This is a Nederlog
of Sunday, December 20, 2015.
is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item
1 is about close parallels between the Patriot Act and the CISA; item 2 is about mistakes that Obama made (I think the
article is OK, but I understand Obama as a quite successful careerist
fraud); item 3 is by Moyers & Winship, and
shows how the very bad news the main media bring in the US also pays
the main media a lot; and item 4 is about myths and
mysteries about the Federal Reserve Bank, that are ably discussed in
Actually, all four articles I reviewed are recommended (which doesn't happen often).
1. Hasty, Fearful Passage of Cybersecurity Bill Recalls
first item is
by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Yes, I agree, and mostly for three reasons:
(i) "the USA Patriot Act" also was hardly read by Congress; (ii) it
seems likely to me (not: certain) that it was in part produced before
9/11; (iii) it was grossly illegal and in contradiction with
the Fourth Amendment. 
Precisely the same holds for this "law" (and I am
sorry, but a "law" that clearly and grossly contradicts the Fourth
Amendment  is at best a "law" and can never
be a real law).
Congress easily passed
a thinly disguised surveillance provision—the final version of the
Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA— on Friday, shoehorned
into a must-pass budget bill to prevent a government shutdown before
Born of a climate of fear combined with
a sense of urgency, the bill claims to do one thing—help companies
share information with the government to heed off cyber attacks—and
does entirely another—increases the U.S. government’s spying powers
while letting companies with poor cyber hygiene off the hook. It’s
likely to spawn unintended consequences.
Some critics felt its passage was in
some ways eerily similar to when the USA Patriot Act, one of the most
expansive surveillance bills in recent U.S. history, was made into law
shortly after September 11, 2001.
Here is more of the article:
In both cases, Congress had little time
to even read the bills, making it inevitable that many would vote
without being fully informed. And the result is the same—increased
power and less accountability for the intelligence community.
“CISA is the new PATRIOT Act. It’s a
bill that was born out of a climate of fear and passed quickly and
quietly using a broken and nontransparent process,” wrote Evan Greer,
campaign director for Fight For the Future, a digital rights group, in
an email to The Intercept.
Yes, although there is a rather large
difference with the Patriot Act:
That was agreed to - unconstitutionally,
as I pointed out - quite briefly after a major terrorist attack that
took nearly 3000 lives; this CISA, which mostly repeats and strengthens
the - illegal - Patriot Act was introduced after 14 years of little
Here is some more about the extremely
underhanded, dishonest and secretive way in which this - illegal - CISA
was pushed through Congress:
“We’re all feeling a collective sense of
deja vu because we’ve seen this before,” wrote Nathan White, senior
legislative manager at digital rights group Access Now in an email to The
Intercept. “This is like a bad sequel where we all know the
ending, but shouting at the characters doesn’t change anything.”
“Just like the USA PATRIOT Act, CISA was
a collection of old ideas that Congress had repeatedly rejected. And
just like the PATRIOT Act, they re-wrote the final bill in secret and
snuck it through Congress before most people could even read it,” he
continued. “And just like the PATRIOT Act, the bill will be used for
far more than what Members of Congress think that they are authorizing.”
Yes, indeed, although I suspect myself,
now that members of Congress have had 14 years in which they
could reflect on the - illegal - Patriot Act, that most members
of Congress are for
spying on every American, and not because they expect many results in
dealing with terrorists (there were none or hardly any all these
fourteen years), but because they like more powers for the
government, to which they belong.
There is also this, to end my review of
this article, that is good and recommended:
Other privacy advocates noted that the
cybersecurity bill took a stealthier path to passage than the Patriot
Act. “The Patriot Act was billed as something exceptional and
game-changing. CISA disguised itself,” wrote Jeff Landale, executive
assistant for X-Lab, in a tweet to The Intercept. CISA is
“more technically complicated in how it expands the surveillance
state,” he wrote. “The main difference politically is that too many in
Congress just didn’t see CISA as a big deal.”
Yes, I think that is correct - and the "many in Congress [who] just didn’t see CISA as a big deal" betrayed their electorate: It is a big
deal; it makes a fundamental difference in humanity between the NSA
and the 300+ milion constantly secretly surveilled American citizens;
and it is a straight and conscious betrayal of the Fourth Amendment,
also for completely invalid reasons.
This is a further and considerable step
towards an authoritarian American state.
2. The Two Big Political Mistakes of Obama's Presidency
The second item is by
David Morris on AlterNet:
This is a long article
on some of the failings of Obama. I think it is too friendly towards
him, but it is fairly critical.
This is from near the beginning:
When Barack Obama took office,
Democrats controlled the White House, both houses of Congress and had
outright control — both houses of the state legislature and the
governorship of 27 states. Republicans controlled just 17. In 2010, the
Democrats lost the House and the number of Democrat-to-Republican
controlled states almost exactly reversed. In 2014, Republicans won the
Senate. The score regarding state control now stands at an astonishing
32-to-7 in favor of Republicans.
Yes, indeed - and while part of the setbacks
of the Democrats may be plausibly explained by racism, I think another
part is plausibly explained by the fact that many voters for Obama felt
betrayed by him, in which they also were right, in my
opinion: Obama never was "a progressive" or "a liberal" - he
was a very successful careerist,
first and foremost, and rather a lot like Bill Clinton.
Here is what Obama might have done (as he strongly hinted he
would do when he was elected, but did not):
Here is what he did, given these
tremendous chances for "Change!", "Change!", "Change!":
But Obama might well have
stunted the emergence of the right-wing populist movement, had he
pursued an aggressive populist strategy of his own — one that
demonstrated government could effectively challenge giant corporations
and unbridled private greed on behalf of small businesses and the
Obama certainly had the opportunity. The
economy was in freefall. Millions faced the prospect of losing their
homes. Millions more were losing their jobs. After freeing itself of
most government restrictions and oversight, the financial sector had
become dysfunctional. Even stalwart defenders of laissez-faire
capitalism were confessing the error of their deregulatory ways.
To his credit, Obama did try
to make systemic changes in both the financial and health care sector.
To his everlasting discredit, he tried to make these changes without
actually structurally changing the system. Instead of confronting
power, he bribed the powerful: $700 billion and trillions in low-cost
money for the banks, $500 billion for the health insurance companies.
He enlisted the support of giant pharmaceutical companies, among the
most profitable of all manufacturing firms, by refusing to cap drug
prices. He enlisted the support of giant insurance companies by
embracing the individual mandate he had opposed during the campaign,
thus guaranteeing the companies millions of new mostly healthy younger
customers, whose premiums would be heavily subsidized by the government.
At one point Obama met with the CEOs of
the nation’s 13 largest banks. He accurately warned
them, “My administration is the only thing between you and the
pitchforks.” But rather than make demands, he pleaded with the bankers:
“Help me help you.” They were only too glad to do so.
In brief: Barack Obama totally sold
out to the rich, to the (rich) bankers, to the rich insurance
companies, and to the pharmaceutical companies. What he was elected for
was "Change!", "Change!"; what he delivered was
"No Change!", "No Change!", and More Money To The Rich.
Not everything was Obama's fault, for
Clinton also did very much for the rich and for the bankers, as
did Bush Jr:
Incidentally, I find two times "recklessly" a
bit too much and rather incredible:
In 1999, Congress recklessly
repealed the Glass-Steagall Act that for 50 years had stopped Wall
Street from speculating with government guaranteed deposits. A
year later, Congress recklessly deregulated the derivatives market. The
next year the new federal bankruptcy act gave derivatives priority for
payment. In 2004, the SEC recklessly waived the rules that limited
lenders to a maximum debt-to-net-capital ratio of 12-to-1 for five
giant Wall Street firms — Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman
Brothers, Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley. They promptly ratcheted up
ratios to 30- and even 40-to-1.
Since all Congressmen talk a lot with many lobbyists, I doubt they did not
know what they were doing, which was deregulating
away all possibility for a rational control of the
American economy, simply by giving up the laws that enabled the control.
Clearly, most knew this, or so I'd say.
Tĥere is also this on "Obamacare", that in fact was Romney's plan, and
on the incredibly strenghtened position of the banks:
One result is that today, if you
do a Google search with the term “insurance horror stories” you’ll get
over 1 million hits. But now, many if not most are horror stories about
Obamacare. Another result is that economic power has become even more
concentrated as the number of community banks shrinks while the assets
of the 5 biggest banks
are almost 40 percent larger than they were before the crisis. These
banks now control
over 44 percent of the nation’s banking assets and 39 percent of the
nation’s GDP. In the health sector, insurance companies, hospitals,
drug companies and doctor organizations have engaged in a frenzy of
mergers and acquisitions.
Overall, Obama was - in my opinion -
simply a careerist
fraud, who also was quite successful as a careerist fraud: The
bankmanagers are happy; the rich are happy; concentration of riches
went on and on; taxes on the rich went down and down; and he
can make a lot of money making speeches after he stopped being
I don't think the writer of this article is as severe as I am, but this
is an interesting and recommended article.
3. Bill Moyers: Bad News for Democracy Is Great News for TV
third item is by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on The Smirking Chimp:
This starts as follows:
Television news has gone off its
rocker and turned our politics into the equivalent of a freak show's
hall of mirrors.
The networks have grasped Donald Trump
to their collective bosom like the winner of one of those misogynistic,
televised beauty pageants he owns. Each pronouncement from the Sultan
of Slur is treated as epic, no matter how deeply insulting, bigoted or
just plain ridiculous.
You may have seen by now that recent
Tyndall Report analysis of the nightly news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC.
It found that from January 1 through November, the big three had
devoted 234 minutes of reporting to Donald Trump but only ten to Bernie
Sanders. At ABC,World News Tonight had given the Trump
campaign 81 minutes of coverage while Bernie Sanders has received less
than a minute. A minute!
I think Moyers and Winship are quite right
about the American networks. Also, they give the background for my
claims that the news on Trump : the news on Sanders as either 23 : 1 or
81 : 1.
There is also this:
Our friend and colleague John
Nichols at The Nation magazine says that it's
useless to try to get the networks to dial it back; every Trump bellow
leaves them begging for more. Rather, he writes, "When a candidate is
playing to the worst fears of Americans, what's needed is more serious
and intensive coverage that puts things in perspective... The point is
to recognize that there are other candidates who are getting as much
support as Trump, that are exciting crowds and gaining significant
support, and that are advancing dramatically different responses to the
challenges facing America. That's not happening now."
The reason it is not happening can only be
that those who run the media in the USA do not want this to
happen, either because they earn very well on the moment (which is
true) or because they do not want to give the viewers and
readers proper and honest news (which I think is also true, in most
There is also this, which shows that the television stations and the
networks do have political influence themselves:
And the reason is (mostly, it seems) the
money they make as it is now. Is it legal? It seems not:
And let's not forget the ferocity
with which television stations and networks have been fighting against
campaign finance reform, fearing the death -- or at least hobbling --
of the golden goose. At The Intercept earlier this
year, Lee Fang wrote, "For nearly two decades, the National Association
of Broadcasters, a lobby group for media corporations, has fought
bipartisan efforts to provide free airtime to candidates, a reform
advocates say would reduce the moneyed barriers to political entry for
candidates... In more recent years, media companies have attempted to
obstruct FCC rules promulgated during the Obama administration to
digitize mandatory forms revealing information about political ad buys.
Even that minor reform was too much."
But it simply goes on and on, in part at
least because corruption implies money for the corrupted.
"It's unlawful," writes former
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, now special adviser to Common Cause's
Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. "There are laws and rules on the
books that mandate identification of the real sponsors of ads (both
commercial and political) -- but they go unimplemented when it comes to
the political genre. Failure to enforce the law is corrupting our
politics--and goodness knows our politics don't need any more
And Michael Copps is right in principle when he says:
This means - it seems to me - that democracy
is functionally dead in the USA, at least as regards the main
It's simple, he says: "Voters
have a clear, unambiguous right to know who is trying to influence
them. Democracy is about holding power accountable. If we don't even
know whom to hold accountable, how do we hope to
govern ourselves successfully?"
4. Who Owns the Federal Reserve
Bank and Why is It Shrouded in Myths and Mysteries?
fourth item is by Ishmael Hossein-Zadeh on Counterpunch:
starts as follows (and is a good and recommended article):
And these myths are the subject of
Hossein-Zadeh's article. Here is the first:
“It is well enough that people of the
nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they
did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
— Henry Ford
“Give me control of a Nation’s money
supply, and I care not who makes its laws.”
— M. A. Rothschild
The Federal Reserve Bank (or simply the
Fed), is shrouded in a number of myths and mysteries. These include its
name, its ownership, its purported independence form external
influences, and its presumed commitment to market stability, economic
growth and public interest
In other words: They are not there
for you, ordinary American consumer: they are there for the
bankers, who also own them.
The first MAJOR MYTH, accepted by
most people in and outside of the United States, is that the Fed is
owned by the Federal government, as implied by its name: the Federal
Reserve Bank. In reality, however, it is a private institution whose
shareholders are commercial banks; it is the “bankers’ bank.” Like
other corporations, it is guided by and committed to the interests of
its shareholders—pro forma supervision of the Congress notwithstanding.
This is on the history of the Federal Reserve Bank:
Soon after Woodrow Wilson
replaced William Taft as president, however, the Federal Reserve Bank
was founded (December 23, 1913), thereby centralizing the power of U.S.
banks into a privately owned entity that controlled interest rate,
money supply, credit creation, inflation, and (in roundabout ways)
employment. It could also lend money to the government and earn
interest, or a fee—money that the government could create free of
charge. This ushered in the beginning of the gradual rise of national
debt, as the government henceforth relied more on borrowing from banks
than self-financing, as it had done prior to granting the power of
money-creation to the private banking system.
This seems odd to me - why would the US
government give away these great powers to a private institution itself
controlled by the banks? - but there is more in the article.
Here is another myth:
And herein lies ANOTHER MYTH that
is created around the Fed: that it is an independent, purely
technocratic or disinterested policy-making entity that is solely
devoted to national interests, free of all external influences.
I'd say: Of course not -
the interests the Federal Reserve Bank serves are the interests of the
banks, who also owe it. And there is this myth:
Another MAJOR MYTH
associated with the Fed is its purported commitment to national and/or
That is false for the same
reason as the previous myth.
Is there a solution? Yes,
at least in principle:
Is there a solution to the ravages
wrought to the economies/societies of the core capitalist countries by
the accumulation needs of parasitic finance capital—largely fostered or
facilitated by the privately-owned central banks of these countries?
Yes, there is indeed a solution. The
solution is ultimately political. It requires different politics and/or
policies: politics of serving the interests of the overwhelming
majority of the people, instead of a cabal of financial oligarchs.
But then that solution is blocked
by legal actions and propaganda by those who have a strong interest in "parasitic finance capital", and who
have created many myths to be abled to continue their parasiting:
The idea of bringing the banking
industry, national savings and credit allocation under public control
or supervision is not necessarily socialistic or ideological. In the
same manner that many infrastructural facilities such as public roads,
school systems and health facilities are provided and operated as
essential public services, so can the supply of credit and financial
services be provided on a basic public utility model for both
day-to-day business transactions and long-term industrial projects.
There is considerably more in the article,
that is recommended.
This is the Fourth
Amendment, that is part of the US Constitution, and cannot be
legally withdrawn (minus footnotes):
The right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and
no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized.