May 26, 2016

Crisis: Saudis & 9/11, Brazil, Corporate Media, Corporate Propaganda, CEO's Pay
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Former 9/11 Commissioner Won’t Rule Out Saudi Royal
     Family Foreknowledge of 9/11 Plot

2. Brazil Crisis Deepens as Evidence Mounts of Plot to Oust
     Dilma Rousseff

3. Why Is the Corporate Media Taking Trump's Nonsense

4. Noam Chomsky & Joel Bakan on the Psychopathic
     Propaganda Machines That We Call Corporations

Average CEO Raise Last Year Amounted to 10x What
     Most Workers Made in Total

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 26, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about 9/11 and especially "the Saudi connection"; item 2 is about Brazil, where very probably a coup has taken place; item 3 is about why the media is taking serious Trump's nonsense: I suggest (unlike the writer) it is because the main media are corrupt, and were so long before Trump announced his presidential candidacy; item 4 is a good and interesting article on corporations (although I don't agree with all); and item 5 is about the many millions the few CEOs get, as contrasted with the $50,000 dollars their many average workes take home (also with my solution, that perhaps is "too radical": Limit everyone's pay legally).

1. Former 9/11 Commissioner Won’t Rule Out Saudi Royal Family Foreknowledge of 9/11 Plot

The first item is
by Alex Emmons on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

A former member of the 9/11 Commission on Tuesday left open the possibility that the Saudi royal family knew about the 9/11 terror plot before it happened.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., asked members of the panel at a House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing to raise their hands in response to this question:

“How many of you there believe that the royal family of Saudi Arabia did not know and was unaware that there was a terrorist plot being implemented that would result in a historic terrorist attack in the United States, in the lead-up to 9/11?”

Two of the four panelists raised their hands, but Tim Roemer, 9/11 Commission member and a former congressman from Indiana, did not. Neither did Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

I say. This is mostly here because I investigated some about 9/11 and concluded from that investigation that the official report on it is totally incredible and that it is considerably more likely that 9/11 was - somehow - engineered.

I also have heard about possible Saudi involvement of 9/11, and this article is about that. Then again, this - like most things related to 9/11 - is hampered by very insufficient documentation, which exists again because the American government decided all sorts of documents are not open to the public.

In this case, this especially concerns 28 pages about Saudi Arabia that till now have been kept secret:

Sen. Bob Graham, co-chairman of the congressional inquiry into the attacks, has suggested that the pages contain “substantial” evidence of Saudi involvement — both by the government and private citizens. “I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education — could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States,” Graham said on 60 Minutes last month.

Graham and his Republican co-chair, former Sen. Porter Goss, have joined 9/11 victims’ family members, activists, and congressional leadership to call for the release of the 28 pages. The chapter was initially classified by the George W. Bush White House, fearful of upsetting a U.S. ally. Despite twice promising to release the pages, President Obama has withheld them.

I agree with Graham, also about his statement that it is "implausible to believe" that 9/11 was done "without some support from within the United States" (boldings added by me).

But there it stands again, almost 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, and the main
reason is that the present US government, the previous US government, the US government before that, and Bush Jr.'s first government each and all denied most requests for information on 9/11 by the public and by rational investi- gators that did not belong to the US government.

2. Brazil Crisis Deepens as Evidence Mounts of Plot to Oust Dilma Rousseff

The second item is
by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows:
A key figure in Brazil’s interim government has resigned after explosive new transcripts revealed how he plotted to oust President Dilma Rousseff in order to end a corruption investigation that was targeting him. The transcripts, published by Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, document a conversation in March, just weeks before Brazil’s lower house voted in favor of impeaching President Rousseff. Romero Jucá, who was then a senator but became a planning minister after Rousseff’s ouster, was speaking with a former oil executive, Sérgio Machado. Both men had been targets of the so-called Car Wash investigation over money laundering and corruption at the state-controlled oil firm Petrobras. In the conversation, the men agree that ousting President Rousseff would be the only way to end the corruption probe. In the transcript, Jucá said, "We have to change the government so the bleeding is stopped." Machado then reportedly said, "The easiest solution is to put Michel in"—a reference to Vice President Michel Temer, who took power once Rousseff was suspended. We speak to Maria Luisa Mendonça, director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights.
Yes, and see Glenn Greenwald's article that I reviewed on May 21 last, and also before that on May 13, 2016. As I said on May 21: "I think something very dirty is happening there, but there is a lot I do not know."

Well, this interview explains quite a lot, and does it well. Here is
Maria Luisa Mendonça explaining why this is indeed a coup:
MARIA LUISA MENDONÇA: Yes. They actually see and prove very clearly something we have been saying from the beginning, that this is a coup, because there is no reason, no legal basis, for the impeachment of President Dilma, that the main reason to do this was to actually stop investigations of corruption. And it was clear from the beginning, because the interim president, Michel Temer, appointed seven ministers that are now facing charges of corruption. And also one of the first things he did was to eliminate the Controladoria-Geral da União, which is a state agency that controls contracts between the government and private businesses. So it was clear that it was a way to stop investigations of corruption. And then, the second main reason was to implement austerity measures in the right-wing agenda that has been rejected by Brazilian society since 2002. So, the right-wing forces have not been able to win elections. The only way for them to take power was by orchestrating the coup.
As I said, there is a lot more in the interview, which is recommended.

3. Why Is the Corporate Media Taking Trump's Nonsense Seriously?

The third item is
by Simon Maloy on AlterNet and originally on Salon:
I will quote two bits from this article, that I found a bit disappointing. The first is this, after a fairly long introduction:
At this point, Trump has successfully conditioned reporters to the point that they continually expect him to “go there,” and because he’s set that expectation, his embrace of crazy bullshit is treated almost as routine. Consider the Washington Post article that first reported that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency, had given a soft endorsement to a crazy conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton murdering an old friend. The headline? “Trump escalates attack on Bill Clinton.”
This illustrates why I think the article is disappointing: Clearly, it is not Trump who is responsible for the corrupt US press in the main media, nor are all American journalists utter fools who are being tricked by Trump.

It are the main media itself that are deeply corrupt, and they have been so for a considerable time before Trump announced his presidential candidacy.

Something similar is wrong with the following and last bit that I'll quote:

Again, we’re talking about one candidate backhandedly making the allegation that his opponent was an accessory to murder, and the press reaction is “boy, that Trump sure can drive headlines – better watch out, Hillary!”

This is precisely what I was talking about I wrote earlier this month about the danger in normalizing Trump. He wants all the craziness to be taken in stride, and he’s succeeding. He’s being abetted in this by a Republican Party establishment that is happy to bite its tongue so long as they get their tax cuts and conservative judicial nominations. But that’s no reason for the press to buy into Trump’s game and treat his crazy mudslinging as a mere campaign tactic rather than a disqualifying character flaw.

Again it is supposed it is Trump, Trump, Trump who does these evil things (yes: it is evil to accuse Hillary Clinton of "murdering an old friend"), while all American journalists from the main media are tricked into repeating his bullshit.

No, it is the American main media that are corrupt. I think this ought to be quite clear by now, if only because there still are American media that do print "all the news that's fit to print" rather than "all the 'news' that the journalists like to adorn to enjoy and amuse their audiences". (Try Truthdig. Try Common Dreams. Try Mother Jones. Try Naked Capitalism. And there are quite a few more, though indeed they are all not main media.)
4. Noam Chomsky & Joel Bakan on the Psychopathic Propaganda Machines That We Call Corporations

The fourt
h item is by James Hoggan on AlterNet and originally on New Society Publishers:

This starts as follows - and I start with the subtitle that gives the title and the writer of the article that follows, that was excerpted from the book:

The following is an excerpt from the new book I'm Right and You're an Idiot by James Hoggan (New Society Publishers, 2016): 

The article itself starts as follows:

Propaganda is a polluting and polarizing behavior that is arguably as vast and destructive as any other cultural or social forces. What’s more, in the case of modern corporations, deregulation has legitimized the use of unbridled propaganda and created a regulatory, legal and financial system that virtually demands it.

In his book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, author, filmmaker and law professor Joel Bakan traced the corporation’s rise to dominance, right back to its origins centuries ago. Balkan illuminated how these juggernauts are required by law to elevate their own interests above those of others and pursue their goals with rampant self-interest, sometimes without regard for moral limits.

I completely agree with the first paragraph (and see the lemmas on Propa- ganda and on Public Relations, and also see the article on deregulation I wrote): This is also as it seems to me.

Then again, this is not at all how it appears to be seen by the liars, the polluters, and the  polarizers who are making propaganda for heaps and heaps of money: These all argue that all they do is "informing the public". I think they are all liars, who make very easy money by designing pretty lies and deceptions to mislead the public, and this is one of their main lies. (They are not "informing the public"; they are deceiving the public.)

Skipping a paragraph, the article continues as follows, about professor Bakan:

The law professor sees the contemporary corporation as a “very strange, potentially dangerous and destructive institution.” Back in the late 1990s he started to observe the power of corporations as they exploded into public awareness, spearheading the development of globalization, deregulation and privatization. Governments began to abdicate much of their regulatory oversight and free corporations from legal constraints. As a result, corporations emerged as self-governing institutions with the single goal of serving their own interests and those of their shareholders.

Bakan’s work does not seek to vilify or analyze the people who run corporations or work for them. He critiques the institutional nature of the corporation as legally created, saying it is an invention that has been imbued with characteristics that, if observed in a human being, would swiftly be diagnosed as psychopathic.

In fact, corporations existed already before the 1820s, as anyone can see from William Hazlitt's brilliant "On Corporate Bodies" [1] that dates from before 1823, and indeed corporations may well be seen as being created by the Dutch in the early 17th Century (who were the first to sell shares).

Bakan is quite right that the corporations in the 1990s "exploded into public awareness, spearheading the development of globalization, deregulation and privatization", but one point he doesn't make is that this was made possible by the deregulations that Reagan started and Clinton continued.

Also, while it is correct that "Governments began to abdicate much of their regulatory oversight and free corporations from legal constraints" not a hint of a possible explanation for this - really very strange - fact is given:

Why would democratic governments give all these dangerous deregu- lations - no more "regulatory oversight", no more "legal constraints" - and all this enormous power to a few of the very rich?!

My own explanation is simple and adequate, but I cannot prove it: Money.

That is, not only were European politicians very eager to follow Republican talking points and trickery ten and twenty years ago (I know: it happened in Holland, for one example, and it was all copied directly from the Republicans, and much too complicated for the intellectual level of the Dutch politicians to think of this themselves), I think they also accepted money to betray the interests of the people who had elected them.

As I said: it is simple, it is adequate, and it explains a lot, but I have no proof, for corruptions are always done in silence and in secret.

Next, I also find it a bit strange that "Bakan’s work does not seek to vilify or analyze the people who run corporations or work for them" especially not as
the composite of these persons, which is the corporation, is said to have "
characteristics that, if observed in a human being, would swiftly be diagnosed as psychopathic".

But a corporation is - in the end - merely an association of physical persons who agreed to collaborate for their mutual interests, so it seems to me rather strange how the corporations can have many of the characteristics of psychopaths, while the individuals who lead the corporations are not psycho- paths. (And see [1].)

James Hoggan had some doubts about why corporations are like psychopaths, but he soon agreed:

This view initially seemed a little extreme to me, as I built my business around representing successful corporations and never saw anything remotely like this in the companies I worked with. But then Bakan outlined the characteristics of a psychopath: including callous unconcern for the feelings of others; incapacity to maintain enduring relationships; reckless disregard for the safety of others; deceitfulness, repeated lying and cheating people for profit; incapacity to experience guilt; failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior. Looking at this list in relation to the excesses on Wall Street, the guiles and machinations of big banks, the environmental record of oil and gas companies, the misinformation campaigns surrounding climate change and the lies and lack of guilt in the tobacco industry, I began to see Bakan’s point.

Then again, the characteristics of a psychopath (which are correct, and see e.g. January 7, 2012, which seems the most complete Nederlog I wrote about psychopaths and psychopathology [2]) all seem to follow from the definition of a corporation as an association of persons who collaborate to make profits for themselves: If all you are concerned with is the maximal possible profit, all characteristics of psychopaths either follow logically or probabili- stically (and the last especially in conjunction with how easy it is to disregard the law, which - incidentally - again is a whole lot easier for multi-national corporations, and a whole lot easier with deregulated former laws).

And I insist that while most of the characterisitics of a psychopath (who only seeks his self-interest, just like a corporation only seeks maximal profit) are similar to those of corporations, I also insist that the most awful of these  characteristics were made illegal by law from the 1930ies till the 1980ies.

Only in the 1980ies were corporations made free of the laws that bound their inhumanity and psychopathology so that these - from 1930-1980 - remained restricted to be inside the law: From Reagan onwards all these laws were deregulated. [3]

Sofar, all quotes were from the beginning of the article. I have two more that answer, or seek to answer, specific questions.

The first of these is about deregulation (which is the same as making things legal that until deregulation were forbidden):

I asked Bakan why the public has failed to demand more regulation. “That’s the $64,000 question,” he said, and it has to do with the manufacture of ideology, with the manufacture of public opinion, with the role that for-profit, advertising-driven media plays in forming public opinion, the lack of critical-thinking training in our education system—and all the various ways in which knowledge is constructed in our society. “We citizens have been asleep at the switch.”

Yes, it is mostly a combination of acquired ideology on a native ground of egoism and greed:

Everybody was told the lie that "freedom" would be as good for them as it was for the CEOs of the corporations that exploited them; everybody was told the lie that "free trade" is good for everyone; most politicians from most parties also supported these lies; and the main media repeated these lies, so in the end it is not very amazing that the majority of the public believed what they were told. (And see item 5.)

Finally, here is Noam Chomsky:

Chomsky wasted no time telling me exactly what he believes is at the root of the problem: “The government is not our government. It is not a government of the people. It’s a government of the overwhelmingly rich, of the corporations and the wealthy. . . . And so it does what they want.”

I agree, although I have an addition after "the wealthy":

"and of the main media and the public relations offices, who all lie and mislead and deceive, and have misled most of the population, that also was extremely badly educated on purpose".

This explains the last line in the last quote: "And so it does what they want.”

But this is an interesting and long article, that is recommended.

5. Average CEO Raise Last Year Amounted to 10x What Most Workers Made in Total

The fifth item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

It was another banner year for chief executives at the biggest companies.

For its latest annual study of CEO compensation, the Associated Press, using data from Equilar, looked at what 341 executives at companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index brought home from salary as well as other perks like stock awards and deferred compensation.

The study found that the median compensation was $10.8 million, up from $10.3 million the CEOs took in the year before.

The median CEO pay raise was 4.5 percent from 2014—and that bump alone, nearly $470,000, is about ten times what the average U.S. worker makes in a year, the AP notes.

The top-paying industry was healthcare, with a median compensation of $14.5 million.

The CEO of Expedia, Dara Khosrowshahi, was both the highest paid CEO in 2015, raking in $94.6 million, as well as the CEO with the biggest raise, up 881 percent from the year before.

I say. Mr Khosrowshahi earns only 1.8 million dollars each week, which is at least three times as much as I got in a lifetime. It's true this is only 7 to 9 times as much as other CEOs receive (who earn as much as I do in a lifetime, all in a week or two to three weeks).

Here is a comparison between the pay CEOs receive as compared to those who do the work for them who are not CEOs:
The AP/Equilar study comes on the heels of the AFL-CIO's most recent figures on its Executive PayWatch, showing that the average CEO of an S&P 500 company in 2015 brought home 335 times more money than the average worker, while the Economic Policy Institute noted last year that "inflation-adjusted CEO compensation increased from $1.5 million in 1978 to $16.3 million in 2014, or 997 percent," compared to the inflation-adjusted compensation for the "average private-sector production and nonsupervisory worker [which] rose from $48,000 in 1978 to just $53,200 in 2014, an increase of only 10.9 percent."
That is: The average CEO of an S&P 500 company got 335 times as much as his (or her) average worker (who accordingly is at most 1/335th of the value of his/her CEO).

Also, from 1978 till 2014 the CEO's income rose by 997 percent (that is: it got ten times higher), whereas the average worker's income rose in the same period by 10 percent (that is: it got 1/10th higher, i.e. it gained 1/100th of the gain their CEOs brought to the bank).

As I have said several times before: I think this is all so manifestly absurd and so clearly unjust and obscene that my own response to this degeneracy is to propose that absolutely no one should earn more than 20 times of what the poorest in his or her society receive. That is my regulatory proposal, and in fact that is all I desire. (For more, see "On socialism".)

Since 97% do not earn more than 20 times of what the poorest receive, I think it ought to follow that the majority supports my proposal.

Unfortunately, they do not. For an explanation, see the end of item 4.


[1] Hazlitt's "On corporate bodies" (from 1822) starts as follows:
Corporate bodies are more corrupt and profligate than individuals, because they have more power to do mischief, and are less amenable to disgrace or punishment. They feel neither shame, remorse, gratitude, nor goodwill. The principle of private or natural conscience is extinguished in each individual (we have no moral sense in the breasts of others), and nothing is considered but how the united efforts of the whole (released from idle scruples) may be best directed to the obtaining of political advantages and privileges to be shared as common spoil. Each member reaps the benefit, and lays the blame, if there is any, upon the rest. The esprit de corps becomes the ruling passion of every corporate body, compared with which the motives of delicacy or decorum towards others are looked upon as being both impertinent and improper.
Once again: This was published in 1822 (and the rest of the essay is as good)

[2] There is one more article that discusses the issues, which also is quite good, but it is long (over 300 Kb) and about psychiatry: DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis". I also think this is quite interesting for psychiatrists, psychologists, medics and some philosophers.

This - around 1980 - is also the time that capitalism-with-a-human- face, that had ruled from 1930 till 1980, was replaced by capitalism-with-an -inhuman-face, which by now - 36 years later - has won most of the fights it engaged in, simply by having ready public liars in the shape of public relations officers and lawyers, and by having oodles of money.

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