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Nederlog

January 31, 2016

Crisis: France, Clintons, Bill Black, Germany, Bernie Sanders
Sections                                                                     crisis index    
Introduction   

1.
Thousands Mobilize in France Against 'Headlong Rush
     into Authoritarianism'

2. The Clinton System
3.
Bill Black: Announcing the Bank Whistleblowers’ Group’s
     Initial Proposals

4. German Interior Minister on Refugee Crisis
5.
The radical left has Bernie Sanders all wrong
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, January 31, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about France, its decline towards an authoritarian state, and the protests against it; item 2 is about the Clintons and the system that enriched them; item 3 is about a new whistleblowers' group, that I welcome and find quite interesting; item 4 is about an interview with Germany's interior minister, who mostly said nothing; and item 5 is about how the far left is mistaken about Bernie Sanders.

1. Thousands Mobilize in France Against 'Headlong Rush into Authoritarianism' 

The first article is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Thousands of people in Paris and other French cities hit the streets on Saturday to protest the controversial state of emergency that one organization says is an indication of a "headlong rush into authoritarianism."

The measure, imposed following the November attacks in Paris, is set to expire February 26. Debate in the bicameral parliament is forthcoming, as Agence France-Presse reports, with "Senate [...] to vote on the proposal on February 9, followed by a vote in the National Assembly on February 16."

At the action in Paris, police said 5,000 took part, while organizers said the turnout was 20,000. Dozens of similar protests also took place Saturday in other cities across the nation.

I agree with the demonstrators, and indeed with the slogan that what is happening in France is a "headlong rush into authoritarianism" - and in fact I agree with this at least since October 29, 2008 (in Dutch, but quite good).

And indeed I go further: I thought then and I think now that "terrorism" was and is the completely dishonest political propaganda way to end personal freedoms, to end personal decision making, to end social freedom and to further the denials of access of the many poor and non-rich to virtually any governmental power or influence.

Nearly all of the news I have read about terrorism in the main media were and are - in my opinion - propaganda falsehoods to move the frightened many to accept the destruction of their own democracy, their own democratic laws, and their own democratic rights.

Here is - once more - Hermann Goering on the subject:

  

It does, especially since so many are neither intelligent nor informed.

And this is what is happening in France:

Paris-based civil liberties group La Quadrature du Net earlier this week called on people to take part in one of the protests, and also urged people to call members of parliament to voice their concerns.

"To stop the government's escalation of security measures, which destroys the bases of our institutions day after day and trivializes attacks on fundamental rights, it is urgent to clearly demonstrate our refusal of this obnoxious policy," the organization said in a media statement.

Yes, indeed. And there is this, that again accords with my diagnosis that "terrorism" is a coded attack on democracy and democratic rights,
neither of which is realistically threatened by "terrorism":

The protests also come the same week as France's top administrative court rejected an appeal brought by the Paris-based League of Human Rights that urged the body to suspend all or part of the state of emergency, and follows a joint statement by a group of United Nations human rights experts who warned that the measures "impose excessive and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms."

Quite so. Will it help? I fear not, but indeed I agree with the demonstrators:
If you give up your democratic rights, you embrace an authoritarian state.


2. The Clinton System

The second item is by Simon Head on The New York Review of Books (that seems to be getting a bit more political):

This starts as follows:

On January 17, in the final Democratic debate before the primary season begins, Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary Clinton for her close financial ties to Wall Street, something he had avoided in his campaigning up to that moment: “I don’t take money from big banks….You’ve received over $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in one year,” he said. Sanders’s criticisms coincided with recent reports that the FBI might be expanding its inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails to include her ties to big donors while serving as secretary of state. But a larger question concerns how Hillary and Bill Clinton have built their powerful donor machine, and what its existence might mean for Hillary Clinton’s future conduct as American president. The following investigation, drawing on many different sources, is intended to give a full sense of the facts about Clinton and not to endorse a particular candidate in the coming election.

And that is indeed what the article does. Here are three facts about the Clintons that were pretty decisive for me:

1. Bill Clinton started the completely fallacious bullshit of the Third Way, which in fact served the big banks and the rich, while lying about its own progressiveness (which was mostly mere political correctness (<- Wikipedia): legislating how one should address others). As Bill Black (see the next item) said:

"Third Way is this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's nothing of the sort."

2. This bullshit produced $120 million for him, mostly as rewards for his serving the big banks. (The same bullshit produced at least 50 million pounds to the Catholic fraud Tony Blair.)

3. Bill Clinton started the big deregulations that led to the 2008-crisis, and the following major corruptions of the major American banks.

These fraudulent positions are not treated in the article, which follows the money, but I did like the article, that does make a lot clearer about the massive financial speculations the Clintons engage in, that come down to the following:

(i) rich corporations pay - say, and these numbers are genuine if approximare - $250,000 for a speech, (ii) which gets remunerated by help from the Clintons at some later point that normally deliver a 10 or 100-fold or more in profits to the rich corporations, while (iii) the Clintons keep playing the progressive helpers of the non-rich, since that is what they get most of their votes from.

In brief, they are totally corrupt and extremely well paid, which again they are because they do reliably deliver to the rich corporations as whose paid servants they function.

Here is Simon Head's appraisal of their reliability (for the rich, not for the non-rich):

What stands out about what I will call the Clinton System is the scale and complexity of the connections involved, the length of time they have been in operation, the presence of former president Bill Clinton alongside Hillary as an equal partner in the enterprise, and the sheer magnitude of the funds involved.

Yes indeed. And this article is well worth reading and is recommended, simply because it does give a credible survey of the enormous amounts of money the Clintons get from the rich, for their services to the rich.

The article ends as follows:

So far, Hillary Clinton has refused to commit herself to a reintroduction of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which Bill Clinton allowed to be repealed in 1999 on the advice of Democrats with close ties to Wall Street, including Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. The reintroduction of Glass-Steagall, favored by Bernie Sanders, would prevent banks from speculating in financial derivatives, a leading cause of the 2007-2008 crash. With leading Wall Street banks so prominent in the Clintons’ fundraising streams, can Hillary Clinton be relied upon to reform the banks beyond the modest achievements of the Dodd-Frank bill of 2010?

The reply to this question is: No, she certainly cannot be trusted - follow the money, and you will see where her real loyalties are.

3. Bill Black: Announcing the Bank Whistleblowers’ Group’s Initial Proposals

The third item is by Bill Black (<- Wikipedia). I found it on Naked Capitalism, but it originated on New Economic Perspective:

This starts as follows:

I am writing to announce the formation of a new group and a policy initiative that we hope many of our readers will support and help publicize.  Gary Aguirre, Bill Black, Richard Bowen, and Michael Winston are the founding members of the Bank Whistleblowers’ Group.  We are all from the general field of finance and we are all whistleblowers who are unemployable in finance and financial regulation because we spoke truth to power and committed the one unforgivable sin of being repeatedly proved correct.

This is excellent news for me, because indeed this is true about Bill Black, and no doubt also about the other three: They are financial specialists who are honest, and are therefore widely discriminated by the very many American corrupt financial organizations.

Here is some more:

We are a newly formed organization of financial sector whistleblowers dedicated to holding the elite financial leaders who led the fraud epidemics that caused the financial crisis and the Great Recession personally accountable and to helping to implement the urgent changes necessary to prevent or at least reduce the frequency and harm of future crises.  Our group has expertise in finance, banking, real estate, accounting, underwriting, economics, law, securities, criminology, regulation, and financial derivatives.  We also have international expertise.

We are releasing four documents today.  This first document provides the outline of our plan that would allow any newly elected President (or President Obama) to restore the rule of law and end “too big to fail” without any new legislation or rules within 60 days.  The second document explains and fleshes out the outline of our 60-Day Plan.  The third document is our proposal to encourage the candidates to pledge that they will not take contributions from banks (and their officers) that the federal government, after investigation, have found to have engaged in fraud or other felonies.  The fourth document explains who the whistleblowers are and provides our bios and contact information.

Our group is predominately former bankers who worked at fairly senior levels for enormous financial institutions.  We do not hate banks or bankers as a group.  We know, however, that when elite fraud is not stopped by the regulators and the prosecutors it is likely to create a “Gresham’s” dynamic.  The Nobel Laureate George Akerlof was the first economist to describe this dynamic in 1970.

Excellent - indeed also if it fails (as it very well may if Trump or Cruz is the next US president).

There is a lot more under the last dotted link, which is recommended.

4. German Interior Minister on Refugee Crisis

The fourth item is
by Ralf Neukirch and René Pfister on Spiegel International:

This has an introduction:
In an interview, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, 62, warns that the government in Berlin only has a few weeks left to solve the refugee problem. He fears that Europe's open-border policies may soon end if a solution isn't found.
I will quote two bits from the interview, though it seemed to me mostly given by a governmental liar who does not really answer any questions about his policies, his concerns, his values or his priorities, rather as if he belongs to the political nobility (which he does, in effect).

But judge for yourself: These are "the best" bits from the interview:

SPIEGEL: Isn't the real illusion the idea that Europe is going to help bail Germany out of the refugee crisis? Austria has announced a cap on the number of refugees it is willing to take, Denmark has tightened its asylum laws and Sweden is no longer allowing refugees without papers into the country.

De Maizière: On Monday, I sat together with my European counterparts in Amsterdam and the degree of responsibility they felt was indeed very divergent. However, it is a mistake if some partners believe they can avoid the problem.
If that wasn't impressive, there is the following:

De Maizière: We want clarity by spring. Compared to September and October, when on some days as many as 10,000 people entered Germany, the number has decreased significantly. In January, an average of 2,000 people came per day, which, projected over a year would still be very many -- too many. So no matter what, we need to prevent the influx from massively increasing again in the spring. Time is running out.

Well, 365 * 2000 = 730,000 in a country of over 80 million inhabitants. That is still less than 1%. But with men like De Maizière... o well.

5. The radical left has Bernie Sanders all wrong

The fifth and last item is by Josh Fattal on Salon:

This starts as follows:

For the most part the far left—those whose identities are wrapped up in being socialist, anarchist and other shades of left activists—do not understand the real significance of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Clinging to their ideologies and principles, they see plenty of reasons why Sanders is insufficient: he doesn’t call for workers owning the means of production; he doesn’t advocate national control of key industries; he will centralize the state with big government.
Yes, indeed: These (American) "far leftists", to settle on a name, don't live in a reality in which 60% of the American population believes in the literal truth of Noah's Ark story; where the majority is Christian; and where one can get some political changes, though indeed not all one wants, by voting for a politician who is not perfectly ideal. [1]

Here is Josh Fattal's argument against this type of "far leftist":
But they are missing the point. Let me point out some of what these folks neglect: Bernie Sanders is publicizing two main messages: 1) the economy is rigged and 2) our politics is corrupted. Millions of people have heard that message more clearly from him than they ever would have heard before.
I agree with Fattal, but indeed I much doubt many of the "far leftists" will see it thus, basically because they are predominatly of the type that wants things all as they please, and reject anything which goes in their direction without reaching it. Indeed:
One socialist website even makes it seem that Bernie will undermine the revolutionary working class’s aspirations for syndicalist control of the economy. This kind of thinking is the result of a mind-body split. These radicals are clearly not experiencing the embodied world around them. Instead they seem to be using deductive logic based on theory, not sound history.
Yes (although I don't believe in "a mind-body split": far too vague): They simply are so prejudiced that they deny all theories that don't agree with their assumptions and they also deny or disregard all facts that go against their theories. (Also, if they are postmodernistically influenced they deny facts and truths: all there is are "narratives", for the committed postmodernists. [2])

The article ends as follows:

Without Sanders’ political revolution, we can rest assured that we’ll have another four years of cycles of repression, resistance and left critiques of politicians who they now say make no difference anyway. It’s hardly deniable that a few months of activism devoted to Bernie could enable more change than years of screaming at the corporate iron wall.

I agree, but then I've always been a realist. And this is an interesting and sensible article that is recommended, though without any illusion (on my part) that it will cure most on the far left.

---------------
Notes

[1] I must and do grant that there simply are (far) leftist groups that do not live in reality, and they have been there all the time in the over 50 years I've been looking at politics, and also before that, going back as far as the French revolution. And something similar holds for (far) rightist groups, though I am less informed about them (apart from the Nazis, about whom I know a fair amount).

And my explanation for the continued - centuries long (!) - existence of both groups of radicals is in part temperamental (some really do insist that nothing is sufficient or good unless it totally fits their own theories) and in part totalita- rianism (which amounts to roughly the same, but not on temperamental grounds but on - purported - grounds of doctrine).

[2] The narrative point of view - "we all tell each other narratives; everything is a narrative" - is still quite popular amongst the politically correct "left", so I say something about it:

To insist that "everything is a narrative" is normally a relativistic very wide generalization that does away with any distinction of quality in the narratives, apart from personal liking.

It is normally pure bullshit that reduces any saying by anyone to "talk", while denying (in good part through refusing to discuss) any difference in the intellectual, ethical or scientific status (including the definite lacks thereof) of the "talkers": One's views - however uninformed, however stupid, however biased - are "just as good" as anyone else's views, according to many "narrativists".

Well... this is just a plain lie in most circumstances: The intelligent and informed, and especially those who know about real science, generally know better than the unintelligent, the uninformed and the not scientifically educated.


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