January 27, 2016

Crisis: Chomsky, Denmark, Wall Street, Supreme Court, Global Threats
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Noam Chomsky: Why the Republican Party Is a Threat to
     Human Survival

2. 'Morally Horrible' Law Lets Denmark Take Refugees'
     Valuables in Exchange for Asylum

Bill Black: Wall Street Declares War Against Bernie

4. The Supreme Court Approaches Judgment Day
The Top Six Global Threats the Presidential Candidates
     Are Never Asked About

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, January 27, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Noam Chomsky, who seems to support Clinton (I disagree and explain); item 2 is about Danish greed for the Danes: They steal jewelry from refugees to prevent that refugees want to go to Denmark (but lie about it); item 3 is about a fine article by Bill Black about Wall Street billionaires; item 4 is about a reasonable article about the Supreme Court, that soon will have three octogenarians, and one who is close to it; and item 5 is about a number of global threats that indeed are not talked about by presidential candidates.

1. Noam Chomsky: Why the Republican Party Is a Threat to Human Survival

The first article is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Renowned scholar and activist Noam Chomsky declared this week that the GOP and its far-right front-runners are "literally a serious danger to decent human survival.”

Speaking with The Huffington Post on Monday, Chomsky cited the Republican Party’s refusal to tackle—or even acknowledge—the “looming environmental catastrophe” of climate change, thereby “dooming our grandchildren.”

He went to rebuke the Republican party for its “abject service to private wealth and power” and dispossession of the poor.

I fully agree with this.

But Chomsky made it clear that his conviction that “the Republican Party has drifted off the rails” and must be stopped by no means amounts to an endorsement of Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton—who he has previously criticized as hawkish and opportunistic.

I do not agree with this. And I'll explain myself after the following and last quote from this article, in which Chomsky seems to explain his choice for Hillary:

And Senator Bernie Sanders, Chomsky recently told Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera’s UpFront show, “would--of the current candidates--be the one who would have, from my point of view, the best policies.”

"I agree with him in a lot of things, not in other things," Chomsky said, calling him “basically a new dealer.”

"I frankly think that in our system of mainly bought elections, he doesn't have much of a chance,” he continued.
First, I agree with Chomsky that it is - now - more likely that Clinton will win the nomination than Sanders, though (i) I do not know by how much, and (ii) this is still very early in the nominations.

Second, what I do not understand is why Chomsky - who does like Sanders more than Clinton - doesn't take a similar position as Sanders does: I support Sanders, who is the best candidate, until he is beaten, and then I support Clinton, as better than any Republican.

That seems to me quite cogent, although I know that some purists, like Chris Hedges, dislike Sanders - among other things - precisely for this choice, and they themselves - or at least Chris Hedges - will vote for the Green Party candidate, who will certainly loose.

To me the above seems the best and the most rational possibility: Support your candidate of choice until he or she is beaten; then say who is your next best candidate, and support him or her.

2. 'Morally Horrible' Law Lets Denmark Take Refugees' Valuables in Exchange for Asylum

The second item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This has a subtitle which is worth quoting (and note the Danes are one of the richest countries in the world):
"They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery."
This starts as follows:

The Danish Parliament on Tuesday approved a controversial law which allows authorities to seize money and valuables from refugees, as well as delay family reunification—treatment which critics decry as "morally horrible" against those fleeing war and other violence.

"The bill presented by the center-right minority government of prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen was approved by 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats backed the measures," the Guardian reported.

The law will allow police to search refugees upon arrival and confiscate any non-essential items worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner (roughly $1,450) that have no sentimental value to their owner. The bill also includes a measure that raises the waiting period from one year to three before refugees can apply for their families to to join them. It also permits officials to consider an individual's "integration potential" in resettlement cases, increases administrative fees, and slashes temporary residence permits to two years.

I say. Why doesn't the Danish Parliament decide that all refugees must loose their gold fillings too, before they get Danish money to support them?! And "give" their all (except for $1,450, on which one cannot live decently for one month in Denmark, where rents and food are very expensive - and I know, because I have family living in Denmark) to the Danes?

This is really sick, as far as I am concerned, and especially in view of sick degenerate utter lies like these:
Parliament members justified the action, saying the law "is about creating equality between migrants and Danes," as the seizures are supposedly intended to cover the cost of each asylum-seeker's maintenance by the state, which they compare to Danish citizens on welfare benefits.
No, you Danish parliamentary sick and degenerate liars: What you are doing is stealing almost everything they still possess, making them the lowest of the low and the poorest of the poor in Denmark; and you are not doing it "to cover the costs" but to frighten any refugee away from Denmark, that wants to reserve nearly all its riches for proper Denmark-born Danes.

This is clearly what it is about and for, so why be hypocrites?

It's true not all Danes (possibly even - for this was a parliamentary decision - not most Danes) are positively impressed by these utterly sick measures that have only one real purpose I can see: Frighten away each and every refugee to Denmark because the Danes will steal all you still may have, apart from enough money to stay three weeks in affluent and rich Denmark:
"Morally it is a horrible way to treat people fleeing mass crimes, war, rapes," said Pernille Skipper, an MP and legal affairs spokesperson for the left-wing Enhedslisten party. "They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery."
They steal their jewellery, to be precise: They dehumanize them further down than refugees (who lost their countries, their language, their houses, their rights,
and most everything else) to make it as clear as they can - according to the vast majority of Danish parliamentarians -
that most Danes want to remain 100% Danish, indeed like most Dutchmen, who want to remain 100% Dutch, and are  another nation with a completely false reputation for freedom, liberality, and equality.

3. Bill Black: Wall Street Declares War Against Bernie Sanders

The third item is by Bill Black (<- Wikipedia) on Naked Capitalism, and originally on New Economic Perspectives:

This starts as follows:

Wall Street billionaires are freaking out about the chance that Bernie Sanders could be elected President.  Stephen Schwarzman, one of the wealthiest and most odious people in the world, told the Wall Street Journal that one of the three principal causes of the recent global financial trauma was “the market’s” fear that Sanders may be elected President.  Schwarzman is infamous for ranting that President Obama’s proposals to end the “carried interest” tax scam that allows private equity billionaires like Schwarzman to pay lower income tax rates than their secretaries was “like when Hitler invaded Poland.”

Wow - and he is a mega-rich Jew who dares to make these totally insane comparisons. [1]

Here is some more about him:

Schwarzman’s claim that the global financial markets are tanking because of Bernie’s increasing support is delusional, but it is revealing that he used the most recent market nightmare as an excuse to attack Bernie.  The Wall Street plutocrats, with good reason, fear Bernie – not Hillary.  Indeed, it is remarkable how vigorous and open Wall Street has been in signaling through the financial media that it has no problem with Hillary’s Wall Street plan.  CNN, CNBC, and the Fiscal Times, under titles such as:  “Here’s Why Wall Street Has Little to Fear from Hillary Clinton,” pushed this meme.

I think all of that is quite correct, and indeed the mega-rich bankers also are quite correct in not fearing Hillary Clinton.

Here is some about another billionaire, the 7th richest American (and the 13th richest person in the world):

Mayor Bloomberg was outraged that Wall Street banksters were criticized for their roles in leading the world’s largest criminal enterprises.  Bloomberg invented a fictional alternate history in which the banksters were the victims of Congress, which purportedly forced them to make millions of bad and fraudulent loans – and then to sell the fraudulently originated loans to the secondary market through fraudulent representations and warranties.  This is deranged, but Wall Street billionaires are deranged.  They are surrounded by media, gofers, and politicians who treat their incoherent ramblings as genius.  Bernie scares all of these groups.

Yes, this is totally deranged. As my last quotation from this article I have this:

Political scientists’ research has revealed the crippling grip on power that the Wall Street billionaires have in practice and the fact that the wealthy have, on key public policies, strikingly different views than do the America people.  In particular, the 1% are exceptionally hostile to Social Security and anything that protects the weak from predation by the wealthy.  They are also stunningly unconcerned about problems such as global climate change while they are paranoid about debt, deficits, and inflation even during the depths of the Great Recession.

In brief: These greediest of all mega-rich egoists are completely for everything that allows them to get even richer, and are completely against anything that prevents that.

Well... I am against personal billionaires, any and all, on the ground that they are extremely unhealthy to almost anyone who does not have their riches. [1]

This is a recommended article.

4. The Supreme Court Approaches Judgment Day

The fourth item is by Bill Blum on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

I know you’ve heard this before, but this time the future of the Supreme Court really is up for grabs in the coming presidential election. By the time November rolls around, three of the justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy—will be octogenarians. Right behind them, Justice Stephen Breyer will be 78.

Unless Father Time goes on permanent leave or the laws of nature are suspended, all four could resign on short notice, allowing the next occupant of the White House to appoint their successors.

Since the average tenure of justices appointed since 1970 has exceeded 26 years, the next president will have the opportunity to reshape the nation’s most powerful judicial body for a generation or more. And with the power to reshape the court will come the power to redefine the meaning and application of the Constitution.

Yes, indeed. Bill Blum also explains why both the left and the right are concerned:

It’s easy to understand such concerns. The replacement of even a single justice could swing the tribunal’s voting balance on a variety of pivotal legal issues, prompting reconsideration of a host of recent, landmark 5-4 decisions. Since those decisions are a mixed bag, some liberal in outlook and effect and others conservative, both ends of the political spectrum have plenty of skin in the game of remaking the court.

He continues with listing and commenting on five recent cases that appeared before the Supreme Court. I think they are interesting but leave them to my readers' interests.

5. The Top Six Global Threats the Presidential Candidates Are Never Asked About

The fifth and last item is by Andrew Bacevich on Common Dreams and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

To judge by the early returns, the presidential race of 2016 is shaping up as the most disheartening in recent memory. Other than as a form of low entertainment, the speeches, debates, campaign events, and slick TV ads already inundating the public sphere offer little of value. Rather than exhibiting the vitality of American democracy, they testify to its hollowness.

Present-day Iranian politics may actually possess considerably more substance than our own. There, the parties involved, whether favoring change or opposing it, understand that the issues at stake have momentous implications. Here, what passes for national politics is a form of exhibitionism about as genuine as pro wrestling.

A presidential election campaign ought to involve more than competing coalitions of interest groups or bevies of investment banks and billionaires vying to install their preferred candidate in the White House.  It should engage and educate citizens, illuminating issues and subjecting alternative solutions to careful scrutiny.

Yes and no: Yes, US politics has degenerated into "a form of low entertainment" that is far less about any real issues as it is about the prejudices of the candidates and their audiences. No, because desiring that a presidential election campaign "should engage and educate citizens, illuminating issues and subjecting alternative solutions to careful scrutiny" is to demand the impossible in a country where 60% of the adults believe in the literal truth of Noah's Ark story.

But I agree most candidates sound from hardly sane to quite insane (and yes, I am aware they sound like that in part because they seek to please their audiences):

In that regard, nothing tops rhetorically beating up on the so-called Islamic State.  So, for example, Hillary Clinton promises to “smash the would-be caliphate,” Jeb Bush to “defeat ISIS for good,” Ted Cruz to “carpet bomb them into oblivion,” and Donald Trump to “bomb the shit out of them.”  For his part, having recently acquired a gun as the “last line of defense between ISIS and my family,” Marco Rubio insists that when he becomes president, “The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where [ISIS militants] are; the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them; and if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay.”
Incidentally, Isis seems to have no more than 35,000 military men, that are surrounded by around 5,000,000 (five million) Islamic soldiers from various Islamic states, but this indeed is an aside. [2]

Andrew Bacevic continues:

What sort of national security concerns shouldbe front and center in the current election cycle?  While conceding that a reasoned discussion of heavily politicized matters like climate change, immigration, or anything to do with Israel is probably impossible, other issues of demonstrable significance deserve attention.  What follows are six of them (...)
Again, yes and no: No, I do certainly not believe that these questions are "probably impossible" to be discussed reasonably in front of any audience, though yes, I also believe that the audience of presidential elections is probably not fit for them.

In fact, I believe what Robert Reich believes (see yesterday):
But detailed policy proposals are as relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now.
Also, this is not because "detailed policy proposals" are not interesting: it is because they are beyond the intelligent and informed interests of most voters.

Having granted that, I also grant that I think it is a pity that the following questions will probably not be discussed at all by any of the presidential
candidates (and almost certainly not by any GOP-candidate):

1. The War on Terror: Nearly 15 years after this “war” was launched by George W. Bush, why hasn’t “the most powerful military in the world,” “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” won it?  Why isn’t victory anywhere in sight? (...)
2. Nuclear Weapons: Today, more than 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what purpose do nukes serve?  How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems does the United States actually need? (...)
3. Energy Security: Given the availability of abundant oil and natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the potential future abundance of alternative energy systems, why should the Persian Gulf continue to qualify as a vital U.S. national security interest? (...)
4. Assassination: Now that the United States has normalized assassination as an instrument of policy, how well is it working?  What are its benefits and costs? (...)
5. Europe: Seventy years after World War II and a quarter-century after the Cold War ended, why does European security remain an American responsibility?  Given that Europeans are rich enough to defend themselves, why shouldn’t they? (...)
6. Debt: Does the national debt constitute a threat to national security?  If so, what are some politically plausible ways of reining it in? (...)
Note that in fact I have not quoted rather a lot of text (indicated by "(...)"): Each point comes with a fairly long justification, for these are just the topics and the questions, and not the reasons for the questions.

I liked the article, without agreeing with everything, and leave the rest to the interests of my readers.


[1] What would he say against a person like me, who insists that the billionaires are so greedy, so egoistic, so dishonest, and so corrupting that it is
by far the best for human civilization to forbid anyone making more than 20 times what the poor get, supposing the poor can decently live on that?

Perhaps I am a 1000 times Heydrich, in his scale of values?!

[2] But it is fairly relevant: I never even was in Africa, so I don't  these numbers with absolute certainty, but I have heard them many times, and I have not heard them denied. If these numbers are correct (more or less), I really don't understand why this war in and around Iraq continues and continues - that is, except because the US military like it to continue and continue, because it does serve their interests very well: The more and the longer wars the US is involved in, the more money for the military.

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