1. Supreme Court
Eliminates Political Corruption! (By
Defining It Out of Existence)
2. Who Is Getting Rich
Off the $1.3 Trillion Student Debt
How Wall Street and the Government Profit
From Student Debt
4. Donald Trump Vows Torture (Again): 'I Like
Waterboarding A Lot'
plight of Common
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 30, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 4 dotted links: Item
1 is about how the US Supreme Court deals with political
corruption: By embracing it while denying it exists; item
2 is about the enormous student debt in the USA, as is item 3 (though both fail to mention that many students
are less critical than they would have been without debts); item 4 is about loony Trump's repeated
taste for torture (but: he may be the next president); while item 5
is about the plight of Common Dreams, that is one of my favorite
websites, who are in financial difficulties, it seems from being too
much for Sanders (?1?!). It would be a very great pity if they
disappear, and would be another major blow against real
Court Eliminates Political Corruption! (By Defining It Out of Existence)
first item today is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept:
This starts as
Three out of four Americans think government
corruption is widespread. Donald Trump became the Republican nominee
for president in part by claiming he couldn’t be bought. Bernie Sanders
almost grabbed the Democratic nomination away from one of the most
famous and powerful people on earth by decrying the influence of
Yet by overturning
the bribery conviction of Bob McDonnell, the former governor of
Virginia, the Supreme Court this week just extended its incredible run
of decisions driven by the concern that America has too many
restrictions on money in politics.
Back in 2010, the majority held
in Citizens United that corruption should be defined
only as straightforward bribes. Do big donors to “independent” Super
PACs get a receipt saying “Received: $5 Million in Return for Cutting
Your Taxes”? No? Then according to the decision, the donation did “not
lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption,”
and that’s all that matters.
Now in the unanimous McDonnell decision,
the Court held that a lower court’s interpretation of quid
pro quo defined the quo too broadly, because for
McDonnell to run interference for his generous donors with state
officials didn’t actually qualify as an “official decision.”
In fact, as the New York Times writes:
Mr. McDonnell, a Republican who served
from 2010 to 2014, was charged with using his office to help Jonnie R.
Williams Sr., who had provided the McDonnells with luxury products,
loans and vacations worth more than $175,000 when Mr. McDonnell was
But according to the Supreme Court (unanimously)
that was not corruption...
I don't know what the Supreme Court
understands by the term "corruption", but it certainly can't be
a definition like the ordinary one. Here is - for example - the start
of the Wikipedia lemma (minus note numbers):
Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person
entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal
benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery
and embezzlement, though it may also involve
practices that are legal in many countries. Government, or 'political', corruption
occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an
official capacity for personal gain.
The McDonnells profited
privately for at least $175,000 worth because
McDonnell was governor of Virginia. But not according to the Supreme
Court, who use a completely different English than the English
2. Who Is Getting Rich Off the $1.3
Trillion Student Debt Crisis?
The second item is by Amy Goodman
and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
We continue our conversation
looking at student debt. A stunning 42 million people now owe $1.3
trillion in student debt. A new investigative report published by
Center for Investigative Reporting peels back the layers on this
trillion-dollar industry. The article, titled "Who Got Rich Off the
Student Debt Crisis," follows what happened after the federal
government relinquished direct control of the student loan program and
opened it up to banks and profit-making corporations.
Note that "42 million people" is more
than 10% of the total American population, and this
comprises the most intelligent part: Most of them now have enormous
loans, that will not only limit their own futures, but that also
- probably - will limit the public utterings of most social
criticisms they have.
I think both consequences - getting rich from students'
debts and shutting up intelligent and educated critics - were quite
intentional, but only the first point is covered in this article (and the next).
Here is one of the writers of the report, interviewed on Democracy Now!:
STEELE: What we found
was that, if you go
back to Lyndon Johnson, the whole idea of the student loan program was
to provide a way for people—poor, minorities, so forth—to give them a
way to go to college, and it was to provide the loans. And it was
administered largely by the federal government, though banks were
involved. But by the late 1990s, through the privatization of Sallie
Mae and the signal that sent, they turned over this extremely important
function, largely, to private industry—Sallie Mae, banks, other
financial institutions, private equity companies—not just the issuing
of loans, but also the servicing of the loans and, maybe more
importantly, those that collected delinquent loans.
In other words, this was done
- again - by Bill Clinton and his government (of big bankers like
Robert Rubin). This is how it works out financially now:
STEELE: (...) I think
the average debt
right now is probably around $35,000. All the data on this is not
always the best data, and it seems like the data is behind where people
really are. So it’s roughly around $30,000, probably a little higher.
That’s undergraduate; graduate is much, much higher than that. But
here’s what goes on. If you put your loan in forbearance, meaning, for
some reason or another—you’ve lost your job, you’re sick—you can’t make
a payment, it’s in forbearance. But the interest begins to accumulate.
So we talked to many, many students, who had actually once had, let’s
say, $50,000 of debt by the time they left college, now owe $90,000 and
$100,000, but during that period may have paid $50,000 or $60,000,
because of the interest and the penalties, things of that sort. So the
interest is such a crucial factor. This is why it’s $1.3 trillion
overall. It’s past credit card debt. It’s the great go-go growth
industry of the whole debt collection field.
Incidentally, I had 6 years of student debts
in Holland (made in the late Seventies and early Eighties) which
amounted to fl. 42,000 (in guilders not euros) but - after great
lots of legal correspondence and
a court case, that I won - this stopped the Dutch state from taking it
(which would have killed me) and in the end, when I was in my early
fifties, the whole debt was cleared without my having to pay anything .
I do not think that those who studied in Holland in the 2000s,
when the education provided was at best half of what I got,
while the costs to the students were very much higher, will get
off "as easily"  as I was,
because the Dutch also jumped on the chance of getting rich
and shutting up most of them forever, but I am less
well-informed about the modern rules.
But I do know they are much less fair than the ones I
had, precisely because it is both financially profitable and
politically pleasant to force enormous loans on all students
without rich parents.
3. Revealed: How Wall Street and the Government Profit From
The third item is by Emma Niles on
This starts as follows (and
continues the previous item):
It’s no secret that student
debt is one of the biggest crises young Americans face today. And
you’ve probably heard some of the numerous
accusations against Wall Street for its part in the debt crisis.
new report on Reveal News, produced by The Center for Investigative
Reporting, shines a light on the outrageous profit made from student
debt by big banks, private investors and even our own government.
The authors, James B. Steele and Lance
Williams, use anecdotes to illustrate the struggles of living with
student debt. “My loans are a black cloud hanging over me,” says one
woman who owes more than $90,000. But they also report the stories of
those who profit—such as an elderly executive whose golf course and
several houses were paid for with money he made off the student debt
Incidentally, in case you owe $90,000 and
were to repay it by paying back $500 dollars a month (which is
half my monthly income, and would be completely impossible for
me) it will still take you 15 years to repay the loan.
And again I say that one of the main
reasons for both the enormous student loans and the
fact that these loans are the hardest to get rid off is to shut up
the most intelligent and best educated people in the USA.
Here are Steele and Williams quoted:
main points to get from this are in the first and last paragraphs:
Student loans are almost impossible to get rid off (not even your
bankruptcy will finish them), which in fact also says something about the
government's desire not to be criticized (I think), while the
profits are generated by the fact that the government can borrow at
virtually no costs, but charges students far more
Student loans are virtually the only
consumer debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy except in the
rarest of cases—one of the industry’s greatest lobbying triumphs.
At the same time, societal changes
conspired to drive up the basic need for these loans: Middle-class
incomes stagnated, college costs soared and states retreated from their
historical investment in public universities. …
The calculus for students and their
families changed drastically, with little notice. Today, there is a
student debt class like no other: more than 40 million Americans
bearing $1.3 trillion in debt that’s altering lives, relationships and
The profit arises from the government’s ability to borrow money at a
low rate and then lend it to students at a higher rate, thus charging
students more than is necessary to recoup its costs.
than is necessary to repay the loans.
In brief: it is a very sick system, that appears to have been
designed on purpose to make the bankers richer and to shut the
students up from uttering any criticism.
4. Donald Trump Vows Torture (Again): 'I Like
Waterboarding A Lot'
The fourth item is by Andrea Germanos on
This starts as
follows, and is here for two reasons of which the first is that I very
much dislike Trump:
Donald Trump has reaffirmed
his backing of torture.
Speaking at a campaign rally Tuesday in
St. Clairsville, Ohio, he said of the terrorist group ISIS, "We have to
fight so viciously and violently because we're dealing with violent
"What do you think about
waterboarding?" he asked the
crowd. "I like it a lot," he said to cheers. "I don't think it's tough
I am not amazed at all, for the
man is a lunatic. But he may be elected president of the USA.
There is more in the article, but there
also is another reason it is here:
5. The plight of Common
First of all: I really like Common Dreams, which is
something that I found out
after I decided on June 10, 2013
to pay much more attention to politics than I
had done before on my site (that was mostly philosophical, till then).
The main reason to do so is that I learned that day from Edward Snowden
everybody is being spied on by very many
secret services, and
by many dataminers, and that the secret services would and could
do almost anything to get access to one's computer (if it has internet
connection), and thus make secret dossiers on anyone.
Since then, I wrote nearly every day on the crisis, and wrote over a
1000 files about it. In fact, this is most of what I did, the last 3
years, for I also had quite bad and quite painful eyes nearly all the
time. (My eyes are still not OK,
but were a lot better this year than from 2012-2015.)
I did write almost every day about the crisis (1) by reading
every day more than 30 websites, mostly somewhat or rather alternative
(for the main media are simply too dishonest, too partial, or too much
propagandizing these days) (2) by selecting articles that I
found interesting enough to give my own opinions about, and (3)
the articles (on average: around five each day) while (i) quoting
relevant parts (ii) giving my comments on these quotes, and (iii)
providing clear links to the articles and their authors, so that
everyone could find them and read them.
And one of the things I found is that Common Dreams
is either the best or one of the best of the many sites I read every
day: It is progressive, it is - really - leftish, it is fair, it is
objective (mostly), it looks well, and it (unlike nearly all
other sites) has a very fine license, the Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Also, it is written almost completely by women. And now I find this on
their site and in their articles (and I quote):
We can't do it without
I say! In fact, they need $50,000 (or half of
that) in order to survive. That is over 4 times my yearly income, and
also I am so distrustful of computers 
that I never got as far as arranging that I can pay by computer
(not in 20 years of internet) - but this is quite serious.
I really hope they can find the money, simply because they are very
good. I don't have it, and the very little I have I can't pay to them.
Here is part of the reasons they are in trouble (from the "Read more
always been hard to keep afloat as an independent voice in the news
right now it's particularly hard. We need your help.
just a sampling of what some of our larger donors have been writing to
have been a supporter (including substantial financial support!) for
many years. Why have you wasted so much space on Bernie Sanders? What
has he ever accomplished?”
had donated to you before, but no more - I guess I’m not a
Progressive. I am a Hillary supporter.“
have donated generously to CD for years but now I'm with Hillary.”
would love to throw you a few bucks as I have done in the past, but I
am a Hillary fan. Contributing at this time will not be possible.”
survival has always been touch and go. We can’t afford to lose
any of our funding base. If we are to survive we must find
new donors and we must ask those who are still with us to step up. If
you have appreciated our campaign coverage and want progressive,
independent media to survive, we need your help now.
I don't like Hillary Clinton, but
I also don't see why Clinton fans could not spend something to
save one of the very few remaining real news sites from going
down for ever. (They're called "Common Dreams": Surely Clintonites
have quite a few things in common with Sanderites?!)
Then again, how many voters did Bernie
Sanders have? 19 million? 21 million? Anyway, something like that.
Where are they? If 1 in a 1000 of them gave $10 it would give
Common Dreams at least $190,000.
Aahh well... (again). [An expression of incoherent
anger on my part...]
 Incidentally, this
means that I got around 7000 guilders a year to study on - which was considerably
less than the amount of dole very many people got
around the same time (for there was some sort of economical crisis
then), which again was considerably less than the minimum
amount of money people got if they worked (at anything whatsoever).
So for all the time I received a students' loan I could have been in
the dole (for I was ill) and would have received more
money from the dole - none of which I would ever have to repay. (And in
fact I still think students who are poor should get dole in
order to study, for plenty of others got dole without doing anything
for it. But this idea is so radical that I know of no one else
who had or has it...)
 In fact, the
system of student loans that I got is long
past, but it was somewhat fair in principle, and included a clause that
saved me from having to pay anything back because I was (and am) ill.
The reason I did get a very bad treatment from
the state's student loans - I did not get a
loan in 1976, and should have; I did get a loan in 1977, which was terminated
after 3 months, so I had to work again in 1978; I got 15 years
of monthly warnings and threats that all I owed would be taken,
and lots more - was especially utter incompetence and extreme
laziness in the official bureaucracy that ran it.
 Yes, indeed. I
was rather early with acquiring a computer (in 1987) and also with
getting on internet (in 1996), but since one of the very first things I
got to see from internet was in a special browser for internet
communications, which showed me that there were, already in 1996,
thousands or millions of anonymous users who told others things
like "You goddamned insane idiot! Die, die, die! Asshole!" without
any offense to them, immediately cured me from using my real
name wherever I could avoid it.
And I anyway did not want to use my real name, simply because I had had
four years of murder threats by softdrugs dealers
that the police absolutely refused to do anything about, also
not when the same dealers were arrested with 2 kilos of heroine and 1
kilo of cocaine (in 1990).
And that was in 1996. Twenty years later, I think computers are extremely
dangerous, and may well be the way towards neofascism,
simply because the secret services either do know or can know everything
about anyone with internet connection.
These days I still use a computer (having had one for 29 years), but I
don't have a cellphone and refuse to buy one; I don't have a webcam and
refuse to buy one; I can't pay anything on line and refuse to arrange
it so that I can; I am on Linux because I completely distrust Windows,
Apple and Android; and I
dislike most computing I do because I dislike the internet, which I do
especially because it is a freeway for the secret services and the
dataminers, and I see both as strong forces for neofascism.