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. NSA reform bill loses backing
from privacy advocates
after major revisions
2. Civil Liberties Groups
Decry Neutering of NSA Reform Bill
3. Defense Department Refuses to
Tell Senate Which
Groups We’re At War With
4. Standing Up, One Year Later:
President Obama’s Broken
Foreign Policy Promises
5. Reasons for Intellectual
6. Why I Don't Want to See
the Drone Memo
7. Doctors Prescribing
Adderall And Ritalin To TODDLERS!
This is the Nederlog of May
22. It is an ordinary crisis issue.
There are some interesting items, notably on the senate's
powers and, especially, on conformism, that I
liked a lot.
1. NSA reform bill loses backing from privacy advocates after
The first item is
article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Yes indeed, to the last
paragraph. As to the rest: It seems fair to say that the supposed
"landmark bill" got the Obama treatment. That is, he and it got
published, advertised, and elected as promising change, and
when having him and it this all is shown to be mere propaganda for a
Republican Lite president and a completely neutered bill, who simply
does as Bush Jr. did, or indeed does worse and wants his
complete population traced, tracked, spied upon and to have no more
privacy of any kind.
A landmark surveillance
bill, likely to pass the US House of Representatives on Thursday, is
hemorrhaging support from the civil libertarians and privacy advocates
who were its champions from the start.
Major revisions to the
USA Freedom Act have stripped away privacy protections and transparency
requirements while expanding the potential pool of data the National
Security Agency can collect, all in a bill cast as banning bulk
collection of domestic phone records. As the bill nears a vote on the
House floor, expected Thursday, there has been a wave of denunciations.
“It does not deserve the
name ‘USA Freedom Act’ any more than the ‘Patriot Act’ merits its
moniker,” wrote four former NSA whistleblowers and their old ally on
the House intelligence committee staff.
As whistleblowers and former NSA officials Wllliam Binney, Thomas
Drake, Edward Loomis and J Kirk Wiebe wrote:
has been exploited and interpreted by the administration as permitting
activities that Congress never intended,” they wrote in a letter
Wednesday to Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat.
It seems part of the Obama
magic that has been done to the bill, after it was made, was to
introduce a new term of things that may be surveilled: An "address or
device". I do not know whether addresses or devices yet have been
declared "terrorists", but clearly they have no rights whatsoever.
Indeed, it is not only me and a few journalists who are skeptical:
There is considerably
more in the article, but it now seems as if every group that has any
knowledge of surveillance has withdrawn its support. Well, except for
one group, as the last paragraphs of the article makes clear:
A coalition of the US’s
largest technology companies – including Facebook, Google, Microsoft,
AOL, Dropbox, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn – warned that definition
created an “unacceptable loophole that could enable the bulk collection
of internet users' data”.
The coalition, which
spurred attention in Washington with a December
statement of principles for surveillance reform, announced it would
not support the USA Freedom Act.
It still has Obama's
support: He wants
the total population surveilled.
Practically the only
entity that lent its support to the USA Freedom Act on Wednesday was
the White House.
applauds and appreciates the strong bipartisan effort that led to the
formulation of this bill, which heeds the president's call on this
important issue,” the White House office of management and budget said
in a statement.
Liberties Groups Decry Neutering of NSA Reform Bill
next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This is the same
topic as the previous item, and it starts as follows:
organizations say they can no longer support a National Security Agency
reform bill—the USA Freedom Act—after the House significantly weakened
it to allow for the possibility of continued bulk surveillance,
following pressure from the Obama administration.
The amendments followed
negotiations and talks between the Obama administration and House
"[W]e cannot in good
conscience support this weakened version of the bill, where key
reforms—especially those intended to end bulk collection and increase
transparency—have been substantially watered down," said Kevin
Bankston, policy director of the New America Foundation’s Open
Technology Institute, in a statement released
"The Electronic Frontier
Foundation cannot support a bill that doesn't achieve the goal of
ending mass spying," the organization declared in a statement.
The article is
briefer, but it does contain a clear statement of the main objection of
the civil liberties organizations:
version of the bill (pdf) includes a more expansive definition of
the "specific selection term," which determines who the government is
allowed to spy on by compelling phone companies to turn over their
"Less than a week ago,
the definition was simply 'a term used to uniquely describe a person,
entity, or account,'" the EFF explains. "The new version not only adds
the undefined words 'address' and 'device,' but makes the list of
potential selection terms open-ended by using the term 'such as.'"
“Put another way, it may
ban ‘bulk’ collection of all records of a particular kind, but still
allow for ‘bulky’ collection impacting the privacy of millions of
people,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel for the Open Technology
Institute, in a statement.
Yes, quite so: in
fact the intent of "such as an address or device", which is now the -
totally unclarified and undefined - term for whatever the NSA or
its mates can pick up is that the NSA or its allies in Canada, England,
Australia and New Zealand are allowed to pick up anything (and soon -
perhaps even now: nobody seems to have defined that term either: "bulk"
will mean "anything in access of 102000").
There is more in the
article, but the brief of it is that the bill is a legalese
redefinition that simply continues what is happening: everybody will be
surveilled, for that is what Obama and his government want.
Department Refuses to Tell Senate Which Groups We’re At War With
next item is an article by Washington's Blog that shows the enormous
power of the Senate over the Obama administration, which it is supposed
This starts as
follows (with colors and boldings in the original):
Senate: Which Groups Are We At War With? Admin: That’s
The Senate’s Committee on
Foreign Relations held a hearing today on renewing the Authorization
for the Use of Force (AUMF) in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Senators repeatedly asked
representatives from the Department of Defense which groups we are at
war with. And the DOD refused
As the ACLU’s deputy
legal director and director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy (Jameel
There is more on the
Orwellian character of this response in the article.
Up, One Year Later: President
Obama’s Broken Foreign Policy Promises
next item is an article by Medea Benjamin, who a year ago (tomorrow)
interrupted president Obama:
It starts as follows:
A year ago, on May
23, 2013, I was in the audience at the National Defense University when
President Barack Obama gave his major foreign
policy address. Having worked for years trying to close the
Guantanamo prison and stop US drone attacks, I was crushed to realize
that the president’s speech was ending and he had not announced any
significant change of course on either policy. My heart was pounding
with fear—it’s not an easy thing to interrupt a president, but I
decided to speak up.
She did speak up, and
was forcibly removed, but she made the news.
Now she says this:
One year later,
though, these profound questions still weigh heavily on our nation.
While the President announced that he was appointing new senior envoys
to deal with the Guantanamo fiasco, merely 12 prisoners have been
released all year, leaving 154 men still locked up. Shamefully, 77 of
them were cleared for release years ago—meaning the US government has
deemed them innocent or not a threat to Americans—but remain behind
bars. Most of the others are still held without trial. The President’s
inability to secure fair trials or the release of cleared prisoners
continues to exact an unbearable human toll.
I have to admit Obama
tricked me too, in the beginning of 2009, for I believed part of his
promises. But since my father and grandfather were locked into
concentration camps as "political terrorists" in 1941 during WW-II by Dutch
judges who collaborated with the Nazis that occupied Holland, which my
grandfather did not survive, and my father barely survived, I know more
about concentration camps than most, and indeed I also gave up on Obama
by the end of 2009.
Here is a last bit quoted from Medea Benjamin:
In another move to
crush transparency, the Obama administration has taken the over
on the use of torture during the Bush years, laboriously researched
by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and placed it in the hands of the
very entity that carried out the torture, the CIA, to redact before
making it public. Many believe the torture report will never see the
light of day or will be so edited as to make it worthless.
for Intellectual Conformity
next item is an article by Lawrence Davidson on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows -
and I quote the introduction of it, before quoting from the article:
In theory, many
people hail the idea of independent thinking and praise the courage of
speaking truth to power. In practice, however, the pressure of “group
think” and the penalties inflicted on dissidents usually force people
into line even when they know better, as Lawrence Davidson notes.
Yes, quite so: I am 64
now; I have a brilliant M.A. in psychology and an excellent B.A. in
philosophy; my parents were communists; my grandparents anarchists; my
father and grandfather were in the resistance and in German
concentration camps; my IQ was (at least) over 150 - but even so, I
have been removed from the University of Amsterdam no less than 4 times
, the last time before getting my M.A.
in philosophy; I have been tortured for nearly 4 years by dealers in illegal
drugs protected by mayor Ed van Thijn, I think for a
percentage of the profits; I could not even get 10 euros a week to
assist me to get a Ph.D. (for I needed my house cleaned: I am ill since
36 years, although not even that is admitted in Amsterdam); and I
absolutely never in my life earned more than the dole gave
everyone, which made me very probably the poorest Dutchman of
Why? I spoke and speak my mind honestly, in a country where at most
1 in 10.000 do so , while also being rational
and informed (for there are quite a few who talk but without
rationality or information: I am not one of those, and do have
both the brains and the scientific background so few have), while I do
live in a country that is a lot more free and a lot more
rich than most countries.
OK, now to Lawrence Davidson's piece, that starts as follows:
World Wars I and
II created watershed moments in the lives of Western intellectuals,
defined here as those who are guided by their intellect and critical
thinking and who understand various aspects of the world mainly through
ideas and theories which they express through writing, teaching and
other forms of public address.
The brief summary of the
behavior of the Western intellectuals is that 99.9% betrayed their
roles as intellectuals: Only very few thought for themselves,
judged for themselves, and dared to act on their judgments.
Here is - after skipping a considerable amount - Davidson on Benda:
In fact, that is how I
saw it in 1970, when I gave up my parents' sincere and honest communism
- except that I did not know, and at that time also did not think, that
at most 1 in 10.000 intellectuals  think more or
less the same, and the remaining 9999 either are stupid, or egoistic,
or not talented enough, or too scared to retain their independence and
to speak up and write as honest intellectuals, indeed also - maybe even
especially - in formal democracies.
In 1928, the French
philosopher and literary critic Julien Benda published an important
book, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals. In this work Benda
asserted that it is the job of the intellectual to remain independent
of his or her community’s ideologies and biases, be they political,
religious or ethnic. Only by so doing could he or she defend the
universal practices of tolerance and critical thinking that underpin
Not only were
intellectuals to maintain their independence, but they were also
obligated to analyze their community’s actions and, where necessary,
call them into question.
Davidson correctly says almost all intellectuals both in WW I and WW II
betrayed their being intellectuals, for
intellectuals either supported the slaughter or remained silent. Some
became fascists, others communists, and all too many once more lent
their talents to propaganda machines and war industries in all the
I skip the part on the
difficulties of "Jewish intellectuals", and arrive at the following
portrayal of the intellectual as a thinker insisting on and practicing
the right of critical thinking about society and its behavior is an
ancient one (consider Socrates here), such behavior is not common in
practice. This, in turn, calls Benda’s notion of a proper intellectual
consider the following similarity:
At most 1 in 10.000 can do pure mathematics really well, on a high and
creative level. Does it follow such mathematicians are not human? Of
And while in case of pure mathematics it is a matter of ability, the
problem with ethical and moral issues is not so much a matter of
ability, as the plain fact that
almost everyone has other values and other ideas than
trained intellectuals, notably religious and political ideals, while of
those many quite a few are willing to sanction people whom they do not
like in many ways, from scolding and exclusions to persecutions and
killings (as happened to Socrates).
Here are the last two paragraphs of Davidson:
Yes, indeed. In fact, I
am the only one of my kind that I personally know: everybody else in
least, sold out (and having sold out they still pretend, and indeed are
paid, as if they are "intellectuals" - and all the academically
employed Dutchmen in fact are bureaucrats).
Indeed, from a historical
perspective most people of high intellect have sought to serve power
and not critique or question it. This is quite in line with the fact
that most non-intellectuals accept the word of those in power as
authoritative and true.
According to Eva Illouz,
this reflects the primacy of group solidarity over truth. She is
correct in this judgment. That, no doubt, is why the
independent-minded, outspoken intellectuals demanding moral integrity
and responsibility from those in power are so rare, be they Jewish or
Again, this is why I am definitely not an optimist: There are
more like I am, but they are quite rare, and they will never
get the democratic sanction of any majority of whatever kind, for which
reason even the best of their plans have only very small chances of
Also, see conformism
in my Philosophical
Dictionary and the links supplied in these items. Here is the last
part of the item character:
I Don't Want to See
the Drone Memo
The public character
of the vast majority of men and women - the face they put on for
others, as 'person'
comes from 'mask' - is mostly intentional falsification: It is a
balancing act made up of conformism, hypocrisy, illusion and fear, in which they
pretend that they are and feel and believe what they know they are and
feel and believe not, because they believe, with some justification,
that pretending they are other than they really are and feel and think
will help or protect them.
This phoney 'character', the
face, that most men and most women have is not one they are born with,
but one they acquire between ages 15 and 25, when they try to fit
themselves into society,
and soon learn that their native talents and courage are not large, and
that duplicity and conformism are
rewarded, and sincerity, individuality and thinking for oneself
punished, and that the prevailing standards in society, from elementary
politeness to politics
are in most men and women more based on pretense, acting as if,
make-belief, party-feelings and wishful
thinking rather than on sincerity, skepticism, independent
individual thought or reason.
next item is by David Swanson on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
This is more relevant
than you might think, for David Barron is a friend of Obama who also
studied law, and wrote a secret memo that is supposed to explain why
killing people with drones is legal (or "legal"), after which he was
made into a federal judge by Obama, one may suppose for services
And when the people
saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people
gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us
a secret memo that gets us out of the bit about Thou-shalt-not-kill.
And, lo, as I was driving
home from the committee hearing I was pulled over for speeding, and I
said unto the officer, "I've got a memo that lets me speed. Would you
like to see it?" and he said, "No thank you, and not your grocery list
or your diary either."
Here is David Swanson:
Yes, quite so. There is
more and it ends thus:
I don't want to see the
memo that David Barron wrote "legalizing" the killing of U.S. citizens
with drone strikes, after which (or is it beforehand?) I'll decide
whether he should be a federal judge.
Laws don't work that way.
A law is a public document, known to or knowable to all, and enforced
equally on all. If a president can instruct a lawyer to write a
memo legalizing murder, what can a president not instruct a lawyer to
legalize? What's left of legality?
Laws remain law until they are repealed. These laws have not
been. If a memo can make a murder part of a war and therefore
legal, we are obliged to ask: What makes the war legal?
We shouldn't fall
for those traps. A president is not legally allowed to invent
criteria for killing people. Never mind that he doesn't meet his
own criteria. We should not be so indecent or so lawless as to
engage in such a conversation. We should not want to see the
Prescribing Adderall And Ritalin To TODDLERS!
Finally for today, not an article but a video by The
Young Turks, on the subject of giving speed (packaged as medicines:
Aderall or Ritalin) to 2 and 3 year olds, that I discussed before on May 18, 2014:
Note that these are legalized
amphetamines (which is speed, as I said), which are quite addictive,
and indeed untested on 2 and 3 year olds (while I insist that even testing
giving amphetamines on a daily basis to such small
children would be criminal) and note also this seems to happen
especially to people qualifying for Medicaid, who generally are
Anyway - I like the response of the TYT-team, and repeat my diagnosis
of May 18:
But yes, it all
is very well-paid, and very easy to do, on
someone else's children, and it seems The Intellectual Model
underlying it all runs as follows:
can get very rich by prescribing the latest patented drugs to
everyone and anyone.
This is called "evidence
based medicine", and it works extremely well: Lots of medics
are quite rich, and don't do anything for it but prescribing enormous
amounts of pills. This also is very good: medics became medics usually
because they wanted to make a lot of money. So - if you forget about
the patients, here small children, who also can't protest - everything
works out beautifully in modern medical practice!
Our Professional Organization is filled with stethoscope-clad
persons willing and able to plug anything for money.
We can safely get very rich by prescribing the latest patented drugs
to everyone and anyone. Long live medicine!
 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.)
The previous three times - 1976, 1977, and 1983 - were on
technicalities, that I think now were intentionally created by
the student assistant of philosophy Theodoor Bolten, who cooperated in
1988 with dr. Frans Jacobs to remove me from the faculty because I
asked questions as an invited speaker.
 You think that is an underestimate? Consider this:
I protested in the University of Amsterdam that for 25 years
was in the hands of quasi-marxist students and quasi-socialist
professionals from the Dutch Labour Party:
Almost no one listened; almost everyone regarded me as "a fascist" and
"a terrorist" simply because I thought different from them (and
knew their pretended leftism a hundred times better than they
did themselves, because my parents and grandparents were real
communists and real anarchists).
And no: I would never have believed there is at most 1 in
10.000 who tries to speak scientific truth on rational grounds before
trying to do so in the quasi-marxist, quasi-socialist University of
Amsterdam, but having done the experiment, and having been removed in
1988 as "a fascist" and "a terrorist" from the University of Amsterdam,
my own fear is that I grossly underestimate the number of Dutchmen who
are capable and willing to speak scientific truth on rational grounds: Nobody
defended me, nobody cared, everybody had more
urgent things to do than even think about what happened to me.
Also, I once again had the same experience in Amsterdam when I tried to
protest against illegal drugsdealers who were protected and installed
by the mayor in the house where I lived: Nobody defended me, nobody cared, everybody had more
urgent things to do than even think about what happened to me.
(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: