who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
terror threat raised from substantial to severe
2. It's socialism for the rich
and capitalism for the rest of us
3. Should Companies Have to
4. US rendition survivors urge Obama to
This is a Nederlog of
August 30. It is a crisis log.
There were five items that I found, and you may be especially
interested in item 2 and item 5.
UK terror threat raised from substantial to severe
item is an article by Alan Travis on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The level of threat from
international terrorism to Britain has been raised from substantial to
severe, Theresa May, the home secretary, has announced.
This means that an attack
is "highly likely", though May said there is no evidence to suggest an
attack is imminent.
She said the decision to
raise the official threat level is "related to developments in Syria
and Iraq, where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the west".
The home secretary said
some of the plots were likely to involve foreign fighters who had
travelled to the Middle East from Britain and Europe to take part in
the conflicts there.
Let me first add that there is a graphical image in the article that
shows that in the last eight years, that is, since 2006, the
"threat level" has never been less than "substantial"; has been
"severe" five times; and "critical" two times.
Second: What was it all about? Not much, which means, also in view of
the fact that everyone is secretly spied upon by the GCHQ (or the NSA,
after which materials get exchanged), again something that is
supposedly "justified" by "terrrorism" (though I deny it), that I take
it that the real aim is simply to create a climate of fear,
as outlined by Goering's Principle.
So my question
is: What new level of illegal rot is Cameron's government preparing?
For that is the real function of "terrorism": To expand the
role of the government, indeed to a new level of authoritarianism that
is not compatible with real democracy or a real open and free society
(but is very easy for governments).
In case you wonder: No,
I do not trust the English government. I see no reason
whatsoever to trust them (beyond the level of doing the things that are
required to keep the economy running, more or less, and within the
fairly crazy Tory ideology, that subsidizes the rich and steals from
the poor ); I know they are gross liars; I know
they do all manner of things that are illegal by my lights, and that
are also deeply immoral and dishonest.
So I distrust them, and the question I posed is a sane one,
although indeed I do not know it will be answered.
2. It's socialism for the rich and capitalism
for the rest of us in Britain
item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as
follows (and is the beginning of a fairly long good article):
Socialism lives in
Britain, but only for the rich: the rules of capitalism are for the
rest of us. The ideology of the modern establishment, of course, abhors
the state. The state is framed as an obstacle to innovation,
a destroyer of initiative, a block that needs to be chipped away
to allow free enterprise to flourish. "I think
that smaller-scale governments, more freedom for business to exist
and to operate – that is the right kind of direction for me," says
Simon Walker, the head of the Institute of Directors. For him, the
state should be stripped to a "residual government functioning of
maintaining law and order, enforcing contracts".
Yes, except that the "ideology of the modern establishment" does not call it "socialism" and
indeed I wouldn't call it "socialism" either: I call it "theft by the
rich and powerful from the non-rich and non-powerful", for that is
simply what it is - and "theft" is a good, brief, and
clear term for it.
I do not see my
factual terminology adopted soon, but the reason for that is that
anything a modern government says, especially in the U.S. and Great
Britain, is these days propaganda and
tends to be served by what are lyingly called "public
relations professionals", and is very far removed from the
supposed facts and "facts" it is about: It all is designed to create a
mood and expectations in an electorate, all without any real relations
to any facts.
Indeed, that is also
true of most of the - more or less - factual things the government's
bureaucrats publicly say that do have a basis in fact: These also are
played out as if it were ideology rendered by propaganda. (This is mostly of the last 25-35
years. Governments weren't more honest before, but they were
considerably less devious and posturing and intentionally misleading
Next, the state. It also is
mostly lied about and depicted as what it is not, indeed not at all: It
is not small and indeed cannot be small, as long as it
is supposed to rake in the taxes that are used to bail out, fund, and
much increase the managerial salaries of the banks.
Indeed, this is how
the banks were saved:
And yet, when the financial system went into meltdown in 2008, it was not
expected to stand on its own two feet, or to pull itself up by its
bootstraps. Instead, it was saved by the state, becoming Britain's most
lavished benefit claimant. More than £1tn of public money was poured
into the banks following the financial collapse. The emergency package
came with few government-imposed conditions and with little calling to
Here is a contrast:
Banks may have been
enjoyed state aid on an unprecedented scale, but their bad
behaviour just got worse – and yet they suffered no retribution.
Contrast this with the
fate of the unemployed, including those thrown out of work as a result
of the actions of bailed-out bankers. In the austerity programme
that followed the financial crisis, state support for those at the
bottom of society has been eroded. The support that remains is
given with stringent conditions attached.
Yes, indeed. There is a
whole lot more in the article, all of which is good, and that I
recommend you to read. I only quote the last paragraph, and indeed
answer the last question(s):
When it comes to
rhetoric, the modern establishment passionately rejects statism. The
advocates of state interventionism are dismissed as dinosaurs who
should hop in a time machine and return to the discredited 1970s. And
yet state interventionism is rampant in modern Britain: but it
exists to benefit the rich. No other phenomenon sums up more starkly
how unjust modern Britain is. Social security for the poor is shredded,
stripped away, made ever more conditional. But welfare for large
corporations and wealthy individuals is doled out like never before.
The question is not just whether such an establishment is unjust: the
question is whether it is sustainable.
I would have written "propaganda" instead of "rhetoric", for
that is considerably more correct - it is really prose meant to
deceive, mislead, and divert from the real issues, and it is not just
exaggerated prose. It is far more crafty, far more considered, and also
far more intentional and meant to mislead than is mere rhetoric.
Also, it is all ideology, and it is only ideology, that
has nothing to do with the real facts, indeed for the reason
Owen Jones gives: The rich are getting enormously richer, and do so by
means of the state.
As to the question or
questions Jones poses at the end: Clearly it is unjust, though indeed
you need to pull off the propaganda to see it as it is. It is stealing
from the poor to subsidize the rich (the complete inverse of
Robin Hood), and it works quite well, in considerable part
because there are very few papers like The Guardian in Great Britain.
And no, I do not
think it is sustainable, which I do not think because it is
unjust (there has been a lot of injustice, and much was successful for
a long time), but because it is greed-driven propaganda with no relation to the facts.
And while I think many are driven by greed and many are driven by
propaganda, rarely have the levels been so high, and have been so far
removed from what is really the case.
But I do not have a
time scale, and my own expectation is that it is most likely to explode
first in the U.S., where a very similar schema of greed and propaganda
has been maintained since 9/11/01, also combined with no
attempt whatsoever to tame or regulate the banks.
Anyway, as I said:
This is another good article by Owen Jones, that deserves full reading.
3. Should Companies Have to Pay Taxes?
item is an article by David Sirota on Truthdig:
The question the
title asks is not wholly unjustified, nor wholly serious in David
Sirota's mouth. I'll explain. This is mostly though not only about
According to the SEC
documents, the company [Microsoft - MM] is sitting on almost $29.6
billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion
of earnings it is keeping offshore. That amount of money represents a
significant spike from prior years.
To put this in
perspective, the levies the company would owe amount to almost the
entire two-year operating budget of the company’s home state of
The disclosure in
Microsoft’s SEC filing lands amid an intensifying debate over the
fairness of U.S.-based multinational corporations using offshore
subsidiaries to avoid paying American taxes. Such maneuvers—although
often legal—threaten to significantly reduce U.S. corporate tax
receipts during an era marked by government budget deficits.
Before answering some
possible questions, first a clarification about Microsoft: It has not -
yet? - been made into a Liechtensteinian or Dutch company:
Microsoft has not
formally declared itself a subsidiary of a foreign company, so the firm
has not technically engaged in the so-called “inversion” scheme that
President Obama and Democrats have lately been criticizing. However,
according to a 2012 U.S. Senate investigation, the company has in
recent years used its offshore subsidiaries to substantially reduce its
And if you do not
call $29.6 billion
"substantial", you must be dreaming. Next, to turn to two possible
questions about the first quote:
No, it is not fair. And
yes, it could be easily stopped by changing the laws (though it may be
hard or impossible to get this done through Congress).
Also, it is not just
Microsoft, of course, is
not alone. According to a report by Citizens for Tax Justice, “American
Fortune 500 corporations are likely saving about $550 billion by
holding nearly $2 trillion of ‘permanently reinvested’ profits
offshore.” The report also found that “28 corporations reveal that they
have paid an income tax rate of 10 percent or less to the governments
of the countries where these profits are officially held, indicating
that most of these profits are likely in offshore tax havens.”
So, given these
facts, the question in the title is raised, and answered:
With the U.S. tax code
now permitting companies to use brazen tax avoidance schemes in true
tax havens, the real question is more fundamental than what the proper
corporate tax rate should be. Instead, the question is now whether
corporations should have to pay any taxes on their profits at all?
The answer should be
obvious. Companies enjoy huge benefits from operating in the United
States—benefits like (among other things) intellectual property
protection, government provided security (police, firefighting, etc.)
and publicly financed infrastructure. Those services and assets cost
Yes, of course. And
indeed paying for these services and assets never was a major
problem for the big corporations - but it is also true that in the
present political atmosphere one should not be too amazed if the
Supreme Court were to vote (5 against 4) that such human beings as
corporations are, according to them,
they should have the right to be anywhere and should not
be taxed at all (while clearly deserving all the tax support they
It would be totally
crazy, but it may well happen.
US rendition survivors urge Obama to
declassify torture report
item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Abou Elkassim Britel
can’t sleep, or he sleeps too much; it varies. He backs out of
commitments. The Islamic website he wants to publish from his Italian
home remains unfinished.
“I would add,” he said
through translation, “that I cannot think of the future.”
The doctors tell Britel
that he has post-traumatic stress disorder, after a decade-long ordeal
of imprisonment without charge or transfer and abuse. It began in 2002,
when the United States packed him onto a contractor’s Gulfstream V in
Pakistan and flew him to Morocco.
Britel survived what the
US calls rendition, an extrajudicial process of transferring a detainee
for “interrogation” in a foreign country. Allies of the US beat Britel
with a cricket bat, shoved a bottle into his anus, denied him access to
lawyers and Italian diplomats and unceremoniously released him in 2011,
as if nothing ever happened.
"interrogation" was torture, and one can be pretty sure that
Abou Elkassim Britel will have post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life. 
In any case, ten of
the victims of renditioning now demand that the Senate's report on
(sorry: "enhanced interrogation") by the CIA gets released, and gets
released in full:
“It’s disappointing that
the government is seeking further delay, but, given Senator Feinstein’s
assurances, we’re hopeful that all of the documents will be released
with very limited redactions in September.”
committee nor the Obama administration ever intended to release the
report in full. In April, the Senate panel voted to release
only its findings, executive summary and recommendations. It has
negotiated censoring the public report within those self-imposed
limitations, and reportedly agreed to remove names and specific
identifiers for both torture perpetrators and victims.
The 10 rendition
“We, some of the torture
program’s targets, have real stories, and families, and lives.
Americans deserve to know who we are,” they wrote to Obama on Thursday.
I agree with them,
but I consider it quite unlikely, and very unfortunate, that the full
report will ever be known, at least within 75 years. (But they did well
The last crisis
item is an article by Jonathan Wallace on his site:
This is from the
I like this for two
reasons (at least):
A Dead Child
I want to begin with my
most important point. The photograph in the New York Times of
the child lying dead on the beach in Gaza was unbearable. There are
hundreds just like him in the present conflict, though not all left so
photogenic by bullet or explosion. Do a Google Image search on “dead
child Gaza” and you will see.
I am writing these words
in my beautiful home in Amagansett, N.Y. I can see the Atlantic from
one window and Napeague Harbor from the opposite one. At the closing at
which I bought my home in 1997, imagine if the attorney had shown me
something like the Times photograph and said “You will have
much pleasure in your beautiful new house, but you must know something.
In order to own and enjoy this house you are going to have to kill this
child, and a few thousand like him, and possibly a few hundred
thousand, and maybe, depending on how long you want to stay in your
home, a few million”.
The person I want to be,
who I hope I am, would have said: “I can’t go through with the closing
if I have to be a child killer.” And I hope I would have said that
without asking, “Under what circumstances? What will be my
justifications and excuses?” Because, just as Thoreau eschewed any
enterprise requiring new clothes, I want to stay out of the
child-killing business, period.
First, it clearly is not a fully rational argument - but then almost no
important ethical argument is, or indeed can be, fully rational. In
fact, while I have not seen the picture, my own argument is similar: I
do not think the Israeli goverment has the right to kill civilians and
children they anyway have mostly locked up. (In contrast, most Israelis
- not: all - seem to think that the Israeli government is justified to
do whatever it deems necessary to protect Israel and Israelis.)
Second, it is written by an American Jew. In fact, I do not know
whether he is religious, but he identifies himself as one, and no doubt
has a Jewish background.  In any case, and
though he is not by far the only American Jew who opposes Israel in the
present matter of killing Gazans, it is somewhat courageous, because he
is likely to get into some trouble.
This also holds for the following, with which I also agree (but not "as
a Jew" nor as someone "with a Jewish background" ):
There is considerably
more on this at the end of the article, but the brief of it is that
Jonathan Wallace is not happy with Israel's existence.
I believe that if I had
been sitting at a table in 1947, participating in a debate about
whether to form Israel, I would have voted against, for these exact
reasons: that, before you get into the minutiae of who did what to
whom, and how horrible the adversary is, etc., too much bloodshed will
result, and we will be made monstrous by it even if on (relatively) the
moral high ground.
Again, that is courageous, and indeed I agree, though I also agree this
is a lot easier for me than for him. Here is as I see it:
The problem with Israel and the reason it exists is that the Torah made
God promise the Jews that Israel was theirs, and many Jews (of
religious background) believed it, and especially in 1947, briefly
after the murder of 6 million Jews because they were supposed to be "of
So Israel exists mostly because of a combination of Torah and Shoah. In
my own - completely irreligious eyes -
it would have been much better if the Jews in
1947 had decided that the U.S. is their favorite place.
But they did not, and instead went to live in the desert next to
Mohammedan countries - which constituted and constitutes a great risk
for them, and for the rest of the world.
It is too late to change that, but it will probably cause
the violent deaths of many more persons, and indeed may cause another
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
 I think there really needs to be drawn a
substantial difference between "conservative" and "Tory": Conservatives
want to preserve a society; modern Tories want to preserve and increase
the level of exploitation of the poor, which they also tend to call
"freedom". If you want to see a real conservative, you'll have to watch
Sir James Goldsmith: He was
a credible, sane and smart conservative - but he was one of the last.
Why can one be "pretty sure"? I am because my father survived 3 years, 9 months and
15 days as a political prisoner in German concentration camps, in
which he also was tortured, and he had post-traumatic stress disorder for life, as
indeed did anyone else I know who survived concentration camps. Such
systematic gross injustice is too much to bear for almost anyone.
I tend to call people with the religion "Jews", and people without the
religion (of which I have known quite a lot) "of Jewish background",
because I think that is fair and because I do not agree with either
Goebbels or religious Jews that they are a race. But the distinction is
not very important here.
 Actually, while I never was a Jew (in
my sense of the term), I am not certain whether I have no Jewish
background. One reason is that my father's mother may have been a Jew
in Goebbel's sense (though she always was very Christian), which I do
not know because my father was estranged from his family since WW II.
And my mother's family also may have been partially Jewish in that
sense, except that they were anarchists and atheists since the 1850ies,
and may well have kept it secret to avoid discrimination (of which
there was a lot in Holland). So I really don't know, and I don't much
care either, because I am totally non-religious.
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: