1. CEO Tim Cook Decides
Apple Doesn’t Have to Pay
Corporate Tax Rate Because
2. Trumpism: Made in the United States by Republican
Hate and Democratic Hypocrisy
Are the Turkish Leader Erdogan's Claims of Terrorist
Coup Plotting to Be Believed?
4. It Looks Like the NSA
Just Got Hacked
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, August 17, 2016.
There are 4 items with 4
dotted links today: Item 1
is about the crooked approach Apple's Tim Cook has about paying taxes:
The infrastructure of the USA is going to pieces because large firms
refuse to pay taxes (and can do so using the extremely weak tax
laws for corporations); item 2 is an inter-
esting article about the backgrounds
of Trump; item 3 clarifies what happens in Turkey
and item 4
is about the hacking of what seems to be either a partner of the
NSA or the NSA itself and also gives some information of what the NSA can
do to hack almost anyone's computer: Very much.
1. CEO Tim Cook Decides Apple
Doesn’t Have to Pay Corporate Tax Rate Because It’s “Unfair”
first item today is by Jon Schwartz on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
I say! I never liked Apple - apart
from the 1979 Apple II that was a lot better than the other computers
that were available at the time, but this was due to Steve Wozniak
(<- Wikipedia) rather than Steve Jobs - and I also never
liked Jobs, but this
is pretty gross.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could refuse
to pay your taxes until you decided your tax rate was “fair”?
That is, of course, not the way it
works. Unless you’re Apple.
Apple is currently holding $181
billion overseas, largely thanks to arbitrarily deciding
that its most valuable intellectual property seems to live
exclusively in low tax countries. For instance, at one time
Apple’s subsidiaries in Ireland — a country with 4.6 million
people — “earned”
over one-third of all Apple’s worldwide revenue.
And due to a very business-friendly
quirk in U.S. tax law, Apple doesn’t have to pay any U.S. taxes on its
overseas profits until it “brings them back” to America.
Here’s what Apple CEO Tim Cook had to
say about it in a long
interview published this weekend in the Washington Post:
We’ve said at 40 percent,
we’re not going to bring it back until there’s a fair rate. There’s no
debate about it. Is that legal to do or not legal to do? It is legal to
do. It is the current tax law. It’s not a matter of being patriotic or
not patriotic. It doesn’t go that the more you pay, the more patriotic
What it does reveal (I think) is how much power big
today: They can decide whether or not they pay taxes; whether
the taxes are "fair"; and indeed also whether or not the
of the USA gets repaired, for it isn't being repaired because
corporations decided they don't have to pay taxes, or set their own
percentages, which are generally much less than what they used
to be. (And see here.)
Not only does Cook speak like a head of the corporate thiefs, he also
indulges in sickening propaganda for his own excellency and Apple's
Cook simultaneously wants us
to know he is not a bad “traditional CEO” who just cares
about money. No, to the contrary, he feels an “incredible
responsibility” to “the communities and the countries that the
company operates in” and “the whole ecosystem of the company.”
Therefore, because Cook cares so little
about money and so much about communities, Apple won’t be paying its
taxes. That’s just fair.
I agree with Jon Schwartz's satirizing
Cook, who indeed is lying, pretending and propagandizing.
And here is the
reason why the USA's
infrastructure is collapsing: Because of the moral character and moral
choices of men like Tim Cook:
Finally, since both Trump and Clinton
seem to agree with America's biggest corporations that these - still -
pay too much taxes, Cook's desires for even deeper slashes in the
corporate tax rate may well turn out to be correct in 2017.
U.S. corporations have by now
stashed over $2.1
trillion in profits overseas (including Apple’s $181 billion),
thereby starving the U.S. of revenue we could use to repair our collapsing
infrastructure. What they want is for Americans to get so desperate
that Congress is willing to deeply slash the corporate tax rate
for “repatriated” money.
2. Trumpism: Made in the United States by Republican Hate and
The second item is by Paul Street on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The Republican, white-nationalist Donald
Trump slanders and insults Latinos, Muslims and women. He promotes
violence. He mocks the disabled. He refers to himself as brilliant,
citing his fortune—obscenely accumulated over decades of predatory
business practices that cheat workers and consumers—as “proof.”
He feuds with the gold star parents of a
Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, claiming that he too has
“sacrificed” (like the dead soldier and his parents) by employing
“thousands and thousands of people.” It was a remarkable comment: Being
born into wealth and in a position to hire a large number of people is
not a “sacrifice.” If Trump isn’t reaping profits from all those
workers under his command, he must not really be the brilliant,
capitalist businessman he claims to be.
How is this noxious candidate even within shouting distance of Hillary
Clinton? Let’s separate the fact from the fiction.
That is a decent idea, and I mean to "separate the fact from the fiction",
although this seems to presume rather a lot, and notably that currently
Hillary Clinton has much better chances to win the
presidential elections than Donald Trump.
I agree she has, but I don't
agree this is a strong
prediction, for the simple reason that much may occur in the coming
months that upsets expectations (and that few or none can foresee).
So I will not quite try to follow
Street's separation of fact and fiction (if you care, click on the last
dotted link) but instead concentrate on two themes he
introduces, namely (1) the “What’s
the Matter With Kansas?” question and (2) the division between the
99% and the 1%.
First, the first theme that I'll discuss somewhat (for the
discussion will be limited to generalities):
The divide-and-conquer Machiavellianism
the Matter With Kansas?” (WTMWK) narrative points to has helped
Republicans win white working-class votes since the days of Archie
Bunker (at whom much
of Trump’s rhetoric seems aimed) and through the age of blue-collar
Reaganites and “Joe the Plumber.”
In fact “What’s
the Matter With Kansas?” (<- Wikipedia) is a 2004 book by Thomas Frank
(<-Wikipedia). This has the following theme according to the
According to the book, the political
discourse of recent decades has dramatically shifted from social and
economic equality to the use of "explosive" cultural issues, such as abortion
and gay marriage, which are
used to redirect anger toward "liberal elites."
I think that is correct. It is
an uncommon theme (it was somewhat popular in the Seventies and
Eighties, as Wikipedia also explains), but Frank put it on the map
again in 2004, and described the change then as follows (from
Not long ago, Kansas would have
responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay.
Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one
direction: to the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip
today's Kansans of their job security, and they head out to become
registered Republicans. Push them off their land, and next thing you
know they're protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their
life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there's a good chance they'll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about
the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public
ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when
knighthood was in flower.
This sounds more or less correct to me,
and indeed these changes also coincided with large changes in
the mainstream media, whch were both being sold (for lack of
advertisements, on paper) and
changed their reporting from fact-finding to propaganda, it
because the new editors and the new owners wanted this, and because it
also is a lot simpler.
Here is some more, also from Wikipedia,
and with a link added by me to "New
Instead of fighting for working class
interests, the Democratic party, under the direction of the Democratic Leadership Council
(DLC), effectively abandoned them by adopting economically conservative
policies. To differentiate themselves from Republicans at the national
level, Democrats also focused on socio-cultural wedge issues:
The Democratic Leadership Council, the
organization that produced such figures as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Joe
Lieberman and Terry McAuliffe, has long been pushing the party to
forget blue-collar voters and concentrate instead on recruiting
affluent, white-collar professionals who are liberal on social issues.
The larger interests that the DLC wants desperately to court are
corporations, capable of generating campaign contributions far
outweighing anything raised by organized labor. The way to collect the
votes and -- more important -- the money of these coveted
Democrats" think, is to stand rock-solid on,
say, the pro-choice position while making endless concessions on
economic issues, on welfare, NAFTA, Social Security, labor law,
privatization, deregulation and the rest of it.
This again sounds quite correct to me. I
also know Frank's book is from 2004 and it has been criticized
Wikipedia again), but all I wanted to do today with respect to the “What’s
the Matter With Kansas?”-thesis
is to put forward the thesis; say it sounds plausible to me,
some references. And incidentally, Frank's 2016 book, "Listen,
Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" has the same thesis and theme.
The other quote from the first bit I
quoted above, about Archie Bunker
(<- Wikipedia) is supported by a quote from the producer and creator
of "All in
the Family" (<-Wikipedia):
Norman Lear — who produced many 1970s
sitcoms, including “All in the Family,” which starred Carroll O’Connor
as Bunker, an angry, outspoken bigot — blasted the presumptive
Republican presidential nominee on Thursday during a Writers Guild
event with “Big Bang Theory” creator Chuck Lorre.
“He IS Archie Bunker,” Lear told the
audience, according to a Deadline report published Friday. “I think of
Donald Trump as the middle finger of the American right hand.”
I think that is a good point, and
especially for those who have seen Archie Bunker in action in the
Seventies (or later, on Youtube):
Donald Trump does often sound like Archie Bunker, and indeed
also does not seem much smarter than Archie Bunker (and
much less sympathetic).
Here is some more on how the (New)
Democrats's policies and propaganda differ
from the real leftist positions they in fact betrayed,
starting with Bill Clinton and continuing with Obama:
But the Democrats abandoned the working
class and embraced the economic elite, including the professional elite
(more on that below) long ago (as journalist Thomas Frank noted in his
book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”). And Democrats of the
neoliberal era are no less adept than Republicans at deploying the
politics of identity to hide their captivity to the nation’s unelected
dictatorship of money. They just play the other, more multicultural,
side of the same identity-politics game. Both parties make sure that,
Hedges’ words, “Goldman Sachs always wins,” since “there is no way
to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.”
Again this does seem to be what has
Finally, about the second theme I
mentioned above, namely the division between
the 99% and the 1%, there is this in Paul Street's article:
I agree that the dichotomy 1% vs 99% does
provide "undue privilege-cloaking cover to
“lesser” elites—professionals, managers, administrators" etc.
Fourth, liberals making the WTMWK
argument often seem to operate with a simplistic, two-class model
dividing the U.S. into the superrich (let’s call them the 1 percent),
linked naturally to the Republicans, and everybody else (the 99
percent), linked naturally to the Democrats. Besides deleting the
Democrats’ captivity to the wealthy corporate and financial Few (really
the 0.1 percent or even the 0.01 percent), this dichotomy provides
undue privilege-cloaking cover to “lesser” elites—professionals,
managers, administrators and other “coordinator-class” Americans in the
nation’s top 20 percent.
The privilege and power of the professional
and managerial elite is no less “true,” “real,” substantive or vital to
contemporary hierarchy than that of the financial super-elite.
And while I do not know whether Frank is right these "“lesser” elites"
would comprise 20%, I am willing to say that the division is between
the rich 20% (or 10%) (whose riches may vary a lot) and the
non-rich 80% (or 90%) (whose incomes also vary considerably).
Are the Turkish Leader Erdogan's Claims of Terrorist Coup Plotting to
item is by Richard W. Bulliet on AlterNet:
This has the following in the beginning
and is here mainly because Bulliet answered a question I asked myself,
that is also in the title of the article.
Bulliet discusses his answer with reference to a 2013 speech of Erdogan
New York, before Erdogan fell out from Gülen and says:
Three possibilities come to mind:
One, Gülen is such a clever terror leader that his secret objective of
taking over the Turkish state was unknown to Erdoğan in 2013, even
though his Hizmet organization had been economically and educationally
active for over thirty years.
Two, Gülen’s thousands of followers, who are now being purged from
their jobs and businesses throughout Turkey, had not yet become
radicalized as terrorists.
And three, Erdoğan labeled Gülen’s followers terrorists only after the
two men had a political falling out and Gülen’s people, though not
Gülen himself, accused Erdoğan of seeking dictatorial control of Turkey.
Bulliet argues that the first two
possibilities are quite implausible, and I agree. He concludes:
Since neither of these two possibilities
seems at all likely, we are left with the possibility of a personal
falling out between two Muslim leaders. More than a possibility. A
manifest reality. Erdoğan says Gülen heads a coup-making terrorist
organization. Gülen’s people say that Erdoğan is a corrupt would-be
dictator who, along with his family and cronies, is stealing vast sums
of money from the Turkish people.
Wherever the truth lies between these two positions, the idea that all
Hizmet activists and institutions worldwide must be considered
terrorists is preposterous. The coup is one thing. The purge another.
Scores of thousands of Turks are losing their careers, their
businesses, and their freedom and being branded with a label that
stigmatizes their entire families.
I agree. I also do not have much
for either Erdogan or Gülen, but I like to understand what is going on,
and the above seems plausible (and I don't know any Turkish).
4. It Looks Like the NSA Just Got Hacked
The fourth and last
item today is by AJ Vicens on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
Now it's the National Security Agency's
The NSA, responsible for intercepting
communications around the world, appears to be the latest victim of
hacking, at least indirectly, according to multiple news reports. A
group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released a series of files on
Saturday that contained the code behind some powerful hacking tools
developed by an NSA-linked group. Those tools have been used to carry
out cyberattacks on other governments and private corporations across
the world over the last 20 years, according to Forbes.
I say! This is news for me, but it should
be said that is not quite the NSA that got hacked. Here is a
bit of what has happened:
The Shadow Brokers released a series of
files that included installation files and descriptions
of networks used for a number of different hacking tools that they
claimed to have stolen from the Equation Group—the name security researchers
gave to a group of hackers who deployed cyberweapons on behalf of the
United States and other Western governments. This group was unmasked
in early 2015 by Kapersky Labs, a Russian security
research firm. The Equation Group is believed to have been affiliated with the NSA
and other Western intelligence agencies, according to security
researchers, and is perhaps the most wide-ranging and successful hacking group
ever publicly discussed.
The NSA did not respond to requests for
comment about the alleged hack.
So who got hacked was the Equation Group
(<-Wikipedia). Then again, it seems from the Wikipedia link that
indeed this is
"affiliated with the NSA". Incidentally, if you want an idea of what
the NSA was capable of in 2013, check out the Wikipedia lemma NSA ANT Catalog:
It is an amazing list.
And this is about the reality of the hack:
Several security researchers have said
the hack appears to be real. The security researcher known as "the
grugq" told Motherboard that the proof files
posted "look pretty legit." Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden noted in a tweet that the
hacking of an "NSA malware staging server is not unprecedented, but the
publication of the take is."
Snowden, who is still in Russia under
the protection of the Russian government, explained that just as the
NSA hacks foreign governments, those governments hack the United States
as well. In this case, rival governments may be demonstrating that
they've done just that, Snowden wrote, adding that he suspects "this is
more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the