct in saying three quarters of the Greek parlia- mentarians supported the government); item 3 is about an article about Bernie
Sanders that I did not like much; item 4 is about Robert Reich, who is right in
principle (but unclear how this is going to be done); and item 5 is about Obama's
decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the arctic.

I must say that I wasn't much impressed by what I found today about the crisis
but then I did do the usual searches, and I can review only what I found.

Also, there is today an earlier Nederlog file that is quite long (over a 100 kb) that will probably interest few, since it is another in the series of my autobiographical files.

Incidentally, I don't mind the lack of interest in my autobiography, since it is written mostly in Dutch, and also is written for myself, in the first place: "The unexamined life is not worth living", as Socrates said, and that is what I've been doing: examining myself. (And there are a few who are interested.)

1. Europe’s Stark Choice: Resignation or Revolution?
The first article today is by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:
This starts as follows (bolding in the original):
In his latest televised interview former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis conceded that the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras “was faced with an incredibly hard choice when he went to the eurogroup summit: commit suicide or be executed, effectively.” Put another way, his choice was between resignation (i.e. suicide) or revolution (i.e. be executed). As I warned in Spring 2013, this is to all intents and purposes the only choice we have left in Europe.
Well... yes and no: I think the situation is bleak, but not quite as bleak as coming down to a choice between two extremes: resignation or revolution. (Personal note: I am ill since 1.I.1979, but my illness was never admitted by the Dutch authorities, indeed just as for the others with my disease; I have never made even a minimum income; I have been thrown out of the university briefly before taking my - brilliant - M.A. in philosophy; in the same year I have been - literally! - gassed, which again was denied for four years... and I am still alive, and poor, and ill, and protesting. And I did make a brilliant M.A. in psychology, but could never use that: it is not as if I couldn't have earned well if I had been healthy. This is relevant, for if I had chosen from extremes as are offered here to the Greeks, I would have been dead a long time.)

This continues:
Tsipras and Varoufakis thought they could reform Europe’s institutions. They were wrong: as is now clear even to them, the EU is beyond reform. The people of Greece voted for change but when their chosen envoy was given the choice between resignation or revolution, he chose resignation.
But I don't really think that "the people of Greece" really understood the situation (and that was also difficult). And again, the choice is not between resignation and revolution.

There is also this, that seems mostly correct to me:

For if there is one thing of which you can be sure about present-day Europe, it is that its political and economic systems are not meant to serve or protect the interests of the youth; on the contrary, they have been designed to gradually erode their last-remaining freedoms and rights and, by leaving them the tab for the transgressions and greed of the global banking sector, deprive them of all hope of ever attaining the standards of living once taken for granted by their parents or grandparents.
The last bit I will quote is a sum-up of conclusions of Don Quijones (without the intervening text: you can find that under the last dotted link):
1. In case you hadn’t noticed, we are already owned, lock, stock and smoking barrel, by the international cartel of too-big-to-fail banks.
2. Pretty much all our political representatives and institutions, whether at the national or EU level, have also been bought off by the same banks
3. Said banks are, to all intents and purposes, bankrupt, both financially and morally.
4. Democracy has absolutely no role, beyond a figurative one, in the European Union.
5. As the real economy (i.e. everything that is not the stock exchange) continues its descent into the abyss, businesses will continue to close down, jobs will continue to vanish at an alarming rate and taxes will continue to rise.
6. Most importantly of all, the global financial system’s days are already numbered.
I agree with some theses, not with others. For example, I think the solid democratic majority of Dutchmen and Germans still support their governments, indeed in part because they don't understand much about the situation they are in, and in part because the majority still have a decent income.

But this is an interesting piece by an informed writer, and I recommend you read all of it, even though for the moment there are not - not by far - sufficiently many people who want a revolution. (Also, this does not mean that "therefore"
all are "resigned".)

2. Greek parliament approves next phase in bailout reforms
The next article today is by Helena Smith and Graeme Warden on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Greece’s prime minister easily won a crucial vote on a third bailout programme for the debt-stricken nation early on Thursday, hours after the European Central Bank infused cash-starved Greek banks with further emergency liquidity.

A total of 230 MPs backed the economic reforms programme demanded by Greece’s creditors, while 63 voted against the plan at the late-night vote.

Alexis Tsipras again faced down rebels within his own party who oppose a third bailout. Thirty-six Syriza MPs either voted no or abstained, three fewer than at a similar vote last week.

Yanis Varoufakis, the high-profile former finance minister, supported the measures. Last week he had voted against the first set of bailout conditions, including VAT rises and pension cuts, after resigning his post. But in this case, Varoufakis said, the specific measures being voted on included reforms he had previously put forward himself.

The vote clears the way for Greece to begin formal talks with its lenders on a three-year package of loans that could be worth €86bn.

There is considerably more in the article, that is a lot less radical than the previous item.

3. Bernie Sanders’ Moment Of Truth: These Are the Political Fights He Could Win Right Now

The next article today is by David Dayen on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders explicitly wants to start a political revolution in America. Judging from the crowd of 11,000 supporters in Phoenix on Saturday night, that has already taken place. Within a short period, Sanders has become the most electrifying presence on the 2016 campaign trail, attracting bigger crowds than any presidential candidate of either party. He has the grassroots army that he says is the critical component to progressive change. Now the question becomes what he will do with it, immediately, before any primary vote is cast.

Really? I don't think Sanders should worry about minor practical points. He should worry about how to get his general message out, and has been doing this quite successfully so far, though he still is behind Clinton in votes and in money.

There is also this:

Among liberal millennials in their formative political years, Sanders offers truth-to-power rhetoric that speaks to the disappointments of the Obama years, on issues like Wall Street’s power, the takeover of government by the wealthy and the need for single-payer universal health care. Sanders’ path for sustaining real change is entirely based upon bottom-up organizing. “The key mistake of the Obama Administration,” Sanders said last year to Bloomberg, “was to more or less disband the grassroots network that he had put together to get elected.”
Actually, I think Sanders is too friendly about Obama: I don't think that "disbanding the grassroots network" was - from Obama's point of view -
"a mistake": He had used them to win the presidency by pretending to be
a progressive or a radical, which he never was, and therefore he was right - from his point of view - to disband the support as soon as he was elected.

There is more in the article, but I wasn't impressed by it.

4. Why Progressives Must Stay United

The next article today is by Robert Reich, on his site:
This starts as follows:

A new report finds more U.S. children living in poverty than before the Great Recession. According to the report, released Tuesday from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 22 percent of American children are living in poverty (as of 2013, the latest data available) compared with 18 percent in 2008.

Poverty rates are nearly double among African-Americans and American Indians. Problems are most severe in South and Southwest. Particularly troubling is a large increase in the share of children living in poor communities marked by poor schools and a lack of a safe place to play.

Which is a lot (between 1/5th and 1/4th of all children in the USA). But actually this is not the article's main point, which is this:

Black lives matter.

But it would be a terrible mistake for the progressive movement to split into a “Black lives matter” movement and an “economic justice” movement.

This would only play into the hands of the right.

For decades Republicans have exploited the economic frustrations of the white working and middle class to drive a wedge between races, channeling those frustrations into bigotry and resentment.

The Republican strategy has been to divide-and-conquer. They want to prevent the majority of Americans – poor, working class, and middle-class, blacks, Latinos, and whites – from uniting in common cause against the moneyed interests.

We must not let them.

I agree.

5. Cries of Betrayal, Calls to Organize as Obama Approves Arctic Drilling

The final article today is by
This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon gave the final go-ahead for Royal Dutch Shell PLC to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea near Alaska, flouting fierce public opposition to the extraction over the severe danger it poses to the ocean ecosystem, climate, and coastal communities.

"The president has made a big mistake allowing Shell back into the Arctic," declared Center for Biological Diversity Alaska director Rebecca Noblin in a press statement released Wednesday. "The risks of a devastating oil spill in this harsh environment are just too great, particularly for a company with such poor performance record. This is a reckless move by a country that is still struggling to reduce its impact on global warming."

The permits granted Wednesday mean that the oil giant can commence with drilling exploratory wells as soon as its vessels and equipment reach the sea. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced it has included some conditions, limiting Shell to "drilling only the top sections of wells and prohibit Shell from drilling into oil-bearing zones."

But campaigners say that the restrictions are weak, and the fact that Shell will now be permitted to drill in the Arctic constitutes a deep betrayal of Obama's own pledge to make tackling climate change one of his top three priorities during his second term.

I cannot say I am amazed, since I concluded in 2009 that Obama was not at all the progressive or the radical he pretended to be, and that he very often said one thing, and did the opposite thing. This is another illustration.

There is more in the article.

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