March 11, 2016

Crisis: Clinton, Bacevich, Gordon Gekko, Fair Banks, Three Candidates
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Hillary Clinton, Stalwart Friend of World’s Worst
     Despots, Attacks Sanders’ Latin American Activism

2. Andrew Bacevich: Why Is No Candidate Offering an
     Alternative to Militarized U.S. Foreign Policy?

The Real Gordon Gekko Just Endorsed Bernie Sanders
4. People Demand 'Banks for the Common Good' to
     Overthrow Multinational Behemoths

5. Hillaridrumpf


This is a Nederlog of Friday, March 11, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a recommended article by Glenn Greenwald on the deeply ironical fact that Hillary Clinton is now using Reagan's horrible policies to attack Bernie Sanders (fraudu- lently, but only a fairly small percentage will know); item 2 is about an interview with Andrew Bacevich, who asks good factual questions, but seems to be mostly blind to the fact that in American politics it is mostly propaganda that decides things; item 3 is about the ironical fact that the inspiration of Gordon Gekko now supports Bernie Sanders; item 4 is about "banks for the common good", which is an idea I support, but which will not get far as long as the major banks have the powers they currently have; and item 5 is about an article that compares three candidates, Trump, Clinton and Sanders.

Incidentally, I have not reviewed at least 20 articles I saw today on the latest outcome in the American elections for presidential candidates.

1. Hillary Clinton, Stalwart Friend of World’s Worst Despots, Attacks Sanders’ Latin American Activism

The first item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
At Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders for praising Fidel Castro in the 1980s, as well as for standing with Central American governments and rebel groups targeted by Ronald Reagan’s brutal covert wars. “You know,” said the former secretary of state, “if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, imprison people or even kill people for expressing their opinions, for expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere.”
This is in fact a fine example of propaganda:

In actual fact - to the best of my knowledge - in Ronald Reagan's covert wars people were oppressed, made to disappear, imprisoned, and killed, also for simply expressing their opinions.

But for Hillary Clinton Ronald Reagan is the beacon of freedom and progress and democracy and goodness, or so she pretends, and therefore she inverts absolutely everything with a very coldblooded impertinence.

Here is Jeremy Scahill who tries to explain it - although I think he is not cynical (that is these days: realistic) enough:

“The U.S. sponsored deaths squads that massacred countless central and Latin Americans, murdered nuns and priests, assassinated an Archbishop. I bet commie Sanders was even against Reagan’s humanitarian mining of Nicaraguan waters & supported subsequent war crimes judgment vs. U.S. Have any of these Hillarybots heard of the Contra death squads? Or is it just that whatever Hillary says must be defended at all costs? The Hillarybots attacking Sanders over Nicaragua should be ashamed of themselves.”
Jeremy Scahill is not cynical/realistic enough because he does not seem to see that the Hillarybots do not deal in truth, in facts, or in probabilities. They deal in propaganda, in lies, and in deceptions, and almost anything that if said might contribute to her chances of winning is thereby and therefore completely justified in being said as if it were true.

In other words, I think that the vast majorities of members of political parties that start propagandizing for these parties have a totalitarian attitude, and in fact despise and deny almost all truths and all facts that would go against the
chances of their candidates of winning an election, not because these are not
truths or not facts (although that happens as well) but because these truths and
these facts oppose the chances of their candidates.

And that is politics, and that has been so for a very long time [1], although it is also true that it has been growing worse and worse since the 1980ies.

Glenn Greenwald almost certainly knows this as well as I do, and the next part of his article is given to illustrating at least 9 cases, all illustrated with images, of Hillary Clinton's very strong pro military positions.

I skip this, but this is a recommended article, and these cases are well worth reading.

The article ends as follows:

It seems that, overnight, Clinton and her supporters have decided that Sanders’ opposition to Reagan-era wars against Latin American governments and rebel groups — a common liberal position at the time — is actually terribly wrong and something worthy of demonization rather than admiration, because those governments and groups abused human rights. Whatever else one might say about this mimicking of right-wing agitprop, Hillary Clinton for years has been one of the world’s most stalwart friends of some of the world’s worst despots and war criminals, making her and her campaign a very odd vessel for demonizing others for their links to and admiration of human-rights abusers.
Yes, indeed. But I am also pretty certain that none of these facts - that the supporters of Hillary Clinton are now repeating the propaganda lies of Reagan
to support Hillary Clinton's humanity - will upset almost any supporter of Hillary.

Totalitarian minds don't work by facts, truths or probabilities; totalitarian minds work by propaganda, lies and deceptions, and consider just one factual question: Does this lie, truth or half-truth support or oppose my candidate?

If it supports my candidate, it must be true; it it opposes my candidate it must be false. (Note this attitude also very much simplifies things.)

And "the left" in politics has as many totalitarians as "the right" in politics, and
for the last 46 years it has appeared to me that it is especially people with totalitarian mindsets who go into politics, also often helped by a low intelligence, no grasp of real science, and a firm ignorance of most relevant facts and theories, rather than that it are merely people who go into politics and then get ensnared by the totalitarian attitudes that characterize all political parties. [2]

I may be wrong, but I am not wrong about the
low intelligence, the lack of a  grasp of real science, and a firm ignorance of most relevant facts and theories that characterizes the majorities in political parties "left", "right", and "center".

2. Andrew Bacevich: Why Is No Candidate Offering an Alternative to Militarized U.S. Foreign Policy?

The second item is b
y Amy Goodman and Nereem Shaikh on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
In a recent article, historian and retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich raised six questions that have been ignored in the 2016 presidential race. Most notably, he says, "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?"
The question - in my opinion - is both good and misleading. It is a good question simply because it is a factual question; it is misleading because it doesn't consider the enormous amounts of propaganda involved in these American wars (to the American and Western publics, including parliamentarians).

Accordingly, my own answer to the question would be along these lines:

There is no victory in sight because there wasn't meant to be a victory. The main reasons are that a real victory would be too expensive in money and men, and also is not desirable:

What is desirable (to the rulers of the USA) is
that it makes it clear that the USA is the strongest party, and to exploit that position to the advantage of the USA, and to keep fighting to have American troops almost everywhere, which also keeps "the war against terror" going, which in fact is a war that institutionalizes the American terror over alternative systems of terror, which in turn guarantees American's influence and power and the profits of its very big war industries.

Back to Bacevich who explains why Isis is - in fact, not in propaganda - not a major threat against the USA:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Andrew Bacevich, a lot of people in the U.S. would disagree with the claim that ISIS is not the principal threat facing Americans today. So could you explain why you think that’s not the case?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think ISIS is a—poses an existential threat to the countries in the region. It threatens the state structure that was created in the aftermath of World War I. And therefore, from that point of view, the powers in the region, whether we’re talking about Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and others, they have a profound interest in bringing about the destruction of ISIS. But by any realistic measure, ISIS poses only a modest threat to the United States of America. It doesn’t have an air force. It doesn’t have a navy. It consists of a relatively small number of fierce fighters, not particularly well armed. And the notion that ISIS somehow threatens us, I think, is really absurd.

Precisely - and as I have been saying this since October 2005, when there was no Isis yet, but the overall situation was just the same.

And for me, also already in 2005, the situation seemed and seems also different from Bacevich's analysis, because one of the main roles of the enormous amounts of propaganda was to introduce major increases in the powers of governments, states, and secret and non-secret police forces, that is, in the powers of the very few, many of whom were never elected, and indeed are usually not even personally known, because they work for the secret services.

And again, this seemed to me the point of the legal changes that were implemented between 2001 and 2005: Not to fight "the war on terror", but to vastly increase the powers of the state, at the costs of the powers of democracy, on the pretext of "fighting against terror".

Again back to Bacevich:

The issue really is, given the magnitude of the U.S. military involvement in the region, in one country after another, whether our purposes were supposedly to bring order, spread democracy, pacify, advance human rights, the total sum of our activity has produced next to nothing that is positive, has imposed great costs on ourselves and on many other nations and peoples, and shows no evidence of producing anything more positive tomorrow or the next year. So there is a need to take stock of U.S. military involvement in the region to recognize its failure, and therefore to consider alternatives. And it’s my personal judgment that there are alternatives to the militarization of U.S. policy.

It ought to be clear after 15 years that "the U.S. military involvement" does not "bring order, spread democracy, pacify, advance human rights" althougth the political propaganda that accompanies it always says it happens for the ends.

But by now you probably got my criticisms of Bacevich:

His questions are good factual questions, but he does not seem to see the
propaganda that accompanied these wars, nor that these wars were mostly successful in maintaining a climate of terror of the Americans, successful in furthering American power, successful in making war profits, successful in furthering the making of further war profits, and successful in undermining democracy in the USA.

Finally, here is his analysis of Donald Trump - and I do not know whether Bacevich knew Robert Reich's article that I reviewed two days ago, in which Trump does get identified as "a fascist":

I mean, my—one of my points with regard to Trump is this. There are those who compare him to a fascist. I don’t think he’s a fascist, because however evil it may have been, fascism did imply some sort of a coherent ideology. Trump has no ideology. He shoots from the hip. He contradicts himself. He speaks in generalities. He has a remarkable aptitude, I think, for manipulating and exacerbating anger and alienation in a certain part of the American population. So he’s not so much a fascist, I think, as he is a representative of a kind of a personality cult. And in a sense, that would make him that much more dangerous, were he ever to become president, because we actually don’t know what he stands for, and therefore what he would do if in the position of commander-in-chief.

No, Bacevich again does not seem to see the propaganda. Clearly, Trump has an ideology: he is a pro rich neoconservative. It is also true that he often contradicts himself and that he speaks in generalities, but - I think - that is mostly the case because he simply doesn't know many relevant details (and he
really isn't very smart, which makes him more dangerous if elected president).

And I disagree with Reich because I think that Trump is more of a neo-fascist than of a fascist, but I agree with him that both Trump and also Rubio and Cruz sound more like some kinds of fascists than like some real kind of democratic politicians.

3. The Real Gordon Gekko Just Endorsed Bernie Sanders

The third item is b
y Kali Holloway on AlterNet:

This is here mainly because it is an interesting ironical fact:

Gordon "Greed is Good" Gekko remains an enduring symbol of Wall Street greed, corporate lawlessness and 1980s excess. That’s why it’s pretty surprising that the guy on whom the Wall Street character was based—former corporate raider Asher Edelman—says Bernie Sanders is the strongest presidential candidate. Appearing on CNBC’s "Fast Money" this morning, Edelman responded immediately when asked who he thought the best candidate for the economy would be.

“Bernie Sanders,” Edelman said, without missing a beat. “No question.”

As to Asher Edelman (<- Wikipedia): Indeed the character of "Gordon "Greed is Good" Gekko" "was based in part on Edelman" according to Wikipedia.

Here are Edelman's reasons to support Bernie Sanders:

Asked to elaborate, Edelman stated his case. 

“Well, I think it’s quite simple," he began. "If you look at something called ‘velocity of money’—you guys know what that is, I presume—that means how much gets spent and turns around. When you have the top one percent getting money, they spend five, 10 percent of what they earn. When you have the lower end of the economy getting money, they spend 100, or 110 percent of what they earn. As you’ve had a transfer of wealth to the top, and a transfer of income to the top, you have a shrinking consumer base, basically, and you have a shrinking velocity of money. Bernie is the only person out there who I think is talking at all about both fiscal stimulation and banking rules that will get the banks to begin to generate lending again as opposed to speculation. So from an economic point of view, it’s straightforward.”

Hm, hm, hm. I do not think that this is very relevant, simply because the rich do invest their money. It is true that they invest it in other things than consumer-goods, but it is less the "‘velocity of money’" that is relevant than the fact that the many poor simply have no money left to buy expensive consumer-goods.

You have to have the many poor grow less poor if you want to support the national economy rather than the 1%. And this means investing in the many poor - who will spend most of the money on consumer goods - rather than heaping up the profits of the few very rich. (And for more, see my - Dutch -
pieces about Keynes of 2008.)

4. People Demand 'Banks for the Common Good' to Overthrow Multinational Behemoths

The fourth item is b
y Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows

In a new report (pdf) focused on Scotland but with global implications, a coalition of social justice groups in the U.K. outlines the risks inherent to an economic system built to serve mega banks, and advocates for the radical reform of replacing these multinational conglomerates with small, local, and not-for-profit "people's banks" that would serve citizens instead of shareholders.

Progressives have long argued that corporate banking is an enormous threat to the global economy, as the 2008 economic crisis clearly demonstrated. What's more, the situation has only grown worse as multinational mega banks continue to merge and consolidate—a trend that shows no signs of stopping.

This latest call for local, publicly-owned "people's banks" joins a growing movement that has argued for such democratic reforms to banks in the U.S., Europe and around the world.

I agree with the proposal, which even might work in Scotland, but I am doubtful about the rest of the world, not because the ideas are bad (they are quite sensible), but simply because corporate banking has grown enormously stronger ever since Reagan and Thatcher, and indeed without virtually any opposition from any prominent politician, right, center or left.

That is: In order to get "
small, local, and not-for-profit "people's banks"" you will first have to undo most of the deregulations that have been supported by
virtually all politicians - and this will be very probably impossible without another crisis, and that only on condition that the next crisis will be dissolved by
competent and honest persons rather than by rich banking frauds, as was the 2008 crisis, that for that reason still persists.

5. Hillaridrumpf

The fifth and last item today is by David Swanson on Let's Try Democracy:

This starts as follows:

Only a nation already far down the freeway to fascism could call what the United States is doing "democracy" and not laugh or cry. The most ill-informed, incarcerated, disenfranchised, overworked, fear mongered, and impoverished electorate in the wealthy world is picking gladiators for this year's electoral entertainment.

Well... I agree with considerable parts of this article, but here it should have been mentioned that the American "electorate" did get "impoverished" and "ill-informed, incarcerated, disenfranchised, overworked" and also "fear mongered" largely through its own efforts (or consistent lack of efforts) to remain ignorant, unintelligent and prejudiced.

Apart from that, they now have a choice from three candidates. The first is Donald Trump:

In one corner, the brainwashed dads are backing a two-bit Berlusconi with as many positions on any issue as the Bible, but without God's humility. This guy talks at a third-grade level, but having skipped over the lessons in cooperation and nonviolence that most people picked up between Kindergarten and second grade. He pushes religious bigotry, racism, exceptionalism, ignorance, and violence. He's in favor of greed, theft, oppression, armed borders, and murdering families. He supported attacking Iraq in 2002 and now lies about that. He wants an even bigger military, though how big nobody's bothered to ask. He pushes mythic lies about the success of wars and torture, including the idea that murdering Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs blood brings peace and harmony, and that torture accomplishes something useful. He also despises the disabled or female and absolutely adores himself.
That seems mostly correct (and compare Bacevich, in item 2).

Of course, you may not like his position. Here is the alternative one:

In another corner, Hillary Clinton presents a humanitarian face for total corruption. She, too, holds every possible position on every issue. But her decades of public "service" make it clear that only the awful positions are the ones she means. The Republican Don might expose the Saudi support for 9/11, remind everyone of Bush and Hillary's Iraq lies (which apparently fooled Drumpf at the time), denounce Bush and Obama for creating ISIS, reject the TPP, etc. He might welcome refugees or ban them and wink at lynch mobs. He's not exactly predictable. Like any Republican, Drumpf would energize the peace and justice movements, but he might also make things very hard on them. Hillary would use her goons on protesters as she did on Ray McGovern. She'd punish whistleblowers with the vengeance she directs at Manning, Assange, Snowden, et alia. And she'd push for every war she can get her hands on, as she has for many years.
I think that is less good as a characteristic, although I like the characterizations that she "presents a humanitarian face for total corruption" and that she, like Trump, "holds every possible position on every issue" (which happens because
these candidates say the thing the electorates in the present district most like
to hear to vote for them
, according to their focus group investigators, and these may very well be opposites in one state and the next).

Finally, here is Bernie Sanders (with a change in a placement of a comma by me):

In a third corner is Bernie Sanders. His best primary states lie ahead -- but only if people turn off their televisions and block out the endless repetition of the idea that Hillary's anti- democratic superdelegates and states that have already voted, have decided everything.
This again seems to miss that most Americans simply are not very intelligent, very knowledgeable nor very principled. But even so, perhaps the many are - at long last - getting the idea that Sanders is honest and reliable and has sensible ideas, if only because his two dominant alternatives clearly are both frauds for the rich (if you know something about their positions and ideas).

[1] For this certainly already was the case 46 years ago, when I gave up politics precisely because its dominant standard for truth seemed to me to be the interests of the party's leaders, whereas I thought and think that what truth is should be completely independent from party leaders or the ideologies of parties. (And indeed I am pro science, and in that also against politics, if politics conflicts with real science. This is a quite uncommon position with most who are much interested in politics.)

In fact this is a quite strange idea in almost any political party, left, center or right: They decide what is true and what should be called truth by reference to the interests of the party and especially the party's leaders.

To me, that seems very much like being intentionally corrupt. But it is the common way of judging inside political parties.

[2] This gives many of the reasons of principle that made me give up communism in 1970 (when I was 20, and not yet a legal adult) - which I had inherited from my parents, who were sincere and intelligent communists since 30 years or more, mostly because they opposed Hitler and Nazism, and thought only the communists had the courage to oppose them.

But this does not describe my parents well (they were sincere and intelligent,  but not very learned), although it does describe very much of "the leftist climate" of the late 1960ies quite well (and the leftists of the late 1960ies were usually not people of the age of my parents, who had as conscious adults have to face the Nazist occupation of Holland).

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