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. Peter Oborne’s resignation
shows that the media
shouldn’t just serve the rich
Greece's Head Pulled Away' As Tentative Deal
Struck in Brussels
3. Greece Capitulates On
Bailout, Reaches Four Month Deal
4. Our Wars, Our Victims
5. Worst Spying In World
History – Worse Than Any
Dystopian Novel – Is Occurring
This is a Nederlog of
February 21, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is (mostly) about (especially) the British
media; item 2 and item 3 are
somewhat different opinions on Greece; item 4 is
about wars, and about the fairly craxy ideas ordinary men
tend to follow when in war; and item 5 is about the
the spying is worse than ever and anywhere, but also seems more
accepted by the majority (in part because those who
accept it believe that
they themselves will never be prosecuted or persecuted for
non-majority opinion - and who cares for intellectuals?).
resignation shows that the
media shouldn’t just serve the rich
The first item
article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
I thought (and think)
the title rather odd (I will explain) but it seems to be what Owen
Jones intended it to be, judged by the subtitle or summary, that is as
By resigning from
the Telegraph over its links with HSBC, Oborne has done us a huge
service. Too often the media works against democracy
First, I should say I
have not put up much about the HSBC (unlike The Guardian), and also not
about Peter Oborne. As to the HSBC: I have only
so much volume and so much health. As to Oborne: I don't rate the Daily
Telegraph highly, and rarely saw it.
Second, about the title: It seems odd to me to say "that the media shouldn’t just serve the rich" and nearly as odd to say that "the media works against democracy".
Clearly - or so I am inclined to think - the
tasks of the media are to inform the public about anything
the public may be interested in, and about all major things
that effect some considerable part of the public's concerns.
there are facts, and papers should report the facts, but there
also is considerable room for interpretation.
Then again the ideas of the last paragraph may be oldfashioned, for
Owen Jones starts his article as follows:
By and large,
Britain does not have a free press. Our media is not run by the
government, and nor does it engage in widespread censorship. Instead,
the media is run by a tiny group of politically motivated moguls,
themselves in league with other private interests through advertising
or personal networks. Journalists from non-privileged backgrounds are
filtered out through unpaid internships and expensive post-graduate
qualifications, ensuring the media is a closed shop for the well-to-do.
According to a report published by the Social
Mobility and Child Poverty Commission last August, over half of the top
100 media professionals are privately educated. News coverage all too
often reflects the priorities, concerns and prejudices of this tiny
sliver of the British population. Rather than being a means to hold the
powerful to account and fairly report issues, the media is the ultimate
political lobbyist for our elite.
I say. Also, I accept
most of this, although it seems to me that the basic changes are not
educational (for this was roughly the same 35 or 50 years ago) but are
in (1) "the media is run
by a tiny group of politically motivated moguls" and in (2) their
control of the editors is much larger than it used to be, and
extends to politics, morals and opinions.
There is also this:
The media polices
the boundaries of acceptable debate in Britain, helping to ensure that
the national conversation is on the terms most favourable to those with
wealth and power. According to the opinion polls, most Britons want
public ownership of rail and energy, higher taxes on the rich and a statutory living wage. Yet despite the fact
such policies are political common sense among the public, they are
ignored or actively opposed by almost all media outlets. If you are one
of the very few commentators with a media platform that advocates them,
you are treated as chronically naive, or as a dinosaur who isn’t aware
of their own extinction. Support for privatisation, untrammelled free
markets, lower taxes on the rich – all of this is treated almost as
Yes, and especially the
second half: There is a kind of dictatorship - it seems - by the
stupid, the prejudiced and the eager servants of the rich that
brandishes anybody who is against them as ... stupid, prejudiced or
eager servants of the poor (or what not).
2. 'Gun to Greece's Head Pulled Away' As Tentative Deal Struck
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Syriza government of Greece and its creditors from the 19-nation
Eurozone have reportedly reached a draft deal for a loan extension to
the country for another four months.
I say. I do not
know whether to believe Mark Weisbrot because, although I know of no
reason to suspect him, I have read quite a few comments the last week
that promised very large leftist changes - somehow, in ways never
clearly articulated - that would be caused by the very recently elected
leftist Greek government.
The specifics of the
agreement, and the conditions imposed on Greece, have not yet been
fully revealed to the public, but according to Mark Weisbrot,
co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)in
Washington, DC, the deal represents a "significant retreat" by the
so-called troika and "shows that their austerity program, which has
failed miserably, is no longer politically enforceable."
There is more in the article. There is also this, a slightly different
view of the same subject on another site:
3. Greece Capitulates On Bailout, Reaches Four Month Deal
item is an article by Yves Smith on Nakedcapitalism:
This starts as follows:
That seems more like it,
also because Yves Smith (and some others on Nakedcapitalism) argued
from the beginning as I did: It will be very difficult
Syriza folded on its
position of not taking bailout funds. From the Wall Street Journal:
Greece’s new left-wing
government backed down from its plans to throw out the bailout program
the country signed with its international creditors, striking a tenuous
deal with the rest of the eurozone to extend the program by four months.
But now the two sides
will launch what may be even tougher negotiations over how to keep the
Greek government financed in the years to come, while at the same time
reviving the depressed Greek economy. Those discussions could break
down at any time, pushing the ministers back into high-stakes talks on
what to do about Greece.
for Greece to make major changes.
And one might also say that the Greeks, by backing "down from its plans to throw out the bailout
program the country signed"
(by earlier governments, to be sure), bought themselves time
until the end of June, and may try to come up with better or other
The article also contains this:
There is considerably
more in the article, but it does not contain any reference to the fact
(that I take to be a fact because I have read it repeatedly, but indeed
that is all I know) that the Greek neo-fascists Golden
Dawn scored third in the elections that gave the power to Syriza.
From the Financial Times:
The decision to request
an extension of the current programme is a significant U-turn for
Alexis Tsipras, the Greece prime minister, who had promised in his
election campaign to kill the existing bailout.
In addition, it includes
no reduction of Greece’s sovereign debt levels, another campaign
In any case, my own take is that the most sympathetic
interpretation for this capitulation on the bailout is that it bought
the Greek government almost four months of time, and that the Greek government also had little
choice given the
reactions from the other European nations, coupled to the popularity of
fascism in the current Greece.
4. Our Wars,
item is an article by Charles Simic on The New York Review of Books:
starts as follows:
Since we rarely
see real images of our wars today and have to fall back on simulated
ones in Hollywood movies that make us look good, I wonder what
Americans would say if they were shown graphic footage of the results
of US drone attacks, some of the many wedding parties or funerals we
mistook for gatherings of terrorists and reduced to “bug splats,” in
the parlance of those dispatching our missiles. The idea that wiping
out a bunch of innocents along with a few bad guys will make us safer
at home and not make us more enemies everywhere is nuts, and so is the
argument that the atrocities we find appalling in others are acceptable
when perpetrated by us.
I agree for the most
part (and insist that the fact that "we rarely see real images of our wars today" is quite sick, and shows most
of the media are
quite rotten), but I don't quite agree with the last part, in which it
that it is "nuts" - that is: crazy, mad, insane - to
atrocities we find appalling in others are acceptable when perpetrated
More precisely, while
this is or may be "nuts" according to George Orwell, Charles Simic, and
myself, it certainly is not "nuts" according to the majority
of those engaging in any war. (And: "The first victim of war is truth.")
But Charles Simic really believes this (which is - in a way - a tribute
to his intelligence):
What has always
amazed me about countries at war is the way the killing of the innocent
in foreign lands is ignored. People who wouldn’t step on an ant at home
have no interest in finding out what horrors their country is
perpetrating abroad. This heartless attitude becomes even more
offensive when one thinks back to those terrified people in New York
running through fire and smoke from the collapsing towers. In the days
after the attacks, our pundits and politicians clamored for a quick and
brutal retaliation that would not be overly concerned with
distinguishing the innocent from the guilty. In other words, let’s just
start bombing the bastards and not worry about who gets killed—or about
the likelihood that the bombed might want to have their own revenge one
I agree - but I have not
been thus "amazed".
This may have several reasons, and one part is certainly my own family
history: my parents and grandparents were among the very few who went
into resistance against the Nazis when these had occupied Holland, and
were much punished for this, in the war, because my father and
grandfather were arrested and convicted, by collaborating Dutch judges,
who were never punished, as almost any Nazi-collaborator was never
punished in Holland, to concentration camp imprisonment as "political
terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive, and also after the
war, because my parents remained (real!) communists and were therefore
discriminated as "traitors" (and regularly by Dutchmen who had
collaborated with the Nazis, also: "Such, such were the joys").
Then again, it may also have to do with the fact that around age 21 I
had found this quotation by Orwell, that I have quoted quite a few
"Actions are held
to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does
them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages,
forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery,
assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its
moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side." (The Collected
Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419,
written in May 1945.)
That is: Orwell
considered it typical for ordinary people,
if they are part of a war, to judge other people not (anymore)
by what they do, but to judge what they do in terms of what
party (nation, religion, race) they belong to.
I agree with Orwell. That is, I think it quite deplorable that ordinary
people, when involved in war, stop judging others by what they do, and
start judging others in terms of what party (etc.) they belong to, but
I think that is a fact
most, though not for all), and it is also one fact that distinguishes
intelligent who keep reasoning for themselves from the rest, who either
not capable or not willing to keep reasoning rationally.
This theme also occurs in the last item:
Spying In World History – Worse Than Any Dystopian Novel – Is Occurring
item for today is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:
This is as follows (colors in the original):
In fact, this seems a
reaction to the SIM heist I reviewed yesterday.
NSA Spying Worse than Stasi or Nazi Germany, J. Edgar Hoover
… Or Orwell’s 1984
We noted in 2012 that
Americans are the most
spied upon people in world history.
Top NSA officials previously
that we’ve got a “police state” … like J.
Edgar Hoover – or the Stasi – on “super steroids”.
Spying by the NSA is also
worse than in Nazi
The tyrants in Nazi
Germany, Stalinist Russia and Stasi Eastern Europe would have liked to
easedrop on every communication and every transaction of every
citizen. But in the world before the internet, smart phones,
electronic medical records and digital credit card transactions, much
of what happened behind closed doors remained private.
Indeed, a former
lieutenant colonel for the East German Stasi said the NSA’s spy
capabilities would have been “a dream come true” for the Stasi.
NSA contractor Edward
Snowden said in 2013 that NSA spying was worse
than in Orwell’s book 1984.
We noted at the time that
the NSA is spying on us through our computers,
phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via
mobile scanners and drones, through our smart meters, and in many
And we learned that same
year that the NSA is laughing at
all of us for carrying powerful spying devices around in our pockets. And
A security expert said
the same year:
We have to assume that
the NSA has EVERYONE who uses electronic communications under CONSTANT
What’s happened since
these statements were made? Spying has only gotten
worse. The government is doing everything
to completely destroy
has changed … and it will keep on getting worse and worse unless we the
people stand up for our rights against those who want to take
But it seems correct, and underlines that what the NSA, the GCHQ etc.
is not so much information about "terrorists" as to get all
information about anyone, so as to find out who needs to be
controlled, arrested etc. for holding opinions that do not square with
the government's opinions, or indeed also, when the person lives in
another country, whether he or she is fit for being droned.
Also, I want to make another point, that is not often made: "we the people" who are supposed to "stand
up for our rights against those who want to take
away" are a minority.
Indeed, a minority of the intelligent, for the most part, but thereby
indeed a minority.
The reasons are in part innate: Half of the people gets born
with an IQ that is as most 100, and is in part planned: Most of
the people do not get much good information anymore about many
things that do concern them, and thus it seems as if more than half of
the people believe many things that are false or implausible, and that
are much against their own interests, but that are
believed by them anyway, because they are told by nice looking,
sympathetic seeming, widely liked journalists in the mass media, and
seem plausible in the lights of what these mostly none-too-intelligent
persons believe they know.
Speaking for myself, I don't mind much, for both my parents and myself
have hardly ever had any major opinion of ourselves, about almost any subject also, that was sure to get any majority
vote. And I also know that my whole family had IQs that were at least
better than 96 out of 100, which for a good part explains this fact.
But Real Democrats, and especially those who believe that everyone
- you, Hitler, Einstein, and Goebbels, for example - is of the same
value (which for some 25 years was believed by nearly all
Dutchmen, or at least: that is what they publicly said they
believed) must feel somewhat - well: disconsolate.
That is, if they have not yet been convinced by Wolf Blitzer and his
very many likes in the mass media that stupidity and conformity are by
far the safest. 
There is considerable more in ordinary men
in my Philosophical Dictionary, but this seems to be not popular.