November 14, 2015
Crisis: France, "New Democrats", American Conservatism, Outer Space, TPP
 "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

Prev- crisis -Next


More than 120 killed in France
2. The “New Democrats” Confront a New Reality
3. ‘Right Out of California’ Book Review: On the Big
     Business Roots of Modern Conservatism

4. With 'Off-Planet' Mining Bill, US Congress Seeks to
     Privatize Outer Space

5. More bad news on the TPP


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 14, 2015.

This is a crisis blog.
There are 5 items with 8 dotted links: Item 1 is about yesterday's attacks in France that killed more than 120 people; item 2 is (in fact) about the "Third Way" of the "New Democrats" (such as millionair Bill Clinton and millionair Tony Blair); item 3 is about the backgrounds of modern (neo-) conservatives that go back at least 30 years; item 4 is about a crazy proposed US law that seeks to give billionairs the chance to owe outer space; and item 5 is an excellent article about the TPP.

The extra three dotted links are in item 1 and item 5.
These add some details to their subjects.

1. More than 120 killed in France 

The first item today is from three sources: Truthdig, AlterNet and Common Dreams. The main reason for this choice is that The Guardian turned illiberal [1] and can't be copied anymore, not even in a html-editor (which strongly suggests that there is more involved than Javascript).

But first to the news from France. To start with, here is a short bit on Truthdig by Jenna Berbeo:

This starts as follows:
UPDATE: More than 120 people were killed in gun and bomb attacks in Paris, with at least 100 reported to have died at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, according to the BBC. Police overpowered the gunmen who had taken dozens of hostages at the concert hall.

That is all you are going to get from this source. The present number of killed is 128, and nearly a hundred victims are "in a critical condition", according to the radio news, in hospital.
Also, the French police does not seem to have "overpowered the gunmen": Three blew themselves up, and the fourth was killed. (But see below.)

Next, there is this by AlterNet on AlterNet. This article is later and considerably longer:

Here is the French President Francois Hollande (one of the worst presidents France has ever had, in my opinion):
"We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow."
I am against terrorism, both by states and by non-states, but I also know the French killed many more people than 100 or 200, and I think it is stupid to say "pitiless" and pretty irrealistic (from a President whose popularity recently stood at 12%) to speak of  "a determined France, a united France, a France that is together", simply because these are grandiose dreams that are never true.

Then there is this bit from President Obama (who killed many more people than 200 people with his drones):
"This is an attack not just on Paris, not just on the people on France, but an attack on all humanity and the universal values we share." He called the attacks an "outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians."
I do not quite know why he didn't mention the Angels of the Lord and the Lord Himself, after this "attack on all humanity and the universal values we share", but indeed he did not.

Some more points:
  • 6 locations were attacked, "just in or outside Paris"
  • There are over 200 wounded
  • There were at the time of this report 153 known to be killed
  • "Five suspected attackers have been "neutralized", the Paris prosecutor's office said Saturday, French media reported. It was unclear what that term precisely meant."
Must we understand that "neutralized" means they are first going to be - "pitilessly", "mercilessly" - tortured with thumbscrews and electricity? I am merely asking, for "neutralized" is a bullshit term. And President Hollande did say (I quote Le Monde): « La France sera impitoyable à l’égard des barbares »
(which means: France will act mercilessly against these barbarians).

Finally, there is this by Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams:

This is from a report by France 24:

At least 120 people are reported to have died in a wave of simultaneous attacks in the French capital on Friday evening, an official at Paris City hall said early Saturday morning.

Gunmen and bombers attacked busy restaurants, bars and a concert hall at six locations around Paris on Friday evening, killing scores of people in what a shaken President François Hollande described as an unprecedented terrorist attack.

The apparently coordinated gun and bomb assault came as the country, a founder member of the US-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State group fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference due to open later this month.

It seems as if these states of "high alert for terrorist attacks" did not do anything to prevent the attacks.

Anyway - that was the news from France. There certainly will be more in the coming days, and I also expect even more permits for spying by the govern- mental terrorists who are out - they claim - to get the non-governmental terrorists.

2. The “New Democrats” Confront a New Reality

The second item today is by Richard Eskow on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Several recent news articles have suggested that, in the words of a Washington Post headline, “there’s … a big economic fight happening in the Democratic Party.”

It’s true. The corporate-friendly policies of the party’s more conservative wing have fared poorly, both as policy and as politics, and as a result the party has moved to the left. The insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders is the most conspicuous sign of this shift. It’s a major setback for the so-called “New Democrats” who have dominated the party since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

I say. First, here is a link to the Wikipedia-item "Third Way", that is adequate (especially at the end) about the "socialism", the "social democracy", and the  "democracy" of Bill Clinton (owns over $110 million dollars) and Tony Blair (owns 50 million pounds + 30 million pounds (if not more)).

Also, there is a so-called "think tank" called "Third Way":

A Wall Street-funded Democratic think tank called Third Way has released a lengthy report that argues an inequality-based, populist theme will doom Democrats. Its board member, former White House Chief of Staff (and JPMorgan Chase executive) Bill Daley, even insisted to HuffPo’s Stein that Sanders’ political positions are “a recipe for disaster.”

The Third Way report is available online. It introduces a number of catchphrases, often paired in threes: the Hopscotch Workforce, the Nickel-and-Dimed Workforce, and the Asset-Starved Workforce; Stalling Schools, the College Well, and Adult Atrophy; the Upside-Down Economy, the Anywhere Economy, and the Malnourished Economy.

Sadly, most of the content amounts to Misleading Minutiae, Gimmicky Wordplay, and Downright Deception.

I think I am firmly with Richard Eskow, for he outlines what the "Third Way" "New Democrats" are really about:

The evidence is in, and the key economic policies of the “New Democrats’” have failed. Consider:

Wall Street deregulation. When Bill Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill in 1999 he said it would “enhance the stability of our financial services system.” We now know better. Estimates for the total amount of national wealth lost as a result of that crisis range from $12.8 trillion to $25 trillion – or, by another measure, from $20,000 to $120,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

Trade. The “free trade” deals they have promoted have led to the loss of American jobs, as the EPI and others have demonstrated. One deal alone, NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), is estimated to have caused the loss of one million jobs in this country.

Austerity. “New Democrats” urged cuts in government spending, especially in the wake of the 2008 crisis. The result, as Paul Krugman puts it, has been “catastrophic … going far beyond the jobs and income lost in the first few years.” As Krugman notes, the long-run damage could easily “make austerity a self-defeating policy even in purely fiscal terms.”

Welfare reform. When he signed the “welfare reform” bill in 1996, President Clinton said that it would “end welfare as we know it and transform our broken welfare system by promoting the fundamental values of work, responsibility, and families.” We now know that poverty increased as a result of this bill, and there is compelling new evidence which shows that welfare undermines neither the work ethic nor the personal values of its recipients.

I agree. And this is a good article that is recommended. [2]

3. ‘Right Out of California’ Book Review: On the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism

The third item today is by Gabriel Thompson on Truthdig:

This is the review of a recent book by Kathryn S. Thompson "Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism".

I think this is interesting for the following reason:
Olmsted breaks new ground by connecting these battles to other statewide rebellions — Upton Sinclair’s near-victory for governor, the San Francisco general strike — to argue that the modern conservative movement was born out of these campaigns, as growers learned to press sensitive cultural buttons, use dark money to push their cause, and portray the federal government as a nefarious, creeping force. “Business leaders,” Olmsted writes, “understood that they had to persuade people that Franklin Roosevelt’s administration imperiled their religion, their liberty, and their family — their very way of life as they knew it.” 
I think that is right, and indeed there seem to have been - in the minds of US "business leaders", at least - a basic core of (hysterical) values that remained more or less the same all these 80 years that passed.

Here is how the US "business leaders" of the Thirties argued (hysterically, as I said):
As the decade progressed, and workers continued to organize, frightened growers recalibrated their message, mobilizing around gender, racial and sexual anxieties while exploiting fears about Communism. Organizers might call for a “fair wage,” but what they really wanted, as one grower-sponsored speaker argued, was to remake the country in the image of the Soviet Union, where free love reigned, cannibalism was practiced, and “droves of wild homeless children live in sewers.”
And here is the message of the book, as summarized by Gabriel Thompson:
For readers interested in the history of California radicalism — and reaction — Olmsted’s book covers fascinating new ground and offers an intriguing, and ultimately convincing, thesis. It is also something of a mirror reflected across eight decades. At a time of extreme inequality, even the government’s most modest policies on behalf of the poor — shipments of free food, the construction of a handful of labor camps — were met with hysteria by the right.
Also, these days you may see ideas that are very similar to those of the "business leaders" of the Thirties in the GOP presidential candidates of 2015. "Much changes, and much remained the same."

4. With 'Off-Planet' Mining Bill, US Congress Seeks to Privatize Outer Space

The fourth item today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In a bipartisan bid to encourage commercial exploitation of outer space, the U.S. Senate this week unanimously passed the Space Act of 2015, which grants U.S. citizens or corporations the right to legally claim non-living natural resources—including water and minerals—mined in the final frontier.

The legislation—described by IGN's Jenna Pitcher as "a celestial 'Finders Keepers' law"—could be a direct affront to an international treaty that bars nations from owning property in space. The bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve the changes, and then on to President Barack Obama for his anticipated signature.

Yes, precisely: it seems to me as if this "unanimously passed" "bill" is in complete contradiction with the following:
Along with Britain, France, and Russia, the U.S. is a signatory to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which reads in part: "Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."

As Wired noted on Thursday, "[h]anding out the right to exploit chunks of space to your citizens sounds very much like a claim of sovereignty, despite the Space Act's direct statement that 'the United States does not thereby assert sovereignty or sovereign or exclusive rights or jurisdiction over, or the ownership of, any celestial body'."

"[O]n the one hand Congress is saying to these companies, 'Go get these rights and we’ll defend you,' and at the same time saying, 'We're making no sovereign claim of ownership'," space lawyer Michael Listner told the Guardian.

I say. Well... having seen how the Supreme Court of the United States reinterpreted the First Amendment as saying that money = votes (which gave the billionaires the right to try to appropriate the American elections with their billions, that all clearly are votes (according to SCOTUS)) I feel pretty sure that the same Court will conclude that the law of 1967 in fact reads or should have read as saying that outer space is the natural property of US billionaires exclusively, and forever, for that conclusion is certainly less odd than the notion that money equals votes, while granting them as much in outer space as on earth.

More bad news on the TPP

The fifth and last item today consists also of two articles. The first is a very good one by Pete Dolack on Counterpunch, that I strongly recommend you to read all of:
This is from the start:

The TPP, if enacted, promises a race to the bottom: An acceleration of jobs to the countries with the lowest wages, the right of multi-national corporations to veto any law or regulation their executives do not like, the end of your right to know what is in your food, higher prices for medicines, and the subordination of Internet privacy to corporate interests. There is a reason it has been negotiated in secret, with only corporate executives and industry lobbyists consulted and allowed to see the text as it took shape.

The threat from the TPP extends beyond the 12 negotiating countries, however — the TPP is intended to be a “docking” agreement whereby other countries can join at any time, provided they accept the text as it has been previously negotiated. Moreover, the TPP is a model for two other deals: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union, and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA), an even more secret “free trade” deal being negotiated among 50 countries that would eliminate any controls on the financial industry.

The elimination of protections is precisely what U.S. multi-national corporations intend for Europe by replicating the terms of the TPP in the TTIP, a process made easier by the anti-democratic nature of the European Commission, which is negotiating for European governments.
Under the TPP, corporations are elevated to the level of national governments and, in practice, could be said to be elevated above governments. The TPP text mandates that “customary international law” be applied for the benefit of an “investor” — that law is not found in any statutes, but rather has been established by previous decisions of secret tribunals interpreting NAFTA and other “free trade” deals. Worse, the TPP places essentially no limits on who qualifies as an “investor” eligible to be compensated for potential profits that may not materialize due to a regulation or safety rule.
Clearly, the multi-national corporations have much more power than the governments and they also short-circuit all ordinary legislature: If that makes a law that threatens (!) the surmised (!!) profits (!!!) of a multi-national corporation, the nation's taxpayers will be forced to pay the surmised profits to the billionairs who run the multi-nationals.
The TPP fails to even mention the words “climate change”! More than 9,000 corporations would be newly empowered to sue governments because a law or regulation hurt their profits. Worse, the TPP would mandate that the U.S. Department of Energy automatically approve all exports of liquified natural gas to all TPP countries. This would guarantee more fracking; already under NAFTA the province of Québec has been sued in an effort to overturn its fracking moratorium.
Food safety would fare no better. The TPP’s race to the bottom would require that the lowest inspection standards of any country be applied, forcing a lowering of other countries’ standards, and end protections against untested genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your food.
For if you knew what you eat, you might not eat it, thereby diminishing the expected profits of the owners of Monsanto.
Health care will also come under direct assault, forcing other countries more toward the U.S. system, under which health care is a privilege for those who can afford it rather than a human right. Government programs to hold down the cost of medications are targeted for elimination in the TPP.
For who needs health care if he or she is not - at least - a millionair who is family to millionairs? That might well diminish the profits of multi-national corporations!

Also, there is this brief article by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The head of the World Health Organization has voiced concerns over the impact the controversial 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership will have on vital drug prices. As she argues, the deal could limit the availability of cheaper generic medicines in favor of patent holders.
There is more in the article, but nothing is strong, and the head of the WHO also goes out of her way to assure mankind that "no country in the WHO objected to the private sector making a fair profit" - for since when is it the task of the head of the WHO to see to the "fair profit" of "the private sector"?

But OK: she "voiced concerns" - and Roisin Davies had the good sense to provide a link to
The Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History (this is a link to my review of it, with a link to the original).


[1] Yes, indeed. I am sorry, but I do not trust The Guardian anymore. I will explain later - not today - why (but the basic reason is the enormous amount of Javascript they lock in with their almost totally uncopiable articles).

[2] Incidentally, this means that I think that - if you have the time and the patience, of course - it might be wise if you read the whole article.

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