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Nederlog

Jul 14, 2016

Crisis: Disemboweling, Cameron & May, Crazy AUMF, Gestapo America
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Introduction

1.
America Is Being Economically Disemboweled
2. Farewell, David Cameron, It's Theresa May's Turn to
     Mess Things Up Now

3. In Attempt to Dodge Suit, White House Argues
     Funding War Makes War Legal

4. Gestapo America

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, July 14, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about the disemboweling of the US economy, but somehow "forgets" to mention that this started under Bill Clinton, over 20 years ago; item 2 is about Cameron and his successor May (who promises to be even more horrible); item 3 is effectively about the Authorization for the Use Military Force (AUMF) that was passed in the wake of 9/11 (and is crazy, in my opinion); and item 4 is about an article by Paul Craig Roberts (<- Wikipedia) that I liked, while disagreeing a little.

1
.
America Is Being Economically Disemboweled

The first item today is by Jim Hightower on AlterNet:

This is from near the beginning, and I have to shorten some. It is about the unceremonial dismissal of 2100 workers from their American jobs, as the jobs and the factory are cheaper in Mexico:
In the fuzzy video recorded on a worker's phone, UTC/Carrier honcho Chris Nelson doesn't bother with any opening pleasantries. He gets right to the point, reporting in the dry tones of a corporate lifer that the bosses have decided that,"The best way to stay competitive and protect the business for the long term is to move production from our facility in Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico." KABLOOEY! He couldn't finish his sentence, for the entire assembly exploded like a human cluster bomb, with cries of disbelief, raucous booing, and a steady barrage of f-bombs.
That is not very amazing, for in fact these things have been happening in the USA since the previous century, when it started under Bill Clinton, whose government also made the laws that enabled what amounts to the systematic destruction of the American middle class.

There is also this:
Then, as though delivering a line from The Godfather, Nelson assures the crowd that the corporation means nothing personal by taking their jobs: "This is strictly a business decision."

No, it wasn't. This was a calculated greed decision. Severing this workforce of 2,100 top-quality, experienced, and dedicated producers makes questionable business sense: The move to Mexico is expected to save UTC only $70 million a year in labor costs (a blip on the spreadsheets of global behemoth that hauls in $56 billion a year and has an uninterrupted 22-year record of increasing dividends).

What is the difference between "This is strictly a business decision" and "This was a calculated greed decision"? I think the two are the same if the decisions are taken (as they usually seem to be) based on the short-term rate of profit of the corporation.

The article ends as follows:

Welcome to the new Wild Kingdom of Corporate World, where prideful executive royals are empowered to uproot the livelihoods of commoners in a ploy to please Wall Street, manipulate corporate stock prices, collect extravagant bonuses, and save face.

Notice that such whimsy was pulled off autocratically. Despite a unionized workforce, UTC/Carrier simply commanded the workers to assemble so they could be unilaterally dispatched - there was no negotiation, consultation, or any other say-so by the workers, their community, public officials, or anyone else. This is our new norm of plutocratic rule, envisioned and implemented by the rampaging forces of corporate avarice.
(..)
The carnage on working class Americans won't stop until we actually start punishing these corporate malefactors.

Yes, but as I said: This has been going on since Bill Clinton, whose administration also provided the deregulated laws to do so.

I find it odd that Jim Hightower either seems not to know this (which is pretty incredible) or seems to repress the information that this has been happening ever since Bill Clinton laid the legal foundations for disemboweling the American economy.

2. Farewell, David Cameron, It's Theresa May's Turn to Mess Things Up Now

The second item is b
y Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Britain bid farewell to David Cameron on Wednesday as the reign of Prime Minister Theresa May began. 

Over the six years he was installed at 10 Downing Street, Cameron—who resigned in the wake of the Brexit referendum—drew criticism over his support for austerity
policies, disregard for
the environment, callous approach toward refugees, and hawkishness on the bombing of Syria.

Incidentally, one of the things I don't understand is why there are no new elections in Great Britain, seeing that prime minister Cameron was defeated
by Brexit and stepped down. [1]

I am merely remarking this here, and continue with an observation that seems mostly true to me:

"David Cameron is perhaps the greatest practitioner of what has come to be understood as 'post-truth' politics," British novelist Irvine Welsh wrote on Wednesday.

He continued:

He perfected that muted Orwellian populism of saying what people wanted to reassuringly hear, while diametrically opposing this with his actions. Thus the NHS was safe in his hands, just as he was charging Jeremy Hunt with demolishing it. The BBC, ossifying into a neoliberal Pravda under his tenure, was his ‘genuine commitment to public service broadcasting’. Scotland could ‘have all the powers it wanted’ in the run up to the independence election, before waverers taken in by ‘the Vow’ realized that the actual reality was new road signs. He declared that ‘no stone would be left unturned’ in the prosecution of establishment paedophile sex offenders, who were then, of course, protected under the Official Secrets Act."

Yes, indeed - although Cameron was far from the first who practised this, and also is not its "greatest practitioner": That title should go to Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, who both made a true art out of it.

But enough about David Cameron. There is this on his successor:

Meanwhile, as Common Dreams has reported, May introduced last year the so-called "Snooper's Charter," a sweeping expansion of surveillance powers in the UK.

"Theresa May has been a draconian Home Secretary, introducing the wrong policies at the wrong times for the wrong reasons," said Harmit Kambo, campaigns director at Privacy International, on Tuesday. "Instead of responding to public alarm about the Edward Snowden disclosures by rolling back state surveillance powers, she has instead ratcheted it up with the Investigatory Powers Bill, the most intrusive surveillance legislation of any democratic country."

Yes indeed, although I should add that she did act like most of the West's supposedly democratically elected politicians do, once they get close to a governmental job [2]:

Betray the public's right to privacy, and find out absolutely everything about absolutely everyone living absolutely anywhere, simply because this will give very much more power to the few that govern the many.

And May will probably be even worse than Cameron.

3.
In Attempt to Dodge Suit, White House Argues Funding War Makes War Legal

The third item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

A lawsuit filed earlier this year charging President Barack Obama with waging an illegal war against the Islamic State (or ISIS) was met on Tuesday with a motion from the Obama administration asking the court to dismiss it.

In its motion to dismiss (pdf), the administration argues that Congressional funding for the war amounts to Congressional approval for it.

The lawsuit is by an American intelligence officer called Nathan Michael Smith, who was stationed in Kuwait. Here is part of his reasoning:

According to the 1973 War Powers Resolution, "when the President introduces United States armed forces into hostilities, or into situations where hostilities are imminent," Smith's lawsuit reads, "he must either get approval from Congress within sixty days to continue the operation, in the form of a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, or he must terminate the operation within the thirty days after the sixty-day period has expired."

And that is quite correct - and has been missing: Congress did not vote to continue the operation, while the two presidents since 2001 have - for 14 years now - not terminated their operations.

Here is Obama's justification for 14 years of war:

The Obama administration has justified the legality of the war on ISIS by relying on the Authorization for the Use Military Force (AUMF) resolution, passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001.

The single sentence, consisting of only 60 words, has now been relied upon by first President George W. Bush and now Obama to justify the unending wars waged by the U.S. in the 21st century.

The AUMF reads in full:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

First of all, this AUMF is a crazy article, for it justifies the American president to do anything he wants to any nation, organization or person he determines planned, authorized, committed, or harbored such organizations or persons that aided the terrorist attacks (of September 11, 2001).

For this means that the president of the United States can kill anyone he (or she) pleases provided he says he (or she) believes (!!) the persons killed (e.g. by drones e.g. in Yemen) have some connection to the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.

Second, while I think this AUMF is crazy anyway, simply because it gives the president absolute powers to do as the president pleases, September 11, 2001 now is nearly 15 years ago, and it may very well be argued that any real connection of any terrorist working in 2016 to the terrorists who planned 9/11 (presumably: Al Qaeda) is quite tenuous - as Nathan Michael Smith argued:

But ISIS is an enemy group of Al-Qaeda, and it remains therefore unclear to many legal observers whether the AUMF technically applies to the U.S. combat operations against that group. That has not prevented the Obama administration from pursuing and ramping up U.S. involvement in the conflict, however.

Hm. I note that Al Qaeda wasn't mentioned in the - anyway crazy - AUMF, and as I understand it all that Obama needs to do is to say that he believes there is some connection to 9/11, and that then justifies anything he may do to anyone anywhere (covered by his belief). [3]

And there is finally this on the AUMF:

As Buzzfeed's Gregory Johnson reported back in 2014, "Several of the lawyers I talked to, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations, spoke eloquently and at great length about the limits of the AUMF and being constrained by the law[...] But none of them were able to point to a case in which the U.S. knew of a terrorist but couldn't target him because it lacked the legal authority. Each time the president wanted to kill someone, his lawyers found the authority embedded somewhere in those 60 words."

The lawyers who "spoke eloquently and at great length about the limits of the AUMF" were - as is usual for lawyers - bullshitting:

Once the American Congress justified the American president to do anything he wants to any nation, organization or person he determines planned, authorized, committed, or harbored such organizations or persons that aided the terrorist attacks (of September 11, 2001) all the president needed to do to justify any attack on anyone anywhere was to say "but I believe these persons (also) aided the terrorist attacks (of September 11, 2001)" [3].

And indeed the rest of the paragraph bears this out: If the president of the USA wants to kill anyone anywhere, he may do so on the basis of the thoroughly crazy AUMF, namely simply by saying that those are terrorists who somehow aided the terrorists who committed 9/11.

4. Gestapo America

The fourth and last item today is by Paul Craig Roberts (<- Wikipedia) on Washington's Blog:
This starts as follows, including the introduction about the writer of the article:

Paul Craig Roberts served as Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, Associate Editor for the Wall Street Journal, and Senior Research Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.  A former economics professor, Dr. Roberts is listed by Who’s Who in America as one of the 1,000 most influential political thinkers in the world.  His website is PaulCraigRoberts.org.

FBI Director James Comey got Hillary off the hook but wants to put you on it. He is pushing hard for warrantless access to all of your Internet activity.

Comey, who would have fit in perfectly with Hitler’s Gestapo, tells Congress that the United States is not safe unless the FBI knows when every American goes online, to whom they are sending emails and from whom they are receiving emails, and knows every website visited by every American.

In other words, Comey wants to render null and void the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and completely destroy your privacy rights.

The reason Washington wants to know everything about everyone is so that Washington can embarrass, blackmail, and frame on felony charges patriots who stand up in defense of the US Constitution and the rule of law, and dissidents who criticize Washington’s illegal wars, reckless foreign policies, and oppression of American citizens.

Washington’s demand for power has nothing to do with our security. It has to do with destroying the security that the US Constitution gives us.

I agree to all of that, in fact since 2005 (in Dutch). As to Comey's fitting "in perfectly with Hitler’s Gestapo":

Mr. Comey clearly disagrees, and indeed he will probably not support any Nazi-program. But then it doesn't matter much what Comey's personal political preferences are, and especially not as what he heads is a police force that does - in complete contradiction with the Fourth Amendment (<- Wikipedia) - try to get very much more information on anyone anywhere than the Gestapo or the Stasi were getting.

And as Lord Acton said:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Or as Shelley phrased it (in "Queen Mab"):

"Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
A mechanical automaton."

And this is the power Comey desires. And here is how he gets it:

Comey wants the unconstitutional power to demand from the providers of telephone and Internet services all records and information about you. These demands are not to be subject to oversight by courts, and the communication companies that serve you are prohibited from telling you that all of your information has been given to the FBI.

Roberts is quite right that the absolute power Comey desires is forbidden by the Constitution, but then the Constitution has been simply put aside since 9/11/2001 - and note that the powers Comey desires are much greater
than those of the Gestapo or the Stasi: Everything you do on a computer or cellphone is his, and the communication companies providing him with all your private information also are forbidden to notify you that they have provided such information to the FBI (!!).

Then there is this on the American public:

Unfortunately, most Americans today, unlike their forebears, are too ignorant and uneducated to know the value of the privacy rights that our Founding Fathers put in the US Constitution. The imbeciles say nonsense such as: “I haven’t done anything wrong. I have nothing to fear.” God help the imbeciles.

If the American people were sufficiently sophisticated, they perhaps would wonder why such a large chunk of the US Senate had rather represent the FBI than the American people, their constituents who elected them to represent the people in the state, not a police power in Washington.

I have my doubts about the intellects and knowledge of the "forebears" of the present American public, but let that be. I think Roberts is right in calling the present average American public "imbeciles", and he is so for at least three reasons:

First, the vast majority simply has no adequate ideas whatsoever about the powers of computing. Period. They just don't know and don't understand.

Second, the vast majority simply has no adequate ideas whatsoever about the enormous amounts of information that may be secretly downloaded from their computers or cellphones. Again, they just don't know and don't understand.

Third, the vast majority simply lacks the cynicism and distrust that are necessary to understand the policies, the propaganda, the lies and the real plans of the politicians that (mis)lead them.

There are more points I could mention, but the central point always is the same: The vast majority of computer and cellphone users simply lacks nearly all knowledge about computing or its dangers - and because they are the vast majority, that is very dangerous.

Here is Roberts' ending:

What’s that I hear? You say you knew nothing about this? Little wonder. Your media consist of people well paid to deceive you and to deliver you into a Police State. To strip you of all constitutional protection and deliver you unprotected to a police state is the function of the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox “News,” CNN, the rest of the presstitute print and TV media and many Internet sites.

Adolf Hitler is alive and well in the United States, and he is fast rising to power.

I'll put it a little differently:

Most people do not know anything about this, because most people rely on the mainstream media to inform them, while the mainstream media have radically changed in the last 25 years, namely into propaganda apparatuses for the government, that do not criticize or investigate the news they are handed by the government, but simply relay it to their readers as "the truth".

And while I don't think that most journalists are consciously out to "strip you of all constitutional protection and deliver you unprotected to a police state" I think they have betrayed their journalistic trade, and are consciously participating in handing down government propaganda much rather than investigated (probable) truth. (Their excuse? It's a whole lot easier than investigating government propaganda, and they are well paid.)

And while Adolf Hitler is dead since 1945 his kind of world, which was one where the government had absolute authority and absolute power over everyone, and where either the government or the very rich decided everything, indeed is alive and is thriving well in the USA.

---------------
Notes
[1] I did read an "explanation" by Cameron, which I reject. My point is that Cameron's conservative government failed, and in Europe such failures are usually (and correctly) followed by new elections, much rather than a continuance of the previous government.

[2] Maybe I should say here that nearly all politicians I know anything about (not all, but the vast majority) do already belong to the happy few who have most of the power by the time they can be elected for parliament.

[3] Once again I stress that the AUMF amounted to the thesis that the US president is free to kill anyone he pleases
if he (or she) simply says that he (or she) believes that the person(s) he wants to kill are somehow related to 9/11 - which may be as little as "they are terrorists and Mohammedans, and so were those who did 9/11". And in fact this is how it does happen.

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