December 27, 2015
Crisis: TPP Scam, Investigative Reports, Apple Steals Billions, Moore, Maher
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1. The Trans-Pacific Trade Scam
2. The 10 Best 2015 Investigative Reports on
     Political Money

3. How Apple Is Hurting the US Taxpayer
4. Michael Moore Just Exploded the Right's Biggest Lie
5. Bill Maher - Be More Cynical


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, December 27, 2015.

This is a crisis blog, with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the TTP and it quite correctly points out that "multinational corporations direct access to secretive tribunals that could roll back any consumer, labor, or environmental laws that global corporate giants don’t like": it is the end of democracy, and Obama knows this very well; item 2 is about the corruptions in getting political campaign money in the US; item 3 is about how Apple and most other major corporations steal from the US taxes: Apple owes at least $ 60 billion dollars to the USA, and the other major multi- national corporations owe more than $ 620 billion dollars (so now you know why the US infrastructure is collapsing); item 4 is about the latest film by Michael Moore; and item 5 is a show by Bill Maher from around 15 years ago that I saw yesterday and liked.

1. The Trans-Pacific Trade Scam

The first item today is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle or summary, that I quote because it is correct:
Despite what President Obama says, the TPP does indeed create a corporate end run around our laws.
It starts as follows:

Last spring, President Barack Obama got downright crabby about people criticizing the mammoth Trans-Pacific Partnership he’s trying to sell to Congress and the public.

More and more Americans are learning that the TPP would undermine America’s very sovereignty, giving multinational corporations direct access to secretive tribunals that could roll back any consumer, labor, or environmental laws that global corporate giants don’t like.

Yet an irked Obama denies that this is true: “They’re making this stuff up,” he cried. “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”

Perhaps he was misinformed. Perhaps he hasn’t actually read the deal he’s pushing. Or — dare we say it? — perhaps he’s lying.

Clearly he was lying, and he was lying as if it were printed: He is a lawyer; he knows what he is supporting; he knows the TPP was still completely secret when he pretended that the TPP is not "going to force us to change our laws": It is going to change all laws that would stop multi-nationals from getting the profits they projected (provided only that the financial bounty is big enough). And not only in the USA: In every country that signed these illegal "laws". [1]

It is a deeply criminal schema Obama is fiercely propounding, as if his future riches and welfare depend on the TPP's success.

Here are the facts (in a brief format):

In unmistakable language, the TPP does indeed create the private, corporate-run mechanism for changing our laws. Moreover, surely Obama knows that foreign corporations are already doing this indirectly.

Through little-known provisions in past trade scams, powerful corporations in other countries have pressured their governments to challenge our laws in similar tribunals.
Of course he knows: He is a former professor of law. Of course he knows that the ISDSs the TPP (and the TTIP and the TISA) create are designed to undermine all political actions by any government or any group of people in any nation that signed these deeply criminal "laws", for these ISDSs are a completely new kind of "court" where anything that threatens the expected profits of multi-national corporations can be punished by the lawyers of the multi-national corporations who act as "judges".

It is fascism or neo-fascism in a new form: A criminal court made into "law" by a secret process, through deeply corrupted parliaments, that is designed to oppose anything that diminishes the expected profits of multi-national corporations, including any national law that was designed to protect the people of that nation.

For here is how it is designed to work (indeed since the NAFTA, as Obama very well knows, that was signed under Clinton):

This TPP flimflam would elevate profiteering corporations to the legal status of sovereign nations, empowering them to sue directly in rigged corporate courts “to force us to change our laws.” Obama knows this—and if he doesn’t, he should.

Either way, it destroys his presidential credibility and moral authority to keep pushing this giveaway of our people’s sovereignty.

Yes, indeed - except that the presidential credibility is now protected by the main media who just do not run stories like this.

2. The 10 Best 2015 Investigative Reports on Political Money

The second item is by Robert Faturechi on ProPublica:

This has a subtitle, that I'll quote in order to clarify what the investigations listed in this article are about:
Our picks for the year’s most notable in-depth stories on campaign finance, from newsrooms around the country.
So this might be a bit more specific than you expected. But it is interesting and
starts as follows:
The millions of dollars being spent on the presidential race by super PACs, secretive nonprofits and the candidates themselves could again make this election cycle the most expensive to date. Huge sums are also flowing into state and local races. Here, in chronological order, are ten stories from other newsrooms that got behind the cash flow to describe the latest uses and abuses of money in politics.
And here are the stories, with links, but without explanatory texts, for which you can click the last link:
I could write rather a lot about some of these items, but I forego the possibility and instead link to yesterday's reprisal on deregulation, and express the general judgment that leads to:

By now, the USA is so much corrupted by deregulations - that is: the withdrawal of laws that protected the majority from the worst schemes that the few rich use to fleece them as much as they can - that almost any corruption now goes, including the stealing of very many billions by the very rich bankers that head "too big to fail" banks.

And the above are just 10 stories about the corruptions related campaign finances. These are interesting, but there are many more corruptions.

Indeed, here is a major one:

3. How Apple Is Hurting the US Taxpayer

The third item is by The Thom Hartmann Program on Truthout: 

This is from near the beginning (after a statement that big corporations all want everyone to buy their stuff, as much and as plentiful as one's credit allows):
(..) where's all that money we spend actually ending up?

It's not going to taxes, and it's not circulating through the US economy.

No, because companies like Apple, General Electric, Boeing and Verizon don't pay much in taxes relative to their earnings, at least not here in the US.

Take a look as "60 Minutes' " Charlie Rose pressed Apple CEO Tim Cook on the issue.

That last sentence from Cook is really strange, because it's technically true, but it's beside the point.

The real question isn't whether Apple "pays what it owes," the real question is whether Apple is hiding massive amounts of profit offshore so that their CPAs can calculate that Apple owes less than it really should.

First, these multi-nationals are not paying much tax anywhere, because they can select the countries where they have to pay least (such as Ireland or Holland or Luxemburg).

And second, the last statement - supposing it is that according to Apple's mega-rich CEO, who never-ever told a lie in the world, his own mega-rich company, in his own estimate "pays what it owes" is relevant: Who is so naive as to believe the evident lies of the mega-rich owner of a mega-rich company about what he thinks his company owes?

Incidentally, I do not like Apple and I do not like the late Jobs. I do like Steve Wozniak, who is the real genius behind the early Apple, and I also liked his Apple II, that a good friend bought in 1980, which had a great design for that time, but
for me that was also the last Apple I used a bit regularly: The rest was too expensive, and too private, and also not really worth it after Windows 95 (although that indeed was a wacky system that crashed almost every day). [2]

And this also is related to my strong preference for open source and for Linux: I think that is the much better way to do computing, compared to closed source systems, of which both Apple and Microsoft are prime examples.

Anyway... back to the article, that first explains this about how Apple withholds payments of at least $ 60 billion dollars - 60.000 million dollars - to the American taxes:

And they're making a killing by doing it, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Apple avoided paying $9 billion in US taxes.

SEC filings show that Apple holds more than $181 billion in offshore profits, more than any other US company, and they would owe roughly a third of that, about $60 billion, if they tried to bring the money back into the United States.

But it's not just Apple, it's pretty much all of the biggest corporations on the Fortune 500.

And as the last statement says, it is surely not just Apple who do not pay taxes: Most of the leading US (!!) companies do the same, and together they saved at least $ 620 billion:

According to research done by Citizens for Tax Justice and the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund - the 500 largest US companies hold more than $2.1 trillion of accumulated profits offshore, just to avoid supporting the US by paying the US taxes they should.

The same research shows that they would collectively owe more than $620 billion if they decided to bring that money back home.

This is why the USA is grossly corrupted: It has been corrupted by deregulations
and enormous thefts of hundreds of billions of dollars from the US taxes by the biggest and the richest US corporations there are.

Michael Moore Just Exploded the Right's Biggest Lie

The fourth item is by Sophia McClennen on AlterNet, and originally on Salon:
To start with, here is a link to Michael Moore (<- Wikipedia), who made a new film entitled "Where to Invade Next”, which is to be released in the beginning of 2016, and which also had the highest viewer ratings of any of his films:
"Where to Invade Next” has a wide release set for Feb. 12, which is also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the week of the New Hampshire primary. Coincidence? Definitely not.

The date for the release is only part of the story. The film will be launched in one of the most progressive and activist formats ever conceived. Early test scores of the film have it getting the highest viewer ratings of any of Moore’s previous films. “What it has shown us is the film not only plays well as just a movie, but the issues raised in the film deeply affect people,” Moore said.

So Moore asked his distributors to get on board with a release plan designed to rock the nation: “I said …. give me a month or so to barnstorm the country, me personally, in a big rock ‘n’ roll tour bus, and we will criss-cross the country showing the film for free, leading up to the New Hampshire primary — because the issues in the film are the issues, the real issues, people want being discussed in this election year.”  They may also have music and rallies along the way.

I say. It seems a good idea. Here is the central idea of the new film:

“Where to Invade Next” begins with the observation that the United States has not won a war since World War II.  It then comically imagines the Department of Defense calling on Moore to step in and save our nation.  His plan? Invade nations not to take them over, but to take their good ideas. We then see a hilariously ironic shot of Moore on a ship draped in the American flag and heading out on his quest.

Moore then embarks on a tour of a series of European nations and one in Africa where he finds society getting it right. From debt-free education to paid leave, women’s rights, prison reform and delicious school lunches, Moore offers viewers a world where people simply live better than we do here.

In a brilliant move, Moore has made his most patriotic film yet without shooting a single frame in the United States.

There is considerably more that I leave to your interests. It ends as follows:
On the other side of the fence, many on the left vote against the right, not for anything. And that’s where the political potential of Moore’s film lies.  It asks us to imagine, if the invasion this country really needs is not an invasion of another country, but rather the invasion of the people into our own political process.  Now that would be a real revolution.
Hm. It seems to me that (i) "the invasion of the people into our own political process" is what democracy is about, while (ii) this has been made very much more difficult in the USA by gerrymandering districts and by allowing the very rich to donate virtually as much as they please to help elect someone who does as they want him or her to act.

But OK: These were just McClennen's opinions.
5.  Bill Maher - Be More Cynical

The fifth and last item is merely a movie I saw yesterday, of 1 hr 7 m, that is a recording of a show of Bill Maher that seems to be 14 or 15 years old, but that I liked, and that you probably will like if you like Bill Maher:

You may not like him, and then this is not recommended. (This is merely for your amusement.)

[1] Yes, I think these laws are illegal given a normal reading of the US Constitution, but that is hardly possible with the present majority of the Supreme Court, and it is also illegal if your norm is democracy - the people of a nation decide under what system of laws and what sort of constitution they desire to live - rather than multi-national dictatorship through a completely new, and utterly corrupt and anti-democratic system of "laws" geared to giving the multi-national corporations the highest profits.

[2] Incidentally, I did work some on the Apples the University of Amsterdam used in the late 1980ies and early 1990ies, which were rectangular boxes with a rather small black and white screen, that was graphical, which was better than what Microsoft offered at the same time, that was not graphical, but text-based, and based on MS-DOS. They were OK, but not worth the money for me.

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