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."
imports slump 20% amid falling commodity prices
and weak demand
2. Five Great American
3. Just 158 Families Provided
Nearly Half the Financing for
Early Efforts for the White
4. Who's the Most Effective
Candidate to Take on the
Increasingly Insane GOP?
Crazies and the Con Man
This is a Nederlog
of Tuesday, October 13, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about the Chinese economy (that seems fairly deeply in the dumps); item 2 is about various American hypocrisies (I agree,
broadly speaking, but would have selected
several others); item 3 is about the state of
American democracy, where 158 families provide most of the money of the
Republicans (also thanks to the Supreme Court's insane decision that
money = votes); item 4 is about the Democrats'
candidates; and item 5 is about how crazy (insane,
trifling) the Republican presidential candidates are (in Krugman's and
slump 20% amid falling commodity prices and weak demand
item today is an article by Reuters on The Guardian:
This starts as
follows (and is here because China is very important economically):
China’s imports fell
heavily in September, official figures said, keeping pressure on
policymakers to do more to stave off a sharper economic slowdown.
Although exports fell
less than expected by 3.7% from the same period last year, the value of
imports tumbled more than 20% to register the 11th straight month of
Imports plunged 20.4% in
September from a year earlier to $145.2bn, customs officials said, due
to weak commodity prices and soft domestic demand.
These factors will
complicate Beijing’s efforts to stave off deflation, one of the
headwinds threatening the world’s second biggest economy.
Yes, indeed - and while I
do not know how "weak commodity prices" (on imports) might be relevant,
"soft domestic demand" surely is (and I wish less euphemistic
terms were used).
weakness in demand at home and abroad, China’s combined exports and
imports fell 8.1% in the first nine months of the year from the same
period in 2014, well below the full-year official target of 6% growth.
“In general, there are no
green shoots in this set of data,” said Zhou Hao, senior economist at
Commerzbank in Singapore. “The growth of [trade] volume still remains
In fact, the difference
between aim and outcome is over 14% (around 1/7th).
This means that the Chinese
economic growth is less than it was since 1990.
China is widely expected
to post its slowest economic growth in a quarter of a
century this year as activity is weighed down by weak demand,
entrenched factory overcapacity, high debt levels and cooling
That is denting any
remaining hopes that a recovery in China’s domestic demand might offset
Five Great American Hypocrisies
article today is by Paul Buchheit on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
“exceptionalism” exists in the minds of super-patriots who are more
than willing to overlook their own faults as they place themselves
above other people. The only question may be which of their
self-serving hypocrisies is most outrageous and destructive.
I agree, although I
should remark that - it seems to me - the majority in any
country is fairly patriotic or nationalistic (there is a considerable
Orwell's "Notes on Nationalism" in his Collected Essays), and thinks
itself somehow better than other countries. Then again, I do
agree American nationalism (the right term) is quite extreme and quite
And I like this article and will consider each of the hypocrisies
(briefly). There is in any case more than I quote, and the full article
is interesting and available under the last link.
First, there is this:
This means simply that
the majority of tge Fortune 500 companies (75% according to earlier
reports) is deeply criminal: They stole at least $600
Hoarding $2 Trillion in Profits, Asking Taxpayers to Pay Their
Citizens for Tax Justice
just reported that Fortune 500 companies are holding over $2.1 trillion
in accumulated profits offshore for tax purposes, with estimated taxes
due of over $600 billion.
billion in taxes (and since they are in the Fortune 500, it is not as
couldn't miss this).
Next, there is this:
American Lives, But Not Foreign Lives
Well... I don't like this, and
Americans are quite nationalistic. I don't like that either but I know most
nations have majorities of inhabitants who are patriotic or
Two days after President
Obama expressed grief and anger about the Oregon school shootings, a
hospital in Afghanistan was bombed by the U.S., killing 22 people. Our
government admitted its mistake. But we haven’t apologized for funding
Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen, which are killing hundreds of
civilians. Or for our drone strikes in Pakistan, which led one
13-year-old to say, “I no longer love blue skies…The drones do not fly
when the skies are gray.”
3. Caring About Unborn
Children, But Not Living Children
The anti-abortion element
keeps attacking Planned Parenthood, even though the long-successful and
essential organization saves women’s lives through breast cancer
screenings, and reduces abortions by providing contraceptive services.
I agree, but I also know
the majority of the Americans are Christians, none too bright, and
have been exposed to enormous amounts of various kinds of propaganda.
Next, there is this:
Self-Reliance of People Who Can’t Find a Living-Wage Job
The Koch-funded Heritage
Foundation proclaimed, “Helping the poor should mean promoting
individual freedom through self-reliance..” The Cato Institute added,
“SNAP helps breed dependency and undermines the work ethic.”
Here are the facts:
Nearly two-thirds of all working-age poor are actually working, but
unable to earn a living wage, forcing them to rely on food stamps,
which only provide about $5 a day per person for meals. In addition,
over 83 percent of all benefits going to low-income people are for the
elderly, the disabled, or working households.
What the Heritage
Foundation should have said is: "Let poor people die without
any help, for that will increase the profits of the rich", and it seems
to me that
is the real message, although indeed it is the type of message
only sadists give -
which is the reason for the euphemisms on the beauties of "self-help"
people just can't do from the very little money they earn.
The second paragraph
is quite correct, but I do understand that according to the
Koch brothers I - who am elderly and disabled since age 28 - should
have died a long time ago, and never should have had any
dole money, for that should have been given to the Kochs (I presume, or
to some mega-rich Dutchman).
Finally, there is
5. Turning Away People
Who Were Displaced by Our “Free Trade” Pacts
Many Americans have
sympathized with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant sentiments, despite his
cruel assessment of Mexican people: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re
bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
I agree, but I also
reflect that it simply is true that the majority of Americans
are unintelligent and uneducated. I am very sorry for both, but these
are the facts,
and coupled with American nationalists, and fueled by a populist fool
this is what you may expect, gross as it is for the intelligent
and the educated.
There also is this:
Banks get bailouts, but
homeowners and students can’t declare bankruptcy. Drug companies
increase prices by 5,000%, but Medicare is not allowed to negotiate for
lower drug prices. Charter schools are public when the money is being
passed out, but private when we want to look at their books.
The list goes on and on.
I agree, and at least
the first two facts are - in my eyes - more serious than some
of the five selected, but this is an interesting article.
Also, it turns out
that I am angriest about the vast income inequalities, and less angry -
though pretty sickened - by hypocrisies that are due to low
intelligence or little education.
Just 158 Families Provided Nearly Half the Financing for Early Efforts
for the White House
next article today is
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
I say. There are supposed to
be 321,605,012 Americans in
2015, while 158 : 321,605,012 =
0.000000491. If we take the inverse of this, which is 2,035,475 this
may be taken as a rough measure of the power of the very
wealthy compared to the rest: Over 2 million times as powerful.
Long live American democracy! Long live the present Supreme Court of
An overwhelmingly older,
white and male group of Americans who made fortunes in finance and
energy and represent just 158 families gave $176 million—almost half of
all the money raised so far—to mostly Republican presidential
candidates in the early months of the race.
“Not since before
Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early
money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the
Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago,” writes The
New York Times, whose investigation revealed the numbers.
As to the political orientation of these 158 families, there is this
from the NYT:
But regardless of
industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics
overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to
support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut
taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink
entitlements. While such measures would help protect their own wealth,
the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest
means of promoting economic growth and preserving a system that would
allow others to prosper, too.
As indeed seems natural
to me, for greedy and egoistic billionaires. Then again,
I have this observation on the honesty and informedness of these "donor
families": The chances that they are speaking honestly is about
1:2,035,475 - a 200
millionth part of 1. (Were it otherwise, they would pay more taxes, and
willing to pay more taxes.)
There is also this in the NYT:
their financial resources chiefly behind Republican candidates, the
donors are also serving as a kind of financial check on demographic
forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the
Democratic Party and its economic policies. Two-thirds of Americans
support higher taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year,
according to a June New York Times/CBS News poll, while six in 10 favor
more government intervention to reduce the gap between the rich and the
poor. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven in 10 favor
preserving Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.
Which means that the
"financial resources" of these 158 families will go into many advertisements
that are full of lies,
try to prevent that the majority opinions gets translated into
a majority of votes.
The only good thing I can say about that is that the presidential
the GOP seem quite unlikely to win the presidential elections.
Who's the Most Effective Candidate to Take on the Increasingly Insane
next article today is
by Robert Kuttner on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Democratic debate is a very big deal, especially for front-runner
Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders will probably exceed expectations
because many viewers will be seeing him for the first time, certainly
for the first time against Clinton. The other three candidates will
likely find themselves far back -- this is narrowing to a two person
This is fairly
important, and I agree with the beginning: it seems mostly between
Clinton and Sanders.
As to Clinton:
In the past few
weeks, Clinton has made several dramatic moves in Sanders' direction.
She has broken with the Administration on the Trans Pacific Partnership
trade deal, on the Keystone Pipeline and on the so-called Cadillac Tax
on high quality health plans (she is for repeal; the White House is
not). She is out-flanking Sanders to the left on gun control, and she
is at least as comfortable talking about race.
Those who have read
considerably more of the over 1000 files
I wrote about the crisis know that I don't believe Clinton even if she
were honest. That is, I think she will say whatever increases
her chances of being elected, quite independently from what she really
In fact that seems a fairly common position by now:
The question is
whether viewers and pundits will credit her for this movement, or just
discount it as mere posturing.
It is posturing, I am
sure, though I am willing to agree that, while Sanders is much better
and much more credible than Clinton, Clinton is much better than
In both parties,
the disgust with a political system that seems paralyzed and with an
economy of, by, and for the one percent, leaves radicalism far more
attractive the usual.
I'd say that the
radicals (whatever that means) are quite right: The political system is
paralyzed, and the economy does work only for the rich.
Finally, there is this, which I quote because I like it (and think it
On the other hand,
one has to recall a famous incident attributed to Adlai Stevenson in
the 1952 campaign, in which a gushing supporter told him, "Governor,
you will have the support of every thinking person." To which he
replied, "Madame, that's not enough, we need a majority."
I quite agree, though I also deplore it.
5. The Crazies and the Con Man
The final article today is
by Paul Krugman on the New York Times:
This starts as follows,
and is about the GOP:
I am quite willing to accept
Paul Krugman's assessment of Mr. Ryan. Much more importantly, there is
How will the
chaos that the crazies, I mean the Freedom Caucus, have wrought in the
House get resolved? I have no idea. But as this column went to press,
practically the whole Republican establishment was pleading with Paul
Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, to become speaker.
He is, everyone says, the only man who can save the day.
What makes Mr. Ryan so
special? The answer, basically, is that he’s the best con man they’ve
To understand Mr.
Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two
things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise,
which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and
the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward
Yes, indeed: "[T]he modern Republican Party is a post-policy
enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems". That certainly
is true of what they propose to the public, which is also why I never
watch Republican public debaters anymore: I get only obvious bullshit.
As to Paul Ryan:
He is to fiscal
policy what Carly Fiorina was to corporate management: brilliant at
self-promotion, hopeless at actually doing the job. But his act has
been good enough for media work.
Again I am willing to
accept Krugman's judgement, but the following is considerably more
His position within the
party, in turn, rests mainly on this outside perception. Mr. Ryan is
certainly a hard-line, Ayn Rand-loving and progressive-tax-hating
conservative, but no more so than many of his colleagues.
however, the Ryan phenomenon tells us a lot about what’s really
happening in American politics. In brief, crazies have taken over the
Republican Party, but the media don’t want to recognize this reality.
The combination of these two facts has created an opportunity, indeed a
need, for political con men.
I have to admit - as a
psychologist - that persons like Trump and Carson do not strike me as
quite sane, but then again I personally don't know and never met or
spoke with any Republican candidate, while it seems pretty obvious to
me all are
lying about many things.
Therefore, while I don't know about their sanity, I do know
about their honesty: All you can select from the Republican
candidates is which type of bullshit
pleases you most.
And no, that is different from what it used to be. I never
was much in sympathy with the Republicans, but Eisenhower
(<- Wikipedia) was a competent president and a fine general, and
although I disagree with his policies, he clearly was a sane
and intelligent man - which are indeed judgements that I find hard to
make about any present-day Republican presidential candidate.