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."
1. They Can’t Outlaw the
2. The Birth of a Eurasian
3. Thomas Frank Locates
Thomas Piketty’s Blind Spot
4. Can the Surveillance
State Be Stopped?
5. NSA Spying Is a Power
6. Should School Records
Cost More Than Most Cars?
This is the Nederlog of May
19. It is an ordinary crisis issue.
There are six items, that I will not summarize, but that do contain
interesting links. Here I want to point out something close to a
miracle: I think this is the first time in over 500 crisis
items that I have no less than six items the titles of none of
which overflows to the next line.
Well...yes, I know that is not big news. It just struck me. Now for the
real crisis news:
Can’t Outlaw the Revolution
The first item is
article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
Actually, I think they
can, but this is an
article about Cecily McMillan, who is 25 and has been considered guilty
of elbowing a policeman, who was in ordinary clothes and grabbed her
breast, and now risks up to seven years imprisonment for that, which
indeed is completely ludicrous.
This is quoted from the beginning:
“I am prepared
mentally for a long sentence,” she told me this past weekend when I
interviewed her at the Rikers Island prison in the Bronx. “I watched
the trial. I watched the judge. This was never about justice. Just as
it is not about justice for these other women. One mother was put in
here for shoplifting after she lost her job and her house and needed to
feed her children. There is another prisoner, a preschool teacher with
a 1-year-old son she was breastfeeding, who let her cousin stay with
her after her cousin was evicted. It turns out the cousin sold drugs.
The cops found money, not drugs, that the cousin kept in the house and
took the mother. They told her to leave her child with the neighbors.
There is story after story in here like this. It wakes you up.”
Yes, indeed. There also
is given excellent evidence that both the trial and the judge were far
from fair, and there is considerable space for Cecily McMillan's
McMillan’s case is
emblematic of the nationwide judicial persecution of activists, a
persecution familiar to poor people of color. Her case stands in
contrast with the blanket impunity given to the criminals of Wall
Street. Some 8,000 nonviolent Occupy protesters have been arrested. Not
one banker or investor has gone to jail for causing the 2008 financial
meltdown. The disparity of justice mirrors the disparity in incomes and
the disparity in power.
Birth of a Eurasian Century
next item is an article by Pepe Escobar on Truthdig, but originally
This starts as
A specter is haunting
Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an
expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian
land mass—at the expense of the United States.
And no wonder Washington
is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of
ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia,
India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the
G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future
bargain. Synergies in the development of new military
technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style,
air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure
to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell
dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as
Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.
There are three pages
of it, and while I do not particularly like the style ("A specter is haunting Washington", adapted from Karl Marx), the idea
that the 21st Century may be dictated, especially in Europe, by
Eurasian and more specifically Russian and Chinese powers and
interests, does not seem to me to be at all unlikely.
I do not know, and
nobody does, but especially the Russians have a very large country that
still has many supplies of raw materials, that are mostly exhausted in
3. Thomas Frank Locates Thomas Piketty’s
next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as
Thomas Piketty’s proposal of an “international IRS” as a means to end
rampant wealth inequality falls far short of methods that exist in the
American tradition, Salon columnist Thomas Frank writes in a critique of the best-selling “Capital
in the Twenty-First Century.”
“Bringing the aristocracy
to heel is entirely within our power and our tradition, and American
statesmen from Jefferson to FDR (the man on the nickel, the man on the
dime) have taken enthusiastic part in the business of leveling,” Frank
wrote May 11. “There is nothing utopian about it at all. It is not an
opium dream to imagine that Grover Norquist and company might one day
be defeated or that the estate tax might be brought back in full
Rooseveltian force; both are eminently possible, if only the Democrats
would pull their heads out of their butts.”
Really now? Firstly,
this seems to me to be extremely unlikely to happen (apart from an
economic collapse), and secondly this does not seem to be an adequate
criticism of Piketty's proposal of a global tax on the rich: One may
not like that, for various reasons, but to counter this with the
possibility that "the aristocracy" can be brought "to heel" by an
awakened Democratic party seems a bit witless to me.
Next, the blind spot
Frank has diagnosed in Piketty is this:
Piketty’s biggest blind
spot, Frank contends, is that he has “virtually nothing to say about
labor unions.” Except for an anecdote offered at the start and end of
the book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is devoid of references
to labor unions.
Might the reason not
be that Piketty's book is about income inequalities? To be sure, I
haven't read it (and indeed suppose I never will: too many pages of
economy, devoted to an idea I already agree with, viz. that the rich
get too much and the poor too little for the work they do), but it
seems to me that labor unions are not directly involved in the
riches of the 1% nor in showing that precisely the riches of the rich
have grown enormously the last 35 years.
I don't know, but it
seems to me that Thomas Frank's critique of Piketty mostly consists of
repeating some leftist dreams that simply are not relevant to what
Piketty set out to do.
Surveillance State Be Stopped?
next item is an article by Danny Schechter on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Yes - it is the old
Juvenalian question "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?": Who guards the
guards themselves, especially if these have grown corrupt through the enormous
powers that they have assigned to themselves?
With the publication of
Glenn Greenwald’s new book on Edward Snowden and the National Security
Agency, the state surveillance issue is back in full force, as if it
ever went a way.
top-secret NSA documents are now there for the downloading, even as the
calls for truth and privacy buttressed by irrefutable information, has
run up against the institutional armor of the surveillance state that
has little respect for public opinion or calls for “reform.”
Next, there is
Just as the
publication of the Pentagon Papers in l971 did not end the Vietnam War,
the leaks from a world of questionable “intelligence” gathering have
only made our spymasters more determined. There were more years of
carnage after Daniel Ellsberg dropped the hidden history of our
intervention in Vietnam showing how officials knew the truth even as
they fed the public a litany of lies to keep a profitable if murderous
Yes indeed - and that is
a problem: That "the
agencies seem to have the goods on the government as well as the rest
The charade was finally
ended by the Vietnamese liberation army 39 years ago, but the NSA and
its handsomely financed partners in the self-styled “Intelligence
Community” will go on and on until someone stops them and their spying,
and that someone is hard to identify given the way the agencies seem to
have the goods on the government as well as the rest of us.
This indeed may move Dianne Feinstein, as Ray McGovern says in the
article, since her husband made billions from defense and other
contracts, and there probably is much to hide.
Then again, I do not have much to hide, and there is nothing
with which I can be effectively blackmailed, and it seems to me many
millions are in the same position, though indeed they do not have my
background, and they may be afraid, with reason also, especially if
they have children.
But to turn back to the government and Congress: indeed, it would seem
to me that an NSA out to find dirt on these folks - which they are -
will have rich strikes, and may have found much that makes them quite
confident that they will play as the NSA instructs them, and leave the
Here is the end of the article:
Yes indeed, it does,
at least in the sense of: fascism =def an authoritarian and
totalitarian government that serves the interests of the corporations.
(I do not know whether that is Mussolini's definition, but this kind of
definition dates back to leftist circles in the 1930ies.)
CIA veteran Ray McGovern
says let’s hope there are more Snowdens in the wings: “Now, if you only
have 1 out of 100 or maybe even out of 1,000 … technically proficient
people like this, that’s all you need to do what Edward Snowden did.
“The governments cannot
operate without these very bright people – a lot of these bright people
bring consciousness to their expertise, as long as that’s the case, and
that will continue to be the case, the governments will not be able to
get away with this kind of thing.
“So, that’s the good news
– bad news of course is that they’ll keep trying, and as I said before,
with the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches all kind of
complicit in this … well, and then you have the media, and the
corporations and all that – it looks very much like the classic
definition that Mussolini gave to Fascism.”
And indeed it would seem to me that is where the USA are
They have an authoritarian government that makes many of its decisions
secret; the government serves the interests of the corporations in
letting them do as they please without prosecuting any
of the managers (or only by declaring them innocent of any wrong doing
if they hand over a part of their profits); and while the USA
is not - yet - explicitly totalitarian, much of the ordinary TV is
based on extremely partial and very incomplete presentations of "the
news". And finally,
the USA has secret services that surveil everyone in regards of
everything that he or she does with a computer or a
Spying Is a
next item is an article by Washington's Blog on that blog:
This contains the
following, where the colors and boldings are in the original:
Yes - although Hayden
implemented a plan that existed since 1969, at least: See my Nederlog of October 13, 2012 from
which I quote the following bit from 1969:
Why Did They Do It?
the NSA switch from the privacy-protecting system which worked to catch
terrorists to one that spied on all Americans in violation of their
A very high-level
congressional committee security staffer – Diane Roark – gave a hint on
a Frontline show this month. Roark was the congressional staffer in
charge of overseeing the NSA for the Republicans on the House
NARRATOR: [Senior House
Intelligence Committee staff between 1985-2002 Diane] Roark was
summoned to the top deck at the NSA to meet with Director Hayden.
DIANE ROARK: My whole
point in going there was to ask him why he had taken off the
protections, the encryptions and the automated tracking. I
asked this any number of times, and he always evaded answering. And I
finally just decided I was not going to leave the room until I
got an answer. And so I kept asking.
So about the
fifth time, he looked down, and I remember he could
not look me in the eye, and he said, “We have the
power. We don’t need them.” And he made clear that the power
he was referring to was the commander-in-chief’s chief’s wartime
In other words, the
Constitution was tossed out the window and all Americans have been
subjected to Orwellian surveillance ever since – not because it’s
necessary or even efficient – but simply because they decided that they
had the raw power to do so.
Mr Brezezinski does not expect that the Luddite
And again yes - but it
is not only that the NSA had the computing power and the political
power to do it:
anarchy will seriously obstruct the new
'it will soon be possible to assert almost
surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-
containing even personal information
personal behaviour of the citizen, in
customary data.' Moreover it will be
and plan to meet any uprisings in the
will even be able to forecast crises before the
conscious of wanting them.
It is that they want to control everyone, and indeed
that they do not and have never believed - since 1969, at least - in a real
democracy or in a really free and open society. These do not
leave sufficient power to either the government, the generals or the
corporations, nor do they allow the corporations to enrich the few as
they have done from 2001 onwards, at least.
School Records Cost More Than Most Cars?
next and final item for today is not article but a video by The Young
nominally about the following, that I quote from the website:
John Eppolito is concerned and curious about the kind of data his
state's public schools are collecting on his children. So, he thought,
what better way to answer this question than to request his children's
extends to all kinds of spying, with the following interesting points
that I give you at 5 m 49 s into the item:
Eppolito did just that. But
instead of getting records, he got a huge serving of sticker shock.
well put and may be what many Americans think.
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
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
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: