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Nederlog

 February 23, 2016

Crisis: Wikileaks, Amy Goodman, Wall Street, Establishment, Scalia & Truth
Sections                                                                     crisis index    
Introduction   

1.
WikiLeaks: NSA Spied on Israel’s Attempts to Repair
     Relations With U.S.

2.
VIDEO: Amy Goodman on the Media’s Skewed Election
     Coverage: Why Policy Matters More Than Polls

3.
I Worked on Wall Street - Here's Why I'm Skeptical
     Hillary Clinton Will Rein It In

4. The End of the Establishment?
5. The Speaker for the Dead: Antonin Scalia and the Truth
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, February 23, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a recent Wikileaks publication that shows the enormous extent of secret spying these days, including spying on the cellphones and computers of many prominent politicians of many countries; item 2 is about a short video in which Amy Goodman explains why Bernie Sanders' results are quite strong; item 3 is about a fine article by someone who worked on Wall Street and who thinks the Clintons are both basically bought by Wall Street and loved to be bought by them; item 4 is about an article of Robert Reich who thinks the strong results of Trump and Sanders are evidence for the end of the American establishment; and item 5 is another fine article, this time about the late Antonin Scalia.

1. WikiLeaks: NSA Spied on Israel’s Attempts to Repair Relations With U.S.

This first item is by Nicky Hager on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

NEWLY PUBLISHED CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS show the National Security Agency spied on a 2010 conversation between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two discussed ways to improve Israel’s relationship with the United States.

The Italian-Israeli conversation is included in one of five NSA documents released Tuesday by WikiLeaks, which has not disclosed the source of the leaks.
This is here to make three things quite clear:

(1) everybody is now being spied on in secret by the NSA (and the GCHQ and other secret services) including all politicians, which (2) gives all the advantages, all the knowledge, and all the insights to the secret spies of the NSA (etc. etc.) and those who command them (for they know everything about anyone, which no one else does) while (3) this is in fact a totally new and very dangerous situation in politics:

Politics is no longer - really - made by elected politicians, even though they still pretend (and possibly believe) to do so, but is in fact mostly made by the secret spies who know everything about them (and who can Deny / Disrupt / Degrade and Deceive anyone they don't like, all in the deepest secret, without anyone who is not a spy knowing anything).

Of course there is very much more spying than merely on the Italian and Israeli heads of state:
The newly published reports provide additional details on U.S. efforts to spy on countries taking part in the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, which failed to reach an agreement. In 2014, documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA collected information about various countries’ positions.
What they did with that information was not revealed, I think. And there
also was this:

Another top-secret report reveals intercepted climate change discussions between German and Japanese officials. The German official, Bernd Pfaffenbach, was reported saying that the “crucial issue” in an upcoming G-8 meeting was whether the United States was prepared to “accept going beyond” its previous position on climate change.

In brief: I think it is a safe assumption that by now all important politicians are secretly checked and followed, both on their cellphones and on their computers,
and that many political outcomes of the last 15 years may have been influenced by manipulations from the secret service, that is, by the recently acquired abilities of all secret services to
Deny / Disrupt / Degrade and Deceive anyone and anything, and all in the deepest secret, unknown to almost anyone. [1]

Also, this is just the very beginning of the secret ruling of everyone by secret  manipulations of the secret services, and this will continue to grow ever more stronger until these secret manipulations and massive thefts of private information have been totally killed - on which there is no chance at all in the present circumstances.

2. VIDEO: Amy Goodman on the Media’s Skewed Election Coverage: Why Policy Matters More Than Polls

The second item is by Roisin Davies on Truthdig

This starts as follows:

In this video, “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman discusses the U.S. media obsession with polls and why we should focus on candidates’ records instead.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Goodman said, “… it is astounding that Bernie Sanders is where he is today. Look at that Tyndall Center report that found in 2015, in the months leading up to December, you had 234 total network minutes, like almost four hours, CBS, NBC, ABC, covering Trump. That’s four hours and how much got coverage? Sanders got 10 minutes. On ‘ABC World News Tonight’ in that year, Sanders got 20 seconds. Trump got like 81 minutes.”

And here is the video, which takes less than 5 minutes:

 

Also, it should be said that in these circumstances - with Bernie Sanders getting
10 minutes against Trump's getting 235 minutes, or Bernie Sanders getting 20 seconds on ABC against Trump's getting 81 minutes - one can rather confidently draw two consequences:

  1. The US main TV media these days no longer give any realistic view of the news, but try to influence and manipulate their viewers as much as they can, and work so as to give approved candidates nearly all their attention and time, while denying almost everything to non-approved candidates; and therefore
  2. it is something of a minor miracle that Bernie Sanders decisively beat
    Clinton in one instance, and almost got as many votes as she did in the two other instances.

3. I Worked on Wall Street - Here's Why I'm Skeptical Hillary Clinton Will Rein It In

The third item is by Chris Arnade on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (minus links to The Guardian [2]):

I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them. Over the last 25 years they – with the Clintons it is never just Bill or Hillary – implemented policies that placed Wall Street at the center of the Democratic economic agenda, turning it from a party against Wall Street to a party of Wall Street.

That is why when I recently went to see Hillary Clinton campaign for president and speak about reforming Wall Street I was skeptical. What I heard hasn’t changed that skepticism. The policies she offers are mid-course corrections. In the Clintons’ world, Wall Street stays at the center, economically and politically. Given Wall Street’s power and influence, that is a dangerous place to leave them.

I say - and I note that Chris Arnade worked on Wallstreet and owes "almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons", while he also asserts that "most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them".

Besides, Arnade also makes clear that the Clintons had to work hard, initially, to gain the trust of the big bankers:

When Bill Clinton ran for office, he offered up him and Hillary (“Two for the price of one”) as New Democrats, embracing an image of being tough on crime, but not on business. Despite the campaign rhetoric, nobody on the trading floor I joined had voted for the Clintons or trusted them.

But here is how the Clintons made themselves well loved by the big bankers:

Despite Wall Street’s reticence, key appointments were swinging their way. Robert Rubin, who had been CEO of Goldman Sachs, was appointed to a senior White House job as director of the National Economic Council. The Treasury Department was also being filled with banking friendly economists who saw the markets as a solution, not as a problem.

The administration’s economic policy took shape as trickle down, Democratic style. They championed free trade, pushing Nafta. They reformed welfare, buying into the conservative view that poverty was about dependency, not about situation. They threw the old left a few bones, repealing prior tax cuts on the rich, but used the increased revenues mostly on Wall Street’s favorite issue: cutting the debt.

Precisely: They pretended to be "leftists" but in fact were rightists, and indeed also tried to destroy all real leftists by their Third Way crap, and they mostly succeeded in doing so, also helped by the turning of many (former) leftists to the sick lie of political correctness: "We approve of anything and anyone, provided they do speak and write without offense about anyone".

Here is the main consequence as far as Chris Arnade is concerned - and he is correct, I think:

Wall Street now had both political parties working for them, and really nobody holding them accountable. Now, no trade was too aggressive, no risk too crazy,  and no loss too painful. It unleashed a boom that produced plenty of smaller crisis (Russia, Dotcom), before culminating in the housing and financial crisis of 2008.

The response to that crisis was Mexico 1995 writ large: bailout the banks and save Wall Street. This time executed by an Obama administration filled with veterans of the Clinton administration, including Hillary Clinton and Larry Summers.
There is more in the article, which is recommended.

4.  The End of the Establishment?

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Step back from the campaign fray for just a moment and consider the enormity of what’s already occurred.

A 74-year-old Jew from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, who wasn’t even a Democrat until recently, has come within a whisker of beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus, routed her in the New Hampshire primary, and garnered over 47 percent of the caucus-goers in Nevada, of all places.

And a 69-year-old billionaire who has never held elective office or had anything to do with the Republican Party has taken a commanding lead in the Republican primaries.

Something very big has happened, and it’s not due to Bernie Sanders’ magnetism or Donald Trump’s likeability.

It’s a rebellion against the establishment.

Perhaps - and for some more on this rebellion see item 2. Incidentally, the reasons I wrote "Perhaps" comprise the facts that (i) the main establishments that are being wrecked are the leaders of the two parties, and on the moment especially the Republicans, while (ii) most of the evidence for "a rebellion" are
the many votes for Sanders - which, while it may be unexpected, does not seem to me to be much of "a rebellion".

Then again, I may be too pessimistic [3].

Here are some reasons why "a rebellion" would be quite justified:

Median family income lower now than it was sixteen years ago, adjusted for inflation.

Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top.

These gains have translated into political power to rig the system with bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, trade deals, and increasing market power – all of which have further pushed down wages pulled up profits.

Those at the very top of the top have rigged the system even more thoroughly. Since 1995, the average income tax rate for the 400 top-earning Americans has plummeted from 30 percent to 17 percent.

There is more in the article, which is recommended.

5. The Speaker for the Dead: Antonin Scalia and the Truth

The fifth item is by Wiliam Rivers Pitt on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

For a long time now, I've been waiting with diligent patience to write three articles: One on the passing of former President George W. Bush, one on the passing of former Vice President Dick Cheney and one on the passing of now-former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The novelist Orson Scott Card developed, in his writings, an idea for someone known as the Speaker for the Dead. A Speaker does not spit-polish and shine the departed at the graveside, doesn't eulogize inflated greatness or create a polite fiction to please and soothe. The Speaker tells the unvarnished truth about the one going into the ground: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today, I stand as Justice Scalia's Speaker for the Dead.

This is an excellent article, and is strongly recommended. Here is Pitt's assessment of Scalia's public character:

Whatever Justice Scalia may have been to his family and friends, he was to the nation a wrecking ball. One may try to deny that he was a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, an unabashed authoritarian and in the end a simple, shabby ward-heeling Republican lackey. The black-letter truths about the man, buried in his decisions for the majority and the minority, as well as his oft-quoted public comments, tell the true tale. It is abundantly clear that Mr. Scalia approached his duties with a broad sense of entitlement, exclusion and venom. The man had a lot of hate in his heart, and it poured out onto the pages of his decisions in vigorous abundance.

Yes - and as I concluded myself earlier: Scalia wrote many of his legal opinions not as a lawyer but as a very conservative political Republican.

Here are some ot things Scalia achieved as a SCOTUS judge:

Justice Scalia, by way of his argument in Bush v. Gore to stop the vote counting in Florida, was instrumental in giving us George W. Bush, which gave us Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, September 11, the ongoing Afghanistan War, WMD lies, the Iraq war with millions dead and maimed and displaced, the horror of ISIS, torture as accepted policy, surveillance as a fact of life, the assassination of constitutional law, absolute corporate rule, the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the demolition of the US economy.

Why? Because of his interpretation of the "questionable legality" of counting all the votes cast.
Yes, though I admit he was not alone, but part of the ordinary 5 against 4 conservative majority of SCOTUS.

This is from the ending:

Justice Scalia, who was Reagan's dying breath, hurt people. We will be 10 generations getting out from under his legacy. His impact beggars quantification, but cannot be denied. The man took a hammer and chisel to the best aspects of our civil society and did sore damage for decades.
(...)

I can officially check one off my list. As for George and Dick, well ... I contemplate Bob Dylan: "I'll watch while you're lowered down to your death bed, and I'll stand o'er your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead."

Amen.

I think this mostly fair article on a mostly unfair strongly political and very rightist judge. There is considerably more in the original, which is recommended.

Incidentally, the quoted words of Bob Dylan are from "Masters of War", that is worth reading in full if you never did so.

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

[1] I know this is an assumption. There is nothing better for anyone in view of the nearly total secrecy of the secret services. And in case you think it is not a safe assumption, all I can do is to invite you to read through the more than 1000 articles I have published on the crisis and on spying since September 1, 2008.

[2] I am sorry, but I don't trust them anymore for quite a few reasons, one of which is that the greatest part of their articles on line now consists in fact from JavaScripts that try to find out everything about their readers. Any institution that tries that is quite dishonest, in my opinion.

[3] Here are some reasons for my political pessimism:

I know a whole lot about politics, and have been watching it for over 50 years now, in which I have seen or read very many political liars, whose main real motive was always personal greed, personal power, and personal status, and in which I have seen very few fundamentally decent and fundamentally honest politicians. They exist (still), but they are a small minority in my - well- informed - opinion.

I am a pessimist about the vast majority of politicians I have seen and heard or read: They were incompetent or they were lying for their personal advance- ments. And besides, I also did see very few politician I could rationally consider to be smart, well-informed and honest.

Finally, I agree that the great majority of the politicians I have seen, heard or read very well illustrate the Protestant description that
'men incline much to evil, and little to good' (and especially when the evil pays, while the good does not).

There were a few counterexamples, but only a few.

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