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. In Solidarity With a
Free Press: Some More Blasphemous
2. Why Isn’t David Petraeus
3. Obama’s Narrative of
Black: Obama’s Vain Search for a TPP “Legacy”
This is a Nederlog of
January 10, 2015.
It is a fairly brief crisis item. There are 4 items with 4 dotted
links: Item 1 is Glenn Greenwald on the freedom of
the press; item 2 is about David Petraeus (former
general, former head of the CIA) who may be prosecuted for giving his
mistress-and-biographer secret materials; item 3
is about several deceptions Obama used; and item 4
is on the TTP and TTIP, and well worth reading.
Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More
The first item today is an
article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
As Glenn Greenwald said himself in the first paragraph,
the main reason this article was published is "the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in
Paris". And he is right that "Usually, defending free speech rights is much
more of a lonely task"
Defending free speech and
free press rights, which typically means defending the right to
disseminate the very ideas society finds most repellent, has been one
of my principal
the last 20 years: previously as a
So I consider it positive when large numbers of people
loudly invoke this principle, as has been happening over the last
48 hours in response to the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in
Usually, defending free
speech rights is much more of a lonely task. For instance, the day
before the Paris murders, I wrote an
article about multiple cases where Muslims are
being prosecuted and even imprisoned by western governments for
their online political speech – assaults that have
provoked relatively little protest, including from those free
speech champions who have been so vocal this week.
The main reason for that last fact (or so it seems to me) is that in
fact only a small minority (to which I belong) is for unlimited
free speech, while most have a rather vague position that is for some
free speech (against Muslims, for example) but not for other kinds
(against Jews, for example).
I'll turn to that in a moment. First, there is also this:
Central to free
speech activism has always been the distinction between defending
the right to disseminate Idea X and agreeing with Idea X, one
which only the
most simple-minded among us are incapable of comprehending.
One defends the right to express repellent ideas while being able to
condemn the idea itself.
Yes, indeed (and the example Greenwald gives is good):
Free speech is about the freedom to say what you please, also
if that may be offensive to some; it does not mean one has to
agree with what is being said: one may in fact be much opposed to it,
while still thinking that all opinions at least should be heard.
And next there is this:
But this week’s
defense of free speech rights was so spirited that it gave rise to
a brand new principle: to defend free speech, one not only defends the
right to disseminate the speech, but embraces the content of the speech
My reason is that this is not free speech. As far as I am
concerned, anyone may say almost everything he pleases, and in
the way he pleases (and my reasons comprise that saying is not
at all the same as doing what one says) but this does not
mean at all that I must agree to his opinions ("embrace the
content") or his way of judging (e.g. in a charicature): There
are far more opinions than I agree to, and while I am for unhampered
expression of ideas
this does not mean at all that I agree with the ideas expressed.
Actually, I am not certain of Glenn Greenwald's position here. He
publishes a number of mostly - let's say - anti-Israeli cartoons , which he clearly has a right to (under free
speech criterions) but that may be found offensive by some who went on
the street yesterday sporting the slogan "Je suis Charlie".
I don't know. I do know that I've never seen Charlie Hebdo, which is
one reason why I am not Charlie , although
indeed they may publish as they please, as far as I am concerned, and
also should not be sanctioned for it, and certainly not with
Why Isn’t David Petraeus on Trial?
The next item is an article by Peter Z. Scheer on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
I have repeatedly
written about Petraeus (in 2012), notably here, and my reasons were that he
was not only a leading U.S. general, who got promoted to be the head of
the CIA, but that he might also have been - that is: apart from the
his biographer - a candidate for the presidency of the U.S., in which
role he would have been supported by Fox News.
The U.S. government has
treated principled whistle-blowers like treasonous spies, yet Attorney
General Eric Holder has reportedly ignored recommendations from his own
FBI and Justice Department to prosecute former CIA chief David Petraeus.
The New York Times reported Friday that “F.B.I.
and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony
charges against retired Gen. David H. Petraeus for providing classified
information to his former mistress while he was director of the C.I.A.”
Petraeus, a decorated general who worked for both President George W.
Bush and President Barack Obama, is accused of passing classified
information to his mistress, who was also his biographer.
The question the title of the article asks is a good one - except that
Obama's government does not prosecute (former) officials (except if
they are whistleblowers), it seems because Obama - a former professor
of law, who ought to know the law can only convict on the basis
of what has happened - is always occupied with "looking
forward", where he can see no crimes of any kind (that are committed by
Also, the question of the title has not yet been answered.
Narrative of Deceits
The next item is an article by Jason Hirthler on
This starts as follows:
Well...I don't know, for at
least two reasons. First, I don't know about "the American public", not as to what it knows
and doesn't know, and also not in
If the American public
knew what was being perpetrated in its name, it might put an end to the
slow-motion coup d’état of the United States by corporate wealth. But
it is kept in the shadows, pinioned by a harness of half-truths that
underwrite its ignorance and enable its indifference.
The public will likely
remain in this state until it hears the whole truth, and not the
abridged version peddled by an unscrupulous administration, its
Pavlovian Cabinet, our obsequious Congress, and the sycophant media
(those dutiful court stenographers of state power). Until this
confederacy of knaves is exposed at scale, the Janus-faced narrative
streaming from the lips of the Commander-in-Chief — whomever he or she
may be — will neither change nor falter. Ringing in a New Year will not
what it would do if it would know considerably more than it does.
certainly do not know that the public "will likely remain in this state until it
hears the whole truth", if only because "the public" almost never knows
"the whole truth" (which tends to be more complicated than
told on TV-news).
But OK - this article is quite critical of Obama, and gives quite a few
I quote only one:
Yes - which is to say
that Obama has not "banned torture": all that he may have
banned is the torturing of (i) people captured in "armed conflicts"
happens inside the U.S.A.
The President claims to
have banned torture. But he hasn’t banned the practice of outsourcing
it via rendition. And he has evidently
only banned it for the interrogation of prisoners (“detainees”)
captured in “armed conflict,” which leaves a broad loophole concerning
As for the authors of our
of Arabs across the Muslim world in infamous Bagram and Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo and in anonymous black sites where the gloves truly come
off, well, let’s put that behind us. He has also decided that to prosecute
the war crimes of administrations past would simply be unhelpful, and
that we ought to look forward and not into the (unhelpful) past.
Yet his elegies to
lawfulness include his steadfast defense
of CIA Director John Brennan, who himself had the audacity to defend
CIA war crimes before the press from Langley, in which he repeatedly
claimed — once more without evidence — that torture works.
4. Bill Black: Obama’s Vain Search for a
Finally today, an article by Bill Black
(<-Wikipedia) on Naked Capitalism:
This starts with an
introduction by Yves Smith from which I quote this:
This post confirms
what readers know all to well, that Obama will use every opportunity to
sell out the middle class to corporate interests.
One thing to bear in mind is that opposition to the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, and its ugly sister, the Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership, do not split on simply party lines. This fall,
when Obama was unable to get enough votes to get “fast track” approval,
which the Executive Branch uses to force an up-down vote on a final
trade deal, denying Congress the opportunity to influence its contents,
whip counts showed that nearly 40 Republicans in the House were
prepared to join Democrats in opposing it.
The article by Bill
Black starts as follows (with a small correction by me):
There is also this on
The banksters have given
Obama an important political opportunity – which he has spurned. The
very first thing the new Republican majorities sought to do with their
power was to use the Omnibus bill to extort the first of many cuts
designed to destroy the Volcker rule. Naturally, Obama agreed and
wouldn’t join the Democratic wing of the Party when they could have
easily stopped the giveaway if they had received even mild help from
the administration. Instead, the administration lobbied hard for the
Omnibus bills’ Christmas gift to banksters.
Next, the Republicans
sought to slip another big delay in the effective date of provisions of
the Volcker bill through Congress. Progressive Democrats killed that
attempt. The Obama administration couldn’t even bring itself to feign
rage at the effort to gut the Volcker rule.
These Republican efforts
were (a) substantively awful, (b) designed to eviscerate the key
Dodd-Frank provision purportedly supported by Obama as a vital reform,
and (c) would have been incredibly unpopular with the public and the
Tea Party – if Obama had stirred himself to mount a public campaign
opposing them à la Elizabeth Warren. But Obama never misses an
opportunity to miss an opportunity to side with the American people
against the banksters.
The third strike is that
Obama has decided to ally with the Chamber of Commerce, the perennial
ally of the Koch Brothers – the people that have demonized Obama and
Democrats for seven years – to get “fast track” authority approved so
he can pass one of the plutocrats’ great dreams – the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP). Obama has also allied himself with the Business
Roundtable, the CEOs of the 100 largest U.S. corporations. The Business
Roundtable is also a bitter opponent of Democrats and Obama’s health
policies. Obama has shaken off his torpor to energetically lobby the
business lobbyists to pressure Democratic members of Congress to
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link. This is a good article that you are
recommended to read all of.
At this juncture, if
you’re not already familiar with TPP you should be asking yourself, “if
the draft agreement is so secret that members of Congress are not
permitted to have copies of it, how did the corporations and their
attorneys not only get copies of the drafts, but actually craft the
drafts for the private benefit of their clients?” You also should be
appalled. Obama and Froman’s TPP is being designed and handled in a
fashion that reads like the playbook was designed by someone who was
trying to take all the worst aspects of crony capitalism and use them
to loot the public for the benefit of the world’s most rapacious and
politically powerful plutocrats.
Maybe I should help remember the reader that Greenwald has a Jewish
background (although he never Bar Mitzvahed). In any case, some
pro-Israel folks object to almost any criticism of Israeli policies by
calling the critics "anti- semites", which indeed tends not to
contribute to a rational debate about Israel.
 Another reason why I am not
Charlie is that I have a logical mind: I don't think it is a sign of
courage to think as many millions do, and I know I am not
a French satirical paper I've never seen. (But I am for
unlimited freedom of expression.)