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. You Can’t Read the TPP and
You Can’t Find Out Who in
2. Has the
U.S. Learned Anything From Edward Snowden's
3. Dark Money Under Fire as
Election 2016 Heats Up
4. It's the Planet Stupid!:
Capitalism and The Destruction of
5. Backlash Grows as Leaked TPP
Text Reveals Increased
Corporate Control of Public
is a Nederlog of Sunday June 14, 2015.
is a crisis blog.
There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is
about how much of the TPP is known by members of Congress: very little;
item 2 is about what "the U.S." has
learned from Edward Snowden (answer: the public learned
a decent amount, but the public has these days been manipulated into
being - mostly - an irrelevancy for government); item 3
is about the major influence of SCOTUS's "Citizens United" decision:
the old system of financing elections has already been broken
down; item 4 is about a fine article by John
Atcheson, that is mostly about the destruction of the commons by the
few rich; and item 5 is again about the TPP (which
will have awful consequences for the prices of medicines) and also
about the difficulties of knowing little about the TPP (for Obama
want the billions to know what is being planned for them).
This file also got uploaded earlier than normal. And I also uploaded autobio 30
29 plus the TOC to
the autobiography files (in /maartensz). The first file has been
updated a bit. (These are mostly in Dutch.)
1. You Can’t Read the TPP and You Can’t Find
Out Who in Congress Has
item is an article by Jon Schwartz on The Intercept:
This starts as
This is quite true, at least
for me, and for people following Nederlog. But yes, knowing how many
members of Congress read parts of the TPP (or the TTIP or the TiSA) is
interesting information, for knowing who may know means knowing
something about a legislation that effects the lives of billions
You probably know by now
that no normal Americans are allowed to see the text of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. It’s classified. Even
members of Congress can only read it by going to secure
reading rooms in the basement of the Capitol.
But here’s what you might
not know: you’re not even allowed to know who in Congress has bothered
to do this.
There you have Obama's
De-Mo-Cra-CyTM at work!
congressional staff members, the House Security Office and the Senate
Security Office are responsible for supervising the reading of
the TPP text. However, when I asked both offices, neither would
answer any questions whatsoever, including:
- Which members have
gone to the secure rooms to look at the TPP?
- Is there in fact a log
of visiting members (as you’d assume with classified documents)?
- Is the secrecy
concerning who’s looked at the TPP standard operating procedure for any
classified documents, or is there something going on specific to the
- Are the House Security
Office and the Senate Security Office even the people who know the
answers to these questions?
And here is a guess of someone I suppose I trust:
Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration, said that his
best estimation of how many members of Congress have read the TPP —
which has been called the biggest trade deal in history — is “in the
single digits.” (Reich himself called the Office of the U.S. Trade
Representative recently to ask to see it, and was rebuffed.)
I say: “in the single digits”!
the U.S. Learned Anything From Edward Snowden's NSA
item is an article by David Sirota on Alternet:
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed. So here is
my review (with a bit of help from the article):
Two years ago this month,
a 29-year-old government contractor named Edward Snowden became the
Daniel Ellsberg of his generation, delivering to journalists a tranche
of secret documents shedding light on the government's national
security apparatus. But whereas Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers
detailing one specific military conflict in Southeast Asia, Snowden
released details of the U.S. government's sprawling surveillance
machine that operates around the globe.
On the second anniversary
of Snowden's historic act of civil disobedience, it is worth reviewing
what has changed -- and what has not.
In brief, I think the
U.S. has learned something, but since the learning is mostly
restricted to the public, and the public opinions' are mostly ignored
by both the government and Congress, and indeed to a considerable
extent as well by the main media, and therefore there have been few
real legal effects, so far.
- There have been
some changes in the Senate and the House that - so far! - blocked the
reauthorizing of the law that allows the NSA to do surveillance of everyone
for everything they do, think, write, transfer or say:
- there have been
considerably stronger changes in public opinion: Many more know now
they probably are surveilled and many more are (at least) more
sympathetic to Edward Snowden and (at least) more opposed to general
- the Obama
government, like the Bush Jr. government, steadily prosecutes
whistleblowers it doesn't like, while protecting and not prosecuting
liars or whistleblowers it likes (such as former CIA directors Panetta
3. Dark Money Under Fire as Election 2016
item is an article posted by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
candidates are lining up to denounce the huge influence that dark money
is having on politics in the U.S., a new report says that 2016
presidential candidates are relying on such secret contributions "like
In a speech before
thousands, likely watched by millions more, Hillary Clinton formally launched
her presidential bid on Saturday. During the address
given on New York's Roosevelt Island, the Democratic frontrunner railed
against the "endless flow of secret, endless money" in politics, saying
that she would support a Constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme
Court's decision in Citizens United "if necessary."
These strong words,
directed at the large majority of Americans who believe that money has
"too much influence" in contemporary American politics, come at the
outset of an election cycle expected to attract unprecedented
levels of outside spending.
I wouldn't call these
"strong words" but then I have learned some things about American
politics, honesty and integrity, namely - in particular - that a
presidential candidate will say virtually anything, with a very honest
face also, that may make them president (after which they will again
"Look Forward!" to where there are no crimes, instead of
backwards where all the crimes happened, including their own
lies, falsehoods, dishonesties and deceptions).
But in fact the article is not about Hilary Clinton's lies but about a
report that documents how the Citizens United ruling has effected
A new report by the
Brennan Center for Justice published Friday outlines the ways in which
the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling—and thus Super
PACs —has reshaped the political landscape.
"The 2016 candidates are
using super PACs like never before," says
report author Brent Ferguson, Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy
"While many have
understood that super PACs would make a significant impact on American
elections," Ferguson continues, "few could have predicted the speed
with which they have evolved and moved to the center of our political
system." According to the analysis, the six ways that candidates are
engaging with these outside big-money groups are:
And I make a brief break
here to say that what follows are just the titles of the six
ways. If you want to read the texts that come with them, click
the last dotted link:
aspirants appear to be delaying their formal
announcements to avoid following rules that
2. Several candidates' top aids may be
working for super
3. Campaigns are fundraising for their
preferred super PACS
and other outside groups like never before.
4. Candidates are benefiting from a new species of dark
money group with very close ties to the
their super PACs.
5. Super PACs may be expressly
candidates and relying on a questionable
6. Candidates are using outside groups to
campaign functions, not just to buy television
In brief: The old system of elections
has been successfully destroyed ("deregulated"), and the new
system, that seems to promise nearly all the
power to the few richest, has been already put in its place.
As the article says at the
"This means that
candidates may be indebted to super PAC donors for more than just
attack ads," Ferguson notes, "they may come to rely on them for running
The report says that lack
of enforcement is driving this political trend, where undisclosed
donors contribute millions of dollars to essential back shadow
campaigns. "Congress and the FEC have consistently failed to act while
the current system has been dismantled," the report concludes.
"Until that changes, we will continue to see politicians push the
envelope, moving our elections further and further toward an elite
bastion of funders and away from everyday Americans."
4. It's the Planet Stupid!: Capitalism and
The Destruction of
item is an article by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:
This starts as
follows (and this is a very good article):
There is a war going on
right now between those who are working to protect the commons and the
hard-core capitalists, who are working to privatize our economy,
culture, ecology, environment and government.
The stakes are high. The
outcome will determine whether we live in a dystopian chaos, or a civil
society; whether we preserve our natural life support system, or live
on life support.
At the moment, it’s a
rout. The capitalists are winning, and those very few who speak for the
commons are ignored,
marginalized or ridiculed.
Yes, quite so - and
not only are the capitalists winning; they have been
winning since 1979 and 1980, when Thatcher and Reagan were
elected, and by now they
have destroyed ("deregulated") most of the legal foundations of regulated
capitailism, which will be very hard to regain without a major
in considerable part because Congress is for the most part corrupted
by their own riches (for most are millionaires) and by the very many
As to the number of
lobbyists just in Washington D.C. here is a quote from "Lobbyist" (<-
Wikipedia, minus a note):
While lobbyists number
12,000 people in Washington, DC, those with real clout number in the
dozens, and a small group of firms handles much of lobbying in terms of
expenditures. As an activity, lobbying takes time to learn, requires
skill and sensitivity, depends on deft persuasion,
and has much in common with generally non-political activities such as management consulting and public relations.
But John Atcheson has
a specific point of view:
To understand this
conflict, we need to understand what is meant by the commons. Here’s a
and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including
natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These
resources are held in common, not owned privately.
I would propose a
slightly broader definition, one in which “cultural resources” includes
the laws, regulations and norms designed to assure an equitable, just,
prosperous and sustainable world. These too are under assault from the
I agree, even though it is
also true that much of the air, the water and the habitable earth now are
owned or destroyed by the rich, because this is profitable to them.
Here is one attempt to
express the value of a part of the commons in money:
Even when you attempt to
monetize the value of the commons as Robert Costanza et. al. have been
doing for some time now, it turns out that the annual value of
just 17 ecosystem services is worth more than the entire human economy as
measured by GDP. An “ecosystem service” includes things
like the value of bees as pollinators, the value flood protection from
coastal wetlands, or the value of coral reefs as nurseries for edible
seafood. For those who are interested in the numbers, the value of
these 17 ecosystem services was $142.7
trillion in 2014. And there are far more than 17 ecosystem services
and we get these “services” essentially free, year after year. By
comparison, the gross global product –the annual value of all human
created goods and services – is only about $76 trillion.
Actually, while I
have no disagreements with these monetary values, I do not think one
can put a decent monetary value on - for one example - "the value of bees as pollinators", for one thing because if the bees
are gone (killed by neonicotinoids
(<- Wikipedia) produced by Shell and Bayer), mankind will be gone. 
Here is John Atcheson's basic explanation for what is happening:
How and why does this
insanity persist? Future blind capitalists have stolen the
government, media and the terms of the debate.
And it’s not just the
natural commons. Plutocrats are privatizing or trying to privatize
education; prisons; transportation; water supply; infrastructure
construction, management and maintenance; policing; firefighting;
Medicaid; Medicare; and Social Security – the list is endless.
It’s not because the
private sector does these things better: In general, the public sector provides
better service at comparable or lower costs than private sector
equivalents. It’s for the sake of profits for a very few fat
cats at the expense of the vast majority of the people.
Yes, indeed. And as
These used to be part of
the shared investment we made for the common good. The very basis
of our government is grounded in the notion that governments are
established to assure the “commonweal,” or “commonwealth.”
But since Ronnie
“gubmint-is-the-problem” Reagan, Americans have behaved like
slack-jawed yokels at a three-card Monty festival, disabling,
underfunding and discrediting government and turning the country over
to a bunch of crazed Ayn Rand acolytes, making ourselves poorer, while
destroying natural capital, our children’s birthright.
I mostly agree, although it
seems to me to be a mistake to blame the average American "slack-jawed yokels at a three-card Monty
festival". I don't disagree they
(for the most part, which is the only thing that
counts in elections) and that they can be (for the most part) easily deceived, but I
think it is mostly the responsibility of their deceivers,
namely the rich and most of the politicians.
But this is a strongly recommended article.
Grows as Leaked
TPP Text Reveals Increased Corporate Control of Public Health
item is an article by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Truth-out (and
originally on Democracy Now!):
This starts as
As the Obama
administration praises the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backlash continues to grow against the deal.
WikiLeaks has just published another section of the secret text - this
one about public healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. Newly
revealed details of the draft show the TPP
would give major pharmaceutical companies more power over public access
to medicine, and weaken public healthcare programs. The leaked draft
also suggests the TPP would prevent Congress
from passing reforms to lower drug costs. One of the practices that
would be allowed is known as "Evergreening." It lets drug companies
extend the life of a patent by slightly modifying their product and
then getting a new patent.
Yes indeed, though it
should also be mentioned that - it seems - that so far only at most a 1/20th
part (5%) of the very secret TPP is known to non-corporate
Here is Peter Maybarduk, who is
the director of Public Citizen's
Global Access to Medicines Program:
(..) In this agreement, the US trade representative and the Obama
administration put forward a number of proposals that have nothing to
do with trade. There are about 30 chapters, only a few have leaked, the
rest is negotiated in secret. Among the many harmful proposals that
have been made by big business are demands to transform other
countries' rules with regard to medical patents and many rules
affecting people's access to affordable medicines.
We are very concerned
that the TPP would lead to preventable
suffering and death in these countries where people rely on access to
generics. There are many provisions in the TPP
that would expand the pharmaceutical industry's monopoly power.
And here is the same
speaker on the effects of knowing "only a few" of
the "about 30 chapters":
Peter Maybarduk: We do our best to follow by talking to
contacts that we know, but due to the secrecy, it's really only through
leaks we're available to evaluate the particular proposals and assess
their impact. These are all rules that would otherwise be debated in
our Congresses and Parliaments out in the open, rules that include many
gifts to big business. And so it's very concerning that we have to rely
on someone taking the tremendous risk of leaking a document in order to
have a real public debate about the issues.
Quite so. There is
considerably more in the interview, which is recommended.
And you can put a monetary value on the disappearance of mankind as
well. I suggest you take the 1654 Reichsmark (plus some pennys) that
the SS calculated was the average monetary value (ca. 1941) gained from
concentration camp inmates, which in turn makes the monetary value of
mankind around 10,000,000,000,000 i.e. 10 trillion, which is peanuts
compared to the American debts, so therefore...
(This is plainly insane, but it is reasoning in terms