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."
rebranding of the Tories as the workers’ party is a
2. How Jeremy Corbyn went from
the no-hope candidate to
the brink of victory
3. No, You Cannot Know This
Man's Account of His Torture
by the CIA
of White-Collar Crime Hits 20-Year Low
Not All Comments Are Created Equal: The Case for Ending
6. The TPP Will Finish What
Chile’s Dictatorship Started
7. Jeremy Corbyn elected
Labour leader in stunning victory
This is a Nederlog
September 12, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 7 items with 7 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article by Owen Jones on the Tories (that I mostly agree
with); item 2 is about an
article by Ewen McAskill that explains why Corbyn wins the elections
(he was right: item 7); item
3 is about an article on Common Dreams that outlines how
everything about the extensive tortures of Abu
Zubaydah is classified by the US government; item
4 is about how white-collar crime has been mostly "legalized",
especially in the case of rich bank managers; item 5
is about an article that wants to end online comments (I agree I don't
like them, but it escapes me how you can forbid them, and sometimes
anonymity and comments are justified, though indeed to a far
less extent than they are practised); item 6 is
about how the TPP will take the power from political parties,
parliaments and states and give the power to the rich international
corporations; and item 7 is the breaking news (for
me, now) that Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour
Party and was elected with a larger majority than Tony
Blair was. (I am glad.)
rebranding of the Tories as the workers’ party is a shameless lie
The first article today is by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as
If King Herod had
relaunched his career as a children’s rights activist, it would have
shown no less chutzpah than the Tories have done in rebranding
themselves as the party of working people.
When the Labour party was
founded, more than a century ago, it emerged out of a conflict between
workers wanting a better life and employers more interested in profit.
When the Tories talk of standing up for “hardworking” people, they are
seeking to define their interests against those of, say, unemployed
people or immigrants or public-sector workers. You’re trying to get on
in life, this narrative goes, but Labour is championing “skivers” or
The Tory strategy is
lethal because it deflects people’s legitimate anger at their problems
away from the powerful, while their pockets are stealthily emptied. And
that is why, whoever wins the Labour-party leadership race tomorrow,
the sham of the Tories’ rebranding operation has to be exposed.
Well... yes and no.
Yes, this is true, but it seems to me two important points are not
mentioned: The enormous role propaganda/public
these days, also in politics and elections (and see item 2), and the degrees of education and
intelligence of ordinary Englishmen.
Yes, I agree - but what
keeps the many from seeing these things for themselves?
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 8.4m working
households will, on average, lose £750 from cuts to in-work support. But
they will gain just an extra £200 a year from the raising of the
minimum wage, leaving them £550 worse off. For some workers, the loss
will be even worse. Supermarket workers, cleaners, receptionists:
people who keep essential services afloat – all will be robbed. Their
children will grow up in colder, hungrier worlds.
This is the reality that
must be exposed by the Labour opposition.
And I am asking because I really don't know, especially at a
most people have computers and should be able to find
on line with a few clicks.
Corbyn went from the no-hope candidate to the brink of victory
next article is
by Ewen McAskill on The Guardian:
This starts as follows
(and I found this article fairly interesting, because it does try to
explain why Corbyn will win the leadership elections - and see item 7, that arrived after I wrote this):
Few, if anyone,
gave Jeremy Corbyn much chance when he scraped on
to the list of Labour leadership candidates in June. Not the MPs
backing him. Not the media. Not the bookies. Not even his own small
Yes, that is quite true,
though - of course - I didn't know about Kat Fletcher.
One of the key figures in
that team, Kat Fletcher, did go into a betting shop in London’s
Holloway Road to put £20 on him early on. The odds were 100-1.
And here is most of the explanation:
Corbyn has defied
not only Fletcher’s expectations but everyone else’s. He has come from
the fringes of Labour politics, where people still proudly
describe themselves as socialists and refer to one another as comrade,
to lead one of the biggest grassroots political uprisings in the UK in
recent times, a movement that has taken him to the verge of becoming
That is: Many ordinary
Englishmen believe that his truly leftist position is far
more sensible than the Blairites' positions, who indeed are hardly
anything but Tory-lite. And I think they are right, at least to
the extent that a genuinely left-wing Labour will defend the
many poor, unlike the Blairites.
There is this on the campaign of Corbyn:
The whole campaign
has been the antithesis of the political model that has become standard
over the last 30 years, exemplified by Peter Mandelson and Alastair
Campbell in the Blair years, with their focus groups, tight messaging,
choreographed stage appearances, instant rebuttal units and speeches
timed to coincide with BBC peak news bulletins.
Indeed: The Blairite
campaigns were based on the same public
with which the sales of commercial products of all kinds
are advertised. They do not take their electorate serious, nor
ideals: they seek to influence precisely those voters in key-districts
by promising them what they want, and then forgetting all about
their promises when elected.
When Kat Fletcher
joined the campaign team just after Corbyn was nominated, she was put
in charge of coordinating volunteers. It is not easy finding people
prepared to give up time to sit on phone banks contacting potential
voters. But Fletcher quickly found herself inundated with offers of
help. By the end of the campaign, Corbyn had attracted an extraordinary
Which shows his leftist
message did make a lot of sense to many ordinary Englishmen.
Finally, there is this:
This explains why
Blairism doesn't work: ‘you
are all the same’ - and correctly so: Blairites differ little
Tories. Indeed, here are two quotations from the Wikipedia lemma "Thatcherism":
For Burgon, MP for East
Leeds, the attraction of Corbyn was that he has clear, alternative
policies “so that I would never again have to stand on the doorsteps
and hear people saying ‘you are all the same’.”
The Corbyn strategy has been
fairly simple: do not make personal attacks on the other candidates, do
not go negative and instead stick to outlining policy plans. He
bypassed much of the mainstream media, which at the beginning tended to
The Daily Telegraph stated in
April 2008 that the programme of the next non-conservative British
government, Tony Blair's administration with an emphasis on
Labour', basically accepted the central reform measures of
Thatcherism such as deregulation,
privatisation of key
national industries, maintaining a flexible labour market,
marginalising the trade unions, and devolving government
decision-making to local authorities.
In 2002, Peter Mandelson, a member of parliament
belonging to the British Labour Party closely associated with Tony
Blair, famously declared that "we are all Thatcherites now."
Finally, breaking news (here and now): Jeremy
Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party, and did so with a bigger
majority than Tony Blair won his: Item 7.
No, You Cannot
Know This Man's Account of His Torture by
next article is
by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Guantanamo prisoner Abu
Zubaydah detailed the torture that the CIA inflicted on him to his
lawyers, but that information won't be making it to the public eye.
officials have blocked the release of 116 pages of defense lawyers'
notes detailing the torture that Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah
says he experienced in CIA custody, defense lawyers said on Thursday.
in Pakistan and transferred to U.S. authorities in 2002, has been held at
Guantanamo without charge or trial since 2006. A lawyer for
Zubaydah in his proceedings against Poland and Lithuania before the
European court of human rights has written
might now be described
as exhibit A in the week’s Senate report. He has the regrettable
distinction of being the first victim of the CIA detention programme
for whom, as the report makes clear, many of the torture (or “enhanced
interrogation”) techniques were developed, and the only prisoner known
to have been subject to all of them. With no less than 1,001 references
to Abu Zubaydah specifically, the Senate report confirms the Strasbourg
court’s findings regarding the horrific conditions of detention and
interrogation techniques to which he and others were subject.
"We submitted 116 pages
in 10 separate submissions," Joe Margulies, Zubaydah’s lead defense
lawyer, told Reuters. "The government declared all of it classified."
Which is - or ought to be -
a major shame. There is also this by investigative
journalist Andy Worthington:
always been one of the most significant prisoners in the “war on
terror”, not because of what he did, but because of what was done to
him. The torture program was developed for him, leading to him being
waterboarded 83 times, and it evidently severely damaged him physically
and mentally, from the hints dropped by his lawyers over the years. In
addition, the Bush administration publicly claimed that he was a
significant member of al-Qaeda, when that was untrue — and, it seems,
both the torture and the lies told about him means that he will
probably never be charged, although there is no prospect of him being
That is: He will not
released and all his words are classified because he
tortured, while he didn't do anything.
4. Prosecution of White-Collar Crime Hits 20-Year Low
next article is
by David Sirota on Truthdig:
This starts as
Just a few years after
the financial crisis, a new report tells an important story: Federal
prosecution of white-collar crime has hit a 20-year low.
The analysis by Syracuse
University shows a more than 36 percent decline in such prosecutions
since the middle of the Clinton administration, when the decline began.
Landing amid calls from Democratic presidential candidates for more
Wall Street prosecutions, the report notes that the projected number of
prosecutions this year is 12 percent less than last year and 29 percent
less than five years ago.
I say - and no, I
disbelieve most democratic presidential candidates. Here is one
In 2012, President
Obama pledged to “hold Wall Street accountable” for financial misdeeds
related to the financial crisis. But as financial industry donations
flooded into Obama’s re-election campaign, his Justice Department
officials promoted policies that critics say embodied a “too big to
jail” doctrine for financial crime.
In other words: He lied
electorate to get voted in again, and once he was voted in he pleased
the bankmanagers by not prosecuting any of them.
Similarly, in 2013, Obama’s attorney general, Eric
Holder, told congressional lawmakers that when it comes to banks, “I am
concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large
that it does become difficult to prosecute them.” He said there is an
“inhibiting impact” on the Obama Justice Department’s willingness to
prosecute a bank when bringing a criminal charge “[would] have a
negative impact on the national economy.”
Holder’s 2013 comments were foreshadowed by a 1999 memo
he wrote as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration.
In it, Holder recommended that prosecutors consider “[c]ollateral
consequences, including disproportionate harm to shareholders and
employees not proven personally culpable” before attempting to convict
corporations for wrongdoing.
Well... long after
memo, it may be safely concluded this is why he was nominated
as the chief of the Department of Justice by
Obama: He had made it
very clear that he would not do justice to the powerful rich.
Not All Comments Are Created Equal: The Case for Ending Online Comments
next article is
by Jessica Valente on The Guardian:
This starts as
follows, and is here because I mostly agree:
It so happens that I am
male but I also despise most comments I've read, which is probably less
than most because I do avoid them, and always have done
so. (But my
reasons are probably not quite the same as Jessica Valente's.)
It shouldn’t be a
surprise that I’m not fond of comments sections. I think you’d be
hard-pressed to find many female writers who are. On most sites – from
YouTube to local newspapers – comments are a place where the most
noxious thoughts rise to the top and smart conversations are lost in a
sea of garbage.
There’s a reason, after
all, that the refrain “don’t read the comments” has become ubiquitous
among journalists. But if we’re not to read them, why have them at all?
I wasn’t always a
Here is more by her:
But as the internet and
audiences grew, so did the bile. Now it feels as if comments uphold
power structures instead of subverting them: sexism, racism and
homophobia are the norm; threats and harassment are common. (That’s not
even counting social media.)
Yes, and the main reason is
the democratization of computers and internet together with the shield
anonymity gives the ca. 50% with sub-normal intelligence, most of whom
have only prejudices and no relevant knowledge,
and who believe anonymity voids responsibility.
For writers, wading into
comments doesn’t make a lot of sense – it’s like working a second shift
where you willingly subject yourself to attacks from people you have
never met and hopefully never will. Especially if you are a woman. As Laurie Penny has written, “An opinion, it
seems, is the short skirt of the internet. Having one and flaunting it
is somehow asking an amorphous mass of almost-entirely male
keyboard-bashers to tell you how they’d like to rape, kill and urinate
on you.” The problem is so bad that online harassment is a keynote subject this year at the Online News
I don't quite see
what the Online News
Association (whatever that is) could do about it. You need
read comments (I don't), and indeed also you need not
have comments on your site (I don't), but I don't think you can
(effectively) stop all comments, nor do I think you should.
The problem is that most
comments are by stupid, ignorant or prejudiced folks,
but there are many of them, and when given functional anonymity many
loose their sense of personal responsibility. I deplore all of that,
but I do not deny there are many stupid and ignorant people,
nor that they will talk if given anonymity.
Also, sometimes (in a
minority of cases, but they exist) both commenting and anonymity are
I don’t much
appeal of comments for readers either. Outside of the few places that
have rich and intelligent conversation in comments, what is the point
of engaging in debate where the best you can hope for are a few pats on
the back from strangers for that pithy one-liner?
Well... I agree there are a "few places that
have rich and intelligent conversation in comments", and apart from these (and anyway): you
simply don't have to read them (also if they happen to be good
- and there is more good literature - of any kind - than anyone
read in his or her life).
Here is a final point:
sections also give
the impression that all thoughts are created equal when, well, they’re
not. When Popular Science stopped publishing comments,
for example, it was because “everything, from evolution to the origins
of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again...scientific
certainty is just another thing for two people to ‘debate’”.
I completely agree - and
no, you can't convince the stupid and the ignorant to admit that they
are stupid and ignorant: they lack the intelligence, the knowledge and
the strenght of character to do so, nearly always.
6. The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s
next article is
Grandin (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
To start with, here is a quote
Allende from 1972:
“We are faced by a
direct confrontation between the large transnational corporations and
the states. The corporations are interfering in the fundamental
political, economic and military decisions of the states. The
corporations are global organizations that do not depend on any state
and whose activities are not controlled by, nor are they accountable to
any parliament or any other institution representative of the
collective interest. In short, all the world political structure is
Yes, I think that is quite
correct and well seen - and note that "the corporations" in fact refers
to their leaders, which collectively are extremely few
individuals, with extremely much power, that these days
also is not merely economical and financial, but also political.
And these days, there is the TPP, that are is secret, classified and
extremely dear to Obama's heart:
So Washington came
back with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country treaty—including
Chile, Peru, and Mexico—vigorously promoted by the Obama
administration. It’s been described
nicely by Lori Wallach as NAFTA on steroids. As others have pointed out, the TPP isn’t
really about trade. Rather, it’s a supra-national regulatory
straitjacket that institutionalizes Allende’s 1972 warning.
Yes - and this is known
because parts of the TPP have been released on Wikileaks. One
parts that is known is the ISDS:
The TPP includes
one provision that will, if activated, complete the 1973 coup against
Allende: its Investor-State
Dispute Settlement mechanism. ISDS allows corporations and
investors to “sue governments directly before tribunals of three
private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to
demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors
believe will diminish their ‘expected future profits.’” You can read
James Surowiecki, in The New Yorker, here
on the ISDS. And here
is Elizabeth Warren. And Public
Citizen and The
This amounts to semi-"legal" anti-democratic
plutocracy (rule of the rich for the rich):
TPP is ratified and ISDS put into effect, countries won’t be able to limit
mining to protect their water supply or even enforce anti-tobacco
September 11th, as the Obama administration makes its final push for
the TPP, it’s worth taking a moment to realize why all those people in
Chile—and in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, and
throughout Latin America—died and were tortured: to protect the “future
profits” of multinational corporations.
indeed - at least according to the values and principles of the rich who
command the multinational
7. Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader in
last article is
by Rowena Mason on The Guardian:
This starts as follows (and
see item 1):
Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the
Labour party in the UK in a stunning first-round victory that was
bigger than the mandate for Tony Blair in 1994.
Corbyn won with nearly
59.5% of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who
trailed on 19%, and Yvette Cooper who received 17%. The “Blairite”
candidate Liz Kendall came last on 4.5%.
Minutes after his
victory, Corbyn said the message is that people are “fed up with the
injustice and the inequality” of Britain.
“The media and many of
us, simply didn’t understand the views of young people in our country.
They were turned off by the way politics was being conducted. We have
to and must change that. The fightback gathers speed and gathers pace,”
I say! There is
considerably more in the article, but this is the essence, and I am
quite glad that it looks as if Blairite "New Labour"
is - at long last - over and done with, though I agree Labour needs
cleaning up, and Jeremy Corbyn has
a whole lot to do.
But he is a real leftist, and Tony Blair and his mates were
hardly leftists, so that
is a great gain, at least for those interested in the fate of the poor
and the non- rich.