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Nederlog


  June
18, 2014
Crisis: Britons, Bush Jr., American ignorance, Snowden, Heidegger
   "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
Sections
Introduction

1. Social media mass surveillance is permitted by law, says
     top UK official

2. Up Close and Personal With George W. Bush’s Horrifying
     Legacy

3. Americans Are Dangerously Politically Ignorant -- The
     Numbers Are Shocking

4. Treating Snowden as a ‘Personality’
5.
National Socialism, World Jewry, and the History of
     Being: Heidegger’s Black Notebooks


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 18. It is an ordinary crisis log.

Well, it is - except for the last item, that you owe to my being a philosopher; its being about Heidegger, whom I have looked upon as an utter fraud since I first read him, at 17, 18 or 19; and also to the fact that I wrote about him before in Nederlog. It turns out he was even worse than I thought.

Now for today's items - and you should realize I am reacting to what I could find when writing about the crisis.

1. Social media mass surveillance is permitted by law, says top UK official

The first item is an article by Owen Bowcott and James Ball on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The true extent of the government's interception of Google, Facebook and Twitter – including private messages between British citizens – has been officially confirmed for the first time.

The government's most senior security official, Charles Farr, detailed how searches on Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as emails to or from non-British citizens abroad, can be monitored by the security services because they are deemed to be "external communications".

It is the first time that the government has admitted that UK citizens, talking via supposedly private channels in social media such as Twitter direct messages, are deemed by the British government to be legitimate legal targets that do not require a warrant before intercepting.

It is indeed the first time; it would not have happened without Snowden's revelations; and it clearly is an intentional confusion:

There is a fundamental difference between Facebook or a website on the one hand, which I am willing to agree are public, and can be seen and copied by anyone, and e-mail, that replaced most or all of the ordinary mail for almost everyone with a computer, which is private, and never was declared to be non-private, until Snowden's revelations, and then only by the thieves and those who profit from stealing everyone's e-mails, e.g. in the British government and other governments.

Also, there is this:
The document, released on Tuesday, provoked calls for the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to be overhauled urgently, as well as allegations that the government was exploiting loopholes in the legislation of which parliament was unaware.
Yes, indeed - although I am a bit in doubt both about "loopholes in the legislation" and that "parliament was unaware". Leaving the latter, my own assumption is that about ten years ago, there was a conversation that may have gone as follows, between some high official in the NSA and a ditto in the U.S. government, whom I will call First and Second:

First: Hi, Second! We decided that, since all these mailproviders forgot to encrypt
the mails of anyone using them, to simply take the whole lot, and store and search them. You know, we can and it will incredibly increase the powers of the government: No government ever had such powers. So we do. Any thoughts or objections?
Second: Well, there is the Fourth Amendment, but we easily can find some lawyer who will dream up some confusing bullshit. Don't you worry, we'll cover you!
First: Thanks! What if anyone does find out?
Second: Don't worry! We can extend our obfuscations, memos, classified memos, secret courts with secret decisions till Kingdom come - I mean, apart from the Senate and the House, but we can blackmail the lot of them with your findings.
So go ahead!

Of course, this is imagined, but something like this likely happened, and indeed quite a few years ago.

Then there is this about the de facto workings of the GCHQ:
Tempora taps into the network of fibre-optic cables which carry the world's phone calls and online traffic. Its designer described it as "Mastering the Internet", enabling GCHQ and the NSA to process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects. As many as 600m "telephone events" a day can be recorded.
Yes, and indeed I fully agree almost anyone surveilled is "entirely innocent". However, a Mr Charles Farr, who speaks for the British state's terrorists, uttered as follows, and grossly and knowingly lied:

Farr says: "Any regime that … only permitted interception in relation to specific persons or premises, would not have allowed adequate levels of intelligence information to be obtained and would not have met the undoubted requirements of intelligence for the protection of national security."

Firstly, Bill Binney, Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden completely disagree. Here is Snowden (quoted in the Wikipedia article on him):

The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair....

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Secondly, the whole paragraph is pure presumption ("would not", "would not"). Third, what are "adequate levels" is anyway a matter of arbitration, but I completely distrust any goverment that implicitly treats everyone as a terrorist.
Fourth, I am wholly disinterested in any "national security": That is a term that does not mean any protection for anyone who is not a member of the government or its bureaucracy, and any government or bureaucracy that spies on everyone's personal mail is deliberately engaging in extremely sickening theft, and seems to prepare for absolute power for itself, under the pretext of "terrorism" and "Al Qaeda".

Then there is this combination of obfuscation and lies:

His submission explains that searches on Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are likely to involve communicating with a "web-based platform" abroad and are therefore "external communications" which do not "require a person or a set of premises to be named in the interception warrant". Emails sent or received from abroad could be intercepted in a similar way.

No, state terrorists' advocate: That is complete crap. First, a "web-based platform" is a pure invention without any legal status. Second, the whole notion of "external communications" completely denies any right to any privacy of anyone who lacks the divine blessing of being British born, and is a complete and utter falsehood. Third, the deduction that "external communica- tions" do not "require a person or a set of premises to be named in the interception warrant" derives from lies, obfuscations and falsehoods. Fourth, that "Emails sent or received from abroad" are free game for the British state's secret terrorists is a complete denial of my right on privacy and anyone's right on privacy if non-British. Fifth, your own secret state terrorists and thieves work around this by letting their mates from Five Eyes spy on all persons' mail if not in their country, and then kindly exchanging it.

There is rather a lot more in the article, which you can find your self. I merely quote one more bit:

Anne Jellema, chief executive of the World Wide Web Foundation, said: "It seems the UK's spy agencies are using flimsy legal justification to sidestep the need for individual warrants and feel able to indiscriminately collect and monitor the private social media and web communications of anyone.

"[The] revelations mean it is simply unacceptable for the UK government to delay a single day longer in launching a full and independent inquiry into GCHQ's activities, leading to far-reaching changes in law and practice."

Yes, and "flimsy legal justification" is polite for "utter bullshit, legally speaking". Also, while I agree to the urgent need for an independent inquiry, I do not have much trust this will happen.

2. Up Close and Personal With George W. Bush’s Horrifying Legacy

The next item is an article by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The Iraq disaster remains George W. Bush’s enduring folly, and the Republican attempt to shift the blame to the Obama presidency is obscene nonsense. This was, and will always be, viewed properly as Bush’s quagmire, a murderous killing field based on blatant lies. 

This showcase of American deceit, obvious to the entire world, began with the invented weapons of mass destruction threat that Bush, were he even semi-cognizant of the intelligence data, must have known represented an egregious fraud. So was his nonsensical claim that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when in fact he was Osama bin Laden’s most effective Arab opponent.

Yes, indeed. There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

3. Americans Are Dangerously Politically Ignorant -- The Numbers Are Shocking

The next item is an article by C.J. Werleman on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

The health of a democracy is dependent on an educated citizenry.  Political illiteracy is the manure for the flourishing of political appeals based on sheer ignorance.

Yes - although I should say this also indicates my reservations about "democracy": it seems to me that Disraeli served conservative interests extremely well by propounding full democracy (for men, then), since this virtually guaranteed that half of the electorate had IQs under 100, and much of the electorate would be moved by ignorance and wishful thinking.

But that is an aside, although it is quite relevant, also seeing the following about the present day Americans (and I am quoting, but dotting the points myself):

  • Two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name all three branches of the U.S. federal government, nor a single Supreme Court justice.
  • 91 percent couldn’t name the current Chief Justice.
  • When respondents were asked whether they could recall any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, a majority could name only free speech.
  • More than a third were unable to list any First Amendment rights.
  • 42 percent of Americans think the Constitution explicitly states that “the first language of the United States is English
  • 25 percent believe Christianity was established in the Constitution as the official government religion.
  • Only 40 percent of adults know that there are 100 Senators in the U.S. Congress
  • A great majority of Americans have no idea of when or by whom the Constitution was written.

There is considerably more in the article, with which I also do not all agree, but the examples are - how shall I say it - fairly convincing, and indeed explain a lot about the many idiots that are getting elected.

4.  Treating Snowden as a ‘Personality’

The next item is an article by William R. Polk on Consortiumnews:

This has the following subtitle or introduction:

The mainstream U.S. media prefers personalities over substance, so it was perhaps not a surprise that its focus at the first anniversary of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks was on his alleged peculiarities, not the frightening prospect of a Big Brother state, says ex-State Department official William R. Polk.

Yes, indeed. As to "Snowden's personality" there is this:

Snowden’s personality is presented as paradoxical (he wanted to be a Special Forces soldier and favored the invasion of Iraq), amusing (he apparently had an adolescent view of espionage), limited (with no education to match his self-taught training), shrewd (building up his stock portfolio for a rainy day), naive (assuming that suddenly the public would accept him as a hero), fearful (expecting a Mafia-style hit), etc.

One of the amazing things about this rot is that it must all have been composed by persons who really do not know more about Snowden than I do - and I would never write such things about a man I hardly know anything about.

Then there is this:

Even The Guardian pieces, which do concentrate on the documents, do little to put the disclosures about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance in perspective. Yet that perspective was there long before Snowden. Sen. Frank Church summed it all up in a sentence or two in his 1975 Senate Committee investigation on intelligence activities:

“If a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back. … We must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Frank Church was extremely prescient, indeed. As to The Guardian: I do not know. For one thing, they did publish a fair amount, and most that I read was good. For another thing, they are a daily paper, and as such a lot better than any Dutch one. For a third thing, something may be left to their readers: it is not as if the Guardian may be expected to hold all relevant information on anything important.

Here is a last bit:

Simply put, the real message of Snowden’s disclosures is that there is a growing capacity that could be used by any future government, Left, Right or Center, to subvert freedom completely. As Church rightly said, once the line is crossed, there is no return.

Yes, quite so: "any future government, Left, Right or Center", and I really do not care either way: With the knowledge the NSA gathers, as Church said

the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back

And so far I've seen few results in preventing that - and Church was quite right about the extreme dangers the American government poses at present for its complete population.

5.  National Socialism, World Jewry, and the History of Being: Heidegger’s Black Notebooks

The last item is
not about the crisis. It is about Heidegger, the late great admirer of Adolf Hitler, and the creator and popularizer of completely bullshit philosophy:
In fact, this is an article in the Jewish Review of Books, but it reminded me of some things I wrote about Heidegger in several Nederlogs, but since most of that is in Dutch, I will not mention it here, and instead make do with Bertrand Russell's opinion of him:
Highly eccentric in its terminology, his philosophy is extremely obscure. One cannot help suspecting that language is here running riot. An interesting point in his speculations is the insistence that nothingness is something positive. As with much else in Existentialism, this is a psychological observation made to pass for logic.
And this seems to have been without Russell knowingn much about Heidegger's being an active Nazi.

Now to the above article, which is quite long. It is occasioned by by the appearance of "The Black Notebooks", as the last part of the 102-volume long (!) edition of his works. It turned out that indeed Heidegger was an active and proud Nazi, who did not even want to give up his support for it after WW II:

With the publication of the Black Notebooks, what has now become indubitably clear is that racial prejudice against non-Germanic peoples—the English, the Russians, the French, the Americans, and, especially, the Jews—lies at the very center of Heidegger’s philosophical project. It is inseparable from the Volk-concept that he had embraced already in Being and Time (1927) and that he continued to exalt throughout his lectures and seminars of the 1930s. Heidegger’s belief in the ontological superiority of the German Volk underwrites his political view that inferior peoples may be justly persecuted in the name of “the history of Being,” (..)
There also is Karl Jaspers, who had a Jewish wife, and who criticized Heidegger after WW II, when Heidegger also was defended by Hannah Arendt (who also had a Jewish background and had been his lover before WW II).

Here is a small bit on Jaspers on Heidegger:
It was precisely this style of unfounded, mystagogical assertion to which Jaspers was pointing when he described Heidegger’s thinking as “unfree, dictatorial, and incapable of communication.” In fact, Jaspers’ criticism may have been even more far-sighted than he realized. Not only was such “thinking” pedagogically disastrous for German students immediately after the war, in many respects it remains so today.
Finally, there is this, from Wolin:
It is curious that Heidegger’s supporters could doubt the depth of his commitment to anti-Semitism in view of the fact that, as the Black Notebooks reaffirm unequivocally, he was such an enthusiastic supporter of a regime whose alpha and omega was, in the words of historian Saul Friedländer, “redemptive anti-Semitism.” Moreover, during the 12 years of Nazi rule, Heidegger was hardly an innocent bystander. Nor did he opt for the solitude of inner emigration. Instead, he was a Nazi Party member who paid his dues in full until the very end.

Yes, indeed. In fact, having read in Wolin's essay that Heidegger thought that he was the greatest philosopher since Heraclitos - exit Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Aquinas, Ockham, Montaigne, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume etc. - I think it is fair to consider him to have been quite mad, in the way a German professor could be, and also seeing his virtually unreadable and rather crazy prose (which you can get a summary of in Wolin's essay).

But no, I do not think this will settle much: He will continue to be the sort of philosopher the philosophically talentless - of which there are many, especially in universities - feel much attracted to, and that because he wrote so very ill, and with such enormous pretensions.

---------------------------------
Note
[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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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