1. Washington Has Been
Obsessed With Punishing
Secrecy Violations — until
2. Comments of the Week: Know Your History
Hillary Clinton Too Big to Indict?
4. Perilous Plebiscites: Brexit Vote Underscores Limits of
5. Abby Martin and Paul Jay - Should Sanders Run for a
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a Glenn Greenwald article on Hillary Clinton (I mostly agree); item 2
is about the many meanings of "Liberal" (etc.) and is OK (there is more
to distinguish, but at least four different meanings got identified); item 3 is about another article about Clinton's e-mails (it isn't very good); item 4 is about a somewhat amazing article in Spiegel (with which I totally disagree); and item 5 is about a discussion between Paul Jay and Abby Martin, that I watched yesterday. It is not very good, but I put it up because there are deep differences between American leftists about what to do and who to vote for.
Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — until Hillary
first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Secrecy is a virtual religion in Washington. Those who violate its dogma
have been punished in the harshest and most excessive manner – at least
when they possess little political power or influence. As has been widely noted, the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined.
Secrecy in DC is so revered that even the most banal documents are
reflexively marked classified, making their disclosure or mishandling a
felony. As former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden said back in 2000, “Everything’s secret. I mean, I got an email saying ‘Merry Christmas.’ It carried a top secret NSA classification marking.”
This is all quite correct, but it should be stressed why "[s]ecrecy is a virtual religion in Washington": Because a government that cannot be controlled by
the people can do whatever it pleases, and is in practice the same
thing as a tyranny, simply because "the people" have no knowledge of
what is happening or why it is happening or who supports what is
happening or why they support
it: Everything is secret, from 'Merry Christmas' cards to everything about the
TTP, TTIP, TISA, CETA or anything else.
'Trust and obey, or else you'll be prosecuted' seems to be the value that the present extremely secret government indulges in (for whoever is not called Clinton, to be sure).
Here is some good evidence:
People who leak to media outlets for the selfless purpose of informing
the public – Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden
– face decades in prison. Those who leak for more ignoble and
self-serving ends – such as enabling hagiography (Leon Panetta, David Petreaus) or ingratiating oneself to one’s mistress (Petraeus) – face career destruction, though they are usually spared if they are sufficiently Important-in-DC. For low-level, powerless Nobodies-in-DC, even the mere mishandling of classified information – without any intent to leak but merely to, say, work from home – has resulted in criminal prosecution, career destruction and the permanent loss of security clearance.
And this is good evidence about how having big power at present makes a big difference:
This extreme, unforgiving, unreasonable, excessive posture toward
classified information came to an instant halt in Washington today –
just in time to save Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.
In fact, Glenn Greenwald agrees with Comey's decision, when considered in isolation. (I disagree, but leave that aside .) His point - which is quite correct - is that it doesn't happen in isolation, and that what happened is in fact this:
Despite all of these highly incriminating findings, Comey explained, the
FBI is recommending to the Justice Department that Clinton not be
charged with any crime. “Although there is evidence of potential
violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified
information,” he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor
would bring such a case.”
Like the Wall Street tycoons whose systemic fraud triggered the 2008
global financial crisis, and like the military and political officials
who instituted a worldwide regime of torture, Hillary Clinton is too important to be treated the same as everyone else under the law.
I agree. There is one law for the rich and powerful, and a quite different law for the rest.
But a system that accords treatment based on who someone is, rather than
what they’ve done, is the opposite of one conducted under the rule of
law. It is, instead, one of systemic privilege.
2. Comments of the Week: Know Your History (Liberalism)
The second item is by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig:
In fact, this is about one bit in these Comments, and I have added that to the title, in brackets: Liberalism.
Or perhaps "Liberalism", for it relates to my certainties that the term is used in a very vague way, both in Europe and in the USA, and also with a systematic difference between Europe and the USA, for in Europe a "Liberal" tends to be on the right side, though not the extreme right side, whereas in the USA a "Liberal" (perhaps the very same) belongs to the left side.
Here is Chris Hedges quoted on Truthdig:
To which I say: Quite so. This is one
of the best discussions about "Liberal" and ""Liberal"" I've read, and
indeed Hedges spent many years as a correspondent outside the USA - and
note that he distinguishes at least four rather different meanings of
"Liberal" in the USA.
I suspect your issue is more about terminology of
“Liberal” than an actual disagreement with what is being said. There are
many ways that the term is used. I’ve heard some refer to Liberals as
“Leftists who still believe in the Establishment enough to work within
it for liberty and equality in accordance with popular consent.” That
definition might describe people like Bernie Sanders, but not Hillary
Clinton, who is probably best characterized as “Center-Right,” in
accordance with the ideology of the Republican Party of a decade or two
Some use the term Liberal to describe a politician who is still
responsive to the consent of the governed, albeit to a limited extent,
and apart from believing in liberty or equality. That usage may have
little to do with a politician’s personal inclinations, but sees the
term in accordance with the Political Climate and Establishment.
According to this usage, Nixon may be considered the last “Liberal”
president, as he was quite scared of what the public might do to him
(hence the pullout of Vietnam) in a more progressive era.
The relatively recent (and confusing) characterization of HRC and
Obama (among others) as “Liberal” has led to public contempt for
Liberalism. Most people recognize them as oligarchs, whatever else they
are called, and “Neoliberal” is frequently invoked. This new term means
something very different from “liberty and equality”, or “popular
consent,” and thus adds another element of confusion.
Sanders calls himself (bravely) a “Democratic Socialist,” probably
not wanting to be confused with the many ambiguous uses of the term
Liberal. Sanders is a “New Deal” Liberal Politician in the original,
There aren’t a lot of Leftists working within government. The term
doesn’t accurately describe the majority of Democratic Party officials.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus are not all
that left-wing. Are they “Liberals”? It depends on whom you ask and how
you mean it.
Also, I note that this is much more about terminology than it is about politics. There is more to say about this (I can't find my own, rather classical,
meaning of "liberal", for example), but four quite different senses of the
same term is enough to make my initial point: To say so-and-so is "a liberal"
is almost meaningless without terminological explications in what sense one
uses the term.
3. Is Hillary Clinton Too Big to Indict?
The third item is by Bill Blum on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The long-roiling question finally has been answered: Hillary Clinton
will not be indicted for using a private email server during her tenure
as secretary of state. Period. Full stop. Pause a moment, and let it
OK - we know that. I also agree this makes
her almost certainly the Democratic candidate for the presidency (which
is a pity, in my opinion).
Here is some more:
Reaction to his announcement has been swift and predictable, with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., expressing shock and dismay that the “rule of law” has been “damaged,” and the Clinton campaign voicing relief “that the matter is now resolved.” Taking to Twitter, Clinton’s Republican presidential rival, Donald Trump, blasted Comey’s analysis as further proof that “the system is rigged.”
To which I say: Clearly “the system is rigged” - but it is rigged both ways, and it is rigged towards protecting the rich and the powerful of both main parties.
The article ends as follows:
I don't know. For one thing, Clinton will not be prosecuted, and probably will refuse to talk about it. For another thing, there are more interesting political
The decision not to prosecute, however, will not end the email controversy, not by a long shot.
The leniency shown to Clinton stands in stark contrast to the harsh
sentences meted out to whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and former
CIA analyst John Kiriakou for their alleged mishandling of classified
As a result, we can expect the cries of double standards, political
influence and corruption to persist and redouble as we head for the
November election. At the same time, the increasingly proto-fascist
Trump campaign will be fortified with a fresh set of inexhaustible
Most disastrous of all, the race for the White House, which should be
a cakewalk for the Democrats, will go down to the wire because the
party has chosen as its leader a candidate driven by blind ambition,
with an appalling disregard for accountability and transparency, who,
when push came to shove, was too big to bring to the bar of justice.
topics (than discussing something from the past, that will not be prosecuted).
And I agree the outcome is not fair, but then I would also say both parties have presidential candidates "driven by blind ambition,
with an appalling disregard for accountability and transparency".
Perilous Plebiscites: Brexit
Vote Underscores Limits of Direct Democracy
The fourth item is
"a Spiegel Editorial" by Michael Sauga:
This starts as follows, with a (bold) summary:
Brexit sheds light on the problems created when the idea of
direct democracy is abused. In our complex 21st century world, we have
no choice but to delegate authority for most decision-making to our
In the late 60-ies (yes, loooong ago) I was a regular reader of the Spiegel, which then was - see item 1 for terminology - in my understanding and the understanding of most other Europeans at the time "leftist liberal". 
I have no idea who Michael Sauga is, but I would not call him either leftist or liberal, and the reason is that he is against direct democracy as soon as that
produces decisions he doesn't like.
What he wants is that all decisions in Europe will be made by
the around a 1000 prominent politicians, nearly all of whom - left,
right and center - are evident liars and evident careerists, who are
much more out for their own welfare and their own careers than for
caring or thinking about the many poor
or the many mistreated (except briefly before elections, to be sure).
This - he might intone - is because he is for "De-mo-cra-cy!
Free-dom! E-qual Rights!", for nearly all politicians and most
journalists found their careers on their willingness to lie, and
present-day journalists seem to often make very well-paid careers by (underhand) selling of their public viewpoints.
I do not know whether Sauga did, because I have no idea who he is. Here
are some parts of his argument - that proposes to take the abilities of
the democratic majority away from them (several hundreds of
millions, indeed) and give them to the 1000 or so political liars and
careerists who already made the vote.
It starts with following gross lie:
Boris Johnson has always had a playful relationship with power. During
his time at university, it is said that the conservative politician
pretended to be a member of the Labour Party in order to have better
chances in the student union. As a journalist, he had a penchant for
criticizing EU laws that didn't even exist. And when the world was
recently left scratching its head over how Britain could have voted to
leave the EU, the leader of the Brexit camp unceremoniously dismissed
the historical vote by 17 million Brits as a non-event. For now, the
former London mayor concluded, "nothing will change over the short
This is a gross lie, because Boris Johnson did not have "a playful relationship"
with politics or power: As the paragraph makes clear, he has a thoroughly dishonest, fraudulent and grossly lying relation to those who vote for him, and to present this system of lies and falsehoods as "a playful relation- ship" is - in my opinion - simply a gross lie about a gross political liar. 
Here is what Michael Sauga has against the Brexit referendum (which - I
take it - he would have fondly embraced as "A Triumph Of De-mo-cra-cy" if slightly more than 2% of the Brits had voted against Brexit instead of for it):
Rarely, though, have the limitations of plebiscites been shown so
clearly as in the British vote. Not because most experts believe the
result to be misguided. Voters have the undeniable right to value the
supposed advantages of increased sovereignty over the obvious economic
and political disadvantages.
But the British referendum was a disaster because it failed to
achieve just about every single overarching goal. Rather than provide
clarification, the vote has instead caused confusion: Indeed, not even
the exit from Brexit can be ruled out. Furthermore, far from pacifying
the country, the referendum has created new rifts: between old and
young, London and the provinces, the English and the Scottish. In the
end, further referenda may follow, with the result that the once
powerful United Kingdom could be transformed into a loose alliance of
Note that Sauga doesn't complain about the democracy of the referendum: he complains about the outcome, because he (a German) doesn't like it. And
because he doesn't like it he infers that the several hundreds of millions of European voters should be unqualified to vote on their politicians in a referendum, and such public votes have to be radically abandoned, and be left in the hands of the 1000 or so elected European politicians with some power.
Here is his thoroughly crazy argument:
That is: (1) Direct democracy should stop
immediately; (2) the issues on which direct democracy would or might
show a difference of opinion in the
The lessons from the British referendum disaster are clear: It's not
more direct democracy that the EU needs. Rather, it is finally time to
implement the long-discussed reforms of European institutions in
Brussels. The next British government must strictly implement the
referendum result if it doesn't want to transform the principle of
democracy into a joke. At the same time, defenders of direct democracy
should also understand that the instrument they champion is a limited
one. In our complex 21st century world, there is no getting around the
need to transfer political responsibility for core issues to elected
It is then vital that those elected representatives are subject to
effective checks and balances. As Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding
fathers of the United States, once said: "When the people fear the
government, there is tyranny. When governments fear the people, there is
majority of the voters for hundreds of millions, should all be left to the
opinions of the 1000 or so prominent elected politicians; and (3) this is
real democracy because "those elected representatives are subject to
effective checks and balances".
So he moves in three steps from totally forbidding direct democracy,
and embracing the rule of the 1000 or so liars and careerists who have
some power (mostly by lies, deceptions and false promises), to calling
that real democracy
because he falsely pretends elected representatives "are subject to
effective checks and balances" - which 46 years of experience tells me is an utter lie.
Finally, he also has the cheek to quote Jefferson in support of his completely
anti-democratic proposal: "When the people fear the
government, there is tyranny. When governments fear the people, there is
What Mr. Sauga wants is that the European governments have no reasons whatsoever to fear the people, for they should abandon all referendums on politics and politicians (and leave it to very few politicians).
This is the position of tyranny, according to Jefferson. According to Sauga, that is highly desirable.
Martin and Paul Jay - Should Sanders Run for a Third Party?
The fifth and last item today is
by Abby Martin and Paul Jay on The Real News Network:
put on this slightly over 20 minutes of a video registration of a
discussion between Paul Jay and Abby Martin because I like both, Jay as
the main man behind The Real News Network, and Abby Martin as a
journalist (known best
to me as the presenter of "Breaking the Set", that is now in the past).
Then again, I did see all of this yesterday, and I wasn't much pleased, although I do not think Jay and Martin are much to blame. Here are their respective positions:
Jay in effect proposes to drop Bernie Sanders,
basically because he is too old (he is 74), supports Clinton as the
least evil of a choice from two evils, and expects a lot from the
movement that he says is growing out of the Sanders-
For-President movement, and from "younger politicians" he claims are part of that.
Martin in effect supports Bernie Sanders, wants him to
continue as a Third Party candidate (also if he looses), is much
opposed to "choose the least evil", it seems mostly because she doesn't
know who is more evil, Trump or Clinton,
and doesn't see any politician who has Sanders' 40-year progressive history.
I think that is a fair summary (but the discussion is not always clear). What do I think? I'm midway:
Jay seems correct on choosing the least evil, because Martin doesn't
seem to see that one basic difference between Clinton and Trump is that
Clinton, while evil, is not mad, as Trump is (I am sorry, but I am a
psychologist). I don't think he is fair to Sanders, and I think he is
quite naive in the good he expects
from a largely anonymous rather uncertain movement with mostly unknown and untested politicians.
Martin seems correct in supporting Sanders (I agree that - if Sanders wants to - it is best he runs as a Third Party candidate for the presidency ),
and is certainly correct in saying there is not any other politician in
the US with such a long history of consistent progressive politics as
Sanders. But I think she is simply mistaken about there being no
difference between Trump and Clinton: Even if both are equally evil,
Clinton is sane and Trump is not.
And now you can watch the debate, if you want.
 I think
Clinton had her e-mails on her own server i.a. in order to escape all
FOIAs, and I think that was quite illegal, and she knew it. Therefore,
I think she ought to be prosecuted - but since I know now that she
won't, I will indeed leave this out of consideration.
 I did read it more or less weekly then, from 1967 till 1970, and it was widely seen as "leftist liberal" then (which also, in Holland at least, meant something rather different from "liberal"), but this is mostly here
for accuracy's sake and because it was all quite different then.
 In case you doubt this, reread the quoted paragraph: he pretended to be Labour; he criticized "laws" that don't exist. He lied, quite consciously, also.
 I don't see why not, were it only
because he has been an independent most of his life, and the Democrats
didn't want him. Whether he is up for it, I don't know. What I do
know is that Jay's argument against this possibility - presidential
elections with three candidates - is pretty ridiculous: Jay is against
it because (he says he thinks) this might mean that Trump wins (because
Sanders gets too many votes, without a majority) and that would give
a bad reputation. (That is a triple hypothesis: If Sanders wants to, if he wins
too many votes from Clinton but not enough to win, and if
he is right the people then would blame Sanders. In fact, this sort of
emotional hypostasizing is one of the reasons I gave up politics and
turned to science, in 1970.)