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. The Pentagon report on
Snowden's 'grave' threat is
2. Thomas Paine, Our
3. Some Important Questions
About Greenwald’s First Look
4. Obama Did Not End Torture
Voters Deliver the Revenge of the Nation-State
the crisis series - 1
This is the Nederlog of May
26. It is an ordinary crisis issue.
Yesterday, on a Sunday, there weren't sufficiently many items to put a
crisis issue together, but today there are again, so this follows
below, over five items.
The last item is the first of some general reflections about the crisis
series, that exists since 1.IX.2008 and presently has, also counting
this file, 510 numbered items, that also are all or nearly all written in English, indeed except
for the first 82, that are in Dutch.
1. The Pentagon report on Snowden's 'grave'
threat is gravely
item today is an article by Julian Sanchez on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
defenders of America's spy agencies have been touting
a classified Pentagon report as proof that Edward Snowden's
unprecedented disclosures have grievously harmed intelligence
operations and placed American lives at risk. But heavily
redacted excerpts of that report, obtained by the Guardian under a
Freedom of Information Act request and published on Thursday, suggest
that those harms may be largely hypothetical – an attempt to scare
spy-loving legislators with the phantoms of
It is not Julian
Sanchez's fault, but "suggest
that those harms may be largely hypothetical" has no less than three hypotheticals:
it may be that the suggested harm may be - well: a false or unproven
The reasons these are not Sanchez's fault are that I suppose he must be
careful and - most importantly - that absolutely no one except the
heads of the NSA know what is going on, and everything the NSA does
(and also what it doesn't do, for the most part) is hidden in secrecy,
secret court orders and classified documents, quite as if the Obama
administration is an authoritarian police state, that considers spying
on everyone, regardless of what he or she has done, the sine qua none
to stay in power.
Since I do not have to be careful, I submit, until the evidence is on
the public table, that according to the evidence I know, the NSA and
its spokesmen and -women in Congress have been lying, as indeed
also may be expected of any governmental spy and professional
politician. (See e.g. I.F. Stone, above.)
Next, there is this:
The first thing to
note is that the Pentagon report does not concern the putative
harm of disclosures about the National Security Agency programs that
have been the focus of almost all Snowden-inspired stories published to
In fact, that is a
summary of four considerably larger paragraphs, and it seems to me (at
least) that Julian Sanchez is quite right, given the evidence he has -
which is to say:
In fact, the unredacted
portions of the report don't discuss published material at all.
It certainly makes sense for
the government to try to gauge the harm that could result if
all that information was disclosed, but that's very different from
saying harm has occurred.
Even that estimate of
possible harm, however, is almost certainly overblown. Astonishingly,
the government still appears not to have any idea how much information
complete lack of details in the redacted report make it difficult to
evaluate it with confidence, but the Pentagon's assessment that the
compromised information "will have a GRAVE impact on U.S. national
defense" may reflect little more than the government's own unrealistic
And that seems to me to
be the case on (1) the available evidence, and on (2) the clear fact
that had the US government any good evidence it would
have been given
or at least mentioned: Since they don't, and instead restrict
themselves to generalities and hypotheticals, it may be safely assumed
the government and its spokesmen and -women are lying.
There is more under the last dotted link.
2. Thomas Paine, Our Contemporary
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows,
with what seems a good idea to me:
To be sure, this will be
mostly talk, and it will mostly be talk of a kind and a level that is -
at least - too naive for me, but I certainly think the left has to
reinvent itself again, after having been mostly destroyed by Clinton,
Blair, Kok and other hypocritical careerists (who all succeeded
in their personal goals: getting rich and well-known).
Cornel West, Richard D. Wolff and I,
along with moderator Laura Flanders,
next Sunday will inaugurate “The Anatomy of Revolution,” a series of
panel discussions focusing on modern revolutionary theorists. This
first event will be part of a two-day conference in New York City
sponsored by the Left Forum, and nine other discussions by West, Wolff
and me will follow in other venues later this year.
Sunday’s event will be
about Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense,” “The Rights of Man”
and “The Age of Reason”—the most widely read political essays of the
18th century, works that established the standards by which rebellion
is morally and legally permissible. We will ask whether the conditions
for revolt set by Paine have been met with the rise of the corporate
state. Should Paine’s call for the overthrow of British tyranny inspire
our own call for revolution? And if it should, to echo Vladimir Lenin,
what must be done?
There also is this appreciation of Paine by Hedges:
as a writer—his essay “Common Sense” is one of the finest pieces of
rhetorical writing in the English language—is matched by his clear and
unsentimental understanding of British imperial power. No revolutionist
can challenge power if he or she does not grasp how power works. This
makes Sheldon Wolin’s book “Democracy
Incorporated” and his concept of “inverted totalitarianism” as
important to us today as Paine’s writings on the nature of the British
monarchy were in 1776.
Yes, that is true: Paine
was a great writer, and deserves reading, although it is -
unfortunately - not at all true that "No revolutionist can challenge power if he or she does not
grasp how power works":
Clearly almost all revolutionaries did not understand how power works, or
indeed how to clearly define it, and nearly all revolutionaries I know
of (a great lot: I come from a sincere revolutionary family)
had mostly mistaken ideas - as did those who opposed them, and
indeed quite often more so, for the revolutionaries at least dared to
rebel for the common good, and those who opposed them far more often
than not willingly served their own personal interests and defended the
ruling political and social illusions that in fact served the rich few.
The key to social
change, as Eric Foner pointed out in “Tom Paine and Revolutionary
America,” is “a change in the nature of language itself, both in the
emergence of new words and in old words taking on new meanings.” (...)
Paine’s clarity will have to be replicated. We too will have to invent
a new language.
I very much doubt this, and
for several reasons. First, creating a new language, as indeed Paine
did, to some extent, is only for the very few. Second, rather
than creating a new language, with "old words taking on new meanings" it seems to me far more sensible to turn back to a
language that is purified from the innovations of the postmodernists -
"everybody knows there is no truth": a threefold conscious lie - and
the propagandists who work for the corporations and the government.
Third, "a new language" cannot be invented and need not be invented:
instead, one has to use the language one does use with more care and
with more clarity.
Anyway - there are three pages of Hedges on Truthdig, all well worth
Important Questions About Greenwald’s First Look Media
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as
First, I must admit that
I did not know who Michael Albert
(<-Wikipedia) is, but there is, as illustrated, these days a
Wikipedia, that somewhat relieved my ignorance. Second, I do not see
the relevance of Al-Jazeera or Greenwald's criticism of them.
Z Magazine co-founder
Michael Albert wants to call attention to concerns that are being
overlooked in the excitement over Guardian alum Glenn Greenwald and
eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s new reporting operation.
In an article
that is conspicuously respectful of Greenwald and Omidyar’s stated
objectives, Albert writes on New Left Project and ZNET that he set out
some months ago to have a “constructive discussion [with Greenwald]
about journalism and the First Look project.” Greenwald and others
committed to the integrity of new, promising press ventures should
applaud and welcome Albert’s initiative, given that Greenwald wrote a
number of articles mercilessly critiquing Al-Jazeera less than a year ago as
it began to open reporting bureaus inside the United States.
Third and last, having read the whole article, it seems to me to
consist only of hypotheses, suppositions, and assumptions that I find
myself mostly too vague to answer, and he doesn't pose the one question
I would ask: It seems First Look, at least so far, is quite slow. Why?
Then again, you may think differently, and that is why the article is
Not End Torture
item is an article by Jeff Bachmann and Jeannie Khouri on Commom Dreams:
Here is the beginning
of the first paragraph:
On January 9,
2009, then President-elect Barack Obama announced,
in what was to be a departure from Bush administration era
“war-on-terror” tactics: "I was clear throughout this campaign and was
clear throughout this transition that under my administration the
United States does not torture.”
And here is the
beginning of the second paragraph:
While it is essential
that the truth be revealed regarding the systematic torture of
detainees under the Bush administration, it is equally essential that
we recognize the claim that President Obama ended torture as the myth
that it is. Under President Obama, the United States continued to
imprison individuals in Afghan detention facilities fully aware
of the systematic
torture that takes place.
Yes, indeed - which
also is one of my reasons to completely give up on Obama, indeed
already in 2009 (for my father and grandfather were tortured by the
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link.
Voters Deliver the Revenge of the Nation-State
item is an article by David Llewellyn-Smith, that I found on Naked
Capitalism but that originates on MacroBusiness:
This starts as
European elections are in
the process of delivering huge swings extremes of the Left and Right
extreme. From the Financial Times:
you may check out yourself]
These results are enough to
complicate but not derail the European project, for now.
Yes. This is here
mostly because of the recent European elections, that I skipped, as
indeed is usual for me since 1971, although it seems most Europeans
agree with me on Europe, at least to the extent that they do not
consider it worth voting for.
Also, it is likely
that this is the main reason the extreme left and - especially - the
extreme right did get so many votes: few voted.
On the crisis series - 1
Finally, I want to
say a few things about the crisis series, that I will spread over several
issues of Nederlog, whence the number 1 in the title of this
First, I started with
it on September 1, 2008, which is
almost 6 years ago, and there are now at least 510 entries in it, that
are listed in three indexes: index 1,
index 2 and index 3.
Second, while the
first 82 Nederlogs that are all or mostly about the crisis are in Dutch, the rest is in English, and the main
reason the first 82 are not in English is that I did rarely
write in English in Nederlog between 2004 (when Nederlog started: the
site exists since 1996) and 2010 (when I started to write for Phoenix
Rising, that I ended in the beginning of May 2010, when I also removed
everything I had written there).
These days I almost
only write in English, though there are a few exceptions: my
autobiography is in Dutch, as is almost everything dealing with the
Dutch writer Multatuli.
The reason for me to
write in English is mostly that the things I write are more accessible:
By far the most hits on my sites are from non-Dutch, while I
write and speak English as easily as I write and speak Dutch, and
I normally prefer English because most of the literature I've read also
was in English rather than Dutch or any other language. (Also, I talked
English for years, in England, Holland and Norway, because three of the
women I've lived with were not Dutch, and two were native English
Third, I have not
reread most of the crisis items or indeed most of Nederlog: All
of Nederlog, on my hard disk at least, is over 232 MB (it must be less
on the site, but not by very much), which amounts to as many
average books (and yes: I know part of it is html, and part is also standardly repeated, but even so, a lot
I do not know how
large the crisis part of the site is, though I suppose
it is between 1/8th and 1/4th of Nederlog, which still is 20 MB at the
very least, and very probably considerably more.
Fourth and last for
today: By far the most of the Nederlogs of the year that started on June 10, 2013, which is the day I
first read about Edward Snowden, are crisis items.
considerably from the frequency of crisis items in Nederlog before that
date, and the main two reasons for this are that my eyes have been
quite bad the last two years, that gravely handicapped me, and
especially the first year, while I consider Edward Snowden's
revelations the worst political news I've ever heard:
That the United
States government uses the internet to spy on everyone, does so
in complete secrecy, has done so since 2001, and
continues to do so as if anybody who is not a government employee must
be a potential danger to the government, and "therefore" is fit to be
spied upon by governmental spies, that also pretend - by insane
by false definitions, by secret "legal" memos - that they have "the
right" to any information anyone places on the net, or
indeed has on one's computer, which to me is simply obscene: no
government ought to have such powers, and no decent government
claims such authority.
They do not
have that right, even if the elitarian pseudo-democrats who are in the
Senate, Congress or the Supreme Court decide they have and make it
"legal": Those are the practices of an authoritarian police state, and not
of any democracy or any free and open society.
Then again, it is not
at all certain that there are sufficiently many enlightened and
informed individuals to prevent the arisal of a US authoritarian police state.
There will be more
 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: