May 13, 2016

Crisis: Rousseff Suspended, Assange & Ratner, TPP, Middle Class Exit *2
Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Dilma Rousseff, Former Leftist Guerrilla and Brazil’s
     First Female President, Is Suspended

2. Julian Assange: Michael Ratner was a "Campaigner for
     Justice" from Guatemala to Palestine

3. Want to Know if the TPP Will Be a Disaster? Just Look at
     the Korean Trade Deal

4. As Wealthy Surge, U.S. Poor and Middle Class Incomes
     Have Gone Backward

5. The Powers That Be Have Looted the Economy and
     Destroyed the Middle Class

This is a Nederlog of Friday, May 13, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the suspension of Dilma Rousseff, with an extra link to an article by Glenn Greenwald, who knows a lot more about Brazil than I do; item 2 is about Julian Assange about the deceased lawyer Michaeal Ratner (who was a good lawyer, in contrast to 28 out of 30 Dutch legal phonies I met in the 80ies and 90ies); item 3 is about the TTP and is here because it may warn against adopting the neofascistic TTIP in Europe: The TTIP will make Europe mostly like Texas; item 4 is about the - radical - change in the statistics of inequality from a bell to a cusp shape : the middle class is dying, as is also explained by item 5.

1. Dilma Rousseff, Former Leftist Guerrilla and Brazil’s First Female President, Is Suspended

The first item is
by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

An epic 20-hour debate in the Brazilian Senate concluded in a vote to suspend Dilma Rousseff from her presidential duties for six months as an impeachment trial is set to begin. The move is being seen by many as an elite-run “coup” that has left the country in a confused state of affairs.

That is a summary that is adequate to the best of my knowledge, which is not large. For those interested in backgrounds: Dilma Rousseff (<-Wikipedia).

Here is some more, from a leftish point of view:

... one politician described [Wednesday] as the “saddest day for Brazil’s young democracy” [as] senators voted 55 to 22 to suspend the Workers’ party leader, putting economic problems, political paralysis and alleged fiscal irregularities ahead of the 54 million votes that put her in office.

Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, will have to step aside while she is tried in the upper house for allegedly manipulating government accounts ahead of the previous election. Her judges will be senators, many of whom are accused of more serious crimes.

A final decision, which is likely in September or October, will require a two-thirds majority. Ominously for the president, this margin was exceeded in Thursday’s vote.

The impeachment is more political than legal. Similar fiscal irregularities went unpunished in previous administrations, but they are a pretext to remove a leader who has struggled to assert her authority. ... “This is the saddest day in the history of our young democracy,” said Vanessa Grazziotin, a senator from the Communist Party of Brazil. “This isn’t a valid Constitutional process, it is a coup that goes against the opinion of the majority in the 2014 election.”

My own guess is that this is mostly correct, but as I said, I don't know much
about Brazil. (I am sorry, but that is how it is.)

But there are some who do know a lot about it, and I suggest that in case you want to know more, and like me you don't have enough Portugese, this is the best place to start:

This is by Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil since a long time.

2. Julian Assange: Michael Ratner was a "Campaigner for Justice" from Guatemala to Palestine

The second item is
by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
On Wednesday, the trailblazing attorney Michael Ratner died at the age of 72. In recent years, Ratner served as the chief attorney for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and became a leading critic of the U.S. crackdown on whistleblowers, including Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. We reached Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he sought asylum nearly four years ago.
As it happens, I don't like lawyers as a group, and I have quite good personal empirical reasons:

I tried to find in Holland, in the 1980ies and 1990ies - for some twenty years! - one decent lawyer who was willing to help me attack the corruptions in the University of Amsterdam, from which I was removed briefly before taking my (excellent) M.A. in philosophy (as the only student ever to be removed since WW II from any Dutch university for stating his honest opinions), and I tried to find one decent lawyer who was willing to help me against the illegal creation by drs. Ed van Thijn and others (like the drugscorrupt Amsterdam district attorney Fred Teeven) of a 10-40 billion dollars a year illegal drugsmarket in Holland.

I could find absolutely no one - and this in a climate (of the 1980ies) which was rife with - literally - hundreds or thousands of "leftist", "marxist", "socialist", "revolutionary" lawyers
[1] (I quoted what they said they were) who all wanted to be seen as fundamental, principial critics and opponents of capitalism and exploitation, who also had often organized themselves in what they called "lawyers' communes" (Dutch: "advocaten kommunes").

It was all one big set of major lies, that taught me a lot about "the left", "leftish revolutionaries", and Dutch lawyers:

In Holland, being "left" for academics, lawyers, politicians and bureaucrats was merely one among several propaganda-outlines to make money for themselves while also getting fame as "revolutionaries" which no one was. I know, for my parents and grandparents were, and all that I got when I turned to "leftist" lawyers were lies, lies, lies, lies and more lies, and when I protested they refused to work for me.  [1]

Then again, Holland is just one country; it is a special country that has been rife
with enormous hypocrisies and lies ever since WW II; it is a very small country, that in real fact it is quite provincial (and considerably more so now than 30 years ago [2]); and it is certainly not typical for other countries.

So I am glad to say that not all lawyers are bad and immoral (nearly all the Dutch ones I met were, although there also were two - 2 - exceptions [3]), and Michael Ratner (<- Wikipedia) who died two days ago, is a quite notable non-Dutch exception:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Michael touched many people throughout his life. And you’re seeing some of that today. He was my personal friend and adviser, our lead lawyer in the United States and in the English language. So, people here, people associated with WikiLeaks, its various staff, and our other lawyers in the United States are grieving.

But I want to reflect a little on Michael Ratner. Michael was important, not because of his—simply because of his talent and indefatigability, political and human consistency, but because he was a role model to so many who knew him, and a role model that is immutable. Michael was not a—one of these figures that plague the left so much. He was not a thundering genius, although he was brilliant. He was not someone who was ideologically hidebound. He was not someone who simply engaged in value projection or exhibitionism. Michael Ratner was a—led a life which was laudatory both at the—at his human level, in terms of his dealings with his family, his children, with his friends, and in terms of his work in law and political consistency. And he brought all these things together. And that is why you’re seeing the outpouring that you are seeing.

Indeed, while I never knew Ratner this is one reason (among several) why I believe he was a good lawyer: Because Julian Assange says he "was not someone who simply engaged in value projection or exhibitionism": Almost
the Dutch lawyers I met (in the 1980ies and 1990ies) did that all the time, and did nothing of any value for me (who simply asked their legal help with
very strong cases).

Thus, they defended the enormous illegal drugstrade in Holland (where
drugs are illegal, o Americans: They are sold publicly because of extremely widespread political and legal corruption, that exists because illegal drugs are enormously profitable), and they defended the enormous decline in education and educational standards in Holland, and they did that in both cases
I was involved in by refusing to do anything useful for me.

AND they all (that I met) - at the time, in the 1980ies, in Amsterdam - wanted to be known as True Marxist Revolutionaries. (Again see note [1] for back- ground: Holland really was quite unique in the world from 1971-1995, when the universities were completely in the power of the students - who made an enormous totalitarian mess of it.)

They were lying deceiving frauds, all but two of them (that I met, and I have tried a lot, and am myself a child of genuine marxists, who also were genuine heroes of the resistance in WW II).

3. Want to Know if the TPP Will Be a Disaster? Just Look at the Korean Trade Deal

The third item is by Leo Gerard on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

On the fourth anniversary of the Korean trade deal, its lofty promises have been revealed as putrid pie in the sky:  More jobs lost. No exports gained.

Just like NAFTA, just like China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), free traders swore that the Korean deal would shower jobs and economic prosperity down on America.  

It didn’t happen. Actually, the exact opposite did. In all three cases, the schemes enticed corporations to close American factories and offshore work. That enriched CEOs and shareholders. But it impoverished millions of American workers and bankrupted communities.

Now, a backlash is evident in the groundswell of support for insurgent presidential candidates on both the left and right who denounce these failed free trade policies. This is an uprising against a quarter century of Washington, D.C., based free-trade boosterism. Its first victim should be the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive scheme between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries.

This article is reproduced and reviewed here mostly because I want to warn the Europeans against permitting the neofascistic horror that is the TTIP: There are
precursors of it - the NAFTA and the TTP - that are very similar.

This article is about the TTP, that also was introduced as fast track (i.e. with minimal or no reading by the parliamentarians who made it legal), and that
also was introduced with enormous waves of propaganda-lies about "free trade" and all the boons these were supposed to deliver:

Absolutely nothing was delivered that was any good to anyone who was not already very rich (and who usually lived somewhere else on the globe).

Here is some news about the TTP and the NAFTA as practised:

The abject failure, the upside-downness of the Korean deal, is illustrated by these two statistics: The U.S. trade deficit with all nations over the past four years declined slightly, by 5 percent. At the same time, the trade deficit with Korea surged up 115 percent.

Clearly, something is very, very wrong with the Korean deal. And with NAFTA, which is still sucking manufacturers like Carrier over the border to Mexico, a corporate desertion announced in February that will cost 2,100 American workers their jobs at two Indiana plants.

And this is how China risks being made into Texas by the U.S.:

And, similarly, clearly something is wrong with China’s entry into the WTO, considering that U.S. Steel Corp. just filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking it to outlaw all Chinese steel because of numerous violations, including five Chinese military officials hacking into the corporation’s computers to steal trade secrets.

All of the free trade schemes had the same bad effects. But each time a new one is proposed, like the TPP, its cheerleaders say, “No, no, trust me, this one is the one. This time it’s going to be great!”

That is: The U.S. Steel Corp. decided "to outlaw all Chinese steel" (!!) not because of whatever lies it told, but because (1) it now can, under the TTP and (2) because it really wants all the power over all the steel that gets produced in China or - at least - to block it being sold in the USA.

I predict the same will happen in Europe as soon as the TTIP becomes law, except that it will happen on a much larger scale, because Europe is a lot richer:

There is far more available to get stolen by the multi-national corporations, and with the TTIP it will get stolen, "legally" also (by fast tracking, deceiving, corrupting, lying and propagandizing) because the TTIP involves that multi- national corporations can set aside all decisions made by parliaments, by judges and by governments on the simple ground that these decisions - to protect consumers health, to protect the environment etc. etc. - harmed their expected profits.

4. As Wealthy Surge, U.S. Poor and Middle Class Incomes Have Gone Backward

The fourth item is
by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows and charts evidence for the radical decline of the middle class in the USA:

Middle- and low-income households in the U.S. made less money in 2014 than they did in 1999 as the middle class lost ground in almost 90 percent of the country's metropolitan areas, a new analysis by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday has found.

The report looked at 229 of the 381 federally designated "metropolitan statistical areas" in the U.S., from Seattle to Boston, which accounted for 76 percent of the nationwide population in 2014. It found that poorer households saw their income drop from a median of $26,373 in 1999 to $23,811 in 2014, while middle-class incomes fell from $77,898 to $72,919 in that same time period.

Note that the actual falls in earnings are around 10% (or more), which is
quite a lot in a mere 15 years (in which the very rich also succeeded in
raising their vast incomes by a lot more than 10%).

And here is evidence that the middle class is disappearing:

The report follows a previous Pew analysis which found that for the first time in more than 40 years, the middle class is no longer the majority in America.

"The deeper root at what is driving inequality and really hollowing out the middle class—that is a pattern very strong in the metro areas," Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of the Pew Research Center, told the Los Angeles Times. "It is cutting across all communities. No one seems immune to this widening inequality trend."

That is: First, this surely is an enormous success for the American exploiters: After 36 years of trying, they succeeded in making the middle class a minority in the USA.

There still are considerable remnants, but things are getting more and more unequal: The very rich get a whole lot richer; the many poor lost what the very rich gained. And this will continue because of very many deregulations: nearly all legal protections of the many have been removed by the few who govern.
5. The Powers That Be Have Looted the Economy and Destroyed the Middle Class

The fifth and last item tod
ay is by Washington's Blog on his site:
This starts as follows and continues the previous item:

America’s middle class has been destroyed.

A new study by Pew finds:

From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas.

Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research at Pew,  told
CBS News:

The other commonality isn’t just the shrinking of the middle class, but a movement both up and down the ladder.  There’s a polarization. There are more in the upper tier and more in the lower, and fewer in the middle.

For background, see this, this and this.

That is, the pattern follows the tendency from a bell-shaped curve (many
in the middle, few at the sides) to a cusp-shaped curve (few in the middle,
many at the sides, and especially at the poor side).

Here is the summary:

In other words, inequality is skyrocketing, the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer … and the middle class is disappearing.

Corrupt policy has caused medievalking-and-serf levels of inequality.  And the American Dream has moved abroad.

Indeed, even central bank economists admit that bad central bank policy is increasing inequality.

They’ve trashed the economy … and even the people know the score.

It’s not a mistake … it’s a descent into lawlessness (and see this).

One reason to review this item is that I like Washington's Blog (also a lot better
than some of his regular contributors, indeed), and another is that he generally
documents his arguments quite well.

It's the same here, and if you reply these are all links to his own blog (and this is the case in the present article): Yes, but these again are derived from others, and Washington's Blog is radical and has been so for quite a while.

And his arguments - while I don't always agree with them - are usually good, as is e.g. witnessed by the last-but-one link in the present article,
lawlessness, which links to an article from 2012.

[1] This reproduces Note 4 of May 1, 2016:

The main reason for my problems at the University of Amsterdam (which were many) was that all Dutch universities between 1971 and 1995 (which covers all the years I studied) were totally unique in the whole world in being effectively owned by the students:

They were by law ruled by parliaments, both for the whole university and for each faculty, which were elected by the students, by the people who worked as secretaries and cleaners, and ny the professors and lecturers, where each person - student, cleaner, professor - had 1 vote.

This meant that the students always had the absolute majority, and it meant in the University of Amsterdam that the mainly communist and then postmodern student party ASVA had the absolute power in the university from 1971 till 1995 (when another parliamentary law of the state finished it all, quite radically also).

What I saw - with communist parents, and communist grandparents, all also proletarians, while I was one of the few with a genuine proletarian background who studied, and one of the very few with parents and grandparents in the real resistance against the Nazis - was massive corruption, massive laziness, and very great amounts of lies, pretensions, and corruptions.

But I was also one of the few who opened his mouth: Something like 90% or 95% of the students loved the radical declines in standards that happened all these years, simply because this made it very easy to get an M.A. (One could get an M.A. in philosophy by taking part in demonstrations or in squatting in the 1980ies, as I was told in the 2000s by two who did so), and therefore I was much discriminated: I was pro truth, pro science and not a Marxist at the time most students disbelieved there was any truth, held that science was mostly a capitalist illusion, and considered themselves (falsely, nearly always) Marxists.

[2] The reason is again the radical declines in education on absolutely all levels since 1965 in Holland: Until that time anybody who was intelligent enough to go to any school that educated beyond the basic level of worker taught three foreign languages to the pupils, which meant that something like 75% or so of the Dutch population did have some command of English, German and French. This also worked quite well ever since 1865, when the pre-university education was installed.

Since then, this has been completely broken down, and one or two foreign languages (English, nearly always) is the current normal. Thus, most Dutchmen who were born after 1950 did not learn three foreign languages, and in fact speak one, brokenly: English.

And simply requiring a reading ability in German or French was already over and done with by 1980, in Holland.

[3] One exception was a woman, who was not employed by me to fight the enormous Amsterdam and Dutch drugscorruption, nor to fight the enormous corruptions of the University of Amsterdam, but to defend me against the corrupt manipulations of those who provided my student loan (I was supposed - ill since 1.1.1979, in the poorest dole since 1984 - to repay 42,000 guilders of loan within one year in the late 1990ies, which was completely impossible from an income of 10,000 guilders a year, but I was pushed, and pushed and pushed by them, simply because - I think - they wanted to see me dead (because I had criticized the drugsdealers of Dutch Labour, who let me be gassed by my drugsdealers in 1988)).

She did this very well (I had prepared the case, but she wrote most of it), and
I have not one word in criticism, because she was polite, rational, fair and had
no desire nor any pretense that she was A Marxist True Revolutionary Dutch Lawyer, which indeed also was a con-game that was most popular in the later
seventies and the eighties. (Once again: My parents were genuine communists;
my grandparents genuine anarchists, and I can really judge this, and was and am appaled: It was all utter bullshit and it was very widely practised in the 1970ies and 1980ies by Dutch lawyers.)

But she is the only good lawyer I met in Holland (of about thirty, and I also met another decent one, although he did not go to court for me), and since I had similar experiences with medics, I think that is a fair indication of the levels of rationality and morality among the Dutch academically educated: Around 2 in 30 is possibly decent and intelligent. And this also was the level of competence in the university: The great majority was incompetent, in the studies I followed
(philosophy, psychology, Norwegian).

And yes, that is a fact i.a. because I did succeed in terminating the University of Amsterdam with an excellent B.A. in philosophy and an excellent M.A. in philosophy (both straight A's), in spite of enormous discriminations, exclusions,
sendings off, etc. etc. all next to the illness I have since 1.1.1979.

At most 2 in 30 of the Dutch academics that were supposed to teach me was competent; the rest was incompetent, lazy, and parasitical, and the last especially because anyone who had some position in the university at 25 (in the seventies) could be virtually certain that he or she would still be a state bureaucrat 40 years later, for state bureaucrats were virtually impossible to fire, and all Dutch universities were in fact state bureaucracies.
(These things are now - in 2016 - all organized differently, which is not to say they are organized better. But indeed almost all of the total incompetents I met in philosophy in 1977 were still there 30 years later, still parasiting, still drawing enormous incomes for doing fundamentally nothing - no one published, all claimed vainly that publishing was vanity -  other than parasiting.)

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