Maher, Bernie Sanders, Scott Adams, Donald Trump
Clinton, Trump Chickens Out of Debate with
Emails Show ‘Collusion’ Between Big Banks and Obama
Administration on the
Trans-Pacific Trade Pact
4. Even the IMF—the
IMF!—Turns on Neoliberalism
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 29,
is a crisis log. It is a Sunday, and I am doing this crisis log a bit
differently than otherwise, in part because I couldn't find much that I
want to review, and in part because I did see some interesting
on the latest "Real Time" by Bill Maher, one an interview with Bernie
Sanders, and the other with Scott Adams on Trump's persuasion skills.
Here is the survey:
Maher, Bernie Sanders, Scott Adams, Donald Trump
There are 4 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is
about Bernie Sanders and more specifically about Scott Adams who
praised Donald Trump's enormous persuasive skills, and who predicted
Trump will win the presidency "with a landslide"; item 2
is about the identical response of the two bullshit candidates when
invited to debate Bernie Sanders: They chickened out; item
3 is about how the big banks and the Obama administration colluded
on the TPP; and item 4 is about a recent turn
against "neoliberalism" (as it is called), that
I don't quite believe, and anyway is far too academic and too
The first item is from "Real Time", which is Bill Maher's weekly program on
HBO and consists of two videos. The first is this:
This is a good interview of over 10 minutes,
and should show - to intelligent and informed people, at least - why I
think Bernie Sanders is the only good choice as America's next
I will not discuss this. Instead, I will discuss a video with a guest
of Bill Maher's, made on the same day as was the interview with
Sanders, who says that in his opinion neither Sanders nor Clinton will
win the upcoming presidential elections,
but Donald Trump will, and "with a landslide", and namely because of
Trump's enormous persuasion skills.
The guest is Scott
Adams (<-Wikipedia), also known as the creator of
Dilbert (a cartoon for those who don't know), and this is the interview:
I recommend you to watch this (it
is slightly over 6 minutes), but here is a summary:
Scott Adams worked for 16 years in offices; studied hypnosis; regards
himself as a specialist on persuasion (which he studied "for decades")
and says this in the video:
"When I saw Trump last summer,
displaying the tools of persuasion, I thought 'Oh my God, he is not a
crazy clown: Everything he is doing, including his ignoring of the
facts, is Persuasion Perfection.' And I called him to be the landslide
winner in the general elections last year, because of the tools he is
using. Essentially he is using a flamethrower to a stickfight. There is
nobody who is using the same tools as he is using."
There is a considerably larger amount, but
this is Adams' basic argument. Is it correct?
First about the general conclusion: I do not know whether Trump
will win the presidential elections, and also not by what proportion.
Of course, neither does Scott Adams. He may be right, but I
don't know (and don't live in the USA), though it seems rather
plausible to me that if Adams is right, it is not for
reason he gives. To which I turn now.
Second, I am a psychologist and am not much impressed by his
self-declared status as a specialist on persuasion. First, I think that
is hardly a science (but I think similarly about "the science" of
psychology, apart from some exceptions like statistics), and second I
think a better subject for study are propaganda and
relations (for there is a whole lot of intersubjective material
these efforts at persuading people to believe falsehoods).
Third, it is clearly quite possible to be a crazy clown and
to be quite good at persuading people. Besides, one of the things Adams
wholly misses in his fascinations with "the tools" Trump is using, is that these "tools" work mostly
because he is rarely contradicted by the main media, that also
swallow his - I am sorry, but rather insane - utter disregard
of facts and of consistency.
Fourth, I have seen several speeches of Trump, and in my rather trained
and very learned opinion Noam Chomsky, Bill Maher and some others whose
intelligences and knowledge I respect, are quite correct that Trump
is predominantly stupid. He has no
realistic ideas or policies; he constantly makes up things and changes
his positions several times a day; he repeats the same point three,
four, and sometimes seven times in one paragraph of his prose;
he is extremely narcissistic; and he also is extremely temperamental,
and neither of these last characteristics is desirable in a president
of the USA.
Finally and fifthly, I think Adams is right in one thing: Trump
used a flame- thrower (insults, personal disqualifications, evident
lies, racism) to people who
are not used to answering back by either good rational
argument or by good flamethrowing with similar
characteristics. (But again my diagnosis is different from
Adams's: It works because the main media have hardly criticized
Trump, and not because his methods are so "Perfect". )
So in summary: Adams may be correct Trump will be the next president (I
don't know) but not because of the reasons he listed: Trump is not
is extremely crude; his crudity, insults, disqualifications,
lies, non-facts and bullshit plans are not attacked by the main
media; and he also had the luck to have met no really able
debater among the other Republican candidates.
2. Like Clinton, Trump
Chickens Out of Debate with Sanders
The second item is by
the Common Dream's staff, and it is also about the remaining three
This starts as follows:
Looks like Donald Trump took a page from
Hillary Clinton's book and chickened out.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee
Friday afternoon that he would not debate
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, despite having said one day
prior that he'd "love to debate Bernie."
Sanders' rival for the Democratic
earlier this week that she would not participate in a debate
with Sanders in California ahead of that state's primary next month,
despite having agreed to do so previously.
How amazing - or rather: how perfectly
non-amazing that these two enormous political liars do not want
to debate one of the few truth-speakers in American politics!
It is not amazing at all because
both would loose, but it also should be noted that (i) both Clinton and
Trump deny the American public a fair chance of comparing
the three candidates, and that (ii) both Clinton and Trump do the
same as the U.S. main media: Systematically discriminate
the only decent politician in the race; systematically deny
his chances to be wider known.
And here is Trump's statement, in full:
I'd say this is plain cowardly baloney, with
a little bit of rational sense: Trump has
gained the presidential candidacy (at least in terms of delegates
voting for him, and because he is the only Republican candidate left),
and he doesn't gain much by debating Sanders (while standing a
very serious chance of sorely losing).
Based on the fact that the Democratic
nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and
Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now
that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate
that I would debate the second place finisher. Likewise, the networks
want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too
generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues.
Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders - and it
would be an easy payday - I will wait to debate the first place
finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or
whoever it may be.
And here is Bernie Sanders' reply:
He is right, but I suppose neither Sanders
nor "the American people"
will get the chance to debate or see Trump vs Sanders - except
if Sanders somehow
Speaking with reporters in Los Angeles
on Friday, Sanders said
he hoped Trump would have a change of heart.
"I hope that he changes his mind again.
Mr. Trump is known to change his mind many times in a day," Sanders
said. "Trump is a bully, he's a big tough guy. Well, I say to Mr.
Trump, what are you afraid of?"
a statement, the Vermont senator alluded to why Trump—whom Sanders
consistently trounces in polls—might not want to face him head-on:
There is a reason why in virtually
every national and statewide poll I am defeating Donald Trump,
sometimes by very large margins and almost always by far larger margins
than Secretary Clinton. There is a reason for that reality and the
American people should be able to see it up front in a good debate and
a clash of ideas.
manages to be nominated as presidential candidate, or goes for it as
Emails Show ‘Collusion’ Between Big Banks and Obama Administration on
the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact
The third item is by
Nadia Prupis on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
of emails released Friday show what activists describe as
“collusion” between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Wall
Street executives to push for the passage the controversial
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
emails (pdf), obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request by the group Rootstrikers, which organizes against money in
politics, include a message to Froman from a managing director at
Goldman Sachs urging him to push for “robust commitments” on
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions—which allow private
corporations to sue governments for perceived loss of profits—to be
included in the divisive trade deal.
“I wanted to underscore how important it
is for the financial services industry to get robust commitments on
ISDS in the agreement… denying our industry the same rights as enjoyed
by every other sector would be terribly unfortunate,” the email states.
As I have explained several times before,
I regard the TPP, the TTIP, the TISA and indeed also the precursor
NAFTA as attempts to found neofascism in the USA, Europe and
Asia, and by "fascism"
I understand what was understood by it in the 1930ies: The main powers
in the country are - in effect - in the hands of the big corporations.
Second, I call it neofascism because this time the big
multi-national corporations (many of which don't pay any of
very little taxes already, many of which have former and future
staff-members working for the government, of course in the
interests of the corporations) do not want to play second fiddle to any
politician, however sympathetic he or she may be to corporate interests
They want to be able to break any
law any nation may democratically elect, on the ground
that this law made their projected profits less, and they are
going to do that by the (secret) ISDSs that will allow them (mostly in
secret) to demand hundreds of millions or several billions
from any state (any government, any parliament, any judiciary, and in
the end: any population) on the mere ground that their laws
their projected profits.
Incidentally, please note that the ISDSs
will work mostly in secret; that no one except states
and corporations can appear in their "courts"; that the courts are manned
by the lawyers of the big corporations, who will act as judges;
that it are the people who have to pay the corporations
if they voted demo- cratically for the laws that the
multi-national corporations do not want; and that "the people",
like all private persons, all trade unions, all
judges, and all
parliamentarians have no right to appear in the "courts" of the
ISDSs - all they are good for is paying the taxes that
pay the corporations.
So yes: I am not amazed to see
Froman and Wall Street executives collaborate on their neofascistic
Here is a bit on the so-called "fast
Another mentions it would be “good for
the U.S.” if lawmakers in U.S. Congress passed Trade Promotion
Authority (TPA), also known as “fast track,” which would allow the
president to send trade deals to the House and Senate for a yes-or-no
vote, rather than allowing them to make amendments to the agreements.
“Will do what I can to assist,” reads
the email from the Goldman Sachs lobbyist, sent in February 2015—just a
few months before the Senate passed TPA in what opponents called
a “great day for corporate America.”
This was also much furthered by Obama, and
has been accepted: The Senate will now vote on the TTP with hardly
debate and no amendments on the neofascistic laws it
embodies and furthers.
As to Froman: He seems an intentionally
extremely evil guy, who - of course - meanwhile also is a millionaire:
Rootstrikers—which is part of a newly
launched financial reform coalition called Take
On Wall Street—also noted that Froman, then chief of staff to the
Treasury Secretary, was “instrumental” in the 1999 repeal of the
Glass-Steagall Act, which created a firewall between the investment and
commercial banking sectors, and has maintained a friendly relationship
with the financial industry during his time as trade rep.
Kurt Walters, campaign director at Rootstrikers, said Friday, “Wall
Street knows it can get favors in closed door negotiations that could
never survive the light of day in Congress. One thing has been
consistent during Michael Froman’s frequent trips through the Wall
Street-to-Washington revolving door: He’s repeatedly used his official
positions to deliver for his friends at the biggest banks on Wall
“It’s fair to ask whether Froman is
negotiating on behalf of the American public or to benefit the
financial sector that gave him a massive golden parachute bonus upon
his shift from Citigroup executive to U.S. Trade Representative,”
Walters added, noting that Froman received more than $4 million upon
leaving Citigroup in 2013.
I'd say that very clearly Froman
is not "negotiating on behalf of the
American public" and never was, and he
has always tried "to benefit the
financial sector". (And indeed they pay the
the IMF—the IMF!—Turns on Neoliberalism
The fourth and last item today is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle:
New paper by three IMF economists
finds that policies of capital account liberalization and austerity
fuel inequality, which in turn hurts growth—"the very thing that the
neoliberal agenda is intent on boosting."
I copied this in part because it is adequate, and in
part to criticize the title: The IMF is an enormous
association, and "three IMF economists" (who also express doubts about neoliberalism
rather than attack it) is not - by far - the IMF.
But to the article, that starts as follows:
In what may be a sign of a "shifting
zeitgeist," a new paper published this week by economists with the
International Monetary Fund questions the very neoliberal policies the
body has imposed.
Oversold?" (pdf) the IMF's Jonathan Ostry, Prakash Loungani,
and Davide Furceri focus their analysis on two policies of what British
writer George Monbiot dubbed
the "zombie doctrine": "removing restrictions on the movement of
capital across a country's borders (so-called capital account
liberalization); and fiscal consolidation, sometimes called
'austerity,' which is shorthand for policies to reduce fiscal deficits
and debt levels."
These are in fact the neoconservative
policies of Reagan and Thatcher, which indeed meanwhile have done a very
great amount of harm to anyone who belongs (or once belonged to)
the middle class or the lower incomes group.
For one thing, since Reagan and Thatcher
the few rich have grown very much richer, while the many non-rich all
since then hardly gained anything or grew a whole lot poorer.
And since these policies were started in
1979 and 1980, and since these effects have been shown many
times in economical statistics, it is not quite remarkable that
three economists who work for the IMF also write about these policies
and their effects.
To put it in non-economical non-academic
clear terms: There is no increased growth; there is
economic inequality; and without a considerable and well-paid middle
class (that meanwhile mostly disappeared) there is no hope for growth
in countries that now mostly lack a middle class.
An evaluation of these two neoliberal
policies, the authors write, leads to "three disquieting conclusions."
As they note in the paper:
The benefits in terms of increased
growth seem fairly difficult to establish when looking at a broad group
The costs in terms of increased
inequality are prominent. Such costs epitomize the trade-off between
the growth and equity effects of some aspects of the neoliberal agenda.
Increased inequality in turn hurts the
level and sustainability of growth. Even if growth is the sole or main
purpose of the neoliberal agenda, advocates of that agenda still need
to pay attention to the distributional effects.
I agree with that, but it needed a goodly amount of "translation". This
is alo true of the following bit:
While the authors write "There is much
to cheer in the neoliberal agenda," they conclude that "the benefits of
some policies that are an important part of the neoliberal agenda
appear to have been somewhat overplayed."
Or, as political economist Richard
"the IMF may now be realizing that it has been involved in a massive
exercise in redistributing wealth upwards in society."
The statement in the first paragraph are -
once again - academic bullshit: What is
there "to cheer in the neoliberal agenda"? I am asking: Personally, I think
absolutely nothing, but the three economists don't tell
what they are willing to cheer.
As to Murphy: Either he is an idiot or he
tells us that the IMF is idiotic. For clearly enormous
economic inequalities have been rising for 35 years now.
If "the IMF" is only now seeing this, it means they didn't even
the statistics on incomes and inequalities for the last 35 years.
Finally, here is Yves Smith (from Naked Capitalism
I think that is correct, and incidentally not
at all flattering for the IMF: "It is becoming
too hard to maintain the pretense that the policies that produced the
global financial crisis, which are almost entirely still intact, are
The publication of this IMF paper is a
sign that the zeitgeist is, years after the crisis, finally shifting.
It is becoming too hard to maintain the pretense that the policies that
produced the global financial crisis, which are almost entirely still
intact, are working. And the elites and their economic alchemists may
also recognize that if they don’t change course pretty soon, they risk
the loss of not just legitimacy but control. With Trump and Le Pen at
the barricades, the IMF wake-up call may be too late.
 In fact - as Bill Maher
also said - Trump's methods are very childish. And as I said: It is not
that Trump has "enormous persuasion skills"; it is that the main media
(i) like Trump better than Clinton and like Clinton
than Sanders (in majority) and (ii) have given up, in the last
10 to 15 years, of trying to inform the public with facts they
ought to know, and therefore (iii) do not criticize Trump,
also because they gain financially by not doing so.
Sanders still may become the Democrats' presidential candidate, either
because he succeeds in getting the most votes, or because he manages to
convince the Democratic Party to put the USA's interests before those
of the few leaders of the Democrats, and propose as their candidate the
one who is likely to win against Trump, namely Sanders. Both are
manifestly possible, but
I guess both by now have a probability lower than 1/2.
As to Sanders' running as an independent: I think he would be justified
in doing so, especially given the machinations of the Democrats in
terms of super- delegates. (If Sanders comes to lose, it is probably
because of superdelegates, who were never elected.) And I think if he
does so, he makes a good chance of winning.
Whether he will do so remains to be seen, and will be decided in the
In case you were willing to reply "but Froman and Rubin are Jews or
have a Jewish background": I am an atheist with
grandparents who did far more for "the Jews" in WW II than most
other Dutchmen, and I do not believe the Jewish religious myth
that Jews are superior to other people, nor do I
believe the Nazi myth that Jews are inferior
to other people. They are on average the same as any other
collection of people, which is neither very good nor very bad, and
intelligent nor very stupid. And some simply are bad men, just as some
others simply are good men.