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. The Democrats’ Presidential Debates: Underway and
2. The Sad Fate of America’s Whistleblowers
This is a Nederlog
of Sunday, October 18, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are only two
items today, because it is a sunday; there was not much to find; and
also I didn't sleep well: Item 1 is about an
article by Ralph Nader about the Democrats' presidential debate; and item 2 is an article by John Kiriakou about
There will very probably be more tomorrow.
1. The Democrats’ Presidential Debates:
Underway and Underwhelming
first item is by Ralph
Nader (<- Wikipedia). I found it on Common Dreams and it is
originally on Ralph Nader's site:
This starts as follows:
There is no BBC in the
USA but I
agree that a private corporation should not control the candidates, the
questions and the location.
Who thought this up –
Giving a private corporation (CNN) control of a presidential
debate? In the most recent Democratic presidential debate, CNN
controlled which candidates were invited, who asked what questions, and
the location, Las Vegas – the glittering, gambling center of America.
This is a mirror image of the control Fox News exercised during their
Republican candidates’ circus. Corporatism aside, the debate with
Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln
Chafee was not a debate. With few exceptions – most notably Hillary
Clinton going after Bernie Sanders on gun control, about which she is
reborn – the stage was the setting for a series of interview questions
to each candidate by Anderson Cooper and his colleagues.
Granted, the quality of
the questions was higher than has been the case with other debate
spectacles in recent years. Yet CNN’s self-censorship – in part
reflected in the content of the questions and the favored positioning
given to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – was not obscured.
But this was the
introduction. Here is Ralph Nader on some of the - possible -
background for the debate:
For example, our country
has been plagued by a corporate crime wave from Wall Street to Houston.
These crimes are regular occurrences, often with recidivist
corporations such as giant oil, drug, auto, banking, munitions
producers, and mining companies corrupting our politics. Such chronic
violations are reported more often than they are properly prosecuted.
Yes, indeed. It is also
this background was not very evident in the debate, but it is
there, while the corporate crime waves make - literally -
billions of dollars (and that is one of the major problems of the USA:
crimes by corporations that are simply accepted by the
government, as are
their tax evasions).
Here is some further background on corporate crimes:
Corporate crimes affect
American as workers, consumers, taxpayers, and community residents.
Unfortunately, corporate criminal law is woefully weak, prosecutions
are minor, and enforcement budgets are scandalously tiny. Moreover,
corporate lobbyists ensure that corporate privileges and immunities are
preserved and expanded in corporate-occupied Washington, D.C.
Yes, and I like the
not because it is itself beautiful (it isn't) but because it seems to
be quite true:
people and their interests are seldomly heard
in Washington, and the people who are heard all work for the
corporations somehow, as lawyers, as lobbyists, as paid for
Congressmen, or as former CEOs or lawyers who are presently doing
politics, to return to business again in 4 or 8 years, through "the
And that Washington D.C. is corporate-occupied is not
discussed by CNN.
holds for this point:
omission is the question of how the candidates plan to give more power
to the people, since all of them are saying that Washington isn’t
working. I have always thought that this is the crucial question voters
should ask every candidate for public office. Imagine asking a
candidate:: “How are you specifically going to make ‘we the people’ a
political reality, and how are you going to give more voice and power
to people like me over elected representatives like you?” Watch
politicians squirm over this basic inquiry.
I think this is a
fairly good question, but ‘we
the people’ has never been "a political reality"
in the United States, other than during elections, and that is
basically because the founders were not pro-democracy but
the republic is very large (more than 300 million persons).
Here is Nader's reaction to
Hillary's claim that she is "a progressive":
Hillary knows how to
impress conventional political reporters, while limiting their
follow-up questions. She started with her latest political
transformation early on. “I don’t take a backseat to anyone when it
comes to progressive commitment….I’m a progressive.”
And the moon is made of
blue cheese. Hillary Clinton, a progressive? She is the arch Wall
Street corporatist, who hobnobs with criminal firms like Goldman Sachs
for $250,000 a speech, and goes around the country telling closed-door
business conventions what they want to hear for $5,000 a minute!
I mostly agree, but
"progressive" is a vague term (like "leftist" or "liberal", although
both of these are probably already too specific for Clinton) and (ii)
sense, compared with Trump, Carson, Cruz and other Republican
candidates, she probably is - somewhat - progressive, though indeed
compared to these three and their Republican mates almost everyone
And there is this, in
criticism of Sanders:
Well... but then why not say
"public" instead of "socialist"? Or "social"? For clearly, while these
public institutions are social, they are hardly socialist
(and the USA is firmly capitalist).
Senator Bernie Sanders
missed opportunities to highlight Hillary Clinton’s true corporatist
and militarist identity. Most unfortunately, she placed him on the
defensive with the socialist/capitalist questioning. Next time, Bernie
Sanders should tell the millions of voters watching the “debates” that
local socialism is as American as apple pie, going back to the 18th Century,
by mentioning post offices, public highways, public drinking water
systems, public libraries, public schools, public universities, and
public electric companies as examples.
He then could add that
global corporations are destroying competitive capitalism with their
corporate state or crony capitalism, despised by both conservatives and
Then again, it is true that
Bernie Sanders calls himself "a
democratic socialist"; and it is also true that "socialist" is a quite
difficult term to use in the USA, at least if the end is to make a
favorable impression, simply because most Americans have strong
reactions against "socialists" (indeed generally without having a good
idea about what "socialism" may mean).
I think that his description
of himself as "a democratic
socialist" is mistaken in that he seems much more a social democrat,
as I use terms, but then indeed my intuitions about political terms are
The Sad Fate of
next and last article is by John Kiriakou
(<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
What is it about
whistleblowers that the powers that be can’t stand?
When I blew the whistle
on the CIA’s illegal torture program, I was derided in many quarters as
a traitor. My detractors in the government attacked me for violating my
secrecy agreement, even as they ignored the oath we’d all taken to
protect and defend the Constitution.
To answer the first
question: Whistleblowers tell the truth about some actions of some
governmental or other institution that those who hold the power in
these institutions do not want to become known.
As to the second paragraph:
It follows that for anybody who has no
relation to those in power,
but only a
personal or financial relation, and who supports the government (or the
institution) will tend to look upon governmental whistleblowers
as traitors, because they do not judge things principially,
legally or intellectually, but only loyalistically:
"He did something my boss doesn't like - therefore, he must be bad!"
Here is some on Kiriakou
himself, and on another whistleblower, Thomas Drake
I was charged with three
counts of espionage, all of which were eventually dropped when I took a
plea to a lesser count. I had to choose between spending up to 30
months in prison and rolling the dice to risk a 45-year sentence. With
five kids, and three of them under the age of 10, I took the plea.
Tom Drake — the NSA
whistleblower who went through the agency’s chain of command to report
its illegal program to spy on American citizens — was thanked for his
honesty and hard work by being charged
with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage. The
government eventually dropped the charges, but not before Drake had
suffered terrible financial, professional, and personal distress.
And Kiritakou notes,
A considerable part of the
various harassments of whistleblowers are
due - I think - to the stupidity
and/or the lack of moral and ethical character
of most people, and indeed especially in governments.
It’s not just government
employees either. Whistleblowers first brought attention to wrongdoing
at Enron, Lehman Brothers, Stanford International Bank, and elsewhere.
And what’s their reward?
Across the board, whistleblowers are investigated, harassed, fired, and
in some cases prosecuted.
That’s the conclusion of
Press, whose book Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience
of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times documents the struggles of whistleblowers throughout
history. Press’s whistleblowers never recover financially or
professionally from their actions. History seems to smile on them, but
during their lifetimes they remain outcasts.
And while I think that is a
major problem, it also is a fact, which
indeed does mean that any intelligent whistleblower with a moral and
ethical character (as most genuine whistleblowers are) will be in a
small minority. 
I like the Greek term
for "whistleblower", but because I blew the whistle 27 to 25 years ago,
and because I have never even been answered
since (while billions of illegal drugs are dealt with personal
protection by Dutch mayors, and education got worse and worse and
worse) I think Kiriakou is a bit naive: Most people are loyal, not
(and they confuse the two, generally by defining the good as serving the
leaders). And this has always been the case.
I recently visited Greece
to help the government there draft a whistleblower protection law. The
Greek word for “whistleblower” translates as “guardian of the public
trust.” I wish our own government’s treatment of whistleblowers could
reflect that understanding.
Yet even legal guarantees
of protection from prosecution and persecution aren’t enough —
especially if, as in the case of existing law, national security
employees are exempt from these safeguards.
The reader should note that my father, mother and grandfather all had
the quite rare moral courage to go into the resistance during
(which cost my grandfather's life, while my father had to survive 3 years 9 months
and 16 days as a concentration camp prisoner), while I tried to
blow the whistle on the ever decreasing educational standards in
Holland and on the illegal drugstrade that is now for 30
years the norm in Holland, that got protected by mayors and
other politicians as if they make millions a year from the illegal
trade they protect, and also the judges and district attorneys protect
the dealers much rather than those harassed by them.
Also, I think the politicians did earn a whole lot of illegal
money protecting the illegal drugs trade - very many millions -
but I have no full proof, and it is too dangerous to try to find one:
Many people are murdered over drugs in Holland each year. And no,
marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroine, LSD and ecstasy all are illegal
in Holland. But they are traded in public - especially
marijuana and hashish - with personal protection of the mayors,
while the total legal staff of Holland pretends nothing is the matter,
and looks the other way for 30 years now.
As to my whistleblowing: The Dutch press is such a set of
faithful servants of the politicians that I got no useful
reaction whatever, and my site and my person do
not publicly exist in Holland (though my site is in
Holland, as is my person, alas): they are never ever mentioned.