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Nederlog


  March
7, 2014
Crisis: Assange, incompetence, Snowden, babyboomers, Sanders, Chomsky, Reich
   "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
Sections
Introduction

1. In defence of Julian Assange
2. Why Is Our Government (and Deep State) So
     Incompetent?

3. 
The Worst Snowden Revelation of Them All: Digital
     Cointelpro
 

4. Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and
     “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street

5.
Bernie Sanders: I’m Prepared to Run in 2016
6. Noam Chomsky on Some Simple Ways to Ruin an
     Economy

7. The Great U-Turn
About ME/CFS

Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of March 7, with a fair crop of articles that relate to the crisis. Also, the present file is uploaded considerably earlier than is normal for me. (The main reason for that is probably that I am feeling a bit better.)

1. In defence of Julian Assange

The first article is by Colin Robinson in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

A great deal has been written recently about the frustrations of publishing a book with Julian Assange, mainly in a widely discussed, marathon article for the London Review of Books by Andrew O'Hagan. O'Hagan relates his experiences when working as a ghostwriter on an autobiography of the WikiLeaks leader that ended up being published in opposition to its subject's wishes. I'm the co-publisher of Assange's most recent book (Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet) and I, too, have found the experience frequently exasperating.

Let me give an illustration. It's June of last year and I'm at a party in New York when a friendly, youngish man with a beard and a beer engages me in conversation. He tells me he is a journalist on one of the city's listings magazines and asks what I do for a job. I reply that I'm a publisher and he asks whose books I'm working on. I pick the one writer of whom I'm pretty certain he will have heard. "Well," I say, shouting to make myself heard above the music, "I've just published Julian Assange." The young man's demeanour changes abruptly and he fixes me with a sneer. "Assange," he echoes, "he's a bit of a cunt isn't he?"

Yes - that is to say: I've read O'Hagan's piece, but didn't rate it sufficiently high to list it in Nederlog, and I am familiar with the reaction of the anonymous journalist, which indeed is typical for the age I live in: billions of anonymous ass-
holes who never did anything special of any kind, for total lack of any talent, but who pretend that "everybody is equal", simply in order to tear down anybody who did anything of value, because they are themselves compensating their own totally negligible outstanding human value. [2]

Also, I do not know Assange, and in fact I am not much interested in his personality, as long as I am not in extensive personal contact with him, which I am not and expect never to be. Also, I think one can rarely learn much about anyone by reading journalism about the person: it's too brief, too selective, too partial also, and usually written by people who are not themselves outstanding for any thing.

At any rate, I liked this article, and it looks like a decent reply to O'Hagan's, which I did not like mostly because it was too personal, too much concerned with O'Hagan, and also because it did hardly consider Assange's achievements or indeed his difficulties. [3]

2. Why Is Our Government (and Deep State) So Incompetent?

The next article is by Charles Hugh Smith on Washington's Blog:
This starts as follows:

Why is our government so incompetent? Short answer: because incompetence has been fully institutionalized in every branch, every agency and every nook and cranny of the state.

Though many may reckon the U.S. government (and its Deep State) are not so much incompetent as merely evil, I suggest incompetence sows the seeds of evil consequences.

Yes, indeed. Charles Hugh Smith considers various reasons for this, but the main one is the following (as I said 25 and more years ago - and see my Bureaucracy and Bureaucracy Plan):

2. The prime directive of any bureaucracy is to eliminate all accountability. The raison d’etre of bureaucracy, the very reason for its existence, is not to manage complex affairs but to dissipate accountability into a formless cloud so that no member of the bureaucracy will ever face any consequences for his/her actions.

In other words, the prime directive of any bureaucracy is to enforce the perfection of moral hazard, i.e. those making decisions suffer no consequences when the decisions are disastrous.

The entire structure of a bureaucracy boils down to this: we followed the rules, and therefore we are blameless.

Quite so - and to which one must add that it are especially the cheaters, the stupid, the naturally irresponsible, and those without any talents whatsoever, who are naturally drawn to politics and to bureaucracies, indeed precisely because these kinds of jobs guarantee them a good and easy living, without any personal responsibility or accountability for anything they do, and without requiring any special talents other than lying and conforming, while offering to some what are enormous powers to meddle in the lives of very many others.

This is a good article, but it misses the way I indicated in my
Bureaucracy Plan to put an end to this - although I fear this needs a revolution. This is quoted from my Bureaucracy Plan:
Government by the people: Instead of a bureaucracy and instead of military service, every adult citizen in society should spend two or three years of his or her life as a civil servant, in the type of job and with the sort of payment one receives in ordinary life, organized on the lines of a governmental Manpower office, also manned by such civil servants, that takes care that the tasks now done by state bureaucracy will be done by properly and honestly by ordinary civilians doing their civil service.

This is a system of real democratic government, that avoids all or most of the dangers of bureaucracy (careerism, corruption, loyalty to - aspiring - dictators, parasitism, incompetence, manipulation, lack of control by the population), and effectively does give the power to the people, for it in effect delivers the everyday practical government in the hands of the people, for the few years that they do social service as civil servant.
Note there is more in the Bureaucracy Plan, which I donot expect ever to see practised while I live. Here is a part:

Two important guiding principles here are:

  • ALL political and bureaucratic positions should be temporal and for a few years at most
  • ALL political and bureaucratic positions should involve public accountability after the job is finished as regards finances spent and decisions made while the position was exercised

Note that what exists at present, in all states, everywhere, is just the opposite (...)

3.  The Worst Snowden Revelation of Them All: Digital Cointelpro  

The next article is by Justin Raimondo and appeared on popularresistance.org:

This starts as follows:

One common reaction to Edward Snowden’s exposure of the National Security Agency’s pervasive surveillance of Americans and people around the world has been: Well, at least they aren’t doing what US government agents did in the 1960s and 1970s – targeting dissident political activists, spying on and disrupting their constitutionally-protected activities, and seeking to discredit them with programs like Cointelpro.

Except they are, as it turns out.

The latest revelations and newly-released documents, detailed by Glenn Greenwald in a shocking piece for his new outlet, The Intercept, show that’s exactly what they’re doing. Whereas J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI used old-fashioned methods – primitive bugging devices, poison pen letters, and physical infiltration of “suspect” groups – today’s Thought Police use the Internet to, as Greenwald puts it, “control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the Internet itself.”

In a presentation by the British spy agency GCHQ to the NSA, and the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand intelligence agencies, the top-secret JTRIG unit instructed their allies in the methodology of targeting and destroying political dissidents, and countering their influence on the Internet. Their approach is oh-so-”scientific,” citing social science theories about human motivation, giving the whole document the aura of an academic study – albeit one written by someone with a sensibility that veers from the playful to the downright sinister.

There is considerably more in the article.

4.  Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street

Next, an article by Thomas Frank in salon.com:

In fact, the thesis of this article seems to be that some of the popular supposedly leftist movies were in fact rightist. As it happens, I hardly ever go to movies since I fell ill 36 years ago (no time, no energy, little money, and also little curiosity in most films: I prefer books) but I suppose he is right, if only because the average audience is dumb. And I liked the following, because I suspect Thomas Frank is right:
If this basic formula doesn’t strike you as particularly rebellious or even remarkable, that’s because it isn’t: in its simple anarchic assertion of appetite, it’s the philosophy of the people who rule us. Everyone is a fraud in this world; learning is a joke; sex objects are easily conned; Kennedy-style idealism is strictly for suckers; and in one telling moment, fratboy 1 remarks to fratboy 2, who is crying over the trashing of his borrowed automobile by fratboy 1 and company, “You fucked up. You trusted us.” What popped into my mind when I heard that line was that other great triumph of the boomer generation: the time-bomb investments of 2008; Goldman Sachs peddling its “shitty deals” to the naive and the credulous.
Indeed, most people are frauds, most people are unintelligent, and most people are egoistic - which is a reason to avoid most people, not to believe most people, and to hope for a world were the average need not be conned into believing that conning others is the way to wealth and fame.

But the present average and sub-average run of people in the West indeed is a poor pick of the egoistically stupid, who mostly act as they are told by the masters of propaganda that rule their lives, and who do not know this, because they know very little.

5. Bernie Sanders: I’m Prepared to Run in 2016

Next, an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truth Dig:
The reason to list this is because Bernie Sanders is one of the very few American politicians that seem honest and competent. The article starts like this:
In an interview published online Thursday, recent Truthdigger of the Week and independent senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders informally told Nation magazine reporter John Nichols that he is “prepared to run for president of the United States” in 2016.
And it give the following information (and more) on Bernie Sanders from Nichols' article:

In some senses, Sanders is the unlikeliest of prospects: an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but has never joined the party, a democratic socialist in a country where many politicians fear the label “liberal,” an outspoken critic of the economic, environmental and social status quo who rips “the ruling class” and calls out the Koch brothers by name. Yet, he has served as the mayor of his state’s largest city, beaten a Republican incumbent for the US House, won and held a historically Republican Senate seat and served longer as an independent member of Congress than anyone else. And he says his political instincts tell him America is ready for a “political revolution.”

If you want to know more, there is more in the article, that also gives some interesting links.

6. Noam Chomsky on Some Simple Ways to Ruin an Economy

Next, an article by Kasia Anderson on Truth Dig, about a recent talk by Noam Chomsky:
This starts as follows:

Scholar, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky kicks off this talk filmed last month with a simple, provocative premise: “Let’s pose that for some perverse reason that we were interested in ruining an economy and a society.” Now, who would want to go and do a thing like that?

Well, for starters, Chomsky looks to the top brass at banks who were generously rewarded for nearly decimating the national and international economies. The current economic system in America, he says, is so dysfunctional “that it cannot put eager hands to needed work using the resources that would be readily available if the economy were designed to serve human needs rather than wealth beyond the dreams of avarice for a privileged few.”

Yes indeed - and also see item 2. Chomsky's talk is under the link.

7. The Great U-Turn

Finally for today an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

Do you recall a time in America when the income of a single school teacher or baker or salesman or mechanic was enough to buy a home, have two cars, and raise a family? 

I remember. My father (who just celebrated his 100th birthday) earned enough for the rest of us to live comfortably. We weren’t rich but never felt poor, and our standard of living rose steadily through the 1950s and 1960s. 

That used to be the norm. For three decades after World War II, America created the largest middle class the world had ever seen. During those years the earnings of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American economy doubled. (Over the last thirty years, by contrast, the size of the economy doubled again but the earnings of the typical American went nowhere.) 

I do not recall such a time, but the reason is that I've never been in America. But it is about the same in Holland, except that the Dutch have had it a bit better on average than the Americans, mostly because of better social services (which now also are disappearing because the Dutch average also believe the propaganda about "free markets" and "everyone for his own", and refuse to see that rot only serves the rich, and nearly everyone will not be rich, ever).

Here are a few things that held then and have changed now:

Then, CEO pay then averaged about 20 times the pay of their typical worker (now it’s over 200 times). 

In those years, the richest 1 percent took home 9 to 10 percent of total income (today the top 1 percent gets more than 20 percent). 

Then, the tax rate on highest-income Americans never fell below 70 percent; under Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, it was 91 percent. (Today the top tax rate is 39.6 percent.)

Reich considers several possible explanations for these and other facts, and settles for this one:

Perhaps the real problem is we forgot what we once achieved together. 

The collective erasure of the memory of that prior system of broad-based prosperity is due partly to the failure of my generation to retain and pass on the values on which that system was based. It can also be understood as the greatest propaganda victory radical conservatism ever won.

We must restore our recollection. In seeking to repair what is broken, we don’t have to emulate another nation. We have only to emulate what we once had.

I think he is mostly right, especially about the fact that what has happened was due to "the greatest propaganda victory radical conservatism ever won".

Then again, I very much doubt it is easy, because the average is not smart and has been successfully duped and deceived.

---------------------------------
Notes
[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] In contrast, I insist everybody is unequal, and some but not many are exceptional, and most of the exceptional people are unknown in the media.

[3] Two things that also should be mentioned here are these: First, the human average by and large is a rather bad, stupid, and egoistic lot - if you disagree: it is what the main religions tell you, as well - that also is much worse educated than it was until 45 years ago, at least in the West. Second, most exceptional people are not much better than the average, except for having one or two talents most lack.

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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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[2]
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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