July 30, 2013
Crisis: Snowden, NSA critics before Congress, Big Banks, Szasz
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

Prev- crisis -Next

1. We Should Thank Edward Snowden
2. N
SA surveillance critics to testify before Congress

3. Big Banks Manipulated Energy Markets In California    
     and the Midwest

4. On Thomas Szasz
About ME/CFS


It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Sleeping did improve, some, lately, but I still do not know whether it lasts.

Presently it is 23.5 degrees Celsius where I am, in my house in Amsterdam, which is about the upper limit of what I can bear without slowly feeling worse. But it will be hot again from Thursday onwards, the radio said yesterday.

The present file deals with thanking Snowden, NSA surveillance critics, what big banks do (enrich their managers without regulations), and with the late Thomas Szasz.

1.  We Should Thank Edward Snowden

This is on Truth Dig and is by Eugene Robinson, who seems to write for the Washington Post:
This starts as follows:

Edward Snowden’s renegade decision to reveal the jaw-dropping scope of the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance is being vindicated—even as Snowden himself is being vilified.

Intelligence officials in the Obama administration and their allies on Capitol Hill paint the fugitive analyst as nothing but a traitor who wants to harm the United States. Many of those same officials grudgingly acknowledge, however, that public debate about the NSA’s domestic snooping is now unavoidable.

Well, yes indeed ... but while I agree with the point of the story and the message, it seems to me a bit half hearted, as also can be seen from its ending (and I skip all that's in between):

Equally antithetical to the idea of a free society, in my view, is the government’s position that we are not even permitted to know how the secret intelligence court interprets our laws and the Constitution. The order that Snowden leaked—compelling a Verizon unit to cough up data on the phone calls it handled—was one of only a few to come to light in the court’s three decades of existence. Now there are voices calling for all the court’s rulings to be released.

We’re talking about these issues. You can wish Edward Snowden well or wish him a lifetime in prison. Either way, you should thank him.

But I think I understand: Mr Robinson in fact is argueing against some of his colleagues - or "colleagues", rather - who thoroughly tried to blacken Snowden and who cannot be regarded as real or decent journalists themselves (regardless of their opinions).

In any case... you don't need to love the man to understand that he took a great personal risk and that his materials seem to have been able to - at least - start the debate on the illegal practices of the NSA and the U.S. government.

In evidence of which there is the next item:

2. NSA surveillance critics to testify before Congress

This is from the Guardian, but it is not by Glenn Greenwald, but by Paul Lewis:
It starts as follows, and this seems to me good and interesting news:

Congress will hear testimony from critics of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices for the first time since the whistleblower Edward Snowden's explosive leaks were made public.

Democratic congressman Alan Grayson, who is leading a bipartisan group of congressman organising the hearing, told the Guardian it would serve to counter the "constant misleading information" from the intelligence community.

Also, according to Grayson:

"We have put together an ad hoc, bipartisan hearing on domestic surveillance in on the Capitol. We plan to have critics of the program come in and give their view – from the left and the right."

Grayson said the hearing had bipartisan support, and was backed by the Republican congressman Justin Amash, whose draft the amendment that was narrowly defeated.

This also seems good, for I do not think that, on this issue, there needs to be opposition between the left and the right, or between honest Democrats and honest Republicans.

Indeed, Grayson gives my sort of reasons for that proposition:

"They are both going to come in and make it clear that this programme is not authorised by existing law - and if it were authorised by existing law, that law would be unconstitutional," Grayson said.
Quite so. Then there is another piece of good news:

The congressman added that Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first revealed details of the surveillance programmes leaked by Snowden, had also been invited to testify via video-link from his base in Rio.

The reasons this is good news are that Greenwald knows a whole lot about the issues; that he is a lawyer; and that he can speak well.

Finally, back to Grayson - who did explain it really well to Congress - who has another insight that seems quite correct to me:

"Even today, most people in America are unaware of the fact the government is receiving a record of every call that they make, even to the local pizzeria," Grayson said.

"I think that most people simply don't understand that, despite the news coverage, which [in] my view has been extremely unfocused. There has been far too much discussion of the leaker, and not enough discussion of the leak."

Yes indeed!  

3.  Big Banks Manipulated Energy Markets In California and the

Now to another theme, which is at Washington's Blog, and which has the following full title:
I do not really know how many of my viewers like this sort of posting, because it mainly argues that all manner of things in the current economy are manipulated and rigged, and it does so by giving a lot of links.

I will suppose this is not very enthusiastically received. My reason to include it is mostly that I tend to agree with it, and especially that I see it as reasons that  the
crisis will continue, until it is radically stopped.

Stopping it will be very difficult, precisely because most things have been deregulated, and those in favor of this deregulation are in power, but then this is what you get then: Very big loads of money for very few, combined with misery and poverty for many. 

4.  On Thomas Szasz

Finally, an item I picked up by way of Arts & Literature, which is by Holly Cass, and which appeared in Aeon Magazine:

Holly Cass is an associate professor of history at Cornell University, which is the probable reason this is less about psychiatry than it is about Szasz's politics, that seem to have been - mostly, not only - right wing libertarian.

As I have outlined, in considerable detail also, I more agree with Szasz than not on psychiatry, but I do believe there are genuinely mad people, though far fewer than postmodern psychiatry claims there are, who do need help of some kind, if perhaps better not from postmodern psychiatrists, while I more disagree than I agree with Szasz's "right wing libertarianism" - which I put here in quotes, not because I want to be offensive or took offense, but because these terms mean something else in the U.S. than in Europe, and I am still not quite clear about what is involved in it (and may never be: it is neither easy nor self-evident nor consistent, and I never visited the U.S.).

In any case: The article is fairly long, but it may be interesting to some, and indeed was to me, if only to recall that Szasz was one of the very few to do and think as he did, even though psychiatry is an obvious intellectual disgrace and a clear pseudoscience, and that he also was not an anti-psychiatrist, indeed in part because he was not a leftist.

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

       home - index - summaries - mail