1. What Did We Buy With
the $5 Trillion That the Iraq and
Afghanistan Wars Have Cost Us?
His Case for a Pardon, Edward Snowden Says
Leaks Were ‘Necessary, Vital
3. China and Russia Press Ahead, Together
4. GOP Bill Described as
'Avalanche of Deregulatory
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 14, 2016.
is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about the $5 trillions that were spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; item 2 is about Edward Snowden's case that he should be pardoned: I agree with Snowden, but think that is very unlikely to happen; item 3 is about a likely new world order headed by China and Russia: I agree this is likely (and give two reasons); and item 4 is about a new Republican effort to deregulate whatever was not yet quite deregulated: it is a crazy bill (I think), but it very probably will not be signed by Obama.
This is a brief Nederlog (and yesterday
was a very long one, and I think also a good one). It might be thought
that this gives some opportunities for another Nederlog today, but I
think the chances on that are very small today, because it is quite hot in Amsterdam, which I don't like at all.
have decided that most of my site has been corrected
now. Here is the link to Rewriting
that shows I have reformatted "everything", although there is
some to do in five directories. Most of that will be done in September,
though the Multatuli
section (one of the oldest and longest sections on my site) probably
will last longer. 
And in case you visit my
Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need
to click twice
to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is
possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my
computer. (But it didn't do so before. And as to asking my
provider: I am sorry, but most of the things they told me the
last nearly twenty years (!!) were lies.
I've given up on them, and I only am there because (i) I was there
nearly 20 years, and because (ii) the competition in Holland probably
is equally bad.)
1. What Did We Buy With the
$5 Trillion That the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Have Cost Us?
The first item today is by Juan Cole on Truthdig:
starts as follows - and is one way to describe how much wars (which
have not been approved by Congress) have cost the American tax payers:
OK - it is an enormous amount of money, and I think all of it was wasted.
A Brown University political scientist
estimates that as of 2016, The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have cost the
American taxpayers $5 trillion. That number isn’t important when we
consider the human cost: Some 7,000 US troops dead, 52,000 wounded in
action; hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead who wouldn’t otherwise be,
4 million displaced and made homeless, etc.
Just to put that $5 trillion in
perspective. Let’s say you chose five individuals. Each of the
five will spend $10 million a day. That’s the cost of Heidi
Klum’s mansion. They’d be buying the equivalent of five of
those each day.
They’ll do that every day of their
lives. All five of them. And then each of them will be
succeeded by one their children, who will spend $10 million dollars a
day, and one of their grandchildren, and one of their
great-grandchildren, until 270 years have passed and it is the year
Then again, some rich Americans made a lot of profits, and there
are nearly 325 million Americans, which means that the $5 trillions
equally divided over 325 million is a whole lot less.
And as far as I am concerned, one of the very shameful things of raising trillions for war is that these trillions have been mostly taken from other possible spendings, e.g. on the infrastructure, that simply have not been made. (All of the 5 trillions could have been spend there, if the American
Senate had been much more sensible than it was, after 9/11/2001. )
Here is some more on social consequences:
I agree, and average Americans have these days very little to say about the course of their lives.
Of 2.7 million military personnel who
served in those two theaters, 2 million have now left the military and
have entered the Veterans Administration system. Some 52,000 of
them were wounded in action and many need care.
Because the Bush administration borrowed
money to pay for the wars, we’ve paid half a trillion dollars in
At least al-Qaeda had been based in
Afghanistan. Iraq had had nothing to do with September 11.
It was Bush’s invasion that brought al-Qaeda there, which later morphed
We were lied into that war, and it has
weakened our economy. If anyone can tell me what benefits that
war brought the average American, I’d like to hear it.
Making His Case for a Pardon, Edward Snowden Says Leaks Were
‘Necessary, Vital Things’
item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
new interview with the Guardian, whistleblower Edward Snowden
explains why U.S. President Barack Obama should pardon him for leaking
documents that revealed the government's mass surveillance operations.
Snowden, currently in exile in Russia,
faces at least 30 years in jail for allegedly violating the Espionage
Act with his 2013 disclosures. But in a video interview from Moscow,
the 33-year-old National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower said Obama
should take into consideration that people had benefited from his
"Yes, there are laws on the books that
say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists—for the
exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page
but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when
we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these
were vital things," he said.
I think Edward Snowden is quite right, and clearly he has the right to plead for himself also if he is not right, but I would be very amazed if Obama would grant him a pardon.
He is also right on the following bit:
"I think when people look at the
calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws
of our nation changed," Snowden continued. "The Congress, the courts,
and the president all changed their policies as a result of these
disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence
that any individual came to harm as a result."
"If not for these disclosures, if not
for these revelations," he declared, "we would be worse off."
Then again - which is not a fault of Snowden at all - I think most of the legal changes were simply made because these were mostly forced, and not because those who changed their policies desired to change them, or indeed would have changed them without Snowden's revelations.
And I think far less was changed than should have been changed, but none of the lack of real changes is Snowden's responsibility
I agree. And this is a recommended article.
In June, Snowden legal advisor and ACLU
attorney Ben Wizner told
New York magazine:
But the effort seems unlikely to succeed.
We're going to make a very
strong case between now and the end of this administration that this is
one of those rare cases for which the pardon power exists. It's not for
when somebody didn’t break the law. It's for when they did and there
are extraordinary reasons for not enforcing the law against the person.
3. China and Russia Press
The third item is by Alastair Crooke on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows (and I will only quote two bits from a lot more):
This time the G20 was
different. Intentionally so. The Chinese had prepared it and
planned it to be so.
I think Alastair Crooke (<- Wikipedia), who was or still is a British diplomat, may be quite right that "a new global
leadership" may be arising, aad it is Chinese and Russian, and not the USA or Europe.
So, how was this G20 different? Well, if
one listens carefully, one might just detect the footsteps of change –
of a new “order” readying itself to step onto the stage (at the
apposite moment). The sound of these footsteps was intentionally
“softened” – designed to allow for a peaceful rise of a new global
leadership. The watchword here was “change without upheaval.”
What was different was that it was
distinctly China’s G20. China did not simply host the
G20 for America to sweep in, give its “leadership” and stamp to
proceedings, and then to fly off. China, at this G20, made it very
plain that it was leading, and to make it clearer
still, it made sure that the world should see that the guest of honor
was the Russian President (..)
Two very basic reasons - apart from 35 years of extremely bad leadership by the USA - are that both the land masses and the populations of the two states are much larger than those of the USA. (There are about 5 times as many Chinese or Russians as there are Americans, for one example.)
Here is more, from the Chinese president Xi:
think Xi is right - and he also holds considerable amounts of US debts,
and many of the USA's former industries, that have been relocated by
their rich owners (after deregulations of American laws) to countries
like China that pay much less in wages.
Lest this careful G20 choreography pass
unnoticed in the West, President Xi had telegraphed the essence of his
G20 message when he addressed the Chinese Communist Party on the
anniversary of its founding, a month or so earlier.
On that anniversary, President Xi told the
party that: “The world is on the brink of radical changes. We see how
the E.U. is gradually crumbling, and the U.S. economy is collapsing.
This will end in a new world order.”
There is a lot more in the article, which is recommended (though I don't agree with everything).
4. GOP Bill Described as 'Avalanche
of Deregulatory Rubbish' Advances
The fourth item is by Lauren McCauley on
This starts as follows:
say! I don't know whether the last bit is well-formulated, but the
general intent is clear: This is the n-th deregulation attempt that has
been made the last 35 years; all of these deregulations helped the
profits of the few very rich and hurt the incomes of the many non-rich;
but since most of the American "people's representatives" these days
are rich men (and women), I guess that
A House committee on Tuesday took a
dangerous step towards incapacitating Dodd-Frank, the reform law passed
in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, by approving a new bill that,
as one watchdog put
it, contains "an avalanche of deregulatory rubbish that would
imperil consumers and the entire financial system."
(pdf)—introduced by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and entitled the
Financial CHOICE (Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors,
Consumers and Entrepreneurs) Act—passed the U.S. House Financial
Services Committee by a vote of 30-26. According to the roll
call (pdf), every Democrat on the committee opposed the measure and
all but one Republican—Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine—supported it.
As Common Dreams previously reported,
would roll back a slew of Dodd-Frank regulations; reduce the power of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau (CFPB) created by [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren; repeal the
Volcker Rule that aims to stop banks from making risky bets with
taxpayer-backed deposits; and prevent the Financial Stability Oversight
Council from labeling insurers and other non-banks as "systemically
important financial institutions"—or too big to fail—making them
subject to federal constraints.
is to be expected.
Here is some more:
I agree this is "a gift
to the Big Banks, that would extend their 'license to steal'" and I add that there seem to be few if any effective government watchdogs left, after 35 years of successive deregulations.
Lisa Gilbert, director of Public
Citizen's Congress Watch division, described the legislation as "a gift
to the Big Banks, that would extend their 'license to steal' and tear
down hard-fought banking regulations, some of which have not yet been
"Constraining consumer protections is
unconscionable," she continued. "Americans still suffering from the
economic collapse deserve better; we deserve government watchdogs with
Notably, the vote came just days after news
broke that Wells Fargo employees illegally opened millions of fake
accounts to meet corporate sales targets.
Then again, it is very improbable Barack Obama will sign it, so if this
is going to be law, it probably needs Trump as president.
 Incidentally: I do
want to keep my sites to look reasonable on the monitors (and computers
and OSs) that I use, and I am trying to do so for
the new monitor I have, but I gave up (by 2012) trying to
I do take care it works well on Firefox, on Ubuntu, on a normal
sized squarish monitor, but I will not check anymore how my
site is displayed on other monitors, other OSs and other
much work for my health. (I guess it works on most systems,
since it is html that ought to work the same everywhere, but
I lack the health to check and repair.)
 In fact, there was precisely one person who voted in 2001 against going to war in the House and the Congress: Barbara Lee (<- Wikipedia).