who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
| "All governments lie and
say should be believed."
tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Declares State of Emergency After Attacks
in Paris Leave at Least 128
2. The Second Democratic Debate: Foreign Policy,
Guns, Wall Street and Campaign
3. Robert Reich: The Big Struggle
Is the Financial Elite
vs. Everyone Else
4. Our terrorism double
5. The Age of Despair: Reaping
the Whirlwind of
Western Support for Extremist
This is a Nederlog
of Sunday, November 15, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a quite factual report on the events in
France from The Intercept; item 2 is a brief
exposition of the second Democratic presidential debate; item
3 is about an interesting article by Robert Reich, but I missed
several things, and especially deregulations and the fact that the best
way to attack "the financial elite" is to attack their propagandists
and their politicians; item 4 is about the double
standard that is used in the West about terrorism; and item
5 is about how "the West" (especially but not only "the USA") is
responsible for the violent deaths of a million of Iraqi's.
Also, I inform you that I have reformatted all Nederlogs from November:
They ought to be a bit neater than they were, especially - it seems -
Dutch site (which seems to have a different way of dealing with
Returns). And the index for 2015 also was
repaired, and should look decent again.
1. France Declares State of Emergency After
Attacks in Paris Leave at Least 128 Dead
The first item today is Murtaza
Hussain on The Intercept:
This starts as follows (minus
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE declared a national emergency Friday night after
a series of shootings, explosions, and a mass hostage taking left more
than 128 dead in Paris. “As I speak, terrorist attacks of an
unprecedented scale are taking place in the Paris region,” Hollande
said in a nationally televised address during the attacks. “This is a
terrible ordeal which once again assails us. We know where it comes
from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.”
No, Hollande did not
and does not "know
where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists
are", except that they are to be blamed on Isis (that confirmed
it did it).
And this is at least somewhat relevant, for all the spying that
plugs so much did not provide any data on "who these criminals are, who these terrorists
are" (though it may, after the
But OK. Here are, at long last, given how much there was published
about the attacks by very many journalists, on and off the spots, some
targets were hit by as many as eight attackers, including the
legendary Bataclan concert hall, a popular Cambodian restaurant
and the Stade de France football stadium, which was hosting a
friendly match between the German and French national teams.
Incidentally: this does not
clarify whether there were eight attackers in all, or whether some
target was "hit by as many
as eight attackers". Also,
I have read several different numbers for the number of those killed:
It seems the confirmed account is 128, which no doubt will rise.
And there is this:
In response to the
attacks, unprecedented in modern French history, President Hollande
ordered the closing of the country’s borders, and placed the city of
Paris under mandatory curfew for the first time since World War II.
The Second Democratic Debate: Foreign Policy, Guns, Wall Street and
Campaign Finance (Updated)
The second item today
is by Alexander Reed Kelly and Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as follows (and is on
a quite different subject, though the attacks in Paris were
mentioned during this debate, that happened the day after):
The three major
Democratic candidates found solid footing in the second half of
Saturday’s debate, with Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley challenging
Hillary Clinton over Wall Street, campaign finance and gun deaths in
the United States.
The exchange began with
the moderators asking Clinton to explain why voters should trust her to
govern the very banks that are funding her campaign for the presidency.
Without giving details, she responded that she’s “got a comprehensive,
tough plan” to regulate banks, and she asserted that her “proposal is
much more comprehensive than anything put forth” by the other
Hillary Clinton was lying
through her teeth: She is the Democratic candidate of the bankers,
is mostly financed by the bankers, and she has no plan "to regulate banks". Also, she is merely spinning fantasies.
Then there is this:
the role of the United States in the current Islamic State crisis: “I
don’t think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility.”
No, and president Bush
also is a mere illusion: Trust Hillary! She would never lie to
And finally (from considerably more) there is this:
prayers are with the people of France. But that is not enough. We need
to have a resolve that will bring the world together to root out the
kind of radical jihadist ideology that motivates organizations like
Clinton doesn't have
much faith in
prayer. (Neither do I, but then I also do not pretend I
do.) More seriously, she pretends to be completely blind to the fact
that it is the USA that shaped the conditions for the arisal of
Isis (and Al Qaeda, etc.) by their militarist policies, that also
destroyed at least a million of lives. (See item 4
and item 5.)
But OK... I have reviewed a debate between the US candidates
for presidential election.
The Big Struggle Is the Financial Elite vs. Everyone Else
The third item today
is by Robert Reich on AlterNet (and also on The Guardian):
This starts as follows:
explanation for why average working people in advanced nations such as
Britain and the United States have failed to gain much ground over the
past several decades and are under increasing economic stress is that
globalisation and technological change have made most people less
competitive. The tasks we used to perform can now be done more cheaply
by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.
I have two general remarks on
this. First - as Robert Reich will also explain - the standard
explanation is a pack of propaganda lies. And second, the
is not so much with "the financial elite" as it is with two of the
of people who deliberately work for them: the liars, cheats and
deceivers who run and man the propaganda / public
relations firms, and the
liars, cheats and deceivers who run politics,
left, right and center, these days.
Here are my explanations (briefly):
First, it is a complete and total lie that "globalisation and technological change have
made most people
less competitive". That "people"
are supposed to be "competitive" is a propaganda lie about most people,
while "globalisation and
technological change" did not
do or decide anything: The globalisation we see is the
direct consequence of the very many deregulations
- all of which were legal changes, supported by
elected politicians - that have taken place
systematically and on purpose since Reagan was elected
All of these legal changes had just one point: To help
make the rich a lot richer, which they did at the cost of the non-rich
(as nearly always, for that is the way of getting rich). A very
great lot would have been very different if the elected
politicians had made different choices. A few did, but most -
right and center - decided to serve the interests of the rich, it seems
because they paid well.
Second, while I agree that it are the needs and the values, and
especially the money, of "the financial elite" that motivates
both the lying propaganda firms (that these days provide nearly all
political lies and all the lies and deceptions of advertisements)
and the lying
politicians and their lobbyists, "the financial elite" is far
too hazy, too vague, and too unspecific to attack: They do pay their
propagandists and their politicians, but it is the propagandists
and politicians who are their willing tools, and it is these
that have to be attacked. 
Now back to Reich's text:
But the standard
explanation, as well as the standard debate, overlooks the increasing
concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite
that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.
Yes and no. Yes, the "corporate and financial elite" "has been able to influence the rules by which the economy
runs". But no, they did
that through their lying propaganda firms and through their
lying politicians, and it is these you have to
defeat if you want the "political power" of the elites to diminish.
The following is true but both are by-products - "collateral damages" -
of (especially) the corruption of most of the elected politicians in
The standard explanation
cannot account for why the compensation packages of the top executives
of big companies soared from an average of 20 times that of the typical
worker 40 years ago to almost 300 times in the United States.
Nor can the standard
explanation account for the decline in wages of recent university
This is much
In the United States,
financial laws and regulations instituted in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929 and
the resulting Great Depression have been abandoned – restrictions on
interstate banking, on the intermingling of investment and commercial
banking and on banks becoming publicly held corporations, for example –
thereby allowing the largest Wall Street banks to acquire unprecedented
influence over the economy. The growth of the financial sector, in
turn, spawned junk bond financing, hostile takeovers, private equity
and “activist” investing and the notion that corporations exist solely
to maximise shareholder value.
Yes indeed, this is all
true, though I am also missing the keyword: deregulation - for this was
the main tool and the main idea to make the rich richer
at the cost of
the poor, and it has been practiced for 35 years, continuously,
all governments also.
Here are - what I regard as
- two (major) side effects and the main outcome:
Bankruptcy in the
United States has not been extended to homeowners, who are burdened by
mortgage debt and owe more on their homes than the homes are worth, or
to graduates laden with student debt. Meanwhile, the largest banks and
vehicle manufacturers were bailed out in the downturn of 2008–09,
shifting the risks of economic failure on to the backs of average
working people and taxpayers.
The first two -
homeowners not bankruptable; enormous student debts - are (in my eyes)
side effects that were mostly achieved by (what I think is the main
reason) corruption of the elected politicians through their
The second was a major crime that was approved by most of the elected
Here is considerably
more, that could be and has been achieved through the help of
elected politicians during many years (whose main job it is to see
to it that good and fair laws are elected):
In America, contract laws
have been altered to require mandatory arbitration before private
judges selected by big corporations. Securities laws have been relaxed
to allow insider trading of confidential information. CEOs have used
stock buybacks to boost share prices when they cash in their own stock
options. Tax laws have created loopholes for the partners of hedge
funds and private equity funds, special favours for the oil and gas
industry, lower marginal income tax rates on the highest incomes and
reduced estate taxes on great wealth. All these instances represent
distributions upward – towards big corporations and financial firms and
their executives and major shareholders – and away from average working
Yes, indeed. And this was
the mechanism - though again I am missing the term deregulation:
Public policies that
emerged during the 1930s and the Second World War had placed most
economic risks squarely on large corporations. But in the wake of the
junk bond and takeover mania of the 1980s, economic risks were shifted
to workers. Corporate executives did whatever they could to reduce
payrolls: outsource abroad, install labour-replacing technologies and
use part-time and contract workers.
Here is one major
difference this led to:
While the Walton's are
billionaires: the two facts - the very few mega-rich
the very many very poorly paid workers - are as intimately
effect and cause.
Fifty years ago, when
General Motors was the largest employer in America, the typical GM
worker earned $35 an hour in today’s dollars. By 2014, America’s
largest employer was Walmart and the typical entry-level Walmart worker
earned about $9 an hour.
Finally, here is Robert Reich's sum-up:
Those whose income
derives directly or indirectly from profits – corporate executives,
Wall Street traders and shareholders – have done exceedingly well.
Those dependent primarily on wages have not.
I agree, but both were
effects from conscious policies, and what I have missed in this
fairly decent sketch are the lying propaganda firms who tricked
so very many, the lying and corrupt politicians, who consented
to so very much, and the main tool by which this was realized: the
many legal changes that were deregulations,
that again were very much lied about by the propaganda firms
and the politicians.
4. Our terrorism double standard
The fourth item today
is by Ben Norton on Salon:
This is from near the beginning:
Well...yes and no: Yes,
there is an enormous amount of hypocrisy "in the public reaction to the tragedy" but no, much
of the public will not understand this, and also no: these
"attacks" will (very probably) continue.
On Friday the 13th of
November, militants massacred at least 127 people in Paris in a series
of heinous attacks.
There are many layers of
hypocrisy in the public reaction
to the tragedy that must be
in order to understand the larger context in which these horrific
attacks are situated — and, ultimately, to prevent such attacks from
happening in the future.
I am saying it as I see it, and have removed several other selections
on which I could make the same comment. But I retain two quotations.
The first is this, and is completely justified:
where were the heads of state when the Western-backed, Saudi-led
coalition bombed a
Yemeni wedding on September 28, killing 131 civilians, including 80
women? That massacre didn’t go viral, and Obama and Hollande did not
apologize, yet alone barely even acknowledge the tragedy.
Actually, the answers to
the last two questions seem to be: "Yes", and "We don't know what you
are talking about". For I am pretty certain that all nations contain a
large segment that is nationalistic (as many Americans are
"Ex-Cep-Tio-Nal", which is also embraced by president Obama), and they
will care more for their fellow nationals than for others, and also
most Westerners did not get
anything or else got very little about the bombing of the Yemeni
wedding in their media.
Do French lives matter
more than Lebanese, Turkish, Kurdish, and Yemeni ones? Were these not,
too, “heinous, evil, vile acts”?
The following list of points also seems to me wholly correct (to the
best of my knowledge):
The Age of Despair: Reaping the Whirlwind of Western Support for
particularly the U.S., are directly responsible for the violence and destruction
in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen, from which millions of refugees
- The illegal U.S.-led invasion of Iraq led to the
deaths of at least one million people, destabilized the entire region,
and created extreme conditions in which militant groups like al-Qaeda
spread like wildfire, eventually leading to the emergence of ISIS.
- In Afghanistan, the ongoing U.S.-led war and occupation — which the Obama
administration just prolonged for a second time — has led to
approximately a quarter of a million deaths and has displaced millions
- The disastrous U.S.-led NATO intervention in Libya
destroyed the government, turning the country into a hotbed for
extremism and allowing militant groups like ISIS to spread west into
North Africa. Thousands of Libyans have been killed, and hundreds of
thousands made refugees.
- In Yemen, the U.S. and other Western nations are
arming and backing the Saudi-led coalition that is raining down bombs,
including banned cluster munitions, on civilian areas, pulverizing the
poorest country in the Middle East. And, once again — the story should
now be familiar — thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands
have been displaced.
The last item today is
by Chris Floyd on Counterpunch:
This starts as follows (and I
select only two pieces):
We, the West,
overthrew Saddam by violence. We overthrew Gaddafi by violence. We are
trying to overthrow Assad by violence. Harsh regimes all — but far less
draconian than our Saudi allies, and other tyrannies around the world.
What has been the result of these interventions? A hell on earth, one
that grows wider and more virulent year after year.
Well... no, I am
a Westerner, but I did not overthrow Saddam or Gaddafi nor am I
trying to overthrow Assad. In fact, the same holds for the vast
majority of Westerners, indeed regardless of their political or
moral feelings: Very few Westerrners have anything to
say about the decicisions "their" (elected) politicians and "their" (non-elected) generals make.
American crime of aggressive war against Iraq — which, by the
measurements used by Western governments themselves, left more than a
million innocent people dead — there would be no ISIS, no “Al Qaeda in
Iraq.” Without the Saudi and Western funding and arming of an amalgam
of extremist Sunni groups across the Middle East, used as proxies to
strike at Iran and its allies, there would be no ISIS. Let’s go back
further. Without the direct, extensive and deliberate creation by the
United States and its Saudi ally of a world-wide movement of armed
Sunni extremists during the Carter and Reagan administrations, there
would have been no “War on Terror” — and no terrorist attacks in Paris
This is better - to put
it in the style of the article: "We, the West" killed more than a
million people (about 10,000 times as many as were killed
in Paris), and did so merely in Iraq.
I don't think the style is right, but military from "the West" have
killed an enormous amount of people in Iraq, and indeed it
seems very probable that there would be no Isis without Bush
Jr.'s war in Iraq.
About the other causal explanations I am a bit more skeptical, but this
is in part because my lack of sufficient knowledge about the Saudis,
and in part because I think there are other causes for the "War on
Terror" than just Carter's
and Reagan's policies.
Because they are the army that is paid and commanded by the
rich. You have to defeat the army to defeat the rich, and
besides most of the rich are too nebulous, circumspect and indirect to
have a good chance to attack them.