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."
1. Pinkoes and Traitors by Jean
Seaton review – my father,
the BBC and a very British coup
2. Paul Krugman: How Austerity
Madness Was Dealt a
Crucial Blow this Week
Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev
Fast Track Looms, Opposition Mounts to
Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals
Neutrality May Face an Uphill Battle If History Tells
This is a Nederlog of
February 28, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the BBC, and I found it interesting; item 2 is about Krugman on Greece; item
3 is about Polk on the lack of leaders of the calibre of Kennedy
and Khrushchev (?!);
item 4 is on corporate-friendly trade
deals (NAFTA, TPP, TPIP); and item 5 is
an interesting article on net neutrality, with a decent brief history.
I should also say I uploaded new versions of the Nederlogs of the last
three days, but all that is missing is useless links that are
1. Pinkoes and Traitors by Jean Seaton review –
my father, the BBC and a very British coup
article by Seumas
Milne (<- Wikipedia) on The Guardian:
This begins as
It must be galling for
true believers in Margaret Thatcher’s privatising mission that
35 years after she launched it two of the country’s most popular
institutions, the NHS and the BBC, are still publicly owned. It doesn’t
quite fit the tale of the triumph of the market. Both organisations
still deliver prized universal public services, anathema to the
neoliberal mindset. But both also bear the scars of the Thatcherite
onslaught, continued under New Labour and Tory governments, including
in the form of outsourcing and internal markets.
In the case of the BBC, its
political independence has repeatedly been attacked and its journalism
cowed. One of the most bizarre myths about the corporation, recycled
ceaselessly in the conservative press, is that the BBC has a leftwing
bias. As one academic study after another has demonstrated, the opposite
is the case. From the coverage of wars to economics, it has a
pro-government, elite and corporate anchor. The BBC is full of
Conservatives and former New Labour apparatchiks with almost identical
views about politics, business and the world. Executives have stuffed
their pockets with public money. And far from programme outsourcing
increasing independent creativity, it has simply turned some former
employees into wealthy “entrepreneurs”, while enforcing a safety-first
I like this article
in part because I like Seumas Milne (he is at least a real
leftist, and while I do not agree with him either, at least his
position makes sense in a number of ways that Blair and Brown
and other "leftist" careerists do not make sense, and do not do
so at all ), and in part because this is
his review of a book that much concerns his father, Alasdair Milne
(<- Wikipedia), who was dismissed as the BBC's Director General
after "sustained pressure from the Thatcher government" (Wikipedia).
Here is Seumas Milne
on his position for this review:
I can’t pretend to be
neutral about any of this. My father, Alasdair Milne, was the BBC director general whose orchestrated
ousting in January 1987 is the climax of Seaton’s book and a watershed
in Britain’s broadcasting history. I knew many of the characters who
appear in Pinkoes and Traitors and heard plenty of the
stories she recounts from those involved at the time – as well as
others she doesn’t. But setting the record straight matters less
because of the battlefield casualties than because of what it paved the
way for thereafter.
And one gets some facts
about the BBC that this Dutchman - at least - didn't know:
There is no point
in romanticising a BBC golden age. The corporation was always an
establishment institution, deeply embedded in the security state and
subject to direct government control in an emergency. The sexism at the
BBC, as Seaton recounts, was appalling, as in many other workplaces,
and ethnic diversity non-existent. Around 40% of the staff were vetted
by MI5: those who failed the “political reliability” test, often for
the mildest of radical connections, were blacklisted – their personnel
files marked with the symbol of a Christmas tree.
I say. Here is Milne's
summary of the backgrounds of his father's dismissal:
In the autumn of
1986, Thatcher installed Marmaduke Hussey as BBC chairman, a man with
impeccable Conservative connections and a fiercely anti-union record.
She did so, Seaton reveals, only after first seeking the approval of
Murdoch, the BBC’s “most committed commercial and political enemy”.
Hussey then consulted Victor Rothschild, a security adviser to Thatcher
(and one-time associate of the Cambridge spies). According to Hussey’s
memoirs, it was Rothschild who proposed firing the director general.
That was finalised over lunch with the home secretary, Douglas Hurd.
Within three months, it was done. No explanation was given. And Hussey
used a threat to my father’s pension to persuade him to resign for
“personal reasons” – and prevent him speaking out in public.
There is a
considerable amount more, that I leave to your interests.
2. Paul Krugman: How Austerity Madness Was Dealt
a Crucial Blow this Week
item is an article by Janet Allon on Alternet:
This starts as
takes a contrarian view of the deal the new Greek government
reached with its creditors earlier in the week. The deal was widely
derided on the left as a disaster, a “surrender” on the part of Syriza,
the new ruling coalition in Athens.
Krugman does not
agree. "On the contrary," he writes in Friday's
column, "Greece came out of the negotiations pretty well, although
the big fights are still to come. And by doing O.K., Greece has done
the rest of Europe a favor."
This then is followed
by a quotation from Krugman, that I leave to your interests.
Here is the
conclusion Janet Allon draws:
In fact, Greece
won new flexibility for this year, a luxury the embattled nation
has not had for quite a while. The creditors not only did not pull the
plug, they gave them financing for the next few months. Sure, there are
big battles looming in the future, but for now, "the Greek government
didn’t succumb to the bum’s rush, and that in itself is a kind of
victory," Krugman writes.
OK... this is more or
less my own analysis. I do not know that is correct, but then
again I also do not know Krugman and Allon know a lot more
about Greece than I know.
3. Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev
item is an article by William R. Polk
(<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews:
In fact, this is a
continuation of an earlier article that Polk had on Consortiumnews
that I reviewed on February 25, last.
I mostly liked that article. This continuation also contains some
sensible points, that I leave to your interests.
It ends like this, and I will have a remark on that:
William Polk is 21 years
older than I am, and seems to have been a Democrat (American sense) all
his life, having been nominated by president Kennedy, and serving as
foreign policy advisor to Denis Kucinic in 2008.
Absent Kennedy and absent
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, both of whom reined in their hawks
and kept themselves open to the compromise that literally saved the
world. We don’t have such men around today. Or at least I have not
identified them. So, we are in a very fragile position and all of us need to lend
our support to a wise, possible and peaceful policy.
If we do not, God help us.
I like it that he does not seem to have a high opinion of
Obama, while it seems both not very surprising to me and quite
disappointing that he says - speaking about Kennedy and Khrushchev,
neither of whom ever struck me as particularly
intelligent, moral or decent, though I also grant that their "compromise (..) literally saved the world" - in effect that the present day
rulers of the world do not reach their level.
O Lord! (In whom I completely disbelieve.)
4. As Fast Track
Looms, Opposition Mounts to Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as
There is also this:
Congress is expected to
introduce a so-called 'Fast Track' bill—which would accelerate passage
of the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) and other trade proposals—as soon as next week.
But despite the Obama
push to speed approval of problematic trade pacts, opposition to Trade
Promotion Authority and the deals it would advance is mounting.
Earlier this week, Sen.
Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) penned
an op-ed for the Washington Post outlining her
criticism of the TPP provision known as 'Investor-State Dispute
Settlement' (ISDS), which she claims would "tilt the playing field in
the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations."
Such provisions "would
give protections to international corporations that are not available
to United States environmental and labor groups," Warren stated in an
interview with Politico published
Friday. "Multinational corporations are increasingly realizing this is
an opportunity to gut U.S. regulations they don’t like."
And there is more under
the last dotted link.
Independent Sen. Bernie
Sanders, of Vermont, called on Congress to "develop a new set of trade
policies, which work for the ordinary American worker and not for large
corporations and big campaign donors. We need to create decent-paying
jobs in this country for a change and not just in other countries
around the world."
He added: "This free
trade agreement is another step in a global race to the bottom to boost
the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs;
undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health,
food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge
our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system."
Neutrality May Face an Uphill Battle If History Tells
item is an article by Leticia Miranda on Propublica:
This starts as follows:
And indeed the "brief history of attempts to enact net
neutrality" follows, and
starts in 2002. It seems a good history to me, that I leave to your
interests, except for the end, which is this:
Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on a proposal
today that effectively bars Internet companies from prioritizing some
Internet traffic over others.As John Oliver famously explained “ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy
their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane.”
The FCC’s proposal faces
plenty of opposition from telecom
companies and others,
but it’s just the latest round in a long fight. Here is a brief history
of attempts to enact net neutrality and the often successful push
The vote has taken place
meanwhile, with 3 against 2 "for net neutrality". I take it the last
conclusion is correct.
This almost certainly
will result in another fight.
The details of the new
rules won’t be made public until after the vote. Experts expect
challenges to the rules as soon as they are published. Michael Powell,
a former FCC Chairman and current president and CEO of the National
Cable & Telecommunications Association, told CNBC it could take
“at least two and up to five years before the rules are fully and
 As I've said repeatedly, I am from a real
leftist - revolutionairy, Marxist - family,
which I gave up in 1970, when I was 20, mostly because I disagreed with
all marxists of my age; did not see any talent in the CPs; disagreed
with Marx's labor
theory of value; disagreed with his dialectics; strongly disagreed with
the many connections between communism and socialism with totalitarianism;
could not believe that the Soviet Union and its allies were socialist in
any useful sense; and also did not have much sympathy with most of the
left (or the right, or the middle class), mostly because they seemed to
me unintelligent and ignorant for the most part.
But these disagreements were real, whereas my disagreements with
Clinton, Blair and Brown, and the many "leftist" leaders who followed
them, are different: These were personal careerists who lied,
lied, and lied, and made a personal career based on lies, postures, and
I disagree with the leftist generations my parents belong to,
but I never disliked my parents, and indeed always agreed with their
morals. I despise the quasi-leftists, that came up
since 1980 or so, of whom I have seen a great lot.
And nearly all of the "leftists" I have seen in Holland since 1980
where none of the real kind: They were all - students,
academics, politicians - personal careerists
who basically deceived others to make money and careers themselves
with baloney and bullshit.