“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Why do we find Snowden and Assange such fascinating figures? They are postmodern outlaws, frustrated nomads who have given up the comforts of an ordinarily rooted life. They are compelling because their predicament is both horrifying and seductive.

In depth: Julian Assange and Edward Snowden - enemies of the state take flight

By seeking refuge in limbo while fleeing the most powerful nation on Earth, they exemplify the romance of the contemporary fugitive


Five hundred years ago, he might have found himself in a church. In the middle ages, Edward Snowden, seeking sanctuary from charges of treason, would have thrown himself on God's mercy. Once across the holy threshold, he would have been untouchable by earthly justice.
God is a bit weaker now, and so today's canny fugitive takes a more prosaic approach. If there is no higher law, he needs a lawless zone instead. If he is Edward Snowden, he heads for the airport. If he is Julian Assange, he heads for the embassy. His best hope is not heaven. It is limbo.
Why do we find Snowden and Assange such fascinating figures? They are postmodern outlaws, frustrated nomads who have given up the comforts of an ordinarily rooted life. They are compelling because their predicament is both horrifying and seductive. Most of us need our roots too much to embrace the dislocated life that they have come upon. And yet, even as the internet and affordable travel make the world smaller, the romance of the wanderer remains – and in particular of the wanderer who sets himself against powerful and impersonal forces.
But these would-be wanderers are confined. Grim though Assange's hiding place sounds, it is at least on a human scale. What of Snowden's? At least until new offers of asylum from Venezuela and Nicaragua come good, he is at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, "airside", in the "transit zone". These terms make me uneasy. They evoke something alien. In the "transit zone", where a man who would elsewhere be swiftly arrested can linger seemingly as long as he likes, the tenuous nature of our laws and nations and conventions is made explicit. You'll know what it's like if you've ever stood with a foot on either side of a border and felt – nothing. One almost expects there to be an accompanying physical sensation, evidence that our systems are tattooed into the ground. But there's not. The border is arbitrary. The political map is just a picture with lines drawn on it.
Sure enough, experts have reminded us this week that even the special status of the transit zone is entirely subject to the whim of the country in which it is based. After a year, at least Assange can feel confident in the international treaties that secure the status of an embassy. The privileges of Snowden's life airside, on the other hand, might be withdrawn at a moment's notice.
Although privileges may be the wrong word. The cage of Sheremetyevo does not sound particularly gilded. Snowden flew into terminal F from Hong Kong on 23 June, shortly after his passport was revoked by the US authorities.
Terminal F is described by a reviewer on as an "awful prison", but it is at least connected by a mile-long walkway to terminals D and E, which are said to be better appointed. Enterprising journalists who have flown into Sheremetyevo in the hope of finding Snowden have so far failed to do so. This may be because of a relatively unusual feature of the airport, the airside wing of the Novotel hotel, where passengers in transit without Russian visas are permitted to stay.
Some have speculated that the fugitive could be holed up in one of the hotel's spartan rooms, awaiting the call from a friendly nation to leap on the next plane out of Moscow and return to a slightly more normal life. An AP reporter who spent a night there in search of Snowden called every room he could, to no avail; his efforts to seek him out in person were thwarted by the security guard stationed outside his door. He could be in the hotel, yes. But he could be in the airport's detention quarters, so infamous that they once featured in the UNHCR's guide to the problems facing the world's refugees; he could be paying $20 an hour for a spot in a VIP lounge; he could be browsing the duty-free matryoshkas, somehow unseen by the world's press; he could be somewhere else altogether. For the time being, at least, he is out of reach.
The uncertainty over Snowden's whereabouts only makes the question of what his life might be like at the moment more tantalising. If he is Lennon's "Nowhere Man" – "sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans", someone who "doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to" – the airport is maybe the quintessential example of what have been called "non-places".
In his brilliant book The Global Soul, the travel writer Pico Iyer describes it thus: "The modern airport is based on the assumption that everyone's from somewhere else," he says, "and so in need of something he can recognise to make him feel at home; it becomes, therefore, an anthology of generic spaces – the shopping mall, the food court, the hotel lobby – which bear the same relationship to life, perhaps, that muzak does to music."
Spend too long in a non-place – which could just as well be a shopping centre or a service station or a hotel – and one might very well become a nowhere man. It is hard to fathom the state of mind of the Iranian exile Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who found himself in the no-man's-land of the departure lounge at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport for fully 18 years; or that of Ram Charan, a successful business consultant who lived entirely on planes and in hotels until the age of 67, and whose only concession to normality was a weekly parcel of dirty laundry sent to an office in Dallas. How would it feel to live that way?
Last week I went airside at Heathrow's Terminal Five, trying to imagine it for myself. Terminal Five is so huge that you could fit three Empire State buildings on their sides into the luggage hall alone. It took 18 years, 20,000 workers and £4.3bn to build. And yet its salient characteristics are the same as those of any major airport anywhere. As I drifted through security, the epic, gentle curve of the 40-metre high roof, almost so high that you forget it's there, seemed oddly comforting. After you've been swallowed up at the gate, there's no view back. I was reminded of my childhood affection for Star Trek, mostly founded on how comfortingly enclosed the Enterprise seemed to be. I was reminded of the inside of a whale.
As I wandered around, though, and tried to imagine what it would be like to spend any sustained amount of time here, my sense of the place changed. The logic of the design is impeccable as a means of funnelling the maximum number of travellers through the maximum number of shops before they head for the skies, but it is not terribly sympathetic to human beings. My thoughts of Star Trek were displaced by Wall-E, and that movie's corpulent, hoverchair-bound consumers, carted around their spaceship from meal to meal, never fully conscious of the life they were missing, always dislocated.
The people with the best idea of how to live in the terminal are, of course, the people who work there. In this cavernous dome, they carve out little nooks for their breaks, away from the crush of the main drag, by cramming chairs shaped like satellite dishes under far-flung staircases. "It's sort of hard to think your own thoughts in here," one shop assistant said, fiddling with her iPhone on a short break from her duties in the perfumery. "It's so hectic. You just want a bit of space."
It seems a strange phrase, when space is exactly what there is too much of. Where would she sleep if she was spending the night here? She thought for a bit, and then settled on the children's play area, a sort of inhabitable Rubik's cube, and about the only enclosed area to be found. "You could get a proper night's sleep there," she said. "It'd be quite cosy."
Whether cosiness is important to Snowden, who, it has been said, can be happy anywhere he can get online, is hard to know. If new offers of help materialise, he may not be at the airport for very much longer. Assange, meanwhile, must be losing his will to stay in a prison of his own construction, even if the alternative is one of rather less hypothetical limits. But perhaps such people last longer in these circumstances than the rest of us might.
Uniquely modern fugitives, they are taking refuge in uniquely modern spaces. It's not a coincidence that they are also both men of the internet, a space like the airport terminal or the embassy where the conventional rules don't apply; a space of all nations, and of none; a space where your home is simply the first page you land on, a jumping-off point for a journey into the unknown.


  1. Who would have ever believed that a stoner, a community organizer, could have aggregated so much power with so much naive and complete support by the US media?

    Who would have ever believed that the very first trip on Air Force One would have completely corrupted him?

    Who would have ever believed that an act of a salute, as meaningful as dusting lint to an actual serviceman, would have been so seductive to the Commander in Chief?

    1. >>Who would have ever believed that a stoner, a community organizer, could have aggregated so much power with so much naive and complete support by the US media?.....<<

      Not me.

      I am looking forward to the House hearings beginning again.


  2. Enemy of the State.

    The enemy of my enemy…

  3. Is Edward Snowden a Lawbreaker?
    Sheldon Richman
    Jul. 7, 2013 9:00 am

    Most people believe that Edward Snowden, who has confirmed that the U.S. government spies on us, broke the law. Even many of his defenders concede this.

    While in one sense the statement “Snowden broke the law” may be trivially true, in another, deeper sense it is untrue. He may have violated the terms of legislation passed by Congress and signed by a president (criminal intent would have to be proved), but a venerable line of thought says legislation is not the same thing as law. (F.A. Hayek drew the distinction, obviously, in Law, Legislation, and Liberty, volume 1: “Unlike law itself, which has never been ‘invented’ in the same sense, the invention of legislation came relatively late in the history of mankind.”) Legislation may reflect the law, but it may also contradict it. In this line of thought, which dates back to antiquity, “law” refers to natural law. Any legislative product that conflicts with the natural law, so this philosophical tradition holds, is no law at all.

    Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long points out that the principle lex iniusta non est lex— an unjust law is not a law —

    was once, and indeed for over two millennia, the dominant position in western philosophy of law.… This doctrine was upheld by Socrates, Plato, and Xenophon, by the Stoics and by Cicero, by Augustine and Aquinas, and by Blackstone as well. The traditional idea was that law must be distinguished from mere force by its authority, and that nothing unjust could have genuine authority. [“Inside and Outside Spooner’s Jurisprudence”]

    The great American libertarian political philosopher Lysander Spooner (1808–1887) applied this principle in his characteristically consistent and rigorous manner. Indeed, Long notes that Spooner took the principle further than his predecessors “because traditional natural law theory recognises positive law as an additional source of obligation,” while Spooner’s post-Civil War writing “maintains that legislators cannot add any new obligations to the body of law.” (In his paper, Long distinguishes between Spooner’s prewar and postwar thinking on the relationship between natural law and positive law, but says “the difference … is not as great as it might appear.” See the paper for details.)

    In 1882 Spooner defined natural law as “the science of justice” discoverable by reason:

    the science of all human rights; of all a man’s rights of person and property; of all his rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    It is the science which alone can tell any man what he can, and cannot, do; what he can, and cannot, have; what he can, and cannot, say, without infringing the rights of any other person.

    It is the science of peace; and the only science of peace; since it is the science which alone can tell us on what conditions mankind can live in peace, or ought to live in peace, with each other.

    In his 1886 “A Letter to Grover Cleveland,” Spooner elaborated on what natural law is:

    Let me then remind you that justice is an immutable, natural principle; and not anything that can be made, unmade, or altered by any human power.

    It is also a subject of science, and is to be learned, like mathematics, or any other science. It does not derive its authority from the commands, will, pleasure, or discretion of any possible combination of men, whether calling themselves a government, or by any other name.

    It is also, at all times, and in all places, the supreme law. And being everywhere and always the supreme law, it is necessarily everywhere and always the only law.

    But if that is so, where does it leave the so-called “lawmakers,” the people who solemnly issue decrees from their exalted seats in Congress, state legislatures, and city councils?



    1. {…}

      Lawmakers, as they call themselves, can add nothing to it, nor take anything from it. Therefore all their laws, as they call them, — that is, all the laws of their own making, — have no color of authority or obligation. It is a falsehood to call them laws; for there is nothing in them that either creates men’s duties or rights, or enlightens them as to their duties or rights. There is consequently nothing binding or obligatory about them. And nobody is bound to take the least notice of them, unless it be to trample them under foot, as usurpations.

      Nothing binding or obligatory can be found in those decrees as such, Spooner said. In other words, the obligations of natural law — essentially not to trespass on the person and property of others — preexist and are not the result of anything that legislators say.

      And if perchance Congress should pass a law that coincides with the natural law?

      If they command men to do justice, they add nothing to men’s obligation to do it, or to any man’s right to enforce it. They are therefore mere idle wind, such as would be commands to consider the day as day, and the night as night.

      Statutes forbidding murder, rape, torture, and theft, then, are redundant, adding nothing to our natural obligations as human beings. But legislation consistent with justice is the exception, not the rule. What, then, is the status of “laws” that contravene the natural law? Spooner answered,

      If they command or license any man to do injustice, they are criminal on their face. If they command any man to do anything which justice does not require him to do, they are simple, naked usurpations and tyrannies. If they forbid any man to do anything, which justice could permit him to do, they are criminal invasions of his natural and rightful liberty. In whatever light, therefore, they are viewed, they are utterly destitute of everything like authority or obligation. They are all necessarily either the impudent, fraudulent, and criminal usurpations of tyrants, robbers, and murderers, or the senseless work of ignorant or thoughtless men, who do not know, or certainly do not realize, what they are doing.…

      It is intrinsically just as false, absurd, ludicrous, and ridiculous to say that lawmakers, so-called, can invent and make any laws, of their own, authoritatively fixing, or declaring, the rights of individuals, or that shall be in any manner authoritative or obligatory upon individuals, or that individuals may rightfully be compelled to obey, as it would be to say that they can invent and make such mathematics, chemistry, physiology, or other sciences, as they see fit, and rightfully compel individuals to conform all their actions to them, instead of conforming them to the mathematics, chemistry, physiology, or other sciences of nature.

      The “laws” that prohibit Edward Snowden (or anyone else) from telling us that the NSA routinely collects our telephone data and has access to our Internet records are decrees of the kind that “forbid any man to do anything, which justice could permit him to do.” They are therefore “criminal invasions of his natural and rightful liberty.”

      Snowden should be left free, and those responsible for the spy programs should face justice.

      This column originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

    2. .

      The Patriot Act comes to mind.

      As I pointed out on the last stream,

      "1984 is not an instruction manual"

      (From the Bring Back The Fourth demonstrations held across the nation four days ago.)


  4. For Rufus

    Druse entrepreneur gets wind farm license

    The Public Utility Authority has granted a provisional license for a Druse entrepreneur to build a 6-megawatt farm in the Upper Galilee.

    In the government’s first motion to approve a wind power generation facility in the minority sector, the Public Utility Authority has granted a provisional license for a Druse entrepreneur to build a 6-megawatt farm in the Upper Galilee, the authority announced on Wednesday.

    The farm, which will consist of three huge turbines, is expected to supply all the electricity needs of the Druse village of Hurfeish, located off Road 89 about 6 kilometers south of the Lebanese border. Approved by the PUA’s plenary board led by Orit Farkash, the application for the wind farm was submitted by entrepreneur Kanj Hussein. The turbines should be able to provide power for more than 2,000 households, the PUA said.

    The turbines will each measure about 100 meters in height and have a blade diameter of 60 meters, according to the PUA. The license is for 66 months, which will include the owner’s process of planning, raising capital and building the facility.

    The PUA said that it expects to see similar advances in other wind energy initiatives, in accordance with the stipulations of the National Master Plan on Wind Turbines (Tama 10-dalet-12), which has streamlined the process of building wind farms.

  5. What is a source?

    IN the last thread, deuce posted a story about IDF car stealing by Haaretz, he stated Article: Haaretz 5 July 2013. written by Jews, for Jews, about Jews.

    Here is another headline from that same newspaper July 7th...

    Haaretz Slammed for Calling for PA Uprising
    Haaretz writer hopes Arabs will ‘rise up against their occupiers

    In a column last week, Levy wrote, “One day the Palestinian people will rise up against its occupiers. If only that day would come quickly, because as time goes by, the damage and the anger are growing.”

    An uprising is the only solution, he continued, writing, “There is no longer a chance Israel will do this at its own initiative. Justice demands that this happen.”

    “Whether the solution is one state or two, Israel the non-occupier, the just and equal, will be a different place, one that is incalculably better to live in,” he concluded.

    So the source that Deuce posted also called for war on israel by the palestinians...


    That's even more leftist than MSNBC.

    1. To GOOD to ignore.

    2. I have always held Haaretz as an authority to the Isaeli portion of Palestine.
      When they tell us of Hitler's Jewish roots, I accept their reporting.
      When they tell us of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel decrying the murder of 20,000 Jews each year by the state of Israel, well, I accept their reorting.

      Seems that others pick and choose when to grant Haaretz legitimacy, as it suits their personal predilections.

    3. Those that deny the reporting by Haaretz never offer any rebuttal but unsubstantiated opinion and those opinions often deny science as well as the legitimacy of the Judaic Law, as described by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

  6. I'll leave that up.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Rebellion against tyranny as opposed to intimidation, repression and having to lick the boots or your occupier, is one of the more noble stories in history.

    Primum Iud├Žorum Romani Bellum or as the expression goes, "off the mutherfuckers."

  7. Replies
    1. It shows your choice of sources is not reliable.

      Even Jews have turncoats and traitors.

  8. I asked Mat one time about Haaretz, which I had been reading. His opinion was not high and he gave me some other names.

    What does 'Haaretz' mean? I have no idea and am too tired to look it up.

    One thing this shows though is there isn't much unanimity of opinion in Israel at all.

    Just as my old lawyer said: "We Jews argue about everything."

    Much like this place....



    1. But if you notice, the arab world? the Islamic world?

      On the issue of Israel?

      They describe it as a cancer and a colony.

      Just like this blog.

      In one breathe the arabs are considered the natives and in the next breathe there is dismissal of all jewish attachments

      funny grandpa abraham would be pissed.

    2. Abraham was an Iraqi (lived in Mesopotamia.)

      Then "God" talked to him, and "promised" him, and his family and heirs, a home in Canaan.

      It seems like when God gets around the Jews he becomes downright chatty.

    3. One quible.
      Abraham was pre-Judah.
      (I think. Damn it Rufus, now you got me cracking open the bible!)

    4. Oh yeah, Abraham was part of the creation myth, created by the early jews.

    5. Terah, the tenth in descent from Noah, fathered three sons, Abram (later called Abraham), Nahor and Haran. Abram's birth had numerological significance for the authors of the Genesis story: his first year commenced exactly 1600 years after the Creation, or the square of forty, a biblical generation and one of the most common round numbers in the biblical literature.[6]

      Haran fathered Lot (who was thus Abram's nephew), and died in his native city, Ur of the Chaldees. Abram married Sarai, who was barren. Terah, with Abram, Sarai, and Lot, then departed for Canaan, but settled in a place named Haran, where Terah died at the age of 205. (Genesis 11:27–11:32) God then appeared to Abram and told him to leave his country and his father's house for a land that He would show him, promising to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless those who blessed him, and curse those who cursed him. (Genesis 12:1–3) Following God's command, at age 75, Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and the wealth and persons that they had acquired, and traveled to Shechem in Canaan.

    6. as good an excuse as any for a land grab, I suppose.

    7. Rufus, I am not going to get into it with you because I know it's hopeless but you are talking out your behind.


    8. Though if you begin to relate for us the Cherokee creation myth I might arise and listen.

      I hear the toms toms beating.


    9. Abraham's story ends with the death and burial of his wife Sarah in the grave that he has purchased in Hebron (a town in southern Judah), followed by the marriage of Isaac to a wife from his own people: these two episodes signify Abraham's desire of the land for his descendants and the exclusion of land's previous inhabitants, the Canaanites, from its ownership.[4]

      The Bible's internal chronology places Abraham and the patriarchs in the second millennium BCE, but the stories in Genesis cannot be related to the known history of that time, and most biblical histories no longer begin with the patriarchal period.[5]

    10. It is quite likely that the ancestors of the inventors of Judaism WERE from Northern Iraq. They claim Mesopotamian origins, and there were Semitic speakers all over the place (the Akkadians were Semitic.)

    11. So what?

      There IS a deep cavern underground and before the beating of the tom toms began there was there in form invisible Cherokee Man who said I am alone, and knowing this he immediately became two, and four ... and we The Real People Cherokee was formed and they came to the surface of the earth through an opening in an old tree, and they lived.... and Age Cherokee began, at first 432 Cherokee....4320 Cherokee....4320000 Cherokee and an early head man of great repute was Rufus, who begat Rufus I a lesser man who begat Rufus II an even lesser man and the descent had begun into the deep cavern again.....back through the log....and all was peace.

  9. Anybody know anything about heat stroke in horses and cattle? What to do when it hits 117 degrees like in Vegas recently?


  10. That ElBaradie guy almost became the new PM of Eypyt!


  11. Shade.

    Keep them wet
    Muddy footing will save their hoofs

  12. Replies
    1. Sounds like a couple of irrigation circles in a small pasture with some trees around ought to do the trick.


    2. So Arabs are natives and their history and land claims are valid.

      The Jews are frauds and land stealers...

    3. Some land grab...

      Jews grabbed 1/900th of the middle east, the arabs grabbed 899/900

      Are maps available to you rufus on the reservation?

  13. >>Why do we find Snowden and Assange such fascinating figures? They are postmodern outlaws, frustrated nomads who have given up the comforts of an ordinarily rooted life. They are compelling because their predicament is both horrifying and seductive.<<

    They remind us of Heros, fighting the good fight against the odds, against the Forces, on our behalf, and we wish we were them.

    Though most people, including me, and thee, would rather read about it in books, or in the papers,


  14. Seoul has become an important transit gateway for many Chinese travelers connecting to cities in the U.S. and Canada. The reason? Passengers are lured by attractive prices and a dearth of transpacific nonstop flights from China.


    But competition for passengers has intensified as many of the region’s airlines expanded their own flights across the Pacific. In China, however, despite surging demand for flights to North America, the nation’s mainly state-owned airlines have been slow to add capacity, thus keeping fares higher.