Friday, July 10, 2015

Links/Open Thread

Wall Street Powers Higher on Greece Hopes: because The Market is a sadist.

Greek crisis worse than the Great Depression: Plutocrats of the World, unite!

Tsipras Just Destroyed Greece: It seems that the popular referendum against neoliberalism was just a head fake, and that the Syriza leader never really expected hoi polloi to reject austerity. Perhaps the lefties over at the World Socialist Website were right about Tsipras being an Obama clone all along. I hear tell that the Masters of the Universe might even give him a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes, using the leftover confetti from today's World Cup festivities. Only kidding, of course. But at the very least, he can probably expect a commiserating congratulatory phone call from Obama, whose own bank-protecting economic policies he says he greatly admires. If, that is, the Troika doesn't pull a fast one and reject an austerity offer even better than the last one. The lunatics have definitely taken over the capitalistic asylum.

I nominate the people of Greece for the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite their own hardships they are welcoming refugees with open arms, feeding and clothing them and sharing their dwindling medical supplies. Over here in the USA, meanwhile, the corporate media give Donald Trump unlimited air time to vomit out his xenophobia, while the Obama administration has quietly imprisoned Central American women and children in privatized border internment camps. As Hillary Clinton has so hawkishly proclaimed, we have "to send them a message" that this land is not their land.

Down with the Confederate Flag, that odious symbol of racial oppression and slavery.

But, up with actual slavery: President Obama plans to deny the existence of human trafficking in Malaysia in order to grease the skids for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As long as slave-owners promise to tone it down a tad, maybe even abolish it by the next century, Obama can live with it. I somehow doubt that Michelle Obama will be holding up another one of her "Bring Back Our Girls" signs in solidarity with the kidnapped victims being smuggled through Malaysia. The Market could not bear it.

If the ruling class can declare victory over racism by simply taking down a flag, how easy it then becomes to declare victory over slavery the wide world over by a simple stroke of the pen. Orwellian possibilities for blanket deniability in the name of profits for The Market are legion, and they are endless. 

As Pope Francis saliently observes, unbridled capitalism is "the dung of the devil."

And he also took a swipe at Obama's "free trade" deals and the finance cartel's assault on the Greek people while he was at it:
The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain 'free trade' treaties, and the imposition of measures of 'austerity' which always tighten the belt of workers
and the poor," he said.


Kat said...

From what I've read about the migrant situation in Greece, I am not sure it is correct to say that they have been welcomed with open arms.

Karen Garcia said...


If you follow the link you'll see that ordinary people on some of the islands are helping the migrants. I wasn't talking about the "official" policy of the Greek govt. I was talking about the poor basically helping the poor.

mike said...

You might try this article on Greece which offers a far less "hair on fire" perspective:

Jay–Ottawa said...

Here's a closely argued piece that puts the Greek debt into perspective.

Too busy to read it? No Problem. Here's an executive summary.

In the old days, we said diplomacy was war by another means. Today, we might alter the old line by saying that banking is war by another means. It's possible to kill and maim softly and slowly without tanks and drones.

An example of true neighborliness would be like when you give an egg to your neighbor when she needs it to finish dinner. She, in turn, will lend you her cordless drill when you finally get around to your little project.

Is the EU a community of neighbors? Germany and France were not acting as good neighbors when they lent money to Greece. True neighborliness is helping each other––both––advance over time together. Debt à la European Central Bank, on the other hand, is a carefully calculated business, the given and the giveback being in the same specie, and repayment due on a strict timetable set by the powerful and enforced by the international community.

Debt of the type Greece is now burdened with is at bottom, an imbalanced transaction, which leads its citizens to the same point they would be if they had lost a war, i.e., the vanquished must pay TRIBUTE to the conquerors, whose financial backers hope to keep their legally achieved, internationally accepted imbalance in place forever. Vocabulary is important here: A debt that is impossible to repay, but with recurring interest payments to be paid or else, is nothing less than TRIBUTE that serves to further impoverish the debtor nation. See what's unfolding as an unfriendly takeover. That's how the disparity game played among nation states.

Athens no longer rules Greece; Berlin rules through its new Quisling, Alexis Tsipras. So much for the moral stance of Merkel and her wingman, Holland, and their beefy banking enforcers, the ECB and the IMF.

Meredith NYC said...

Thank you Pope. I didn’t know he went so far. It’s true. A form of colonialism is now imposed on US citizens by their own corporations and govt. It is a system of legalized extraction of profits from the productivity of the majority, who have no influence, due to big money directing our laws, behind the façade of elections.

We export out our raw materials from our ports to low wage countries in Asia, and they make all our consumer goods, which we import back. Other 1st world nations still mfg quality goods for their own use, keeping more jobs for their citizens to earn a living, making products that they use. Their unions keep wages up so they can afford to buy the products they make. This was the USA in generations past, before it became a colony of US corporations.

Corporations can legally utilize citizens since our bill of rights can’t protect us. People are legally a means to the ends of business. And the Constitution, instead of protecting us from this, is used to rationalize it by the S Court---1st amendment protections for big money to pick our nominees, get cabinet posts, staff the regulatory agencies, and write policy in congress.

This is actually a collective effort by elites with elected govts. But the average citizen is uncollectivized, ununionized, unorganized---each on his/her own—a true independent, self reliant American.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Greece is a pilot project for Europe's austerians. They have a dream to replicate the Greek scenario across the entire European Community.

MARK WEISBROT, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

"They [the austerians] want to transform Europe into a place that has a smaller social safety net, a reduced state, cuts in pensions and healthcare. This isn't just Greece. Greece is the obstacle in their way of transforming Europe. So they have these whole set of other interests that they're fighting for, and that's why they're being so brutal and stubborn about this."

They went after the Argentineans, but I was not an Argentinean. They went after the Greeks, but I was not a Greek ....

Pearl said...

I still wonder where all the wealthy Greek citizens, who never paid their taxes over the years have gone. Are they still living in Greece on their opulent estates and yachts or living elsewhere waiting to return when the current crisis is over? Or will a new government create regulations to prevent a repetition of their 1% behavior which was ignored?

Pearl said...

What is encouraging about the huge turnouts for Bernie Sanders is that the crowds consist of many young people who may be more open minded and see the handwriting on the wall regarding their futures. They have the strength and hopefully the education to see how dangerous things have become. The character of this response is riveting - perhaps the seeds of the struggle in the streets against Wall Street not too long ago, are sprouting.

Keep tuned.

mike said...

I'm confused here. The Greeks who elected the government that's doing exactly what they wanted it to do and that's receiving an even larger percentage of support in the latest polls deserves a Peace Prize for their altruistic wisdom but the government itself is a new Obama and a quisling even without waiting to see if meaningful debt reduction mechanisms are yanked from the other side. Boy, this all reminds me of those long-forgotten Bolsheviks led by some nitwit named Lenin who gave away the farm at Brest-Litovsk just to buy time to get their actual goals and objectives into place. Good thing they were never successful at it and too bad they didn't have such wise bloggers and commenters to point out all their flaws while they negotiated and agreed with Germans. They might have been able to last in power for decades if those folks had been around with their free advice.

Karen Garcia said...


I apologize if my brief remarks on the NYT link provided in my post (Greek islanders helping Syrian refugees) were not clearer. As I responded to another commenter, I did not nominate "Greece" or its government or even the supporters of Syriza for the Nobel peace prize. I do think that individuals living on the brink, sharing what little comforts they still have with immigrants arriving on their shores, do deserve to be recognized and honored. They stand in direct contrast to both loudmouth xenophobes like Trump and de facto xenophobes from both big-money American political parties.

Only time will tell whether Tsipras is a master poker player able to extract concessions on debt reduction from the Troika before he tells them to eff off. The jury is still out on whether he is a hero or a sellout or a savvy pragmatist. But the fact that he instantly repudiated the referendum has me leaning toward the sell-out conclusion. If I am wrong I will admit it.

I think that his still-high poll numbers are a reflection of shell-shocked people willing -- and desperate -- to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Jay–Ottawa said...

How long, then, must we suspend our thinking, our reading, our speaking out on the Greek tragedy unfolding before us in real time? On what basis do we trust that Tsipras will in the end pull a rabbit out of his Greek captain’s cap? Are his moves simply more deep chess in play? Where and from whom have we heard that line before? And what about Tsipras’s opponents on the north side of the EU chessboard? Trust them too to do the right thing? With their track record?

Yes, one can be confused. Especially when the Left, which ought to be providing some guidance in Greece and elsewhere, presents no vision other than the tactics of delay in executing the dictates of the austerians.

But let Naomi Klein address the issue of what should actively be taking place in the south of Europe, where, apparently, all the lazy people of Europe seem to congregate. Here’s a short video of Klein on the financial crisis in Greece. Skip ahead to minute 6 and stay to the end (minute 16):
“All the countries that are being prescribed unacceptable levels of austerity need to get together and negotiate as a BLOCK.”

Meredith NYC said...

Why are many of the EU countries with the most problem economies in the South of Europe? Spain, Portugal, Italy? The most advanced countries are the 'nordics' in the north. When did the dictatorships of Greece and Spain end? Is that related?

Meredith NYC said...

Howell Raines ex-exec editor NYT has an interesting op ed.
Will Democraphics Transform The South? July 11

I commented:

Tonight I watched on cspan the whole SC ceremony taking down the confederate flag---the formal choreography of every last movement of the group of uniformed guards marching to the pole, taking it down, carefully folding it, marching away. Thousands watched with much loud cheering. The dignitaries looked proud. It was a significant moment.

It took a horrific tragedy for this flag to come down, to push us 1 step further in progress. It sets a positive example for other states to follow. Some may resist to an extent, but now this will be a 2016 campaign issue for every candidate. No way out of that.

Very interesting post, Mr. Raines. What do you think will be the impact of gerrymandering? What about independent commissions to write voting districts?

And what about the influence of big money in our elections, already soaring into billions for 2016, the world’s most expensive election. This determines candidates and policy. How does that work in with more minority influence on laws, due to demographic changes? Will big money be a hindrance?

Could we make more racial progress if we had publicly financed elections, leading to laws increasing more economic equality for all?
It’s related to corporate influence on congress to off shore millions of jobs, leading to downward mobility and lower economic class. This makes for barriers to racial equality.

Meredith NYC said...


I'm curious---any comment on Tony Atkinson’s book “Inequality: What Can Be Done?”.
He is on video with Krugman.

Krumgan btw is finally turning from Greece to his other fav topic, "The Inconceivable Success of ACA." Some critical comments, I see.

annenigma said...

Excuse me, but how can anyone think Tsipras is a sellout when he actually made an effort and put up a good fight! That's more than Dear Leader has ever done for us. His only fight has been for the TPP for the rich and powerful (and getting a Status of Forces Agreement to stay in Iraq when they were kicking us out). Obanka has been joined at the hip with the banksters since his granny, a banka herself and his primary caregiver, rocked him in the cradle.

Were banksters the biggest contributor to Tsipras' candidacy as they were for Obanka? Doubt it. Obama has been tainted since his Tony Rezko days. Take a quick look at Tsipras's background and you can tell he has been REAL going way back to his youth when he was politically engaged. Obama only chose politics to fulfill personal ambitions of fame, power, and wealth to come. Tsipras has always been a team player and a worker while Obama has always been just a player, albeit a star player.

Activists know that losing battles is what happens when you take on the powerful. You don't often win but you score points and advance little by little and build support over time. You must accept defeat in order to live on to fight another day, and that can mean a different setting or form. It's either that or let them destroy you. They will too, because they don't care if we live or die.

Tsipras was defeated in his efforts, he did not sell out. They put the screws to Greece and tightened them to within an inch of it's life by forcing the closing of banks. That wasn't Greece's doing. As George Carlin said and Jay recently reminded us, they don't care. At all. At all. AT ALL!!!

The Greek referendum was important. It made clear to their fellow countrymen and to the EU and world that they stood in agreement with their government's efforts, but that doesn't guarantee their government will succeed and they didn't. Greek was on the brink of collapse. Tsipras tried. He failed.

Most world citizens, except Americans, know there is rarely an easy victory nor a happy ending except in Hollywood movies. They don't have the same expectations nor condemnation of losers as being 'sellouts'. As sellout is someone like Obama who never even tried.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Yes, Alexis Tsipras can yet convince the skeptics that he means business and has formed a government of competence in providing real relief to the people he is leading out of the wilderness. For millions of Greeks, it is not enough that “he tried.” His trying must be unrelenting and productive before long, not a one-shot grand gesture of flipping a birdie in the direction of the European Central Bank, then accepting the ECB’s brutal terms. Competency in planning and in preparing alternatives to the euro will be more persuasive in forcing the austerians of the EU to back off. You’ll know we have a little David in Tsipras when the ECB Goliath turns around and says lamely to its austerian backers, “Well, we tried.”

Three things have to happen:

1. Tsipras is not really trying unless he has a Plan B in his pocket. He must assemble a task force of experts to work out the countless details for Greece to retake control of its banks and revert to the drachma. A plan and the resources to carry it out would be more convincing than the emotional charge, quite fickle, of high approval ratings. He’s been in office since the new year. Is such a team at work now? Does it have a deadline? Unless Greece prepares for the alternatives, it has no alternative. After all the commotion it will have to stick with the euro on whatever terms the ECB dictates from its headquarters in Frankfurt.
2. Greece cannot defend itself alone. As Naomi Klein stressed in the video I linked above, Greece must form a block along with the other “PIIIGS,” as they're called––Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. Such a block has a better chance of facing down Merkel and Holland in Frankfurt. If just one of the PIIIGS, not necessarily the whole pack, were to pull out of the EU, that action would set a precedent that could lead to the unthinkable, a dissolution of the EU. It would take only one defection to loosen up a cascade, and not only among the PIIIGS. Merkel et al are aware of that and they know they must not let that happen; so the austerians just might ease up if that threat by the PIIIGS looms big on the southern horizon.
3. As we were all taught in kindergarten, the three little PIIIGS needed bricks to keep the wolf from blowing the house down. The BRICs in this case are Brazil, Russia, India and China. Tsipras is reported to be heading to Moscow this Thursday. Now you’re talking, Alexis. But don’t forget points 1 & 2.

Pearl said...

AT LAST the NYTimes has printed a decent comment about Bernie.

The Bernie Sanders Moment

Leo Noel said...

hilarious bit from The Guardian re NYSE 'glitch'

annenigma said...

Only six weeks in office and most American Presidents haven't even finished filled their cabinet yet!

But hey, any Exceptional American could have fixed things by now, especially sitting at the top of a rigged global capitalist system and negotiating at a table that is tilted by the helpful hand of the NSA and Five Eyes. Recent leaks have revealed they routinely engage in economic spying. So who do they spy for? Banking and other corporate interests of course.

Greece could win a deal more easily if they knew the secrets and discussions going on behind the scenes like the rest of the gang trying to take Syriza and Greece down for their socialistic, anti-capitalist stance.

Tsipras met with Putin in June and they spoke again last week, but you can bet anything said was scooped up by the Five Eyes and shared with their global master$.

Greece needs a miracle. Too bad Pope Francis' schedule is already booked full.

(Mark your calendars for Sept. 24. That's Exorcism Day, or at least Congress will feel like it is.)

Meredith NYC said...

Re Todd Gitlin op ed the Bernie sanders Moment

I emailed this to the Times.

The Todd Gitlin op ed won’t help Sanders, as it identifies him with left wing radical counter culture---the kiss of death in the US. Gitlin’s buzz words were negative in our politics—Vietnam protests, Nader, Socialism, Occupy Wall St.
Can you find a way to do serious opinion pieces on Sanders actual proposals for 2016? Would Fox news/Gop accuse the Times of being too liberal?

Todd Gitlin may be from the 60s counterculture, but Sanders isn’t. He’s ALIGNED WITH MOST VOTERS on many issues. His ideas are centrist in most modern democracies, as they once were in the US of past decades---on inequality, taxes, wages, unions, education, green energy, etc. Could the Times pioneer in making this contrast?

The Times runs pieces on Sanders as an outlier, with condescending amusement, like by Collins and Healy.

The Gitlin op ed just continues the negative effects of last week’s Page 1 Sara Lyall article---with youthful photo of wild hair, presenting Sanders is an aging anti- establishment, hippie type.

What a historic journalistic coup by Lyall to dig up a 50 year old college article where Sanders once only mentioned studies from Psychosomatic Medicine Journal linking cancer and “too few orgasms” (not organisms, but orgasms.) among other things. Is the reporter and the Times proud of this?

Reader comments say the Times stays distant from serious Sanders policy analysis pro/con. That's odd ---the op ed regular columnists should pounce, since Sanders is a new shift in ideas, and not tethered to big money donors. Not interesting enough?

Please, more on Sanders accomplishments as Senator, not his anti Vietnam protests.

I found no Times coverage on Sanders innovative senate hearings last year titled “Health Care in Other Countries”. Had testimony from experts from Canada, Denmark, France and Taiwan. A first for the Senate---evidence from abroad, with facts on the ground. I happened on it by chance on cspan. That hearing would have offered well-operating models to debate here, if covered by media. That it wasn’t, confirms media timidity.
Our media is defensive, and lets the Gop define the debate. Paul Krugman conspicuously hasn’t yet breathed the word “Sanders” in his many daily blogs, though their views would seem to agree. Would it dilute Krugman’s prestige?

Please analyze Sanders’ fresh ideas and stop pushing a portrait of him as exotic, radical, overgrown hippie odd-ball. Readers will thank you.

Meredith NYC said...

A Priceless Andy Borowitz piece, Trump vs Walker

Walker Assures G.O.P. Voters He Is as Horrible as Trump
By Andy Borowitz

MADISON, WISCONSIN (The Borowitz Report) – Serving notice that he intends to go toe-to-toe with the controversial real-estate mogul, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker used the official announcement of his Presidential candidacy to assure Republican voters that he is as horrible as Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump has grabbed a lot of headlines over the past few weeks by spewing bigotry and venom,” Walker told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters. “I want to make it clear that when it comes to those things, I take a back seat to no one.”

Concluding his speech with a line that triggered a standing ovation, Walker said, “To those who thought Donald Trump was the only sociopath in the race, let me say this: not anymore.”

Prior to his announcement, aides to the Wisconsin governor had privately fretted that by establishing his identity as an arrogant and ill-informed merchant of hatred, Trump had appropriated Walker’s brand.

In the hopes of proving that Trump has no monopoly on odiousness, aides have released a point-by-point comparison showing that on such key issues as worker’s rights and health care, Walker is just as terrifying as the former reality-show host.

Acknowledging that Trump has dominated media attention for now, Walker’s aides believe that the governor will eventually reclaim his rightful mantle as the worst person in the race.

“Sooner or later, the Trump candidacy is going to fall apart and voters are going to be looking for another dick to vote for,” one aide said. “Scott Walker wants to be that dick.”

Pearl said...

Meredith: I do not agree with your criticism of Todd Gitlin. If you look over the many books and topics he has written about he is not some relic from the past who should not identify Sanders with unacceptable connections so that no one will vote for him as a result.

The activities of the past involving many progressives has been a steady battle against the realm of the corrupt which continues to this day with other characters involved in the drama. Yes, the Times is involved with the corruption but people like Sanders and Gitlin have not changed their basic exposure and recognition of who and where the enemy still remains.
It is amazing that Gitlin's piece was printed on the front page and mainly because so many comments about the handling of Sanders activities were sent in. After all perhaps the NYtimes can't afford to lose many readers is the result.
Regardless, this is a signal for a strong reaction to take place which is happening with people like these two men who have the courage to take chances and say as much as possible to try and influence peoples' consciousness. We need not split hairs like the real attackers are doing and fall into that hole where conflicting statements pull us away from what is really going on.

annenigma said...

We now know from Greek-EU negotiation documents what the powerful global financial cabal calls itself - The Institution. All government decisions would have to go through them first, kind of like in our country.

Poor Greece. Poor World.


Meredith NYC said...


Or course, I agree with Gitlin's views. That's not the point. But in American politics, his brave essay set Sanders back, not forward. Btw he was on the op ed page. Lyall was on page 1, thus getting more readers, for her cute put down.

But we are fighting radicals, only the rw kind, in our politics.

The Times is putting out various articles portraying Sanders as a overage counterculture radical from out in left field. When he's really a centrist in most other democracies, and in line with most Americans' current views on many issues. No Times article has yet conveyed that--none that I've seen.

Meredith NYC said...

btw... In today's Krugman col comments, I put part of my post re Sanders, Gitlin, Lyall in a reply to Rima Rigas' comment criticizing NYT Sanders coverage. It wasn't published. All my other replies/comments were.