Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog

July 25, 2015
Crisis: Ugly Germany, Beppe Grillo, Trumpifying, Medicare, Eric Holder
"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.
Is the Ugly German Back? Flames of Hate Haunt a Nation
2. Beppe: Nationalize Banks to Throw Off 'Anti-Democratic
     Straitjacket' of Eurozone

3. More 2016 Candidates Embrace the Donald Trump
     Zeitgeist ... Including Hillary Clinton

4. Happy Birthday Medicare
5.
Holder's Legacy: Mass Incarceration and Protection of
     Killer Cops, Part II



This is a Nederlog of Saturday July 25, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: item 1 is about an article on the great extent of German rightist and neo-nazi attacks on immigrants in Germany; item 2 is about an article about Beppe Grillo and his proposal to nationalize the Italian banks; item 3 is about an article that explains how Trump trumpified the American elections (even more); item 4 is about Robert Reich explaining why Medicare is the solution, not the problem; and item 5 is about an article that discusses the corrupt fraud Holder's legacy.

I also think this is one of the few days I recommend that you read all articles. (And whether you do or don't: They are all at least good.)

1. Is the Ugly German Back? Flames of Hate Haunt a Nation

The first article today is by Spiegel Staff on the site of Spiegel On Line:
This is from the beginning of the article:

Germany these days is a nation split in two. On the one side is a populace that is showing greater solidarity with refugees than ever seen before. Initiatives have been created across the country to assist asylum-seekers in their everyday lives.

The other half of the country is extremely difficult to tolerate in some places. Racist violence is on the rise. The German Interior Ministry registered 173 instances of criminal right-wing offenses against accommodations for asylum-seekers during the first six months of this year, almost three times as many as during the same period the previous year.


Map: Right-wing extremist attacks on hostels for asylum-seekers in 2014 and 2015.

Between January and June of 2015, racists attacked facilities providing accommodations for asylum-seekers on an almost daily basis. It's a grim statistic, but the real figures may be even higher, because many refugees are afraid to report incidents to police. "We have to assume that further crimes will be committed against accommodations for asylum-seekers," says Holger Münch, the president of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office.
I say. And I repeat:
Between January and June of 2015, racists attacked facilities providing accommodations for asylum-seekers on an almost daily basis.
And that is the lower estimate. There is also this:
German President Joachim Gauck recently condemned the attacks as "disgusting." German Justice Minister Heiko Maas of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), spoke of an "attack on our society." But while these two German leaders are clearly worried about social stability in the country, other politicians seem to be fueling the tensions. Horst Seehofer, who heads the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), swaggers on about "mass abuse of the asylum system."
This at least suggests the split is also between left (SPD) and right (CSU). And this in turn is followed by the question in the title of the article:
Some of the scenes evoke the pogroms against migrants that plagued Germany during the 1990s. It begs the question: Has the "ugly German" returned?
I thought for a moment that "migrants" were "Jews" and "1990s" were "1930ies", and the ""ugly Germans"" were "the Nazis" but no: it doesn't say so. Then again, there seem to be many neo-nazis involved, so there is considerable justice in thinking of the 1930ies.

Indeed, there is also this:

The racism is also frequently overt. A shaved-headed man from the Allgäu, in southern Germany, rants on Facebook: "Because the shitty pack of Jews and Muslim slobber are taking more and more away from us, it is we who have no future in our country. It's time to take up arms or whatever weapons you can get your hands on. Use them and defend yourselves. We need to annihilate the maggots!"

A man from Waldenburg in Saxony writes: "HEY YOU PARASITE ... I'll be in Freital next Sunday ... I'll get you, you deviant swine!!!! If the police won't act, I'LL act. I'll get you, you swine." And a woman argues: "According to the media, refugees are to be housed in Buchenwald ... all they have to do is turn the gas back on."

Many of them posted their hateful tirades openly onto the Web with their full names, says youth protection worker Schneider. "The whole thing has reached a kind of degree of normality."

Actually - and this is a semantical remark - both "Jews" and "Muslims" are not races but religions, though I understand it looks different to rightwingers, who in turn sound like Nazis (who also confused the two).

But this is a very good article, though it also is frightening. Recommended!

2. Beppe: Nationalize Banks to Throw Off 'Anti-Democratic Straitjacket' of Eurozone

The next article today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Longtime critic of the Eurozone's destructive commitment to austerity, Italian comedian-turned-political activist Beppe Grillo has launched what one news outlet called a "full-throated attack" on the single currency, saying his country should throw off that "anti-democratic straitjacket" by nationalizing its banks and taking a stronger stance against the demands of elite financial interests.

Grillo, who the Guardian says "transformed Italian politics when he launched his anti-establishment Five Star Movement in 2009," called for Italy to exit the Euro in order to guard against the threat of bankruptcy and German-imposed austerity.

In comments written at his blog, Grillo criticized Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras while comparing Germany's conduct during recent bailout negotiations to "explicit Nazism." He said that in the wake of the Greek crisis, Italy should be prepared to use its whopping debt as a weapon against foreign creditors.

I have paid attention to Beppe Grillo before (see: here), and part of the reason is that
As the Financial Times reports, the Five Star Movement "has been rising steadily in the polls since March" and currently enjoys the support of nearly 25 percent of Italian voters.
This is a good article, it seems to me, well worth reading.

Also, while I agree with Grillo on several things, I don't agree with him on Greece. And I will explain my reasons why a bit more starkly than before:

While I agree that the Syriza government probably didn't act very wisely in the period leading up to the deals, the choice they faced was a very ugly one between two great evils, and they chose the lesser one, among other things, because they are unwilling to give up the old - "sorry, no more pensions: you'll probably have to die"; the ill - "sorry, no more medicines like insulin and many others
: you'll probably have to die"; and the poor - "sorry, no more money: you'll probably have to die"; in order to satisfy the perceptions of the young, the healthy, and the middle class, quite a few of whom want a Grexit and a revolution. [1]

And besides: Greece is a small country, and nearly all revolutions I know of failed, at least in the sense that the ends of the original revolutionaries were definitely not realized, almost always, almost everywhere.

Finally, as long as the Greeks are in the euro, they may try to prepare a more orderly, careful, calculated and well-prepared exit, if that is the only possibility.


3.
More 2016 Candidates Embrace the Donald Trump Zeitgeist ... Including Hillary Clinton

The next article today is by David Sirota on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

Since announcing his 2016 White House bid, Donald Trump has been the central focus of the campaign—by one estimate, he has garnered almost 40 percent of all election coverage on the network newscasts. Clearly, The Donald’s attempt to turn 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. into Trump White House has attracted so much attention because the candidate is seen as a Bulworthesque carnival barker who will say anything, no matter how hypocritical, factually unsubstantiated or absurd.

Yet for all the hype he’s generated, Trump is not the only presidential hopeful willing to make utterly mind-boggling statements.

WATCH: VIDEO: Jon Stewart on Donald Trump: ‘America’s Id Is Running for President!’

The video is mildly funny and there is more in the article, and not only about Trump.

In any case, here are two statements that are at least credible: (1) On average - there also are great exceptions - the U.S. is dumb enough and Donald Trump is rich enough to enable the U.S. to elect him, and (2) Sirota also is right in saying Trump is not - by far - the only one who tries to become president with complete bullshit.

The article is well worth reading in full.

4. Happy Birthday Medicare

The next article today is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows

Medicare turns fifty next week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965 – the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever. 

Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems. That’s baloney. 

A few days ago Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”

Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs – leaving seniors with less coverage.

The fact is, Medicare isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the solution.

Robert Reich also says:
Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.
And he goes on to explain why Medicare is not the problem but the solution, and
he does that quite well.

Here I want to explain something else, that Robert Reich indeed does not say, but that I have heard quite a few times from American mouths, in several forms, but generally more or less thus:
"The Europeans Have A Free Health Care System!!!"
No, they have not. And I know because I am a European.

I do not know how it is regulated in other European countries, but I do know the Dutch system, and that was heavily Americanized, already well over ten years ago, rather closely following on the heels of the Euro, that made everything about twice as expensive. [2]

Briefly, here is how it was in the 1970ies and 1980ies, and how it is now.

Around 35 or 40 years ago I was a member of a health care insurance called "Care for the ill" ("Ziekenzorg") in Dutch, for which I paid then around 45 guilders a month, and that gave quite decent service, including dental care, and without me having to pay anything. No one needed to have a health care system, but almost everyone did, simply because it was affordable and quite decent. And most did not use much of it, simply because most people between 20 and 60 are healthy most of the time.

Then a little over ten years ago, the forces of "Freedom!
Freedom! Freedom!" struck, and in its wake the health care systems were destroyed and privatized; health care was declared a legal duty (i.e. you are a criminal if you are not insured); I now pay a premium of over 140 euros a month (which amounts to over 300 guilders), and I have to pay for my own sleeping pills and anything else up to 350 euros a year, and also I still get no help whatsoever for the disease I have 37 years, although most medics are quite willing to inform me (for 250 euros for 40 minutes) why they agree with the psychiatrists who declare everyone with my disease insane.

That is the present "European health care system" as I know it.

I suppose it is still better than the American system, but it is a lot closer to it than it was, and it still is getting closer. (Because of the
"Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" rant of its rich profiteers, to whom it gives the freedom - legally and all - to exploit anyone poorer than they are quite mercilessly.)

Finally: Who profited and who lost? The profiteers were: the privatized health care insurers (with managers earning well over half a million euros a year); the medical doctors, all of whom earn very well; and the drugs companies, whose profits are enormous. The losers are the patients, who must pay the bills (over six times as much) and who get significantly less service, which they also have to pay for, from their own pockets.

So no:
The Europeans do not have a free health care system, and in fact it all grew a lot more like the American system, though it is not - as yet - quite as bad. (With the TTIP it will: rest assured!)

5. Holder's Legacy: Mass Incarceration and Protection of Killer Cops, Part II

The final article today is by Marsha Coleman-Adebayo on Truth-out:

I have paid attention to Eric Holder's leaving the DoJ and starting to cash in before - see: here - for I think he is a prime example of a corrupt fraud, who also is one of the revolving doors incrowd that move in Washington between extre- mely well paying corporate jobs and extremely powerful governmental jobs.

This is another good article on Holder. It starts as follows:

The most well-known Washington, DC secret is out in the open. In the tradition of "eyes wide shut," former Attorney General Eric Holder has returned to his 900-attorney law-firm of Covington and Burling signifying that the rotating doors between the Department of Justice and corporate America are spinning quicker than a gyrating vortex.

Holder had served his corporate masters well during his stint as Attorney General: not a single indictment of a killer cop or Wall Street thief. After all, they, unlike the over one million Black men in federal prisons (the majority of whom are serving time for non-violent crimes), were "too big to jail." All of his hard work and sacrifice on behalf of corporate American now culminates in the big payback. When asked about Holder's compensation as a partner in the law firm, Timothy Hester, Covington's chairman, declined to comment.

In fact, as Marsha Coleman-Adebayo explains, while he earned $199,700 a year as an Attorney General, he earned already in 2008, in the same firm he now returns to, $ 2.1 milion (over 10 times as much, plus $ 2.9 million when leaving the firm to fill his position as Attorney General).

As she also explains:

Holder's reported net-worth is slightly under $11 million dollars. Not a bad retirement kitty for a civil servant cum corporate executive. But, one would be naïve to underestimate Holder's future earning power for corporate America. Firm leaders, see him as a rainmaker. "I hope that's part of the plan," Holder said, when asked whether he will expect to "generate revenue."

The problem is that none of this is illegal. In fact, it is the status quo.

There is considerably more in the article, that is quite good. Recommended!
--------------------------------------
Note

[1] "Disclosure" (as they say): I am old (I suppose, at 65, though I don't look it), and anyway ill and poor.

[2] It really did: I am earning about the same now in Euros in the dole as I did in the 1980ies on the dole in guilders - and indeed rents, energy, food and insurances all got at least twice as expensive as well, so that in fact I have been receiving less and less in terms of what I can buy. Europe is really rapidly being Americanized by its elite, simply because this is very profitable, for them: Everything the poor loose, the rich gain.


       home - index - summaries - mail