This starts as
you’ve seen that Jeb Bush has refused
to rule out more torture if he’s elected president. But what’s gone
unnoticed — perhaps because Bush is so dreary it’s hard to listen
to him without losing consciousness — is he actually said
he’s “proud” of his brother’s torture policies.
BUSH: I do
think, in general, that torture is not appropriate. It’s not
as effective, uh, and the change of policy that my brother did and was
then put into executive order form by the president was the proper
thing to do. I also would say that right after 9/11, I mean,
we were attacked, and, uh, my presid — my brother — and I’m
not saying this because I’m a Bush, I’m saying this because I love this
country just like everybody in this room — I’m proud of what
he did to create a secure environment for our country.
I say. This is
morally and intellectually quite wrong in quite a few ways:
Bush2 Jr. - as I shall call him - should not personally think, as if it
were a personal
preference ("I like torturing more than merely asking, but less
bombing") but he should know torture is legally forbidden.
The attack of 9/11 was in no way a good reason to start
people: Torturing people was and is a crime, indeed also if you
it differently ("extended interrogation technique").
Clearly, it's a lie
that you don't say this because you are not the brother of a criminal
presidential torturer: You are his brother, and you now have announced
you will behave as he did, and torture people illegally, if you
that may work, regardless of all law, all procedures, all
And you are proud
that your brother behaved illegally, as a criminal, and all knowingly
so, and ordered people to be tortured, and you say will be another
criminal president if you are elected, if you think this will
realize your goals, for then you will order that people will be
regardless of all law,
all procedures, all morality, and all postures.
There follow quite a few illustrations of extremely cruel and illegal
tortures Bush2 Jr feels proud of, which I leave to your interests.
But I like the ending
of this very deservedly sardonic article:
Despite all this, it
should not go unnoticed that during Bush’s pro-torture remarks
he was wearing a very nice, understated tie.
2. Facebook Is Diving Into the Presidential
Race. Yes, You
Should Be Worried.
The next article is by Thor
Benson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
I only have deep contempt for
Facebook and its many clients, but I know the vast majority has
that is maximally 115 (which was the average IQ of the students of the
University of Amsterdam in 1984, that now is probably around 105),
which prevents them from making their own sites, learning much
science and rationality, behaving as a responsible citizen, having a
fair and consistent morality, and from not giving up all their
Suckerbug and his spies, in exchange for a few ads that might save
them a few cents, so I am worried about this. (For more see my
from 2011: On the sham called "Facebook" - and indeed since then I have almost
completely avoided it.)
It isn’t news that
presidential candidates are logging on to Facebook to rustle up
followers and spread their messages. What is new, as The New York Times
reported, is how involved Facebook is getting in providing social
media services to those candidates.
In the past three years,
the company has doubled its political team, according to the Times. New
video capabilities on the site and the ability to upload voter files
are said to be two of the most important features that the social media
giant is providing to the campaigns. What will likely have the biggest
impact is how these candidates advertise on the popular platform.
Facebook has already made
news with its breakdown of data concerning how many people are
talking about certain candidates in specific geographical areas, and
that’s likely just the beginning.
“They provide something
that political campaigns have wanted for, really, as long as there
[have] been political campaigns, which is a really precise way to
target the people they’re interested in talking to,” Chris Calabrese,
the vice president of policy at the Center for Democracy and
Technology, told Truthdig.
Then again, it seems as if the specific knowledge that allows
anonymous assholes to bombard you with ads that suit your
tastes (while subtly misleading you in many ways about presidential
candidates) is not quite
So I will leave the rest to your interests, and only quote the ending:
Incidentally: I do
think you must be extremely stupid if you are a part of
asocial media network that steals your privacy in exchange for
targeting you with personalized ads and you are trying "to Google any claims made in those ads to
try to figure out if they are accurate or not".
One thing everyone seems
to agree on is that this is a growing industry, and business models
like the one Facebook is pioneering will likely shape the future of
political advertising. For better or worse, political campaigns are
about to become more streamlined and effective than ever before.
That being said, we will
at least be able to Google any claims made in those ads to try to
figure out if they are accurate or not.
Facebook and several
presidential candidates contacted by Truthdig did not respond to
requests for comment by publication time.
3. After Contentious All-Nighter, Greece
The next article is
by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle
that I first quote:
'Ask anyone who
knows anything about Greece's finances and they will tell you this deal
is not going to work,' former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has said
I will come to this
opinion after quoting the start of the article:
In a development spurring
for a new "anti-bailout movement," the Greek Parliament
early Friday approved a controversial €85 billion financial rescue
package—the country's third such bailout from foreign creditors in five
years, and one that will require the Greek people to endure further
cuts and austerity.
"After more than seven
hours of often passionate, bad-tempered debate, all through the night,
the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has got his way," the BBC
"I do not regret my
decision to compromise," Tsipras said as he defended the deal in
parliament. "We undertook the responsibility to stay alive over
He admitted to lawmakers the deal was no triumph, "but we are also not
mourning over this difficult agreement. I have my conscience clear that
it is the best we could achieve under the current balance of power in
Europe, under conditions of economic and financial asphyxiation imposed
In fact, "a comfortable majority" in the Greek parliament agreed with Tsipras.
As to Varoufakis, who
opposed the deal: Possibly so - but from my point of view (which I
agree is partial and not fully informed) it seems that at least now
Greeks are better off making the deal and then trying
to avoid the worst consequences and to reflect on what is possible,
refusing and see their
whole economy destroyed.
But there is considerably more in the article, that I will leave to
Then again, the next
article is about one way the Greeks might use to avoid the worst consequences:
Greeks Flock to
Grassroots Alternative Currencies in Affront to Euro Debt Slavery
The next item is by Michael Krieger,
from libertyblitzkrieg, that I found on Washington's Blog:
This starts with a
bold qiotation from the Wall Street Journal Alternative
Currencies Flourish in Greece as Euros Are Harder to Come by article:
Papaioannou noticed his car needed new tires, the Greek computer
engineer bought them with euros—but used an alternative currency,
called TEM, to pay his mechanic for the labor.
has avoided a catastrophic exit from the common currency, at least
for now. But a small but growing number of cash-strapped Greeks, who
are still grappling with strict money-withdrawal limits, have found
another route in TEM and other unconventional payment systems like
Ms. Sotiropoulou said she was only aware of two such programs. No
official record of the number of alternative currencies and local
bartering systems appears to exist in Greece. But according to an
Athens-based grass roots organization called Omikron Project, there are
now more than 80 such programs, double the number in 2013. They vary in
size, from dozens of members to thousands.
This is interesting,
I think, though I should also immediately admit that a bit over 80
programs with "
dozens of members to thousands" isn't much. Yet.
This is by Michael
Democracy is dead.
Your vote and your voice doesn’t matter. Not at all.
No group of people
understand this as intimately as the Greeks. They voted for one thing,
got something else, and in the process were unceremoniously reminded of
their political irrelevance. The Greeks are now in a position to show
the rest of us how it’s done. Communities need to take matters into
their own hands and tackle challenges at the grassroots level. Nowhere
is this more impactful and necessary than in the monetary realm, and
some Greeks are already leading the charge.
I think that is
correct (some other bits are more wishful
thinking), as is the following quote (from a Greek who participates
“Money is sparse
right now, but people still have the same skills and knowledge they had
before the crisis.”
I agree - but this
also takes time, and for the moment is a mere beginning.
But yes, cooperative
movements that know how to survive outside the ordinary
monetary economy are one useful idea that may be tried out.
5. A life in feuds: how Gore Vidal gripped a
The last article is by Jay
Parini on The Guardian:
This starts as follows -
and in case you think this is not part of the crisis series: it is,
I will explain:
I came to know Gore Vidal in the mid 1980s, when I was living
in southern Italy, virtually a neighbour, and our friendship lasted
until his death in 2012. Needless to say he was a complicated and often
combative man. It took an effort, strenuous at times, to remain a close
friend; but it seemed to me worth putting in the time, allowing him to
relax into his deeper self, which was actually quite shy, even
solitary. The public mask didn’t fit the private man very well, and I
was always much relieved when he took it off.
Vidal would dwell at length
on his feuds and fixed on the idea, which he took from Goethe, that
talent is formed in stillness but character “in the stream of the
world”. He entered that stream and swam vigorously, often against the
In fact, Jay Parini
now has written a book about Gore Vidal - Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something
Inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal - and this article, which is fairly long and quite good,
seems to be part of the campaign to get it sold widely.
Now to explain why this is
a part of the crisis series:
I did know who Gore
was in 2012, when he died, and indeed had known a few superficial bits
about him since the late 1960ies, but - probably in part because I am
an European, not an American - I had not paid more attention,
which was a mistake.
It was a mistake because he
had an excellent background, that made him family with Jacqueline
Kennedy, and friends with John Kennedy, and he also had a fine
mind and a talent for written and spoken prose, and therefore I
probably would have known a bit more about the USA if I had
attention to Vidal's political opinions, especially since the 1990ies.
Then again, it is also true that I could learn about him and his
opinions mostly from videos, which I could not properly see
until the middle of 2009 (when I got fast internet - and no, I never
had a TV), and true that I did - broadly speaking, with
latitude for various disagreements - mostly agree with what he said, in
part because I do know a
lot about politics, but it certainly would
have helped me to hear - for one example - Vidal's analyses of how Bush
& Cheney got "elected" by a majoirty of the Supreme Court while not
winning the elections, and what was
behind this, if I could have heard them in 2001 and 2002.
Here is some more by Jay
His essays, as gathered
in United States: Essays 1952-1992, make up more than 1,000
pages of vivid writing about books and ideas – perhaps his main
contribution to the republic of letters. His perspective is always that
of the lofty intellectual. As John Lahr once said, Vidal “pisses from an
A brilliant writer and
public intellectual who could take on the world when he felt it
necessary, Vidal was a brave figure on the political scene who would
stand up for things that meant a lot to him, and he made his case
eloquently before a wide audience. He was that nearly extinct variety
of human being: a famous writer whose fame extended far beyond the
realms of literature: a wit, a political pundit, a sought-after TV
guest, a scold and much more. As he put it himself: “I am at heart a
propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive
that there is no human problem that could not be solved if people would
simply do as I advise.”
There is a lot more,
all well worth reading (and it did enlighten me
somewhat on the feuds
Vidal had with Buckley and Mailer).