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Nederlog

February 8, 2018

Crisis:  GOP & Retirements, Endless Wars, Trump A Plutocrat, On Nunes' Memo, Bernie Sanders



Sections
Introduction   

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 8, 2018.

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 8, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from February 8, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. GOP Is Wrecking Your Retirement Savings 
2. As Endless Wars Rage, 'Aspiring Dictator' Trump Orders Massive Military
     Parade

3. Exposing Our 'Populist' President as a Naked Plutocrat
4. The House Intelligence Committee Just Voted to Release the
     Democrats’ Response to the Nunes Memo

5. Bernie Sanders Hits on Winning Message He Avoided in 2016
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. GOP Is Wrecking Your Retirement Savings

This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The #GOPTaxScam was the straw that broke the markets’ back. Here’s why and how.

First, America is hugely in debt (known as “overleveraged” in econ wonkspeak). 

There’s over $1.4 trillion in student debt, a number never, ever before seen in the US, and nonexistent in the rest of the world because we’re the only developed country in the world that makes students pay so much for college that they can’t attend without taking out loans.

Consumer credit card debt is over $1 trillion (the highest in history), because people have been using household debt (including low-interest of mortgages and car loans for a total of $13 trillion, a record) to maintain what was once a middle-class lifestyle, once easy with a union job.  

This trend has been going on ever since Reagan declared war on working people in 1981 and began the process of destroying good union jobs.  

As a result, wages have been flat or declining for over 30 years.
I should start this review by saying that I do not have any idea what "#GOPTaxScam" is supposed to mean. I take it - I understand html - it may refer to some Twitter-tag, but I am sorry, I am both too intelligent and too cynical to want to have to do anything whatsoever with Twitter (or indeed Facebook). (I'd rather start taking heroin than deal with these two extra- ordinarily inferior utterly degenerate corporations!)

So I am not sorry I do not know what the beginning of the quotation means, although the rest seems more or less OK.

Here is more:

Because of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and thus the deregulation of banks and investment houses, banks have actually bought or become investment houses (gamblers; for example, Bank of America now owns Merrill Lynch).  

They’re even now making and selling derivatives based on student loans, car loans, and credit card debt, just like they were with mortgages in 2007 (and they’re securitizing mortgages again, too).  

Like the GOP deregulation of the “roaring 20s” led to the Republican Great Depression in 1929, this puts the entire economy at risk. 

I think it may very well be correct that the next crisis - after 2008 - may soon be there, but I don't know. I do know that the GOP deregularizers - that also seem to comprise most of the Democrats, by the way - are trying their utmost to make as much money for themselves before the next crisis arrives.

Incidentally, I started writing about the crisis of 2008 on September 1, 2008 (interesting link, but in Dutch, like the first 82 of currently over 1800 files I wrote about the crisis), and while I know very well that for the 10% of the highest earners in the USA and elsewhere the crisis has been over for five years or so, it also seems to me that the remaining 90% have been in crisis ever since 2008, and are still mostly in it, for their salaries did not rise since 1981, in real terms.

And I think that if it is crisis for the 90% of the non-rich, it is crisis, even if the rich haul in trillions for themselves.

Here is more:

The only small correction to this colossal mistake was the passage of Dodd-Frank and the creation of the CFPB, but the CFPB has now been taken over by right-wing troll Mick Mulvaney, who is systematically destroying it, and the GOP is hell-bent-for-leather to take down Dodd-Frank (and Trump’s regulatory agencies are functionally ignoring it, not seriously going after banks when they commit what are crimes under Dodd-Frank).  

Because this cheap credit was the underpinning of the “recovery” of the past 7 years, we’ve been essentially holding off the Bush Crash of 2008, rather than fixing the underlying fundamental problems.  Pretty much everything in the “trading” economy rests on cheap money.

I think this is also correct - and once again: The richest 10% have been profiting a lot, but they did so at the cost of the non-rich 90%, and they also did so very consciously.

In fact, this is what they did with Trump at the rudder of the state:

Billionaire-funded Republicans, eager to please the #MorbidlyRich billionaires who paid for their campaigns and are thus responsible for the GOP takeover of our government, borrowed about $1.5 trillion to hand that money over to the Waltons, the Kochs and their network, and others among the billionaire class (and the corporations that made them rich).  

As a result, even more government debt (bonds) flooded into the market to finance the tax cut, and they, too, had to find buyers.

All this extra debt, taken on by the Republicans with the #GOPTaxScam (not a single Democrat voted for it), is breaking the back of the government-debt-laden debt-driven market.
I think this is also correct. And in fact I agree that the US governments have been destroying nearly all the fail-safe measures that would keep most of the economy afloat in case of a crisis.

So I think the last bit that I quote from this article also is correct:

And, until a modern version of Glass-Steagall is put into law and the too-big-to-fail-and-now-gambling-like-they-did-in-1929 banks are broken up, these very real and systemic risks will remain in our system like landmines just below the surface waiting for a small trigger to set them off.

That is, I agree there seems to be building an economical crisis that will be larger than that of 1929, and that also has the very same reasons: The infinite greed of the rich to make even more money for themselves than they had already, also if this means destroying the chances for a decent life, or even a life, for almost everybody else.

And this is a recommended article.


2. As Endless Wars Rage, 'Aspiring Dictator' Trump Orders Massive Military Parade

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Bolstering his "image as an aspiring dictator" and further demonstrating that he has zero interest in drawing down the endless U.S.-led wars overseas that have killed millions, President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for a massive military parade in an effort to celebrate American military power and fuel his own ego.

"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," a military official told the Washington Post, referring to the Bastille Day festivities that so impressed the president during his Paris visit last year.

Given that the U.S. is currently bombing seven countries and that civilian casualties have soared since Trump took office, anti-war groups were quick to denounce Trump's "marching orders" as "totally disgusting."

I completely agree, though I very probably would have added that while it is quite true that "the U.S. is currently bombing seven countries", there has not been any Congressional approval of this state of affairs since Bush Jr. was president, while this is formally necessary.

Here is some more:

News of Trump's demand for a military march, which he has openly desired since before his inauguration, comes as the president is also calling for a major increase in the already bloated military budget. According to news reports, Trump is expected to ask for a $716 billion Pentagon budget next month—a seven percent boost from last year's request, which has not yet passed Congress.

Yes indeed. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, argued in a statement on Tuesday that a parade of the kind Trump envisions would only signal the president's desire to continue these endless wars and "reinforce the notion that America's foreign policy is military first (and second, third, and fourth)—particularly at a time when diplomacy is needed most."

I agree and this is a recommended article.

3. Exposing Our 'Populist' President as a Naked Plutocrat

This article is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Why does Donald Trump constantly preface his outlandish lies with such phrases as: "To be honest with you," "To tell the truth" and "Believe me"?

Because even he knows that as a lifelong con-man, his voice takes on the tone of a snake-oil salesman when he starts exaggerating and prevaricating, so he reflexively tries to puff up his credibility with an extra dose of bluster: "No really, trust me, I never lie..." In fact, just in the past year, Trump's documented whoppers rank him as the lyingest president in U.S. history. And that included Nixon!

It's not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross, but their enormity. Most damnable of all has been his masquerading as a golden-haired billionaire "populist" who's standing up for America's hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and moneyed elites — a carefully crafted PR pose that has duped many working stiffs into thinking he is their champion.

Yes I agree, speaking broadly. But speaking more precisely, I do have one improvement (in my opinion) of the above (boldings added): "It's not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross" nor "their enormity": What is sickening and demoralizing is that so many Americans are so stupid and/or so ignorant that they neither see the volume nor the enormity of the fabrications they swallow as if they are facts.

Here is more:

Wait... didn't candidate Trump promise working-class voters that he'd be Wall Street's worst nightmare, cracking down hard on greedy financial thieves whose scams and schemes are wrecking the middle class? Yes, but that was then. Now, President Trump has become Wall Street's wet dream.

Yes indeed - and these are some of the things "Wall Street's wet dream" is doing for Wall Street's enormously rich bankers:

For example, they're reducing penalties for Wall Street fraud and gouging; eliminating the requirement that firms advising us on where to invest our savings have to act in our best interests, rather than their own; loosening the few protections we have against predatory lenders; raising the number of temporary, low-wage foreign workers that corporations can bring in to take our jobs; scrapping a rule requiring corporate giants to report their unequal pay to women; opening up Social Security to cuts and privatization; limiting fines on nursing home negligence that harm or even kill residents; eliminating funds for low-income heating and programs to protect kids from lead paint; repealing fracking rules that protect water and air quality; allowing for-profit, private colleges to gouge students; ending funding that provides legal services for poor people; and raising entrance fees at our national parks.

These are all facts, to the best of my knowledge. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

That's why a new, straight-talking pamphlet by the watchdog group, [P]ublic Citizen, is so important.
(..)
The Public Citizen expose, titled "Forgetting the Forgotten: 101 Ways Donald Trump Has Betrayed His Populist Agenda," drives the stake of truth through the heart of his populist lie. It should not just be read, but used like a Thomas Paine pamphlet to spread the truth. To download a free copy, go to CorporatePresidency.org/forgotten.

Yes, but why does Hightower not include the link I just included - having had to search for it - in his last quote? Anyway, this is a recommended article.
4. The House Intelligence Committee Just Voted to Release the Democrats’ Response to the Nunes Memo

This article is by Dan Friedman on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:

The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to release a 10-page memo prepared by Democrats to rebut what they say are inaccuracies in an infamous memo written by aides to committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), which alleges FBI misconduct at the heart of the Trump-Russia  investigation. Still, the memo’s contents may never see the light of day. President Trump and his allies could very likely feign a dedication to transparency but maneuver behind the scenes to block as much of the Democratic response as they can.
I say?! I am willing to believe that "Trump and his allies could very likely feign a dedication to transparency but maneuver behind the scenes to block as much of the Democratic response as they can", but will they really? And if they really do so, will that fact remain unknown?!

And I am asking because I find it hard to believe both propositions (even though I agree with Friedman that this is not beyond Trump and his mates).

Here is more:

Schiff said he fears that the White House will officially release the memo but attempt to use redactions to block significant parts of it, and argue that blacked out sections are too sensitive to release. “We want to make sure that the White House does not redact our memo for political purposes, and obviously that’s a deep concern,” Schiff said.

He said he had already shared the memo with the FBI and Justice Department, something Nunes refused to do, before granting the FBI limited access to the document just before the committee released it.

I say, once again. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Schiff’s memo is likely to hammer these points and raise other problems with Nunes’ memo.

Trump on Monday said Nunes might one day be considered “a great American hero” and also claims the memo vindicates his argument that investigations into his Russian ties have partisan motivations. Meanwhile, the president tweeted, “Little Adam Schiff … must be stopped!”

Well, I knew already that Trump is a totalitarian (apart from the sick Wikipedia, that completely - and I think quite intentionally - totally misdefines "totalitarian"). And I hope Friedman is mistaken that "Trump and his allies could very likely feign a dedication to transparency but maneuver behind the scenes to block as much of the Democratic response as they can".

There will be more about this later, I expect.

5. Bernie Sanders Hits on Winning Message He Avoided in 2016

This article is by David Swanson on Washington's Blog.

A video has shown up on Senator Bernie Sanders’ Facebook page, with his name on it and his face in it making all the familiar (to a small number of people) points about U.S. military spending (how much it is, how it compares to the rest of the world, how it does not produce jobs, what wonders could be achieved with a small fraction of it, etc.).

I wish there were mention of the fact that it kills huge numbers of people, or that it risks apocalypse, or that it damages the earth’s environment. I wish the alternatives proposed were not all of the bring-our-war-dollars-home variety, as if the amount of money under consideration were not enough to radically transform this and every other country.

Still, had Sanders put out this video in 2015, tens of thousands of people wouldn’t have had to petition him in vain to oppose militarism, to fill the glaring gap in his website.
Well... I have no evidence-based idea about what moved Bernie Sanders to mostly avoid the topic of the the U.S. military in 2015 and 2016. But I do have some guesses, and here they are:

I think that Bernie Sanders knew he was running a radical program; he knew that he wanted broad support; he knew that most Americans do not know much about the military nor much about the wars the USA is fighting, because they all happen outside the USA; and therefore he mostly avoided the military, though he is against it.

And while I do not know whether this is correct, I do know that all refusals to vote for Hillary Clinton after she had won the Democratic nomination (I do not say: by fair or decent means) seemed to me a kind of void moral declaration that one was oneself a super correct person for not voting for Clinton nor for Trump: Most of those who chose not to vote appear either not to have seen or simply denied or neglected the evidence that Trump is mad.

I am a psychologist; I have known mad persons; and I thought and think that the very last person you want to be president of the USA is a madman who also is a bilionaire.

Then again, I am a psychologist, and the very great majority of people is not. Here is the other bit I quote from this article:

It’s not as if Sanders doesn’t know the issues. A half-century back he would have said something very close to what I want to hear. There’s no reason why he can’t do so now. But I’m afraid that this video may have slipped through because there’s not a presidential election this year, and that such things will be nowhere to be found in the years ahead.

I hope I’m wrong.
I do not know Swanson, but I fear he is one of the radicals who want Sanders to say everything he thinks even if he knows that will - very probably - take aways his chances for winning the election.

Personally, I have little sympathy for what seems to be his position: If Sanders does take part in the next presidential elections, I think his first duty is to win, and not to please the radicals, who tend to be morally perfect in their own terms.

Note

I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.


And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).


The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).


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