26, 2014
Crisis: Pentagon, Paine, Greenwald, Obama, Europe, Crisis
   "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. The Pentagon report on Snowden's 'grave' threat is
     gravely overblown

2. Thomas Paine, Our Contemporary
3. Some Important Questions About Greenwald’s First Look

4. Obama Did Not End Torture
5. European Voters Deliver the Revenge of the Nation-State
6. On the crisis series - 1

About ME/CFS


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 overblown

The first item today is an article by Julian Sanchez on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
For months, 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 lost capability.
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 may be.

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 date.
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 Snowden copied.
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:
The almost 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 definitions.
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

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows, with what seems a good idea to me:

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?

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).

There also is this appreciation of Paine by Hedges:
Paine’s brilliance 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 reading

3. Some Important Questions About Greenwald’s First Look Media

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

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.

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.

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 listed here.

4. Obama Did Not End Torture

The next 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 Nazis).

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

5. European Voters Deliver the Revenge of the Nation-State

The next item is an article by David Llewellyn-Smith, that I found on Naked Capitalism but that originates on MacroBusiness:

This starts as follows:

European elections are in the process of delivering huge swings extremes of the Left and Right extreme. From the Financial Times:

[Long quotation 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.

6. 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 item.

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 speakers.)

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 remains).

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.

This differs 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 redefinitions, 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 probably tomorrow.

[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)

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