2, 2013
Crisis: Last chance, NSA revealed, true test, uncritical theorists
  "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. The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA
2. Revealed: NSA Hacked into Email, Phones of Latin American Presidents
3. The True Test of American Resolve
4. Uncritical Theorists Who Misread the Nazis 
About ME/CFS


There is a bit more today than there was yesterday, but item 4 is about The Frankfurt Critical School.

1. The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA

To start with, here is Chris Hedges, writing on Truth Dig:
This continues the story I have - briefly - dealt with before, namely Hedges, Chomsky's and other persons legal case against Obama. It starts thus:

I and my fellow plaintiffs have begun the third and final round of our battle to get the courts to strike down a section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that permits the military to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, the lawyers who with me in January 2012 brought a lawsuit against President Barack Obama (Hedges v. Obama), are about to file papers asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our appeal of a 2013 ruling on the act’s Section 1021.

“First the terrorism-industrial complex assured Americans that they were only spying on foreigners, not U.S. citizens,” Mayer said to me recently. “Then they assured us that they were only spying on phone calls, not electronic communications. Then they assured us that they were not spying on American journalists. And now both [major political] parties and the Obama administration have assured us that they will not detain journalists, citizens and activists. Well, they detained journalist Chris Hedges without a lawyer, they detained journalist Laura Poitras without due process and if allowed to stand this law will permit the military to target activists, journalists and citizens in an unprecedented assault on freedom in America.”

Note this is the last legal chance, and maybe it will not be taken up, for as Hedges says
All we have left is the Supreme Court, which may not take the case.
And note this is quite serious:
If Section 1021 stands it will mean that more than 150 years of case law in which the Supreme Court repeatedly held the military has no jurisdiction over civilians will be abolished. It will mean citizens who are charged by the government with “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or the nebulous category of “associated forces” will be lawfully subject to extraordinary rendition. It will mean citizens seized by the military will languish in military jails indefinitely, or in the language of Section 1021 until “the end of hostilities”—in an age of permanent war, for the rest of their lives. It will mean, in short, obliteration of our last remaining legal protections, especially now that we have lost the right to privacy, and the ascent of a crude, militarized state that serves the leviathan of corporate totalitarianism. It will mean, as Forrest pointed out in her 112-page opinion, that whole categories of Americans—and here you can assume dissidents and activists—will be subject to seizure by the military and indefinite and secret detention.
There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, and it ends thus:
The Supreme Court takes between 80 and 100 cases a year from about 8,000 requests. There is no guarantee our appeal will ever be heard. If we fail, if this law stands, if in the years ahead the military starts to randomly seize and disappear people, if dissidents and activists become subject to indefinite and secret detention in military gulags, we will at least be able to look back on this moment and know we fought back.
That is, it might be concluded - on naive probabilistic assumptions, but there is not anything decisively better - there is about a 1 in 1000 chance that the Supreme Court will take the case.

I would be rather amazed if it does so, and I will not be much amazed if things work out as Chris Hedges say they may. But I do not know.

2.  Revealed: NSA Hacked into Email, Phones of Latin American Presidents

This is by Jon Queally for Common Dreams, and is inspired by Greenwald:

This starts as follows:
In the latest reporting by journalist Glenn Greenwald on the U.S. National Security Agency's international surveillance programs, a news story on a Brazilian news show on Sunday night reported that the agency has used its powers to infiltrate the communication systems of presidents in both Mexio and Brazil.

Greenwald, listed as a co-contributor for the Journo O Globo's Sunday evening show Fantastico, said that documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the NSA accessed the email accounts and telephones of both President Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

It ends with a quotation from Agence France-Presse that I only quote the last part of:

"If these facts prove to be true, it would be unacceptable and could be called an attack on our country's sovereignty," Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said.

The NSA program allows agents to access the entire communications network of the president and her staff, including telephone, Internet and social network exchanges.

This can grow serious.

3. The True Test of American Resolve

Next a bit by Robert Reich on the Syrian issue:

Here are the first and third paragraph
We are on the brink of a tragic decision to strike Syria, because, in the dubious logic of the President, “a lot of people think something should be done,” and American “credibility” is at stake. He and his secretary of state assure us that the strike will be “limited” and “surgical.”
But have we learned nothing from our mistakes in the past? Time and again over the last half century American presidents have justified so-called “surgical strikes” because the nation’s “credibility” is at stake, and because we have to take some action to show our “strength and resolve” — only to learn years later that our credibility suffered more from our brazen bellicosity, that the surgical strikes only intensified hostilities and made us captive to forces beyond our control, and that our resolve eventually disappears in the face of mounting casualties of Americans and innocent civilians — and in the absence of clearly-defined goals or even clear exit strategies. We and others have paid an incalculable price.
Clearly, Reich is right, as is his advice: Straighten out the U.S. rather than get involved with Syria, and who knows else. But I am afraid Obama will have his "strike", and "God damn the consequences" - for the president feels entitled to it, and he is entitled to it according to Kerry, and that seems to settle it, for them.

4. Uncritical Theorists Who Misread the Nazis

Now I am going to a rather different subject, namely The Frankfurt Critical School, who got a deserved dressing down by Walter Laqueur. You may well ask "What is The Frankfurt Critical School?", but it used to be rather important, at least till the 1990ies:

My source is the British Standpoint Magazine, and Laqueur starts as follows, under a picture of Herbert Marcuse that has the following byline: "Herbert Marcuse: The father of the New Left worked for US military intelligence during the war":
The Frankfurt School, founded in Germany in 1923 — the Institute for Social Research being its official name — was a group of intellectuals who played an important role in Europe and the United States over several decades. The school's orientation was "critical", which in practice meant undogmatic Marxist (within limits). It stood for a synthesis of Marx and Freud, philosophy and sociology. It also tried to integrate some German thinkers who were closer to Nazism than to Marxism, such as Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt. It advocated a society that was more just, saw monopoly capitalism as the main threat and was more preoccupied with high culture and the evils of mass culture than political issues.
So far, so good - except that "a synthesis of Marx and Freud, philosophy and sociology" sounds pretty nonsensical, and indeed has turned out to be pretty nonsensical.

Let me first give the nominal reason for Laqueur's review:
Some 30 of their many wartime position papers have now been published under the general title Secret Reports on Nazi Germany.
One reason Laqueur reviews it is that he is an expert on Nazi Germany. And he asks the following question, after praising the members of the Frankfurt School:
They were intelligent, well-educated people with wide interests and it is only legitimate that the editor should have picked out of their many reports those which have best stood the test of time. But were they prescient, pioneering an understanding of the character of Nazism, its aims and ambitions? This has been claimed in the past and is sometimes argued even now.
In fact, that is what I was told in the University of Amsterdam: The Frankfurt School and its thinkers, like Marcuse, Neumann, Adorno and Benjamin had all the answers, and to doubt this (!) meant one was "a fascist" - for that was always the main argument, then and there, in the University of Amsterdam of the 1970ies and 1980ies. [2]

In fact, the answer was bullshit, although it is true that this was hard to recognize because almost everything that was written by the Frankfurt School was written in an awfully pretentious bogus jargon.

Also, Laqueur asks:
But seen from a perspective of more than 70 years, were their insights accurate or rather naive? Were their predictions born out by subsequent events?
The brief answer is that they were inaccurate, that the predictions were not born out, and that the theories were - at the very best (!) - naive.

There is rather a lot more in Laqueur's review, but the answers I provided seem quite adequate, except for True Believers in the Frankfurt School
[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.)

[2] I do not know how many times I have been called "a fascist" by the left-wing students who ruled the University of Amsterdam, but it is many times.

In fact, my parents and grandparents were - sincere and genuine - communists, both my father and mother were in the real Dutch resistance, and both my father and grandfather were condemned as "political terrorists" to Nazi concentration camps. None of the students who called me "a fascist" has a background like I have, and it is  probable most of their parents and grandparents collaborated during WW II, as indeed most Dutchmen did.

I just did not reveal any of this information during the time I studied, in part because my parents were still alive, and in part out of utter contempt.

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)

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