1. Bernie Sanders’ Phantom Movement
2. Here’s a Way to Hold Wall Street Accountable
3. It Ain't Just Flint:
America’s Coast-to-Coast Toxic Crisis
4. New GOP Plans for Torture
5. Turkish-German Pact: EU Split by Merkel's Refugee Plan
This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 15,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is Chris Hedges' reaction to Bernie Sanders (with mine attached); item 2 is about an interesting article by Margaret Flowers and Jill Stein, in part about a fine plan and proposal by Bill Black; item 3
is about the fact (?) that there are far more toxic water supplies in
the USA than in Flint, but it is a bit thin on relevant evidence; item 4 is about new GOP plans to torture (which are both sick and illegal, so I have a voting advice); and item 5 is about a bad Spiegel article that I finally included in Nederlog, mostly because I strongly dislike its totally irrelevant "human interest" introduction: Please skip this baloney!
1. Bernie Sanders’ Phantom Movement
first item is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows - and the whole
article has the merit of explaining why Chris Hedges is opposed to
Hm. I will make some comments on parts that
seem to be missing. There are at least three such parts:
Bernie Sanders, who has attracted
numerous young, white, college-educated
supporters in his bid for the presidency, says he is creating a
movement and promises a political revolution. This rhetoric is an
updated version of the “change” promised by the 2008 campaign of Barack
Obama and by Jesse Jackson’s earlier National Rainbow Coalition. Such
Democratic electoral campaigns, at best, raise political consciousness.
But they do not become movements or engender revolutions. They exist as
long as election campaigns endure and then they vanish. Sanders’
campaign will be no different.
No movement or political revolution will
ever be built within the confines of the Democratic Party.
First, Bernie Sanders is definitely not (a) Barack Obama: Obama
started with virtually nothing plus a long, long, long list of promises
of what he was going to "Change!", "Change!", "Change!" ("Yes, we can!") - and it turned out almost every
promise was based on a lie that was only meant to elect
him, indeed rather precisely as Honest Hillary is campaigning now. In
contrast, Bernie Sanders started on a consistent, leftist and
democratic political career that goes back all the way to 1970. This
doesn't mean Sanders can win or can't lie or is always right; it does
mean that his position is quite different from Obama's.
Second, Chris Hedges disbelieves that Bernie Sanders' campaign will
become a movement or engender a revolution, and will be abandoned soon
after he has given up his candidacy (which he thinks is what will
happen: the Democratic Party will not allow Sanders to win the
presidential candidacy). I say: Perhaps. But then that will mostly not
be Sanders' mistake but the mistake or the incompetence of his followers:
They may not succeed in changing a failed candidacy into a movement -
but then again there ought
to be far better chances of starting a movement than five, ten or
fifteen years ago, and especially if millions of men and women have been
Third, Chris Hedges also doesn't consider Bernie Sanders' position as
an Independent. For Sanders in fact is an independent who chose
to run as a Democrat because he agrees far more with them than with the
and because there is a Democratic Party machine for national
elections in the
USA but not an Independent Party machine that could do the same
- or at least,
that is how I understood it. In any case, I do not think it is correct
that Sanders is working "within the confines of
the Democratic Party".
Then there is this by Chris Hedges on the Democrats:
The Democrats, like the
Republicans, have no interest in genuine reform. They are wedded to
corporate power. They are about appearance, not substance. They speak
in the language of democracy, even liberal reform and populism, but
doggedly block campaign finance reform and promote an array of
policies, including new trade agreements, that disempower workers. They
rig the elections, not only with money but also with so-called
I mostly agree, although there are a few
Democrats who are not quite like
most of the others, such as Elizabeth Warren, and who try not to
succumb to the party machine.
Then again, these are the facts: The USA has - quite ridiculously, in
my opinion - merely two big parties that may win a presidential
election and most other elections, and indeed both parties are quite
corrupt, quite dishonest, and mostly
rely on propaganda.
But that is not Bernie Sanders' desire either - it is a fact of
political life in the USA.
Then there is this list of questions by Chris Hedges:
Do Sanders’ supporters believe they can
wrest power from the Democratic establishment and transform the party?
Do they think the forces where real power lies—the military-industrial
complex, Wall Street, corporations, the security and surveillance
state—can be toppled by a Sanders campaign? Do they think the
Democratic Party will allow itself to be ruled by democratic
procedures? Do they not accept that with the destruction of organized
labor and anti-war, civil rights and progressive movements—a
destruction often orchestrated by security organs such as the FBI—the
party has lurched so far to the right that it has remade itself into
the old Republican Party?
I will try to answer them:
First question: At least they may have a chance. And they are operating
(small d) democratic way, and indeed are opposed by a powerful
élite. Then again, while they may fail, they then will - very probably
- fail by the non- democratic manipulations of that elite.
Second question: Again, they may have a
chance. I do not know how large
this is, but surely there are many times more supporters of Sanders
are supporters of "the military-industrial
complex, Wall Street, corporations, the security and surveillance state"
- and while these have their tentacles deep in many places, including
the Democratic Party's elites, and while they have a lot of money and
power, they also are not at all the same as the Democratic
Third question: "The Democratic Party" is
a considerable organization with several elites and several broad
branches of membership. I agree it mostly pretends to be
democratic in procedure, while in fact
it is run by a small elite - but then the Republican Party is worse,
and again there is a chance that millions of voters may upset the
balance that so far helped the small elites.
Fourth question: That is a loaded
question, which in fact asks the reader to concede Chris Hedges'
presumption that both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party
have changed radically: The Republicans now are extreme rightists, and
the The Democrats are what The Republicans were. But (i) that
is a radical assumption that (ii) at best is true of the - present -
in both parties. In any case, I see not much reason to concede the
presumption for the parties (the ordinary members) rather than the elites - and again, Sanders and his
supporters are using democratic means and have a chance they may succeed (in some).
So overall my reply is: Sanders and his
supporters at least make a chance of changing things, and they are
doing this in democratic ways, and are opposed by many in the Democratic
elites that mostly run the Democratic Party.
And then I have a question or two: Why not
try to make the best of the (small d) democratic chance that Sanders
advocates to make a change - as long as this lasts? Surely Sanders is
better than Clinton who is better than Cruz or Trump?!
But Chris Hedges has an answer:
am all for a revolution, a word Sanders likes to throw around, but
one that is truly socialist and destroys the corporate establishment,
including the Democratic Party. I am for a revolution that demands the
return of the rule of law, and not just for Wall Street, but those who
wage pre-emptive war, order the assassination of U.S. citizens, allow
the military to carry out domestic policing and then indefinitely hold
citizens without due process, who empower the wholesale surveillance of
the citizenry by the government. I am for a revolution that brings
under strict civilian control the military, the security and
surveillance apparatus including the CIA, the FBI, Homeland Security
and police and drastically reduces their budgets and power. I am for a
revolution that abandons imperial expansion, especially in the Middle
East, and makes it impossible to profit from war. I am for a revolution
that nationalizes banks, the arms industry, energy companies and
utilities, breaks up monopolies, destroys the fossil fuel industry,
funds the arts and public broadcasting, provides full employment and
free education including university education, forgives all student
debt, blocks bank repossessions and foreclosures of homes, guarantees
universal and free health care and provides a living wage to those
unable to work, especially single parents, the disabled and the
elderly. Half the country, after all, now lives in poverty. None of us
live in freedom.
My reply is this:
I too am in favor of a revolution, and I like most of
things Chris Hedges likes as well.  But there is on the moment (and
the past 45 years) not the ghost of a chance that it will happen and
succeed in the USA, simply because the great majority in the USA is not
as far as that.
Then again, it may happen that Bernie Sanders will win the presidential
candidacy; Sanders does have a 45 year background of honest leftism;
and it is possible he may change quite a number of things.
So why give up on him now? Mostly - it seems, and supposing one
is a genuine leftist, as Chris Hedges is
- because one believes he is not pure enough "a socialist", or not
radical enough by one's own lights, or has some mistaken policies.
I agree that position is tenable, but I also think my position - support
Sanders as long as he makes a chance of winning the candidacy, simply
because he is the only credible candidate with a chance of
winning it and of winning the presidency (at least so far) - is more
realistic, and indeed also more democratic.
2. Here’s a Way to Hold Wall Street
is by Margaret Flowers and Jill Stein:
This starts as follows:
The year 2016 is off to a rocky start
for the stock market, not just in the United States but also globally.
Many economists are predicting a financial crash this year or next.
Stocks are overvalued without a foundation to hold them up, production
is down and debt is high. Central banks, such as the Federal Reserve,
have run out of solutions, and investors have run out of confidence in
them. The grand illusion of economic recovery is about to be exposed.
Financial fraud is at the heart of the
coming crisis. In 2008 when a sector rife with fraud crashed, instead
of having to face responsibility the too-big-to-fail banks were bailed
out with public dollars. The public, meanwhile, bore the cost not just
in dollars but also in lost jobs, lower wages and home foreclosures.
I think this is all correct - and Jill
Stein is the presidential candidate of the Green Party, which - I am
willing to agree with Chris Hedges - may have a somewhat better program
than Bernie Sanders has, although there is no chance that the Greens
will win the presidency.
In the past 15 years, the U.S. has
weathered devastating aftereffects of two financial bubbles: the
“dot-com” bubble in the late 1990s, which burst in early 2000, and the
housing bubble, which burst in 2008. Many pundits contend that the 2008
financial crisis is over and that we are in recovery, but the reality
is that the “recovery” has really been only for those at the top who
were bailed out by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve.
Again I quite agree. Then there is this on
the economical condition of very many in the present USA:
Half the people in this country have no
two-thirds cannot handle an unexpected expense of more than $500,
including not being able to borrow what they need from family or
friends. The low-wage “recovery” has devastated
the middle class, with 51 percent of workers now earning under
$30,000 a year.
Here I should say that I am Dutch and have
been ill for 37 years and was in the dole for 31 years (because these
bureaucrats did not want to admit I was ill, and very probably did know
that I was an opponent of the mayor) and that my income is around
$15,000 a year - but I only need to take care of my self; I live
a simple life without expensive sins; and I can take care of an
unexpected expense of at least $2000, for I saved that much (with
trouble, but I did).
I am a bit amazed that my financial situation is better than 2 out of 3
of the current Americans, but then the European social system has not
yet been fully
Americanized (as I fear it will be - eventually - when the TTIP is
introduced as a "law": paying people for being ill or for not working
is "not profitable", therefore forbidden).
2011 audit of the Federal Reserve found that $16 trillion had been
allocated to banks and corporations for “financial assistance” after
the 2008 collapse. As a result, the Fed is currently leveraged 77 to
1—more than double what Lehman Brothers was when it failed in 2008.
Again correct, as is the following
diagnosis of the psychology of those enriching themselves at Wall
The reality is that there are no ethics
on Wall Street. Everyone is playing against each other and using
whatever tools there are—even some they do not fully understand—to make
money without regard to the impact they will have on others. It is an
“As long as I get mine, then screw the rest” mentality. This mentality
has been enabled over the past decade or so by the lack of meaningful
oversight. Basically, this behavior occurs because those involved are
getting away with it and raking in millions, if not billions, of
dollars as their reward. If fraud creates wealth, people will engage in
it until they are stopped.
I may perhaps disagree about "the lack of meaningful oversight",
simply because I think Eric Holders' oversight was both meaningful and
quite criminal, but then the writers may also agree with me.
Finally, I did not quote their support for
Bill Black (<- Wikipedia) and his group, but they certainly do, as I do, and here is
their mentioning them:
The full plan and an explanation of it
can be viewed on their website, New
The last link - New
- is very well worth looking at and contains the very good 19-point 60
day plan to restore the US economy, indeed mostly by stopping the
corruptions, the loopholes and the deregulations.
Ain't Just Flint: America’s Coast-to-Coast Toxic Crisis
third item is by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz on AlterNet:
This starts as follows (and while it is
correct, I found this article a bit disappointing because it is vague):
Talk about nightmares: the
children of a city, thousands of them, may have been poisoned by lead
in its drinking water in a process set off by adults intent on saving a
little money, who learned of the dangers and then ignored the warnings of scientists, revealed nothing to the public about the
risks to their health, insisted on the water’s safety, and in some cases suppressed information about its actual
There is more there, and indeed I know that
there are considerably more Flints from Youtube, but this is most of
the information I got from the present article:
President Obama would have good
reason to worry if his kids lived in Flint. But the city’s
children are hardly the only ones threatened by this public health crisis. There’s a lead crisis
for children in Baltimore,
Maryland, Herculaneum, Missouri, Sebring, Ohio, and even the nation’s capital, Washington,
D.C., and that’s just to begin a list. State reports suggest, for instance, that "18 cities in
Pennsylvania and 11 in New Jersey may have an even higher share of
children with dangerously elevated levels of lead than does Flint."
Today, scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead for
children and at least half of American children have some of this
neurotoxin in their blood.
Altogether, then, I count 35 cases, but I
would like to see better evidence that
29 cities (bolding added) "may have an
even higher share of children with dangerously elevated levels of lead
than does Flint".
There is also this:
In truth, the United States has
scores of “Flints” awaiting their moments. Think of them as
ticking toxic time bombs -- just an austerity scheme or some official’s
poor decision away from a public health disaster. Given this,
it’s remarkable, even in the wake of Flint, how little attention or
publicity such threats receive. Not surprisingly, then, there
seems to be virtually no political will to ensure that future
generations of children will not suffer the same fate as those in Flint.
Well... once again: I'd like to see more
evidence, and indeed if that were to come (evidence of "scores of “Flints”") I take it there will
be a considerably stronger public reaction.
4. New GOP Plans for Torture
The fourth item is by Nat Parry on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Troubling comments within the
Republican presidential field over whether to reinstate torture and
implement other war crimes have been drawing criticism lately, with the
2008 Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain, even
feeling compelled to weigh in last week by calling out the “loose talk”
in the Republican primaries.
On Feb. 9, McCain took to the
Senate floor to condemn remarks
by his Republican colleagues regarding the use of torture, saying that
“these statements must not go unanswered because they mislead the
American people about the realities of interrogation, how to gather
intelligence, what it takes to defend our security and at the most
fundamental level, what we are fighting for as a nation and what kind
of nation we are.
Kudos to John McCain - who did
serve as a soldier, who was shot down, and who was
tortured, while none of these things hold for any of
the torture-happy Republican candidates.
Then there is this on Rubio's - crazy, ignorant, sick, sadistic and quite
illegal - opinions on how sweet he would feel if he could torture
anyone accused of terrorism:
Rubio also reiterated his support
for waterboarding, saying that terrorism cases should not be held to
the same humane legal standards of traditional law enforcement. “Well,
when people talk about interrogating terrorists, they’re acting like
this is some sort of law enforcement function,” he said.
“Law enforcement is about gathering evidence to take someone to trial,
and convict them. Anti-terrorism is about finding out information to
prevent a future attack so the same tactics do not apply.”
Taking this to its logical conclusion,
what Rubio seems to be saying is that it is perfectly permissible to
detain individuals suspected of ties to terrorism, without due process
(or evidence), torture them into providing information, which may or
may not be true – including perhaps identifying other suspected
terrorists – in an endless process of extra-legal detention and torture
that produces neither actionable intelligence nor evidence that can be
used in a court of law.
Yes, indeed: What he seemed to be saying
is that what he calls "terrorists" are beyond the law (?!?!), and may be
arrested and tortured on mere suspicion, and not because they committed
any crime, but to prevent future crimes. And he seems to be for a kind
of - completely extra-legal, probably mostly secret - inquisition for
those accused of "terrorism".
Here is one moral conclusion that Nat Parry draws:
What the current “debate” over bringing
back torture highlights, however, besides how perverse the Republican
dialogue has become, is why prosecutions of the Bush-era CIA torture
program are essential, and why it is so damaging that the Obama
administration has shirked its responsibilities in this regard for more
than seven years.
I agree but I don't see either the
Republicans or the CIA or Obama change their points of view, that vary
between "We need lots more torture (and damn all the legalities)" to
"it is regrettable Our Exceptional Men and Women tortured, but we will
not prosecute them, for they are Exceptional (unlike the "folks"
they brutally tortured)".
But in any case, you do have a strong
advice to vote: Those who agree - with the United Nations and most
countries - that torture is illegal and a crime should not vote
for any Republican.
5. Turkish-German Pact: EU Split by Merkel's Refugee Plan
The fifth item is by Horand Knaup, Peter Müller, René Fischer and
This starts as follows - and this start is
one reason why I discarded this article already two times, but
now you are going to have it:
On a recent windy Saturday
morning, António Rocha heads out to sea off the north end of the Greek
island of Lesbos in accordance with his mission: securing the maritime
border between Greece and Turkey. Rocha, a 52-year-old officer with the
Portuguese coast guard, steers his ship, the Tejo, into the
meter-high waves with the two 350-horsepower engines whining in
protest. Rocha stands at the helm, legs spread wide for balance, and
scans the sea for inflatable rafts full of refugees. "Only a lunatic
would head out today," Rocha says. Lunatics or, to be more precise, the
desperate. And there are plenty of those these days.
Mister António Rocha gets two more
introductory paragraphs, after which he totally disappears from
the whole article, never to be heard of again.
I detest these sick openings since I was about 50 years ago first
regaled by them in the New York Review of Books. And I will here
explain why I detest these utterly irrelevant personal details as well:
WTF is the relevance of the "recent" and the "windy"? Why the hell do I
and whoever reads this trash need to know it was "Saturday" and
"morning"? Why do I need to know the name of "António Rocha"? What is
the point of mentioning "Lesbos"? WTF do I need to know he is 52 and
not 51, 53, 45, 37
or 34? And also not 44 or 62? WTF do I need to know the name of his
What difference does it make to me or any reader that the waves were
"meter-high"? What the hell is the point of mentioning he had "two"
(not "three", nor "one", nor "four") engines? What is the point of
saying they were "350-horsepower"? Why do I - and God knows how many others - need
to be told he has "legs spread wide for balance"?! And what is the fucking point of quoting him on
Here are my answers: ALL of that information was totally
wasted baloney, utter bullshit, which
- and I and whoever reads the Spiegel - get served by 4 journalists who
cannot write, but who believe, probably for no rational reasons
whatsoever, that you - and I and
whoever reads the Spiegel - need some
meaningless "human interest" baloney to grasp your attention, when you
are interested to find things out about the Turkish-German pact.
No! I want to read about the Turkish-German pact
- as the title has it! - and I am totally uninterested
in the whereabouts, the age, the rank, the ship, the ship's name, the
number of engines, the horsepower of the engines, the choppy sea, the
day, the time of day, the vicinity of the ship, and the opinions of Mr
Rocha, who just does not belong in an article like this, and
indeed who gets totally removed after three paragraphs full of completely
irrelevant and uninteresting details.
Anyway... these are my opinions, and I have them for 50 years
now, and I still detest this totally fake "human interest"
Also, the whole article is scarce on information, for what we are told
comes to this:
Which I translate thus: Most Europeans - if their leaders are to be trusted - don't want to rescue refugees; quite a few detest Mohammedans; many don't want to pay for refugees; and so "Europe" mostly seeks ways to prevent the arrivals of refugees or tries to make them turn back. (Also, the European leaders will never hand the bill to the US government, whose policies are most responsible for creating the refugees in the first place.)
The nucleus of Merkel's plan is an offer
to take a predetermined number of refugees each year -- a range of
between 200,000 and 300,000 is currently making the rounds in the
Chancellery. They would then be distributed throughout Europe, with
every member state required to take refugees from the Middle East in
accordance with its size and capabilities. Ideally, all of those who
sought to make their way from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands on
their own would be turned back to Turkey. They could then decide
whether to apply to be included in the quota bound for Europe or to
return to their homeland.
That, at least, is the theory.
In practice, though, Merkel has made very
little progress towards this goal.
So now there are some plans that sound completely inadequate to help the several millions of refugees; which are still pretended to be "humanistic" although the treatment of the refugees is not; and which anyway do not seem to work at all.
O, well... more to follow, no doubt, but I much hope without sick and false and totally irrelevant "human interest" introductions, which I - at least - deeply detest for 50 years now: It is irrelevant blather inserted by folks who can't write.
 But my opinion on "socialism" (and indeed also on its meaning) are not those of Chris Hedges, as indeed I explained on September 21, 2015: See my "On Socialism".