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Nederlog


  October
13, 2013
Crisis:  Committee, Secrecy State, Obama vs Nixon, fracking, Reich, Snowden, Miller
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.











Sections
Introduction
1. Committee to Protect Journalists issues scathing report
     on Obama administration

2. The secret state is just itching to gag the press
3. Worse than Nixon?
4. France's highest legal body upholds ban on fracking
5. Why Giving Republican Bullies a Bloody Nose Isn’t Enough
6. Video Released: Edward Snowden at Sam Adams Award
     Ceremony

7. A bit more on Henry Miller and Erica Jong
About ME/CFS

Introduction

There's more on the crisis today, namely in six items, while the last item is mostly about Henry Miller, and continues yesterday's Nederlog.

1.  Committee to Protect Journalists issues scathing report on Obama administration

To start with, another item by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian:

It starts as follows:

It's hardly news that the Obama administration is intensely and, in many respects, unprecedentedly hostile toward the news-gathering process. Even the most Obama-friendly journals have warned of what they callrecently observed that "President Obama wants to criminalize the reporting of national security information" and added: "President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." "Obama's war on whistleblowers". James Goodale, the former general counsel of the New York Times during its epic fights with the Nixon administration,

Still, a new report released today by the highly respected Committee to Protect Journalists - its first-ever on press freedoms in the US - powerfully underscores just how extreme is the threat to press freedom posed by this administration. Written by former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr., the report offers a comprehensive survey of the multiple ways that the Obama presidency has ushered in a paralyzing climate of fear for journalists and sources alike, one that severely threatens the news-gathering process.

I quite agree, and leave the rest of it mostly to you, except for this bit:

(..) Downie [the writer of the report - MM] himself concludes:

The administration's war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I've seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post's investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent."

And for this bit, that also is the last bit from it:

Now, as this new report documents, we have moved well beyond the realm of mere threats into undeniable reality, and the silence is as deafening as the danger is pronounced.

I agree, and the deafening silence is quite worrisome.

2.  The secret state is just itching to gag the press

Next, an article by Jonathan Freedland, in the Guardian:
Actually, I found this a bit hard to read, but it is about the following model for journalism, as propounded by the Daily Mail:
Its editorial was clear. The Guardian had acted with "lethal irresponsibility". If the head of MI5 says something should not be published, then it should not be published. When it comes to reporting on such matters, an editor cannot possibly be allowed to decide for himself what to print. After all, as the Mail put it, "He's a journalist, not an expert on security." Put another way, in an ideal world a newspaper editor could face the threat of jail simply for doing what journalists are meant to do, probing into those corners of public life the powerful would prefer stayed hidden.
Also, it is about the following:

After this week, we don't have to imagine how such a system would work. The head of MI5 would no longer be confined to speechifying against the Guardian. It would need only a word in the right ear and, with the privy council and the charter as its weapons, the state could decide the Guardian had crossed the line and had to be silenced, leaving the public where it was before: in the dark.

There is not much time. Late on Friday the three main Westminster parties announced they had agreed a new regulatory set-up, centred once again on a royal charter, albeit one that cannot be altered by secret ministerial whim, but would require two-thirds majorities in both houses of parliament. That provides little reassurance: the requirement itself could be overturned by a simple Commons majority.

Ministers hope to have their new charter "sealed" by 30 October. Between now and then editors need to agree on an alternative.
And it ends as follows:

Whatever the solution, it must not involve a royal charter and the privy council. Otherwise it will hand a gag to the most secretive elements of the British state. And, as we saw this week, they are itching to use it.

As I started saying: This is not a good article, but its author may be right that by the end of this month there is no free journalism left in the UK, other than on sites maintained by private individuals.

3. Worse than Nixon?

Next, we turn again to Obama and his character, and do so by means of Democracy Now!:
This is an interview with Leonard Downie Jr, who wrote the report. Here is just a small part of it:
LEONARD DOWNIE JR.: I found that these leaks investigations and a program called the Insider Threat Program, instituted since the Bradley Manning leaks, that requires government employees to monitor each other to make sure that they’re not leaking information to anyone, including journalists, to have really frightened government officials. Many, many reporters that I interviewed here in Washington say that government officials are afraid to talk to them. They’re afraid that their telephone conversations and their email exchanges would be monitored. That is to say that investigators could come in later, as they did in several leaks investigations, and use their telephone and email records in order to find the contacts between government officials and reporters. So they’re simply scared to talk to reporters.
There is a lot more under the last dotted link. And it may well be the end of press freedom, that is, except if one reports what the government wants to hear.

4. France's highest legal body upholds ban on fracking

Next, an item on fracking, that I take from france24.com:
This starts as follows:
France's highest legal body, the Constitutional Council, on Friday approved a 2011 ban on fracking passed by the parliament over environmental concerns. US firm Schuepbach Energy challenged the ban after its exploration permits were cancelled.
And that is all you get from me. Actually, I am not quite sure what fracking all involves (but the last link is to Wikipedia), though I am rather sure that, at least with the existing corporations, it will be quite bad for many. Then again, there are some 7 billion people in the world, who all want energy.

5. Why Giving Republican Bullies a Bloody Nose Isn’t Enough

Next, a piece by Robert Reich:
This starts as follows:

Now is the time to lance the boil of Republican extremism once and for all. 

Since Barack Obama became president, the extremists who have taken over the Republican Party have escalated their demands every time he’s caved, using the entire government of the United States as their bargaining chit. 

I do not say "No!", but as Reich himself explains, Obama has built up a great tradition of caving, which suggests to me that he will do so again.

But we will see...

6. Video Released: Edward Snowden at Sam Adams Award Ceremony

Finally, at least for today and as regards the crisis, here is an overview of some - quite brief - videos that were made at the Sam Adams Award Ceremony, that was given to Edward Snowden. This is on Common Dreams, by the staff:

This is from the beginning of the text:

The videos from October 9, 2013 show Snowden receiving the Integrity Award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, presented by a group of fellow U.S. government whistleblowers in Moscow.

"If we can't understand the policies and programs of our government we can't grant our consent in regulating them," Snowden said at the ceremony in regards to the NSA's dragnet surveillance policies.

"It's a sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under a sort of eye that sees everything, even when it's not needed," he said.

"People all over the world are realizing that these programs don't make us more safe, they hurt our economy, they hurt our country, they limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely."

To see the videos, you'll have to go by way of the last dotted link.

And by the way: While I agree with Snowden, I also want to say about his in itself quite correctly put "If we can't understand the policies and programs of our government we can't grant our consent in regulating them", that it happens to be  a fact, in any democracy, that most people do not "understand the policies and programs of" their governments.

That is part of the problem of being a democracy - but indeed what is done now, using that fact, namely the surveillance of whole populations, is a great betrayal of any democratic idea, and will put an end to any democracy and almost any freedom people have, if it is not stopped, and is stopped quite radically.

7. A bit more on Henry Miller and Erica Jong

This last item of today is not about the crisis, but is about Henry Miller and Erica Jong, and continues the brief item I had yesterday.

I have now read all of Jong's 1993 book about Miller, that I bought yesterday, and I still like it: Erica Jong can write, although not at all as well nor as naturally as Miller could; she has something to say, and says some of it well; and she speaks about quite a few things I either did not know or did not know as well.

Then again, she also is - or was, at least - one of those feminists that I do not like, since I was being picked out by them, in 1977, as "a fascist", on absolutely no knowledge of me, except that I'd said I did not believe in Marx (being educated by two Marxists, who were honest, gifted, and real resistance people, something those who disqualified me were not at all, and that I also did not feel like telling them, for I despised them, and besides, it would have made no difference at all, at least for me), while Jong also - sort of - discusses Miller with them, which I am willing to grant she had to, as she was writing in the early nineties.

So what is the book Jong wrote?

It is mostly another biography of Miller, this time told by a woman, who is some 50 years younger; it also is an attempt to make out why Miller is special, as an author; it tries to make him read by others; and it discusses him, to an extent, from a postmodern feminist perspective.

I think she mostly succeeds, though I do not care much myself for postmodernism or feminism, although even that gets a bit palatable, since postmodernistic feminism by now clearly was almost all over the top and was done by people - nearly all women - who were mostly deluded, confused, and quite mistaken, as is indeed the case for any political movement, and who were mostly mistaken, deluded and confused, as is again the case for the vast majority in any political movement, simply because they were not really intelligent. (And no, I am not against feminism: I am against stupidity. And postmodernistic feminism, quite unlike earlier feminisms, was intellectually stupid and also was mostly a middle and upper class movement of would be academics, and little else. [2])

Here are a few brief comments on the above points, except for the last that I have treated:

Another biography of Miller, by a woman: I think that is mostly interesting, and it also is the first - sort of - biography of Miller by a woman that I read. (I did read several others, and also read Miller.) Then again, I do not look upon the differences between men and women as do most who were born in my age, and I already knew Miller could be read by women, and with pleasure.

An attempt to make out why Miller is special: The reason he is special is that he mostly wrote to liberate himself - from his background, from American ideals, from making money, from bourgeois ideals, from ordinary ideas and ideals, and from being some kind of conformistic success, and that he was and is one of the very few authors who write for that reason, and who also did so honestly. (This indeed is my own interest in him.)

It tries to make him read by others: I doubt Jong has succeeded in finding many new readers for Miller, who himself has fallen victim to at least two forces for obscurity: First, he was discriminated and mostly not printed for about thirty years, namely until 1964; and second, soon after that, when he could have become inspirational to many men and women, he was painted as "the enemy" by people like Kate Millett, from 1970 onwards, and set apart as "a pornographer", and a "male sexist". Then again also, the present time, and indeed this extends backwards to the nineties, is not a book reading age anymore, either. (And Miller, Jong and myself are part of an ever dwindling small to very small minority of cultivated men and women, that soon will have died out.)

Anyway - I have now read all of Erica Jong on Henry Miller, and I liked it more than not, even though at times she does have the sort of lit.crit, style that seems to come with the sort of degree she took (an English MA), and that makes it rather difficult to understand her, or to take her serious. I mean paragraphs like these:
Despite the decade of backlash we experienced during the eighties, despite the success of the divide-and-conquer technique used against feminist progress, I think we are on the verge of a brave new world of equality between the sexes. This is because I see the next generation of daughters - the young women born in the seventies and eighties - and I see that they take for granted a new level of freedom, a new level of choice and self-determination. They will not sit quietly while an authority figure tells them what to write.
Etc. and all as written ca. 1993. Now look twenty years later at all the millions upon billions of progressive feminists with their "new level of freedom, a new level of choice and self-determination"! But OK - this style of fallacious wishful thinking is not very common in her book, although indeed she also was past 50 when she wrote it (which I find at least a bit amazing).

I will return to this, though I may first need to refind some vintage Miller, to properly reread him after more than 30 years, though indeed Jong quotes him quite liberally, and usually well.


---------------------------------

Note


[1] 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 Greenwald:
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.)

[2] As I've said several times in Nederlog: I come from a rather extra-ordinary Marxist family, and I am one of the very few Dutchmen who is mostly honest. Having given up Marxism in 1970, I was for some 15-20 years discriminated as "a fascist" and removed as "a terrorist" by the University of Amsterdam, where people got M.A.s for partaking in leftist demonstations. This has taught me a lot, such as that there is no hope nor reason to be expected from the vast majority of the stupid. As to postmodernistic feminism:

The problem with the feminism that raised it head in 1970 was that it was almost all a lit.crit. movement that was mostly carried by a few women who were interested in personal fame and in academic careers, and who already had a middleclass or an upper middleclass background. These few women mostly did succeed in getting a career, but also much contributed a lot to postmodernism, and nothing to real knowledge: "Everybody knows truth does not exist", "everybody knows there are no facts" etc. (And I am here not adequate to the postmodernistic feminist movement, but do not have the time nor the taste to try to be adequate. I'll put it as follows: There was no Mary Wollstonecraft or Emma Goldman amongst the postmodern feminists - not a single one.)

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. 1979:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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