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 state wants to spy
on us – but is it up to the job?
should be a human right
3. Chomsky: Business Elites Are
Waging a Brutal Class War
4. Report: Senate Report on CIA
Will Sidestep Look at Bush
5. Bill Black: Krugman Bashes
Progressives for Criticizing
Obama on Grounds that He
6. “I’m not going away”: James
Risen unloads to Salon
about his government foes
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, October 19. It is a crisis log.
It is Sunday today, but there were some more crisis materials to be
today than yesterday, for there are six items:
Item 1 is on spying, and was a bit
disappointing to me, as I explain; item 2 is
basically an interview with an Australian writer, who seems to assume
privacy is not a human right, whereas it is; item 3
is a long and good interview with Chomsky; item 4
is about the Senate's Report on Torture (still not published); item 5 is about Bill Black's tearing up Paul Krugman's
support for Obama; and item 6 is an interview with
In fact, item 3 - an interview with Chomsky - was the most interesting for
me. And I will also later today upload an updated version of the last crisis series.
1. The state wants to spy on us – but is it
up to the job?
item is an article by John Naughton on The Guardian:
Naughton (<- Wikipedia) is the man who questioned Snowden
recently, but it seems that did not go well, indeed not through his or
Snowden faults, but because the internet connection to Russia was via a
Skype link (owned by Microsoft) that was "comically dysfunctional".
In this article he tries again to discuss the questions he wanted to
discuss with Snowden. They are these:
thing now, it seems to me, is to consider a new question: given what we
now know, what should we do about it? What could we
realistically do? Will we, in fact, do anything? And if the latter,
where are we heading as democracies?
In fact, the first
question, which is a "should" question is not answered, and indeed the
problem I see with all questions is that it poses the question
to a very amorphous "we": Some of "us" know a fair amount, but
it seems to me most of "us" do not, even if they think they do
(How many know how to program fairly well, for example? It seems at
most 1 in a 100); what "we" could do ("realistically") depends a lot on
the support "we" get from politicians and editors, etc.
But OK: Questions like these are fair and fundamental,
and in a brief article one must be vague.
To start with the questions:
First, what could
we do to curb comprehensive surveillance of the net? The internet
engineering community seems determined to do something about it. In its
current form, the network is wide open to snooping, because most of its
operations are not encrypted.
There is now, according
to Naughton, sufficient interest in techie communities to encrypt a
considerable part of the stuff that needs encrypting. But this takes
time and trouble, and the NSA may be able to get your encryption key.
Even so, this makes a lot of sense - given that politicians by and
large do not seem to want or to be able to forbid the NSA's
surveilling of everyone, even though forbidding that is both completely
legal and very necessary.
Indeed, the political side of the situation is rather or very sick:
need oversight regimes that are effective, technically competent and
enjoy public trust. The fallout from Snowden suggests that the
oversight regimes in most democracies currently lack some or all of
these properties. Fixing that requires political action, and therein
lies our biggest problem.
I'd say that nearly all
"democracies" I know, including the Dutch one, completely fail all
these properties - which is to say: there are no oversight
regimes that are effective, competent and trusted - and they completely
fail because most of the politicians want surveillance,
because most of the politicians these days are politicians because they
are interested in their own careers, much
rather than helping others (which anyway is frowned upon). Besides,
very few politicians understand much about computers.
Then there is this:
Security is a
function of two things: the scale of a possible harm and the
probability that it will happen. (...) In thinking about
surveillance and counter-terrorism we need some way of reaching
collectively agreed judgments about how the “balance” should be struck.
No. The main problem is
that almost no one outside a few government officials, who are very
tight lipped, knows much that is useful and is based on real
evidence that allows one to give rational scales of possible
harm and rational probabilities for their occurence.
Besides, since the problem really is technical and difficult, and also
being very secretive and classified, there is no rational way
that "we" readers of the Guardian, say (for it is nearly always a
problem to say who "we" are), can come to "reaching collectively agreed judgments".
Of course, if the three "rational" provisos are dropped, wishful
thinking enters and anything is possible, but I do not want
to go down that road, and therefore simply say no: presently this
requires far too much from "us".
Finally, there is this question, that I suppose is about the effective
yield of all the surveilling that is going on:
Why, despite all
the snooping, for example, did our intelligence services not pick up
the Islamic State threat? And how cost-effective is it? The US currently spends over
$100bn a year on counter-terrorism. God alone knows how much the UK
spends. Are we getting real value for all this taxpayers’ money? I’d
like to know. Wouldn’t you?
Again no, and for at
least two distinct reasons.
The first is that absolutely no one in England except the GCHQ and
possibly a few governmental officials knows what is really
happening in the GCHQ or indeed why it is happening. Almost all that
anybody else does know is that the English government tolerates that
absolutely anyone in England is being spied upon, but not really what
that is for, that is: other than giving enormous powers to the
government, which I think it should not have, at least not in
anything called "democracy".
Second, the question is far too much like this one: Supposing the
British government, in its great Tory millionaires' wisdom, has decided
school inspectors and teachers may rape your small children to teach
them the necessary hardiness to deal with teenage sexuality. You are not
going to ask: "Well, let's first find out whether it is really true
that raping my children will give them better chances" - you are going
to insist stopping it immediately and totally, and quite
It is quite similar with surveilling everyone: it is plain and
obvious theft of materials that ought to be private in
nearly any case; it is totally undemocratic; and it is for
giving goverments powers that no one should have, for no one can be
trusted with knowing everything about anyone.
should be a human right
item is an article by Luke Harding on The Guardian:
This is in fact a
long interview with the Australian author Peter Carey that I selected
because of its title. Here are two bits from it.
Yes - and notice that Manning
is for a very long time in prison; Assange is locked up in the
Ecudorian embassy; and Snowden is living in Moscow. I agree all three
are admirable persons, but these are the sad facts.
"Whether one likes
Assange or not, the fact remains that there have been these three
individuals who in different ways have changed the history of our
time. Edward Snowden is one, Bradley
Manning another, and Assange one more," Carey says. He describes
Snowden as "an exceptionally courageous man". "I was just thrilled that
someone was making the reality of our lives known to us. The only thing
that surprised me about Snowden is that I automatically assumed he
was of the left." In fact Snowden – or at least the early Snowden of
the chatrooms – is a conservative and a fan of Ron Paul's.
As to Snowden's being leftish, supposedly: In fact, I did not
make that assumption. My reasons were mostly that I thought that the
materials he did give to Glenn Greenwald and others were so
serious that anyone with a conscience would be much moved by them
(which shows something about the spread of conscience: indeed I do not
think it is widespread, especially not in governments, politicians and
bureaucrats); that I had no idea who he was; and that "being left" also
means rather different things in the U.S. and in Europe.
But this is not very important, it seems.
As to what inspired the title:
"Privacy should be
a fundamental human right," he says. "We've been tricked out of it
to a great degree by giving up little bits of it along the way,
because it's easier to give some information to Amazon or
to Walmart or to whatever it is. So the water is getting hotter
and hotter. We are used to being in the warm bath. We are putting
up with it. But it is sort of evil, I guess." He adds: "We should be
able to keep our information, our conversations private."
Well... I do agree, but
also privacy is a human right,
even though Obama and his government like to forget it. Here is article
12 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
After the era of "George
Bush and those criminals", in Carey's words, we have ended up in a
place where the state helps itself to our private data. Things are
worse than most of us realise, he believes. "It's more
nightmarish than we can normally really allow ourselves to see. It's
like amnesia in that sense: that you can't afford to see what you have
done or where you are. Because if you did, you would be in deep
I'd say that the present
status of that article is that the American, the English and many other
governments act - very brazenly - as if they read as
- No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon
his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of
the law against such interference or attacks.
Everybody shall be subjected to
arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home and
correspondence. No one has any right to the protection of the
law against such interference or attacks.
For that is what is
happening, thanks to the elected politicians, indeed of nearly all
stripes and colors.
Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America
item is an article that is based on an excerpt of Noam Chomsky's "Class
War, Rebellion and Solidarity". The interview was by Chris Steele:
I will have to select,
but this is an interesting interview (not all interviews with Chomsky
First, there is this on the concept of class war:
I have to admit that I
do not have much sympathy with the concept of class war.
Well, there’s always a
class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a
business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are
very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to
improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is
We don’t use the term
“working class” here because it’s a taboo term. You’re supposed to say
“middle class,” because it helps diminish the understanding that
there’s a class war going on.
The reason is probably that although my parents were prominent
communists and I believed them the first twenty years of my life for
the most part, but I could not see any warring classes even then. I saw
poor and rich, and working and non-working people, and demonstrations
and (many more) inactive people, but I did not see classes,
and I still find it very difficult to think in these concepts.
Then again, this may be mostly private, and I agree there are
the rich and the poor, and their interests are generally opposed,
mostly because the many poor make most of the riches that the rich in
fact appropriate nearly all.
Next, there is this on "America The Exceptional, The Indispensable"
(both Obama's terms, if not only his):
benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy
here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part
of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries. CEOs are no more
productive or brilliant here than they are in Europe, but the pay,
bonuses, and enormous power they get here are out of sight.
This is true - but (1) fashions spread,
especially those based on grandiose simplifications that are pushed by propaganda,
and (2) it also seems to me as if there is far more mostly hidden
GOP propaganda addressed to European politicians than they allow there
is, namely because (3) the same American tricks and terms -
e.g. appropriating leftists' ideals verbally but selling them
as if they can only be realized by rightists' means - have been very
speedily copied in Europe, and since the middle 90ies at the latest.
Then there is this on the spreading of power:
The bottom 70
percent or so are virtually disenfranchised; they have almost no
influence on policy, and as you move up the scale you get more
influence. At the very top, you basically run the show.
Yes. And one basic
reason is that people who do not belong to the top of the existing
political leaders have no access to the regular press, and especially
not with scandalous or dangerous stories, however much these are based
on facts. 
There are - still - some exceptions to this rule (that is effective in
Holland for at least 25 years, and probably all the
time there was "a free press"), but these are due to the continued
existence of a few decent papers like The Guardian and a few decent
sites like Truthdig! and Common Dreams.
There are more, and not only in English, but it certainly is these days
not the majority nor even a sizable minority: most modern "journalists"
in the West are no longer real journalists, but paid propagandists who
mostly write what they are told.
Next, there is this about current social tendencies:
Yes, indeed: In fact the
rightwing rich have succeeded in making believe a large segment
of ordinary people their own ideology:
"Everybody can be rich! Who isn't rich is a looser! Greed is good!
Egoism is natural! Get all you can - only monetary profits count! Be a
degenerate and greedy egoist, and you'll be a rich success!"
The same is happening
across the board. There are major efforts being made to dismantle
Social Security, the public schools, the post office—anything that
benefits the population has to be dismantled. Efforts against the U.S.
Postal Service are particularly surreal. I’m old enough to remember the
Great Depression, a time when the country was quite poor but there were
still postal deliveries. Today, post offices, Social Security, and
public schools all have to be dismantled because they are seen as being
based on a principle that is regarded as extremely dangerous.
If you care about other
people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other
people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority.
That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you
can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go
to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the
United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I
mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is
extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and
undermining the public.
The reasons they have succeeded are largely that half of the people who
get born have an IQ not higher than 100, which allows them to believe
absolutely anything, provided it is brought to them in really simple
terms, while nearly everyone, also those with high IQs and little
money, is offered a lousy education, that doesn't teach so much
as trying to adapt people to the social norms, which are those of the
big corporations who employ most.
Next, Chomsky mentions the Mondragon collective, which is Spanish and
something he approves of. I hadn't heard of it, and it does
sound interesting, and it also has a Wikipedia link, under another
This you have look up
yourself, but the Wikipedia-entry is interesting, and does show
an alternative to capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face that seems
quite workable and effective.
Next, there is this on the power of propaganda/public relations:
In the United States, the
advertising and public relations industry is huge. Back in the more
honest days, they called it propaganda. Now the term doesn’t sound
nice, so it’s not used anymore, but it’s basically a huge propaganda
system which is designed very extensively for quite specific purposes.
First of all, it has to
undermine markets by trying to create irrational, uninformed consumers
who will make irrational choices. That’s what advertising is about, the
opposite of what a market is supposed to be, and anybody who turns on a
television set can see that for themselves. It has to do with
monopolization and product differentiation, all sorts of things, but
the point is that you have to drive the population to irrational
consumption, which does separate them from one another.
Yes, quite so - and
again I note that half of the population has an IQ under 100, and has
swallowed this complete irrationality - "Brand Awareness!" - as if it
came from heaven.
And Chomsky is quite
right that while this is furthered in terms of "freedom" and "free
markets", it in fact is aimed at constraining both freedom and
free markets as much as possible.
Not only that:
Yes, indeed. As I said:
This is a good interview, and you can read all of it by clicking the
first dotted link in this section.
The other thing they need
to do is undermine democracy the same way, so they run campaigns,
political campaigns mostly run by PR agents. It’s very clear what they
have to do. They have to create uninformed voters who will make
irrational decisions, and that’s what the campaigns are about. Billions
of dollars go into it, and the idea is to shred democracy, restrict
markets to service the rich, and make sure the power gets concentrated,
that capital gets concentrated and the people are driven to irrational
and self-destructive behavior.
Senate Report on CIA Will Sidestep Look at Bush 'Torture Team'
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I am not amazed. There is
considerably more under the last dotted link, but the title sums it up
adequately: These folks will all be spared, not harmed, not criticized
and will not have to appear in court:
According to new
reporting by McClatchy, the five-year investigation led
by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee into the torture program
conducted by the CIA in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 will
largely ignore the role played by high-level Bush administration
officials, including those on the White House legal team who penned
memos that ultimately paved the way for the torture's authorization.
Though President Obama
has repeatedly been criticized for not conducting or allowing a full
review of the torture that occured during his predecessor's tenure, the
Senate report—which has been completed, but not released—has repeatedly
been cited by lawmakers and the White House as the definitive
examination of those policies and practices. According to those with
knowledge of the report who spoke with McClatchy, however, the review
has quite definite limitations.
The report, one person
who was not authorized to discuss it told McClatchy, "does not look at
the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to
literally do an end run around justice and the law.” Instead, the focus
is on the actions and inations of the CIA and whether or not they fully
informed Congress about those activities. "It’s not about the
president," the person said. "It’s not about criminal liability."
In addition to the
president himself, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security
Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
others considered part of what it sometimes referred to as the "Torture
Team," include: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and
attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's
chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence;
William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo
and Jay Bybee, who wrote many of the specific legal memos authorizing
specific forms of abuse.
5. Bill Black:
Krugman Bashes Progressives for Criticizing Obama on Grounds that He
item is an article by Bill Black on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
Paul Krugman’s admirers
would never list modesty as one of his characteristics. He has written
a column “In Defense of Obama” that
begins by explaining that his criticisms of President Obama were
correct, but that unidentified others’ criticisms of Obama constitute
Specifically, Obama “came
perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net
in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain.” Obama sought to produce a
self-inflicted disaster by desperately trying to reach a “Grand
Bargain” with Republicans that would have inflicted austerity on our
Nation in 2012, “slash[ed] Social Security and [raised] the Medicare
[eligibility] age.” As even Krugman admits, we were saved from this
catastrophe “only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make
even token concessions” to achieve the Grand Bargain. What Krugman
omits in the tale is that it was also a revolt by Democratic
progressives against the Grand Bargain that saved Obama and the Nation.
Krugman does not, in this
column, explain the consequences and implications of the disaster that
Obama tried so hard to inflict on us. First, it would help the reader
to inform them that achieving the Grand Bargain became Obama’s top
Readers doubtless would have found it useful to know that that Obama
ran for office on the promise of protecting Social Security and
Medicare from the cuts he sought to inflict. They also would find it
useful to know that once Obama legitimized attacking the safety net
programs it would make them fair game for unilateral Republican attacks
on the safety net when they took control of the White House.
Krugman blames Obama’s
effort to enter into the Grand Betrayal as occurring because Obama was
“naïve.” He presents no support for that claim. Contemporaneous press
accounts – based on leaks from the White House – revealed that Obama
was motivated by a desire for fame. The Grand Bargain was to be his
legacy and the fact that the Grand Bargain betrayed his supporters was
the factor that demonstrated that he was a statesman. Democratic
Presidents establish that they are “serious” by publicly betraying and
deriding their progressive base.
There is a lot more there.
I think it is quite convincing, but you can compare, for this is the
article Bill Black targets:
6. “I’m not going away”: James Risen unloads to
Salon about his government foes
item today is an article by Elias Isquith on Salon:
This starts as follows:
- the main part - is an interesting interview that I will leave to your
interests (if only because the present Nederlog is longt enough).
James Risen, the New York
Times reporter responsible in part for the 2005 Times bombshell on the
Bush administration’s use of warrantless surveillance — which
is widely seen as one of the seminal pieces of journalism of its era —
has plenty of experience when it comes to battling the federal
government. Not only in his celebrated investigative reports but,
perhaps more prominently, in the courts, where for years he’s held his
ground in refusing government demands that he reveal a confidential
For Risen, in other words,
fighting the post-9/11 national security state is a full-time job,
albeit one for which he never truly applied. But while he may be at a
profound disadvantage when it comes to defending himself (and, some
would say, his profession) in our federal courts, “Pay
Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” his new exposé of the
malfeasance and waste behind the war on terror, offers ample evidence
that he’s still a Pulitzer Prize winner when it comes to combat on the
page. Salon spoke with Risen this week to discuss his book (...)
 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
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
from is quite pertinent.)
 I have been trying for 20 years to get
heard about the facts that I have been gassed (and have been lying
unconscious on the floor) by the corrupt drugseploiting owner of the
house I lived in, and kept out of sleep for over 4 years, which the
mayor of Amsterdam never even acknowledged, all because
he and/or his lawyers helped turn over at least 10 billion dollars
of illegal drugs each year, God knows for how much
profit to themselves - and 5% of 10 billion is a mere measly 500
million dollars a year, that must ne considered too low an amount to
corrupt the heroic Dutch politicians - but I have never even been received
by a Dutch journalist all these years.
This major Dutch sickness has been going on now for over 30
years now - and no Dutch paper, no Dutch judge, no Dutch politician
has ever made any protest.
This explains also how the Dutch could tolerate the killing of 1% of
their total population during WW II: Few really cared - and many
believed the propaganda that the people who were to be killed were "of
an inferior race".
(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: