is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with
5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a very good and
quite important article by Glenn Greenwald about (mostly) the term
"terrorism"; item 2 is a long read from The
Guardian on Bernie Sanders, that I
think is not quite fair; item 3 is about a video by
Jay&Scheer, which is here because I like Scheer (and also The Real
News); item 4 is about the Catholic
reaction (in the U.S.) to the pope's encyclical about global warming,
become important, simply because the pope leads more than a billion
and item 5 is about Robert Reich on improving the
economy: He is against incarcerating as this is nowadays practiced by
the U.S. and I quite agree.
There also are two videos included. This got uploaded a bit later than
Refusal to Call Charleston Shootings “Terrorism” Again Shows It’s a
Meaningless Propaganda Term
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
In February 2010, a man
named Joseph Stack deliberately
flew his small airplane into the side of a building that housed a
regional IRS office in Austin, Texas, just as 200 agency employees were
starting their workday. Along with himself, Stack killed an IRS manager
and injured 13 others.
Stack was an anti-tax,
anti-government fanatic, and chose his target for exclusively
political reasons. He left behind a lengthy manifesto cogently setting
forth his largely libertarian political views (along with, as I wrote at the time,
some anti-capitalist grievances shared by the left, such as “rage
over bailouts, the suffering of America’s poor, and the pilfering of
the middle class by a corrupt economic elite and their
government-servants”; Stack’s long note ended: “the communist
creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his
need. The capitalist creed: From each according to his
gullibility, to each according to his greed”). About
Stack’s political grievances, his manifesto declared
that “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.”
Stack differed a bit: Libertarian, using a plane, but that is it, it
seems. The common part to all is this: they were leftists (of various
kinds, but all of small groups) and they approved their own use of
armored violence against their enemies (the state and the capitalists)
and also engaged in armed violence, as indeed did Lenin and Stalin,
long before the October Revolution. And this is what generally made
them "freedom fighters" in their own eyes, and "terrorists" in
the eyes of their opponents - as indeed pointed out by me in the Philosophical
Dictionary and also in my "On "The Logic
of Moral Discourse"".
And my own general point is that the assumption of the right to
use armed violenceoneself, also granted the realistic
the state against which one agitates falsely assumes and improperly
exercises that right,
is generally mistaken, insufficiently and badly motivated; and that
therefore, besides the large violent powers of the states one opposes,
(2) armed attempt at revolutions have practically nearly always
But this is a good and important article by Glenn Greenwald. I
leave the actual cases he presents to your interests, and only select
the general point, that follows first, and his general arguments.
The general point may be indicated by one quote:
The New York
Times’s report on
the incident stated that while the attack “initially inspired fears of
a terrorist attack” — before the identity of the pilot was known — now
“in place of the typical portrait of a terrorist driven by ideology,
Mr. Stack was described as generally easygoing, a talented amateur
musician with marital troubles and a maddening grudge against the tax
As a result, said the Paper
of Record, “officials ruled out any connection to terrorist groups or
That poor talented Mr. Stack!
He killed eight black people, but he cannot possibly be "a terrorist"!
For he was white and not a Muslim (and they were black).
In brief: We - our group's
and spokesmen -
decide - by groupthinking
- who is "a terrorist" and who is "a freedomfighter", and
Our Group always is right
and good and
fights for freedom, while They, everyone we
wrong and bad and
fight for dictatorships, and are "terrorists".
What one thinks, how one evaluates, what one believes, what one
disregards, what one presupposes, generally and for most, almost
completely depend on the group
one belongs to (Us
or Them), and is
mostly determined by that, through membership of the group and sharing
in its culture
and coincides mostly with what the
significant people in the group - spokespersons, leaders - say
world is, and what one should do in it and believe
This is simply true for the vast majorities.
Here is Glenn
Greenwald's first general terminological point:
And what I
especially don’t want is to have this glaring, damaging mythology
persist that the term “terrorism” is some sort of objectively
discernible, consistently applied designation of a particularly hideous
kind of violence. I’m eager to have the term recognized for what it is:
a completely malleable, manipulated, vapid term of propaganda that has
no consistent application whatsoever. Recognition of that reality is
vital to draining the term of its potency.
As I have explained, I
quite agree. One major problem is that only small minorities
wherewithall - the time, the knowledge, and the brains - to think beyond
the common ideology
most mostly blindly share, and that are,
as I indicated, mostly determined by their actual memberships in groups.
Here is a further conclusion by Greenwald on the term "terrorism"
scholarship proves that the term “terrorism” is empty,
definition-free and invariably manipulated. Harvard’s Lisa
Stampnitzky has documented “the inability of researchers
to establish a suitable definition of the concept of ‘terrorism’
itself.” The concept of “terrorism” is fundamentally plagued
by ideological agendas and self-interested manipulation (..)
Again I quite agree, and
indeed maintain that I gave the general reasons for these findings: Groups,
rule what are the
opinions, values and ends of most ordinary average people everywhere.
(And note the alternatives: Individualism, Scientifc
and Truth. Which
simply are not open and hardly known nor practised by
the vast majority.)
Here is the third and last general conclusion of Glenn Greenwald about
the term "terrorism":
What is most amazing
about all of this is that “terrorism” — a term that is so easily and
frequently manipulated and devoid of fixed meaning — has now become
central to our political culture and legal framework, a staple of how
we are taught to think about the world. It is constantly invoked, as
though it is some sort of term of scientific precision, to justify an
endless array of radical policies and powers. Everything from the
attack on Iraq to torture to endless drone killings to mass
surveillance and beyond are justified in its name.
In fact, it is, as I have often argued,
a term that justifies everything yet means nothing.
I agree with the first
paragraph, except that I find the fact that most people think in terms
and Propaganda probably less amazing than Glenn Greenwald
(and indeed these are my ownexplanations),
while I explain the fact that "terrorism" is so frequently invoked by
the combination of the stupidity and ignorance that
hold for most,
alas, whuch makes the enormous terminological abuses possible,
with the importance that the propaganda is
believed for the ruling elites, who these days
and mislead the populations they lead, generally in the interests of
the rich few.
I disagree with the second paragraph, because I think that the term
means a lot: Those to whom it is applied are evilpersons with evilends who
use evilmethods, but I
agree with Greenwald in so far as what is "evil"
for most almost wholly on the group
one happens to belong to.
But as I said: This is an important article, and it is strongly
recommended you read all of it.
Inside the mind of Bernie
Sanders: unbowed, unchanged, and unafraid of a good fight
item is an article by Paul Lewis on The Guardian:
overture was dispatched to Hu Yaobang, chairman of the Chinese
Communist party, on 29 October 1981. A near-identical letter was sent
to the Kremlin, for the attention of Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary
of the Communist party of the Soviet Union.
“Like an unconscious and
uncontrollable force, our planet appears to be drifting toward
self-destruction,” the newly installed socialist leader of somewhere
called Burlington wrote. He urged them “in the strongest possible way”
to disarm militarily and begin immediate negotiations with other world
Bernie Sanders, the ardently leftwing mayor of
Vermont’s largest city, dispatched similar missives to Downing Street,
the Élysée palace and the White House, before releasing a statement
declaring: “Burlingtonians cannot calmly sit back and watch our planet
be destroyed – with hundreds of millions of people incinerated.”
unearthed by the Guardian, confirms what has long been said of
America’s longest-serving independent member of Congress who, at the
age of 73, recently launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for
president. Bernie Sanders is unafraid of punching above his weight.
I say. I think this sets the tone of this long read, that I
have read all: "Bernie Sanders is a noble fool; he means well, but
really, you and I - well thinking ordinary Britishers - we know that he
won't make it".
Here is a bit about what "The Guardian" or Paul Lewis did:
The Guardian has spoken
to close to a dozen of Sanders’ closest friends, family, confidants and
operatives. They paint a picture of a politician who has spent a
lifetime obsessed with the same issues that still drive him today, and
is now wrestling with the demands of a 2016 presidential race.
For his part, Sanders
suggested in an interview with the Guardian that some of his policies
remain a work in progress, but rejected the notion that his surge in
popularity should come as a surprise. “I am a United States senator, I
did win my last election with 71% of the vote,” he said last week. “So
it’s not just like someone just walked in off the street and suddenly
they’re Hillary Clinton’s main challenger. We’ve been doing this for a
And here is a bit about a
speech he recently made:
Sanders spoke for an
hour, railing against growing economic inequality, the corporate media,
millionaires and billionaires, global warming, Barack Obama’s Pacific
trade deal and the Iraq war. The Vermont senator promised equal pay for
women, tuition-free colleges and universities, an equitable tax system,
the right to healthcare for all, an expansion of social security for
the elderly, and tough action against Wall Street banks.
Those lucky enough to
have a seat spent much of the hour on their feet, in wave after wave of
standing ovation, as Sanders laid out his platform in his trademark
Brooklyn twang; sober, exasperated, always impassioned.
“The best president in the
history of the world – somebody courageous, smart, bold – that person
will not be able to address the major crises that we face unless there
is a mass political movement, unless there’s a political revolution in
this country,” Sanders told his approving audience of more than 700
I must say I agree with all
that, though I suppose the "political revolution", somewhat cleverly
joined to "700 people", may seem to many a bit too much (once again, by
this noble fool).
Well... Sanders is right, but the
"political revolution" may be no more and no less than his election as
president, which shows simultaneously that this is not likely,
though quite possible, and it would be by peacefull means
and through the
Here is the last bit I will quote:
The central thrust
of Sanders’ message – about economic inequality and the corruption of
political power – has never really changed
OK - I agree to that. And I
still like Sanders.
3.Robert Scheer: Plundering
Our Freedom With Abandon (Part 3
item was posted by
Jenna Berbeo on Truthdig:
To start with, the
previous item in this series I reviewed here.
And this is the video of the third part:
following this as
well, because I like Robert Scheer, and indeed to an extent share some
things, and start with this bit:
SCHEER: … If
you look at Justice Roberts,
the Supreme Court, the ruling a year ago in June on why the police
can’t crack into your smart phone and use that data —unanimous decision
of a Supreme Court that many of us don’t like, you know, but it
included the liberals and the conservatives—unanimous. Scalia,
everybody, said no, the cops can’t get that data, ‘cause that’s a
general warrant. That’s not specific. It’s a violation of due process.
They can’t crack the code and convict you on some crime that they were
not looking for. It goes back to English common law of the humblest
peasant. This goes against your rich guys argument. The humblest
peasant is off-limits to an agent of the king, cannot come in and
That is true, but the NSA is still
spying on everybody, and still storing
information, for whatever use whatever later government may find for
it. (Scheer agrees, I suppose, for these also are facts.)
There is also tjis on the Fourth Amendment:
SCHEER: The reason
the Fourth Amendment is so important, as Justice
Roberts said, the American Revolution was sparked by that demand. Okay?
And when the agents of the king came in looking for your tax violation
or are you selling rum or are you doing this or are you paying your
taxes, blah blah blah, okay, they said that is what sparked the
I agree - but (1) this
is a historical example (2) the NSA collects incomparably more,
and on anyone and (3) these days there seems not by
far to be as strong as a
felt commitment to privacy as there was in the 18th Century, for
reasons, but one of which follows next:
JAY: And this is
why people that say we’re already living in fascism I
don’t agree with, ‘cause we’re really not quite there yet. And—.
SCHEER: Those who say
we’re already living in fascism have
not been in—
JAY: Lived in fascism.
SCHEER:—have not been in
a totalitarian country.
JAY: I agree.
Well...yes and no. I have four
First, I have been to one totalitariansocialist
state: The GDR, when I
was 14, and my reaction was so strong - "This is fascist
bullshit!" literally, though iGerman -
that I would have been thrown out of the country had I not fallen ill
and had to be hospitalized. Also, I left the CP age 20, of
father and mother than were 30 or more years a member, in considerable
part because I was against totalitarianism.
Second, I agree Holland and the U.S.A. are not
fascistic and not
totalitarian in quite a number of points, and notably in that I and
Scheer (and very many others) may publish and think what we want (but all
our ideas are recorded and
stored no doubt, albeit in secret and without our consent, for the
benefit of any future government).
But third, there is the quite classical definition of the
American Heritage Dictionary:
"A system of government that exercises a
dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of
state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
which at least applies
to "the merging of
state and business leadership"
- though I agree there is no real terror against most, and no
thinking, even though there is a lot of propaganda,
and there is also
I"ll leave that further for your considerations, and turn to this, that
I like, because my communist parents were similarly inspired, and
indeed also knew and liked Pete Seeger (who was an American communist):
SCHEER: And, also,
anything I tell you in this show, I may be full of
it, or I wouldn’t be a journalist. I may have it wrong. Okay? I’m not a
big ideologue in that way. I don’t think I’ve got it all, a handle on
everything. I really mean that.
But I think—so let me get
a little bit autobiographical
here, which you wanted to do. I told you about finding those volumes by
the garbage can. Now let me go back to my own childhood here, ‘cause it
really is important. My father was a part of—there were waves of German
immigrants who came to this country, sparked by turmoil in Germany, of
different kinds, but usually "Die Gedanken sind frei" [German: Thoughts
are free], you know, the desire for freedom. It’s even in Beethoven’s
Ninth, you know, the whole idea that, you know, thoughts matter. No
tyrant shall—I forget the way it went, Die Gedanken sind frei, but no
tyrant shall shape the—no one—no man can deny Die Gedanken sind frei,
thought is free.
PETE SEEGER SINGING "DIE
GEDANKEN SIND FREI": My thoughts
will not cater to duke or dictator / No man can deny, Die Gedanken Sind
Frei / No man can deny, Die Gedanken Sind Frei
Then there is this:
SCHEER: But the thing, the reason I am here, the
reason that I am
an independent person: my father said to me, okay, when you earn your
own money, you’re going to be a man, and I’m not going to tell you what
to do or anything to think. My father and mother, despite that they
were leftists, they never tried to shape my thinking in any kind of
Yes and no: My parents
said the same, but it is also true they influenced me a lot simply
because they worked a great lot for the Dutch CP, almost always totally
for free, driven by high moral ideals, that were sincerely
quite uncommon, and this must have influenced me a lot. Then
was left mostly completely free when I started working, age 17.
Finally - and I skipped a lot of biographical information - there is
this on Scheer's father:
And I remember—he had a
pretty strong temper, my father,
although he never hit me, but he would break every dish in the—you
know, he had a real temper. And my father took a knife, put it into
this wooden table, and said, looked at me and he said, he said, it’s
interesting what you’re doing, you do what you want, you know more
about this than I do, but if you ever become a Nazi, I’ll kill you.
That’s the limits—for his part, that was his threshold. I’ll never
forget it. I mean, that was it.
Leaders of the Catholic
church in America took their “marching orders” from the pope’s
encyclical on Thursday, fanning out to Congress and the White House to
push for action on climate change.
The high-level meetings
offered a first glimpse of a vast and highly organised effort by the
leadership of America’s nearly 80 million Catholics to turn the pope’s
moral call for action into reality.
“It is our marching
orders for advocacy,” Joseph Kurtz, the president of the US Conference
of Catholic Bishops and the Archbishop of Louisville, said. “It really
brings about a new urgency for us.”
Representatives of the US
Conference of Catholic Bishops said they would hold two briefings for
members of Congress on Thursday and visit the White House on Friday to
promote and explain the pope’s environmental message.
Those efforts will get a
new injection of urgency, when the pope delivers a much-anticipated
address to Congress during his visit to the US in September, church
Church leaders rejected
the accusations from some conservatives – including the Republican
presidential contender Jeb Bush – that the pope had trespassed into the
This is here simply
because (1) the pope has published an encyclical, in which he
took stance against climate change and global warming, and called for
action and (2) because he leads over a billion persons, which
this stance rather important, and possibly relevant.
There is a considerable amount more in the article.
5. Making the Economy Work for The Many and Not
the Few #10: End Mass Incarceration, Now.
item for today is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows,
and is the last of 10 videos + texts by Robert Reich, that I also like.
Here is the video
This takes a mere 3
minutes, and is quite well done. The text starts as follows:
Imprisoning a staggering
number of our people is wrong.
The way our nation does it is even worse. We must end mass
If I'm walking down the
street with a Black or Latino friend,
my friend is way more likely to be stopped by the police, questioned,
and even arrested. Even if we're doing the exact same thing—he or she
is more likely to be convicted and sent to jail.
Unless we recognize the
racism and abuse of our criminal justice system and tackle the
dehumanizing stereotypes that underlie it, our nation – and our economy
– will never be as strong as it could be.
I quite agree.
(Unfortunately, Reich's text has some formatting problems.)
Here are Reich's general recommendations (bolding in the original):
So what do we do?
First, enact smarter
sentencing laws that end mandatory minimums and transform the way
we treat people who enter the criminal justice system. Instead of
prisons and jails, we need well-paying jobs, and to invest in proven
and cost-effective alternatives to incarceration, like job training and
mental health and drug treatment programs
Second, stop the
militarized policing and end discriminatory policing practices such
as "stop and frisk" and "broken windows" that disproportionately target
communities of color.
Third, stop building
new jails, start closing some existing ones, and begin to invest in
schools, public transit, and housing assistance or local jobs programs.
States are spending more and more on prisons, while cutting funding for
schools. That’s crazy.
Finally, “ban the box”
– the box on job applications that asks whether you have ever been
convicted of a felony on a job application. Already, dozens of states
cities, and counties have passed bills requiring that employers
consider what you can do in the future, not what you might have done in
Instead of locking people
up unjustly, and then locking them out of the economy for the rest of
their lives, we need to stop wasting human talent and start opening
doors of opportunity – to everyone.