ugust 13, 2013
Crisis: The case against Obama (and more)
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

Prev- crisis -Next

1. Restore Honor and Pardon Edward Snowden
2. David Graeber: ‘There Has Been a War on the Human

3. Who Benefits from the Various ‘Wars’?
4. Why the Anger?
5. What NSA Reforms?
6. The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama's

7. Obama Appoints Fox to Investigate Spying In the
About ME/CFS


As I said yesterday: The plan to translate "About terrorism" is still on hold, for lack of energy, but I did find today a reasonable amount on the
crisis (the list of which still has to be  brought up till today).

Here it is.

1. Restore Honor and Pardon Edward Snowden

The ending of this article is
Absurd as it sounds in this era of fear mongering, a presidential pardon for Snowden would bring honor to our country.
and so the title is known to sound nonsensical, but the article is sensible and by Robert Scheer, for Truth Dig:

It starts as follows:

How do you justify criminally charging a government contractor for revealing an alarming truth that the public has every right to know? That is the contradiction raised by President Obama now that he has, in effect, acknowledged that Edward Snowden was an indispensable whistle-blower who significantly raised public awareness about a government threat to our freedom. 

Unfortunately, the president didn’t have the grace and courage to concede that precise point and remains committed to imprisoning Snowden instead of thanking him for serving the public interest. But Julian Assange, no stranger to unrequited integrity, nailed it. “Today, the president of the United States validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower by announcing plans to reform America’s global surveillance program,” the WikiLeaks founder said in a statement posted Saturday, the day after Obama’s remarks.

And Scheer also rightly asks:

What about Feinstein betraying her oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and its Fourth Amendment prohibiting “unreasonable searches and seizures”? If she judged the NSA program to be constitutional, why didn’t she reveal the scope of the operation to the spied-upon American public to let the voters decide?

Quite so. There is more below on the "changes" Obama is planning, and I write "changes" because this is another word the meaning of which changed (as you will find out below).

2. David Graeber: ‘There Has Been a War on the Human Imagination’
Next, also from Truth Dig, a brief article: This I listed to quote the following part, which I think is right:
Graeber gives one concrete example of how this has been done: “Student loans are destroying the imagination of youth. If there’s a way of a society committing mass suicide, what better way than to take all the youngest, most energetic, creative, joyous people in your society and saddle them with, like $50,000 of debt so they have to be slaves? There goes your music. There goes your culture. There goes everything new that would pop out. And in a way, this is what’s happened to our society. We’re a society that has lost any ability to incorporate the interesting, creative and eccentric people.”
This seems to be what has happened: You cannot study in the U.S. unless your parents are rich - though indeed it also is the case that you probably won't learn much anymore in an ordinary university anyway. (The link is to 25 year old pieces by me about the Dutch universities, but they deal with a problem that, in various forms, cropped up everywhere in the West: the radical levelling of education.)
Who Benefits from the Various ‘Wars’?

Next, an article by a Dutchman that I found on Consortium News:  There is this:
any realistic discussions on the nature of the surveillance policies we live under need to start from the understanding of the true nature of these systems and policies. It’s not a mistake or polite difference of opinion on how to address “security” questions. Effectively resisting these policies cannot be done from the quasi-polite and na´ve standpoint of acceptance of the official goals.
which amounts to: (1) you cannot believe the official story (see I.F. Stone, above), so (2) follow the money.

Well, here is the result about "the war on terrorism" - which I think myself also was the original end, from the very beginning:
But this does not mean that these systems have no use. They are of use and are being used for what they are good at: suppressing dissent in democratic societies.

This is done by infiltrating and breaking up activist networks and thus pre-empting effective protest. By labeling non-violent and legitimate political activity “extremism” or “terrorism,” the entire suite of anti-terror laws erected over the last decade can be brought to bear against citizens using their democratic rights to protest various wrongs that they perceive in society (human rights, environmental problems, governmental corruption, abuse of power by corporations, etc.).

And here is the result about "the war on drugs":
clearly this policy of prohibition is not working, for all the reasons alcohol prohibition did not work in the U.S. in the early 20th Century. So why keep it going? What are the upsides and who is benefiting? Obviously many people working in law-enforcement are benefiting (job security), privatized prison systems are benefiting (more business), governments looking for excuses to arbitrarily arrest people are benefiting. Banks where the billions are laundered are benefiting.
Yes, indeed. There is more, but this seems the essence, at least from my point of view.

Why the Anger?

Now you may well ask, having read - for example - the previous item:

So did Robert Reich, and he asks
Why is the nation more bitterly divided today than it’s been in eighty years? Why is there more anger, vituperation, and political polarization now than even during Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the tempestuous struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, the divisive Vietnam war, or the Watergate scandal?
Here is his main answer:
I think the deeper explanation for what has happened has economic roots. From the end of World War II through the late 1970s, the economy doubled in size — as did almost everyone’s income. Almost all Americans grew together. In fact, those in the bottom fifth of the income ladder saw their incomes more than double. Americans experienced upward mobility on a grand scale.

Yet for the last three and a half decades, the middle class has been losing ground. The median wage of male workers is now lower than it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation.

I think he is right, and indeed also about this being
deeply dangerous.
5. What NSA Reforms?

Now we come to the reforms president Obama promised, that are discussed by Eugene Robinson on Truth Dig:
It starts thus:

President Obama’s message about the government’s massive electronic surveillance programs came through loud and clear: Get over it.

The president used more soothing words in his pre-vacation news conference Friday, but that was the gist. With perhaps the application of a fig leaf here and a sheen of legalistic mumbo jumbo there, the snooping will continue. 

Indeed. There is more there, but that is the gist.

The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama's Presidency

However, you may want to know more than the gist. Here is an analysis of president Obama's speech by Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic:
The second and third paragraph are as follows:

On Friday, President Obama spoke to us about surveillance as though we were precocious children. He proceeded as if widespread objections to his policies can be dispatched like a parent answers an eight-year-old who has formally protested her bedtime. He is so proud that we've matured enough to take an interest in our civil liberties! Why, he used to think just like us when he was younger, and promises to consider our arguments. But some decisions just have to be made by the grownups. Do we know how much he loves us? Can we even imagine how awful he would feel if anything bad ever happened while it was still his job to ensure our safety? *

By observing Obama's condescension, I don't mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions.

Next, he selects 12 passages from the speech, and submits these to analysis, and indeed there is very little left, except condescension and lies by the president.

You can find this out by reading the article, which ends as follows:

The surveillance debate is arguably the most important of our era.

Yet throughout the surveillance debate, the executive branch, including Obama, has lied, obfuscated, and misled the American people in a variety of ways. Before Edward Snowden's leaks, they could at least tell themselves that the disinformation was serving the purpose of keeping al-Qaeda operates from learning the general contours of our surveillance capabilities. But today, when that excuse has long since expired, Obama is still lying, obfuscating, and misleading the American people. In doing so, he is preventing representative democracy from functioning as well as it might. With the stakes so high, and his performance so dubious in so many places, Friday's speech has got to be one of the low points of his presidency. 

Quite so - and he also will not do any better in the future. As illustrated by the next item:

Obama Appoints Fox to Investigate Spying In the Henhouse

Finally, there is this on the reforms president Obama promised and made. on Washington's Blog:
The gist is as follows:

Friday, Obama promised an independent group or experts would investigate spying:

We’re forming a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in the haystack of global telecommunications. And meanwhile, technology has given governments — including our own — unprecedented capability to monitor communications.

So I am tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities — particularly our surveillance technologies. And they’ll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy — particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. And they will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy, and our foreign policy.

Today, Obama appointed James Clapper to head the “independent group” of “outside experts”.

Clapper is the same guy who lied to Congress about spying … falsely claiming that the government wasn’t spying on the American people. He subsequently apologized to Congress for lying.

And – as the Director of National Intelligence – Clapper is the U.S. spy-in-chief.

I rest my case.
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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