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Nederlog

January 28, 2015
Crisis: Torture, Cameron, NSA, Yanis Varoufakis, Henry Kissinger
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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















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Sections
Introduction

1. Torture If You Must, But Do Not Under Any Circumstances
     Call the New York Times

2. Cameron’s five-year legacy: has he finished what
     Thatcher started?

3.
NSA Began Warrantless Surveillance Without
     Congressional Approval

4.
Yanis Varoufakis – Who Called Austerity "Fiscal
     Waterboarding" – Appointed Greek Finance Minister

5.
 America Keeps Honoring One of Its Worst Mass
     Murderers: Henry Kissinger
 


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Jeffrey Sterling, though in my review mostly about Obama's kind of postmodern politician; item 2 is on Cameron's legacy; item 3 is on how the NSA started spying without any Congressional approval; item 4 is about the current minister of finance of Greece; and item 5 is a really good article on Henry Kissinger (from 2013, but listed here because it is really good and I found it only today).

(Also, this arrives a little later than normal, because I had to do it twice: the first version completely disappeared, and alas I had not saved it.)

1. Torture If You Must, But Do Not Under Any Circumstances Call the New York Times  

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

Monday’s guilty verdict in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on espionage charges — for talking to a newspaper reporter — is the latest milepost on the dark and dismal path Barack Obama has traveled since his inaugural promises to usher in a “new era of openness.”

Far from rejecting the authoritarian bent of his presidential predecessor, Obama has simply adjusted it, adding his own personal touches, most notably an enthusiasm for criminally prosecuting the kinds of leaks that are essential to a free press.

The Sterling case – especially in light of Obama’s complicity in the cover-up of torture during the Bush administration – sends a clear message to people in government service: You won’t get in trouble as long as you do what you’re told (even torture people). But if you talk to a reporter and tell him something we want kept secret, we will spare no effort to destroy you.

There’s really no sign any more of the former community organizer who joyously declared on his first full day in office that “there’s been too much secrecy in this city… Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.”

There is more under the last dotted link, mostly about Jeffrey Stirling (in case you are interested: also check out guilty verdict), Here I concentrate on Barack Obama and indeed on very many more politicians who pretend to be "leftists", "liberals", "progressives" etc. I explain Obama (and many other "progressive politicians") along the following lines
  • He was a careerist from the very start: he wanted power, fame and money, and was willing to say and do whatever was necessary to get these.
  • He won the elections by mouthing exactly what his propaganda staff had found would move the electorate: "Change!", "Change!", "CHANGE!", and "Yes we can!", "Yes we can!", "YES WE CAN!" - until he was elected, from when on he only "looked forward" (except in the case of whistleblowers who blow on whistles he thinks should be kept silent: then he looks backwards, though only in their cases, and not in case of the torturers, the bankmanagers and many other mega-thieves e.g. in medicine and Big Pharma: these may go on, and on, and on.)
  • After winning the elections, he furthered the interests of the rich, of the bank managers, of the militarists, and of the anti-democrats who want the TTP and TTIP, and did so by doing everything he could to help them, while he kept talking as if he were a progressive, because he was elected as "a Democrat". And Guantanámo is still open; there are still wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. secret service still can torture people as much as they want, except inside America (?), and no bank manager has ever been prosecuted for anything.
I think this sums up Obama fairly well, and I also think it sums up most other quasi-leftist careerists [1]: They talk vaguely (or sometimes not so vaguely) "leftist", to please and deceive the electorate, who are much flattered thereby, and indeed are very easily deceived; they act firmly rightist, to please their funders, backers, and lobbyists, who hold the really big money (in secret) and hold the keys to post-political extremely well-paid careers for them.

In fact, this seems to be the program followed by "social democrats" everywhere (or at least in the USA, Great Brtain and Holland) ever since Clinton and Blair gave up on socialism,
gave up on social democracy, gave up on the trade unions and gave up on honesty (but always in a charming way, and with big smiles, for the electorate wants RESPECT from their leaders more than anything else), gave up on any decency, and gave up on any principles of any kind they could be pinned down on. [2]

For more, see yesterday's
Mass surveillance is fundamental threat to human rights, says European report to see what laws such politicians craft, while pretending they are "modernizing".

2. Cameron’s five-year legacy: has he finished what Thatcher started?

The next item is an article by Polly Toynbee and David Walker on The Guardian:

This seems to be from their book "Cameron's Coup", and is "a long read", that starts with the following summary, above a picture of David Cameron with a totally demented Thatcher in 2010:
Margaret Thatcher wanted to privatise Britain; David Cameron’s ambition went further. Assessing his legacy for their new book, Polly Toynbee and David Walker document the Tory leader’s assault on the state
Yes, indeed. This starts as follows:

On 12 May 2010, in the sunlit rose garden of No 10, David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced the creation of Britain’s new coalition government. In a flawlessly stage-managed performance, Cameron proclaimed the birth of a “new politics”. His coalition government would, he said, be underpinned by the principles of “freedom, fairness and responsibility”.

This cosy launch, it turned out, was a bluff. Under Cameron’s leadership the country has become harder and meaner, more divided by class and region.
And this is from the beginning:
From Tory central office, where he worked for two years before his heroine’s fall in 1990, he breathed in the accepted wisdom that the state is an impediment, the market solves all ills and individualism trumps collective endeavour. “Frankly, I don’t like any taxes,” Cameron told the Federation of Small Business a year ago.

Despite failing to win the election, the Tories proceeded to savage welfare, destabilise the NHS, decouple schools from collective control and replace public service provision with markets and contracts. These developments were foreseeable, but even Cameron’s fiercest critics might not have expected that during its five years in office, the government would go on to jeopardise the unity of the UK itself and threaten Britain’s standing in the world.

There is a lot more, and it is quite good (that is: supposing you are not overly fond of David Cameron): it does sum up the typical right wing politician quite well:
In his bid to rip apart the social security safety net that has been in place since 1945, Cameron found the ideal lieutenant in Iain Duncan Smith. Administratively incompetent, vainly overambitious, barely comprehending his own department’s numbers, Duncan Smith was kept in place as secretary of state for work and pensions because he could say without blenching that the poor were skivers and scroungers who were overbreeding.
For more (recommended) use the last dotted link.

3. NSA Began Warrantless Surveillance Without Congressional Approval The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency began its warrantless surveillance program without Congressional approval, spying on emails and phone calls of foreign targets months before the passage of the Protect America Act in August 2007, newly declassified documents show.

The documents were released to New York Times reporter Charlie Savage through a FOIA lawsuit. Savage reported on the new information Tuesday. They reveal two orders from May and August 2007 from federal judge Roger Vinson, who was then serving on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, allowing the NSA to carry out secret wiretaps and setting the course for newer, broader interpretations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would allow the surveillance program to grow in scope and power for years.

Further, the documents show the ambiguous standards of the program that allowed it to stretch the court's definitions of "targets" and, at times, work backwards after a wiretap had been carried out to prove that probable cause requirements had been met.

Of course, these days the NSA has "Congressional approval" (in a sense: for it is hard to say what they aprrove as Congress is mostly kept in the dark, but yes, they - somehow - "approve", these days) but it is nice to know that the NSA was so extremely eager to read anyone and everyone's emails that they started to do so as soon as they could, and did so without any approval, except by a totally tame secret FISA-judge, who also gave post-approvals (first they read your mail, and then they get secret "judicial" "approval" - and I put "judicial" between quotes because I will never believe (without torture) that is in any sound sense legal).

For more, use the last dotted link.


4. Yanis Varoufakis – Who Called Austerity "Fiscal Waterboarding" – Appointed Greek Finance Minister

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As the Syriza Party took the helm of the Greek government in earnest on Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper described its selection of top cabinet ministers, announced by the new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, as "a formidable coterie of academics, human rights advocates, mavericks and visionaries."

Among the most discussed appointments to the more than 40-member cabinet was that of Yanis Varoufakis as Finance Minister. As both university professor and an outspoken public critic of the austerity-laden bailout program imposed from abroad, Varoufakis has been unrelenting in his insistence that painful cuts to social spending, tax avoidance by the rich, the privatization of key industries, and enormous debt payments should be supplanted by a new economic paradigm that will put the Greek people ahead of foreign creditors and elite interests.

This sounds well, though it will be difficult to realize. Then again, it seems as if Yanis Varoufakis mostly wants to change Greece, indeed quite radically so:

In an interview with Channel 4's Paul Mason news just ahead of Sunday's elections, Varoufakis pledged that with Syriza in power—which they come to "reluctantly" and only in the name of public service, he said—the overall aim of their economic plan would be "to destroy the Greek oligarchy system" that played an outsized role in creating the current crisis.

"We are going to destroy," he said of the nation's wealthy elite, "the basis upon which they have built for decade after decade a system, a network that viciously sucks the energy and the economic power from everybody else in society."

That is the precise opposite of what David Cameron is doing (see item 1), who is destroying the lower class's incomes to feed the remains to the rich of the upper class (all while posturing, lying and deceiving, it seems with boyish charm, according to some).

There is more under the last dotted link, including a video-clip with the interview with Varoufakis of slightly more than 5 minutes made by BBC 4.


5. America Keeps Honoring One of Its Worst Mass Murderers: Henry Kissinger

The next and last item today is an article by Fred Branfman (<- Wikipedia) on Alternet:

This starts as follows:

Henry Kissinger's quote recently released by Wikileaks,"the illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer", likely brought a smile to his legions of elite media, government, corporate and high society admirers. Oh that Henry! That rapier wit! That trademark insouciance! That naughtiness! It is unlikely, however, that the descendants of his more than 6 million victims in Indochina, and Americans of conscience appalled by his murder of non-Americans, will share in the amusement. For his illegal and unconstitutional actions had real-world consequences: the ruined lives of millions of Indochinese innocents in a new form of secret, automated, amoral U.S. Executive warfare which haunts the world until today.

And his conduct raises even more fundamental questions: to what extent can leaders who act secretly ,illegally and unconstitutionally, lying to their citizenry and legislature as a matter of course, legitimately claim to represent their people? How much allegiance do citizens owe such leaders? And what does it say about America’s elites that they have honored a man with so much innocent blood on his hands for the past 40 years?

In fact, this is from April 2013, but I only found it today (through a link in something linked to something I read), and it is interesting for those who can recall Kissinger, and also for those who want to know why he is detested so much.

Branfman continues as follows (with two marks for notes deleted):

Mr. Kissinger's most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon's orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs between January 1969 and January 1973 - nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people; quadrupled the bombing of Laos and laid waste to the 700-year old civilization on the Plain of Jars; and struck civilian targets throughout North Vietnam - Haiphong harbor, dikes, cities, Bach Mai Hospital - which even Lyndon Johnson had avoided. His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings, mostly civilians who posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. national security and had committed no offense against it.

So Kissinger ordered the death, the woundings or the homelessness of six million human beings. Here is one bit on the manner of man he is:

Mr. Kissinger exulted to President Nixon over this bombing, telling him that "it's wave after wave of planes. You see, they can't see the B-52 and they dropped a million pounds of bombs ... I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month ... each plane can carry about 10 times the load of World War II plane could carry."

This is a good article, although it won't make you happier (unless you like sadistic mass murderers). Also, I should say that Fred Branfman (<- Wikipedia) meanwhile died.

Here is one last, quite perceptive, observation by Fred Branfman:

Adolph Hitler dreamed of conquering and Stalin of communizing the world. Mr. Kissinger destroyed millions of lives primarily to further his career by preventing a communist takeover while he held office. And it is this kind of institutional, bureaucratic mentality, combined with new machines of secret war, which threatens the humanity today far more than the crazed ideologies of the past.

Yes, indeed. And this is a very good article, that I recommend you read all of.

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Notes

[1] Maybe I should remind the reader that I have not voted in any national or city or provincial election since 1971 (which was the last time I had to), and that I quite agree with George Carlin (<- the video): I did not vote for any of the bastards, degenerates, narko-nazis and "selfish ignorant dumb bastards" who did get power in Holland, and I have no responsibility of any kind for their sick and degenerate behavior - while those who did vote are responsible, to some extent at least, for the behaviors and the betrayals of the men and women they voted for. For they gave them power.

[2] It went just the same in Holland with Quim Cock, as I shall call him, for that is how his name is pronounced (minus a q), who also gave up on socialism, gave up on social democracy, gave up on the trade unions (as a former trade union leader), gave up on honesty, if he ever believed in it (though without big smiles: Quim Cock lacks the taste and the ability), gave up on any decency, and gave up on any principles of any kind that he could be pinned down on - and who started governing with the conservatives. Since then, it only got worse, but exactly on these lines. And the so-called Dutch "social democrats" are again governing with the Dutch conservatives, as if that is their natural role: to support the rich, in the name of the poor, with very honest extremely well-paid ever lying faces, that excel in only three things: lies, deceptions and degeneracies.
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