This is a Nederlog
of Wednesday, December 23, 2015.
is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item
1 is about the latest discovery by Seymour Hersh: The US government
and the US military do not see eye to eye; item 2
tries to list some rays of light in a further and further darkening
world (for those who are not at least millionaires), but does not
succeed very well in my opinion; item 3 is about
the fact that all big oil companies did know by 1980 (!) that they were
poisoning the environment and risking humanity's continued existence;
and item 4 is about an article by Bill Moyers who
warns the plutocrats are winning in the USA (and many other places). I
agree, except that I say that it is fair to say the plutocrats won.
Even so, I am neither defeated nor desperate.
1. U.S. Military Undermined Obama on Syria with Tacit Help
first item is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
A new report by the
Pulitzer-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says the Joint Chiefs
of Staff has indirectly supported Bashar al-Assad in an effort to help
him defeat jihadist groups. Hersh reports the Joint Chiefs sent
intelligence via Russia, Germany and Israel on the understanding it
would be transmitted to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the
Islamic State. Hersh also claims the military even undermined a U.S.
effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about
helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joint Chiefs’
maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the U.S. arming
of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the
administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally in
Moscow, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Turkey and
Saudi Arabia over their support of extremist groups in Syria.
In brief, Seymour Hersh
(<- Wikipedia) reports that the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the USA and
the government of the USA do not share the same aims nor the
same analyses, and that in so far as the war is concerned, the Joint
Chiefs of Staffs are supreme.
In case you don't know who Seymour
Hersh is, you should
read the Wikipedia lemma on him: He is one of the best living American
journalists, with many prominent stories, a Pulitzer prize for the My Lai Massacre
(<- Wikipedia), while
also uncovered the torturing of detainees in Abu
Ghraib (<- Wikipedia).
Here is something about his source and his veracity:
Hersh’s report in the London
Review of Books follows his controversial story
in May challenging the Obama administration’s account of the killing of
Osama bin Laden. Like that story, his latest piece relies heavily on a
single source, described as a "former senior adviser to the Joint
Chiefs." And while critics have dismissed both stories as conspiracy
theories, it turns out that key aspects of the bin Laden report have
since been corroborated. After the bin Laden story came out, U.S. and
Pakistani intelligence sources confirmed Hersh’s reporting that the
U.S. discovered bin Laden’s location when a Pakistani officer told the CIA, and that the Pakistani government knew all
along where bin Laden was hiding.
There is a lot more in
the article, that I leave to your interests. (And in case you were to ask me: I trust Seymour Hersh far
more than any spokesman for either the American government or the
American military. The main reason is that he was usually right in the
2. 2015 in Review: Amid the Gloom Covering Our Planet, Some
Rays of Light
The second item is by
Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows - and part of the
reason I selected this are the "rays of light", simply because the
crisis series is not optimistic:
Is humanity doomed? An early draft of
Truthdig’s review of the year’s environmental reporting answered
unambiguously “yes.” But after browsing the stories we published over
the past 12 months, I’m less sure.
The sensibility that formed in me as a
university student was as dark as it should have been, given that my
generation was inheriting a poison-riddled world that was fast becoming
measurably more dangerous. But after six years and numerous readings,
conversations and deliberations, this posture of fatalism is harder to
I say. This is not
my opinion, and I am probably more than twice as old than Kelly is.
Also, I am writing since September 1,
2008 on the crisis, and have written more
than 1000 files on that subject alone.
Then again, while I disagree with Kelly, I
am not a fatalist, and the following seems to me to be too
We may feel that a long experience of
frustration and disappoint- ment would presage a future that contains
the same, but the world is complex, history is more intricately woven
than any of us can fully understand, and no one can know for certain
what lies ahead.
It is too easy
for three reasons (at least): First, clearly the above is true in some
sense (nobody really knows for sure what the future will bring; everybody
is severely limited), but that is true for absolutely everyone,
including the loonies who believe they know what is going to happen
because their god told them; second, it may turn out to be considerably
worse than most people think; while the quotation also does not
allow for the fact that a few people - the top of the US
government; the top of the US military; the NSA, all for example - know
a whole lot more than others.
But here are a few of the highlights,
according to Kelly:
The biggest story in this realm [of
environmental problems - MM] may have been the papal encyclical “Laudato
Si,” Pope Francis’ argument that the world’s Catholics and
international leaders should take up climate change and runaway
capitalism as existential crises demanding swift and decisive
resolution on moral, religious grounds. Published in May, it was a
papal foray into progressive politics unprecedented in our lifetime,
one that continued to draw publicity as Francis took his message before
the U.S. Congress in September.
I have lived long enough
to remember pope
(<- Wikipedia) - known as: "The Good Pope" - who also was a pope who
was more progressive than most cardinals, but most of whose personal
teachings were forgotten by later popes. And it seems to me that while
a progressive atheist
like me likes the present pope better than his precursors, he still is
one pope who will soon die, and who will be folllowed by another pope
who will very probably be less progressive.
But it is true
that the pope's opinions are
important because he is the leader of over a billion Catholics, and I
liked most of opinions, so to that extent I agree with Kelly.
Then there is this:
Activists found another
surprising advocate in Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates. In
October, Gates said
“the private sector is inept” when it comes to managing or averting
environmental catastrophe. He suggested that government may be best
suited to handle the problem, saying, “Since World War II,
U.S.-government R&D has defined the state of the art in almost
I am not
impressed by the opinions of someone who made 65 billion dollars
from Microsoft, even if I happen to agree, simply because I have no
idea what Micrcosofts corporate interests are, nor why Gates spoke up
as he did.
There is also this:
In a story revealed this month,
Greenpeace activists posing
as representatives of oil and coal companies approached Penn State and
Princeton university professors, offering to pay them to write reports
touting the alleged benefits of rising carbon dioxide levels and of
coal use in developing countries. The academics agreed to do so without
disclosing the source of their funding. There, we saw misinformation in
To me that is not
a reason for optimism: It only proves (once again, and something I know
a very long time) that most leading academics - especially in the
less scientific "sciences" - are corrupt and dishonest.
The last example I give is this:
There is a lot more in the article, but most
of it is like the above quotations: They may be rays of light, but they
are rare and uncertain.
Adding insult to injury, an
International Monetary Fund study released in May showed that fossil
fuel companies, including Exxon, receive subsidies from the world’s
governments amounting to $10
million every minute of every day.
That report linked last is well worth reading
and it starts as follows, and spells out how they arrived at $10
millions of subsidies to the anyway extremely rich and extremely
powerful oil companies:
Governments give fossil fuel
companies $5.3 trillion in subsidies every year—the equivalent of $10
million every minute of every day and more than the world spends on
health care, according to a new estimate by the International Monetary
3. More Than Exxon: Big Oil Companies for Years Shared
Damning Climate Research
third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
It wasn't just Exxon that knew fossil
fuels were cooking the planet.
reporting by Neela Banerjee with Inside Climate News
revealed on Tuesday that scientists and engineers from nearly every
major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company may have for decades
known about the impacts of carbon emissions on the climate.
Between 1979 and 1983,
the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry's most powerful
lobby group, ran a task force for fossil fuel companies to "monitor and
share climate research," according to internal documents obtained by
Inside Climate News.
According to the reporting:
Like Exxon, the companies also
expressed a willingness to understand the links between their product,
greater CO2 concentrations and the climate, the papers reveal. Some
corporations ran their own research units as well, although they were
smaller and less ambitious than Exxon's and focused on climate
modeling, said James J. Nelson, the former director of the task
"It was a fact-finding task force,"
Nelson said in an interview. "We wanted to look at emerging science,
the implications of it and where improvements could be made, if
possible, to reduce emissions."
The 'CO2 and Climate
Task Force,' which changed in 1980 its name to the 'Climate and Energy
Task Force,' included researchers from Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Amoco,
Phillips, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco, and Sohio, among others.
I say. It also doesn't
amaze me very much, simply because these corporations have
research labs and are interested in the truth about the
climate and fossil fuels, though indeed not to share that truth
with others, but only to use it to try to get maximal profits for
In any case, here is part of what they found - in the beginning of
1980, a full 35 years ago:
And at a February 1980 meeting in New
York, the task force invited Professor John A. Laurmann of Stanford
University to brief members about climate science.
conclusions section, Laurmann estimated that the amount of CO2
in the atmosphere would double in 2038, which he said would likely lead
to a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global average temperatures with
'major economic consequences,'" Banerjee reports. He then told the task
force that models showed a 5 degrees Celsius rise by 2067, with
'globally catastrophic effects,'" Banerjee reports.
So indeed the big
oil companies all know since 1980 that they were poisoning the
environment we all live in.
Being oriented to private profit as supreme value much rather than
civilization or welfare for all, they kept silent and continued
poisoning the environment.
There is more in the next and last article.
4. The Plutocrats
Are Winning. Don’t Let Them!
fourth and last item today is by Bill Moyers
(<- Wikipedia) on AlterNet:
This has a subtitle, which I reproduce:
The vast inequality they are
creating is a death sentence for government by consent of the people
Yes, indeed. In fact, my own
conclusion is that the plutocrats have won or nearly so. This
is from a cursory glance at the USA:
The plutocrats now own
the free press, including the media, and these are hardly free anymore
and mostly spout propaganda;
they "own" the government for the most part and own and pay most
lobbyists; they "own" most of the Supreme Court and the judges; they
are heavily subsidized from taxes, while tens of millions of Americans
are very poor, and while the enormous subsidies to the Pentagon, the
NSA etc. don't even leave enough money to repair the collapsing
I agree that it could be even worse, but by
and large the plutocrats have done extremely well since
Reagan and Thatcher were first elected, and have
realized most of their wishes, while the real left has been reduced to
a few, and "the left" as in the Labour Party and the Democrats have
turned "neoliberal" with very vague very faint pink trimmings that are
there mostly to mislead their electorates.
Or at least: That is what I think, also knowing full well
that as long as mankind exists there is hope and there is change.
Here is Bill Moyers:
In the fall of 2001, in the
aftermath of 9/11, as families grieved and the nation mourned,
Washington swarmed with locusts of the human kind: wartime
opportunists, lobbyists, lawyers, ex-members of Congress, bagmen for
big donors: all of them determined to grab what they could for their
corporate clients and rich donors while no one was looking.
Across the land, the faces of Americans of
every stripe were stained with tears. Here in New York, we still were
attending memorial services for our firemen and police. But in the
nation’s capital, within sight of a smoldering Pentagon that had been
struck by one of the hijacked planes, the predator class was hard at
work pursuing private plunder at public expense, gold-diggers in the
ashes of tragedy exploiting our fear, sorrow, and loss.
I think that is correct,
though a bit vague. Also, it wasn't just 9/11 but it also
was that Bush Jr. had been assigned the presidency by the Supreme Court
even though he (narrowly) lost the elections, which indeed gave "the predator class" wings, especially
combined with 9/11.
There is also this:
Fourteen years later, we can see
more clearly the implications. After three decades of engineering a
winner-take-all economy, and buying the political power to consummate
their hold on the wealth created by the system they had rigged in their
favor, they were taking the final and irrevocable step of separating
themselves permanently from the common course of American life.
Yes, though again it is a bit vague, while
Thatcher and Reagan were elected in 1979 and 1980, respectively, which
makes it 35 years. This includes the Clinton years, but these
were as much or more committed to deregulation
than Reagan and Bush Sr. were before Clinton.
Here is some more:
And here is a conclusion of Bill Moyers
(there is more in the article, which is well worth reading):
The $1.15 trillion spending bill
passed by Congress last Friday and quickly signed by President Obama is
just the latest triumph in the plutocratic management of politics that
has accelerated since 9/11. As Michael Winship and I described here last Thursday, the bill is a bonanza for the
donor class – that powerful combine of corporate executives and
superrich individuals whose money drives our electoral process.
Can we at least face the truth? The
plutocrats and oligarchs are winning. The vast inequality they are
creating is a death sentence for government by consent of the people at
large. Did any voter in any district or state in the last Congressional
election vote to give that billion dollar loophole to a handful of
billionaires? To allow corporations to hide their political
contributions? To add $1.4 trillion to the national debt? Of course
not. It is now the game: Candidates ask citizens for their votes, then
go to Washington to do the bidding of their donors. And since one
expectation is that they will cut the taxes of those donors, we now
have a permanent class that is afforded representation without taxation.
I agree, though I would
say that the plutocrats have
won (so far as I can see) rather than that they are winning, and my
reason to prefer "have won" are the facts (and more) that Bill Moyers
But OK - we will see the
next year. And I am neither defeated nor desperate, but I also
think that more evil things (as I regard them) have to happen
before there will be a radical turn, which is bound
to come, if only because those who do govern the world are not
able to govern the climate.