who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
surge can be at the heart of a winning coalition
2. Pentagon Manual Calls
Some Reporters Spies
3. With Voters 'Feeling the
Bern,' Support for Sanders Gains
is for Sale – and Everything Must Go
5. Trumping the Federal Debt
without Playing the Default
This is a Nederlog of
August 20, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about Jeremy Corby on The Guardian, and explains why he may be
winning in the Labour Party, always apart from the Blairites who
currently command it; item 2 is about the new
Pentagon Manual that seems to make journalists who disagree
with the Pentagon the equivalents of spies; item
3 is about Bernie Sanders, who keeps drawing large masses and
getting closer and closer to Hillary Clinton; item 4
is about what Wolfgang Schäuble and others really seem to be
after: buying up Greece for almost nothing; and item 5
is about a possibility to get rid of the enormous American debt.
surge can be at the heart of a winning coalition
article of today
is by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
What is taking
place in the Labour party is a democratic explosion unprecedented in
British political history. Last week more than 168,000 registered to
vote in Labour’s leadership election – on one day. About 400,000 people have applied to join Labour as
members or supporters since May, tripling the size of the party to more
I say. Indeed, I like
this, and that is also a reason to have it in the crisis series, which
tends to be rather disheartening, at least for those who aren't rich
Overwhelmingly, it’s the
response to one candidate standing for the Labour leadership: the
veteran backbench campaigner Jeremy Corbyn. When Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1994 he promised to recruit 1
million members, but never got much beyond 400,000. Corbyn has sailed
past him in weeks.
Not only that, but the
leftwinger is now runaway favourite to win the contest. In the most
recent poll, Corbyn was scoring 53% on first preferences,
32 points ahead of his nearest challenger. And 32% of the public say they would be more likely to
back Labour under Corbyn, seven points more than any other candidate.
There is rather a lot more in the article, but I will quote just two
First, there is this:
insist that he’s a throwback offering “old
solutions”. That seems to be based mainly on his commitment to public
ownership of rail and energy – which is not only supported by large
majorities of the public but also reflects a growing trend towards new forms of
social ownership across Europe, especially in Germany.
Yes, I agree - and "Corbyn's
opponents", at least the ones I read or briefly glanced at, are all
Blairite Tory-lite careerists, who
tend to forget that Blair made himself between 20 million and 80
million pounds; that his arisal was considered by Thatcher her
biggest service to England; and who totally changed the leftist
The real objection is that
Corbyn represents a break with City-backed austerity and
a powerful commitment to public investment. Add to that his
opposition to Trident renewal and endless British warmaking, and the
challenge he represents to the establishment consensus is obvious
position of Labour to the rightist position of New Labour by
supporting the trashy
total bullshit that was Clinton's and Blair's "Third Way", that
also replaced most of Labour's lefts by Blair's careerist
And while I did not agree to rather a lot of Labour's policies
until Blair, it was, until Blair, a genuine leftist
party, and it ceased to be one after Blair won the elections
and started changing the Labour Party into his Tory-lite New Labour
Finally, a strongly and genuinely rightist party like the
Tories needs a strongly and genuinely leftist party like the
Labour party, but unlike "New Labour".
At least - that is what I think, and while I am not
important and indeed not even British (though I know England, at least,
fairly well, and also lived there, though long ago, in the early
70ies), that is also more or less what hundreds of thousands of British
seem to think now, and that is important.
There is considerably more in Seumas Milne's piece, but I will only
Yes, indeed. In fact, he has
to reform the Labour Party back to a real Labour Party instead
of an instrument for careerist politicians, and that will be quite
difficult as well.
It’s possible, of course,
that the relentless attacks will
tip the vote against Corbyn after all. But if not, he will face an even
more ferocious onslaught thereafter. That will come not only from the
Conservatives and the media, but from sections of the Labour
establishment that can be expected to launch a parliamentary campaign
to undermine and unseat him.
But Corbyn will have an
unprecedented democratic mandate if he wins,
backed by a movement of hundreds of thousands. And not only is he
committed to creating a leadership of “all the talents”, he also plans
to open up Labour’s long-dormant internal democracy.
Even so, his arisal is a hopeful sign, and while I am certain I don't
agree with him on quite a number of points, he is a real
leftist, and that is what Great Britain needs, after over 15
years of various kinds of rightists: See what it gave to the
poor and the middle classes! More austerity, less support, higher
rents, a virtually destroyed NHS and BBC, and very expensive trains and
2. Pentagon Manual Calls Some Reporters Spies
The next article is by Don
North on Consortiumnews:
This starts as
follows (and is by a veteran war correspondent):
Honest war correspondents
and photographers who try to
cover wars effectively are about to become suspect spies if a new
Pentagon manual, “Law of War,” is accepted by U.S. military commanders.
I can confirm from personal experience that reporting on wars is hard
enough without being considered a suspicious character secretly working
for the other side.
The 1,176-page manual,
published on June 24, is the first comprehensive revision made to the
Defense Department’s law of war policy since 1956. One change in
terminology directly targets journalists, saying “in general,
journalists are civilians,” but under some circumstances, journalists
may be regarded as “unprivileged belligerents.” [p. 173] That places
reporters in the same ranks as Al Qaeda, since the term “unprivileged
belligerents” replaces the Bush-era phrase “unlawful combatants.”
Yes, indeed - and I
reported on this before, here.
Indeed, what I said then was:
This seems a totalitarian
law. The military should have no power "to censor their work"
("their" = "journalists'");
the "embedding" of journalists seems mostly a sick way to take away
many of their means of reporting; and it is insane and very
totalitarian to demand that journalists should agree to the
many crazy wars the
Pentagon thinks it is entitled to.
In fact, what seems
to be the further aim of the Pentagon is that it simply can
wage war with its professional army (not selected from the
population, but selected from those who volunteered to kill for their
country ) any way it wants, because it
will be only "covered" by journalists who agree to write only
and whatever the army wants them to write.
We aren't there yet,
but we are very close, if you ask the Pentagon. Here is some
more from Don North:
“Reporting on military
operations can be very similar to
collecting intelligence or even spying,” the manual says, calling on
journalists to “act openly and with the permission of relevant
authorities.” The manual notes that governments “may need to censor
journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists
do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.”
The manual’s new language
reflects a long-term growing
hostility within the U.S. military toward unencumbered reporting about
battlefield operations as well as a deepening interest in “information
warfare,” the idea that control over what the public gets to hear and
see is an important way of ensuring continued popular support for a
conflict at home and undermining the enemy abroad.
But allowing this manual
to stand as guidance for
commanders, government lawyers and leaders of foreign nations would
severely damage press freedoms, not only for Americans but
internationally. It would drastically inhibit the news media ability to
cover future wars honestly and keep the public informed, which is after
all what both U.S. government officials and journalists say they want.
Yes indeed - and this
is an article I recommend you read all of. There is a lot more,
Now, the Pentagon
appears to be engaging in an attempt at intimidation or “prior
restraint,” essentially warning journalists that if they are deemed to
have reported something that undermines the war effort, they could be
deemed “unprivileged belligerents,” presumably opening them to trial by
military tribunals or to indefinite detention.
This is also how it
appears to me: You write what the Pentagon wants you to write -
or else you risk "trial by
military tribunals or (..) indefinite detention."
3. With Voters 'Feeling the Bern,' Support
for Sanders Gains
The next article is
by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as
I say. I like it especially
because Sanders seems the only honest presidential canditate
and I like a lot of what he is saying. Then again, I know he has an enormous
task, that he himself described as follows:
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders
seems to be inspiring more and more voters to "feel the Bern."
Though Hillary Clinton is
still the leading Democratic
candidate, support for Sanders is on the rise, a new CNN/ORC
poll (pdf) shows. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters,
Clinton leads Sanders 47 percent to 29 percent.
But comparing the results
to the previous two CNN/ORC
polls, Clinton is experiencing a downward trend while Sanders' trend is
upward. Clinton is down nine points since the July poll, and down 11
points since the June poll. Sanders, in contrast, is up 10 points since
the July poll when he had the support of 19 percent of Democrats and
Democratic-leaning voters. The June poll showed support for his
campaign at just 15 percent.
The latest national poll
comes on the heels of more signs
of continued support for the Vermont senator. After day 6 of an
informal poll by the
Secretary of State of Iowa State Fair attendees, it was a tight
race between the two, with Sanders at 46 percent to Clinton's 48
Speaking at the Des
Moines Register Soapbox at the fair,
"I welcome and urge all of you to join me in helping to make a
political revolution, which transforms America, which creates a
government that works for all of us, and not just a handful."
Yes, indeed. But this also
makes it very difficult to succeed, though I hope he will.
is for Sale – and Everything Must Go
The next item is by
Nick Dearden on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I've just had
sight of the
latest privatisation plan for Greece. It's been issued by something
called the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund –the vehicle
supervised by the European institutions, which has been tasked with
selling off an eye-watering €50 billion of Greece's ‘valuable assets’.
I don't think it unfair
to assume these are the prizes Wolfgang Schäuble faught so hard for.
(Of course, he will deny this, but then he is a professional
Here is one list of some riches that are up for very cheap
grabs to anyone who has a few millions:
airports, flying into top tourist hubs, have already
gone to a German company, but don’t panic because stock in Athens
airport is still on the table, as well as Athens' old airport which is
up for a 99 year lease for redevelopment as a tourism and business
Thessaloniki ports are up for sale – the
former case has caused the chief executive to resign and industrial
action has begun. A gas transmission system looks likely to be sold to
the government of Azerbaijan, but there’s still a power and electricity
company, the postal service, a transport utility which allows
trains and buses to run, the country’s main telecommunications company,
a 648 km motorway, and a significant holding in the leading oil
refiner, which covers approximately two-thirds of the country’s
And here is an argument why
this matters - and is extremely unfair, to everyone, except the few
rich banks so eagerly served by Wolfgang Schäuble:
To put it mildly. But this is
an interesting article that I recommend you read all of.
Why does this matter?
First because makes no sense to sell
off valuable assets in the middle of Europe’s worst depression in 70
years. Those industries could generate revenues to help the Greek
government rebuild the economy. In fact, the vast majority of the funds
raised will go back to the creditors in debt repayments, and to the
recapitalisation of Greek banks.
So the privatisations
aren’t to do with helping Greece.
The beneficiaries are corporations from around the world, though
eyebrows are particularly being raised at the number of European
companies – from German airport operators and phone companies to French
railways – who are getting their hands on Greece’s economy. Not to
mention the European investment banks and legal firms who are making a
fast buck along the way. The self-interest of European governments in
forcing these policies on Greece leaves a particularly unpleasant
5. Trumping the Federal Debt without Playing the
This last item is
by Ellen Brown
(<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
This starts with a
quote of Alan Greenspan:
States can pay any debt it has
because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero
probability of default.” — Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on Meet the Press,
Note that in fact the
USA owes $17.7 trillion dollars, which seems to make the USA
fundamentally bankrupt. This raises a question:
How can the country
remain strong with very little debt,
without defaulting on Social Security, Medicare, or the federal debt
There is a way. The
government can reduce the debt by
buying it – and ripping it up. The debt can be bought either with
debt-free US Notes of the sort issued during the Civil War, or with US
dollars issued by the Federal Reserve in the form of “quantitative
I say - but indeed one
reason that may work is that there is - since quite a while - no more
gold to prop up the value of the dollar, which thereby got reduced to a
mere reckoning standard.
Here is a plan proposed by
There is considerably more in
Ellen Brown's article (which I don't pretend to understand all, but she
does know her field).
In 2011, Republican
presidential candidate Ron Paul
proposed dealing with the debt ceiling by simply voiding out the $1.7
trillion in federal securities then held by the Fed. As Stephen
Gandel explained Paul’s
solution in Time Magazine, the Treasury pays interest on the securities
to the Fed, which returns 90% of these payments to the Treasury.
Despite this shell game of payments, the $1.7 trillion in US bonds
owned by the Fed is still counted toward the debt ceiling. Paul’s plan:
Get the Fed and the
Treasury to rip up that debt. It’s
fake debt anyway. And the Fed is legally allowed to return the debt to
the Treasury to be destroyed.
Congressman Alan Grayson,
a Democrat, also
endorsed this proposal.
Here is the conclusion of her article, that explains the name of Trump
in its title:
Back to Donald
Trump. Besides his experience with bankruptcy, Trump,
along with Bernie Sanders on the left, is unique in not being beholden
to big money. Sanders does not take it, and Trump does not need it. If
either candidate makes it to the White House, he will be in a position
to stand up to Wall Street and do what is right for the country. And
that includes restoring the power to issue the national money supply to
the people of the nation through their representative government.
Yes, perhaps. Then
again, it does seem - now, a long time before the 2016 elections -
unlikely (rather than likely) that either wins. But it is true this is
a possibility if either wins.
 The "Third Way" article
on Wikipedia still ends with Bill Black's
(<- Wikipedia) statement that says:
"Third Way is this group that
pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a
creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with
this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's
nothing of the sort."
I think that is quite true for Clinton - and see the articles of Black
in the "Third Way" article
 Which in fact was a very bad
idea, that was put into practice by Nixon. If a democracy needs an army
(which it does, certainly in the case of the USA) it needs to be a democratic
army, of people of the right age, who are drafted. This will not stop
its being abused, as the drafted U.S. army was in Vietnam, but
then it may eventually be stopped or changed, and that is no
longer possible with an army of volunteers.