"Those who sacrifice liberty for
security deserve neither."
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
1. The Last
Chance to Stop
NSA Hacked into
Email, Phones of Latin American Presidents
True Test of
Misread the Nazis
is a bit more today than there was yesterday, but item 4 is about The
Frankfurt Critical School.
Chance to Stop the NDAA
To start with, here
is Chris Hedges, writing on Truth Dig:
This continues the story I
have - briefly - dealt with before, namely Hedges, Chomsky's and other
persons legal case against Obama. It starts thus:
Note this is the last legal
chance, and maybe it will not be taken up, for as Hedges says
I and my fellow
plaintiffs have begun the third and final round of our battle to get
the courts to strike down a section of the National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that permits the military to seize
U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in
military facilities. Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, the lawyers who with
me in January 2012 brought a lawsuit against President Barack Obama
(Hedges v. Obama), are about to file papers asking the U.S. Supreme
Court to hear our appeal of a 2013 ruling on the act’s Section 1021.
terrorism-industrial complex assured Americans that they were only
spying on foreigners, not U.S. citizens,” Mayer said to me recently.
“Then they assured us that they were only spying on phone calls, not
electronic communications. Then they assured us that they were not
spying on American journalists. And now both [major political] parties
and the Obama administration have assured us that they will not detain
journalists, citizens and activists. Well, they detained journalist
Chris Hedges without a lawyer, they detained journalist
Laura Poitras without due process and if allowed to stand this law
will permit the military to target activists, journalists and citizens
in an unprecedented assault on freedom in America.”
All we have left
is the Supreme Court, which may not take the case.
And note this is quite
If Section 1021
stands it will mean that more than 150 years of case law in which the
Supreme Court repeatedly held the military has no jurisdiction over
civilians will be abolished. It will mean citizens who are charged by
the government with “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or
the nebulous category of “associated forces” will be lawfully subject
rendition. It will mean citizens seized by the military will
languish in military jails indefinitely, or in the language of Section
1021 until “the end of hostilities”—in an age of permanent war, for the
rest of their lives. It will mean, in short, obliteration of our last
remaining legal protections, especially now that we have lost the right
to privacy, and the ascent of a crude, militarized state that serves
the leviathan of corporate totalitarianism. It will mean, as Forrest
pointed out in her 112-page opinion, that whole categories of
Americans—and here you can assume dissidents and activists—will be
subject to seizure by the military and indefinite and secret detention.
There is rather a lot more
under the last dotted link, and it ends thus:
The Supreme Court
takes between 80 and 100 cases a year from about 8,000 requests. There
is no guarantee our appeal will ever be heard. If we fail, if this law
stands, if in the years ahead the military starts to randomly seize and
disappear people, if dissidents and activists become subject to
indefinite and secret detention in military gulags, we will at least be
able to look back on this moment and know we fought back.
That is, it might be concluded
- on naive probabilistic assumptions, but there is not anything
decisively better - there is about a 1 in 1000 chance that the Supreme
Court will take the case.
I would be rather amazed if it does so, and I will not be much amazed
if things work out as Chris Hedges say they may. But I do not know.
NSA Hacked into Email, Phones of Latin American Presidents
This is by Jon Queally for Common Dreams, and is inspired by Greenwald:
This starts as follows:
In the latest reporting
by journalist Glenn Greenwald on the U.S. National Security Agency's
international surveillance programs, a news story on a Brazilian news
show on Sunday night reported that the agency has used its powers to
infiltrate the communication systems of presidents in both Mexio and
It ends with a quotation from
Agence France-Presse that I only quote the last part of:
Greenwald, listed as a
co-contributor for the Journo O Globo's Sunday evening show Fantastico,
said that documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that
the NSA accessed the email accounts and telephones of both President
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma
This can grow serious.
"If these facts prove to
be true, it would be unacceptable and could be called an attack on our
country's sovereignty," Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said.
The NSA program allows
agents to access the entire communications network of the president and
her staff, including telephone, Internet and social network exchanges.
True Test of American Resolve
Next a bit by Robert
Reich on the Syrian issue:
Here are the first and third
We are on the brink of a
tragic decision to strike Syria, because, in the dubious logic of the
President, “a lot of people think something should be done,” and
American “credibility” is at stake. He and his secretary of state
assure us that the strike will be “limited” and “surgical.”
Clearly, Reich is right, as is
his advice: Straighten out the U.S. rather than get involved with
Syria, and who knows else. But I am afraid Obama will have his
"strike", and "God damn the consequences" - for the president feels
entitled to it, and he is entitled to it according to Kerry, and that
seems to settle it, for them.
But have we
learned nothing from our mistakes in the past? Time and again over the
last half century American presidents have justified so-called
“surgical strikes” because the nation’s “credibility” is at stake, and
because we have to take some action to show our “strength and resolve”
— only to learn years later that our credibility suffered more from our
brazen bellicosity, that the surgical strikes only intensified
hostilities and made us captive to forces beyond our control, and that
our resolve eventually disappears in the face of mounting casualties of
Americans and innocent civilians — and in the absence of
clearly-defined goals or even clear exit strategies. We and others have
paid an incalculable price.
Theorists Who Misread the Nazis
Now I am going to a rather
different subject, namely The Frankfurt Critical School, who got a
deserved dressing down by Walter Laqueur.
You may well ask "What is The Frankfurt Critical School?", but
it used to be rather important, at least till the 1990ies:
My source is the British
Standpoint Magazine, and Laqueur starts as follows, under a picture of
Herbert Marcuse that has the following byline: "Herbert
Marcuse: The father of the New Left worked for US military intelligence
during the war":
School, founded in Germany in 1923 — the Institute for Social Research
being its official name — was a group of intellectuals who played an
important role in Europe and the United States over several decades.
The school's orientation was "critical", which in practice meant
undogmatic Marxist (within limits). It stood for a synthesis of Marx
and Freud, philosophy and sociology. It also tried to integrate some
German thinkers who were closer to Nazism than to Marxism, such as
Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt. It advocated a society that was more
just, saw monopoly capitalism as the main threat and was more
preoccupied with high culture and the evils of mass culture than
So far, so good - except that "a synthesis of Marx and Freud, philosophy and
sociology" sounds pretty
nonsensical, and indeed has turned out to be pretty nonsensical.
Let me first give the nominal reason for Laqueur's review:
Some 30 of their
many wartime position papers have now been published under the general
title Secret Reports on Nazi
One reason Laqueur reviews it is that he is an expert on Nazi
Germany. And he asks the following question, after praising the members
of the Frankfurt School:
intelligent, well-educated people with wide interests and it is only
legitimate that the editor should have picked out of their many reports
those which have best stood the test of time. But were they prescient,
pioneering an understanding of the character of Nazism, its aims and
ambitions? This has been claimed in the past and is sometimes argued
In fact, that is what I
was told in the University of Amsterdam: The Frankfurt School and its
thinkers, like Marcuse, Neumann, Adorno and Benjamin had all the
answers, and to doubt this (!) meant one was "a fascist" - for that was
always the main argument, then and there, in the University of
Amsterdam of the 1970ies and 1980ies. 
In fact, the answer was bullshit,
although it is true that this was hard to recognize because almost
everything that was written by the Frankfurt School was written in an
awfully pretentious bogus jargon.
Also, Laqueur asks:
But seen from a
perspective of more than 70 years, were their insights accurate or
rather naive? Were their predictions born out by subsequent events?
The brief answer is that they
were inaccurate, that the predictions were not born out, and that the
theories were - at the very best (!) - naive.
There is rather a lot more in Laqueur's review, but the answers I
provided seem quite adequate, except for True Believers in the
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
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
from is quite pertinent.)
do not know how many times I have
been called "a fascist" by the left-wing students who ruled the
University of Amsterdam, but it is many times.
In fact, my parents and grandparents were - sincere and genuine
- communists, both my father
and mother were in the real Dutch resistance, and both my father and
grandfather were condemned as "political terrorists" to Nazi
concentration camps. None of the students who called me "a fascist"
a background like I have, and it is probable most of their
parents and grandparents collaborated during WW II, as indeed most
I just did not reveal any of this information during the time I
studied, in part because my parents were still alive, and in part out
of utter contempt.
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: