8, 2013
Crisis: Warning, party, NSA/GCHQ * 3, science, Hazlitt, Twain
  "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.

  1. Former American President and Vice President: NSA
       Spying Is Destroying the Constitution

  2. NSA leaks: UK's enemies are 'rubbing their hands with
       glee', says MI6 chief

  3. NSA files – reaction to spy chiefs grilling – live
  4. Key questions the chief spooks were asked, and those
       they did not hear

  5. Questioning of spy agency chiefs 'wouldn't have scared
       a puppy'

  6. Philip Pilkington: What Happened to Science and
       Research Funding?

  7. If William Hazlitt were alive today, he'd be eating 39p

  8. What we should take from the second volume of Mark
       Twain’s cantankerous autobiography
About ME/CFS


There are eight sections today, and most are about the crisis.

In fact, I'd say all of the first seven are crisis related, but I admit item 7 got in especially because it mentions and quotes William Hazlitt, who is my favorite English essayist since I first discovered him ca. 1983, and of whom I have read more than most, indeed of any nationality. But the essay also is about the poverty of modern writers, and that is crisis related.

And even the last item might be considered crisis-related, especially because of Twain's combination of honesty and intelligence - he was not a stupid average nobody who insisted everybody is "equivalent" to a stupid average nobody - but on this I will not insist. It is here because I really like Mark Twain, who indeed is another great writer, next to William Hazlitt.

1. Former American President and Vice President: NSA Spying Is Destroying the Constitution

To start with, I quote all of a Washington's Blog, which also is not large, simply because he speaks the truth, by my lights at least, and that truth is very important:

Here is the whole file - and the bolding, coloring and italics are in it:

Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Supreme Court Justices and Other Top U.S. Officials Warn that America Is Losing Its Democracy

Former President Jimmy Carter said in July that NSA spying on Americans meant that “America has no functioning democracy”.

Former Vice President Al Gore agreed this week:

I say that as someone who was a member of the National Security Council working in the White House and getting daily briefings from the CIA.


“[Snowden] has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States“….

Many other high-level U.S. officials – including Supreme Court justices – have also warned that the U.S. is no longer a functioning democracy. A detailed analysis shows that they are correct.

Yes, quite so: They stole the most private and most personal data of hundreds of millions totally innocent persons.

And the only reason I can think of why they wanted to do that is because they want another type of state, in which the government has far more control over its population - for one thing, because they wanted this before 9/11, as William Binney testified, and indeed wanted it already in 1968, according to Brezezinsky.

Also, I do not know whether meanwhile there are secret or non-secret laws that sanction this, but I have nothing to do with such laws and totally reject them.

2. NSA leaks: UK's enemies are 'rubbing their hands with glee', says MI6 chief

Next, we have the first report on the public relations exercise that the heads of MI6 and the GCHQ were allowed to do yesterday. This report is by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Britain's three senior spy chiefs came into the public glare for the first time to claim that leaks by the former NSA analyst Edward Snowden were being "lapped up" by the country's adversaries, but also to concede that the disclosures had prompted discussion with the government over how to be more transparent about their methods.

Despite an often gentle first public cross-examination of the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, some members of the intelligence and security committee, including the former head of the civil service Lord Butler, expressed their concern at the legal oversight of the intelligence agencies.

Butler said it was hardly credible that the legislation governing the agencies was "still fit for purpose for the modern world". After the session, Sir Menzies Campbell, a Liberal Democrat member of the ISC, also called for a review of the law, "not least to provide the public with a sense of reassurance and confidence that there is a substantial legal framework".

There is also this, on one of the "highlights":

The 90-minute session came most alive when the spy chiefs expressed their cold fury at the Edward Snowden disclosures in the Guardian and other papers, claiming that they would lead for years to an "inexorable darkening" of their knowledge of those threatening the country.

Sir John Sawers, head of MI6, said: "The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging. They have put our operations at risk. It is clear our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee. Al-Qaida is lapping it up."

Of course! "Al-Qaida"! Meanwhile, this British piece of spying shit has pooled hundreds of millions of the private data that are the private possessions of totally innocent civilians, but he pretends he can get away with this.

There's also this complete and utter despicable rot:

[Lobban - MM] hotly denied that GCHQ delved into "innocent emails and calls", but said the agencies needed to have access to "the enormous hayfield" if they were to find the needles.

Lobban promised: "We do not spend our time listening to the telephone calls or reading the emails of the majority, the vast majority – that would not be proportionate, it would not be legal. We do not do it. We can only look at the content of communications where there are very specific legal thresholds and requirements which have been met. So that's the reality. We don't want to delve into innocent emails and phonecalls."

You do not need the hayfield to find the needles: you want the hayfields so as to be a threat to the total population - and what is "innocence" and who is "innocent" is not for you and your despicable lot of terrorists subsidized and protected by the British state to decide, but should depend on actual judges, simply because otherwise it may depend on the day and the weather as far as you are concerned.

Also, the reason you do not delve into hundreds of millions of stolen data is your lack of personnel and of money, and not your lack of desire, e.g. to find out about your former boy- or girlfriend.

Finally, there is this (of what I quote: there is a lot more in the article):
Sawers also rejected allegations that intelligence agencies had been complicit in torture or have mistreated individuals. Parker added: "We do not participate in, incite, encourage or condone mistreatment or torture, and that is absolute."
Of course not! Who could ever think a British spy master could possibly lie?!

But anyway, they had their little propaganda and publicity show.

3. NSA files – reaction to spy chiefs grilling – live

Next, this is the live-report in the Guardian by Paul Owen:
In fact, this has some more recent appraisals of the little propaganda and publicity show I treated in the previous item, such as

The committee's big failure was not to probe the witnesses at all on the allegations of mass, giant-computer-driven, surveillance operations of GCHQ and NSA, writes Richard Norton-Taylor.

His comments follow, but I leave them to you, and the same for the next bit:

It was disappointing the treatment of the spy chiefs was so "gentle", Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green party in the UK and former Guardian journalist, writes.

She also has her own text, that I do not quote, but I agree.

In fact, this item is here because it prints a letter by Allen Rusbridger, who edits the Guardian, namely at 10.01 GMT, under today's date, of wich I will quote one paragraph only:
On the issue of staff names, you will be aware that over 850,000 people worldwide have access to not only the Snowden documents but to a whole range of information on GCHQ. Neither we nor any of our journalistic partners have published the identities of any personnel from the intelligence community, a point accepted and welcomed by the relevant agencies.
Quite so - and I'd like to add that these 850,000 people are the only ones who know a lot, and so far almost all have them have been silent, also about who they are and what makes them so very, very, very special, that they may rob every one's personal data, while the persons robbed may not know anything, and should accept the robbery of all the data of hundreds of millions of innocent persons "because of Al Qaeda".

4. Key questions the chief spooks were asked, and those they did not hear

Next, an article by Matthew Weaver in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Ahead of Thursday's appearance of Britain's three chief spooks before the Commons intelligence and security committee, the Guardian set out 10 questions that they should be asked.

Only three of the key questions were directly asked by the committee. Some of the questions were broadly alluded to, but the MPs favoured general soft questions rather than forensic probing.

I did mention these questions yesterday, though I didn't give them, and here they are repeated, and it is shown most were not asked, and those that were asked were toned down, usually also very much.

In any case, the article repeats the questions, and provides such answers, indeed mostly "answers", as were given by the British spy masters, none of whom was ever elected, and all of whom were exceedingly private persons until recently.

5. Questioning of spy agency chiefs 'wouldn't have scared a puppy'

Next, here is another reaction in the Guardian to the interview with the three British leading spooks and spies, by Peter Walker in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Civil liberties groups have described the first public questioning of Britain's spy agency chiefs as disappointing and far from illuminating, saying the committee of MPs who quizzed the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ failed to ask searching questions.

During the 90-minute intelligence and security committee hearing, MI5's Andrew Parker, the MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, and Sir Iain Lobban, the director of GCHQ, were questioned on subjects including whether the agencies' interception of electronic communication was excessive, if there was a need for greater oversight of their work, and the effects of stories by the Guardian and others based on the revelations of Edward Snowden.


Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said the promised inquisition had proved extremely tame. "These public servants presided over blanket surveillance of the entire population without public, parliamentary or democratic mandate. Yet they faced a grilling that wouldn't have scared a puppy," she said.

"Broad, friendly questions were easily batted away and little was said that isn't already on public record. A real inquiry into this grand breach of trust must now begin."

And that is just the first of several more responses of other spokesmen of other organizations. These I leave to you - I merely observe it was a pure propaganda and publicity show for three liars, who appropriated and stole far more than they should be allowed to, and who are - I am firmly convinced - trying to lay the foundations for a police state.

Philip Pilkington: What Happened to Science and Research Funding?

Next, we go to another subject: the radical decline of the universities, that have been getting ever more expensive to attend; the courses of which have been much simplified; and which have very much changed for the worse, especially over the last 45 years.

The article is by Pilkington on Naked Capitalism:

I will not quote from it and leave it to you, though I will say there is considerably more that is wrong with the universities than Pilkington writes about, and that I cannot take them serious as educational institutions, except in a few places or subjects.

If William Hazlitt were alive today, he'd be eating 39p Frazzle

Next, an article by Nicholas Lezard in the New Statesman:
This starts as follows:

You may have heard the news last week about gas and electricity prices going up at roughly three times the rate of inflation, and wages falling in real terms for the past decade. Nor were they that great to begin with. Tell me about it, I thought to myself, as I lay in ambush by the mousehole behind the cooker, saucepan in hand, waiting for my dinner to emerge.

“It is hard to be without money. To get on without it is like travelling in a foreign country without a passport – you are stopped, suspected, and made ridiculous at every turn, besides being subjected to the most serious inconveniences.” That’s William Hazlitt in 1827. It could have been me, six days ago. Before that, I had checked my bank balance and been interested to note that I had 1.27 in my current account to last me until the next payday, which was then 16 days away.

I have been quite often in a similar situation, and indeed have never earned more than a dole income, in all my 63 years. The reason I am a bit better off than is Lezard (it seems) is that the Dutch dole is still a bit better than the English dole, whose recipients are plundered shamelessly, it seems, namely to increase the incomes of the Tory ministers and their mates, the banking managers, and also because indeed I am and have also been a man of little financial needs, who had to learn to live on little, and succeeded.

In any case, the problem Lezard writes about, indeed with a nice picture of Hazlitt, and some more quotes from "On the want of money", is a serious one: There is very little money, especially not in printed papers, weeklies and monthlies, and it may effectively terminate most written criticism, also because fewer and fewer can buy these.

I leave his essay to you, and merely reveal Lezard did get a partial payment, that he invested in a curry place.

What we should take from the second volume of Mark Twain’s cantankerous autobiography

Finally, a bit by David Grills in the New Statesman:
This is mainly here because I regard Mark Twain as a great writer, for various reasons, one of which is that he was a good satirist, e.g. of religion and of
“any and every god among the two or three millions of gods that our race has been manufacturing since it nearly ceased to be monkeys”
and who also, quite perceptively, wrote:
“In the Old Testament His acts expose His vindictive, unjust, ungenerous, pitiless and vengeful nature constantly . . . It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere.”
Yes, indeed - I agree, and got the same ideas upon reading it.

Also, Mark Twain did happily not share the belief of most of the average idiots, many who had academic titles, that I have met or read in Holland, namely that absolutely no one is allowed to be in any way any better than they are (except sports' heroes, of course: these are the true halfgods, for the average mind), for that is what "everyone is equivalent", which for some 40 years was THE moral law that the Dutch pretended to, lays down and maintains, and does so totally falsely.

For while it is true average people are stupid, liars and conformists much more often than anything else, perhaps also because they live in a harsh and unforgiving society, and never got a good education, while almost all did get  plenty of bad examples, it is not true all people are average, even if the democratic majority is.

Hence I am myself quite pleased to see Mark Twain's disdain quoted:
Among names filed under just one letter of the alphabet, you can find memorable strictures on Charles H Webb (“a poor sort of creature, and by nature and training a fraud”), Charles L Webster (“one of the most assful persons I have ever met”) and Daniel Whitford (“endowed with a stupidity which by the least little stretch would go around the globe four times”).
Yes indeed! And while I do not know any of them, that is precisely reason why I do not think much of the editors of this edition, for they found it necessary, over 100 years after Twain died, to protect and warn their readers:
In the 200 pages of notes to this volume, the scrupulous editors include warnings (“one-sided and in many instances erroneous”, and so on) not to take Twain’s charges on trust.
I am sorry but that is great nonsense: First, those Mark Twain called stupid, very probably were so, if not compared with others, than with him; second, they all are dead a very long time, and their names do not need any special protection; third, precisely the same holds for the feuds Mark Twain had with them; and fourth, to return to a point I made: Mark Twain was a very intelligent man, and it is no more than natural he considered quite a large number of people fools, cheats, frauds etc. He certainly was not always right, but that does not matter after more than a hundred years, especially since he was right that many people are both stupid and dishonest.

Then again, I agree it is quite possible only a minority can see this, and a far smaller part will admit it.
P.S. November 9, 2013: Removed a number of writing mistakes.


[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.)

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)

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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