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. Sanders: Only If 'Millions
and Millions' Rise Up, Can
Progressive Agenda Win
Act To Make Congress A Wholly Owned
3. Tom Engelhardt: The Shadow
Surveillance State Is Really
a Secret Religion
4. Judge Says Government Can’t
Use State Secrets to Toss
No Fly List Challenge
5. Ministers high on their
war on drugs need a speedy cure
6. How did we forget
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 1. It is a crisis log.
There are six items with six dotted links: item 1
has Senator Sanders explain what he thinks is necessary to reform
American politics; item 2 has Eskow explain how
corporations evicted democracy; item 3 has
Engelhardt explain the surveillance state (this you have to read all
of); item 4 shows a judge who does not accept the
U.S. classified bullshit; item 5 is on the British
nonsense on drugs
(that lasts now since 1968, in my own experience, but probably willl
continue); and item 6 is not a crisis item but is
about one of my most favorite writers.
Also, this has been uploaded a bit earlier than is normal for me.
Only If 'Millions and Millions' Rise Up, Can Progressive Agenda Win
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Well, yes and perhaps
no. That is, I agree that there are no "magical solutions" and I agree that it is also necessary to "mobilize the American people in a way that we
have not seen in recent history around a progressive agenda" - but then
In an interview
with journalist Bill Moyers that will air Friday, U.S. Senator Bernie
Sanders (I-Vt.)—who has announced he is seriously considering a run for
president in 2016—said that though voter turnout is key in order to
keep Republicans and their regressive polices from making gains in
Congress and local elections nationwide, the real challenge for
progressives in the coming days, months, and years is to build a
powerful grassroots movement that is able to break the stranglehold
that big money and corporate interests have placed on the nation's
"What we have got to do
is mobilize the American people in a way that we have not seen in
recent history around a progressive agenda," said Sanders.
When asked by Moyers how
such a mobilization might be realized, Sanders admitted that he does
"not have any magical solutions," but said that when people begin to
stand up and say "Enough is enough"—and talk about doing well by their
kids, protecting the environment, fighting corporate interests, winning
healthcare for all, and taking on the billionaire class—the movement
from below will inevitably shift the current debate. "When people begin
to move, the people on top will follow them," he said.
I start to be a little skeptical: How is this mobilization to happen?
Who will organize it? What if 50%+1 of the population is so tricked, so
deceived or so stupid that they can't even vote for their own real
But OK - I think he is basically right, and also that the situation is
dire. Here is a little more:
"What I do know,"
Sanders continued, is that the landscape of U.S. politics will not
change for the better "if we do not create an economy that works for
ordinary people, if we do not end the fact that 95 percent of all new
income now goes to the top one percent. We've got to end it, and the
only way I know to do that is to rally ordinary people around the
progressive agenda. So our job is to create a 50 state, grassroots
movement around a progressive agenda."
Yes - but so far the
right has won in the U.S.,
though I grant (and insist) that "the right" these days covers nearly
all of the
Republican party and most of the Democrats as well.
Act To Make Congress A Wholly Owned Subsidiary
item is an article by Richard Eskow on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
As Election Day
approaches, two reports show us exactly how corrupted our political
system has become. Unless voters come out in force, it looks like
corporate money is about to buy itself another house of Congress.
The Wall Street Journal
analyzed filings from the Federal Election Commission and concluded
In a significant shift,
business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to
Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent
months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against
The Journal found that
corporate PACs gave most of their donations to Democrats in the early
part of the campaign. That fits with a longstanding pattern:
big-business interests shower incumbents with money to encourage
special treatment, both during the election year and in the upcoming
But giving has shifted
dramatically since June. The Journal discovered that Republican
candidates received the lion’s share of corporate campaign
contributions in the July-to-September time period. The cash-generating
power of incumbency had faded – for Democrats.
There is a considerable
amount more in the article, but the basic consideration is that since
corporations are persons and persons' money counts as free speech, the
right can spend all they like and win almost any election - or thus it
3. Tom Engelhardt: The Shadow
Surveillance State Is Really a Secret Religion
item is an article by Mark Karlin on Truthout:
If you do not know
who is Tom
Engelhardt read the last Wikipedia link. Tom Engelhardt has a new
book out "Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars and Global
Security State in a Single-Super Power World", with strong support
from Glenn Greenwald, and Truthout did an interview with him.
This starts as
In his first chapter, Tom
Engelhardt calls the leaders and acolytes of the shadow state "holy
Imagine what we call
"national security" as, at its core, a proselytizing warrior religion.
It has its holy orders. It has its sacred texts (classified). It has
its dogma and its warrior priests. It has its sanctified promised land
known as "the homeland."
began its Progressive Pick interview with Engelhardt by asking him
about the ever-expanding covert branch of government as a religious
It is a good image
because the American security state is propelled by three myths: a
political myth, that America Is Exceptional; an economic one, that
America Works By Free Markets; and a thoroughly anti-democratic myth:
the government can classify or keep secret almost anything it does that
touches "national security", as it conceives of that.
Here is Engelhardt:
Engelhardt: We're familiar enough with the obvious tenets of
this religion: that there is no greater danger to this country, to
Americans or to our world than terrorism; that in pursuing it,
traditional constraints of every sort should no longer apply, including
the very idea of privacy; that a blanket of secrecy about the acts of
government in this pursuit is for the greater good; and that, to be
fully protected and safe, the citizenry must be plunged into ignorance
of what the national security state actually does in its name, and so
on. It's a distinctly Manichaean religion in its view of the world. Its
god is, more or less literally, an eye in the sky. And of course, as
with many institutionalized religions, much of its energy goes into
self-preservation and the maintenance or bolstering of a comfortable
lifestyle for its warrior "priests."
Yes, indeed - though I
stress that this is (so far) mostly an image. Here is Tom Engelhardt on
In 1961, President Dwight
Eisenhower gave his famous "military-industrial complex" speech, his
warning about the future as he was leaving office that put that phrase
in our language. Today, if he could see the national security state,
I'm sure he would roll over in his grave in horror. His phrase no
longer even applies. We'd have to call what we now have the military-
industrial-homeland-security-intelligence-industrial complex, or
something of the sort. It's a monstrous mix, engorged by simply
staggering sums of money, post-9/11, fed eternally by fear and
hysteria, and bolstered by a sense of permanent war, by a creeping
militarization of our world, and by a conviction that, for all problems
we face, there is, in a sense, only one solution: the US military and
the national security state.
I agree Eisenhower would
probably "roll over his grave in horror", but I more disagree than not
on the complications: I think the military-industrial
complex was more or less
rightly named, and it does consist of two broad groups: The U.S.
military and the corporations (or industries) that support these.
Engelhardt is right that
there are many more corporations involved, and that these also are more
powerful, but I think he misses that Eisenhower spoke in terms of two
kinds of support for it, rather than in terms of specifics.
Here is a last question
plus answer, on "the checks and balances theory" of democracy, which
indeed is right - in principle, though not anymore in fact in the
What happened to
the system of governmental checks and balances that you refer to being
taught in your elementary and high school?
Oh, Mark, checks and
balances? You're so retro, so last century! It's clear enough that,
faced with the imperial presidency, in what used to be called "foreign
policy" and is now essentially military policy, there are few checks or
balances left. Congress has been largely neutered and the presidency
can send in the drones, special ops forces etc. more or less wherever
and whenever and however he wants. And yes, Washington exists in a
There is considerably
more in the interview, and it is good, and I think you should read all
Says Government Can’t Use State Secrets to Toss No Fly List Challenge
item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Yes, quite so. There is
considerably more under the last dotted link.
Under both Presidents
Barack Obama and George W. Bush, the government has on occasion invoked
the so-called state secrets privilege in order to toss out lawsuits.
Merely allowing certain cases into the courtroom, the argument goes,
would necessarily reveal secret information and endanger national
Yesterday, that argument
failed, when a federal judge rejected the government’s attempts to
dismiss a case brought by a man who is challenging his inclusion on the
no-fly list. Gulet Mohamed was nineteen in 2011 when he was barred
from coming home to his family in Virginia from Kuwait. A
naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, Mohamed was allegedly
detained at the behest of the U.S. and beaten by Kuwaiti officials
before finally being allowed back into the country (a picture taken
just after his arrival is shown above).
Mohamed’s case to proceed, Judge Anthony Trenga, in the Eastern
District of Virginia, said that
the state secrets privilege was “not a doctrine of sovereign immunity.”
on their war on drugs need a speedy cure
item is an article by Simon Jenkins on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The main reason this is
here is because I am pro legalization of all drugs, beginning with
marijuana and hashish, and have been so from the late sixties onwards,
that in my case was much supported by the British Parliamentary
Report (<- Wikipedia), that appeared more than 30 years
The government should ban
all reports on drug legalisation. They get you hooked on rage.
Evidence-based reform is a gateway substance to common sense. Just
send a message: no thought means no.
Parliament’s response to this week’s report on the 1971 Misuse
of Drugs Act shows that psychoactive substances are the last taboo
to afflict Britain’s elite. It has got over past obsessions with
whipping, hanging, sodomy and abortion, but it is still stuck on drugs.
There is no point in reading the latest research on drugs policy worldwide. It is spitting
in the wind. The only research worth doing is on why drugs policy
reduces British politicians to gibbering wrecks.
In 2000 the Police Foundation
committee chaired by Lady Runciman (on which I served) proposed
an end to imprisonment for “soft” drug possession and cultivation,
together with lower penalties for hard drugs. In particular we
pointed to the nonsense of classifying half-safe drugs such as ecstasy
with heroin, suggesting that the latter was no more harmful than
the former. It was pretty mild stuff.
Tony Blair’s Downing Street
the 2000 report Simon Jenkins comments on. 
What this also shows is that reason and scientific
argumentation and simple facts like that in 45 years of
very extensive usage of marihuana and hashish in Holland has not led to
a single death that I know of, plays a most minimal role here.
As Simon Jenkins puts it:
If the Archangel
Gabriel came down from heaven and said decriminalising drugs would end
war, banish poverty, reduce obesity and defeat child sex abuse, it
would make no difference to a British cabinet. David Cameron might
have favoured reform before taking office, as he will doubtless favour
it after leaving – in common with many world leaders. When he has power
to do something about it, he runs scared
And here is his ending:
A 2009 report by the charity
Transform suggested legalisation could save as much as £14bn, while
taxing cannabis, as the US has started doing, could raise £1.3bn. Better by far to spend this money on
countering addiction and policing the drugs market.
Britain will soon
be to drugs what Ireland is to abortion, in a dark ages zone. Unlike
Ireland it cannot even blame religion, only stupidity.
6. How did we forget William Hazlitt?
and last item for today is an article by Alastair Smart on The
Telegraph - and no, this is not a crisis item, but concerns one of my
most favorite writers:
For me, that is a
very valid question, ever since I discovered William Hazlitt in 1983,
in the excellent second hand Amsterdam bookshop "The Book Exchange".
I will turn to it below but first quote the start of this article:
As famous last words go,
it’s not quite up there with “Et Tu, Brute” or Adam Faith’s “Channel 5
is all s**t, isn’t it?”. But William Hazlitt’s final utterance – “Well,
I’ve had a happy life’’ – was still meaningful.
early-19th-century essayist died in poverty in a Soho lodging house,
aged 52, his reputation in tatters, his stomach riddled with cancer,
and with two broken marriages behind him. Eager to let his room again
forthwith, his landlady even hid his body under the bed as she showed
around would-be, new tenants. Judging by his last words, however,
Hazlitt had died content – after a decent life’s work.
In fact Hazlitt died,
as Smart says, in 1830 and was born in 1778. His dying words were
probably well considered, and indeed conform to his own late judgment,
as spoken in his book of conversations with the painter James Northcote:
He had not made much money and made many enemies by writing what he
thought, but he did all of his life as he pleased, which indeed is the
condition for happiness.
Here is the next
Certainly, even by the
non-specialist standards of his day, he had a mighty range: a
philosopher, journalist, political commentator, grammar theorist,
theatre critic, art critic, travel writer, memoirist – not to mention,
biographer of Napoleon. Here was a serious thinker, for whom every
pursuit fed into life’s deeper questions. His rise coincided with that
of Romanticism. Indeed, though our popular image of the movement is
dominated by its poets - Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Co. – Hazlitt
was a key figure too.
Yes, indeed - and for
me Hazlitt is more important than "Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Co." simply because he was a better
writer than they were, although I agree Keats died much too young,
and might have been another Hazlitt, in prose, had he lived.
So why is Hazlitt
hardly read? Here is Alistair Smart's explanation:
What really did for
Hazlitt, though, was an ill-advised affair with a landlord’s daughter
half his age, followed by his even more ill-advised declaration of that
affair in the book Liber Amoris. It became a stick which all his
moralising opponents could beat him with. His reputation never really
recovered – and nowadays he’s barely read.
This is rather widely
accepted, but I - who has read everything Hazlitt wrote that I could
lay hands on, the last 31 years - think that while this explains
something, it does not explain all or most.
For one thing,
Hazlitt's best essays - and he was an essayist - appeared after
Amoris, as "Table Talk" and "The Plain Speaker", and were widely read.
For another thing, while I agree the affair was ill-advised and also
can hardly considered to be scandalous, especially not in England,
writers were known as homosexuals without this making their
careers, also not while the practice was forbidden (till the 1960ies!),
seem any more difficult.
No, it seems to me
that Hazlitt is very little read, except by a small set of quite
intelligent men, indeed, mostly because his writing is - although it is
very clear - too difficult for most ordinary readers: it is
essayistic, it is philosophical, it con-
tains some extremely long sentences, it does not simplify, and it is
quite radical (though most of his critical judgments on writers and
painters still stand, in spite of his death that occurred nearly 200
Anyway...you can find
out for yourselves, because there are quite a number
of essays and a complete Table
Talk on my site. Hazlitt really is one of the three or five most
favorite writers I know , but I suppose my
preference for him is mostly based on his having been extremely
intelligent, very honest, and a very courageous radical.
 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.)
And I am pro legalization of all drugs not because I want to
see them used more, but because that is the only way to cut down the
illegal trade in it (which runs in the tens of billions of dollars each
year or soft drugs alone in Holland, for thirty successive years now,
where I take it that at least soft drugs have not been legalized the
last 40 years because Dutch politicians make a lot of illegal
money handing out their personal permissions to illegal
dealers to deal illegally, but since also there is hardly any realistic
information on the dealing of drugs in the Dutch papers the last 30
years I have no proof - just that I have barely survived 4
years of murder threats and real gassing by drugsdealers who were
protected by Amsterdam's mayor Ed van Thijn and by his police corps and
his bureaucrats: That much is certain, and I can only explain it by
their profiting a lot, but I have no judicial proof. See ME in Amsterdam, in case
you are interested and read Dutch).
 Who are the others? It differs a bit with my mood,
and here is a consideration of 100 of
my favourite authors, which is more adequate because more
comprehensive, but reduced to five - which is too small a
number - I'd say the other four often comprise Multatuli,
and Bunge, and the first two are there as two other masters of style,
while the last two are there as masters of philosophy (and yes, I know
Mario Bunge also is little read today, in his case because he probably
wrote a lot, and it contains quite a few formalities - but even so, it
is the best 20th Century philosophy I've read, and indeed by a
theoretical physicist much rather than by an academic philosopher).
(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: