Sunday, July 7, 2013

LUV News Sunday 7 July 2013

Every Saturday and Sunday I do the LUV Newsletters. LUV stands for Liberty Underground Virginia, and it's the brainchild of Jack Balkwill, a longtime progressive activist who lives in Virginia. He started LUV News years ago, sending out a daily compendium of news stories and opinion pieces that the mainstream media often ignores.

Because it's a lot of work (unpaid, obviously), Jack has, over the years, asked different people to step up and do the newsletter on the weekends. So I started doing it on Saturdays and Sundays in February 2012. There are only 4 stories per newsletter, three straight reports and one opinion piece, with photos, images, and political cartoons in between. It gets sent by email to several thousand subscribers around the world.

Jack's belief is that too many people are kept in the dark by mainstream media, lobotomized by TV and superficial coverage or no coverage at all of important stories, and that if we're ever to have a shot at true democracy -- which we don't currently enjoy in this country -- people have to be better informed.

I agree with him to a certain extent, but I think he's more optimistic than I am. There are plenty of highly educated and "informed" people who still deny what's right in front of their faces (Obamabots come to mind, among others). All the informing in the world isn't going to budge them.

Anyway, the Monday-through-Friday newsletters reflect Jack's perspective and sensibilities, and the Sat-Sun ones reflect mine. Jack tends to be more straightforward and comprehensive; I'm more sarcastic and in-your-face. We both, of course, provide abundant links in every story so that people can read more or not as they wish.

I'll reproduce here today's LUV News in its entirety (please excuse the font size and spacing inconsistencies; happens sometimes, and I'll be darned if I can figure it out):


This article from The Daily Beast goes back to June 25th. It's a story I had already read about through multiple sources. But there's one paragraph containing information I hadn't seen before -- have you? 

It's a quote by Glenn Greenwald about the fact that his house (he lives in Brazil) was robbed, and the ONLY thing taken was a laptop belonging to his partner. This burglary came two days after Greenwald had had a Skype conversation with his partner telling him that he, Greenwald, "would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents" -- meaning the documents revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. As it turns out, Greenwald didn't sent the documents. So the spooks who stole his partner's laptop came up empty-handed.

But nah, nothing suspicious there. It's all in my fevered imagination. -LS


The already secret FISA court has gotten even more secret. And you, peon citizen, don't have the right to know anything about it. Because we're your security overlords, and We Know Best. Don't like it? Tough. We'll open another file on you. After all, if you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about. Now bugger off.  -LS


In the Sunday, May 26th LUV News I wrote the following:

     'Given that the rule of law is now considered a quaint concept in the Land of the Free, how appropriate that this teenager is in jail for speech. Yes, speech. But as I've been saying till I'm blue in the face, he's not alone. It's just that his alleged transgression is even more trivial than usual. Plus, he isn't Muslim. The "war on terror" now justifies everything. As history proves, this is how injustice progresses. Always. (I'm also tired of quoting Martin Niemöller to the snoozing and clueless.)
Can you imagine how many people, especially young people, especially young guys, have talked shit in their lives?? Good grief, that's practically the definition of being a young man. According to the new world order, they should all be in jail.'

That teenager has since been released because a grand jury declined to press charges (at least there are still a few sensible people out there). But Facebook "crimes" continue. Kids are still being thrown in jail for them. Watch out -- you, too, could be a big, scary terrorist! -LS

Crispin Sartwell is a professor of philosophy at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He's also a friend of mine. Though we disagree heartily on many issues, we're in synch on many others. And we don't let our disagreements get in the way of honest intellectual debate. I value that debate and that friendship, not least of which because so many other other people can't manage it: they feel the need to agree on everything. Here's what Crispin has to say on the current state of affairs and the illness with which so many people are afflicted. -Lisa Simeone

lies lies lies

by Crispin Sartwell
Also, if you have any tendency to be satisfied with Obama etc's reassurances about all the limits and warrants that are supposedly in place, you have really lost your mind. How many times do people have to lie, evade, distort, before you stop believing them? It's their job to lie: it's their sworn oath to lie by their own account; by their own definitions, it is treason not to lie. They're currently lying about the fact that they were lying to you before. And yet you take them seriously.
I think one thing everyone in our society needs to reflect on: you're going to take James Clapper or Barack Obama seriously because they're wearing suits and have positions of great authority. It doesn't matter, for example, that they have excruciatingly obvious motivations to lie. Then you have Snowden, and people just hammer: 29! All alone! High school dropout! But no one has seriously doubted the truth of what he's revealing. He has some sort of principles or commitment to freedom; they have no commitment to anything but power. Snowden's commitment is incredibly obvious: he is saying the things he's saying at tremendous cost to himself. Obama etc are lying to an ever-self-aggrandizing effect, to preserve and conceal their own power. Barack Obama - this is completely obvious to anyone with a shred of rationality - has no credibility whatever on anything when speaking qua Pres; the only things the words of someone like that are intended to do is manipulate you; seriously, obviously, sentence by sentence. In your heart, you know this to be true. Obama's access to truth is corrupted entirely by power. Snowden has as much credibility as a human being can reasonably have.
Officials from the DMV to the Pres do not even really purport to be speaking as or for themselves; they are spokesmen for organizations. So severe is the situation that the question of sincerity does not even arise. You're simply representing what you take to be the position of a bureaucracy; you would even excuse yourself for lying or for saying things that are deeply opposed to your own beliefs. Indeed, you might take it to be your duty to express whatever it is you're expressing as fake-sincerely as possible, all the while believing it to be false. Well, that's your job. But what is truly shocking is that people believe you anyway; people think you have more credibility than a person who speaks passionately for himself. 
29 and all alone actually does confer some credibility. Eminent head of a bureaucracy: no credibility whatever: every sentence a mere strategy. 
This is an example of an extreme problem: most people think power confers credibility. This is a mindless capitulation and extreme expression of irrationality. It sort of hints at the direction our species will take to extinction. Millions upon millions of people have already died because we tend to give epistemic authority to people who operate coercive power, because they operate coercive power. It's a straight-up epistemic illness.

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