February 28, 2015
Crisis: BBC, Krugman, Political Leaders, Fast Track TPP, Net Neutrality
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


1. Pinkoes and Traitors by Jean Seaton review – my father,
     the BBC and a very British coup

2. Paul Krugman: How Austerity Madness Was Dealt a
     Crucial Blow this Week

Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev
As Fast Track Looms, Opposition Mounts to
     Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals

Net Neutrality May Face an Uphill Battle If History Tells
     Us Anything


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, February 28, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the BBC, and I found it interesting; item 2 is about Krugman on Greece; item 3 is about Polk on the lack of leaders of the calibre of Kennedy and Khrushchev (?!);
item 4 is on corporate-friendly trade deals (NAFTA, TPP, TPIP); and item 5 is
an interesting article on net neutrality, with a decent brief history.

I should also say I uploaded new versions of the Nederlogs of the last three days, but all that is missing is useless links that are automatically inserted.

1. Pinkoes and Traitors by Jean Seaton review – my father, the BBC and a very British coup

The first item today is an article by Seumas Milne (<- Wikipedia) on The Guardian:

  • Pinkoes and Traitors by Jean Seaton review – my father, the BBC and a very British coup

This begins as follows:

It must be galling for true believers in Margaret Thatcher’s privatising mission that 35 years after she launched it two of the country’s most popular institutions, the NHS and the BBC, are still publicly owned. It doesn’t quite fit the tale of the triumph of the market. Both organisations still deliver prized universal public services, anathema to the neoliberal mindset. But both also bear the scars of the Thatcherite onslaught, continued under New Labour and Tory governments, including in the form of outsourcing and internal markets.

In the case of the BBC, its political independence has repeatedly been attacked and its journalism cowed. One of the most bizarre myths about the corporation, recycled ceaselessly in the conservative press, is that the BBC has a leftwing bias. As one academic study after another has demonstrated, the opposite is the case. From the coverage of wars to economics, it has a pro-government, elite and corporate anchor. The BBC is full of Conservatives and former New Labour apparatchiks with almost identical views about politics, business and the world. Executives have stuffed their pockets with public money. And far from programme outsourcing increasing independent creativity, it has simply turned some former employees into wealthy “entrepreneurs”, while enforcing a safety-first editorial regime.

I like this article in part because I like Seumas Milne (he is at least a real leftist, and while I do not agree with him either, at least his position makes sense in a number of ways that Blair and Brown and other "leftist" careerists do not make sense, and do not do so at all [1]), and in part because this is his review of a book that much concerns his father, Alasdair Milne (<- Wikipedia), who was dismissed as the BBC's Director General after "sustained pressure from the Thatcher government" (Wikipedia).

Here is Seumas Milne on his position for this review:

I can’t pretend to be neutral about any of this. My father, Alasdair Milne, was the BBC director general whose orchestrated ousting in January 1987 is the climax of Seaton’s book and a watershed in Britain’s broadcasting history. I knew many of the characters who appear in Pinkoes and Traitors and heard plenty of the stories she recounts from those involved at the time – as well as others she doesn’t. But setting the record straight matters less because of the battlefield casualties than because of what it paved the way for thereafter.

And one gets some facts about the BBC that this Dutchman - at least - didn't know:

There is no point in romanticising a BBC golden age. The corporation was always an establishment institution, deeply embedded in the security state and subject to direct government control in an emergency. The sexism at the BBC, as Seaton recounts, was appalling, as in many other workplaces, and ethnic diversity non-existent. Around 40% of the staff were vetted by MI5: those who failed the “political reliability” test, often for the mildest of radical connections, were blacklisted – their personnel files marked with the symbol of a Christmas tree.

I say. Here is Milne's summary of the backgrounds of his father's dismissal:

In the autumn of 1986, Thatcher installed Marmaduke Hussey as BBC chairman, a man with impeccable Conservative connections and a fiercely anti-union record. She did so, Seaton reveals, only after first seeking the approval of Murdoch, the BBC’s “most committed commercial and political enemy”. Hussey then consulted Victor Rothschild, a security adviser to Thatcher (and one-time associate of the Cambridge spies). According to Hussey’s memoirs, it was Rothschild who proposed firing the director general. That was finalised over lunch with the home secretary, Douglas Hurd. Within three months, it was done. No explanation was given. And Hussey used a threat to my father’s pension to persuade him to resign for “personal reasons” – and prevent him speaking out in public.

There is a considerable amount more, that I leave to your interests.

2. Paul Krugman: How Austerity Madness Was Dealt a Crucial Blow this Week

The next item is an article by Janet Allon on Alternet:

  • Paul Krugman: How Austerity Madness Was Dealt a Crucial Blow this Week

This starts as follows:

Paul Krugman takes a contrarian view of the deal the new Greek government reached with its creditors earlier in the week. The deal was widely derided on the left as a disaster,  a “surrender” on the part of Syriza, the new ruling coalition in Athens.

Krugman does not agree. "On the contrary," he writes in Friday's column, "Greece came out of the negotiations pretty well, although the big fights are still to come. And by doing O.K., Greece has done the rest of Europe a favor."

This then is followed by a quotation from Krugman, that I leave to your interests.

Here is the conclusion Janet Allon draws:

In fact, Greece won new flexibility for this year, a luxury the embattled nation has not had for quite a while. The creditors not only did not pull the plug, they gave them financing for the next few months. Sure, there are big battles looming in the future, but for now, "the Greek government didn’t succumb to the bum’s rush, and that in itself is a kind of victory," Krugman writes.

OK... this is more or less my own analysis. I do not know that is correct, but then again I also do not know Krugman and Allon know a lot more about Greece than I know.

    3. Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev

    The next item is an article by William R. Polk (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews:
    • Needed: Leaders Like JFK and Khrushchev
    In fact, this is a continuation of an earlier article that Polk had on Consortiumnews
    that I reviewed on February 25, last.

    I mostly liked that article. This continuation also contains some sensible points, that I leave to your interests.

    It ends like this, and I will have a remark on that:

    Absent Kennedy and absent Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, both of whom reined in their hawks and kept themselves open to the compromise that literally saved the world. We don’t have such men around today. Or at least I have not identified them. So, we are in a very fragile position and all of us need to lend our support to a wise, possible and peaceful policy.

    If we do not, God help us.

    William Polk is 21 years older than I am, and seems to have been a Democrat (American sense) all his life, having been nominated by president Kennedy, and serving as foreign policy advisor to Denis Kucinic in 2008.

    I like it that he does not seem to have a high opinion of Obama, while it seems both not very surprising to me and quite disappointing that he says - speaking about Kennedy and Khrushchev, neither of whom ever struck me as particularly
    intelligent, moral or decent, though I also grant that their "
    compromise (..) literally saved the world" - in effect that the present day rulers of the world do not reach their level.

    O Lord! (In whom I completely disbelieve.)

    4.  As Fast Track Looms, Opposition Mounts to Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals

    The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
    • As Fast Track Looms, Opposition Mounts to Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals

    This starts as follows:

    Congress is expected to introduce a so-called 'Fast Track' bill—which would accelerate passage of the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade proposals—as soon as next week.

    But despite the Obama administration's aggressive push to speed approval of problematic trade pacts, opposition to Trade Promotion Authority and the deals it would advance is mounting.

    Earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) penned an op-ed for the Washington Post outlining her criticism of the TPP provision known as 'Investor-State Dispute Settlement' (ISDS), which she claims would "tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations."

    Such provisions "would give protections to international corporations that are not available to United States environmental and labor groups," Warren stated in an interview with Politico published Friday. "Multinational corporations are increasingly realizing this is an opportunity to gut U.S. regulations they don’t like."

    There is also this:

    Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, called on Congress to "develop a new set of trade policies, which work for the ordinary American worker and not for large corporations and big campaign donors. We need to create decent-paying jobs in this country for a change and not just in other countries around the world."

    He added: "This free trade agreement is another step in a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system."

    And there is more under the last dotted link.

    5. Net Neutrality May Face an Uphill Battle If History Tells Us Anything

    The next item is an article by Leticia Miranda on Propublica:
    • Net Neutrality May Face an Uphill Battle If History Tells Us Anything
    This starts as follows:

    The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on a proposal today that effectively bars Internet companies from prioritizing some Internet traffic over others.As John Oliver famously explained “ending net neutrality would allow big companies to buy their way into the fast lane, leaving everyone else in the slow lane.”

    The FCC’s proposal faces plenty of opposition from telecom companies and others, but it’s just the latest round in a long fight. Here is a brief history of attempts to enact net neutrality and the often successful push against it.

    And indeed the "brief history of attempts to enact net neutrality" follows, and starts in 2002. It seems a good history to me, that I leave to your interests, except for the end, which is this:

    This almost certainly will result in another fight.

    The details of the new rules won’t be made public until after the vote. Experts expect challenges to the rules as soon as they are published. Michael Powell, a former FCC Chairman and current president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, told CNBC it could take “at least two and up to five years before the rules are fully and finally settled."

    The vote has taken place meanwhile, with 3 against 2 "for net neutrality". I take it the last conclusion is correct.


    [1] As I've said repeatedly, I am from a real leftist - revolutionairy, Marxist - family, which I gave up in 1970, when I was 20, mostly because I disagreed with all marxists of my age; did not see any talent in the CPs; disagreed with Marx's labor theory of value; disagreed with his dialectics; strongly disagreed with the many connections between communism and socialism with totalitarianism;  could not believe that the Soviet Union and its allies were socialist in any useful sense; and also did not have much sympathy with most of the left (or the right, or the middle class), mostly because they seemed to me unintelligent and ignorant for the most part.

    But these disagreements  were real, whereas my disagreements with Clinton, Blair and Brown, and the many "leftist" leaders who followed them, are different: These were personal careerists who lied, lied, and lied, and made a personal career based on lies, postures, and deceptions.

    I disagree with the leftist generations my parents belong to, but I never disliked my parents, and indeed always agreed with their morals. I despise the quasi-leftists, that came up since 1980 or so, of whom I have seen a great lot.

    And nearly all of the "leftists" I have seen in Holland since 1980 where none of the real kind: They were all - students, academics, politicians - personal careerists who basically deceived others to make money and careers themselves with baloney and bullshit.

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