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. Today’s Court Ruling, Though Expected, is Still Shocking
— Especially for Those
Who Grew Up LGBT in the U.S.
2. How the NSA Started
Investigating the New York Times’
3. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras
calls referendum on bailout
Democracy Declining in More Than Half of U.N.
Is Wildly Exploitative: Why Aren’t Students
is a Nederlog of Saturday June 27, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about an article by Glenn
Greenwald about the SCOTUS decision that same-sex marriages
now are allowed; item 2 is about why the NYT did
not publish an article about warrantless wiretapping in the U.S. for a
year; item 3 is about the decision by the Greek PM
to call a referendum on the bailout terms he was offered; item 4 is about a report that states that in 50% of
the countries that belong to the UN, democracy is declining; and item 5 is about the very much rising costs for getting
a college degree in the U.S.
1. Today’s Court Ruling, Though Expected,
is Still Shocking —
Especially for Those Who Grew Up LGBT in the U.S.
item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
By a 5-4 majority, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled
today that laws denying same-sex couples the right
to marry violate the “due process” and “equal protection”
guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
With or without the court ruling, full-scale marriage equality was an
inevitability thanks to rapid trans-ideological
generational change in how this issue was perceived; today’s
decision simply accelerated the outcome.
All the legal debates
over the ruling are predictable and banal. Most people proclaim —
in the words of Justice Scalia’s bizarre
deranged dissent — that it is a “threat to democracy” and a
“judicial putsch” whenever laws they like are judicially invalidated,
but a profound vindication for freedom when laws they dislike are
nullified. That’s how people like Scalia can, on one day, demand
that campaign finance laws enacted by Congress and supported by large
majorities of citizens be struck down (Citizens United),
but the next day declare that judicial invalidation of a
democratically enacted law “robs the People of the most important
liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the
Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
In part, I share Glenn Greenwald's combination of - somewhat odd but
quite possible - expecting the decision and being somewhat
indeed for the reasons he explains well in the rest of the article.
Perhaps I should also say that I am neither American
nor homosexual (while Glenn Greenwald is both), which explains why I
have not been following the struggle for gay liberation (as the PC
phrase seems to be) as much as I would
have had it been otherwise, but then I share these things with
most of my readers.
As to Justice Scalia: Much as I dislike him, I am
willing to grant him two things:
(i) the same sort of relativism
that also characterizes many on the left, who often reason
likewise: "that it is a
“threat to democracy” and a “judicial putsch” whenever laws they like
are judicially invalidated, but a profound vindication for freedom when
laws they dislike are nullified", and
(ii) that at least he does refer to an overarching and general democratic
principle when he said that "the most important liberty [the People] asserted in the
Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the
freedom to govern themselves".
Indeed, I would also argue that the second principle strongly
implies that surveillance of everyone concerning everything
(by an extremely small set of anonymous persons working for the
government or for private corporations) contradicts their "freedom to govern themselves", since you have very little freedom
left to govern yourself if the holders of power know absolutely
everything about you (and you do not even know who they are) - but
having remarked that I pass on to the next quotation:
As to the term "LGBT", I quote
the beginning of the Wikipedia (that may
Far more interesting than that sort of naked hypocrisy
masquerading as lofty intellectual principles are the historical
and cultural aspects of today’s decision. Although the result was
expected on a rational level, today’s ruling is still viscerally
shocking for any LGBT citizen who grew up in the U.S., or their family
members and close friends. It’s almost hard to believe that same-sex
marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Just consider how embedded,
pervasive and recent anti-gay sentiment has been in the
fabric of American life.
be of use to some) (minus note numbers):
LGBT or GLBT
is an initialism that stands for lesbian,
bisexual, and transgender.
In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB,
which itself started replacing the term gay when in reference
to the LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late
1980s, as many felt the term gay community did not accurately
represent all those to whom it referred.
The initialism has become mainstream as a self-designation and has been
adopted by the majority of sexuality and
gender identity-based community centers and media in the United States and some other English-speaking
Glenn Greenwald does justice to his last phrase in the last quote - "Just consider how embedded, pervasive and recent anti-gay
sentiment has been in the fabric of American life" - and gives a fine exposition of the quite
radical changes that happened since the 1970ies in how LGBT
people were regarded by others.
starts as follows:
In the 1970s — just 40 years ago —
the existence of gay people was all but unmentionable, particularly
outside of small enclaves in New York, Los Angeles and San
Francisco. If your first inkling of a gay identity took place in that
decade, as mine did, you necessarily assumed that you were alone, that
you were plagued with some sort of rare, aberrational disease, since
there was no way even to know gayness existed except from the most
malicious and casual mockery of it. It simply wasn’t meaningfully
I am 17 years older than Glenn Greenwald and Dutch, but
something like it was true in the Holland of the 1960s, though it was a
bit less extreme than in the U.S.
Indeed, being homosexual or homophile (as the terms then were, in
Dutch) was hardly ever mentioned, and I was first made aware of
its real existence and what it was by means of a - fairly courageous -
article in a weekly I read in 1966 or 1967, about a fairly well-known
Dutch journalist, who explained his liking for bodybuilders by saying
he was "a homophile", and explaining it.
My own reaction was rather different from Glenn Greenwald's: I almost
tely assumed, in part because I knew that I had had no choice in being
hetero- sexual, which seemed natural to me, that homosexuality probably
also was native, indeed mostly because I did know that
those who had it or seemed to have it were quite mercilessly
discriminated by most (which in part went back to the Bible, and in
part to the laws).
Also, in Holland there soon was more openness
about it than in the U.S., especially after the Dutch psychiatrists
agreed with the American psychiatrists
who had agreed in 1973 to stop considering homosexuality as a mental
which was widely welcomed and propagandized by Dutch homophiles (as
they then still called themselves).
But I will leave this, and also recommend you to click
on the last dotted link in case you want to read Glenn Greenwald's
brief history, which is both well done and also fairly amazing.
Greenwald ends as follows:
So up until three years ago –– even as
numerous other countries on multiple continents around the world
enacted it — almost every national American political figure
opposed same-sex marriage.
Now, as of today, same-sex marriage is legal in all states.
That is massive, fundamental change in an amount of time so short as to
is more that is good in the article. Here is the last sentence:
To witness the arrival of full-scale legal equality is
something many never expected to see in their lifetime, and now that
it has happened, still seems surreal.
How the NSA Started
Investigating the New York Times’ Warrantless Wiretapping Story
The next item today is
an article by Cora Currier on
This starts as
Three days after
the New York Times revealed
that the U.S. government was secretly monitoring the calls
and emails of people inside the United States without court-approved
warrants, the National Security Agency issued a top-secret assessment
of the damage done to intelligence efforts by the story. The
conclusion: the information could lead terrorists to try to evade
detection. Yet the agency gave no specific examples of investigations
that had been jeopardized.
The December 2005
bombshell story, by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, set off a debate
about the George W. Bush administration’s expansion of spying powers
after the 9/11 attacks, and also about the Times editors’
decision to delay
its publication for a year. White House officials had warned the Times
that revealing the program would have grave consequences for national
And so the NYT
decided to trust the government, even though (i) the govern-
ment "gave no specific
examples of investigations that had been jeopardized"
while (ii) the NYT anyway had no right to trust the
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed. I.F.
Stone - rather than honestly report to its readers, indeed unless
(iii) its editors and journalists are perfectly happy to function as
messagers for the government, who simply relay what they are being
told, and don't spread whatever they are told to keep secret.
But that is not a
free press, anymore. There is more in the article.
3. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras calls referendum
on bailout terms
The next item today is an
article by Helena Smith on The Guardian:
This starts as
In a dramatic move that
will put Europe on tenterhooks, the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras told his fellow citizens last
night he would call a referendum on the bailout accord that
international creditors have proposed to keep the debt-stricken country
Following an emergency
meeting of his cabinet, Tsipras said his leftist-led government had
decided a package of austerity measures proposed by the country’s
creditors – made in a last-ditch effort to avert default – would be put
to popular vote. The referendum will take place on Sunday 5 July.
“After five months of
hard negotiations our partners, unfortunately, ended up making a
proposal that was an ultimatum towards Greek democracy and the Greek
people,” he said in a national address, “an ultimatum at odds with the
founding principles and values of Europe, the values of our common European
I say, though I am
not all that amazed: it seems to me Tsipras had little choice.
Also, he was fairly clear how he feels:
(...) Tsipras, whose
radical-left Syriza party was catapulted into power five months ago on
a platform of eradicating austerity, did not hide his own feelings for
Greeks, he said, were
being subjected to “humiliation and blackmail”. “These proposals, which
clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work,
equality and dignity, show the purpose of some of the partners and
institutions was not a viable agreement for all parties, but possibly
the humiliation of an entire people,” he said.
There is considerably
more in the article.
I have no idea of the
outcome, and it might even be that the EU will not supply the money to
Greece to live until the referendum, but we will find out in the next
Democracy Declining in More Than Half of U.N.
The next item today
is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
I am not amazed,
although 96/193 is 50% of the countries (that all belong to the
A new report released by
a long-established civil rights advocacy group says democracy is waning
and authoritarianism is on the rise in more than 96 of the 193 states
that belong to the United Nations.
systematic attack on these core civil society liberties has taken many
forms, including assault, torture, kidnapping and assassination,”
the Civicus Civil Society Watch
Next, there is this quoted from the Inter Press Service (with a
link to the article):
The report says while
activists engaged in political reform, uncovering corruption and human
rights violations continue to be targeted, those defending local
communities from land grabs and environmental degradation, as well as
those promoting minority group rights, have been subjected to various
forms of persecution.
“The link between
unethical business practices and closing civic space is becoming
clearer as global inequality and capture of power and resources by a
handful of political and economic elite rises.“ …
A number of democracies
are also engaging in illicit surveillance of civil society activists,
further weakening respect for human rights. …
I believe this is going to
be worse. And this ends as follows:
most basic democratic rights are being violated in more than half the
world’s countries, alarm bells must start ringing for the international
community and leaders everywhere,” Sriskandarajah said.
Since I think that
many of the "leaders everywhere" are violating "citizens’ most basic democratic rights", it follows that the "alarm bells"
will ring - in my opinion - mostly for citizens (who also seriously
risk being persecuted for it).
5. College Is
Wildly Exploitative: Why Aren’t Students Raising Hell?
The last item
today is an article by David
Masciotra on Naked Capitalism, but originally on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed - and in case you
Higher education wears
the cloak of liberalism, but in policy and practice, it can be a
corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation. It benefits
immensely from right-wing McCarthy wannabes, who in an effort to
restrict academic freedom and silence political dissent, depict
universities as left-wing indoctrination centers.
But the reality is that
while college administrators might affix “down with the man” stickers
on their office doors, many prop up a system that is severely unfair to
American students and professors, a shocking number of whom struggle to
make ends meet. Even the most elementary level of political science
instructs that politics is about power. Power, in America, is about
money: who has it? Who does not have it? Who is accumulating it? Who is
losing it? Where is it going?
Four hundred faculty
members at New York University, one of the nation’s most expensive
schools, recently released a report on how their own place of
employment, legally a nonprofit institution, has become a predatory
business, hardly any different in ethical practice or economic
procedure than a sleazy storefront payday loan operator. Its title
succinctly summarizes the new intellectual discipline deans and regents
have learned to master: “The Art of The Gouge.”
college tuition increased by a crushing 80 percent. That far
outpaces all other inflation. The closest competitor was the cost of
medical care, which in the same time period, increased by a rate of 49
percent. On average, tuition in America rises eight percent on an
annual basis, placing it far outside the moral universe.
Why did this happen? I
don't really know, though it has much to do with being 18, being naive,
and expecting to get considerably better paying jobs with a college
Jun 28, 2015: Removed a redundant "by" and inserted a missing