January 23, 2015
Crisis: Obama, More War, Religion, Doomsday Clock, Whistleblowers
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


1. State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional
2. More and War: The Tao of Washington
12 Worst Ideas Religion Has Unleashed on the World
Climate Change, Nuclear Weapons Push Humanity Closer
     Towards Global Catastrophe

5. Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 25 Times the
     Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents COMBINED


This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 23, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a good and sensible reaction - I think - to Obama's State of the Union speech (that seems to have flummoxed many white men - but no: it was propaganda); item 2 is on the "more war, more spying, less freedom, less democracy" theme that has been chosen by the American governments since 9/11; item 3 is a list of 12 very bad - quite nonsensical - religious ideas; item 4 is about a new setting of the Doomsday Clock; and item 5 shows Obama prosecuted far more whistleblowers than any other American president.

1. State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional

The first item today is an article by Glen Ford on Black Agenda Report:
  • State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional
This is the first reaction to Obama's State of the Union address that seems adequate to me. It starts as follows:

“Tuesday night, in his next-to-last State of the Union address President Obama flashed the suckers a bag of tricks that has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress, but will allow his apologists to claim that the genuine, more progressive Obama is revealing himself in his final two years in office.”

“Of course the final-years Obama could have accomplished his modest 2015 agenda, and much more, back in 2009 and 2010, when Democrats dominated both the House and the Senate and the Republicans were in despair and disarray. Which is precisely why Obama chose, instead, to put his party’s perishable congressional majorities at the service of bankers, Wall Street, private insurers and Big Pharma. Now that Democrats are the endangered species on Capitol Hill, Obama hangs a piñata of subsidized community college education, additional tax deductions for child care, seven days paid sick leave, higher capital gains taxes on the wealthy, and billions in fees on casino bankers.

“On closer examination, his grab bag of bills and requests for legislation contains even less than advertized – a vapor-thin rhetorical veneer for a center-right presidency whose real accomplishment has been to re-inflate the Wall Street casino, flush the last vestiges of secure employment out of the economy, and put the imperial war machine back on the offensive. Corporate pundits describe Obama’s antics as an appeal to his party’s ‘base.’ In a world in which words actually mean something, a politician’s base would be composed of the people whose interests he actually serves, rather than those he victimizes. But, such logic does not apply in late capitalist America, where both parties cater to the needs of the moneyed classes; one, shamelessly, without inhibition, the other through deployment of talented liars like Obama.”

Quite so - and the first paragraph is rather precisely my own reaction: Obama must be posturing and pretending after six years of services to the bankmanagers, and with a Congress that cannot possibly do what he claims he wants to see done. (So he was lying.)

And this the end:

What is over – kaput! – is the U.S.’s ability to compete in a world that is breaking the chains of Euro-American imperial bondage. Washington can muster no response, except war. Neither can it maintain living standards for the vast majority of its own people, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the financial ruling class to whom the Democrats and Republicans answer.

As he prepares for transition, two years from now, to more lucrative position in service of the Lords of Capital, Obama harkens back to his national television debut, at the Democratic convention, in 2004. “I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America — but a United States of America.”

He was lying back then, just as he lied Tuesday night when he promised “to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.”

So said the man who gave the final coup de grace to due process and the rule of law with his preventive detention bill, his Tuesday assassination sessions, and his ever expanding Kill List.

The State of the Union, is lethal.

Again, quite so. There is more there, that you are also invited to read, mostly because it is an honest and adequately informed response, that is neither impressed with Obama's false rhetoric nor with his blackness.

2. More and War: The Tao of Washington

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt on Common Dreams:
  • More and War: The Tao of Washington

This starts as follows:
When it comes to the national security state, our capital has become a thought-free zone. The airlessness of the place, the unwillingness of leading players in the corridors of power to explore new ways of approaching crucial problems is right there in plain sight, yet remarkably unnoticed.  Consider this the Tao of Washington.
Actually, I beg to differ: I do not think the capital (or Congress) has become "a thought-free zone". I think it is far more probable that the majority agrees that it is good to spy on all Americans, quite simply because now it can be done,
and because independently thinking and acting citizens may be dangerous to the government or its very rich sponsors or its members of Congress (mostly millionaires), and so it should be done: Independently thinking citizens should be threatened and/or silenced, and everything they do should be open to the anonymous contractors who work in secret for the NSA (and who can lie and deceive and manipulate as they please: they work for the government).

There is also this:

Here’s my question: In the last 13 years, can you remember a single headline related to the national security state that went “FBI [or fill in your agency of choice] is narrowing surveillance role [or fill in your role of choice], report shows”?  Of course not, because when any crisis, problem, snafu or set of uncomfortable feelings, fears, or acts arises, including those by tiny groups of disturbed people or what are now called “lone wolf” terrorists, there is only one imaginable response: more money, more infrastructure, more private contractors, more surveillance, more weaponry, and more war.  On a range of subjects, our post-9/11 experience should have taught us that this -- whatever it is we’re doing -- is no solution to anything, but no such luck.

More tax dollars consumed, more intrusions in our lives, the further militarization of the country, the dispatching of some part of the U.S. military to yet another country, the enshrining of war or war-like actions as the option of choice -- this, by now, is a way of life.
Well..."more money, more infrastructure, more private contractors, more surveillance, more weaponry, and more war" in fact is a solution for those who
make money from war, from weapons, and from surveillance, and there is an enormous amount of money to be made that way. (I agree with Engelhardt that
it is not a solution to the problems of the poor or the middle class, but then it is
not intended to be either, and it never was.)

These facts are then contrasted with the following facts:

And yet it has been estimated that an American’s annual fatality risk from terrorism is only one in 3.5 million.  When it comes to your security and safety, in other words, don’t focus on local lone wolf jihadists; just put your car in the garage and leave it there.  After all, your odds on losing your life in a traffic accident in any year are about one in 8,000.

Put another way, Americans have learned how to live with, on average, approximately 38,000 traffic deaths a year in the post-9/11 era without blinking, without investing trillions of dollars in a network of agencies to protect them from vehicles, without recruiting hundreds of thousands of private contractors to help make them safe and secure from cars, trucks, and buses.  And yet when it comes to the deaths of tiny numbers of Americans, nothing is too much for our safety and security.
Yes indeed - but this shows Goering was right:

And this is what is happening in the United States, and has been happening there ever since 9/11. It is not the terrorists that are the danger, for the above facts apply: your chance of being killed by a terrorist is 1 in 3.5 million; your chance of being killed in a car accident is 1 in 8000, both for American citizens -  it is the state terrorists that have taken over, and that spy on everyone on the pretext that this will help battle "terrorism", while in fact all it helps is strengthening the powers of the American government over the American population. Also, this is done quite intentionally, and quite cleverly.

3. 12 Worst Ideas Religion Has Unleashed on the World

The next item is an article by Valerie Tarico on Alternet:

  • 12 Worst Ideas Religion Has Unleashed on the World
I don't like Alternet very much (sorry: too simpleminded, and far too many lists); I don't like lists very much (sorry: it tends to make for very bad writing), so my  main reasons to link this are that I am a born and bred atheist, who on one side of his family comes from atheists back to the 1850ies (when atheism was very rare). [1]

Here is the list, without the explanatory texts, for which you have to consult the last dotted link - and note these "worst ideas" come from all the main religions (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists):
1. Chosen People
2. Heretics
3. Holy War
4. Blasphemy
5. Glorified suffering
6. Genital mutilation
7. Blood sacrifice
8. Hell
9. Karma
10. Heaven
11. Male Ownership of Female Fertility
12. Bibliolatry
In case you want my reasons to be an atheist: Check out the items Religion and God and Faith in my Philosophical Dictionary. But yes: All of the above ideas are dangerous nonsense, without any good evidence.
4. Climate Change, Nuclear Weapons Push Humanity Closer Towards Global Catastrophe

The next item today is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

  • 'Doomsday Clock' Ticks Forward: Climate Change, Nuclear Weapons Push Humanity Closer Towards Global Catastrophe

This starts as follows:

Runaway climate change and the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons have pushed the world closer towards irreversible catastrophe, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Thursday, as the group pushed the symbolic Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes before midnight.

The two factors "pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which came to its assessment with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates, said in a statement.

"World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth," it added.

The last time the Doomsday Clock moved forward was in 2012, when it went from six minutes to five minutes before midnight as a result of world leaders failing to address "truly global threats."

The Clock, a symbol which "conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making," last stood at three minutes to midnight, an image for apocalypse, in 1984 in the midst of the Cold War.

Incidentally, the Doomsday Clock (<- Wikipedia) exists since 1947. Here is a representation of its course since then, taken from the Wikipedia article:

"The lower the graph, the higher probability of technological catastrophy"

5. Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 25 Times the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents COMBINED

The next and last item today is an article by Washington's Blog on his blog:

  • Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 25 Times the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents COMBINED

This has the following text (and the colors and links are copied):

And Obama Is Arguably More Hostile Towards The Press Than Any President In History

The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

This administration has also obtained much longer jail sentences against whistleblowers than previous presidents.

ACLU legislative counsel Gabe Rottman noted last October:

The Obama administration has secured 526 months of prison time for national security leakers, versus only 24 months total jail time for everyone else since the American Revolution.

(So – as of October – Obama had thrown whistleblowers in jail for 22 times longer than all other presidents.)

Today, whistleblower Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

So now we’re up to 589 months for whistleblowers. That’s 25 times more time meted out against whistleblowers by Obama than all other presidents combined.

But even that stunning figure understates the savagery of the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers …

After all, Jeremy Hammond – regarded by many as a whistleblower – was sentenced by Obama to 10 years in prison.

The trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is proceeding right now … and the prosecution is seeking a lengthy prison sentence.

If Edward Snowden or Julian Assange are ever caught, the government will seek very lengthy sentences.

And the government would have obtained lengthy prison terms for high-level NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and William Binney – and even “framed” them with false evidence – but they were brilliant enough to able to prove with bulletproof evidence that the government was lying.

Top mainstream reporters also say the Obama administration is more hostile to the free press – the folks who spread whistleblower leaks – than any other in history. And see this.

Indeed, Obama is treating reporters like terrorists and criminals. For example:

  • Obama has also gone after top reporters. His Department of Justice labeled chief Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen a “criminal co-conspirator” in a leak case, and for many years threatened to prosecute Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist James Risen
  • The Obama administration also spied on Risen, Rosen, the Associated Press, CBS reporter Cheryl Atkinson and other media
  • The Pentagon smeared USA Today reporters because they investigated illegal Pentagon propaganda
  • Reporters covering the Occupy protests were targeted for arrest
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)
  • The NSA and its British counterpart treated Wikileaks like a terrorist organization, going so far as to target its employees politically, and to spy on visitors to its website
It does seem to me these are all facts (and you can check out the links). Also, I am less concerned with the fact that Obama prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous American presidents combined, as with the fact that "the Obama administration is more hostile to the free press – the folks who spread whistleblower leaks – than any other in history."


[1] The reason my mother's grandmother (I think - but it may have been her greatgrandmother) turned atheistic was this (and I am merely repeating here what I was told): In the 1850ies she was a young woman with four or five small children who lived on the farm of her husband, which was then on the Overtoom very near Amsterdam (now and since a long time in Amsterdam). Her husband then got a very bad accident, as he was driven over by a carriage on an Amsterdam bridge, and while dying was said, by Catholic priests who helped him, to have given his farm to the Church. Five days later, my mother's grandmother was evicted with her children from the farm, which made her life extremely difficult and poor, killed several of her children, and made her an atheist because she felt certain the Catholic priests lied. "And so it goes..."
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