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Nederlog


  November
17, 2014
Crisis: The Left, the rich, Cameron: crash, Tomas Young, Net Neutrality, James Risen
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1.
 Viva Podemos: the left shows it can adapt and thrive in a
     crisis

2.
 Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor
3. David Cameron warns that second global crash is looming
4. The Last Days of Tomas Young
5. Net Neutrality on the Line 
6. James Risen: The Post-9/11 Homeland Security
     Industrial Complex Profiteers and Endless War


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 17. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 7 dotted links: Item 1 is on The Left and Podemos (and gives some of my views); item 2 is on independent research that shows Osborne has been enriching the English rich at the cost of the English poor; item 3 is about Cameron's fear of a new crash (?); item 4 is about the late and brave Tomas Young; item 5 is about net neutrality; and item 6 is an interview with James Risen, that also has a link to a very fine interview with Diane Roark.

I think the most important item today is the very last link to the interview with Diane Roark, that anyone interested in the NSA really should read.

And here goes:

1. Viva Podemos: the left shows it can adapt and thrive in a crisis

The first item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
It’s almost a political cliche. If a country is battered by economic disaster, its ever poorer citizens will turn in droves to the crude xenophobia of the populist right. A lack of secure jobs and affordable homes, plummeting living standards: Johnny Foreigner proves an all-too-convenient scapegoat. This is a script that seems to have been followed to the letter in austerity Britain. Anti-establishment fury has been funnelled into an anti-immigration party led by an ex-City broker who wants to stick it to the man by privatising public services, slashing taxes on the rich, and attacking hard-won British workers’ rights. But, as Spain shows us, it doesn’t have to be this way.
We get to Spain in a moment. I first want to consider the "political cliche" (well... "almost") that gets unfolded above: This was not true, at least not where I live, in Holland, for at least a hundred years, that is from ca. 1880 - 1995, when also, at least until the middle 1960ies, the incomes of the working population were far
less than they grew between 1965 and 1980. Also, I am pretty certain the Dutch situation was fairly normal, for Western Europe.

What changed and what got in the neo-fascists ("
privatising public services, slashing taxes on the rich, and attacking hard-won British workers’ rights": I think that is sufficient to merit my qualification)?

Three things, mainly (though I am only sketching here):

First, by now those who earn the least generally are the most stupid and the most ignorant. This was not so till the 1970ies, when anybody who had any intelligence could study at a university (which is also why I made the university, and why my parents and grandparents, all of whom were quite intelligent, could not possibly make it) and it may soon be different again, because now it is far more expensive to get a degree, and the degrees generally are worth less, both in terms of the education they imply (in Holland the years of studying have been halved) and in terms of the salaries graduates may expect. [2]

Second, the old left was killed, from the 1980ies onwards, at least in Holland, and part of the reason for that is that the old left from then on was headed by persons who did far less care for the old left's ideas and values, and far more for their very own personal advances and riches. (In Holland: Wim Kok, Lodewijk de Waal, Diederik Samson, Job Cohen, Lodewijk Asscher, Rob Oudkerk etc.) Also, the "renewals" attempted by these personal careerists were mostly empty and aimed at getting votes rather than activists, while at the same time the social- democrat papers nearly all either disappeared or got a lot less readers, in part because they never seem to have gotten past the Sixties.

Third, the more stupid half of the population got far more economic propaganda
than anyone ever before, and this changed many of them into eager, proud consumers of brand products, without hardly any history, science, or formal knowledge, but all convinced - up to their forties - that they would personally make it and get rich: They bought the capitalist mythology, hook, line and sinker.

In brief, I am more than twice as old as Owen Jones, and have a thorough communist and anarchist family-background, and I probably am considerably more pesssimistic than he is, in part because I come from a really poor, really proletarian background, unlike nearly all the students I met also, and it seems to me - who happens to have a very high IQ - that the less gifted 51% of the population, almost all of whom have an IQ that is a 100 maximally, is really stupid and ignorant (as indeed the leaders on the political right also know, and use to deceive them). But I do know I should, in Holland, never mention this, for in Holland almost everyone with a higher education insists, quite falsely, that everyone is equal, and those who deny it are mad...[3]

Now we get to Spain and Podemos:

Podemos is founded on the politics of hope: its English translation is “we can”. It was founded only this year but won 1.2m votes and five seats in May’s European elections. And now it has topped opinion polls, eclipsing the governing rightwing People’s party and the ostensibly centre-left PSOE – the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party. There are few precedents for such an explosive political ascent in modern western Europe; in Spain, a discredited political elite appears to be tottering.
OK - but then Spain has major problems and 25% of its inhabitants are out of work. Also, I'd like to hear more from people who live in Spain.

There is also this (with bits left out indicated by "(...)"):

While older voters are more likely to remain loyal to a decaying PSOE, it is younger, educated voters who flock to Podemos. In part this is the “graduate without a future”, to use the journalist Paul Mason’s characterisation, on the march.
(...)
But Podemos has undoubtedly thrived only because it has shredded the old left rulebook. Spain’s traditional Communist-led United Left has itself received a boost, winning 10% of the votes in the European elections, and even beating Podemos. But it’s clear that Podemos is now surging because it eschews standard leftwing terminology. “In order to do politics differently, we need to do language differently,” Podemos’s Eduardo Maura tells me.
(...)
Rather than talk of nationalisations, Podemos preaches public control and accountability.
That sounds contradictory: Podemos has won "only because it has shredded the old left rulebook" (and mind you: I do not know the content of that book), whereas the "traditional Communist-led United Left", that has not "shredded the old left rulebook" ... won even more than Podemos.

And besides: I generally disbelieve people who want "
to do language differently", mostly because I have seen all of these projects, for more than 45 years, fail miserably, and for three good reasons: First, to want to change language in a methodical fashion is a very large project that needs a great amount of money.
Second, languages change anyhow, but do so in very complicated ways that are
mostly ill understood. Third, and especially in politics: One should try to change the living situation of people much more than trying to change the language they speak about it - except that one should use language clearly and honestly, rather than unclearly and misleadingly, as is the norm in traditional politics.

Finally, I do agree that "
public control and accountability" are essential, indeed also for nationalized industries and services.

The last bit I quote is this:

Podemos is not alone. In Greece Syriza has long eclipsed Pasok, the country’s social democratic party that turned on its own supporters by implementing disastrous austerity policies. Slovenia’s newly formed United Left has risen to prominence this year. And in the Netherlands the Socialist party has experienced occasional surges in popularity.
I do not know enough to pronounce on the Greeks and the Slovenes, but I do know about the Dutch Socialist party (<- Wikipedia):

It started in 1971 as an alternative maoist-leninist communist party, and since emancipated itself slowly from that, and got its current name in 1993. They have taken over mostly from Dutch Labour (that grew neo-conservative and completely incredible) and they still seem to be mostly conventional socialists, including strong totalitarian tendencies, which is why I don't like them, though I agree that they are currently the only more or less socialist party in Holland that is represented in parliament. (But I am not a socialist, at least not in their sense.)

In any case, they are not new, though this indeed also would not recommend them to me, and are therefore difficult to compare with newly formed parties.

2. Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor

The next item is an article by Daniel Boffer on The Observer:

This starts as follows (and is about Great Britain):

A landmark study of the coalition’s tax and welfare policies six months before the general election reveals how money has been transferred from the poorest to the better off, apparently refuting the chancellor of the exchequer’s claims that the country has been “all in it together”.

According to independent research to be published on Monday and seen by the Observer, George Osborne has been engaged in a significant transfer of income from the least well-off half of the population to the more affluent in the past four years. Those with the lowest incomes have been hit hardest.

I am not amazed at all, for that is what George Osborne is for: to realize "a significant transfer of income from the least well-off half of the population to the more affluent" - but it is nice to see that there is independent research that confirms this.

There is a considerable amount more under the dotted link.

3. David Cameron warns that second global crash is looming

The next item is an article by Patrick Wintour on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

David Cameron has issued a stark message that “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” in the same way as when the financial crash brought the world to its knees six years ago.

Writing in the Guardian at the close of the G20 summit in Brisbane, Cameron says there is now “a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty” that presents a real risk to the UK recovery, adding that the eurozone slowdown is already having an impact on British exports and manufacturing.

His warning comes days after the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, claimed a spectre of stagnation was haunting Europe. The International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, expressed fears in Brisbane that a diet of high debt, low growth and unemployment may yet become “the new normal in Europe”.

I say. I must say that I find anything Cameron says worthy of distrust, but he is not alone. There is considerably more under the last dotted link, and I suppose Lagarde framed it well:

At best, when there will be no next major crisis, "
low growth and unemployment" are the probable “new normal in Europe”, which - I would say - is the more or less necessary consequence also of the austerity policies, that also do not hurt the few rich at all, but make them even richer. 

4. The Last Days of Tomas Young

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Tomas Young was shot and paralyzed below his waist in Iraq in April 2004 when he and about 20 other U.S. soldiers were ambushed while riding in the back of an Army truck. He died of his wounds Nov. 10, 2014, at the age of 34. His final months were marked by a desperate battle to ward off the horrific pain that wracked his broken body and by the callous indifference of a government that saw him as part of the disposable human fodder required for war.
Here is some more:

Veterans Affairs over the last eight months of Young’s life reduced his pain medication, charging he had become an addict. It was a decision that thrust him into a wilderness of agony. Young’s existence became a constant battle with the VA. He suffered excruciating “breakthrough pain.” The VA was indifferent. It cut his 30-day supply of pain medication to seven days. Young, when the pills did not arrive on time, might as well have been nailed to a cross. Cuellar, in an exchange of several emails with me since Young’s death, remembered hearing her husband on the phone one day pleading with a VA doctor and finally saying: “So you mean to tell me it is better for me to live in pain than die on pain medicine in this disabled state?” At night, she said, he would moan and cry out.

I would guess - I am ill for 36 years, but till today the Amsterdam dole insists I am not ill, and there is no help of any kind for me - that the VA tried to bring down a well-known rebel by denying him his pain medication. (You may disagree, but you have not been ill and gotten no help whatsoever after protesting, in 1988, against illegal drugstrade that was protected by the mayor of Amsterdam, and that has been protected ever since, for the simple reason they turn over at least 10 billion euros a year in Holland, each year, all illegally, and all since more than 25 years.)

Anyway - Tomas Young now is dead, and got to be only 34. Here is part of one paragraph of his very courageous letter to Bush and Cheney:

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins?

5.  Net Neutrality on the Line 

The next item is an article by Thor Benson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The net neutrality discussion has recently been reinvigorated on the national level, since President Obama came out in support of online freedom and recommended we reclassify the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. That’s great news for organizations that have been pushing for that exact course of action here in the U.S., but how does it affect the conversation on a global level?

Whether or not it is warranted, much of the world still views America as an example. “On a variety of domestic and international issues, from trade to environmental regulation to whatever, the U.S. is often looked to as setting a global standard,” Josh Tabish, campaigns manager at the Internet protection organization OpenMedia, told Truthdig. “Right now, the European Union is negotiating net neutrality rules,” he noted. “The big question is: Will the bill survive the [human rights organization] Council of Europe such that really good, really strong and really positive net neutrality provisions become law?”

The EU proposal has already passed parliament, but it still needs to get through the Council of Europe. Tabish believes Obama’s words in support of strong net neutrality laws could help tip the scale.

Well... I hope so. There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link,
but nothing as yet is certain.

6. James Risen: The Post-9/11 Homeland Security Industrial Complex Profiteers and Endless War

The next and last item today is an article by Mark Karlin on Truthout:

This starts as follows:

In a revealing interview with Truthout about his new book Pay Any Price, journalist James Risen provides evidence of how the United States has become enmeshed in an endless war. He also discusses how the post-9/11, military-surveillance state has enriched - with little oversight or accountability - many opportunists. Risen tells Truthout: "Four trillion dollars is the best estimate for the total price tag of the war on terror, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much of it has gone to shadowy contractors. It is one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history, and yet it has gone largely unnoticed."

The rest is a good interview which you can read for yourself, but I want to isolate one part and give a dotted link for that, which I got by way of Wikipedia. First, here is James Risen in the interview - and I have added the Wikipedia link to Diane Roark:

I consider Diane Roark to be one of the unsung heroes of the post-9/11 era. A former Reagan White House staffer, at the time of 9/11 Roark was the House intelligence committee staffer in charge of oversight of the National Security Agency. Soon after 9/11, NSA staffers told her about the NSA's new domestic spying operation. She immediately realized that it was illegal, but at first thought it must be a rogue operation. She went to the staff director and minority staff director at the House intelligence committee to warn the chairman and ranking member about the operation, but the word came back that she should keep her mouth shut and stop talking about it. She realized that the chairman and ranking member already knew about it.

She then started to try to warn other senior officials that she knew throughout the government about the program, but found at every turn that they already knew about it and were involved in a massive cover-up. Finally, she had a dramatic showdown with NSA director Michael Hayden about the program, in which she told him that it was illegal. He responded that if it ever became public, the NSA and the Bush Administration could count on the "majority of nine" - meaning the approval of the Supreme Court. She then tried to get a message to the Supreme Court chief justice, but never heard back. She never leaked to the press and retired from the government depressed that she hadn't been able to stop the program.

And Wikipedia led me to this, which is a very fine interview with Diane Roark from December 2013:

This is long but very well worth reading: it clarifies a lot. And it indeed shows that Diane Roark is one of "the unsung heroes of the post-9/11 era".
---------------------------------
Notes
[1] 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 government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
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 quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] I have outlined this many times, indeed for the first time in 1977. I've seen it rarely discussed in Holland, but the facts are these: The high schools in Holland have massively simplfied since 1965, and give much less education, though they still qualify - on average considerably less capable - students for universities, that likewise have halved the years necessary to get a degree. These are simple facts, but indeed very few Dutchmen seem to care, also because the vast majority is not interested in science or education: They want a degree to make money.

[3] Again, I have outlined this many times, but in Holland no one else says so and I cannot get a hearing of any kind. And yes, it is really true that nearly the only widely shared moral norm in Holland is this: "Act normal, for if you don't act normal you are mad".


About ME/CFS (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:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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