17, 2014
Crisis: Polk Awards, Dual State, NSA, Obama, TV, sadism
   "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


1. Journalists who broke NSA story in Guardian receive
     George Polk Awards

2. Our Sinister Dual State
3. NSA Spying Caught Law Firm Activities
4. The Divine Right of President Obama?
5. TV viewing figures show Brits prefer traditional sets over

6. Shocker! Online Trolls Are Sadistic Psychopaths
About ME/CFS


This is again an ordinary crisis file with six items, although the last two items are less about the crisis than about two of its underlying strong forces: human stupidity and human cruelty.
1. Journalists who broke NSA story in Guardian receive George Polk Awards

The first article today is by Martin Pengelly in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The three journalists who broke the National Security Agency revelations from Edward Snowden in the Guardian are among the recipients of the prestigious 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras will receive the award for national security reporting, along with Barton Gellman of the Washington Post.not

Janine Gibson, Guardian US editor-in-chief, said: “We’re honoured by the recognition from the Polk awards and delighted for Ewen, Glenn, Laura, Barton and their colleagues that their work has been recognised.

“It has been an extraordinary and occasionally menacing eight months of reporting for the Guardian and the support of our peers through this distinguished award is very much appreciated.”

This is good news, which is very rare in this crisis series. There is more in the article, but I only notice here something that is not in the article: I seem to recall that Glenn Greenwald has announced he would go to the U.S. if he did get this price. Well... I do not know whether that is sensible, but I may be too pessimistic.

2. Our Sinister Dual State

The next article is by Chris Hedges on Truth Dig:
It starts as follows:
On Thursday the former National Security Agency official and whistle-blower William E. Binney and I will debate Stewart A. Baker, a former general counsel for the NSA, P.J. Crowley, a former State Department spokesman, and the media pundit Jeffrey Toobin. The debate, at Oxford University, will center on whether Edward Snowden’s leaks helped or harmed the public good. The proposition asks: “Is Edward Snowden a Hero?” But, on a deeper level, the debate will revolve around our nation’s loss of liberty.
That is interesting news. Next, there is this:
The government officials who, along with their courtiers in the press, castigate Snowden insist that congressional and judicial oversight, the right to privacy, the rule of law, freedom of the press and the right to express dissent remain inviolate. They use the old words and the old phrases, old laws and old constitutional guarantees to give our corporate totalitarianism a democratic veneer. They insist that the system works.
Yes, although they do and they don't, as illustrated by Obama's policies: In front of the cameras, he is all smiles, and full of kindnesses, and shows his left ear, and his right ear, and then again his left ear, and tells how incredibly transparent he and his government are; but in fact, he issued 90 million secret memos, bills and what not, and uses secret courts to help his secret services to compile everything they can get on anyone, and thus he is founding a totalitarian state, that he also knows will be given to his successor, who then can do with it as he or she pleases (if indeed the elected presidents of the U.S. do rule, which seems an open question: I do not know the answer).

There is also this, concerning the backgrounds:
We live in what the German political scientist Ernst Fraenkel called “the dual state.” Totalitarian states are always dual states. In the dual state civil liberties are abolished in the name of national security. The political sphere becomes a vacuum “as far as the law is concerned,” Fraenkel wrote. There is no legal check on power. Official bodies operate with impunity outside the law. In the dual state the government can convict citizens on secret evidence in secret courts. It can strip citizens of due process and detain, torture or assassinate them, serving as judge, jury and executioner. It rules according to its own arbitrary whims and prerogatives. The outward forms of democratic participation—voting, competing political parties, judicial oversight and legislation—are hollow, political stagecraft. Fraenkel called those who wield this unchecked power over the citizenry “the prerogative state.”
Indeed. And on page 2 there is this, on the present situation:
Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt civil society. And this is what has happened to us.
And I say yes again - and add that there is a lot more in the original article, that I recommend you read all of.
3. NSA Spying Caught Law Firm Activities

Next, an article by James Risen and Laura Poitras in the New York Times:
This starts as follows:

The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.

A top-secret document, obtained by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that an American law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance in which Americans were ensnared by the eavesdroppers, and is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.

The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade talks, according to the February 2013 document. It reports that the N.S.A.’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks, including communications between Indonesian officials and the American law firm, and offered to share the information.

Note this confirms to the previous item. There is a lot more in the article.

4. The Divine Right of President Obama?

Next an article by Peter Van Buren on tomdispatch:

Actually, this is from Tom's introduction to the piece:
Still, in those days, something dark and distasteful clung to the idea and presidents preferred to maintain what was called “plausible deniability” when it came to such efforts. (In 1981, by Executive Order, President Ronald Reagan actually banned assassination by the U.S. government.)

Now, top officials connected to the White House proudly leak details about their ongoing efforts to use drones to assassinate obscure suspected terrorists in the backlands of the planet.  They take pride in comparing their activities to a religious calling.  They want the public to know that they and the president spend significant time and effort on such “targeted killings.”  The most recent case to see the light of day is the prospective assassination of an American citizen and suspected “al-Qaeda facilitator,” evidently in the tribal borderlands of Pakistan.  When it comes to this possible future assassination, they seem eager to emphasize via leaks the care they are taking in preparing the way.

In the process, they have produced legalistic documents so secret that they can’t be shown to the public, though their existence and import can indeed be publicized.  These justify to their satisfaction the killing of Americans without what once would have been considered “due process” or any role whatsoever for the actual legal system.
Yes, indeed. There is considerably more in the introduction, which is quite good, as is the piece it introduces.

TV viewing figures show Brits prefer traditional sets over smartphones

Next, an article that is here mainly because it offers some basic statistics, and not because of the other things it says. The article is by Mark Sweney in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

It appears it will be some time before the explosion in smartphones and tablet computers revolutionises TV viewing, with the average Briton watching little more than three minutes a day on mobile devices last year, according to industry figures.

The average UK viewer watched a total of three hours and 55 minutes of TV a day last year.

This was a nine minute year-on-year drop, due in part to a comparison with the hugely popular London 2012 Olympics the previous year.

Which is to say, if we average the TV-viewing time on 4 hours a day: The average Brit sleeps, washes, eats, works and watches TV, and lives primarily in order to watch TV.

To me, that is hugely depressing, though I agree that the BBC is a lot better than Dutch TV:

The masses of mankind, in the West at least, dreams their free time away in front of a TV, a box full of other men's fantasies, presumably because they have no ideas of their own, while also telling themselves that they are as good as anyone else (at least, and apart from sports' heroes and film stars: these are very widely recognized semi-divinities), while in fact behaving as if they are stupid lunatics.

Also, the article ends with these statistics:

The share of viewing accounted for by commercial broadcasters such as ITV, Sky and Channel 4 – as opposed to the BBC – rose from 66% to 68%.

This meant the number of TV adverts seen by viewers rose 1.6% year on year, an average of 47 a day, with the UK collectively watching 2.8bn adverts a day.

O Lord! 2.800.000.000 adverts a day are seen in Great Britain! Willingly!

6. Shocker! Online Trolls Are Sadistic Psychopaths

Finally, a video by The Young Turks:
Since I am a psychologist, this does not come as a surprise. Here is Ana Kasparian:
"It is not unfair to speculate that on line trolls are sadistic psychopaths. It is something that we probably already knew. However, now we have some science to back it up. Canadian researches did a survey of a representative sample and they found out that, hey you know what: these people are pretty sadistic."
Here are three quotations:

Yes, quite so - and I've seen and read a great lot of this on Phoenix Rising and the MECFSforum, and this has also totally killed my good will towards the vast majority of stupid ordinary men and women writing on these forums, who always watch the other way, and always hear no evil and see no evil, while evident anonymous sadists and psychopaths gang up and slaughter anyone intelligent under their very noses.

Thus, I have seen a whole gang of these sadistic terrorists, led by Awol, a sick degenerate who seems to have found another field to enjoy herself, jump on Suzy Chapman in August of 2010, and insist that she should not be on their forum because... she was not ill and she had no cognitive problems, and because she dared to write about things that were too complicated for their stupid and  brainfogged minds.

Now that was out and out plain and obvious psychopathic sadism; it was utterly and completely morally degenerate and despicable - but a 1000 ordinary men and women, all anonymous, all supposedly ill, "saw no evil and heard no evil", or indeed supported these sadistic psychopaths, namely by complaining that they, too, thought Suzy's materials "too complicated".

Well... she did never even ask them to read it, but no matter: they did not want a very bright advocate, who also took care of someone with ME, to write about their problems, and they hunted her from their forums, fundamentally because she was much more intelligent and much more competent than they were, and therefore she could achieve and do things that they could not.

In consequence, I gave up on persons with ME then, apart from a very few I personally know and like, and know to be intelligent - and not because of the psychopathic sadists but because of the thousand or so members who saw it, read it, and either approved it or did do absolutely nothing to stop it, and whom one also cannot address because they are all anonymous and never talk about themselves, and they nearly all seem to feel no personal responsibility whatsoever, and anyway nearly all seem to have no mind worth noticing.
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that 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 one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the 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 machines) which is a disease 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)

       home - index - summaries - mail