Sep 16, 2016

Crisis: About the USA, Frauding Banksters, Trump & "the left", Trump & Europe
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After Pat’s Birthday
2. Elizabeth Warren Demands Investigation Into
     President Obama’s Failure to Jail the Banksters

3. 'President Donald Trump': Latest Polls Indicate Clinton
     Could Actually Lose This Thing

'Trump Is a Problem for the Whole World'

This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 16, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is an excellent article by one of two brothers who both enlisted in the US Army in 2002, and whose brother was killed (this is originally from 2006 and is a reprint: 10 years later it is as true as it was in 2006, or more so, because ten more years of wars have passed); item 2 is about Elizabeth Warren on banks, Obama and Holder (and I agree with her argument, but think she is too late); item 3 is about polls that indicate Trump may be winning (and I draw some inferences about Stein and "leftists"); and item 4 is about an interview with the president of the European Parliament, who managed to say something sensible (but weak).

B. 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.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am sorry if you have to click several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was.)

1. After Pat’s Birthday

The first item is by Kevin Tillman, who enlisted with his brother Pat in 2002 in the U.S. Army. Pat Tillman got killed in Afghanistan in 2004; Kevin Tillman was discharged in 2005. This piece originally was published in Truthdig in 2006 and was repeated yesterday:
This starts as follows:
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after.  It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military.  He spoke about the risks with signing the papers.  How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people.  How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition.  How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out. 
Yes indeed, although I think the military are primarily led by the military (and much less by the American (other) leaders or the people), and my reason is very simple: The military are all under orders to do what their military superiors tell hem to do, and risk severe punishment if they do not.

But Pat Tillman appears to have been quite right that those who enlisted in the military, basically have lost their freedom of speech as long as they were enlisted.

And I do understand (I think) why the Tillmans (and many others) voluntarily enlisted in 2002: They sincerely wanted to defend their country against attacks like 9/11. And I think - also regardless of their motives - that this was a courageous decision by ordinary men, simply because doing so risked their lives and their health.

Then what happened in fact - according to Kevin Tilmann - came to this:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is.  Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them.  Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.
I agree.

Indeed, I specifically agree with the first paragraph that most decisions that were made after 2001 were - for the most part - very ill-motivated decisions "to defend the USA" by attacking quite a few other nations for quite a few extremely vague reasons that generally amounted to: We tell you what to do, and what you have to do is "to defend the USA" and this (whatever it is) is "defending the USA", also if when considered in fact it seems much more like extending the USA's power and influence over other nations by military means.

And I specifically agree with the second paragraph that what the political and military leaders of the USA did in fact amounted in very many cases to "
setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them".

More specifically:

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground. 

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated. 

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense. 

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Again I quite agree, and specifically with two things:

First, the leaders did not do the actual fighting (and indeed never do, in the present world): The real fighting, killing and dying is always done by much younger men, who themselves have neither political power nor, as long as they are in the military, the freedom of speech.

Second, the reasons the American political and military leaders gave for the military operations they initiated were generally very vague (which is quite well indicated by the repeated "Somehow"s), often false, often propaganda, often dishonest, and also - as in the case of tortures - very dishonorable, and also furthered on the basis of explicit lies.

And here are some of the consequences (that were already quite clear in 2006, which is now 10 years ago, which also were 10 more years of US wars):

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
I again agree (well... apart from "the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world": that is rather doubtful since Vietnam, and there also are quite a few other countries - Finland, Norway, say, for example - which did a whole lot less harm to other countries).

And what I specifically agree with is that much "active ignorance" has been awakened, created or furthered by endless streams of American propaganda lies, while I also agree with characterizing Bush Jr. and Cheney as "
incompe- tent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals" (for they had people tortured, which they had no right to, for one thing).

So I think this is an excellent piece of writing, which is ten years after its original publication still quite true, for these ten years were ten years of more
wars by the USA, which in the end seem to have profited or advanced absolutely no one, while very many got killed, and very much got destroyed,
except for those spinning vast profits from the sales of arms, and for the American corporations whose power or incomes grew through wars.

Elizabeth Warren Demands Investigation Into President Obama’s Failure to Jail the Banksters

The second item today is by Lauren McCauley on Truthdig (and originally on Common Dreams):

This starts as follows:

Though President Barack Obama is set to leave office in matter of months, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is not willing to let him go without a full explanation as to why his administration refused to jail the Wall Street banksters behind the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

In a letter sent to Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general Michael Horowitz on Thursday, the progressive firebrand demanded an investigation into why the DOJ refused to file criminal charges against individuals despite “‘serious indications of violation[s]’ of federal securities and other laws,” uncovered by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) probe into the causes of the economic crash.

And I think Elizabeth Warren is quite right in asking why none of the Wall Street Bankers was punished in any way, while their actions caused the enormous crisis of 2008, and while their own plan to save themselves led
to enormous gains in their incomes and their personal riches.

I will take up Warren's chances after quoting more of her reasons. First, there is this:

The DOJ, she continued, “has not filed any criminal prosecutions against any of the nine individuals. Not one of the nine has gone to prison or been convicted of a criminal offense. Not a single one has even been indicted or brought to trial.”

Further, she notes that her staff review “identified potentially illegal activity at 14 corporations (including five that were implicated in multiple referrals).” Though there were five corporations that reached a settlement with the DOJ, not one was criminally indicted or brought to trial.

In fact, my own suspicion is that the head of the DOJ under Obama, Eric Holder (<- Wikipedia) was nominated by Obama as head of the DOJ because he had already in 1999 insisted that he would not prosecute banks that he deemed were "too big to fail" - which means that he already in 1999 said that
he would stop applying U.S. laws to the richest corporations and individuals there are in the USA because they are
the richest corporations and individuals there are in the USA.

Here is more on precisely that theme:

Summarizing the letter, financial reporter David Dayen noted that the corporate criminals examined in the FCIC documents included:

... most of America’s largest banks—Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan), and Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America)—along with foreign banking giants UBS, Credit Suisse, and Société Generale, auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, credit rating agency Moody’s, insurance company AIG, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The FCIC presented DOJ with evidence that these institutions gave false representations about the loan quality inside mortgage-backed securities; misled credit ratings agencies; overstated assets and earnings in financial disclosures; failed to disclose credit downgrades, subprime exposure and the financial health of their operations to shareholders; and suffered breakdowns in internal company controls. All of these were tied to specific violations of federal law.

And the FCIC named names, specifying nine top-level executives who should be investigated on criminal charges: CEO Daniel Mudd and CFO Stephen Swad of Fannie Mae, CEO Martin Sullivan and CFO Stephen Bensinger of AIG, CEO Stan O’Neal and CFO Jeffrey Edwards of Merrill Lynch, and CEO Chuck Prince, CFO Gary Crittenden and Board Chairman Robert Rubin of Citigroup.

“The DOJ’s failure to obtain any criminal convictions of any of the individuals or corporations named in the FCIC referrals suggests that the department has failed to hold the individuals and companies most responsible for the financial crisis and the Great Recession accountable,” Warren concludes. “This failure requires an explanations.”
I completely agree: These financial leaders seem to be gross criminals, and
committed major crimes - they "
gave false representations about the loan quality inside mortgage-backed securities; misled credit ratings agencies; overstated assets and earnings in financial disclosures; failed to disclose credit downgrades, subprime exposure and the financial health of their operations to shareholders; and suffered breakdowns in internal company controls" - from which they themselves and their corporations profited enormously.

But then I also believe Elizabeth Warren is too late: Eric Holder has disappeared from government and got a very well-paying corporate job; Obama will be president for a few more months; and by merely delaying responses or by keeping things very ambiguous or vague he will probably tide
himself over the need of defending himself (or Eric Holder) in the last
months of his presidency.

It's too bad, but this is what I expect the outcome will be.

3. 'President Donald Trump': Latest Polls Indicate Clinton Could Actually Lose This Thing

The third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Two new polls released on Thursday highlight a disturbing reality: In a race between two unpopular candidates, an excited base could mean everything. And in the case of the current presidential contest—a race that observers say is "hers to lose"—the failure of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to inspire voters could prove her ultimate downfall.

The latest update of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times national tracking poll found that Donald Trump's advantage over Clinton "grew to nearly six percentage points on Thursday, his largest advantage since his post-convention bounce in July."

I say.

To start with, I can't say I am very amazed: The American media are now so bad, so partial, so propagandistic, that the major fraud whose name is Trump can do or say almost anything (often lies, often nonsense) and will not be attacked for lies or nonsense by almost anyone in the main media (they don't call his lies lies, for one examle), and apart from that "the American people" consists of very many very ill-educated potential voters, with only a minority with a decent education.

Then again, I also do not pay much attention to polls and I think that it is sufficiently frightful that a mad neofascist like Trump is a presidential candidate to be very worried, and indeed (see also item 4) not only for Americans, but for everyone.

But here is a bit more from another poll, that shows Jill Stein may cause Trump to win (for her four percents are all at the cost of Clinton):

Similarly, the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that in a four-way race, the two leading party candidates are tied at 42 percent while Libertarian Gary Johnson wins eight percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein takes four.

Finally, here is Sonali Kohatkar, who seems to push a "leftist" approach I happen to disagree with:

If Clinton loses this election, it will not be because Americans are dumb, racist misogynists who would cut off their noses to spite their faces in refusing to elect a sane woman over an insane man. It will not be because too many Americans "selfishly" voted for a third party or didn't vote at all. It will be because Clinton refused to compromise her allegiance to Wall Street and the morally bankrupt center-right establishment positions of her party and chose not to win over voters.

"This election is hers to lose," Kolhatkar concludes, "and if this nation ends up with President Trump, it will be most of all the fault of Clinton and the Democratic Party that backs her."

No. If Clinton loses this election, it will be also because Americans are dumb, or racists, or misogynists; it will be also because many Americans refuse to elect a sane woman over an insane man; and it may also be because too many Americans voted for a third party or didn't vote at all.

It is utter nonsense to try to save the American people from any responsibility for the outcome of the presidential election. It is true that they are not the only ones responsible for the outcome, but is as true that - whatever the outcome will be - they will be co-responsible, if only because it are their votes.

4. 'Trump Is a Problem for the Whole World'

The fourth item is by Markus Becker, Florian Gathman and Roland Nelles on Spiegel International:

In fact, this is an interview with Martin Schulz, who is the president of the European Parliament, and it starts with a summary that I will reproduce (the bolding is in the original):

With Europe falling ever-deeper into crisis, European Parliament President Martin Schulz is warning of the further advance of right-wing populism. In an interview, he also says he fears the possibility of a President Trump.
I say: A European political leader who seems to talk sense! (It is not something I am used to.)

Here is one bit from the introduction:
"We're at a historical juncture: A growing number of people are declaring what has been achieved over the past decades in Europe to be wrong," the politician, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) told SPIEGEL ONLINE in an interview.
I agree with that "growing number of people": I never believed in the European Union, because such a federation has never been tried, while national states existed for a long time; because I am an opponent of massive governmental centralization; and because the only two kinds of people who
have profited from the European Union are the rich and the leading politicians.

And here are two bits from the interview. The first is this:

Schulz: We're at a historical juncture: A growing number of people are declaring what has been achieved over the past decades in Europe to be wrong. They want to return to the nation-state. Sometimes there is even a blood and soil rhetoric that for me is starkly reminiscent of the interwar years of the past century, whose demons we are still all too familiar with. We brought these demons under control through European structures, but if we destroy those structures, the demons will return. We cannot allow this to happen.
I agree with that "growing number" - among which there is a considerable group of rightists, to whom I do not belong. But once again: The only ones who profited from these massive centralizations of power in Europe are the
leading politicians and the rich: Almost everybody else has not gained anything financially, while everybody who is not a leading European politician
(like Schulz is) has lost a great amount of political power, to the very few like Schulz.

Then again, Schulz said also something that is sensible:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: It's not only in Europe that right-wing populists like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party are on the rise. In the United States, a right-wing populist could even become president. What would it mean for the EU if Donald Trump landed in the White House?

Schulz: Trump is not just a problem for the EU, but for the whole world. When a man ends up in the White House who boasts about not having a clue and who says that specialist knowledge is elite nonsense, then a critical point has been reached. Then you will have an obviously irresponsible man sitting in a position that requires the utmost degree of responsibility. My worry is that he may inspire copycats, also in Europe. That's why I hope Hillary Clinton wins.

I agree Trump is utterly irresponsible, and he is a problem for the whole world.


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