May 12, 2016

Crisis+ME: Power, Labor Leaders, TTIP, Propaganda & Chomsky, About M.E.
Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. To the Next U.S. President, the Unlimited Power to Spy,
     Imprison and Kill

2. To Counter Trump and Far-Right, Labor Leaders call for
     'Global New Deal'

3. Warning to Europe – How the TTIP Threatens Public
     Health Care and Pensions

4. Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media
5. May 12: About me and ME

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 12, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. It is a bit abnormal, for it consists of three crisis items; one half crisis item (so to speak) and one non-crisis item: Item 1 is about the very much extended powers of the American president (by both Bush Jr and Obama) to wage war, spy, imprison and kill (but I don't quite agree with the article); item 2 is about a demand for a global New Deal by labor leaders (I am sorry, but I am skeptical: I have seen too many labor leaders - in Holland, is true - I do not trust one bit); item 3 is about the TTIP (which is even worse than painted in this article); item 4 is about a documentary from 1992 about Noam Chomsky that I found surprisingly good; and item 5 is about me and ME mostly because it is ME-day today (I ceased to believe in patients' organizations in 2010-11: Sorry, I am really too intelligent and I hate being descriminated by the stupid and the ignorant for not being stupid and ignorant, which is what happened to me and quite a few others: Thank you, and bye, bye!).

1. To the Next U.S. President, the Unlimited Power to Spy, Imprison and Kill

The first item is
by David Swanson (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Remember when coups and assassinations were secretive and presidents were obliged to go to Congress, tell lies and ask permission to wage wars? Remember when torture, spying and indefinite imprisonment were illicit, when issuing signing statements to rewrite laws was rare, and when yelling “state secrets” to shut down legal cases was considered abusive?

For over two centuries, it would have been an outrage for the president to hold a meeting every Tuesday for the sole purpose of going through a list of names and picking out which men, women and children should be killed.

Those times are gone. By mutual consent of those in power in Washington, D.C., all such resistance and outrage is now firmly in the past. It would now be unfair and violate established bipartisan precedent to deny the powers of unlimited spying, imprisonment and killing to the next president of the United States.

Well ... I am 19 years older than Swanson is, and I can assure him that the past I remember (from a real leftist point of view [1]) was considerably less rosy than he paints it. Then again, I agree that the present is nothing to luxuriate about, simply because the very few who are rich or are high in government have considerably more powers than they did before 2001, and they use it mostly to further extend the riches of the very rich and the powers of the very few who are high in the U.S. government.

It seems that the article is mostly about the following recent book:

Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program,” a new book from Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, is terrific to see—both for what it actually teaches us and even more because of what it represents. These same reports from The Intercept have already brought us the same details online—details that fit a pattern of similar revelations that have trickled out through numerous sources over the years. The truly encouraging part is that a media outlet is reporting on the dangerous expansion of presidential and governmental power and framing its concerns in a serious way.

Yes indeed - except that I would not have put it as the last statement in the quote puts it. In fact, the journalists of The Intercept are doing their duties as
investigative journalists, and it is very discouraging that so few journalists in
the main media do.

There is this advice for those who read "The Assassination Complex", which is probably sound, and that is quoted here especially because of its ending:

I recommend starting “The Assassination Complex” by first reading Glenn Greenwald’s afterword. In it, Greenwald reminds us of some of Senator and Candidate Obama’s statements in favor of restoring the rule of law and rejecting President George W. Bush’s abuses. Yet what Candidate Obama called unacceptable at Guantanamo, President Obama has not only continued at Guantanamo and elsewhere but expanded into a program that focuses on murder without “due process” rather than on imprisonment without “due process.”

“Somehow,” writes Greenwald, “it was hideously wrong for George W. Bush to eavesdrop on and imprison suspected terrorists without judicial approval, yet it was perfectly permissible for Obama to assassinate them without due process of any kind.” That is, in fact, a very generous depiction of the drone murder program: “The Assassination Complex” documents that, at least during one time period examined, “nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”
“It is hard,” Greenwald writes, “to overstate the conflict between Obama’s statements before he became president and his presidential actions.”

Quite so, and my own reaction to Obama's gross deceit was - already in 2009 - to conclude that really he was just another one in the long lists of political "leftist" frauds I have seen in my life. He has more charm than most; he may be a bit more intelligent than many; but mainly he is a personal careerist who expects to be made a mass-millionaire like the Clintons for the services he did for the very rich, and who pronounced many lies in order to be elected, indeed precisely as Greenwald said.

There is considerably more in the article, but I did not find it very clear.

2. To Counter Trump and Far-Right, Labor Leaders call for 'Global New Deal'

The second item is b
y Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Concerned about the rise of right-wing extremism and how it has preyed on the fears of working people across the world, labor leaders from nearly a dozen countries met in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to declare the need for a "global New Deal" to fight these forces.
Highlighting the unique position of the international labor movement to combat extremism, labor representatives traveled from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK to strategize about how best to counter the appeal of far-right rhetoric to voters frustrated by years of gross inequality and, instead, harness that energy to advance workers' rights and values.

Hm. My father was a trade union leader in the 1950ies and 1960ies, but he seems to have been radically different from the more recent "trade union leaders" (in the Netherlands, but these are mentioned in the quotation): He
worked as a housepainter (and indeed sometimes a strike was organized that
got him such work), and with the very low salary housepainters got, and besides he did lead a - far left - trade union (that did organize strikes).

In contrast, more modern "trade union leaders" (like Wim Kok and Lodewijk de Waal) were simply lying careerists who were hunting for the best jobs with the best incomes (and Wim Kok also sold out Dutch Labour and made it "a neoliberal" party circa 1995, became prime minister, and currently earns a cool quartermillion a year for a few days a year as adviser to bankmanagers: all very profitable, for him).

So I trust modern trade union leaders about as much as I trust professional politicians (left, right or center): Hardly or not at all.

Besides, consider their "strategizing" (?!) "how best to counter the appeal of far-right rhetoric":

What about all the neoliberal bullshit from "trade unions" and "Labour Parties" that I have heard since the despicable Tony Blair grabbed power? How left is "the left" with professional assholes who lead it while getting incomes in the highest 3%? Who get to be multi-millionaires?!

I say it isn't left anymore, it is mostly "leftish neoliberal" which is in fact just contradictory baloney + rightish trash. Then again, I admit there is also this bit in the article:

Notably, Tuesday's panel placed "a sizable share of the blame" on center-left parties' embrace of neo-liberalism, HuffPo reports, which has "diminished the public's faith in the ability of labor unions and progressive politics to deliver for them—paving the way for far-right populism."

"We must insist that the candidates and political parties we support back an ambitious program for broad-based economic growth driven by rising wages," declared Damon Silvers, director of policy at the AFL-CIO. "The labor movement must demand that the politicians we support offer, in place of neoliberalism and austerity, a global New Deal."

For one thing, why did Silvers not specify what he means when he speaks about "a global New Deal"? That cannot be very difficult, since there is the New Deal, and global plans never have many clauses or points.

For another thing, it seems to me that the leaders are reacting to their loss of popularity rather than saying clearly that "a neoliberal center-left party" is as contradictory a term as are "honest Tony Blair" or "neofascistic left".

So overall my response to this initiative is negative:

Let them first speak honestly about neoliberalism; let them first criticize the "left" that turned neoliberal for personal gain of the leaders; let them say what they mean by "a global New Deal" and perhaps then I'll grow less negative.

As it is, I look upon the trade unions as I look upon "the left": It was mostly
falsified quite intentionally in the 1990ies by the leaders of the trade unions
and the left (like Kok and Blair: both traitors to the real left), and until this
intentional falsification is publicly and clearly rescinded, I am neither with the
"leftish" but not leftish parties, nor with the "leftist" but not leftist trade unions.

First you have to cough up and spit out Blair, Kok and the many neoliberal traitors who followed them; second, you have to reinstitutionalize something
like a credible anti-capitalist anti-neoliberal plan; and maybe then I might
start to consider whether you are credible or merely head large institutions
while having large incomes that you are trying to save.

3. Warning to Europe – How the TTIP Threatens Public Health Care and Pensions

The third item is
by Michael Hudson (<- Wikipedia) on Naked Capitalism:

From the beginning:
America’s Obamacare and health insurance laws have been written by political lobbyists for special interests. So has the TTIP (..). Since George W. Bush, the U.S. Government has been prohibited from bargaining for low bulk prices from the pharmaceutical companies. Most Americans think that Health Management Organizations (HMOs) are rife with corruption and billing fraud. The insurance sector has made a killing by spending a great deal of money on bureaucratic techniques to reject patients who seem likely to require expensive health care. Doctors need to hire specialists working full time just to fill out the paperwork. Error is constant, and any visit to the doctor, even for a simple annual checkup, requires many hours by most patients on the phone with their insurance company to correct over-billing.
I do not know how correct the last bit is (I suppose it is), but I do know about the TTIP and it is horrible.

Here is some about its genesis:

The agreement has been drawn up in secret, and has only been available to Congressmen in a special room as a read-only copy. Not even Congressional staff have been permitted to see the details. The reason is that the terms of the TTIP are so awful that it could never be approved by voters. That is why the lobbyists for banks, insurance companies, drug companies, oil and gas companies and other special interests that wrote the law are trying to bypass democratic government and going directly to Brussels – and in the United States to the Executive Branch of government.

The aim of the TTIP is to replace the application of national laws with special courts of referees nominated by the special interests. This includes the organization of health care. Last week Britain’s main labor union, Unite, warned that the TTIP would mean that the National Health Service would have to be wound down and privatized.
To put this in terms that, although they are probably not politically correct, at least are somewhat clear: The TTIP is so awful because it is in fact a proposal of neofascism that hands over all relevant economic powers states have to the CEOs of the multi-national organizations and their lawyers, who both wrote the neofascistic TTIP and will handle the ISDS-"court"cases. [2]

Here is some more on these "court"-cases:

A salient goal of TTIP is to shadow the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system (ISDS), an instrument of public international law granting firms the right to raise an action in a tribunal on the basis that a state’s policies have harmed their commercial interests. … The economist Max Otte has called ISDS ‘a complete disempowerment of politics’. The tribunals are confidential, as is usual in arbitration. Negotiations over ISDS within TTIP are also secret, the aim being to get the ink dry on the agreement before it can provoke opposition by being made public.
In brief, the TTIP is by far the most neofascistic plan I have ever read (in small part, because I and nearly everyone belongs to the sub-humans whom the neofascists deny the right to know their plans).

There is a lot more in the article, that is recommended.

4. Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media

The fourth item is by Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, and is a 1992 docu- mentary about Noam Chomsky:

I decided yesterday to watch this documentary that is now 24 years old, that
also takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to see all of (which is very long for me: I tend to switch off documentaries far sooner) but I was quite pleasantly surprised:

  • This is a well made and quite interesting documentary, that was well thought out and well filmed.
  • It clarifies rather a lot about Noam Chomsky's attitudes and values, and
    is still quite actual.
  • Most of the sub-themes still hold (as do Chomsky's references), while
    the main theme - Propaganda - is more appropriate than ever before
    (for it has grown much in power, reach and dishonesty)
So I warmly recommend that you watch this documentary: Unless you know a very great amount about and from Chomsky, it will teach you some things, and it does so in a well-designed manner.
5. May 12: About me and ME

The fifth and last item today does not have a link, and is in fact copied from 2015. Here it is:
The last item today is not an article. Today - you may not know - is International M.E. day. [See May 12, 2013 for more, in case you are interested.]

I know because I have the disease for 37 years now, which I spent almost completely without any help and in the ordinary dole, because the Amsterdam bureaucracy has for 31 years refused to admit that I am ill - even though my illness started in the first full year of my university studies, and even though I got a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in psychology, all with straight As (which was very rare then), indeed also while being ill in the dole.

Then again, I should also say that I have totally given up on writing about M.E. (apart from the protocol I use) even though I still have it, and am much handicapped by it.

The reasons are - in the end - mostly that since between 1995 and 2005 something like (at least) a tenthousandfold more "authors and writers" appeared, thanks to the powers of computers, nearly all of whom are totally anonymous, quite stupid, unable to write clearly about anything whatsoever, and most of whom are fanatically concerned with their own (anonymous) standing, while feeling free to contradict or doubt anything anyone may have written who happens to know more or think better than they do. [3]

I am sorry: I was ill and helpless in the thirty years from 1979-2009, but I was not - apart from Amsterdam authorities - discriminated. That started only when I started writing for Phoenix Forums (for people with M.E.), and not only to me, but to anyone whose IQ was clearly higher than 110.

Since both my IQ and my education are a lot better than those of the great majority I do give up, at least until there is a real medical explanation for M.E.
The addition of 2016 is this:

I also am a whole lot happier since giving up all the anonymous assholes "with M.E." in 2011 (nearly 5 years ago!) for I do not want to be discriminated for being more intelligent than those who criticized me, but that seems the proud norm on Phoenix Rising, for it did not only happen to me, but it happened to almost everyone who was clearly more intelligent than the average and who
had something interesting to say. [3]

[1] My leftist point of view is real, leftist and much informed, because I studied both philosophy and psychology and got excellent degrees (only As) in spite of being ill all the time, and because my parents and grandparents were - real, intelligent, though not highly educated - communists or anarchists (which means that the leftism in my family dates back to the 1880ies, in fact).

And because it is real and much informed, I know that most (not: all) that passes for "leftist" these days - Clinton, Blair, Kok, and very many more professional well-earning politicians and trade union leaders - are not leftist at all, but are neoliberal rightists, whose "leftism" consists only of politically correct phrases that aim at their reelections (when this was the case),
but who are otherwise as "leftist" as are the multi-millionaires that head banks.

Therefore I insist that most of the political left I have known until 1995 or so
differed fundamentally from "the political left" that followed Clinton, Blair and Kok, that was not left or leftish at all, but belonged to the neoliberal right (and made Clinton and Blair multi-millionaires, which was why they went into politics: For their power and for their money, precisely as the neoliberals teach).

[2] Incidentally, when I write "neofascism" it means that I have thought about it and written about it: More than 1200 Nederlogs since 1.ix.2008, for example.

I do not use the term to scold; I use the term because it seems the best to indicate what is happening.

And what is happening is an enormous power grab by the right, that has been brewing since the early 1970ies, and that meanwhile has had many successes, i.a. expressed by the fact that in real terms something like 85% to 90% of the ordinary Americans have not gained any income since 1980, and many have lost a lot; and i.a. expressed by the fact that the Wall Street bankers can do and fraud and deceive and enrich themselves as they please without running any risk of legal prosecution "because they are too big to fail".

[3] [Note from 2015:] Incidentallly: I am less complaining about the treatment I got (for I know I am arrogant) as about the treatment others got, about which I am quite certain that it was mostly directed against their clearly being more intelligent than most. Well... having seen that, I was, am, and will be out. If being more intelligent than most is a ground for discrimination, and it was, I do not fit in.

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