January 20, 2016

Crisis: Clintons, Journalism, Repucrat Schultz, Oxfam, Reich, Merkel
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Hillary Blames Bernie for an Old Clintonite Hustle, and
     That’s a Rotten Shame

2. In Landmark Ruling, U.K. Court Affirms ‘Journalism Isn’t

3. Meet Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s First-Ever Primary
     Challenger: Tim Canova

4. Most Shocking Part of Global Wealth Study: It's Not Just
     That 62 People Own as Much as 3.6 Billion Poorest

5. Who Lost the White Working Class?
6. Merkel's Last Stand? Chancellor Running Out of Time on
     Refugee Issue

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about a very dirty very big lie Hillary Clinton gave to Bernie Sanders; item 2 is about an English judicial ruling that journalists aren't terrorists (I am a bit less optimistic than the article); item 3 is about the Repucrat sorry Demopublican Schulz who excels at helping the rich and at nothing else (for very good pay, also); item 4 is (mostly) about Oxfam's opinions (which I generally support, and to whom I monthly contribute); item 5 is about an article by Robert Reich who asks who lost the working class, and answers that was mostly the Democrats Clinton and Obama, with their pro-rich, pro-bankers, pro-spying policies that turned out to have been no better than Republicans, and that turned away the working class; and item 6 is about Merkel's problems with refugees.

And I did survive the dentist the day before yesterday, though with a tooth less, and probably soon will write a bit more about my (mostly Dutch) autobiography, and probably also about real and quasi leftists, and real and quasi liberals: These items will not be crisis items.

1. Hillary Blames Bernie for an Old Clintonite Hustle, and That’s a Rotten Shame

The first article is by Robert Scheer (<-Wikipedia) on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The Clintons have no shame, that much you can count on. That stupefying arrogance was on full display in the most recent presidential campaign debate when Hillary Clinton countered Bernie Sanders’ charge that she was compromised by her close ties to Goldman Sachs and other rapacious Wall Street interests with the retort: “Sen. Sanders, you’re the only one on this stage that voted to deregulate the financial markets in 2000, ... to make the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission no longer able to regulate swaps and derivatives, which were one of the main causes of the collapse in ’08.” 
In fact, Hillary Clinton's retort was an extremely dirty and extremely dishonest "answer", as Robert Scheer proceeds to explain:

Hillary knows that the disastrous legislation, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA), had nothing to do with Sanders and everything to do with then-President Bill Clinton, who devoted his presidency to sucking up to Wall Street. Clinton signed this bill into law as a lame-duck president, ensuring his wife would have massive Wall Street contributions for her Senate run. 

Sanders, like the rest of Congress, was blackmailed into voting for the bill because it was tucked into omnibus legislation needed to keep the government operating. Only libertarian Ron Paul and three other House members had the guts to cast a nay vote. The measure freeing Wall Street firms from regulation was inserted at the last moment in a deal between President Clinton and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who had failed in an earlier attempt to get the measure enacted. Clinton signed it into law a month before leaving office. 

Sanders soon figured out that he and almost all other Congress members had been tricked into providing a blank check for the marketing of bogus collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps made legal by the legislation, of which a key author was Gary Gensler, the former Goldman Sachs partner recruited by Clinton to be undersecretary of the treasury.

This is why Clinton's retort was extremely dirty and extremely dishonest - and she knew it very, very well.

As to what the Clintons are, here is the last bit of Scheer I'll quote:

Who are these Clintonites who now have the temerity to blame Sanders for the economic hustles they authorized?

Gensler in 1999 testified before Congress in support of the total deregulation of toxic derivatives
Along with Gensler, Robert Rubin, who was Clinton’s treasury secretary and a former Goldman Sachs chairman, and Lawrence Summers, a Rubin aide who succeeded the treasury secretary before the bill was passed, engineered this legislation, which became law and which Hillary Clinton now has the effrontery to blame on Bernie Sanders.  The same Rubin-Summers wrecking crew had also destroyed the sensible restraints on Wall Street greed, implemented as the Glass-Steagall Act by the administration of Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. Hillary Clinton defends the repeal of Glass-Steagall’s separation of commercial and investment banking, while Sanders wants it reinstated.

That is, translated in my terms: The Clintons are the very willing handimen of the richest few, and deregulated major parts of the US economy to give all freedoms to exploit to the rich, while lying through their teeth to defraud the people that elected them, who were nearly all screwed.

And they made $120 million, by a few speeches, so their future is firmly assured.

2. In Landmark Ruling, U.K. Court Affirms ‘Journalism Isn’t Terrorism’

The second item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In a landmark ruling, a British appeals court on Tuesday found that the UK’s terrorism law violate the European Convention on Human Rights—a decision that came in the case of David Miranda, who was detained and searched at London’s Heathrow airport in 2013 while carrying encrypted documents related to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The ruling means government ministers will have to reevaluate a controversial provision in the Terrorism Act, known as Section 7, which gives law enforcement officers the power to stop, question, detain, and search people in airports and certain other transit areas, whether or not they are suspected of terrorism.

Individuals who refuse to answer questions or hand over any requested documents or information may be fined, imprisoned up to four months, or both.

I have written about David Miranda (the partner of Glenn Greenwald) in August 2013, and will suppose that my readers know the case in outline.

And I like the decision of the court:

“If journalists and their sources can have no expectation of confidentiality, they may decide against providing information on sensitive matters of public interest,” the ruling states. “The court of appeal ruling rejects the broad definition of terrorism advanced by government lawyers. The correct legal definition of terrorism, the court of appeal has now ruled, requires some intention to cause a serious threat to public safety such as endangering life.”

The decision was handed down by Lord Dyson, the court’s most senior judge.
It is a gain, although I should add that - alas, alas - I don't think it is a major one, simply because the English government and its secret GCHQ have far too many powers anyway, and this will remain the case as long as the Conservatives

3. Meet Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s First-Ever Primary Challenger: Tim Canova

The third item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This is from near the beginning:
She is widely perceived to have breached her duty of neutrality as DNC chair by taking multiple steps to advance the Clinton campaign, including severely limiting the number of Democratic debates and scheduling them so as to ensure low viewership (she was co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 campaign). Even her own DNC vice chairs have publicly excoriated her after she punished them for dissenting from her Hillary-protecting debate limitations. She recently told Ana Marie Cox in New York Times interview that she favors ongoing criminalization of marijuana (as she receives large financial support from the alcohol industry). She denied opposing medical marijuana even though she was one of a handful of Democratic legislators to vote against a bill to allow states to legalize it, and in her interview with Cox, she boasted that her “criminal-justice record is perhaps not as progressive as some of my fellow progressives.” She also excoriated “young women” — who largely back Bernie Sanders rather than Clinton — for “complacency” over reproductive rights.
Who is this Republican horrror? I'm sorry, she poses and lies as "a Democrat". Here is Glenn Greenwald about her strengths:
In general, Wasserman Schultz is the living, breathing embodiment of everything rotted and corrupt about the Democratic Party: a corporatist who overwhelmingly relies on corporate money to keep her job, a hawk who supports the most bellicose aspects of U.S. foreign policy, a key member of the “centrist” and “moderate” pro-growth New Democrat coalition, a co-sponsor of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA),
which was “heavily backed by D.C. favorites including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the music and motion picture industries” and which, if enacted, would have allowed extreme government and corporate control over the internet.

In brief, she is one of the most dishonest Democrats (and also has a truly awful face, in my opinion).

There is a lot more in the article, and indeed less about Schultz than about a new Democratic opponent of her, Tim Canova, who also gets interviewed by Glenn Greenwald in the article.

I leave the rest to your interests, and it is recommended because of the light it sheds on Republican rightist defenders of the very rich, who these days are in fact heading the Democrat party - or so it seems, at least.

4. Most Shocking Part of Global Wealth Study: It's Not Just That 62 People Own as Much as 3.6 Billion Poorest

The fourth item is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This is from near the beginning (and is a good article with many good quotes from Oxfam):

“The gap between rich and poor is reaching new extremes,” Oxfam said. “The richest 1 percent have now accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together… Meanwhile, the wealth owned by the bottom half of humanity has fallen by a trillion dollars in the past five years.”

This gap “is just the latest evidence that today we live in a world with levels of inequality we may not have seen for over a century,” they said. But the fine print of Oxfam's analysis of wealth trends between 2010 and 2015 finds the poor are getting much poorer.

“The wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 44 percent in the five years since 2010—that’s an increase of more than half a trillion dollars ($542 billion), to $1.76 trillion,” Oxfam noted. “Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period—a drop of 41 percent. Since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world’s population has received just 1 percent of the total increase in global wealth, while half of that increase has gone to the top 1 percent.”

Oxfam continued, “The average annual income of the poorest 10 percent of people in the world has risen by less than $3 each year in almost a quarter of a century. Their daily income has risen by less than a single cent every year.”

I'll leave the rest to your interests, except for the ending:

“Our world is not short of wealth,” Oxfam concluded. “It simply makes no economic sense—or indeed moral sense—to have so much in the hands of so few. Oxfam believes humanity can do better than this, that we have the talent, the technology and the imagination to build a much better world. We have the chance to build a more humane economy, where the interests of the majority are put first. A world where there is decent work for all, where women and men are equal, where tax havens are something people read about in history books, and where the richest pay their fair share to support a society that benefits everyone.”

Quite so - but unfortunately this now is a desire of the intelligent minority, which I know in part because I am a regular contributer to Oxfam since years.

This is a recommended article.

5. Who Lost the White Working Class?

The fifth item is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.
All true, but this isn't the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.

That is quite true, though the story is more complicated than Reich outlines.
But he is right in this:

But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. In some respects Democrats have been complicit in it.

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.
Precisely. Where these betrayals of the working and the middle class all?
Far from it:

In addition, the Obama administration protected Wall Street from the consequences of the Street’s gambling addiction through a giant taxpayer-funded bailout, but let millions of underwater homeowners drown.

Both Clinton and Obama also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify – with the result that large corporations have grown far larger, and major industries more concentrated.

Finally, they turned their backs on campaign finance reform.
In short, both Clinton and Obama served the rich, desired to serve the rich (because these reward their service with hundreds of millions after they ceased being presidents), and did everything to shaft the poor and the middle class (while pretending to act for them):

What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power, and the abandonment of campaign finance reform?

You shift political and economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class. 

Again, here is another truth: This also started in 1980 - and it totally corrupted the vast majority of Democratic Congressmen:

Meanwhile, as early as the 1980s they began drinking from the same campaign funding trough as the Republicans – big corporations, Wall Street, and the very wealthy.

Here is a question with which Robert Reich ends:

But to do this Democrats would have to stop obsessing over upper-income suburban swing voters, and end their financial dependence on big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy.

Will they? That’s one of the biggest political unknowns in 2016 and beyond.
In fact, I think the answer is very easy: They may, if Bernie Sanders is elected president. Otherwise, it is a very safe bet the Demopublicans aka the Repucrats will govern on for the rich few. They have 35 years of training and money to have learned really well how they can profit the most. (And see item 3.)

6. Merkel's Last Stand? Chancellor Running Out of Time on Refugee Issue

The sixth and last item today is by Spiegel Staff on Spiegel International:
This is from near the beginning:
But then came New Year's Eve in Cologne, and since then everything has changed -- both in Merkel's party and across the country. The occasionally shrill debates in talk shows, on the Internet and on the streets have become even shriller. Among politicians in Berlin, calls for something to be done have grown both in number and volume. And within the population, where attitudes toward Merkel's policies have for months wavered between sympathy and skepticism, concerns are growing: Will the effort to integrate more than a million refugees overwhelm German society? Can the government still guarantee the safety of its citizens? Is the state failing?
Well... let me start with answering the last three questions, followed by a - sort of - defense of Merkel's policies with regards to the refugees.

First, Germany is rich enough to take care of more than million refugees - provided that both the German population and the refugees behave well, on average and in considerable majority. Second, of course the government can
guarantee the safety of its citizens, though it would be very desirable if the
refugees do not break German laws. Third, the state is not failing because
of the refugees, though it did act unwisely.

As to Merkel, here is Spiegel International:

Merkel's decision to offer shelter to the greatest possible number of refugees from the horrors of the Syrian civil war remains the correct one. And it is understandable that Merkel is hesitant to close Germany's borders because of the danger that such a move might spell an end to border-free travel in Europe.
If maintaining "border-free travel in Europe" was Merkel's end, she is silly, since this cannot be done, and is not done on its borders, in Greece, Italy and Turkey,
and also not by other countries, like Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.

In fact I suppose that an important part of her motives were that she has been educated in the GDR (that collapsed in 1989) and for that reason is more positive about "refugees" than many of her Westgerman colleagues.

Then again, while I sympathize with that, it is also true (as I said before the
refugees started flowing into Europe): You simply cannot welcome everybody
who wants to live in Europe, whether refugee or not, because then Europe gets
overflooded by poor non-Europeans, which will simply be the end of Europe-as-is.

But I do not know how to resolve the refugee crisis. Here is a last bit from the

German conservatives are no longer willing to simply hope the refugee influx will slow on its own. Just how bad the mood has become became apparent last Monday in Berlin, when Bundestag members from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg held a joint meeting. One parliamentarian after the other demanded stricter border controls and an upper limit to the number of refugees Germany can accept.
I agree, though I don't often agree with the right: You cannot accept everybody who wants to move to Germany because the living there is so much better than outside Europe, indeed whether or not they also are political refugees, for there are many millions of legitimate refugees outside Europe who would want to come if given a chance. [1]

[1] I'll put it thus: I think Germany is rich enough to provide homes, money, education and jobs to a million refugees (with whom it also will very probably have considerable problems), but not for five million, ten million or thirty million refugees - not only Syrians, but Iraqis, Tunesians, Libyans, Nigerians, Somalis etc. etc. all of whom do lead far more dangerous and far poorer lives than ordinary Germans do - whereas there certainly will be as many refugees, mostly legitimate as well, if Germany simply opened its borders to anyone who wants to take refuge there.

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