This also is a bit earlier
than otherwise, and again the reason is mostly that I could. (Also, the
weather is still good where I am.)
And again the first five
items are reports on various aspects of the crisis, that include one by Greenwald and one by Snowden,
and besides there is attention for Robert Reich's film, and for the
current shutdown of the U.S. government.
1. Reddit Q-and-A on NSA reporting
The first item today is a
Glenn Greenwald piece in the Guardian:
This is Glenn Greenwalds's
report on a Reddit Q-and-A, that he did together with Janine Gibson,
who works for the Guardian in the US, and that went on for 90 scheduled
minutes, and scored the following in that brief time:
And indeed this last link is
to Reddit, for anyone who may want to read all or most of it. I am not
one of those, but it's nice to have the link and indeed the material is
interesting - it just is a lot. So I will here and now concentrate on
the first dotted link, which is Greenwald's report in the Guardian.
He deals in his response with two questions, of which the first is
about Edward Snowden. Here is part of his reply:
"One of the most darkly
hilarious things to watch is how government apologists and media
servants are driven by total herd behavior: they all mindlessly adopt
the same script and then just keep repeating it because they see others
doing so and, like parrots, just mimic what they hear.
"All whistleblowers are
immediately demonized - they have to be "crazy" lest people think that
there is something valid to their view that they saw injustices so
fundamental that it was worth risking their liberty to expose.
"The script used to do
this to Snowden was that he was a 'fame-seeking narcissist'. Hordes of
people who had no idea what 'narcissism' even means - and who did not
know the first thing about Snowden - kept repeating this word over and
over because that became the cliche used to demonize him.
"The reason this was
darkly hilarious is because there is almost no attack on him more
patently invalid than this one. When he came to us, he said: 'after I
identify myself as the source and explain why I did this, I intend to
disappear from media sight, because I know they will want to
personalize the story about me, and I want the focus to remain on the
substance of NSA disclosures.'
Quite so - and I would like to
repeat that the one to distribute the 'fame-seeking narcissist' was, at least in my
experience, mostly Mr David Brooks of the New York Times, who to my
knowledge has neither been taken up on this, nor answered. In any case,
here is Greenwald on Snowden:
"He could easily have
been the most famous person in the world, on TV every day and night.
But he chose not to, selflessly, so that he would not distract from the
substance of the story.
"How the people who spent
months screaming 'fame whore' and 'narcissist' at him don't fall on the
ground in shame is mystifying to me. Few smear campaigns have ever
proven more baseless than this one."
I think the first paragraph is
quite correct. As to the "mystifyingness": The main reason is that such
people do not have any independent and personal set of
criterions for truth, and indeed probably could not even start to
rationally answer the question of what is truth.
For such people, truth = what their superiors think, and that quite
suffices for them, and indeed also comes natural to them. Also, having
dealt with people some decades more than Glenn Greenwald has, my own
experience is that this attitude is quite normal (and quite
pernicious as well).
In fact, taking up the theme of my last statement: The other theme
Greenwald highlights is how extremely relative
the values of lots of "Democrats,
progressives, liberal bloggers, etc, were", when seen before and after 2008: Before
2008, Greenwald was a hero in their eyes; after 2008 he was, at best, a
fool. The only thing that changed was who was the president,
for the president did not change the policies of the previous
president, even though he promised, and was elected on these promises.
Anyway - you can check this out for yourself, and also can check out
the whole Reddit interview, in which quite a few interesting questions
2. INEQUALITY FOR ALL
Next, here is from Robert
Reich's website the news that his film has been released:
Note that he lists lots
of changes, that will grow more and more serious as the shutdown lasts.
And there are lots of things that will be shut down, as there
are many people who will be sent home without salary. Here are
AMYGOODMAN: Tim, you have a
long list of what’s going to go down today, what are some of the
government services that won’t be provided. Just share some of those
TIMMURPHY: Sure, and I’ve
touched on a few, but, you know, for instance, the National Park
Service is closing 401 of its sites, so that obviously applies to
things like, you know, sightseeing and hiking. It also applies to
the—you know, the retirees and folks like that who essentially live at
National Park Service, National Forest Service campsites. They have 48
hours now to relocate. You know, the U.S. Geological Survey is
canceling all of its long-term scientific research. The same goes for
agencies like NOAA and the Environmental
Protection Agency, which will no longer be able to regulate things like
pesticides, which I think is something a lot of people care about. You
know, we’ve touched on the 400,000 Department of Defense civilian
And there are even—you
know, there are even things that folks on the left side of the spectrum
might be OK with and conservatives would be really upset with. So, for
instance, the Bureau of Land Management is no longer going to be giving
out permits for oil and gas leases or new oil and gas exploration. The ARPA-E, which is this Department of Energy
Advanced Research Project program, they do things like squirtable
batteries and deriving energy from algae and stuff like that. They’re
shutting down entirely. And as are—you know, and the Bureau of Land
Management is not going to be giving out permits for renewable energy,
The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission runs out of its funding stream in one week, so they can
continue functioning as normal this week, but then they lay off, I
think, all but about 20 people in their agency next week, and that
could mean a reduction in inspections. We’re going to see a reduction
in inspections of automobiles, a reduction of inspections in beef and
grain. So a lot of the stuff we eat is no longer going to have that
second look from federal inspectors. The FDA
is going to slow down its research on drugs. And then this one, I
think, especially as flu season gets going, the Center for Disease
Control says it’s no longer going to be able to properly monitor
outbreaks, both at home and overseas, and it’s not going to be
properly—able to properly implement its flu season vaccination program.
And then it is not yet October 15, for then the
debt ceiling may cut in, and create far more havoc:
Yeah, and that’s the thing. As bad as the shutdown is—and it’s pretty
bad, and it’s affecting all of these people—a debt ceiling would be far
more—a debt ceiling—a failure to raise the debt ceiling would be far
more catastrophic. And that comes on October 15th. Treasury Secretary
Jack Lew has said, at that point we will no longer be able to meet our
nation’s obligations, and unless Congress can raise the debt ceiling,
which has been a fairly routine thing over the last few decades, then
we run the risk of default. And if we get into a default, then the U.S.
dollar runs the risk of no longer being the global currency, and, you
know, we run the risk of plunging into a second recession and
triggering kind of a whole new global economic crisis.
Note that as-is, this
is a mere prediction. But it looks fairly serious to me, indeed
especially because of the Republican Tea Party nutters, who are
confronting the one thing Obama cannot trade away, and that he indeed
has legally gained, and that also seems to be what by far the most
Americans want, namely better health care, as exists in Europe.
4.After this budget chaos is Uncle Sam ready for assisted
suicide? Next on the same subject, a British voice, namely that of
Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:
I am of the pro-American
generation. To us America was the future. Europe was nowhere. We read,
saw, heard, visited America. We studied and worked there. Some of us
even married Americans. We were affiliates of the tribe. We bought into
the exceptionalist legend.
America can sorely test
that loyalty. We were taught that the federal constitution must take
the rough with the smooth. It was the forge on which American
diversity was beaten into unity. It was how a continent
which might have fragmented into a myriad states – black, white,
Hispanic, oriental, whatever – has remained one. That wise American
historian, Arthur Schlesinger, used to
say that its constitution waltzes democracy to the cliff-edge of
disaster, peers into the abyss, but always pulls back.
This week it has danced to
that edge. It beggars belief that somewhere which tediously calls
itself the "most powerful nation on Earth" cannot beat a few AK-47s and
has now failed the whelk stall test.
I would not have written the
above, but that is in part because of my - fairly unique - background.
In any case, that was just the opening, and Simon Jenkins is quite
capable of seeing the many things that are wrong in the US:
army lost contact with the Geneva
degenerated into prisoner abuse and torture. Its internet industries
collude with secret agencies to intrude on private citizens, guilty or
innocent. Moral superiority has been debased by the paranoia of "they
who are not with us are against us", and "the law-abiding have nothing
to fear". America refuses to defer to supranationalism, to the United
Nations or international courts.
Back home, US democracy
seems to be malfunctioning, lurching towards corporatist oligarchy.
Presidential elections are fought only in a dozen "swing states". The
late Ronald Dworkin warned that the supreme court's "Citizens United" case, which refused
to curb campaign spending, would enable big money to "buy out"
democracy. Meanwhile the House of Representatives, author of this week's chaos, hardly honours its name,
more gerrymandered, bribed and corrupted than any chamber in the free
The catalogue of woe seems
endless, and America's friends find too much truth in the portrayal not
to be alarmed by it. But it is time to return to Schlesinger's
At this point Jenkins has lost
me. First, I don't like Schlesinger. Second, even if I liked him, you
can't decide issues like this by appealing to faith-based sayings of
historians, who tell you not to worry because "this still is a
democracy". Third, especially not as there is not much of a democracy
left in the U.S.
Then again, I have no definite prospects myself: It may again
get passed. But if it isn't, "the catalogue
of woe seems endless", and not
only for the Americans.
5.The Work of a Generation
Finally, I turn to Edward
Snowden, who is in Common Dreams with a brief personal note that has
the following title:
A culture of
secrecy has denied our societies the opportunity to determine the
appropriate balance between the human right of privacy and the
governmental interest in investigation. These are not decisions that
should be made for a people, but only by the people after full,
informed, and fearless debate. Yet public debate is not possible
without public knowledge, and in my country, the cost for one in my
position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been
persecution and exile. If we are to enjoy such debates in the future,
we cannot rely upon individual sacrifice. We must create better
channels for people of conscience to inform not only trusted agents of
government, but independent representatives of the public outside of
I mostly agree, except for the
fact that I am more than twice as old as is Snowden, and I tend to have
proportionally less trust in the judgment of "the people", mostly
because I have seen all kinds of majorities fondly and surely choosing
the false alternatives.
Even so, the inital statement is quite correct, as is Snowden's
estimate that undoing the enormous amounts of rot that have been
smuggled into governments' policies since 2000 will take at least a
generation to undo it.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, thay 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
It is more proper
that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same
principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some
particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and
the servant of 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 machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1.