who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Waiting for Feds, 'Fight Back' Against Surveillance
nudge, say no more. Brits' minds will be controlled
without us knowing it
3. Iraq War Critic: NSA
Targeted Gerhard Schröder's Mobile
4. Why Widening Inequality
is Hobbling Equal Opportunity
5. A Bill
To Return Power To The People
Did "The Sixties" Really Begin? Here's Why It
This is today's crisis issue, with 6 items covering 7 dotted links. As
you see, I can't get longer titles, under the conventions I use, and my
titles are often mere brief summaries, but then the alternative is to
spread these over several files, and that really takes too much work,
and will not be read more but less.
Anyway, I think at least item 2 and item 5 are quite
interesting (and item 2 is quite frightening as well).
Waiting for Feds, 'Fight Back' Against Surveillance
Goes Local, Global
First, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
the government's increasing surveillance powers but unimpressed with
the congressional response in Washington so far, state lawmakers from
both major political parties are now taking it upon themselves to
protect the online and communication privacy of their constituents.
The least this is, it seems to
me, is necessary. I think so because I too have been "unimpressed with the congressional response
in Washington so far" - although
one can, I suppose, more or less respect the motives of congressmen who
look the other way because they have been blackmailed by the NSA. (Of
course, I do not know this, but clearly this is a possibility.)
and privacy groups are planning their own grassroots response to mass
surveillance, hoping to repeat past victories by harnessing the power
of digital communications to ensure they are adequately protected from
The writer of the article also cites Associated Press - and I cite part
At least that is
reassuring, for I do believe that global surveillance should upset all
men of good will, regardless of their political convictions.
Republican and Democratic
lawmakers have joined in proposing the measures, reflecting the unusual
mix of political partnerships that have arisen since the NSA
revelations that began in May. Establishment leadership has generally
favored the programs, while conservative limited government advocates
and liberal privacy supporters have opposed them.
Supporters say the
measures are needed because technology has grown to the point that
police can digitally track someone's every move.
Also, there is this:
And in case you missed the
last link, here it is again, because it is important, is mostly quite
correct, embodies some serious thinking, and got signed by 362
organizations, 50 prominent persons, and - it this astounding? - no
less than 3 elected officials:
to Katitza Rodriguez at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the
groups organizing the action, those participating will be demanding "an
end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless
of boundaries or politics."
Galvanized by what they
see as 13
Principles of internet and communication freedoms, activists will
use the day to call attention to those goals, lobby on their behalf
with their representatives, and declare an end to the encroaching,
unaccountable, and unregulated surveillance apparatus.
It is quite serious, and also
a bit officialese, which doesn't matter much.
2. Nudge nudge, say no more. Brits' minds will
be controlled without us knowing it
Next, an article by Ian Dunt in the Guardian:
This starts as follows, and is
more important than it may seem:
The reason this is more
important is the overwhelming importance of propaganda, deception, and "public
relations", in brief: careful, considered lying, deception,
falsification and repression in "modern communications", and not
only by the propaganda departments of big corporations, but these days
also financed by tax money, from the government, and present on all
Like all major changes to
democratic accountability, it happened with a minimum of fuss. By the
time we heard about it, it was already over.
The behavioural insights
team – otherwise known as the "nudge unit" because it nudges us to
alter our behaviour – has been part-privatised. David Cameron's pet group of 16
behavioural psychologists and economists are being moved from Whitehall
to the London headquarters of Nesta (National Endowment for Science,
Technology and the Arts), a charity that will co-own it alongside staff
and government. Nesta is providing £1.9m in financing and services to
Where other government
departments could previously make free use of the unit's expertise,
they will now have to pay for the privilege. But ministers are hoping
the big money lies in providing nudge services to foreign governments,
local authorities and private-sector clients.
And the main reason for its enormous success is - I am sorry, but it
seems quite true - the average intelligence of the electorate: it is
clever enough to be deceived, but generally not clever enough to see
they are being deceived.
As Ian Dunt puts it, quite correctly:
Yes, quite so. As he also says:
It is the first time
privatisation has reached beyond its usual terrain of public services
and utilities to include an actual bona-fide government policy team.
But the change is even more unsettling than that. It marks a dangerous
new precedent in the rise of private power over the public.
Now that the nudge unit
is privatised, it is protected from scrutiny. It is no longer subject
to the Freedom of Information Act and it can sue for libel.
The secrecy and legal
might of private firms offering public services is morally indefensible
whatever the sector. But in the case of nudge it is particularly
dangerous, because this is an organisation specifically tasked with
implementing policy on the subconscious of the British public.
The main reason that "neither left nor right have stood up to it" is that these nowadays are almost all the same
type of "professionals", who all detest the public they pretend to
serve, and now they all lie, to maintain their plush jobs, and who make
their livings by alternating through revolving doors between
governments, parliaments, and soft, well-paying university jobs.
Nudge is everywhere, from
local government to the local supermarket, and Downing Street wants to
make some money out of it.
Individually, none of
these measures are great intrusions on people's civil liberties, but
they are all defined by side-stepping our consent and influencing us on
a subconscious level.
Now that nudge has been
part-privatised, the direction of travel is all one way: public bodies,
corporations and government are trying to change public behaviour
without us realising. But we are not entitled to find out about it.
It's a disastrous
position for a democracy to find itself in, but neither left nor right
have stood up to it.
Dunt ends as follows:
I quite agree, but I
do not expect any real changes until the system has collapsed -
which it well may do after I am dead. (I have no idea, but I am not
The right has failed to
show any critical thinking over private power and the way it prohibits
democratic accountability. After all, it was Tory ministers who swept
in to protect private providers of public services from libel
restrictions last year.
The left pushes the state
to amass more power and the right is silent when that power is siphoned
off to the private sector. This isn't just a failure of scrutiny. It's
a failure of the terms of political debate.
This is where it has got
us: a private entity dedicated to changing our behaviour without our
consent and totally exempt from scrutiny.
3. Iraq War Critic: NSA Targeted Gerhard
Next, an article without
listed authors in the international edition of Der Spiegel (on line):
This starts as follows:
There is considerably more in
the article, but - so far - there does not seem to be full evidence -
and an appearance on a requirement list of people it would be nice to
spy on is not sufficient to prove he was spied on, though I
also do not see any reason why he would not be, if the NSA could
do it, then, for that seems the only limitation to their powers that
the NSA admits to.
Edward Snowden appeared
to come very close to announcing the news himself. During his recent interview with German public
broadcaster NDR, he said: "I would suggest it seems unreasonable that
if anyone was concerned about the intentions of German leadership that
they would only watch Merkel and not her aides, not other prominent
officials, not heads of ministries or even local government officials."
Now it appears that, in
addition to eavesdropping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile
communications, the National Security Agency was also eavesdropping on
Gerhard Schröder's phone while he was still chancellor. On Tuesday
night, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and NDR reported that
Schröder had appeared on the so-called National Sigint Requirement
List, a list of people and institutions named for targetting by the
intelligence agency whose telephone communications should be monitored.
Schröder was reportedly assigned the number "388" in 2002, if not
Widening Inequality is Hobbling Equal Opportunity
Next, an article by Robert Reich that I found on Common
Here is the main part from it:
In fact, America’s
savage inequality is the main reason equal opportunity is fading and
poverty is growing. Since the “recovery” began, 95% of the gains have
gone to the top 1 percent, and median incomes have dropped. This is a
continuation of the trend we’ve seen for decades. As a
(1) The sinking
middle class no longer has enough purchasing power to keep the economy
growing and creating sufficient jobs. The share of working-age
Americans still in the labor force is the lowest in more than thirty
(2) The shrinking
middle isn’t generating enough tax revenue for adequate education,
training, safety nets, and family services. And when they’re barely
holding on, they can’t afford to — and don’t want to — pay more.
America’s rich are accumulating not just more of the country’s total
income and wealth, but also the political power that accompanies money.
And they’re using that power to reduce their own taxes, and get
corporate welfare (subsidies, bailouts, tax cuts) for their businesses.
All this means less equality
of opportunity in America.
5. A Bill To Return Power To The People
Next, an article by Richard Long on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
If you follow politics,
you know the names Koch, Adelson, American Crossroads and Priorities
USA Action. If you don’t know the names, you know their tools, the
fearmongering ads that purport that voting for this candidate or
another will cause the downfall of the country.
These are donors and
organizations that spent millions of dollars trying to elect the next
president. All in all, the 2012 election cost
$5.8 billion, up from the $5.4 billion spent in 2008, with a
majority of that money being spent not by candidates campaigns
themselves, but rather given to super-PAC creations that arose
following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. This decision
allowed individuals and groups to spend in unlimited amounts, as long
as it went to “unaffiliated” political action committees, that could,
in turn produce stuff like this.
In fact, there now is a
proposal for a bill from Nancy Pelosi and John Sarbanes, that proposes
an end to this:
The bill, dubbed the
“Government by the People” Act, would work to reduce the power of
special interests and big money, and restore the power to the people.
The bill has three main
Providing a $25
refundable “My Voice” tax credit, designed to attract donor
Creating a “Freedom
From Influence” Matching Fund that would match donations on a
six-to-one basis under $150. A candidate would have to prove their
support is from a broad base in order to receive these funds, and agree
to limit large donations.
candidates additional funds in the last 60 days of the campaign to
battle the onslaught of negative ads from Super PACs. This would act as
a counterbalance for the candidate that truly has broad support versus
the candidate what has donors with deep pockets.
I do not know whether the
bill will get passed, were it only because a historical low of passed
bills has been reached the last year. In any case, according to Richard
Long, it has the following point:
Right now, 69 percent
believe that the Republican party pushes
policies that favor the rich, and 30 percent of Americans believe
the same of Democrats. Unfortunately, the government “by the people,
for the people” seemingly has perished from this Earth, and been
replaced with a government by the few and for the few. This bill is an
attempt to return the country somewhat to Lincoln’s standard, by taking
the power away from the rich and returning it to the people.
Daily Kos has a petition
where you can add your support to the passage of this bill. Though
aiming for 10,000 signatures, as of this writing, the petition has
already doubled that number. If you disagree with the notion that big
money should run politics, become a citizen co-sponsor of the
Government by the People Act by adding
your name to the petition here.
Also, I do not know
whether I would quite agree to the bill, but I do agree that money must
be kept (now: swept) out of politics.
Did "The Sixties" Really Begin? Here's Why It Matters
Finally, an article
by Ira Chernus on Common Dreams that is not really about the crisis,
and that I list only because "The Sixties" started, in my own Dutch
experience, circa 1966, and that also, in Holland, fairly mildly:
The article starts as
When, exactly, did
the era of radical ferment we remember as "the '60s" begin? Exactly one
half-century ago, PBS tells us in its recent documentary titled "1964," kicking off
a year when we'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of a host
of memorable events:
After this follows a fairly
long list of dotted points that each list some supposedly important
event of 1964, after which comes this:
Connect the dots, the PBS
show's talking head historians all say, and you'll see a year that
changed America forever. "The 60s" had begun!
There's just one problem
with this story: Hardly anybody in 1964 was connecting the dots.
Yes, that seems a
fair estimate, although I also question whether the ability to connect
the dots is the only criterion one should use. Then again, the
following seems mostly correct, judged by my own recall of history (and
I am from 1950, and am Dutch):
There is considerably
more in the article. The reason this matters is - or so it seems - that
one cannot really judge the current history as it happens, because it
will get its definite meaning only some years - at least - later.
"The '60s" as a real
political-cultural phenomenon was not evident to most Americans until
1967 or maybe even 1968. It's only in retrospect that so many events of
1964 seem so obviously intertwined.
I agree, although I also would say that is common sense. And in fact,
the big book of photos and events called "The Sixties", by Linda Rosen
Obst and Robert Kingsbury, that I have, was originally made in 1977,
and was only bought by me, second hand, in 1991, and indeed has more
events for 1967, 1968 and 1969 than for the previous years.
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
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.
note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
(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: