Monday, July 13, 2015

Random Thoughts on Greece

The truth is finally out there: the German hegemon is a Frankenstein monster sewn together with the body parts of every Batman and James Bond villain ever dreamed up by a Hollywood nightmare factory.  Now that Angela Merkel and her henchman Wolfgang Schauble have turned Greece into a German colony, with global hedge funds and too-big-to fail banks its de facto occupying force, will this tiny country now be officially known as Griechenland? Will the Acropolis be transformed into the latest Goldman Sachs bank branch?

The Neoliberal Monster: Die Slowly or Die Quickly, Just Surrender Already

Puppetized Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is either being hailed as a steely pragmatic operator, pitied as a pathetic beaten dog, or damned as a rich phony who brought a latte to a knife fight.

The New York Times is certainly confused. Juxtaposed with a stunning front-page photo of a starving woman collapsed on the street is a Panglossian, even cheery, article about Greeks sipping their lattes and waxing rueful-to-hopeful:
Jubilation, almost immediately followed by wariness, filled the streets as Greeks learned of the agreement in Brussels early Monday.
Many people were having their midmorning cafe frappĂ©, while others were standing in the ubiquitous bank lines, as the news spread that after a week of agony — a tense referendum, sparring political rallies, bank closings — and a weekend of all-nighters in the Greek Parliament and among the eurozone leaders, a deal to address the country’s debt crisis and keep it in the eurozone had been reached.
(Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

 Wait till they find out that they can't use their dwindling Euros to make online purchases any more, and the wariness will escalate faster than they can order a double latte or collapse on the street from illness or hunger. Will Starbucks establish a concession next door to the Goldman Sachs Acropolis? Will American fast food multinationals start a greedwashing campaign urging euro-an-hour baristas to tell customers to embrace the multicultural suck as they help drive locally-owned tavernas out of business?

 This is a nation in numbed shock. Is it proper even to call it a nation any more?  It's sort of a hybrid between a failed state and ripe, paralyzed prey for Romneyesque vulture capitalists. Think of Greece as a Staples chain with a lot of soon-to-be privatized beaches for the pleasure of the oligarchs.

Given that the marathon negotiating session leading to the deal has been likened to a mental waterboarding of Tsipras, I wonder if the corrupt American Psychological Association was brought in as an enhanced sadism technical adviser. You really have to hand it to Tsipras, though: he exhibited no outward, physical signs of cracking as he capitulated to the demands of the global oligarchy. 

Meanwhile, more people are starting to talk about the Goldman Sachs connection. MoveOn, that erstwhile smarmy veal pen for Democrats, is even starting an ad campaign lambasting Wall Street's role in the manufactured Greek crisis. Robert Reich writes,
People seem to forget that the Greek debt crisis—which is becoming a European and even possibly a world economic crisis—grew out of a deal with Goldman Sachs, engineered by Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein.
Several years ago, Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt—and in the process almost doubled it. When the first debt deal was struck in 2001, Greece owed about 600 million euros ($793 million) more than the 2.8 billion euros it had borrowed. Goldman then cooked up an off-the-books derivative for Greece that disguised the shortfall but increased the government’s losses to 5.1 billion euros.
Reich didn't mention that Hillary Clinton's son-in-law, a Goldman alum, is in the cabal of hedge fund predators which stands to profit from the most recent bailout (of creditors and investors, not ordinary Greek citizens.) He didn't mention that Hillary Clinton has collected huge speaking fees from Goldman or that her family's slush fund charity has humanized Blankfein as an honored "thought leader."

Hillary was slated to deliver her own populist economic manifesto today, albeit with little to no mention of either Wall Street or the economic coup against Greece. I'll write more about her verbiage later.

Lloyd and Hillary Share a Tender Cackle


Pearl said...

Hillary Clinton campaign rally speech transcript via @POLITICO

Hope you can pull this up. Can hardly wait for your comments, Karen and others. FDR must be rolling in his grave as a result of her adoration for him.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, Pearl, I'll read it after lunch. Can hardly wait.

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 the Institution first, kind of like with our government.

Poor Greece. Poor World.


Re: Hillary's campaign rally speech

Sadly, she's still hitching her wagon to/riding the coattails of men, now 3 of them - Bill, Barack, and Franklin.

Pearl said...

Bernie Sanders Has a Secret

Meredith NYC said...


I recently started reading posts. I'm curious, why do you call it "that erstwhile smarmy veal pen for Democrats."? Did they change?
What is a veal pen?

I used Reich's Greece post for yesterday's Krugman blog on the European Project, but my comment wasn't published, strangely.
That blog got over 1000 comments, the most ever for his blog, I think. Not all are fawning, however.

I said:
Mr. Krugman doesn’t mention what others do, such as Robt Reich, who says the “Greek crisis grew out of Goldman Sachs cooking up the off- the- books derivatives that disguised Greece’s shortfall”. This is a US private corporation controlling and worsening sovereign nations’ problems.

But that gets to one of Hillary Clinton’s closest Wall ST ties. Thus to US politics and corporate influence on our elections and our govt. Don't want to go there?

And strange to read that Krugman says he's “always praised and supported” the European project. I thought it was just the opposite. Criticism of Europe is Krugman’s constant theme. Despite that EU countries vary widely, and some could offer positive examples to the US for democratic govt, balance of business profits and govt regulation and social support of citizens.

This we never read in a Krugman piece. He must feel it would dilute his constant criticism of EU austerity, treated all the same. Germany’s treatment of Greece is a great 'goldman' opportunity to double down on that.

Meredith NYC said...

Salon sharply criticizes NYT for Sanders coverage, especially Sara Lyall’s page 1 hit, that I posted about yesterday.

“Bernie Sanders gets slimed by the New York Times:
This is what a smiling, condescending hit job looks like
A cheerfully disparaging Sanders profile aims to trivialize him to trivialize his politics. It's just the Times way”.
By David Bromwich , July 6.

Says that on July 4, the NYT “ gave its readers a first extended look at the political history of Sanders....titled “Bernie Sanders’ Revolutionary Roots Were Nurtured in ’60s Vermont.” This sketch of the young Sanders is free of obvious malice. It would serve its purpose less effectively if it were malicious.

The attitude that Lyall adopts toward Sen. Sanders is, instead, mildly and cheerfully disparaging — affectionate, but at the proper distance of condescension; ironically agreeable, as you are allowed to be in dealing with a second cousin or an eccentric uncle who is a bit of a blowhard.
Hers is not the first such article to appear on Sanders in the Times. Is it safe to predict that this will remain the paper’s approach to his campaign for as long as he stays in the race?

Lyall criticizes Sanders as being ‘sexist’ in a youthful article, but Bromwich says it’s just the opposite—he’s criticizing sexism.

Bromwich: “‘Sexual adjustment seemed to be very poor in those with cancer of the cervix,’ [Sanders] wrote, quoting a study in a journal called Psychosomatic Medicine.”

“Wrote, quoting”: but if he quoted it, he didn’t write it. This is meant to emphasize again the supposed oddity of Sanders’ sexual attitudes, but it should never have passed editing.”

“He also made a half-hour film about his hero, Eugene V. Debs.”

This is supposed to label Sanders as an eccentric oddity, causing alarm and distrust among voters. Is the Times afraid of how Sanders will make positive points in the debates with Hillary? What will they say then?

Bromwich gives a good sum up.....says Sanders “gives voice to ....the well-earned suspicion of vested interests that for three decades have set limits on reform. From the viewpoint of the political and corporate establishment, such popular discontents must be controlled, domesticated, shepherded, and the dissatisfactions made somehow laughable. Every amusing and dismissive report on a figure like Sanders or Paul goes to serve that larger purpose.”

David Bromwich is a professor of literature at Yale University

Jay–Ottawa said...

“Battered Newspaper Reader Syndrome” (BNRS) is a new syndrome listed in the latest edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM, 34.7-T: 2013). It is another of the multiplying internet-related diseases that psychiatric practitioners have begun to study and classify in earnest. It is estimated that BNRS affects 2.7% of the American population, which, coincidentally, is the same percentage of the population reported as subscribers to the New York Times. To date, the Times-BNRS correlation is just that. There are no peer-reviewed journal articles in print that prove a cause-effect connection.*

Another fascinating discovery has been documented: readers who skip the opinion pages of the New York Times are somehow immune to BNRS. Here, again, only a correlation. A cause-effect study to prove the presumed immune-weakening properties of the opinion pages cannot be launched, however. Forcing a randomly selected test group to read all of the opinion pages would be cruel and highly unethical.

BNRS is sometimes confused with Stockholm Syndrome. Traumatic bonding is found in both conditions. However, BNRS does not require an outright hostage scenario, just strong emotional ties––hostility or attraction or both in severe cases––between the journalist and the reader who is intermittently provoked, frustrated, intimidated or threatened with exclusion from the Commentary Section.

Any two of the following symptoms means the reader is suffering from BNRS:

1. Restless leg syndrome for hours after reading the NYT opinion pages.
2. Tossing and turning in one’s sleep two hours before the release of the next digital edition.
3. Hiccups brought on by the sight or mention of the word “krugman.”
4. The repeated name dropping of obscure people in one corner or another at the Times followed by open letters to these same figures.
5. The incapacity of the affected reader to google Google for answers.
6. Inability to discuss anything other than topics found in that day’s NYT opinion pages.
7. Feelings of isolation and reaching out to friends on Facebook for their opinions––whether or not one has actually logged on to Facebook.

For cures, most practitioners prescribe lifelong abstinence from the opinion pages along with six months of group therapy resembling AA sessions. In tough cases, the drug pancuronium is prescribed after the reader has been intubated and hooked up to a ventilator. Three days of immobility and forced deep breathing usually snaps the addiction and opens the door to full recovery.
*Several researchers report that they have in fact delivered studies for publication proving a connection, but their work is never published because the editors deny ever having received these research papers. Conspiracy theorists insist that there must be a connection between the repeated loss of research papers and the centerfolds now appearing in top tier journals advertising the latest promotion for subscribing to the NY Times digital edition, opinion page included.

Karen Garcia said...


I suffer from an acute variety of BNRS, akin to what one might call binge-ing. I can often go for a whole week without commenting on one NYT article -- but then before I know it I am hooked again, my internal Times-alarm waking me up at 3:30 a.m. to read Krugman's latest through sleep-bleared eyes and then waiting to see if a burst of angry adrenaline will wake me up sufficiently to actually get up and write a 1500-character response. The other night when I saw it was just another Jeb complaint I turned over and went sensibly back to sleep. With me, it's hit or miss.

Unfortunately, since this whole blog was conceived as a reaction to too many of my Times comments being rejected, I can't totally quit the Gray Lady. As Ed Bernays wrote in his classic treatise on propaganda, at least half of every Times front page consists of... pure unadulterated govt and corporate propaganda! This was almost 100 years ago, so I imagine the ratio is even higher now, that his techniques have been perfected by the media political complex. I feel it is my duty to occasionally cut through the crap and expose it here, as best I can.

I have always urged Sardonicky readers to reprint their Times comments, whether rejected or published, in this space. Many of the readers are referred here direct from my Times comments, to which I sometimes append a link.

Jay–Ottawa said...

What's been happening in Greek politics and foreign affairs is of deep concern to the rest of the West. Look at how Greek society has been radicalized and how their representative government is not following the wishes of the vast majority. Similar forces are in tension elsewhere. The only difference is that the pressures in Greece at the moment are more concentrated and they're unfolding much sooner than elsewhere. We should ask ourselves whether Grexit is a preview of change that is unstoppable or change to be crushed. By 'elsewhere' I mean countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Jacobin Magazine, listed in our very own blog roll, has been covering the Greek situation in depth with a series of articles, which will continue, apparently, until the dust settles on this momentous European earthquake. So, here, on topic but bypassed by newer posts, is an authoritative analysis by an informed Greek leftist inside its government. Highly recommended.