January 4, 2014

Crisis: Sanders, Johnson, DSM-5, TYT

   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "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

Prev- crisis -Next  

US Senator Wants to Know: Is the NSA Spying on
2. Simon Johnson Reminds Us That the Banks’ Quiet Coup is
     Still Very Much in Place

3. Three DSM-5 retrospectives
4. Most Americans Think Life Will Suck In 2050

About ME/CFS


This is another crisis file. It is from the first Saturday of 2014, and it is a bit different from most in having 8 links spread over 4 items. However, this is mostly because the links are related. In any case, I think the most important item today is item 1, which reports on a letter of senator Sanders to the NSA, that asks them whether the NSA spies - defined in the letter - on the Senate.

1. US Senator Wants to Know: Is the NSA Spying on Congress?

The first item is a letter by Senator Bernard (Bernie) Sanders to the NSA, that is quite polite and quite relevant: He asks them whether the NSA spies on the Senate.

I have two links on it, and here is the first, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Perhaps if the documented mis-truths spoken by General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, had not been so flagrant or if the public remained in the dark about how the spy agency has spied on the elected leaders of our own foreign allies, the idea of a U.S. Senator demanding to know if the NSA has used its surveillance powers to spy on U.S. lawmakers would be met with some degree of shock.

However, given what is now known about the NSA's clandestine programs and the habit of Gen. Alexander, as well as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, to skirt the truth when it comes to Congress, a letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Friday seems down right logical, as opposed to out of place.

"I am writing today to ask you one very simple question," wrote Sanders in the letter addressed to Gen. Alexander. "Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?"
Note that Senator Sanders has also defined "spying" in his letter so that it conforms to the NSA's practices. Also note that the question is a good one, not because the answer is unknown (given the ends of the NSA, which are to get everything everyone does, including the phone-calls from Chancellor Merkel, the obvious answer must be: Yes, it does), but because it will be difficult to answer for the NSA, especially in view of the fact that there may be a lot of data gathered by Snowden that will refute or strongly qualify whatever answer they will give.

As to Sanders's
[2] own convictions, there is this:

Sanders himself has introduced legislation designed to curtail the ability of the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens both domestically and those traveling or communicating abroad, including putting stricter limits on powers now used by the NSA and FBI to secretly track telephone calls by millions of innocent Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Sanders’ bill also would put an end to open-ended court orders, like the kind that were renewed today, that have resulted in wholesale data mining by the NSA and FBI. Instead, the government would be required to provide reasonable suspicion to justify searches for each record or document that it wants to examine.

That seems all very desirable to me, though I also would like a prohibition on the NSA's tracking foreigners by the millions or hundreds of millions, all without any suspicion of any wrongdoing.

There is more in the article, including a copy of Sanders's [2] complete letter, but there is also a link in it to the following article, by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

A US senator has bluntly asked the National Security Agency if it spies on Congress, raising the stakes for the surveillance agency’s legislative fight to preserve its broad surveillance powers.

Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and socialist, asked army general Keith Alexander, the NSA’s outgoing director, if the NSA “has spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials”.

Sanders, in a letter dated 3 January, defined “spying” as “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business”.

The NSA collects the records of every phone call made and received inside the United States on an ongoing, daily basis, a revelation first published in the Guardian in June based on leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden. Until 2011, the NSA collected the email and internet records of all Americans as well.

That is a fair summary, although "socialist" is a bit questionable, for two reasons. The first is that it tends to be a term of abuse in the US, and the second is that it seems to me that Senator Sanders is, at least in European terms, much rather a "social democrat" than a "socialist".

Also, I am saying this to keep the record clear, and like to add that I am myself neither a socialist nor a social democrat: I am a proponent of a mixed system, that indeed is mostly like social democracy - except that all leading social democrats I know of are corrupt.

There is also this clarification:
Sanders’ question is a political minefield for the NSA, and one laid as Congress is about to reconvene for the new year. Among its agenda items is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that seeks to abolish the NSA’s ability to collect data in bulk on Americans or inside the United States without suspicion of a crime or a threat to national security. Acknowledgement that it has collected the communications records of American lawmakers and other officials is likely to make it harder for the NSA to argue that it needs such broad collection powers to defend against terrorism.
There is considerably more in the long article, that you can check out yourself, but here is the ending, that is another quote from Sanders:
“We must be vigilant and aggressive in protecting the American people from the very real danger of terrorist attacks,” Sanders wrote to Alexander on Friday. “I believe, however, that we can do that effectively without undermining the constitutional rights that make us a free country.”
Yes - though I think the dangers of terrorist attacks have been systematically abused and exaggerated by at least four successive American governments now, mostly for the purpose of gathering all the data of everyone.

2. Simon Johnson Reminds Us That the Banks’ Quiet Coup is Still Very Much in Place

Next, an article by Simon Johnson on Naked Capitalism:

This is from the introduction:

Simon Johnson wrote a remarkably blunt article for the Atlantic in May 2009 titled The Quiet Coup. In case you managed to miss it, it remains critically important reading. He provided an update of sorts in a New York Times column today.

Johnson, a former chief economist to the IMF, described how the financial services industry had effectively engaged in a banana-republic-style takeover of government.

Here is a bit of Johnson himself:

…elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them….

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

And it very probably is higher now. In any case: This potted history shows a lot about the causes of the crisis - and see my: Crisis + DSM-5: It's deregulation, stupid!

In any case, there is considerably more in the article. Also, I should say that I cannot see a way to stop them, except by another collapse and another president - and while there will be another president in 2016, it is quite uncertain who this will be, and I do not look forward to another major collapse, even though this seems to be necessary to make major changes, which are very necessary.

3.  Three DSM-5 retrospectives

Next, three files by 1 boring old man on the DSM-5:

This may not be to everyone's liking, but the files are OK, and the subject is an important part of the crisis:

The corruption of all of medicine and all of psychiatry, both especially in the United States, through the agencies of deception, bullshit, lying, fraud and plain corruption, on a massive scale also, that became the standard with the DSM-III in psychiatry, and then was rapidly extended through all of medicine, mostly by a combination of deregulation and corruption, where the former enabled and furthered the latter - for still not one of the corrupt doctors or corrupt CEOs has been prosecuted: all that was prosecuted were corporations (people, according to the Supreme Court), who only had to cede a part of their profits to the state, to have their executives be washed clean from all wrongdoing, which enabled them to continue it, again, and again, and again, and that includes ghostwriting of the "scientific" articles of KOLs and falsifying, repressing and manipulating data in very many "scientific" articles, for the data are now made part of the property of the pharmaceutical corporations that pay for the research.

At least, that is how I see it, and I have a whole lot of evidence for it, that indeed was not gathered by myself, but by some doctors who disagree with the corruption of their science by other doctors - often KOLs - who got very rich by payments from the pharmaceutical companies.

And a main problem here is that so many people, that is here: so many doctors of medicine, remain apathetically silent, even while their science is being destroyed as it is being redefined as a tool for profit for pharmaceutical companies and their willing menials, that usually are doctors of medicine, from being a tool for helping patients. (But I agree that the profits are enormous: Billions and billions of dollars, even for single drugs, which may explain some.)

As to the DSMs: I consider all of them as evidence of the insanity of the psychiatrists who made them - without any theory (as if that is possible in a real science: No, it isn't), without any good evidence for nearly everything, and with ever more "disorders" all of which merit the prescription of expensive drugs, but not one of them with any medical scientific definition based on good evidence.

Modern psychiatrists are legal pushers for pharmaceutical companies. They should be kicked out of science and quite a few should be prosecuted. And this is not because I am an opponent of psychiatry, if this is defined as the helping of the mental problems of patients, of whom there are millions, but because modern psychiatry has been effectively redefined by the APA as the helping of some tenthousands psychiatrists to get rich, by prescribing mostly useless but very expensive drugs to millions of mostly misdiagnosed persons who do not know anything of pscyhiatry or psychology, and who can be and are being grossly deceived in all manner of ways.

Finally, about being deceived: Philosophers and psychologists widely agree that so far there is no understanding what consciousness is, what self-conscious is, how and why it arises in humans, what human thinking is, how human thinking should be analyzed, or what meaning is, and being a philosopher and a psychologist myself I agree: At best, there are some partial theories that may be partially correct, but for the most part these things are and remain riddles.

But the public, that for the greatest part does not consist of scientists, has for the most part accepted the propaganda, lies and deception of a couple of tenthousands of psychiatrists who pretend that there are over 400 "disorders" that only they can "diagnose" and "cure", nearly always by the administration of very expensive drugs.

Well, the public is deceived, and is deceived for the same reasons as they are deceived by the priests or clergy of the many religions: By lies, by pretenses, by falsehoods, and by exaggerations - except that these lies, preteneses, falsehoods and exaggerations are explicitly directed at the most defenseless, and are perpetrated as if they are medicine - which they are not. There is not even any accepted rational definition of madness!

Then again, these things will continue until they are much better regulated by laws, that are also actively maintained, for there is one thing clear and evident about psychiatry and psychiatrists: You can become quite rich by being a willing tool of the pharmaceutical companies, that until now also are hardly regulated, while the laws that do apply are hardly prosecuted. (And money trumps all, for most.)

4.  Most Americans Think Life Will Suck In 2050

Next and as the last items, two videos by The Young Turks, that I partially disagree with, although this may be blamed on my pessimism or my age or my education.

Here is the first item - and both are videos:

It so happens that I'lll reach the age of 100 in 2050, which means that very probably I will not make it. But for what I can see, I agree with "most Americans", and my reasons are that there are far too many people now, for the resources there are, and there are very many very serious problems of many kinds that urgently needs solved, but that generally are either not addressed at all, or only bureaucratically, varying from the many problems of the economy and the radical declines of education to global warming and pollution, with many more in between.

The TYT-team that discusses this is considerably younger than I am and seem to look at it mostly as if this is a conservative opinion or as "a self-fulfilling prophecy".

I'm sorry, but I am not a conservative, though I think the prospects are bleak, and will remain bleak until something radical and unforeseeable happens, e.g. as regards cheap and safe energy. This may happen, but I've seen no evidence.

Besides, I think it is a mistake to see this in political terms, and I also do not believe pessimism about the future is
"a self-fulfilling prophecy", though I agree it is a problem many people are apathetic.

Next, there is this:  The introduction of this by Ana Kasparian is quite OK, but then Ben Mankiewicz enters with the nonsense that he has "no issue" with the NSA developing a quantum computer. I do: the NSA is a corrupt and dangerous and very secretive  organization, and it would be quite unfortunate if they would develop it, precisely because they will keep it secret. I'd much rather see it developed in a university, by people who have nothinh to do with a corrupt and dangerous organization like the NSA.


[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay 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 of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] I know this is not grammatical according to most of the current rules for English, but I like to add " 's " to indicate a genitive, as indeed was the rule for a fairly long time. The same goes for some of my other "mistakes" - and I can pass for an Englishman for a long time in spoken English, that indeed I spoke a lot and for years, while I also am not strongly committed to any definite grammar (for English: Dutch is another matter entirely). And I read more English - both American and English English - in my life than I read Dutch, and generally write a mixture of English and American in Nederlog.

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 Komarof

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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