May 11, 2016

Crisis: NSA Programs, Nader, Chomsky, Pentagon's Powers, American Horrors
Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Senate Kicks Off Debate Over Reauthorizing
     Controversial NSA Programs

2. Nader on American politics
3. Noam Chomsky, What Principles Rule the World?
4. Pentagon Allowed to Supply Military Gear Directly to
     Homeland Security Dept. for ‘War on Immigrants’

5. American Horror Story: The Shameful Truth About the
     Government’s Secret Experiments

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about yet another NSA+government attempt to keep on spying on everybody to find out everything about them (which is a fascistic plan - I'm sorry, but that is it); item 2 is about Ralph Nader; item 3 is about Noam Chomsky; item 4 is about the Pentagon taking over part of the powers and control over the American "police"; and item 5 is about the interests of the American government as opposed to the interests of the American people (which many still don't see).

1. Senate Kicks Off Debate Over Reauthorizing Controversial NSA Programs

The first item is
by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The Senate Judiciary Committee summoned a handful of cybersecurity, privacy, and national security experts on Tuesday to lay out the pros and cons of reauthorizing the law the NSA says authorizes it to collect hundreds of millions of online communications from providers like Facebook and Google as well as straight off the internet’s backbone.

The NSA spying programs PRISM and Upstream are ostensibly aimed at “foreign targets” but nevertheless scoop up a potentially vast but non-public number of communications involving innocent Americans, some of which are made accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies.

I report this because it is relevant for those who do not want to be spied on by governmental secret services and dataminers like Google and Facebook. On the other hand, I think the Senate Judiciary Committee and the American govern- ment are merely lying to the public.

Also, presumably since I am not "Exceptional" nor American, I may be a "foreign target" of the NSA, and I do not like that at all, for I am no terrorist:

I do not want to be, and anybody who I know is searching my computer without my personal permission is a fascistic spy. I am sorry, but that is what I think. [1] On the moment I do not know of any, but then again all this sick and fascistic (o yes!) spying is always happening in complete secrecy.

Here is one more bit, to show you why I can't take the pronouncements of American governmental institutions seriously:

The House Judiciary Committee has already hosted preliminary hearings on the same topic — in secret.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told journalists in April the programs authorized by Section 702 are “a prolific producer of critical intelligence to this country and our friends and allies.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Matt Olsen, a former NSA and FBI lawyer who now works for a cybersecurity firm, encouraged senators to fully reauthorize the law — without any changes.

So what you get are the opinions of two liars plus the information that you, as the people, are excluded from hearing anything.

And therefore, since I am one of the very few anti-fascists who is a third-generation anti-fascist since he is a descendant of a father and a grandfather locked up in Nazi-concentration camps, where my grandfather got murdered:

Spying on anyone and everyone is fascistic; datamining anyone and everyone is fascistic; and I do not want any of it.

2. Nader on American politics

The second item is b
y Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! and consists of two dotted items of conversations with Ralph Nader:

From the first:

RALPH NADER: (...) In no other Western democracy are there so many laws that obstruct voters from voting, obstruct third-party independent candidates from giving more voices and choices to the voter by getting on the ballot. We are at the bottom of the heap. Norway has several parties. Canada has several parties. Chile has several parties. They get on debates. But there are only two that get on the presidential debate—Republican and Democrat—because they control the gate. (...)
So, it is very critical. Unless you’re a multibillionaire, you don’t—you don’t have the wherewithal to reach people, because you’re not going to be covered by the mass media.

The mass media, the mass commercial media, basically says, "You can’t win. Never mind that you represent majoritarian positions, like full Medicare for all, like loosening up the electoral process so more people can get in and run and vote. It doesn’t matter that you represent majoritarian positions that are taken off the table by the Republican and Democratic Party — undiscussable, like cracking down on corporate crime, like changing the corporate tax system, like demilitarizing foreign policy, like a public works program that really drains away the trillions of dollars from blowing apart countries like Iraq and other countries overseas in illegal, unconstitutional wars. It doesn’t matter."

Yes, indeed - and please note that here are at least three causes of the crisis in the USA that I have been writing on since September 1, 2008:

(1) The USA simply lacks a party system, where different political parties,
     all with their own programs (Christian, social-democrats, liberals, Greens
     etc.) and with their own leaders compete for votes in public elections:
     This just does not exist in the USA. Instead:
(2) The USA only has two dominant mock-ups of political parties, that do
       not really differ fundamental policies (rightist, pro rich) and that keep
     existing and dominating the news because they control all the gates in
     thoroughly non-democratic ways.
(3) The mass media are by now thoroughly corrupted and specialize in
       putting forward their lies and their propaganda as if these are facts

     They do not serve the truth anymore; they do not serve their consumers
      anymore: They serve the government.

See the above quotation of Nader for some specifics, and realize that the first two points are unique to the USA (amongst "Western democracies"). The third isn't (Dutch main media are also corrupt, for one example, and these days
provide more amusement than real information), but it probably did "advance"
the most, with corruptions, deceptions, lies and misleading information, in the direction in which all main media in the West seem to be going (since it is both
the safest and the easiest to lie and deceive for one's government).

Then there is this by Nader on Clinton vs Sanders:

RALPH NADER: Well, the state is that the corporatist and militarist Hillary Clinton is making a premature boast of victory. The only reason she’s ahead is because of two anti-democratic systems: one, the unelected superdelegates, her cronies, mostly, in Congress, who were elected by nobody to be delegates—they were appointed; and second, the closed primaries. Primaries are paid by taxpayers; they should not be closed to independent voters. And if independent voters could have voted in these primaries, Bernie Sanders would have defeated Hillary Clinton.
She’s got to divulge her transcripts. The Wall Street Journal
reported that she is getting more money from Wall Street than all other candidates combined, in the Republican and Democratic Party, running for president. And that’s one reason why she has to divulge those transcripts, which she had her sponsors, the big bankers and other closed business conventions, pay a thousand dollars each for a stenographer to write—to have these stenographic transcripts. So she’s got them. And she’s got to divulge them, so the American people can see how she says one thing in closed doors to the business lobbyists and another thing sweet-talking the public and mimicking the language of Bernie Sanders.

I think Nader is correct in the first paragraph: Bernie Sanders would have won the Democratic primaries if he had been given a fair democratic chance, but instead he had to compete also against unelected superdelegates and in closed primaries.

And I agree with what Nader says in the second paragraph, but I consider it myself very unlikely that Hillary Clinton will divulge any of the stenographic texts that were paid for, at least without a court order. (But we shall see.)

Here is the last quotation I will give from Nader:

RALPH NADER: Well, that’s what he should say, but he should go further. Like, she’s not going to support his Wall Street speculation tax, his full Medicare for all with free choice of doctor and hospital, much more efficient, much more life-saving. She is not going to support his tax proposals. She certainly is not going to support a $15 minimum wage. She’s at $12. She is not going to support having diplomacy start with waging peace instead of waging war. She’s a certified hawk. I never saw a weapons system or a war she didn’t like. So there are huge differences.

So, Bernie Sanders has got to—if he doesn’t make the nomination, he has got to lead a civic mobilization, that could be directed against Trump, but directed against all politicians, based on his broader agenda.
I like the second paragraph, and indeed especially the bit that says "directed against all politicians", because I am by now quite convinced that I was right all
these 46 years in which I refused to vote because I consider nearly all politicians of all political parties as (i) nothing special intellectually, morally or personally, while (ii) they further their personal careers, their personal riches, and their personal statuses by continuous never ceasing lies, deceptions, falsehoods and silences: We have to get - somehow - rid of the professional politicians that rule us by systems of
lies, propaganda, simple-minded ideology, and bullshit, that in the end nearly always only serve themselves or the very rich.

As to the first paragraph: Yes, there are huge real differences between Clinton and Sanders, and I do not put it beyond Hillary Clinton that she is prepared to say absolutely anything that may make her winning more probable, while forgetting everything about it afterward.

Also, these were quotations from two articles, that both contain considerably more, and that are accompanied on the site of Democracy Now! by another interview with Nader.

All are recommended, and about Ralph Nader it may be quite truly said that he was too intelligent, too honest, and too much concerned with the real interests of the USA's real people, to stand a chance of being elected in the sick political
system of the USA.

And that is a great pity for the USA.

3. Noam Chomsky, What Principles Rule the World?

The third item is
by Noam Chomsky on TomDispatch:
In fact, this is from Noam Chomsky's latest book "Who Rules The World?".
I select three bits.

The first is about how many persons were killed "
in the three main war zones [Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan] during 12 years of ‘war on terrorism'":
A group of major human rights organizations -- Physicians for Social Responsibility (U.S.), Physicians for Global Survival (Canada), and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Germany) -- conducted a study that sought "to provide as realistic an estimate as possible of the total body count in the three main war zones [Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan] during 12 years of ‘war on terrorism,'" including an extensive review “of the major studies and data published on the numbers of victims in these countries,” along with additional information on military actions. Their "conservative estimate" is that these wars killed about 1.3 million people, a toll that "could also be in excess of 2 million." A database search by independent researcher David Peterson in the days following the publication of the report found virtually no mention of it. Who cares?
That is: Between 1.3 million and possibly over 2 million persons, nearly all civilians, were killed in the "war on terror" - which, according to my definition of terrorism - was therefore (the killing of over a million of civilians by state terrorists) done in a really terroristic spirit.

As to "Who cares?": I agree with Chomsky - see also e.g. his and Herman's
Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact & Propaganda
- that the
main media in the USA mostly cater propaganda, and will simply not quote any evidence that lists between 1.3 and over 2 million persons (mostly civilians) who were killed in wars the USA fought. But I care, and there - still - are plenty of others who care, so as long as the state terrorists allow us (!!), we should go on publishing these things.

Then there is this on Obama's very own presidential system of murdering people (including some Americans):
Obama’s global drone assassination campaign, a remarkable innovation in global terrorism, exhibits the same patterns. By most accounts, it is generating terrorists more rapidly than it is murdering those suspected of someday intending to harm us -- an impressive contribution by a constitutional lawyer on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which established the basis for the principle of presumption of innocence that is the foundation of civilized law.
Yes. Judged by his campaign promises of 2008 and his presidential deeds afterwards, he was a liar who was a willing servant of the rich.

The article ends as follows:

Returning to the opening question “Who rules the world?” we might also want to pose another question: “What principles and values rule the world?” That question should be foremost in the minds of the citizens of the rich and powerful states, who enjoy an unusual legacy of freedom, privilege, and opportunity thanks to the struggles of those who came before them, and who now face fateful choices as to how to respond to challenges of great human import.
Hm. I haven't seen Chomsky's answer to “Who rules the world?”, but then indeed I did not read his book. (My answer: Nominally "the people". Factually, the lying rich, the lying professional politicians, and the lying media.)

Again, while the question "
What principles and values rule the world?" also is unanswered by the texts I read, I think it is too complicated for most voters, indeed again because there are several answers, depending on the reality; and on those propagandizing their ideologies, that must be split in various groups and interests.

And while I agree there still is a legacy of some freedoms and some priviliges,
I doubt these will last long if the Republicans win the next presidential elections.

4. Pentagon Allowed to Supply Military Gear Directly to Homeland Security Dept. for ‘War on Immigrants’

The fourth item is by Nafeez Ahmed on Naked Capitalism and originally on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

Amendments to a controversial Pentagon program to sell military gear to domestic police forces have quietly extended the scheme to provide war on terror weaponry directly to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The amendments for FY2016, passed by Congress in late 2015, were highlighted in a briefing note published by the Congressional Research Service in February 2016. Under the controversial “1033” program, the Department of Defense (DoD) is able to provide “surplus” military-grade equipment to law-enforcement agencies.

The program, legislated for in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), provided local police forces access to billions of dollars worth of high-tech military equipment, including armoured tanks, rocket launchers, automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, and other supplies traditionally used by the U.S. Army in foreign war theaters.

The DHS often provided multimillion-dollar grants to law-enforcement agencies to purchase the military equipment.

The reasons this is quite important are these two: (1) the police is traditionally regarded - "to protect and to serve" - as non-military, while the Constitution seems to forbid military men enforcing their views on the population, while (2)
the Pentagon is now arming all of the police in the USA as if they are a high-
tech military force.

Here is how the Republicans deregulated the law that forbade (2):

Republican representatives in Congress managed to secure a key amendment to Section 1052 of the NDAA, expanding the application of the Pentagon weapons transfer program directly to the Department of Homeland Security.

The new provision stipulates that Pentagon equipment can be supplied to domestic agencies for the purpose of counterdrugs, counter-terrorism and “border security,” thus formally militarizing border operations under homeland jurisdiction.

And here is how the US police was factually militarized by the Pentagon,
and made dependent on the Secretary of Defense (that is not: the people):

According to the new Congressional Research Services briefing note, the 1033 program’s open-ended carte blanche for domestic law-enforcement agencies to access military-grade equipment has not been repealed, but integrated deeper into the Pentagon bureaucracy.

The new amendments dramatically increase the Pentagon’s powers to scrutinize and supervise the use of military equipment in the homeland. Among their implications, they make DoD-supervised military training mandatory for domestic agencies who receive these weapons.

In effect, this places all domestic law enforcement operations using Pentagon-supplied military equipment under the partial jurisdictional authority of the Secretary of Defense. By making domestic agencies more accountable to the DoD, the revamped 1033 program in effect extends the Pentagon’s jurisdictional authority into the homeland by bureaucratic fiat.

That is: Not only was the Pentagon allowed to sell its high-tech military stuff to very many police departments in the USA, it also in fact gained part of the command of the police by making "DoD-supervised military training mandatory", which extended "the Pentagon’s jurisdictional authority into the homeland by bureaucratic fiat."

Congratulations, America! You have a heavily militarized "police", that is heavily militarized to repress revolts of the poor, the starving, the denied and the neglected!

5. American Horror Story: The Shameful Truth About the Government’s Secret Experiments

The fifth and last item today is by John Whitehead on Washington's Blog and originally on the Rutherford institute
This starts with the following quotation:
“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”—C.S. Lewis
Hm. I do not say no (although I tend to disbelieve in tyrannies that are sincerely exercised, at least after a short while), but I think this could have been argued a lot better with explicit reference to the Soviet Union, that was a party dictatorship, that pretended to exist and work "for the good of its" people.

Also, I selected four bits from much more, that is indeed mostly about the American government's secret experiments on people. I have dealt with some
of these in Nederlog (in 2010-11), but skip them today: Click the last dotted link if you want to read about them.

The first bit I'll quote is this:

Unfortunately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government has seldom had our best interests at heart.

The government didn’t have our best interests at heart when it propelled us into endless oil-fueled wars and military occupations in the Middle East that wreaked havoc on our economy, stretched thin our military resources and subjected us to horrific blowback.

There is no way the government had our best interests at heart when it passed laws subjecting us to all manner of invasive searches and surveillance, censoring our speech and stifling our expression, rendering us anti-government extremists for daring to disagree with its dictates, locking us up for criticizing government policies on social media, encouraging Americans to spy and snitch on their fellow citizens, and allowing government agents to grope, strip, search, taser, shoot and kill us.

I think this is basically correct, and indeed in "no way [had] the government (..) our best interests at heart" when it allowed the NSA to seach everyone anywhere, in the deepest secret: It only had its own interests - the interests and values of those who work for it, especially in leading position - in mind.

There is also this, on the same subject:

It would be a reach to suggest that the government had our best interests at heart when it locked down the schools, installing metal detectors and surveillance cameras, adopting zero tolerance policies that punish childish behavior as harshly as criminal actions, and teaching our young people that they have no rights, that being force-fed facts is education rather than indoctrination, that they are not to question governmental authority, that they must meekly accept a life of censorship, round-the-clock surveillance, roadside blood draws, SWAT team raids and other indignities.

I mostly agree. Here is one consequence or series of consequences that John Whitehead draws:

Shame on the government, yes, but shame on us for blindly trusting that the government’s motives and priorities have changed.

Shame on us for believing that the government’s bloody wars on terror are keeping us safe in any way. Shame on us for placing greater value on the government’s phantom promises of security over our own hard-won freedoms. Shame on us for allowing our government, our freedoms and the rule of law to be held hostage at the end of a military-issued gun.

Shame on us for letting ourselves be played for fools by individuals who care nothing for us, our our health, our happiness, our welfare, our livelihood, our property or our freedoms. Shame on us for letting ourselves be bamboozled about the war on terror, deceived about the need to trade our freedoms for greater security, and conned into believing that turning America into a battlefield will actually make us safer. Shame on us for letting ourselves be double-crossed by politicians who promise change and reform and hoodwinked into believing that politics is the answer to what ails the nation. Shame on us for not doing a better job of ensuring that future generations have some hope for a better, freer future.

Most of all, shame on us that even after being repeatedly tricked, deluded, misled, swindled and betrayed by government officials, even after learning about the many ways in which we have been duped and deluded, shame on us for still falling for the government’s trickery, chicanery, hocus-pocus, scams and lies.

Yes and no. I agree this is mostly fair if you are talking about - I think - the majority of the present population of the USA, but most of them are not
well educated, nor are they well informed by the media they use, that in fact for the most part are out to deceive them.

So while I agree that "in a democracy" it is the majority of the people that
choose their politicians, which means that in the end it is or should be up to
the people to elect good and honest politicians, I also insist there are quite
a few reasons that excuse some of the many idiocies, stupidities and wrong
decisions of "the majority of the people".

This article ends as follows:

What’s in it for the government? Money and power. Or as John Lennon summed it up, “I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that.”

I think this forgets status: "The government" provides its workers with money, power and status, and the last - being someone who gets regularly heard on talkshows etc. - is one of the strong attractions to many a deceitful fool.

But otherwise this is correct, which is a fairly strong argument for my own recipe for change:

We should have learned by now that there are some persons who are so much bend on gratifying their own wishes and to build up their own wealth, that they use absolutely any means to gratify those wishes, included lying to hundreds of millions only in order to make some of their very rich friends yet a lot richer at the costs of hundreds of thousands or millions of the poor and the non-rich.

My own - radical - proposal is to simply forbid that: You may excel as a comedian, as a stage player, as a mathematician, as a farmer, as a husband, or
as most anything else, but you may not excel others by collecting millions or billions against their hundreds or thousands.

That is manifestly extremely unfair - but it exists, and it exists currently on the scale that some 80 people owe as much as half of the total population of the earth.

I say: Let us simply forbid this kind of financial excellence - which we can do quite fairly by forbidding everybody to earn more than 300,000 dollars (or euros) a year, and less than 15,000 dollars (etc.) a year (20 to 1) and to owe more than a million dollars (etc.), and take society from there:

The wealth will be divided more or less fairly, by law, because otherwise the few wealthy will exploit and murder the many non-rich for their own interests - as has been shown by several hundreds or several thousands of years of human history.

It is merely a proposal, but it is founded on a lot of relevant knowledge, which includes the fact that at least 97% of the people have nothing to fear for either their income or their ownings: 97 out of a 100 have less than the maximums I allow.

So... [2]

[1] One reason is that I have been called "a dirty fascist" for twelve years in the UvA where absolutely no one cared. It so happens that I was one of the
few children of real proletarians who studied; I was the son and the grandson
of - truly - communist heroes of the resistance who were locked up in concentration camps; those who scolded me as "a dirty fascist" were all quasi-communist sons and daughters of rich people, who never were real communists, but only furthered their own career (as the UvA was a quasi-marxist university from 1972-1995), and I am sufficiently sickened to return all the filth I was subjected to, with interest.

Besides, I really think the secret services should stay out of my computer and my mail, and I really think that those want to it nevertheless - that is: surveilling billions of people "because they may be terrorists" - are fascist terrorists themselves.

You can go to court if you want to attack me legally.

[2] I have to admit that while I like my own argument, I do not think it will be followed, and probably it will not be discussed either. But in any case: This is a serious proposal (that is: the ratio richest : poorest = 20 : 1 is; the actual dollar amounts proposed are "here and now") that asks for a legal parliamentary change of law, that forbids anyone having more than twenty times as much as anyone else, while keeping everything else the same.

I suppose the very rich will say I am most unfair, but that is what I think they are (and there are only a few very rich) - and also I have rarely heard an obscenely rich man talk and thought that he was something special, intellectually, morally, or personally. If they were special, they were special in personal greed and personal impertinence.

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