January 21, 2014

Crisis: All slaves, undeserving rich, blackmail not security, Gore Vidal, personal

   "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.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next  

No Place to Hide: We’re All Suspects In Barack Obama’s

2. The Undeserving Rich
3. It's About Blackmail, Not National Security
     (=Surveillance and Scandal)

4. Gore Vidal: His Life and Legacy
5. Personal

About ME/CFS


This is another
crisis issue, but it has only four crisis items, though these are good.

Also, I have today uploaded new versions of all of the Nederlogs of 2014, so as to have a decent last line, as there is now also in the present file. This is because this should work properly, and it did not. (However, I changed nothing in the texts themselves.)

Finally, there is a very brief personal item at the end.

1. No Place to Hide: We’re All Suspects In Barack Obama’s America

To start with, an article by Robert Scheer on Truthdig, that summarizes some lessons from Obama's latest speech:
This starts as follows:

Barack Obama’s speech Friday on surveillance was his worst performance, not as a matter of theatrical skill, though he clearly did not embrace his lines, but in its stark betrayal of his oft proclaimed respect for constitutional safeguards and civil liberty. 

His unbridled defense of the surveillance state opened the door to the new McCarthyism of Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein, the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees, who on Sunday talk shows were branding Edward Snowden as a possible Russian spy. 

Yes, indeed.

As to the first paragraph: He must have known at many places that he lied, simply because he has been a professor of constitutional law. This is why "betrayal" is the right word.

As to the second paragraph: The point is not that their are liars, idiots or deceivers like Rogers and Feinstein, for this type has always been prominent among politicians - and when I write "
liars, idiots or deceivers" it is to indicate that I do not know which motive is foremost (and deceivers are more subtle than plain liars). The point is that their total rot is about the only thing the present day media are willing to support, although there are a few exceptions. But these exceptions are exceptions only (so far as I can see).

This results in stuff like this:
While modern town crier Snowden is judged guilty of a crime without trial, the folks in the NSA who have been spying on us are all depicted as honorable people to be presumed innocent, no matter evidence to the contrary. That includes James Clapper, the president’s appointed director of national intelligence who blatantly perjured himself in testimony to Congress. 
Yes - it amounts to a revaluation of all values (in German: Umwertung aller Werte) although that may honor both the motives and the knowledge of many of the present senators and representatives too highly, for many of these are, it seems, these days little else than bought lackeys, who all sing the very same song from the very same hymnsheet, as is very clear with the Republicans, which they do no because they believe in it, though they may, but simply because it pays.

Anyway, the article ends as follows, it seems to me a bit on the bright side - and I added a link to the Wikipedia:

Back in 1975, Church warned: “The [National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the NSA] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.” 

That was before the Internet and supercomputers, biometrics and all the devilish means of data mining that can convert even one’s turned-off cellphone into an instrument of surveillance. We continue to ignore Church’s warning at our peril.

The reason I think this errs a little on the bright side is that Church's warning has not been heeded, and the NSA does track everybody, and may start abusing that on a large scale real soon now - and there will be hardly any defense from it.

2.  The Undeserving Rich

Next, an article by Paul Krugman in the New York Times:
This starts as follows:
The reality of rising American inequality is stark. Since the late 1970s real wages for the bottom half of the work force have stagnated or fallen, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have nearly quadrupled (and the incomes of the top 0.1 percent have risen even more). While we can and should have a serious debate about what to do about this situation, the simple fact — American capitalism as currently constituted is undermining the foundations of middle-class society — shouldn’t be up for argument.

Yes, indeed. Note this is both a strange and a significant fact, and not only about the US, but about many other countries, like Great Britain and Holland, as well, although there it played out a bit differently, but to similar effect.

Then again, although it should be obvious, it isn't, and it isn't because of the following fact - which is possible, I note, because most of the media have changed to "media" that pretend to be journalists, but in fact are not journalists but propagandists of the rich or of the government:

The result has been a determined campaign of statistical obfuscation. At its cruder end this campaign comes close to outright falsification; at its more sophisticated end it involves using fancy footwork to propagate what I think of as the myth of the deserving rich.

Krugman analyses this fairly well though briefly, and he does not make the point that is also expressed, among many other things, by this graphic, that I first displayed in 2012 (and have known since the Sixties):

The point is not whether this is correct in all detail (it isn't, but then also it is explicit satire) but that every non-small society that has existed so far has had a pyramidical shape for power and for riches: It has always been so, nearly everywhere, that there were only a few places at the top of the social pyramids of riches and of power, which means that the vast majority never had a chance to make it to the top of the rich or the powerful, indeed whatever their gifts or talents may have been. (And besides: neither the rich nor the powerful have ever had much need for the really talented.)

3.  It's About Blackmail, Not National Security (=Surveillance and Scandal) 

Next, an article by Alfred McCoy, that I found both at and at Truthdig, and also under two different titles, that I reproduce both. I like the former title better than the latter, but that is not very important, and I follow Truthdig because that looks a bit better, to me at least [2]:

This starts as follows:

For more than six months, Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) have been pouring out from the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, Germany’s Der Spiegel, and Brazil’s O Globo,  among other places.  Yet no one has pointed out the combination of factors that made the NSA’s expanding programs to monitor the world seem like such a slam-dunk development in Washington.  The answer is remarkably simple.  For an imperial power losing its economic grip on the planet and heading into more austere times, the NSA’s latest technological breakthroughs look like a bargain basement deal when it comes to projecting power and keeping subordinate allies in line— like, in fact, the steal of the century.  Even when disaster turned out to be attached to them, the NSA’s surveillance programs have come with such a discounted price tag that no Washington elite was going to reject them.

Actually, it is more than 7 months now. This is not very important, but McCoy posted his article after more than 7 months - which I know, since I have been following this closely since June 10, 2013.

And I must also protest the phrase "Yet no one has pointed out the combination of factors that made the NSA’s expanding programs to monitor the world seem like such a slam-dunk development in Washington". In fact, I have been saying it was about terrorism of the states against their populations since October 29, 2005, albeit in Dutch.

In fact, here is my translation of the last two paragraphs of that piece, from October 29, 2005 - and the boldings are in the original text:

The principle that I myself use is, in any case, easy to comprehend, very simple and is ages old, and can be found back in texts that even a Donner and a Balkenende [then: Minister of Justice and Prime Minister of the Netherlands - MM, 2014] at some time have had to read to pass their academic examinations: The best and also often the only defense against terror by the state is a maintained state of law without a secret police, with habeas corpus, without imprisonment solely based on suspicion, without a special class of crimes against the state, whether or not these crimes are called "terroristic", without systematic spying, and without destroying the secrecy of letters, and with freedom of expression, including the stating of ideas that oppose the existing ideas or codes of law.

Because by far the greatest and most dangerous terrorist organizations are and always have been the police forces and secret services of states. Always, during all of known history.

And since then I have regulary repeated that idea, also in English. Also, it is not as if I am the only one who said so: There were others as well, such as Glenn Greenwald. 

Anyway, there is a lot more. From the first part, I select this, because it is important and true:

With a few computer key strokes, the agency has solved the problem that has bedeviled world powers since at least the time of Caesar Augustus: how to control unruly local leaders, who are the foundation for imperial rule, by ferreting out crucial, often scurrilous, information to make them more malleable.

And there is this, a little further on, that is also true and important:

This new technology is both omniscient and omnipresent beyond anything those lacking top-secret clearance could have imagined before the Edward Snowden revelations began.  Not only is it unimaginably pervasive, but NSA surveillance is also a particularly cost-effective strategy compared to just about any other form of global power projection. And better yet, it fulfills the greatest imperial dream of all: to be omniscient not just for a few islands, as in the Philippines a century ago, or a couple of countries, as in the Cold War era, but on a truly global scale.

Yes, that is so - and indeed the irony is that the internet started out as a force of democracy and freedom.

And there is this, still further on:

In October 2001, not satisfied with the sweeping and extraordinary powers of the newly passed Patriot Act, President Bush ordered the National Security Agency to commence covert monitoring of private communications through the nation's telephone companies without the requisite FISA warrants. Somewhat later, the agency began sweeping the Internet for emails, financial data, and voice messaging on the tenuous theory that such “metadata” was “not constitutionally protected.” In effect, by penetrating the Internet for text and the parallel Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) for voice, the NSA had gained access to much of the world’s telecommunications. By the end of Bush’s term in 2008, Congress had enacted laws that not only retrospectively legalized these illegal programs, but also prepared the way for NSA surveillance to grow unchecked.

Rather than restrain the agency, President Obama oversaw the expansion of its operations in ways remarkable for both the sheer scale of the billions of messages collected globally and for the selective monitoring of world leaders.

What made the NSA so powerful was, of course, the Internet -- that global grid of fiber optic cables that now connects 40% of all humanity.

This seems a good potted history, although it seems odd - at the very least - that "Congress had enacted laws that not only retrospectively legalized these illegal programs": I can seen how ideas about the law may change, but this does not have space for "retrospective" legalization. (Example: You may kill me, and are therefore a murderer. Next year, the Dutch Parliament may decide that killing persons like me is quite legal, and declares you a hero. OK... but how does this make it legal what you did when you did it?!)

And again further on there is this:

With a few hundred cable probes and computerized decryption, the NSA can now capture the kind of gritty details of private life that J. Edgar Hoover so treasured and provide the sort of comprehensive coverage of populations once epitomized by secret police like East Germany’s Stasi.
(...) the marriage of the NSA’s technology to the Internet’s data hubs now allows the agency’s 37,000 employees a similarly close coverage of the entire globe with just one operative for every 200,000 people on the planet.

These 37,000 employees must be paid and feel and be treated as if they are "awesome superheroes", at the very least, to borrow a term from the Firefox Help system: they certainly know very much more about "their" 200,000 people than anybody ever did or indeed could do.

Again further on, and close to the end, there is this on the economics of it all:

While cutting back modestly on costly armaments and the size of the military, President Obama has invested billions in the building of a new architecture for global information control. If we add the $791 billion expended to build the Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy to the $500 billion spent on an increasingly para-militarized version of global intelligence in the dozen years since 9/11, then Washington has made a $1.2 trillion investment in a new apparatus of world power.

Here is the final paragraph:

To update Henry Stimson: in the age of the Internet, gentlemen don't just read each other’s mail, they watch each other’s porn. Even if we think we have nothing to hide, all of us, whether world leaders or ordinary citizens, have good reason to be concerned.

Yes, indeed. The original piece is quite long, and Alfred McCoy is professor of history at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. It did teach me a few things - but I again object to the thesis that no one has pointed out his manner of things before: In fact, there are many authors who have warned against the dangers of state terrorism - but it is true lately these authors and their ideas have hardly been mentioned in the US.

4. Gore Vidal: His Life and Legacy

Next, an article on Truthdig that has no author, but has the very good idea of listing a considerable number of videos and texts that appeared about him on Truthdig:

First, I should say that I am not a US citizen, which is a considerable part of the reason that, like George Carlin, I only discovered Vidal briefly after he had died, and in fact because he had died, and did so on August 11 of 2012 (after which there are some further entries about him).

And second, I think he is quite interesting, and is so because he had a considerable intelligence, did not mind speaking out at all, and was a member of one of the ruling families in the US, which made him known to the Kennedys and others, which definitely brings insights and knowledge few can have.

There is a lot to see and read in the above link, and I certainly have not read all that is listed there. Here is just one tasty bit, from 2006, by Vidal:
This is an unpatriotic government. This is a government that deals openly in illegalities, whether it is attacking a country which has done us no harm, two countries—Iraq and Afghanistan—because we now believe, not in declaring war through Congress as the Constitution requires, but through the President. ‘Well, I think there are some terrorists over there, and I think we got to bomb them, huh? We’ll bomb them.’ Now, we’ve had idiots as presidents before. He’s not unique. But he’s certainly the most active idiot that we have ever had.
The same is true of the next president, though indeed he is considerably smarter than Bush Jr. and is not an idiot - which merely shows he knows what he is doing.

5. Personal

In fact, I thought I did not have much material, and therefore I might add a little on my  ME/CFS and yesterday's piece on the relation between ME/CFS and EBV, and the last infection is how the ME/CFS started in the beginning of 1979 with both me and my ex, who then were first year's students, studying on loans (which made it extremely improbable we were pretending or imagining being ill).

But since I do not have to, given that this file is about 43 Kb, I postpone it, which will give me some more opportunity to think (but I do think that the finding I reported on yesterday is quite important, if a little late for me, at nearly 64, and in the 36th year of being ill).



[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] I also notice that this piece, that also has five pages, on my computer looks a lot better than the last four pages of Chris Hedges' article, on the same site, that I reviewed yesterday. Again, I do not know the reason.

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 Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)[2]

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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