With Our Feet
2. America in Crisis: What Happens When Neither Political
Party Answers to the Bottom 90
3. Who’s Funding Super
PACs This Election Season? Good
4. The Fallacy of ‘Humanitarian’ War
5. Obama Administration Denied or Censored Information
in 77% of FOIA Requests During
This is a Nederlog of Monday, March 21,
crisis blog (on this first day of Spring, that locally looks drab) with
5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an
article by Chris Hedges that I didn't like; item 2
is about the major American political parties, who quietly have
discarded the non-rich 90%; item 3
is about super pacs: Within six years after allowing these very
anti-democratic institutions, they now also don't need to say who they
are; item 4 exposes the fallacy of 'humanitarian
wars': I agree, but doubt I will read the book; and item
5 is about Obama's pretense that he heads The Most Transparent Government: 77% of all requests for
information are either not answered or are answered in a censored
1. Voting With Our Feet
first item is by Chris
Hedges on Truthdig:
starts as follows:
Bernie Sanders’ political corpse in the
presidential race is still warm, but some of his prominent liberal
supporters already are urging us to flee to Hillary Clinton. Sanders,
who knows the
game is up, will soon become the Democrats’ pied piper. He will
seek to entice his supporters into the Democratic Party rattrap. He has
decried the disruption of Trump rallies—denigrating the only power we
have left—saying “people should not disrupt anybody’s meetings.” His
“political revolution,” like his promise of a movement, is a cynical
form of advertising. Sanders will, like the Barack Obama of 2008, end
as an impediment to the mass movements he claims to represent. And mass
movements in our system of “inverted
totalitarianism” are our final and only hope.
O that horrible Bernie Sanders!
According to Chris Hedges he is a fake, and presumably always was one,
from 1970 onwards.
I do not believe this, but then I tend to be a scientific
realist rather than a political
 And indeed, if we look at programs and
proposals, I'd say almost everyone of even vaguely progressive values
will very probably agree that the proposals of Bernie Sanders
are better than those of Hillary Clinton, which in turn are better
than those of any Republican presidential candidate.
But these options are not open to
Chris Hedges, who rather does not vote or votes for the Green
Party rather than for any candidate who might win, whether this
is Clinton or Sanders, and - it seems - also regardless of the
Chris Hedges continues:
When fundamental rights are abolished by
the state, as novelist and activist Arundhati Roy has pointed out,
“they are almost always won back only through revolution.” And
it is not as if we have much time left. Josh Fox, in his brutally
honest film about the looming effects of climate change, “How to Let Go of the World
(and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change),” notes that we have to
cut 80 percent of all carbon emissions by 2020 if we are to have any
hope of saving the Greenland ice sheet. The Paris climate talks were a
step backward. The loss of the polar ice will flood coastal cities
around the globe. It will trigger a global ecological catastrophe. It
will displace hundreds of millions of people. It will bring, if not
revolution, violence, anarchy, chaos, suffering and death that will
rival the black plague. And our elites intend to do nothing to stop it.
That fact alone should send us into the streets.
But these are just two
individuals, neither of whom is known by me. And the theses of
both are not really credible to me: Mr Roy seems to exaggerate
somewhat, and Mr Fox is supposed to have made a series of statements
entail that New York, Amsterdam and Los Angeles will "soon" be flooded,
if "we" don't cut 4/5ths of all carbon emissions within 3 3/4 years
(which I am willing to agree would be miraculous).
In any case, these statements are not
They are guesses,
and the guesses seem to be not well founded by me, and
indeed to be much too weak for the strength of the
conclusions built upon them.
Here is another bit by Chris Hedges, that seems better than the first
two quoted bits:
The Democrats, and in particular Hillary
and Bill Clinton, are responsible as much as anyone on the right for
our being sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit. They told the
same lies as the right-wingers. They fed the same hate. They too
orchestrated the corporate coup. (...) The Clintons and the Democratic
Party filled the prisons and destroyed welfare. And under President
Obama it has gotten worse. Obama authorized the assassination
of U.S. citizens. He signed into law legislation that permits the
military to act as a domestic police force and detain U.S. citizens
indefinitely without due process. He and the Democratic Party
establishment are attempting to ram new trade agreements down our
I more or less agree with this, although
the quoted paragraph involves a lot of unstated information
(that can be found, to a considerable extent, from the crisis index, if you care and have the time).
Here is Chris Hedges' conclusion, or one
of his conclusions from his analysis:
There are mechanisms to wrest back our
democracy. Voting in presidential elections is not one of them.
Shutting down Trump rallies, as
took place in Chicago, and blocking fracking sites are examples of
the only form of direct democracy left. We must begin to mobilize
around mass actions. We must, in large and small ways, disrupt the
But I disagree with his analysis:
For one thing, I think any Republican candidate will be worse
than Clinton. I agree Clinton is not good and one of the
Wall Street bankers' candidates, and I do not trust her, but
is less bad than Trump of Cruz. For another thing, I think neither Roy
nor Fox is very convincing, and the evidence to start making a
practical revolution needs to be considerably stronger (in
And while I believe voting with one's feet
is important, and political activism also is
important, I do not see much of a revolutionary or even a
pre-revolu- tionary climate in the USA.
In this last point I may be mistaken, for I do not live in the United
States, but I think I am right in rejecting Chris Hedges' arguments for
the Green Party or for now trying to make a revolution in the
2. America in Crisis: What Happens When Neither Political
Party Answers to the Bottom 90 Percent?
is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Neither party today does much of
anything for the bottom
90% of Americans, as so clearly demonstrated by a recent
study out of Princeton that showed that the likelihood of
legislation passing that represents the interest of that bottom 90% was
equivalent, statistically, to white noise.
Thomas Frank’s new book Listen,
Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? offers
the fascinating premise that starting with the McGovern Commission of
1972 (which largely excommunicated Labor from having a large role in
Democratic Party decision-making) and going into a full-out embrace of
the “professional class” – i.e. the top 10% economically – the
Democratic Party has largely abandoned the American working and middle
class – the bottom 90%.
I tend to agree with the
quotation: Most in the 90% have little or nothing to expect from the
American government, and they seem largely to be abandoned by their
political elites, and indeed to have been abandoned for quite a long
time as well.
Then again, I do not know about the McGovern Commission, and
would myself date the collapse of the Democrats-as-a-party-for-the-90%
from Bill Clinton's adoption of the Third Way (<-
Wikipedia), which indeed also changed the Democrats to the New Democrats (<- Wikipedia), or at least: That
was the presumption. 
But I may be mistaken. In any case, the article tells us that by the
late 1980ies, those Democrats who would end up as the Third Way/Clinton
Democrats aka New Democrats
(...) even went so far as to
suggest it was a good thing that much of America’s blue-collar
working-class high-school-diploma jobs go to China and Mexico, as we
here in America needed to move to the “new economy” jobs of technology,
medicine, and finance, requiring a college education.
This ideological change in the
Party led to the Clinton-era 1990s policies that gutted our industrial
base, ripped apart the social safety net (ending “the era of big
government”), and financialized our economy.
I do recall my puzzlements
in the 1990ies about how one could change either Europe or the USA to
societies where the vast majorities had a college education (for most
don't), and indeed also about whether these could be real
societies (the rich thinkers in Europe and the USA; the poor workers in
India and China?!), but indeed I did not spend much time on
these, and I had serious health and other problems.
Again, I don't know who is (more) to blame: The Clintons, the
Democratic Party's ideological changes, or both, but it seems correct
that under Clinton the social safety net was destroyed and the economy
was financialized, and that last part mostly by deregulations (which effectively
took away the protections of the poor against the attacks of the rich).
Then there is this sketch of the developments in the Republican Party
that were started in the early 1970ies by Lewis
Powell Jr (<-Wikipedia):
Prior to the 1970s, business
in America had been largely apolitical, preferring to focus instead on
making money and running companies. But Powell convinced the
Chamber of Commerce and a group of wealthy ideologues to change all
that, and a group of billionaires and foundations rose to the call and
created the huge and well-funded “conservative” infrastructure of
think-tanks, media arms (hate radio and Fox News), and the Koch
Within a generation, the Party
elites relied almost entirely on Big Business and Big Money to get
elected, only throwing rhetorical bones to the bottom 90% with their
cynical “god, guns, and gays” strategy.
Yes, I think myself that Powell
achieved a lot for the Republicans and the rich,
including the partial takeover of many non-profit organizations
by what were, in fact, Republican lawyers or activists, who also
learned to speak the leftist/liberal lingo (which they also falsified).
This also happened in the 90ies, both in the USA and in Europe.
In any case, the last paragraph seems more or less correct: From the
1990ies onwards, both big American parties worked for Big
Business and Big Money, and
the leaders of
both big parties also were paid big money to work for Big Money
(and quite often after having finished the job they were later
rewarded for: Bill Clinton made most of his many millions after 2000).
The article ends like so, which
is not very cogent:
Arnold Toynbee is, probably
apocryphally, quoted as having said: “When the last man who remembers
the horrors of the last great war dies, the next great war becomes
It could be updated to read
today: “When the people who remember what America was like before the
Reagan Revolution begin to die off, the next revolution is inevitable.”
Whether it’ll be played out in the ballot
box or the streets is yet to be seen.
Toynbee - or whoever said so -
conveniently forgot that WW II was started well within the living
memories of the survivors of WW I (for that ended within a mere 21
years before the second one started).
The restatement implies that the next revolution is still ten or twenty
years in the future: I recall the Reagan years quite well, and
am from 1950, and I am not dead yet (and may live another 10 years or
I do not know whether
that prediction for the next revolution is correct, but it seems (now
(!)) more correct than Chris Hedges in item 1.
3. Who’s Funding Super PACs This Election Season? Good
The third item today is by
Andrea Germanos on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Campaign finance reform advocates have
rallied against super PACs’ ability to influence elections since their creation in 2010, and new reporting by the Washington Post puts a
spotlight on how “ghost corporations” are pumping money into these
committees, with their big money contributors hiding behind a veil of
As the Center for Responsive Politics explains:
“super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations,
unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to
overtly advocate for or against political candidates,” though they “are
prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates.”
They report their donors to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)
monthly during an election year.
Yes, indeed - and this also was a very
anti-democratic procedure, because it implies that the few rich
can use parts of their riches to influence the
choices (and ideas, values and desires) of the many poor, who
all lack the money to
address the very rich.
And now the rich donors found a way not
to report who they are: It is by means of "limited liability
companies" aka LLCs aka corporations:
Sarah Posner sums up the problem in her
reporting, writing, “By donating to a super PAC through an LLC, donors
and companies are able to buy political influence and sway elections
without revealing their identities.”
Among those who’s cautioned against such
influence is former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who previously said, “We have one of the worst election processes in
the world right in the United States of America, and it’s almost
entirely because of the excessive influx of money.”
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders,
meanwhile, has denounced super PACs, and said last month that the
nation’s “corrupt campaign finance system is undermining American
I agree with Carter and Sanders, but there
is - so far, and apart from the death of SCOTUS judge Scalia - little
reason to believe super pacs will soon diminish in influence
and power: The law sorely needs changing, but that requires a
somewhat progressive new Supreme Court judge.
4. The Fallacy of ‘Humanitarian’ War
The fourth item today is by
This starts as follows:
Rajan Menon’s new book, The
Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention, launches a timely argument
against a dominant argument lying behind so much of modern American
foreign policy — “humanitarian intervention” or “liberal
Menon offers powerful argumentation skewering the concept of
“humanitarian intervention,” demonstrating how it operates often as
little more than a subtler form of an imperial agenda. Naked imperial
ambitions tend to be recognizable for what they are. But when those
global ambitions are cloaked in the liberal language of our “right to
protect” oppressed peoples, prevent humanitarian outrages, stop
genocide, and to topple noxious dictators, then the true motives behind
such operations become harder to recognize.
What humanitarian could object to such
lofty goals? Yet the seductive character of these “liberal
interventionist” policies end up serving — indeed camouflaging — a
broad range of military objectives that rarely help and often harm the
ostensible objects of our intervention.
I agree, but then again this also seems obvious
to me: Of course one's political
- whoever they are - will nearly always tell lies about
Then again, it seems as if many seem to
accept a premiss like this:
- "My political leaders never lie to me."
And while that is an obvious
falsehood if stated as blandly as this, and indeed - very probably
- is a political lie,
it still seems a widely accepted tacit premiss,
which in this context means: A premiss that is not stated, but is
believed, and for that reason appears convincing.
Indeed, that is my basic
explanation why so many people seem to accept the falsehoods
that there are 'humanitarian wars' (presumably faught by living deads ) and seem to accept the obvious lies of
Here is an illustration of the kind of thinking/speaking that political
leaders use these days:
From a humanitarian point of view, can
the deaths of half a million Iraqis and the dislocation of a million or
so more be considered to have contributed to the wellbeing of
“liberated Iraq?” As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once
said, she regretted the death of 500,000 Iraqi children who, in
Saddam’s Iraq, had been deprived of medicines under a long U.S.
embargo, but, she concluded, “it was worth it.” One wonders to whom it
was worth it? Where is the humanitarian vision behind such a comment?
Clearly, Albright lied. What she should
have said is: "Because Our Ends Are Always Humanitarian, I Don't Regret
The Deaths Of 500,000 Children: They Died For Humanitarian Reasons!"
For this very probably does much more catch her real
position than what she is quoted as saying, although I agree that the
second part may sound harsh. (But also true.)
There is, of course, the following argument:
Ultimately the case for “humanitarian
intervention” is justified by the quest for international justice,
protection of civilians, and the broadening of democratization and
human rights. The U.S. has regularly invoked these principles in
justifying its ongoing — indeed nonstop — wars over the past several
Yet the sad reality is that the selective
nature of U.S. interventions raises serious questions about
the true motivation behind invoking such “universal” values. U.S. calls
for “democratization” more often operate as punishment to its
enemies (“regime change”) but rarely as a gift to be bestowed upon
friends (“friendly dictators.”)
But the first paragraph is to me merely a very
easily repeated series of very cheap lies, that serve to
make the very unpalatable - a major war - seem
palatable, by presenting it as doing good, which a major war never
majority: Very much and very many lives are destroyed in wars, and hardly
any war seems good briefly after the fact (when the many murders and
destructions are still obviously there).
The article ends thus:
Here is a cogent critique of the recent
decades of U.S. foreign policy misadventures in which our military has
become the primary instrument of U.S. policy — and justified in the
name of humanitarian goals. We rarely get to hear these arguments so
Perhaps. It seems to me that the "cogent
critique" may be made very simple:
To speak of "humanitarian wars" is about
as cogent as to speak of "living dead" or of "kind-hearted cruelty" or
of "loving tortures", and lying is very often a lot
easier and very often a lot more palatable than speaking the truth.
5. Obama Administration Denied or Censored Information in
77% of FOIA Requests During 2015
But perhaps another book was justified.
The fifth and last item today is by Mike Krieger on Washington's Blog:
This starts with a message from Associated
Press, and is here for those who believe Obama (boldings in the
(AP) — The Obama administration set a record for the number of times
its federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and
others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page
requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a new
Associated Press analysis of government data.
In more than one in
six cases, or 129,825 times, government searchers said they came up
empty-handed last year. Such cases contributed to an alarming
measurement: People who asked for records under the law
received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, also a
record. In the first full year after President Barack Obama’s election,
that figure was only 65 percent of cases.
I also note that it
turned out (as the article explains) that the government often lied:
Files that could not be found when critics of the government asked for
them, could be found later.
And here is another
Overall, the Obama
administration censored materials it turned over or fully denied access
to them in a record 596,095 cases, or 77 percent of all requests.
That includes 250,024 times when the government said it couldn’t find
records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government
determined the request to be unreasonable or improper.
I suppose this is "Transparent Government"
according to Obama: No reply or a censored reply in 77%
of requests for information.
fact, the differences between being a scientific realist and being a
political idealist are rather deep (especially for those who know
science) and quite fargoing. I will not spell them out here
(though I may write a Nederlog on these differences), but say
here only that this is one of the major
differences between my own attitudes and the attitudes of most who are
much interested in politics: The strongly politically interested or
motivated people are not often inclined to (real) science.
Conversely, those who know considerable amounts of (real) science,
often and for that reason are less interested in political arguments.
 The links in this quote - to the Third
Way and to the New Democrats -
are well worth looking into. Also, it is worth remarking that - at
least from my point of view - the "Third Way" is better known than
either the "New Democrats" or "New Labour" (Blair's supposed
creation). Finally, whatever these are called, these movements are based on what I firmly think are lies. (But check them
 In case you miss
the point: "humanitarian wars" and "living deads" are both examples of
contradictory ideas: Wars are not humanitarian; deads are not