4, 2014
Crisis: Obama*2, Torture, Cameron, Free & Open, Naked Pics, College Prices
  "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


Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal
2. Senate Torture Report Will Be Public in 2 to 4 Weeks,
     Says Feinstein
3. Obama Faces Calls to Reform Reagan-Era Mass
     Surveillance Order

4. David Cameron and the cynicism of comparing Putin to
5. Creating Free and Open Societies
6. MSM In A Tizzy Over XXX Celebrity Picture Leak, Fail To
     Correlate To Larger NSA/Privacy Debate

7. College Has Gotten 12 Times More Expensive in One

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 4. It is a crisis log.

I think - at least - the entries about Obama and Cameron are interesting, and you should read item 5, if you are interested in creating free and open societies: at least this sketches one way this can be tried, and does so quite well.

This also starts with three items based on articles on The Intercept, that now seems to be really starting. I take it this is more of a chance event than anything else.

And this file got uploaded rather more early than is usual for me, and the main reason is again that it is very fine weather in Amsterdam, and I am going to cycle again in the afternoon.

1. Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal

The first item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

In a lot of ways, we’re worse off today than we were under George W. Bush.

Back then, Bush’s extremist assault on civil liberties, human rights and other core American values in the name of fighting terror felt like an aberration.

The expectation was that those policies would be quickly reversed, discredited — and explicitly outlawed — once he was no longer in power.

Instead, under President Barack Obama, they’ve become institutionalized.

There will be no snapping back to a pre-Bush-era respect for basic human dignity and civil rights. Thanks to Obama, it’s going to be a hard, long fight.

In some cases, Obama has set even darker precedents than his predecessor. Massively invasive bulk surveillance of Americans and others has been expanded, not constrained. This president secretly condemns people to death without any checks or balances, and shrugs as his errant drones massacre innocent civilians. Whistleblowers and journalists who expose national security wrongdoing face unprecedented criminal prosecution.

Yes, indeed - and note that Obama got elected promising "Change!" and "Yes, we can!" while he has turned out to be a Republican Lite president. Froomkin notes:

In retrospect, what the country needed was a radical break from the Bush/Cheney national security policies: A reestablishment of American moral integrity; a rejection of decision-making based on fear (of terrorism, or of political blowback); a reassertion of the international laws of war; and a national reckoning.

Instead, the hopes for any change are slim. Obama has eroded the credibility of any future promises of expansive reform in the area of national security. And, in any case, no such promises are forthcoming: Congressional response to the recent disclosures has been narrowly focused and prone to loopholes; the current leadership of both political parties — and their likeliest standard-bearers in 2016 — aren’t expressing any outrage at all.

As surely — if not as enthusiastically — as his predecessor, Obama has succumbed to the powerful systemic pressures that serve the needs of the military-intelligence-industrial complex.  Secrecy is rampant. Politics drives policy. There is no accountability. Congressional and judicial oversight have become a bitter joke. And the elite press gets tighter and tighter with those to whom it should be adversarial.

Yes, and again I point out that Obama got himself elected the first time by making the promises in the above first paragraph. But he did not live up to them, and I also think he never meant them: They were poses that got him elected, and assured him of a fine income ever since, but they were not positions he really wanted to take.

Also, most of the rest of the article announces Froomkin's reappearance, after having done the same from 2004-2009 in the Washington Post, as a blogger, this time for The Intercept.

It seems a good idea to me, although his main sources, that he expects much from, are inputs from others by way of Twitter and Facebook. Hmmm....
2.  Senate Torture Report Will Be Public in 2 to 4 Weeks, Says Feinstein

The next item is another article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein expects the executive summary of her staff’s long-awaited report on the torture of American detainees to be ready for public release before the end of September, she said in an unaired segment of her “Meet the Press” interview this weekend (starts at 10:25 of the video).

The torture report, which was five years in the making, was sent to the White House for declassification in April. But the exhaustive redactions that Obama administration officials sent back in early August included such things as the elimination of pseudonyms, apparently to make the report too confusing to follow, and the blacking out of copious supporting evidence, such as proof that information derived from torture actually came from other intelligence sources.

“What we are engaged in is working with the administration to see that the redaction is such that it does not destroy the report,” Feinstein told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “If you redact the evidence — heavily — then we cannot sustain our findings. We will not put out a report that does not enable us to sustain our findings. And I believe that that is understood.

I say. This does not sound very hopeful, also since in fact "the redaction" was by the CIA that is supposed to be overseen by Congress, rather than to redact Congresses reports on their failures, while also spying on Congress (which they did do).

But we will find out, it seems. My own guess is that the report will be heavily redacted, but I am quite willing to be pleasantly surprised.

3. Obama Faces Calls to Reform Reagan-Era Mass Surveillance Order 

The next item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

A coalition of civil liberties groups and members of Congress are calling on President Obama to urgently review a controversial executive order being used by the National Security Agency to conduct mass surveillance.

Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era authority, allows the NSA to covertly sweep up vast amounts of private data from overseas communication networks with no court oversight. Last week, The Intercept revealed how 12333 underpins a secret search engine the NSA built to share more than 850 billion records on phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats with other U.S. government agencies, including domestic law enforcement. The search system, named ICREACH, contains information on the private communications of foreigners as well as, it appears, millions of Americans not accused of any wrongdoing.

Now, more than 40 organizations and rights groups – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union – are calling on Obama and his surveillance review panel to ensure there is no “disproportionate or unnecessary collection” taking place under 12333.

Actually, I question how
Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era authority, allows the NSA to covertly sweep up vast amounts of private data from overseas communication networks with no court oversight.
My reasons are the Fourth Amendment that definitely forbids this, plus the fact that in Reagan's time there simply was no internet. So how Reagan's "authority" could be used to steal 850 billion records (more than 100 per living inhabitant of the world!) from internet computers is a complete riddle to me.

Then again, it is clear to me that Obama sanctions this, so I do not expect any great presidential changes.

4. David Cameron and the cynicism of comparing Putin to Hitler 

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Oh, here we go. The west’s escalating showdown with Vladimir Putin has led to Adolf Hitler being invoked. According to David Cameron, the west risks “repeating the mistakes made in Munich in ‘38”, making it clear the role he sees the Russian leader as assuming. Putin was able to flatten Chechnya at the beginning of the century without such inflammatory comparisons – Tony Blair even cheered him on – but it was only a matter of time before western leaders began flinging Nazi comparisons around in the Ukraine crisis.

Owen Jones continues with a show of cases when this was done before by English and American political leaders, which you can check out yourself, and then says, quite rightly in my opinion:

In and of themselves, these comparisons are self-evidently ludicrous. Hitler was a racist totalitarian dictator who presided over the world’s only attempt at industrialised genocides of entire peoples, killing tens of millions in the process. It is possible to regard foreign leaders as deeply unpleasant and abusive of basic human rights without believing they are Hitler. There is plenty of space between “democracy that respects human rights” and “genocidal totalitarian regime with ambitions to conquer much of the world”. Cameron’s comparison will undoubtedly fuel anti-western sentiment among the Russian population: after all, the Soviet Union was absolutely instrumental in the defeat of Nazism, suffering well over 20 million fatalities. In the case of Russia, comparisons to Hitler could hardly be more insulting.

But Great Britain's prime minister made them anyway, and although he is not very intelligent, he surely knew what he did.

5. Creating Free and Open Societies 

The next item is an article by Brewster Kahle (<- Wikipedia) on his blog:

Actually, this is from May 13, 2014, which shows that I do not check out his blog often, but I do follow him because he is the creator of, which I like and indeed am a member of. (Since I am a member of very few organizations, this does say something.)

In any case: The above link, of which there is a somewhat improved pdf here:

is well worth reading if you are interested in creating free and open societies: These are some of the ideas I asked for three days ago.

6. MSM In A Tizzy Over XXX Celebrity Picture Leak, Fail To Correlate To Larger NSA/Privacy Debate

The next item is an article by LieparDestin on DailyKos:

This is here mostly because there was a fuzz lately over naked pictures of well known women being stolen from a cloud, that also included articles to the effect that one should not view these pictures.

Well... I can't say I am much interested in Jennifer Lawrence (I didn't even know she existed), and I haven't clicked, but surely this moral posturing looks rather dishonest to me, especially since these well known women got well known for being sexy, and all the readers live in a pornographic society - at least in the sense that porn is still the most watched item on the internet - and I do not see much of a difference between getting stimulated by an image which you know the name of, because she is a well known sexy actress, and an image you do not know the name of, although she also is a sexy actress.

Then again, I agree the pictures were private and should not have been stolen.

And I agree with the present article - though I do not think it is very good - that there is a much larger "private sexy pictures" problem due to the fact that the NSA can and does get anything they can get, but this hardly gets discussed, and is not in considerable part because none of the persons whose pictures were stolen is well known for being sexy.

7. College Has Gotten 12 Times More Expensive in One Generation

The next and last item is an article by Katie Rose Quandt on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows:

As bright-eyed college freshmen arrive on campus, they can look forward to accruing knowledge, independence, lifelong friendships—and serious bills. In the 2012-13 school year, first-year, on-campus tuition averaged $43,000 at four-year, private schools and $21,700 at in-state public schools.

It wasn't always like this: The cost of undergraduate education is 12 times higher than it was 35 years ago, far outpacing inflation. While the indexed price of college tuition and fees skyrocketed by more than 1,122 percent since 1978, the cost of medical care rose less than 600 percent, and the cost of housing and food went up less than 300.

Put otherwise: As the food prices trippled in 35 years (is that one generation now?), and the costs of medical care grew six times, the costs for college tuition grew 12 times. 

Incidentally, I started studying in 1977 (and was thrown out the first time after three months, which happened at least two more times, all without any failures by me) and since then my income (of an ill Dutch person, who is ill since 1.1.1979) has slightly more than doubled: I get now in Euros what I got in guilders thirty years ago - when what I got was worth considerably more, in terms of what I could buy for the money I got, than I get now.

But that is an aside, and the article is only about American students, and comes with quite a few graphics (that I couldn't see on my computer).

In any case, the explanation for a 12-fold increase in costs must be that the millionaires who make up Congress have decided that ordinary people, with ordinary incomes, should not have the right to send their children to college.

That is the only valid explanation for the enormous increase in costs plus the fact that students have to pay over 4% interest, while very rich bank managers can loan money virtually for free ever since 2008.

[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)

       home - index - summaries - mail