| "They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- 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
1. House of Cards: A DC Real Estate Column
2. A Year After Reform Push, NSA Still Collects Bulk
Domestic Data, Still Lacks Way to Assess Value
3. Honoring NSA’s Binney and Amb. White
4. 'Low-life Scum' vs. 'Great American Villian' as Citizens
Arrest Targets Kissinger
5. The Blauified Guardian - 2
This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 30, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the American Congress of millionaires; item 2 is about Obama's wish for universal surveilance; item 3 is about a prize awarded to Binney; item 4 is about Kissinger; and item 5 is about the Radically Renewed (Blauified) Guardian.
1. House of Cards: A DC Real Estate Column
The first item today is an article by Ken Silverstein on The Intercept:
This starts about Democrat Tom Daschle, who worked himself up in a few years from owning between $400,000 and $1.2 million to $5.2 million in just two years.
- House of Cards: A DC Real Estate Column
I'll skip that and turn to some general lessons.
Here is the first:
For those at the top of the economic pyramid, like Tom Daschle, government is ruthlessly efficient at funneling money upward via tax cuts and loopholes, corporate subsidies, deregulation and other business-friendly policies.Put otherwise: Nearly all politicians in the American Congress are millionaires, who often get a lot richer after leaving politics.
One of the reasons that government works well for the wealthy is that so many elected officials are wealthy themselves, and directly benefit from the economic measures they pass. The median net worth of the current Congress is slightly north of $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and that surely understates their wealth because it’s based on financial disclosure forms that don’t require the listing of real estate holdings.
Here is the second lesson:
A political system that transfers wealth upward didn’t happen by chance, but was the willful creation, and decades in the making, of our corporate and political overlords.I say - though I am not really amazed (as I may explain tomorrow).
Between 1947 and 1979, the share of income going to the top 1 percent fell by about 27 percent. Then the effects of the corporate campaign began to kick in. Between 1980 and 2012, the share going to the top 1 percent rose by 120 percent.
There is considerably more in the article, mostly about specific millionaires-politicians.
2. A Year After Reform Push, NSA Still Collects Bulk Domestic Data, Still Lacks Way to Assess Value
The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This start as follows:
- A Year After Reform Push, NSA Still Collects Bulk Domestic Data, Still Lacks Way to Assess Value
I must say I am not amazed: Obama clearly wants the universal surveillance of his secret services.
The presidential advisory board on privacy that recommended a slew of domestic surveillance reforms in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations reported today that many of its suggestions have been agreed to “in principle” by the Obama administration, but in practice, very little has changed.
Most notably, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board called attention to the obvious fact that one full year after it concluded that the government’s bulk collection of metadata on domestic telephone calls is illegal and unproductive, the program continues apace.
“The Administration accepted our recommendation in principle. However, it has not ended the bulk telephone records program on its own, opting instead to seek legislation to create an alternative to the existing program,” the report notes.
And while Congress has variously debated, proposed, neutered, and failed to agree on any action, the report’s authors point the finger of blame squarely at President Obama. “It should be noted that the Administration can end the bulk telephone records program at any time, without congressional involvement,” the report says.
3. Honoring NSA’s Binney and Amb. White
The next item is an article by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows (and I have added a link to the Wikipedia item on William Binney):
- Honoring NSA’s Binney and Amb. White
During a standing-room-only event held at Unter den Linden 52 in the shadow of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) presented its 14th annual award to ex-National Security Agency official William Binney on Jan. 22. Binney ended his 36-year career in intelligence after 9/11 when he learned that NSA Director Michael Hayden had removed Fourth Amendment privacy protections from the agency’s surveillance of Americans.It also contains this:
Yes, indeed. But I must say - and I first read Haffner in the late 1960ies - I am not optimistic: Clearly there are good and intelligent and honest and courageous men and women. But it is definitely not the majority, who simply do not have the "solid inner kernel" that the few have.
On both sides of the Atlantic we hear the mantra: “After 9/11/2001 EVERYTHING CHANGED;” just like “everything changed” after the burning of the Reichstag on 2/27/1933. That event led many Germans into what the writer Sebastian Haffner called “sheepish submissiveness” — with disastrous consequences.
As a young German lawyer in Berlin at the time, Haffner wrote in his diary one day after the Reichstag fire that Germans had suffered a nervous breakdown. “No one saw anything out of the ordinary in the fact that, from now on, one’s telephone would be tapped, one’s letters opened, and one’s desk might be broken into.”
What was missing, wrote Haffner, was “a solid inner kernel that cannot be shaken by external pressures and forces, something noble and steely, a reserve of pride, principle, and dignity to be drawn on in the hour or trial.”
We are grateful that these traits were NOT missing in Bill Binney. Nor were they missing in Edward Snowden, whose patriotic risk-taking opened the way for Bill and his colleagues to expose the collect-it-all fanatics and the damage they do to privacy everywhere.
What Ed Snowden called “turnkey tyranny” can still be prevented. But this can only happen, if patriots like Bill Binney can jolt enough people out of “sheepish submissiveness.” Goethe understood this 200 years ago when he warned, “No one is more a slave than he who thinks himself free, but is not.”
4. 'Low-life Scum' vs. 'Great American Villian' as Citizens Arrest Targets Kissinger
The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
- 'Low-life Scum' vs. 'Great American Villian' as Citizens Arrest Targets Kissinger
This starts as follows (and can be seen as a continuation of my review of America Keeps Honoring One of Its Worst Mass Murderers: Henry Kissinger):
While defending Henry Kissinger during a dramatic protest during a Senate hearing on Thursday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called those speaking out against the former Secretary of State as "low-life scum" as they were escorted from the hearing room by Capitol Police.
Kissinger served under President Nixon and is widely reviled by human rights advocates for his involvement in orchestrating the Vietnam War and defending U.S. foreign policy, including various atrocities, across the planet for more than half a century.
Members of the peace group CODEPINK took the opportunity of Kissinger's testimony before the Senate Arms Service Committee to confront the man they call a "war criminal" as they attempted to serve him with a 'Citizen's Arrest Warrant.' Holding a banner and dangling handcuffs in front of a stoic Kissinger, the protesters declared him a "war criminal" who should be arrested and prosecuted for numerous offenses.
There is considerably more in the article, that is good and recommended. Here
is "The official 'Citizen's Arrest Warrant' drawn up by CODEPINK":
I would be very amazed if Kissinger ever gets arrested, but I agree with CODEPINK (and for more see my review of America Keeps Honoring One of Its Worst Mass Murderers: Henry Kissinger).
CODEPINK calls for the arrest of Henry Kissinger for War Crimes
Vietnam: From 1969 through 1973, Kissinger, working for Richard Nixon, oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, which led to the deaths of millions of people. Many thousands more died from the affects of massive doses of Agent Orange and from unexploded US bombs that cover the countryside.
Chile: Henry Kissinger was one of the principle architects of the coup in Chile on September 11, 1973, a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. Sixteen years of repression, torture and death followed under the rule of Kissinger’s friend, the fascist Augusto Pinochet.
East Timor: In 1975, while working for President Gerald Ford, Kissinger pre-approved the Indonesian dictator Suharto’s bloody invasion of the small island of East Timor. This illegal act of aggression was carried out with weapons furnished by the US. By the time the Indonesian occupation finally ended in 1999, 200,000 Timorese – 30 percent of the population – had been wiped out.
This is Kissinger’s legacy. Death. Destruction. Suffering. Misery. Dictatorships. His is a murderer, a liar, a crook, a thug.
Democracies should hold their officials accountable for their acts. That’s why we demand that Kissinger be arrested for crimes against humanity and tried at the Hague.
CODEPINK, January 29, 2015
5. The Blauified Guardian - 2
The next and last item today is on the amazing stupification - "the act of dumbing down on purpose" - of The Guardian's website, that you may find here:
- The Guardian's (NEW, IMPROVED) website
The reasons are - it seems - mainly that there are now as many (or more) cell- phones as there are people, while there are no more than a couple of hundreds of millions desktop computers and about as many laptops.
And who wants to work for these, if the Big Money is in the cellphones?
Clearly, The Guardian now is primed for the cellphone market, and to that end they have removed nearly all of their photographs in their opening screens, and print the titles of their articles as follows, so that readers with cell phones - which have small screens and few fonts - can see them in one swoop:
or (and it is all in Time Roman, so as not to miss anyone with a cellphone):
or (in Times Roman):
Also, all articles (also of the past that I tried) are all reset in Times Roman, so that the ordinary person, who has a cellphone much rather than a desktop, or even a laptop, can enjoy these articles without fail or trouble.
And I should like to say this. Could it have been done otherwise? Of course. Could it have been done more politely? Definitely. Could there have been several websites, for several types of computers? Of course, with a single click also, but that is not where The Big Money is: That is in cellphones.
We soon will see the Daily Mail model.
The Daily Mail knows that reading is difficult.
So it has one paragraph per sentence, or maybe - rarely - two.
And these sentences are sandwiched between photos.
I think that is The New Guardian model as well.
Maybe with fewer photos.
(Because these may not display well on a cellphone.)
And The New Model will not be there directly.
Some writers will insist they need more than one sentence in a paragraph.
But it will come!
We rather sell to the many stupid than the few intelligent.
Who can blame us?
That is The New Guardian.
So I understand.I do understand. I must say that I have enjoyed the site for the last 1 1/2 years, but these times now have completely passed.
I also have some tips.
You can attach hearts (Alt 3, it used to be) with The Number Of Likes, like the Dutch paper "De Volkskrant".
(Used to be for somewhat intelligent people. Not anymore.)
You can attach pound signs to the articles you need to pay for, like the Dutch paper "NRC Handelsblad" (with euro signs).
(Used to be for academically educated people. Not anymore.)
You can write everything in Basic English words, of 4 or 5 letters.
Look at The Daily Mail for much inspiration! 
The possibilities are endless.
They are also stupid, but then most people are not intelligent.
And who would want to make a paper for intelligent people?!
 And The Daily Mial website now looks a lot better than The New And Improved Guardian's. (Try it!)