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Nederlog

September 14, 2015
Crisis: USA, Human Rights, Franco in England, Garrisoning, Sanders, China & Corruption

 "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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















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Sections
Introduction

1.
Where Is Our Jeremy Corbyn?
2. Two Short Paragraphs that Summarize the US Approach
     to Human Rights Advocacy

3. David Davis attacks 'Franco-style' sections of Tories'
     trade union bill

4. 
Garrisoning the Globe
5. Bernie Sanders Is Surging. What Happens Next?
6. China's Political Elite Take the Money and Run - Abroad



This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 14, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Chris Hedges who in fact claims (without mentioning him once) that Bernie Sanders is
not the USA's Corbyn: presumably one has to wait on a 100% pure leftist, who also is not Jewish (I disagree); item 2 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald that argues that "
it was an almost seamless transition from Bush to Obama" (I agree); item 3 is about a somewhat interesting attack by an English leading conservative who argues Cameron's Trade Union Bill reminds him of Franco rather than Elizabeth II; item 4 is about an article about how the USA is garrisoning the globe; item 5 is about Bernie Sanders' surging in the USA (and may be compared
with item 1, though it is less well written); and item 6 is about China's political elite, which is said to be quite corrupt, and is compared to the current US elite, which is no better.

1. Where Is Our Jeremy Corbyn?

The first article today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The politics of Jeremy Corbyn, elected by a landslide Saturday to lead Britain’s Labour Party after its defeat at the polls last May, are part of the global revolt against corporate tyranny. He had spent his long career as a pariah within his country’s political establishment. But because he held fast to the socialist ideals that defined the old Labour Party, he has risen untarnished out of the ash heap of neoliberalism. His integrity, as well as his fearlessness, offers a lesson to America’s self-identified left, which is long on rhetoric, preoccupied with accommodating the power elites—especially those in the Democratic Party—and very short on courage. 
I suppose I agree with most of that, although I have no reason to say Jeremy Corbyn is especially "fearless", simply because he spent the last 32 years as a Member of Parliament. I don't think that is a proof of special courage.

And I'm sorry: I mostly like Jeremy Corbyn (given what I know of him) but his career does not convince me he is fearless. In contrast, I might say my father and grandfather were fearless, because they went into resistance against the Nazis, knowing full well what they risked, also, and were both arrested in July 1941, and convicted as "political terrorists" to German concentration camps, where my grandfather was murdered. (I don't say so, because my father did
fear the SS and the Gestapo, and rightly so. Nevertheless, he did resist, knewing what he risked, and that makes him a very courageous man.)

Next, there is this, which I take it refers predominantly to Bernie Sanders (who is Jewish though (in his words) "not especially religious"):

I will not support a politician who sells out the Palestinians and panders to the Israel lobby any more than I will support a politician who refuses to confront the bloated military and arms industry or white supremacy and racial injustice. The Palestinian issue is not a tangential issue. It is an integral part of Americans’ efforts to dismantle our war machine, the neoliberal policies that see austerity and violence as the primary language for speaking to the rest of the world, and the corroding influence of money in the U.S. political system. Stand up to the masters of war and the Israel lobby and you will probably stand up to every other corporate and neoliberal force that is cannibalizing the United States. This is what leadership is about. It is about having a vision. And it is about fighting for that vision.
I disagree, and mainly for two reasons.

The first is that Bernie Sanders is rather a lot like Jeremy Corbyn: He is a long time real leftist, who also is recognized by many as a real leftist. I don't agree with either Sanders or Corbyn on all issues, but I agree both are real leftists, and these are very necessary when quasi-leftists like Clinton and Blair dominated the debate for such a long time.

The second is that I dislike political puritanism. I probably disagree with Sanders over Israel, but I disagree with every politician I know of about some issues: if I had to wait for someone I agree with 100% I very probably never will agree with anyone.

The rest of the article consists of praise of Corbyn and quite a few quotations, all of which are justified, but I will leave that to your interests, after mentioning that the name "Sanders" does not occur in the article.

The article ends as follows:

We have yet to mount this battle effectively in the United States. But we, especially because we live in the heart of empire, have a special responsibility to defy the machine, held in place by the Democratic Party establishment, the war industry, Wall Street and groups such as the Israel lobby. We too must work to build a socialist nation. We may not win, but this fight is the only hope left to save ourselves from the predatory forces bent on the destruction of democracy and the ecosystem on which we depend for life. If the forces that oppose us triumph, we will have no future left.
No, I'm sorry: There is a battle going on in the United States, and it is led by Bernie Sanders. He may very well loose, and I don't agree with everything he says, but he is a real leftist, and he also is the first real leftist who candidated
for the presidency in a long time.

2. Two Short Paragraphs that Summarize the US Approach to Human Rights Advocacy

The next article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

In his excellent article on the unique guilt-by-association standard being imposed on newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, my colleague Jon Schwarz references a passage from a 2013 Washington Post article that I want to highlight because of how illuminating it is. That Post article describes the Obama administration’s growing alliance with human-rights-abusing regimes in Africa, which allow the U.S. to expand its drone operations there, and contains this unusually blunt admission from a “senior U.S. official” (emphasis added):

Human-rights groups have also accused the U.S. government of holding its tongue about political repression in Ethiopia, another key security partner in East Africa.

“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”

The italiced quote seems to sum up the real American policy (which is quite unlike the propagandized policy) well. Indeed, Glenn Greenwald continues as follows:
The Post article went on to note that the Bush administration “took the same approach” and that while “many U.S. diplomats and human-rights groups had hoped Obama would shift his emphasis in Africa from security to democracy . . . that has not happened.” In fact, “‘there’s pretty much been no change at all,’ the official said. ‘In the end, it was an almost seamless transition from Bush to Obama.'”
Yes, and that - "'an almost seamless transition from Bush to Obama'" - seems to have been the real policy of Obama in most things, although indeed what Obama publicly said was often quite different from what he did and signed.

3. David Davis attacks 'Franco-style' sections of Tories' trade union bill

The next article is by Rowena Mason on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The Conservative MP David Davis has attacked parts of the government’s trade union bill, suggesting proposed restrictions on pickets were like something out of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain.

The MP, who ran against David Cameron for the Tory leadership in 2005, said he agreed with most of the bill.

However, he said some measures were draconian, including the requirement for picketers to give their names to the police.

The main point of the bill is to introduce a 50% turnout requirement for industrial action ballots, and a minimum positive vote by at least 40% of all those eligible to do so if the strike involves “important public services”.

Well, that is draconian, and will make the trade unionists and picketeers feel as if they are sub-humans, compared to the British police.

Indeed, there is this:

This is being fiercely opposed by trade unionists, who say it threatens their right to strike, but there are a number of subsidiary measures that are also causing alarm. These include the suggestion that unions will have to give two weeks’ notice to the police if they plan to campaign via social media.

A consultation document also suggests that approved picket supervisors would have to take “reasonable steps” to tell police the name, contact details and location of those on the picket line. Workers would also have to wear an armband or badge to identify themselves.

And kneel and kow-tow to any police-officer, although they don't require that, at least not yet.

Speaking on Sky News’s Murnaghan programme on Sunday, Davis said: “I agree with most of the trade union bill. I think it’s very sensible … but there are bits of it which look OTT, like requiring pickets to give their names to the police force. What is this? This isn’t Franco’s Britain, this is Queen Elizabeth II’s Britain.”

Well... yes and no: It is "Queen Elizabeth II’s Britain" that is as rapidly as possible transformed by David Cameron to "Franco's Britain", but I am glad a prominent conservative parliamentarian at least said so.

4. Garrisoning the Globe

The next article is by David Vine on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

With the U.S. military having withdrawn many of its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans would be forgiven for being unaware that hundreds of U.S. bases and hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops still encircle the globe. Although few know it, the United States garrisons the planet unlike any country in history, and the evidence is on view from Honduras to Oman, Japan to Germany, Singapore to Djibouti.

Like most Americans, for most of my life, I rarely thought about military bases. Scholar and former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson described me well when he wrote in 2004, “As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet.”

To the extent that Americans think about these bases at all, we generally assume they’re essential to national security and global peace. Our leaders have claimed as much since most of them were established during World War II and the early days of the Cold War. As a result, we consider the situation normal and accept that U.S. military installations exist in staggering numbers in other countries, on other peoples’ land. On the other hand, the idea that there would be foreign bases on U.S. soil is unthinkable.

While there are no freestanding foreign bases permanently located in the United States, there are now around 800 U.S. bases in foreign countries. Seventy years after World War II and 62 years after the Korean War, there are still 174 U.S. “base sites” in Germany, 113 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea, according to the Pentagon. Hundreds more dot the planet in around 80 countries, including Aruba and Australia, Bahrain and Bulgaria, Colombia, Kenya, and Qatar, among many other places. Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.

There is a lot more, and this is a good article, but I will leave it to your interests.

5. Bernie Sanders Is Surging. What Happens Next?

The next article is by Marina Fang on the Huffington Post:

This starts as follows:

When he entered the race in May, political observers largely wrote off Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as a “fringe candidate” for the Democratic presidential nomination. Few thought he would present a serious challenge to front-runner Hillary Clinton.

But Sanders has now surged ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire by an average of more than 10 points. In recent weeks, several polls in Iowa also show him leading Clinton in the Hawkeye State.

While early caucus and primary polls are not always a reliable indicator of the state of the race, it is safe to say that Sanders’ platform of fighting economic inequality is resonating among more and more Democrats and the party’s enthusiasm for Clinton is waning, giving Sanders ample opportunity to paint himself as a foil.

Sanders’ campaign has invested in a sophisticated ground game in both states, organizing volunteers and spreading his message on social media. He has also raked in impressive amounts of cash, almost entirely from small donations. In the first two months of his campaign, he raised $15 million.

I say - but yes, this seems to me correct (and compare item 1). There is more
in the article that I leave to your interests.

6. China's Political Elite Take the Money and Run - Abroad

The last article today is by Bill Blunden on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

The Chinese government is keen to speak with a man named Ling Wancheng who's hiding out somewhere in the United States under an assumed name - and not without good reason. Mr. Ling is the brother of Ling Jihua, a former high-ranking apparatchik of the Chinese government who was recently expelled from the Communist Party after being investigated for taking bribes and obtaining state secrets. The latter charge is particularly interesting because it suggests why Ling Wancheng is keeping a low profile. But it's not the only reason.

During the past few years, members of China's economically privileged elite have been buying up luxury real estate in places like Manhattan and London under the pretext of financial investment. The case of Ling Wancheng helps to highlight other factors driving the stealthy exodus of China's power elite.

I say. I did not know that, and it is one fact about one individual, but - according to Bill Blunden - the real situation in the Chinese Communist Party amounts to something like this:

Such is the unpleasant truth of politics in China. Over a long enough time span, the likelihood of survival for leaders is inclined to diminish. In a system defined by widespread corruption, rule of law is largely a myth. For example, Bo Xilai, another casualty of President Xi Jinping's purge, showed absolutely no compunction about illegally spying on his rivals. At the top, it's everyone for themselves, with the devil taking the hindmost. Being prosecuted only means that those targeted don't possess the organizational clout necessary to stymie an investigation.

Note that - according to Bill Blunden - this is "a system defined by widespread corruption", though it is also the top of the Chinese Communist Party. He infers from this:

Hence the unspoken, long-term plan for most Chinese elites is to accumulate as much money as they can and then escape the country before they end up being a bull's-eye. In a manner similar to Ling Wancheng, many of the elite preemptively migrate wealth and family members abroad to prepare for their own exfiltration.

Unfortunately, Bill Blunden gives no evidence. He makes the transition to the USA by saying

Sadly, the staggering corruption in China mirrors similar maladies in the United States.

And then he continues:

In these parts, we call it a "shadow primary." It's not a battle of ideas; it's an unalloyed battle of resources as candidates on both sides of the aisle line up to audition for different factions of donors. The billions of dollars that get thrown around dwarf amounts spent in other countries. The corporate media, which receive the bulk of this money, play along and focus attention on those candidates who've been sanctioned by the donors. And don't expect the Federal Election Commission to do anything about it; the committee's leadership has already explicitly admitted that it's hamstrung. It's called state capture, and Adam Smith's "masters of mankind" are calling the shots.

Former President Jimmy Carter spells it out:

Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and Congress members. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over.

I say. I don't know how convincing this is (I really don't, and I don't know Chinese) but I am willing to believe that the rich and the corrupt rule in both China and the USA, were it only because that is one of the lessons of history:

The rich and the corrupt rule nearly everywhere nearly all the time, and rule by means of various degrees of propaganda, deception, and secret police.

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