This is a
crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item
is about an article by Glenn Greenwald that shows much of what the
American main media bring is not news but government propaganda; item 2
is on an article in Democracy Now! that claims Trump is much like
George Wallace (I tend to disagree, and not because I like Trump); item 3 is about Bernie Sanders and why The Nation
supports him; item 4 is about the poverty of many
in the US with an inference about the middle class's non-existence that
I reject; item 5 is about the TPP (which in my eyes
is simple and plain corporate fascism); and item 6
is about how enormously more greedy the very rich have become
in 45 years.
When news first broke of the
detention of two U.S. ships in Iranian territorial waters, the U.S.
media — aside from depicting
it as an act of Iranian aggression —
uncritically cited the U.S. government’s explanation for what happened.
One of the boats, we were told, experienced “mechanical failure” and
thus “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters. On CBS News,
Biden told Charlie Rose, “One of the boats had engine failure,
drifted into Iranian waters.”
My reason to select this (apart from Glenn
Greenwald) is that it shows the prevalence of lying in the ordinary
Here is the evidence (in part):
The U.S. government itself now
story was false. There was no engine failure, and the boats were
never “in distress.”
Instead, said Defense
Secretary Ashton Carter at a press conference this morning, the sailors
“made a navigational error that mistakenly took them into Iranian
And then you see - in effect - the power
of e-mail, that was shown before, many times also, by -
especially - the GOP:
If anything happens of any importance, it seems e-mails are sent out to
everyone who may speak on TV in which the key-phrases and key-arguments
are given that everyone
has to repeat. And next you see many Republican speakers saying
essentially the same all over the country: They are all repeating the
And this approach is now true of "the news" in general in the USA, if
that news is on the main media. You don't get news anymore, you
get prepared propaganda
that quite probably was made for you by some public relations office
that doesn't want to give the news as much as they want to bias the
viewers or readers.
Critics have noted the
similarities in rhetoric between Donald Trump and segregationist
Alabama Governor George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign. In
November, a Black Lives Matter protester was kicked and punched by
Trump supporters at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, as Trump yelled,
"Get him the hell out of here!" Trump later defended his supporters,
saying "maybe [the protester] should have been roughed up, because it
was absolutely disgusting what he was doing." George Wallace’s
daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, has also compared the two campaigns,
but says her father may have actually been less extreme.
can't recall whether I ever saw any of George Wallace's campaigns, and
if I did it cannot have been much (since it was in the 1960ies, and all
there was available on Dutch TV then were two choices of two Dutch
senders). But I do recall George Wallace.
Then again, I have seen Donald Trump, and he does not
seem like George Wallace to me: He seems a whole lot dumber (which - I
am willing to agree - is in part acting),
uses many insane "arguments", has incredible amounts of personal
braggadacio ("Trump Is The Greatest"), and his language is simply very
bad as language or as argument ("brain farts", Bill Maher call them).
Also - since I am a psychologist and know rather a lot about
psychiatry, that presently has over 400
different ways of claiming that anyone they dislike is somehow "insane"
(which is a term they cannot define) - I wonder in how many ways Trump
is not sane, in terms of the DSM 5.
I'd say: In many ways, going by the DSM 5, but I doubt any
American psychiatrist will say so, even though a person like Trump ought
to give them ample reason, especially if he were to become president. 
3. "He Has
Summoned a Political Revolution"
third item is
also by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
With just weeks to go, polls show
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is edging ahead of front-runner Hillary
Clinton in the primary season’s first two contests. Numbers released
this week give Sanders a five-point lead over Clinton in Iowa and a
four-point lead in New Hampshire. Sanders has also narrowed Clinton’s
once commanding lead nationwide, pulling within seven points. As the
Democratic race tightens, The Nation magazine—the oldest continuously
published weekly magazine in the United States—has issued a rare
endorsement. On Thursday, the magazine ran the editorial "Bernie
Sanders for President," saying: "[Sanders] has summoned the people to a
'political revolution,' arguing that the changes our country so
desperately needs can only happen when we rest our democracy from the
corrupt grip of Wall Street bankers and billionaires. We believe such a
revolution is not only necessary but possible—and that’s why we’re
endorsing Bernie Sanders for president."
I like that and have reviewed this news
before. Here is a bit more from the editor of The Nation:
For more than three decades, Bernie Sanders has championed ideas and
issues, which have essentially been off the radar of our downsized
politics. Those very ideas and issues are ones which have animated The
Nation. At the heart of it, I would say, is you have someone in
Bernie Sanders who is the real deal, who is honest, who has integrity
and is a truth teller about the rigged system that is shafting so many
people in this country, the inequality that is leading this country to
be a plutocracy, not a democracy. And for those reasons, The Nation
believed it was an important moment to speak to those issues—there are
others—but in Bernie Sanders, there’s a political revolution that could
upend the distorted priorities of this country, the sweetheart deals
too many are getting, the grip of banks and insurance companies and
pharmaceutical companies on this country, and speak to a better future.
And I think he has opened, whatever happens—and we’re aware the road to
the White House is steep—he has opened space for a more powerful
progressive movement. And he has changed the kind of politics that is
I agree, though indeed he hasn't won either
the candidacy or the presidency, yet.
4. Most Americans Don’t Even Have $1,000 in Savings
American politicians constantly speak of
the middle class. Democrats, Republicans and even many independents all
insist their policies defend it.
But what does it really mean? This
question is rarely asked. What exactly is the middle class?
A new study suggests that the U.S. hardly
even has one.
More than half of Americans — 56
percent, to be exact — have less than $1,000 combined in their checking
and savings accounts, according to a recent survey, Forbes reported.
It so happens that, after 37 years of
illness, and living on Dutch study loans or Dutch dole all the time, I
have over $ 2000 dollars in reserve. Then again, I do have a long
training in living on little money, and I don't drink, don't smoke, and
don't go out.
Next, I should warn you that "the middle
class" is certainly not defined, not even inexactly, in this
article. But the article does give some facts:
Roughly 15 percent of Americans live in poverty —
46.7 million people, in 2014. Close to one in every four American
children suffers from poverty. And, among black and Latina/o Americans,
the economic hardship is even worse.
This poverty has tangible, evident
implications. It means that the U.S. has the sixth-highest hunger rate
out of all of the economically developed OECD nations.
In other words, more people go hungry in
the U.S. than do in Poland and the Slovak Republic. Slightly fewer
people go hungry in the U.S. than in Estonia. And hunger is much less
widespread in the poverty-stricken nations of India and Brazil.
Estonia and the Slovak Republic are small
countries. But I agree it is rather crazy that people have to be hungry
in the United States, simply because it is a lot richer than Estionia
and the Slovak Republic.
There is also this:
The richest 0.1 percent of Americans
have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90
percent. 160,000 families have as much money as around 290 million
Globally, the figure is even more stark.
The richest 1 percent is estimated to have more wealth than 99 percent of the people on
I agree that is a major shame - and I insist
there is a very simple cure for this kind of stark inequality that is
extremely unjust: Forbid anyone to earn more than 20 times as much as
the legally poorest in a country - which is how it was in the 1960ies
in the USA, at least in terms of salaries (and not considering
inherited wealth etc.)
Then again, I take it the plan is too simple and too radical to be
adopted, for although at most 1% earns over $ 300,000 a year, many of
the 99% - none of whom earns as much - likes the chance of becoming a
Anyway, here is the ending:
It is time to admit it: There is
no middle class; there is only the
working class and the ruling class — the economic elite.
No, for quite a few reasons. Here are some:
First, Ben Norton has not even defined (not even carelessly) what he
means by "middle class".
Second, the fact that 15% of the USA lives in poverty, and 1% lives in
wealth, does not imply that the remaining 84% are either poor
Third, there are several ways of defining "middle class" and one way is
Max Weber's, who distinguishes three components: a
person's economic position; a person's status;
and a person's power.
Fourth... no: there are more reasons, but clearly most in the United
States are (still) neither rich nor poor, and therefore are best called
middle class (even if the term is vague, and those with middling
incomes also got poorer, in real terms).
And you certainly can't claim the disappearance of the middle class on
the basis of no definition and the given numbers.
5. The Deeper, Uglier Side of TPP
The fifth item is by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
Yves here. If you have friends or
colleagues who would
might be new to the topic of how dangerous the investor state dispute
settlement process is for not just regulation but national
sovereignity, this Real News Network show provides a fine introduction.
Even though this short but crisp segment will be largely old hat to
regular readers, it does also discuss a device often used successfully
in these kangaroo courts, called “stacking.” which increases the odds
of win by the corporation suing for compensation.
To start with, here is the video:
Here is one bit from the video
HEDGES: Proponents of the TPP say it’s
the most progressive deal in history because it protects labor and
environment. But deep inside the rabbit hole are another set of rules
called Most Favored Nation rules or MFN rules, which allow
multinationals to circumvent almost any regulation from existing trade
deals, including the quote-on-quote "most progressive" ones from the
ST. LOUIS: And what that means is that a
government has to provide the same treatment to an investor from, from
a TPP country as they provide to any other country in any other treaty
that they have. And so through that mechanism it’s actually possible
for investors to sue through one treaty, but say we actually want the
protections that were included in a third treaty that we’re not even,
that our government isn’t even a part of.
HEDGES: ISDS and MFN rules are bolstered
by the fact that they are privileges only corporations can enjoy.
ST. LOUIS: It is only corporations that
can bring cases. Governments can’t bring cases. They can–they are
defendants. But a government cannot challenge a corporation.
In fact only corporations can attack
governments: Trade unions or groups of people or private
persons are all excluded from any
rights or any say: They may make their governments protect them, but
their governments can and will be sued by the multi-national
corporations for anything that threatens the expected profits of the
corporations, which means the corporations can torpedo all
politics, all governmental policies, all national
judicial decisions merely on the grounds that these threatened their
And I say again what I have been saying since 2012: If the following
definition from the American
Dictionary makes sense, which it does:
is defined as "A system of government that exercises a
dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of
state and business leadership, together with belligerent natio- nalism."
then the TTP and the TTIP and the TiSA and
the CETA are simply plans - that have mostly succeeded thanks to
corrupting and lobbying the American members of Congress - to institute corporate
fascism almost everywhere.
6. Big Crony CEO Pay Grab–Effects Beyond Greed!
last item today is by Ralph Nader on his blog:
As the New Year gets underway, the
highest-paid CEOs of many large corporations have already paid
themselves more than the average worker will earn in the entire
year! By the end of the first week of January, the highest-paid
CEOs had already made as much as their average workers will earn over 8
An analysis by Equilar, a consulting
firm specializing in executive pay, found that on average, the 200
highest-paid CEOs make approximately $22.6 million a year, or almost
$10,800 an hour, a 9.1% increase from the previous
year. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reports the average household
earns approximately $53,000 a year.
Over the past fifty years, the pay gap
between many highly-paid CEOs and their employees has increased
dramatically. In 1965, when they also liked to be rich, CEOs made
approximately twenty times as much as their average employee, meaning
they would earn their workers’ average pay by the third week of
January, and since the 1980s, the average difference and greed have
increased. Highly-paid CEOs now make 303 times as much as their
employees in a year, according to a study by the Economic Policy
Incidentally, $10,800 an
hour = $3 a second, and $180 a minute - and this is what these major
greeds want for themselves. Also, in the last 50 years the average
income of the American CEOs went from 20 times as much as their average
employee to 303 times as much.
I think it is plainly obscene. In case you don't think so, there is
Unlike the soaring pay awarded to
highly-compensated CEOs, the minimum wage has not even kept up with
inflation. Department of Labor data shows that, had minimum wage
increases kept up with inflation since 1968, the minimum wage would be
nearly $11 today. Instead, it has lost one-third of its purchasing
Here is my own response:
I would propose limiting the amount of salary anyone can get to 20
times the amount of the poor, indeed as it was in 1965, in
But I agree the plan will probably fail, not because it is irrealistic or opposes the interest of the 99%, for it doesn't, but because it upsets the quite irrealistic dreams of quite a few in the 99%.
 To be
sure, I totally disbelieve in the DSM 5 (and the DSM-IV and the
DSM-III), for very good reasons that are exposed here. But I am quite
that in terms of the DSM 5 (or its predecessors, but these did
not yet have over
400 ways in which one can be mentally insane) (1) Donald Trump appears
far from sane, while (2) I doubt (almost) any American psychiatrist
will say so.