December 24, 2015
Crisis: Nader, Atheism, Sanders vs Trump, Revolt, Bill Black
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This is a Nederlog of Thursday, December 24, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a video interview by Abby Martin of Ralph Nader; item 2 is about an atheist who is now fairly often on Fox News, and who seems smart; item 3 is about a poll that shows Sanders would trounce Trump in a general election; item 4 is about a good article in the NYRB about Bernie Sanders; and item 5 is about an interview with Bill Black with interesting information about Clinton, Obama and Sanders.

VIDEO: Ralph Nader on the Corporate Elections

The first item is by Roisin Davis on Truthdig, and is a video by Abby Martin (<-Wikipedia) about Ralph Nader (<-Wikipedia):
I like both the interviewer and the interviewee, and the interview is good. Seeing all will take 25 minutes from your life, but then you'll spend them better than on many alternatives:

And I am sorry there was no printed text: I could and would have quoted some, and also I generally prefer reading over viewing, simply because reading goes a lot faster.

But this is a good interview, and Nader is a very clear talker, so it is recommended that you see it.

2. Meet the Fox News Atheist — the Man Bill O’Reilly Calls a Fascist and Sean Hannity Thinks Is Evil 

The second item is by Jeffrey Tayler on Salon:
This starts as follows:
Each day brings us new evidence of quasi-pathological faith-derangement among members of our ruling class, and not just those of the GOP: Despite the monumental, universe- explaining 2012 discovery of the Higgs BosonHillary hews to her belief in the supernatural, and President Obama, even after Islamist terrorists murdered 14 people in California, cannot bring himself to call the Islamic State Islamic. Where religion is concerned, darkness and confusion rule, and “ill fares the land,” as the late Tony Judt once declared.
I like the ending (mostly because the build-up in terms of the Higgs boson seems a bit thin to me, in a journalistic piece, but OK).

There is considerably more in the article, but I want to start with this, for a personal reason also:

But when the Fox News talk show host referred to him and American Atheists as a “merry band of fascists,” Silverman came close to – but only close to – losing his cool.

“Fascists? Fascists? You call me a fascist?”

“Absolutely!” replied O’Reilly, showing no regard for the definition of fascism.

“I am a patriot, sir,” fired back Silverman, “who’s taking the craziest notion that everybody in this country is equal and that the government has to treat everybody fairly. That’s fascism?”

O’Reilly tried to talk over him and misstate Silverman’s argument, but Silverman retained his sang-froid and actually out-bullied O’Reilly: “We demand equality from the government and it’s our constitutional right and you should be demanding it along with me!”

First a definition of fascism, which is linked in the above quotation, and is as follows (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary):

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

There certainly are other definitions, some of which also are better in my opinion, for these mention both the big corporations and racism, which are not mentioned in the above definition, but which are specifically fascist - but I linked this because it is given in the text of the article.

Next why it is personal: While my grandfather was murdered in a German concentration-camp by the Nazis for being one of the few Dutchmen who resisted them, and my father spent more than 3 years and 9 months as a political prisoner and as a  communist in German concentration-camps, I have been, somewhat systematically as well, been called "a (dirty) fascist" by many members of the Amsterdam student-organization ASVA for something like 12 years.

Their reason? I was for real science and for the existence of truth (in a university!!) and they were against both in considerable part because they wanted their M.A.'s without any intellectual trouble and with full disregard of truth, and indeed they succeeded, for they were far more popular in the university I had to study in (being ill: otherwise I had long ago left Holland). [1]

Back to the article. Here is Silverman's reason to publish his recent book "Fighting God":

“We’re seeing this rise in religious hatred all over the world,” he said, “and a pushback against criticizing religion. Yet religion is the problem. We see its influence all over, in abortion, gay rights, climate change. In Europe, the rise of Islam” – especially with the influx of Muslim refugees – “is leading to the rise of firebrand atheism, as atheists are being pushed into realizing that they have something to fight, and something to defend. In Heidelberg and Basil and Zurich I spoke to packed crowds who wanted to know more about firebrand atheism because of the fear of the rise of Islam. Religion is hurting our species, it’s hurting the entire world, and yet we protect it. We need to put religion in its place, which is back in the church.” He paused. “Religion is a scam, a lie codified in our society, demanding respect, even from the non-religious, and cannot be challenged. But religious opinions are opinions just like any other opinions. It’s about time for the lie to come to an end, for the lie to die.”

Yes, I agree, although I am not hopeful that the religious lie will die this century (if mankind survives) - and indeed I would add that (in my quite enlightened and totally atheist opinion) religious opinions are worse than many other opinions because they are normally explicitly founded on irrationalism and on prejudice.

3. Poll Shows Sanders Would Trounce Trump in General Election

The third item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, and is fairly optimistic news, for a change:

If the 2016 U.S. presidential election were held today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would win by a landslide over GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, according to a new poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University.

With voters favoring Sanders over Trump 51 to 38 percent, Sanders would win the general election by 13 points—more than any other candidate would get squaring off with the Republican favorite, including Sanders' chief rival for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, while Clinton would likewise sail to victory over Trump, her lead would be approximately half as much, with voters favoring her 47 to 40 percent.

I say. It is a poll, and it compared Sanders to Trump, but Sanders did better than both Clinton and Trump, indeed also while he is far less in the news, because the  main media believe he should not be voted for, and the main media these days are very partial and mostly do propaganda rather than report facts.

So while I do think this is not very important I relay it because it is hopeful, and it shows Sanders is doing quite well, in spite of getting far less media attention than would be fair and honest.

Indeed, here is some more on Bernie Sanders:

4. Bernie Sanders: The Quiet Revolt

The fourth item is by Simon Head on The New York Review of Books:

This is a quite good and interesting article in TNYRB (which I am not very partial to, mostly because I dislike their most common style, indeed ever since the 1960ies).

I will quote three bits of it, because these list three important reasons why Sanders "is unusual". The first is this:
Sanders is unusual because he brings together three kinds of radicalism, each with very different roots. First is Sanders’s commitment to bringing the progressive ideas of Scandinavian social democracy to the United States, including free and universal health care, free higher education at state colleges and universities, mandatory maternity and sick leave benefits, and higher taxes on higher incomes. In American political history you have to go back to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society or even to the early New Deal to find anything comparable.
Yes, indeed - and please note that none of this is "socialism", and much of it isn't even "social democracy": In Western Europe this was - until 2001 or 2008, at least - quite common among most leading political parties. Also, none of this is
against capitalism (though it is against capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face).

Next, there is this:
The second strand of Sanders’s radicalism is his excoriating account of contemporary American capitalism, and with this he neither looks nor sounds like a consensus-minded Scandinavian social democrat. Here Sanders is willing to name and denounce the new economic royalists—what he calls collectively the “billionaire class”—in a way that Hillary Clinton, who has relied heavily on their financial backing, has not. These include the leading Wall Street banks and their lobbyists; the energy, health care, pharmaceutical, and defense industries; and the actual billionaires deploying their wealth on behalf of the far right, foremost among them the Koch brothers, the Walton family of Walmart, and the real estate tycoon Sheldon Adelson.
Yes, but it is also fair to add that the "consensus-minded Scandinavian social democrat[s]" do not and did not (for a very long time, at least) deal with the kind of opponents that Sanders is criticizing, who have taken over much of politics, who own most lobbyists, and are who in fact inside government, and who have achieved these results, that only favor the rich, in the course of the last 35 years.

The third reason Sanders is unusual is this:
It is here that the third and perhaps least understood strand of Sanders’s radicalism comes into play: his ability to organize a previously unrecognized constituency—one that embraces the shrinking middle class, both white- and blue-collar, the working and non-working poor, as well as young, first-time voters with large student-loan debts.
Yes, I agree, although I might have been a bit more specific: (1) Sanders message is directed to many Americans, indeed to (by far) most Americans, and (2) he succeeds - in spite of very little support from the main media - because he is honest and consistent, and has been so since 1970, which is something extremely few other American politicians (if any) can say about themselves.

But this is a good article, which contains a lot more, so I recommend it.

5. What Influence Does Wall Street Have Over Candidates Clinton and Sanders?

The fifth and last item today is on Naked Capitalism and is an interview with Bill Black on the Real News Network, that Yves Smith quite correctly calls her readers to support - and I mean the Real News Network, which is quite important, and which does what its name implies it should do: bring the real news, rather than corporate propaganda for the rich and the few:

There is in fact considerably more in the interview, but I will concentrate on Bill Black (<- Wikipedia), simply because he is one of the few consistent and clear critics of corporate capitalism, who also did this from an economically quite informed background.

Here he is first on the corporate background of Hillary Clinton:

BILL BLACK: [..] So the mainstream press and the financial press has been quite clear that Senator Clinton’s play on dealing with Wall Street was received with a very complacent yawn by Wall Street. They don’t find it threatening at all. And it’s nice to say that you’re there for the successful and the struggling, but the people are–and that you’re there for jobs. But the supposedly-successful are the ones who are causing most of America to struggle and are causing, have caused, the largest loss of jobs. Well over 10 million jobs. As a result of the Great Recession.

So you’re going to have to take on Wall Street if you want to restore the American economy. And as you heard from Will, except I would phrase his a little more accurately on, based on his findings, Senator Clinton’s numbers were technically inaccurate and inaccurate in every conceivable way. They were on multiple grounds deliberately designed to understate the influence of Wall Street in terms of finance for her campaign.

Here is some more on the differences between Clinton and Sanders, also with an interesting aside on Obama:

BLACK: [..] So now she is in the range of about 7 percent of her total funds that we know about. We’ll explain that there’s some funds we simply can’t allocate at all. About 7 percent comes from finance. More generally, 17 percent of her money is in small contributions of $200 and less. The comparable number for Senator San\ders is 77 percent. So his campaign is almost entirely–well, overwhelmingly funded by small donors. Hers is overwhelmingly funded by larger donors. And by the way, Governor O’Malley is far worse on that. He and Jeb Bush are in the 90-95 percent range of their money coming from large donors.
But here’s the amazing thing. After a history that goes back decades of the Clintons being very, very favorable to finance, in particular big finance, for all the money she got, which was huge from finance, in her prior presidential run, she was actually dwarfed by Senator Obama.

Indeed, Senator Obama in the first presidential race accomplished something we didn’t think was possible. He outraised money on Wall Street compared to the Republicans. In other words, the supposedly very liberal Democratic candidate got more money from Wall Street than the Republicans did.

One of the things this also seems to show is that Obama seems to have been talking two very different stories during his first campaign: There were the very many propaganda lies that he was THE candidate for "Change! Change! Yes we can!", while on the other hand he probably, but in secret, told Wall Street that really, if he was elected, he would not change a thing - as indeed he didn't.

In fact, here is what happened:

BLACK: [..] After all, you’ve had the three greatest most destructive fraud epidemics in history, as I’ve said, the largest cartels by three orders of magnitude in history, by the largest banks. And absolutely nothing fundamental has happened. And indeed none of the senior people, none were removed by the government as regulator, or the government as prosecutor. Just an astonishing thing with no precedent in modern U.S. history.

So yes, the contributions have been very successful. I’ve already mentioned that we had the reaction from Wall Street in the mainstream press, which is that the Hillary plan for finance is exactly what they would love.
Finally, here is Black's fine answer to the question what Sanders can do to reign the banks in:

BLACK: [..] So there’s a 100 percent failure rate if you don’t try.

NOOR: Right. Exactly.

BLACK: And that’s what Obama did, and that’s what Hillary Clinton [is] promising to do. You can bring back much of Glass-Steagall by regulation. And Bernie Sanders is the only candidate, period, from any party that is pledged to do that. The other thing is simply the too big to fail banks and Hillary Clinton wants to keep them, and Senator Sanders says this is insane. We are rolling dice. I mean, the definition of one of these banks is when, not if, when the next one fails, it will likely cause a global financial crisis.

Quite so.

[1] The main reason these - often communist or better (for they were totally dishonest) "communist" - careerists were so popular was that all the Dutch universities were in an unique situation in the world from 1971-1995:

The students in fact had something like the full control of the university, for it had been arranged in 1971 that (1) the Dutch universities would all be ruled by parliaments (in Dutch: "Universi- teisraden en faculteits-raden", in fact much like Soviets) that (2) would be elected from the students, the staff and anybody else who worked for a university on the basis of 1 man = 1 vote - which effectively gave absolute power to the students, who were in Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Groningen and Tilburg (at least) from 1971-1985 (approximately) mostly members of the Dutch Communist Party, in so far as they were elected in some university-parliament.

As was probably foreseen in 1971, the students made a complete and total mess of the powers they had been given. (And nobody talks about this in Holland.)
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