This article is by
Celestine Bohlen on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
The tide of money swelling around the American political
system continues to rise. In 2016, candidates running for federal
office spent a record $6.4 billion on their campaigns, while lobbyists spent $3.15 billion
to influence the government in Washington. Both sums are twice that of
So what does all that money buy? No one seriously thinks
that the quality of American representative democracy has doubled in
value. Has it instead become doubly corrupt?
Since the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 ruling
in the Citizens United case, campaign spending in the United States has
become even more unrestricted. Today, commentators in Europe often
describe the American way as “legalized corruption.” In the United
States, veterans of campaign finance reform despair at the ground lost
since the 1970s, when the Watergate scandal ushered in a series of
controls on campaign contributions.
let´s first define ¨corruption¨
as the Wikipedia does define it  (minus
Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person
entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal
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.
2010 decision of the Supreme Court was - I´m sorry - utter trash,
also was based on totally false premises about the meaning of
I happen to be a European, and I think that politics in the USA is very
corrupt - and see the above definition for why I deleted
with a Supreme Court as rotten as it turned out to be in 2010, what the
US considers ¨legal¨
and ¨non-legal¨, on its highest level, at least, is no longer a matter
of rational legal argument, but one of mostly politically
some more - and Mr. Wertheimer is the president of ¨Democracy 21, a
nonprofit organization dedicated to campaign reform¨:
“The bottom line is we have very serious problems with the
functioning of our democracy caused by the unrestrained flow of
influence-seeking money into the elections,” Mr. Wertheimer said.
But is it corruption? Do the gigantic sums doled out to
campaigns — and later lavished on elected representatives as they are
lobbied for their votes — amount to attempts to buy political power? Or
is it, as the Supreme Court agreed in the Citizens United case, an
exercise in constitutionally protected free speech?
sorry, but the second paragraph is pure bullshit (in
the eyes of this ¨European commentator¨): Clearly they indulged
in ¨a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person
entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal
benefit¨, for which corruption
is the brief term, while also clearly (in the eyes of this ¨European
commentator¨) the Citizen United case was an utterly crooked
judgement, meant to help the rich and only the rich, on the basis of a
totally false explanation of the meaning of the First
more by Fred Wertheimer:
While the United States is fairly strict in cracking down on
practices such as bribery and kickbacks, Mr. Wertheimer said, the
American system has opened the door to a whole other kind of corruption.
“The corruption in the U.S. does not stem from officeholders
putting money in their pocket,” he said. “This is systemic corruption
of the process itself. When you are dealing with billions and billions
of dollars, much of that focused on buying influence, it overwhelms the
system, and it is much harder to defend against and maintain
representation for ordinary Americans.”
I more or
fact here is excellent factual
evidence, that also - quite correctly,
in my eyes - lays the beginning of this enormous corruption
in the USA (and Thatcher in Great Britain, though she is not mentioned
in the article):
This perception is borne out by research from Martin Gilens,
a politics professor at Princeton University, which shows that American
economic policies over the last 40 years “strongly reflect the
preferences of the most affluent, but bear virtually no relationship to
the preferences of poor or middle-income Americans.”
Yes indeed. The
article ends as follows:
“The amounts are unprecedented and provide an extraordinary
advantage to the very rich,” he said. “When you are dealing with huge
amounts of money — and when there are no laws to contain them — they
overwhelm the process in a way that small sums can’t.”
And according to the definition of the Wikipedia that is
corruption, indeed on a very massive scale, and underwritten by
an utterly sick decision of the Supreme Court, that maintains
it. And this is a recommended article.
This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts
arch-capitalist era we inhabit is chock full of statistics and stories
that ought to send chills down the spines of any caring, morally
sentient human. Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of the world’s
population is poor, living
on $10 a day or less, and 11 percent (767 million people, including
385 million children) live in what the World Bank calls “extreme
poverty” (less than a $1.90 a day). Meanwhile, Oxfam
reliably reports that, surreal as it sounds, the world’s eight
richest people possess among themselves as much wealth as the poorest
half of the entire human race.
indeed is the foundation of capitalism:
Intentional extreme differences in power and in wealth
(which amount more or less to the same under capitalism: wealth gives
power and power gives wealth, and things are - intentionally
and structurally - organized so that they should).
two provisos to this fine and quite long article (around 30 pages of text):
First, I am a classical Leftist - and I defined the
main differences between the Left and ¨the left¨ here -
like my parents and my grandparents (three out of four: two anarchists
and one communist, while both of my parents were - very courageous -
communists, who were in the resistance in WW II and/or in a German
concentration camp). 
it seems that today there are very few classical Leftists, for
the Left has been largely displaced by ¨the left¨, which seems
to me an incoherent bunch of mostly false or unfounded beliefs that
have little to do with the classical socialism and anti-
capitalism of my parents: ¨the left¨ - as I learned to see it, in practice -
consists mostly of politically
correct people, who love to sanction all language they
disagree with; ¨feminists¨ of various stripes that are not
feminists if Emma
Goldman was a feminist; and ¨ecologists¨ who seem
mostly busy with increasing the sales of solar panels.
any ideal of socialism and indeed gave up most of the ideals of
the Left, as they changed into consumers who mostly think about their
own financial interests, and the rents on their second and
third homes, and the extents of their own salaries (pensions,
subsidies and extras).
think absolutely all of the political proponents of ¨the left¨ worked
for money (and certainly every leftist I saw in Holland):
they were paid as journalists, paid as politicians, paid as advisers,
paid as professors, and paid as lecturers. My own parents and most of
the real Leftist activists did not work for money at all
(and neither did I, ever).
Second, I like
this article rather a lot, but it is far too long
me to properly excerpt in the context of Nederlog. So what follows is a
very partial excerpt of some points.
In case you
are even faintly interested, I recommend reading the whole article.
are the few people for whom capitalism is an enormous success,
it provided them and their familiies with billions of dollars:
States, self-described homeland and headquarters of freedom and
democracy, is no exception to the harshly unequal global reality. Six
of the world’s eight most absurdly rich people are U.S. citizens: Bill
Gates (whose net worth of $426 billion equals the wealth of 3.6 billion
people), Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark
Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and Michael Bloomberg
(former mayor of New York City). As Bernie Sanders said repeatedly on
the campaign trail in 2016, the top 10th of the upper 1 percent in the
U.S. has nearly as much wealth as the nation’s
bottom 90 percent. Seven heirs of the Walton family’s Walmart
fortune have between them a net worth equal to that of the nation’s
poorest 40 percent. Half the U.S. population is poor
or near-poor and half lacks any savings.
And here are some of the reasons why all this systematic inequality between the very few rich and the
very many non-rich and poor was all done by design:
Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute showed in his important 2011
By Design,” the following interrelated, bipartisan and
not-so-public policies across the long neoliberal era have brought us
to a level of inequality that rivals the Gilded Age of the late 19th
century robber barons era. These policies include:
● Letting the value of
the minimum wage be eroded by inflation.
● Slashing labor standards for overtime, safety and health.
● Tilting the laws governing union organizing and collective bargaining
strongly in favor of employers.
● Weakening the social safety net.
● Privatizing public services.
● Accelerating the integration of the U.S. economy with the world
economy without adequately protecting workers from global competition.
● Shredding government oversight of international trade, currency,
investment and lending.
● Deregulating the financial sector and financial markets.
● Valuing low inflation over full employment and abandoning the latter
as a worthy goal of fiscal and economic policy.
there are quite a few more reasons, but the above list is quite correct
(and indeed all these measures were consciously taken by
the rich or by politicians working for the rich, and most
of these measures were taken after deregulations of earlier much
what happened after the crisis of 2008 (which I insist still exists
it did in 2008 for everybody who is not rich, though I am
willing to agree that the rich - maximally 10% of all - now again are
profiting a lot, all for themselves also):
crash, the government under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama bailed
out the very financial predators who pushed the economy over the cliff.
administration, chock full of Goldman
Sachs and Citigroup operatives, left the rest of us to wonder,
“Where’s our bailout?” as 95 percent of the nation’s new income went
to the top 1 percent during his first term.
bailout of the 95% went to the the top 1 percent. Next, here are four
sections I ony provide the titles of, because Nederlog is too small for
a full excerpt:
Then there is this
section, from which I copy the beginning:
Citizens Have No Influence Over Their Government
‘Isn’t it Beautiful?’
Precisely. And here is
one consequence (that I agree with):
Knell for the Species’
Trump has taken advantage of
the nation’s plutocratic political dysfunction to become a kind of
one-man ecological apocalypse. The fossil-fueled hurricanes, drought
and wildfires of 2017 have hit the U.S. at a time when the White House
is occupied by an openly ecocidal billionaire whose election rang what
Noam Chomsky called an environmental “death knell for the species.”
Trump has pulled the United States out of the moderate Paris climate
accords. He has removed all references to climate change from federal
websites and chose a fellow petro-capitalist climate change-denier
dedicated to crippling the Environmental Protection Agency to lead that
department. Trump’s secretary of state is the former longtime CEO of
Exxon Mobil Corp., history’s most powerful fossil fuel corporation—a
company that buried
and then organized propaganda against its own scientists’ warnings
on carbon’s impact on the climate.
The System Is
Like so much else in U.S.
government policy, Trump’s anti-environmental actions are contrary
to majority-progressive public opinion. Who cares? It’s one more in
a long line of examples showing that “We the People” are not sovereign
in the failed, arch-plutocratic and militantly capitalist state that is
the 21st century United States.
Yes indeed - the
system is working, and it is working quite well for the
indeed in considerable part because it is not working for the
non-rich and poor. But then indeed - as Paul Street correctly infers -
if the system does consist in handing over most of the profits to the
few very rich, it ceased to be a democracy. And I agree.
Here are some of the
points why capitalism is fundamentally unfair:
Capitalism is about
profit for the owners of capital—period. They attain this through any
number of means. The most damaging include:
● Seizing others’ land
● Slavery (the leading source of capital accumulation in the United
States before it was outlawed in 1863–65).
● Firing workers or replacing them with technology.
● Undermining the value and power of labor by “de-skilling” workers by
reducing the amount of knowledge and experience they need to do their
● Abject authoritarian tyranny in the workplace, where Marxist
Wolff reminds us that most working-age adults spend the majority of
their waking hours.
● Outsourcing work to sections of the world economy with the lowest
wages and the worst working conditions.
● Hiring and exploiting unprotected migrant workers.
● Slashing wages and benefits, or cheating workers out of them.
● Purely speculative investment.
● Forming monopolies and using them to raise prices.
● Dismantling competing firms, sectors and industries.
● Deadly pollution and perversion of the natural environment.
● Appropriating public assets.
● Military contracting and war production.
● Working to shape political and intellectual culture and policy in
capital’s favor by funding political campaigns, hiring lobbyists,
buying and controlling the media, manipulating public relations and
propaganda, investing in the educational system, offering lucrative
employment and other economic opportunities to policymakers and their
key policymaking positions, and threatening to withdraw investment from
places that don’t submit to capital’s rules while promising to invest
in places that do.
Yes indeed (and there
is considerably more).
Here is a sum-up
When capitalism is
understood for what it is really and only about—investor profit—there
is nothing paradoxical about its failure to serve working people and
the common good, much less the cause of democracy. (...) Its great
corporations (now granted the legal protection of artificial
personhood) are working precisely as they are supposed to under U.S.
common law, which holds that (as Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled in
Dodge v. Ford Motor Company in 1919), corporate “managers have a legal
duty to put shareholders’ interests above all others and no legal
authority to serve any other interests.”
agree, and I also note that the 1919 rule of Michigan’s Supreme Court is very much
the pro-capitalist Friedman declared: ¨The only moral interest CEOs
have is to make a profit¨: They are all - quite intentionally also -
adopting the ¨moral rules¨"
of pirates. (But these work quite well, for pirates.)
Of the next two sections I
only provide the titles
And of the following
section I copy the beginning:
‘We Must Make
One does not have to be a
Marxist or other variety of radical to acknowledge basic differences
and conflicts between capitalism and democracy. “Democracy and
capitalism have very different beliefs about the proper distribution of
power,” liberal economist Lester Thurow noted in the mid-1990s. “One
[democracy] believes in a completely equal distribution of political
power, ‘one man, one vote,’ while the other [capitalism] believes that
it is the duty of the economically fit to drive the unfit out of
business and into extinction. … To put it in its starkest form,
capitalism is perfectly compatible with slavery. Democracy is not.”
Yes indeed, and I
remark that one - important - difference between my Marxist parents
(who both had IQs over 130, which is better than that of most
academics, but who were both also not highly educated, because
parents were poor) is that I gave up Marx by the time I
indeed for quite convincing reasons (see Ian Steedman´s ¨Marx after
Sraffa¨, for the best and most accessible explanation), that were
really understandable to few.
But while I disagree
with Marx about the economical analysis of
capitalism, and indeed on
quite a few more points, I agree with the critics of capitalism
insist that fundamentally capitalism is unfair, unjust,
and amounts of
the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few (that also
rarely belong to the intellectually or ethically best).
Here is Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (or so
“We must make our
choice,” the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is reputed to
or written: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have
wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
I do not know
Brandeis really said so, but if he did he was simply factually correct
(if we are also speaking of a real democracy, in which
majority receives honest explanations of what is happening in
There is also this
(...) capitalism has
always been inexorably pulled like gravity toward the concentration of
wealth into ever-fewer hands. In the U.S., as across the Western world,
the tendency was briefly and partially reversed by the Great Depression
and World War II, producing the long “middle class” Golden Age of
1945-1973. But that was an anomalous era, a consequence of epic
economic collapse and two global wars. Capitalism has returned to its longue
durée inegalitarian norm over the last four-plus decades.
Yes indeed. And I have two
additional points, one of which is a bit personal.
The non-personal point is that anybody who knows about the early
capitalism that ruled much of the world all of the 19th century, knows
that early capitalism was extremely exploitative of the
very many poor, and indeed more so than later capitalism,
which was made less exploitative mostly by laws (that now and
since Bill Clinton are again deregulated).
My (somewhat) personal
point is that I was born in 1950, while I recall the years that lasted
from 1965-1980 as much more pleasant, and also as considerably
for the many, than the years before (my parents were quite poor until
1965) and also than the years after.
But this is only very
partially personal, because I mostly agree with Paul Street, and
I also merely
changed the period of capitalism-with-a-human-face by putting
period some 5 years later than Street (which also may be
correct for Holland, although I do not know that).
Here is the end of Paul
Street´s article, that was only briefly and partially excerpted in this
Stark as American
activist Joel Kovel’s formulation may sound, I suspect he is right:
“The future will be eco-socialist, because without eco-socialism there
will be no future.”
I agree, indeed
because capitalism-without-a-human-face will kill all or most
beings (and see here for some of the reasons
And this is a strongly
Holes in Russia-gate Narrative
This article is by William
Binney (<-Wikipedia) and Ray McGovern
(<-Wikipedia). It starts as follows:
It is no secret that our
July 24 VIPS Memorandum for the President, entitled “Was
the ‘Russian Hack’ an Inside Job?,” gave rise to some questioning
and controversy – nor was it a surprise that it was met with almost
total silence in the mainstream media.
The ongoing U.S. media
campaign against Russia has been so effective that otherwise
intelligent people have been unable even to entertain the notion that
they may have been totally misled by the intelligence
community. The last time this happened in 2003, after a year of
such propaganda, the U.S. attacked Iraq on fraudulent – not “mistaken”
In fact, I have been agreeing with Binney, McGovern and the VIPS since
2016 (see here), and did and
do so for three reasons: (i) I have not seen the
evidence that Russia is connected, and neither have
they or others; (ii) Binney, McGovern and the VIPS are - in my
eyes - very much more credible than nearly all others
writing about the subject; and (iii) they also know a whole lot more
than most others. (I know what computers are, mathematically speaking , and I can program in six languages, both of which
do make a difference, but that is the extent of my relevant knowledge,
which is very much smaller than Binney´s.)
Here is more from the
We stand by our main
conclusion that the data from the intrusion of July 5, 2016, into the
Democratic National Committee’s computers, an intrusion blamed on
“Russian hacking,” was not a hack but rather a download/copy onto an
external storage device by someone with physical access to the DNC.
That principal finding
relied heavily on the speed with which the copy took place – a speed
much faster than a hack over the Internet could have achieved at the
time – or, it seems clear, even now. Challenged on that conclusion
– often by those conducting experiments within the confines of a
laboratory – we have conducted and documented additional tests to
determine the speeds that can be achieved now, more than a year later.
In fact, this whole
point is rather systematically explained in the article. I think it is
quite cogent and convincing, but I skip it here and leave it to your
Here is why
McGovern and the VIPS are quite confident (as they have the right to
be, with that background):
How can we be so
confident? Because NSA alumni now active in Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are intimately familiar with NSA’s
capabilities and practice with respect to bulk capture and storage of
fiber-optic communications. Two of us actually devised the systems
still in use, and Edward Snowden’s revelations filled in remaining
gaps. Today’s NSA is in position to clear up any and all questions
about intrusions into the DNC.
And there is this from near
If President Trump wants
to know the truth, he can order the FBI to do its job and NSA to
cooperate. Whether the two and the CIA would obey such orders is an
open question, given how heavily invested all three agencies are in
their evidence-impoverished narrative about “Russian hacking.”
Actually, I don´t
FBI and the NSA will cooperate, and indeed my reason is quite the same
as Binney´s and McGovern´s: They have been propounding basically
for over a year now, and they also have found
that their bullshit
is copied by most of mainstream media.
And this is a recommended