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Nederlog


  June
28, 2014
Crisis: Anti-NSA, SWAT Teams, Kochs, "Job Creators", Spying
   "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. 'Illegal Spying Below': blimp flies over NSA data centre in
     surveillance protest

2. Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private
     Corporations

3. BREAK THE KOCH MACHINE
4. Why the Rich Aren’t Job Creators
5. No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get
     Your Digital Data

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 28. It is an ordinary crisis log.
It is from a saturday, but I found five items.

1.'Illegal Spying Below': blimp flies over NSA data centre in surveillance protest

The first item is an article by Reuters on The Guardian:
This is here mainly because I like it - and there is a nice picture under the link:

Activists flew a blimp emblazoned with the words "Illegal Spying Below" over the National Security Agency's data centre in Utah on Friday in protest against the US government's mass surveillance programmes.

The one-hour flight was carried out by the environmental group Greenpeace, digital rights activists the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a conservative political organisation, the Tenth Amendment Centre.

The 41 metre (135ft) blimp, owned by Greenpeace, was adorned with a sign that read "NSA Illegal Spying Below".

This also has a nice ending:

"Our right to privacy is not a partisan issue. It's a human rights issue," said Michael Boldin, founder of Tenth Amendment Centre, which advocates for decentralised government.

"This coalition gives great hope for the future because it shows that people across the political spectrum can set aside differences to work together."
Yes, I agree "that people across the political spectrum can set aside differences to work together", although I am probably not as optimistic as is Michael Boldin. But he is right it is a human rights issue and is not a partisan issue: The NSA does every day enormous amount of illegal spying on everyone.

2. Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private Corporations 

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig, and deals with one aspect of the militarization of the American police forces (which is quite frightening, at least in my eyes):

This starts as follows (under a frightening picture):

Requests by the American Civil Liberties Union for open records on Massachusetts SWAT teams begat refusals to comply based on the premise that the forces are private corporations rather than government entities.

At The Washington Post, Radley Balko explains that a number of SWAT teams in the state are operated by “law enforcement councils.” These councils are funded by police agencies in a particular region and overseen by an executive board made up primarly of police chiefs from member departments. Some of the councils have incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations, meaning they claim the legal status of private corporations, including immunity from open records requests.

Balko comments:

Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.

One of the reasons the militarization of the American police, that has been going on for quite a while now, and in part consists in their being outfitted with military material, is frightening is that this is the repressive arm of the government: the US government seems to be preparing, on a large scale also, for the military repression of its own people.

This is just a small item in that militarization: Now the governmental SWAT teams - paid from the taxes, and in fact governmental bureaucrats - claim, completely falsely, that they are private corporations, and this exempts them from control by the representatives of the people they may arrest, while paid from the taxes, and while behaving as occupational forces.

3. BREAK THE KOCH MACHINE 

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This is directed against the 5th and 6th richest men in the world, the Koch brothers. It comes with a video that takes less than 3 minutes and contains most of the text in the article:

 

And this is some of the evil the Kochs do, in Reich's opinion, but I will suppose he is right about this:

The Koch machine includes:

1. Political front groups pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into elections at every level of our democracy, while disguising the sources of the money.

2. Giant advertising campaigns to convince Americans climate change is a myth, the Affordable Care Act will harm them, unions are bad, and wealthy people deserve tax cuts.

3. A network of think tanks designed to come up with findings the Kochs want. For example, over $23 million for studies arguing we should abolish the minimum wage or keep it where it is forever.

4. A campaign to suppress the votes of minorities. In the last presidential election, funding white “poll-watchers” where minorities vote, leading to complaints of voter intimidation. And peddling a Voter ID bill to state legislators across the country, designed to make it harder for many to vote.

5. A nationwide effort to bust unions.  Funding anti-union campaigns in states like Wisconsin, and pushing an anti-union law that’s been used in dozens of states to undermine workers’ collective bargaining rights.

And 6. A long-term strategy to unravel America’s campaign finance laws, even organizing secret meetings with sympathetic Supreme Court justices.

Note that this is evil from a point of view like mine or Reich's: I am quite willing to grant that the Koch's themselves act as good capitalists should, which means that they do everything for more profits for the very rich, and they probably also will insist that is good.

My problems are mainly with the last line of the article and the video:

Our democracy is not for sale.

For I see at least two things at variance with this:

A. The Supreme Court has disagreed: American democracy is for sale, and has effectively been given away to the rich, and especially the big corporations, in which the Koch brothers are prominent leaders.

I agree with Reich this is a highly lamentable fact, but it does seem to be a fact to me: American democracy has been given away to the rich. Not only that:

B. A considerable part of the American electorate, that is heavily propagandized, either does not care or welcomes this, indeed generally on what I agree with Reich are invalid grounds, but even so.

But OK...as Edmund Burke said: If you're desperate... work on. I agree to that, but points A and B seem to hold, at least for the time being.

4. Why the Rich Aren’t Job Creators

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:

Actually, it is about two pieces by Nick Hanauer (<- Wikipedia) who is an American capitalist, who seems to have a fairly clear perception, that is not at all like that of the Kochs, although Hanauer is very rich.

First, he explains in the following video of 5 min 50 s why the term "jobcreators" is false propaganda: The rich are not jobcreators; the only jobcreators are a middle class with sufficient income to spend. (But the middle class is being destroyed in the US.)

This he does well, and it is worth remarking (see Wikipedia) that although this was supposed to be a TED-talk, and Hanauer is a large and rich American capitalist, the talk was not chosen to be a TED-talk because

Curator of the private organisation Chris Anderson stated that he felt Hanauer's talk was "explicitly partisan" and included "a number of arguments that were unconvincing".

I say: That shows the bias of TED-talks: anything goes - as long as it is pro-capitalist in the Republican way, for it cannot be denied Hanauer is pro-capitalist:



Second, the above talk is originally from 2012. In 2014 Hanauer published a piece called
The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats that is also quoted by Yves Smith:

What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

I think that is right - and note that he expects a police state or an uprising (and indeed part of the explanation for the militarization of the American police - see item 2 - is that the government agrees with him, and is preparing for the repression of an uprising by heavily militarizing the American police).

5. No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data

The next and last crisis item is an article by Theodoric Meyer on ProPublica:

Actually, as the piece also tells us, this is the update of a post that appeared on December 4, 2012. I do not recall seeing or reviewing that, although I thought initially I had.

In any case, this is a good and clear piece, for it reports both the facts and the laws as regards the governmental collection of

  • phone records
  • location data
  • IP addresses
  • E-mails
  • E-mail drafts
  • Text messages
  • Cloud data
  • Social media

It reports these in three columns: "Stuff they can get - How they get it - What the law says". The above is the list of items in the first column.

This is clear and helpful.

---------------------------------
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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