1, 2014
Crisis: NSA * 2, CIA, Stock Market, Marx Right?
   "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

1. NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to

2. CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says
Stock Market Is Rigged, Explains Michael Lewis On '60

4. Senate Report: Torture Didn't Work and the CIA Lied
     About It

5. Was Marx Right?

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of April 1. It is another crisis issue.

The first article is by Glenn Greenwald, and most of the other articles continue earlier materials. The last item is devoted to the question whether Marx was right, which was not raised by me, and in the last but one item I speak out firmly against torture, also in the case it does work (though I agree it mostly doesn't).

1. NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize

The first article today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:
Over the last 40 years, the U.S. government has relied on extreme fear-mongering to demonize transparency. In sum, every time an unwanted whistleblower steps forward, we are treated to the same messaging: You’re all going to die because of these leakers and the journalists who publish their disclosures! Lest you think that’s hyperbole, consider this headline from last week based on an interview with outgoing NSA chief Keith Alexander:
NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander says future Snowden leaks could lead to deaths
First I should say that the last headline is even bigger in Glenn Greenwald's presentation, and included in a Fox News quotation, and next I should supply the picture of the man who elevated Alexander's kind of media prose to a principle, namely the Goering Principle:

Third, I should say, being logically minded, that anything, absolutely anything, could be the case that is not a straight and evident logical contradiction.

Thus, general Keith Alexander could be a childish paranoid, and he could be one of the biggest liars to the media ever, and he could be thoroughly mad, but also be well in control to the media. And he could have raped his children, and frauded millions. Who knows?

I don't know. It could be true. What is true is that this kind of language that relies on "could be"s and "may be"s is nearly always the logical cement that ties together intentional propaganda without any real evidence:

You can't fault it, and you cannot even contradict it straightly, for in effect it says almost nothing while delivering the propaganda message. (Psychiatrists also excel at this game: See my DSM-5 columns. And there too it is nearly 100% intentional and calculated.)

This is why responsible people generally avoid
"could be"s and "may be"s if they want to say something serious, and this is why irresponsible people love the leniency with the truth this allows them: Of course they have no evidence, of course they don't know, of course what they say is propaganda... but it could be true, couldn't it?!

Hmm... yes, and it also could be false, and it certainly is the case you don't have any conclusive evidence, for then you would cry that it is true as loud as you can.

Here is the second paragraph by Glenn Greenwald:
The NSA engages in this fear-mongering not only publicly but also privately. As part of its efforts to persuade news organizations not to publish newsworthy stories from Snowden materials, its representatives constantly say the same thing: If you publish what we’re doing, it will endanger lives, including NSA personnel, by making people angry about what we’re doing in their countries and want to attack us.
Actually, the rational response to that is that it is utter baloney, total crap, and wholly their problem: If a journalist found something that he considers socially important and for which he has good evidence, he should publish it, in almost every case [2], and if NSA personnel doesn't like running risks, they should look for other work.

Glenn Greenwald's real case is concerned with recent public sayings of John "Chris" Inglis, who until his very recent pensioning was Keith Alexander's second in command, and namely with this, that has the bolding in the original:
In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John “Chris” Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA’s top civilian.
Which is to say that every mail, every text message and every phone-location is tracked by the NSA - and "every" logically includes everyone in the Iraqi government, parliament, businesses etc.

And then Greenwald asks:
Obviously, the fact that the NSA has this capability, and used it, is Top Secret. What authority did Chris Inglis have to disclose this? Should a Department of Justice leak investigation be commenced?
It seems a fair question to me. There is a lot more in the article, and there also are 191 comments, when I last looked, that I do not read.

2. CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says 

The next item is an article by Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima on The Washington Post:

This starts as follows:

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

In fact, this is the report Dianne Feinstein got upset about, I think rightly. There is a lot more in the article, but since I treat the same news also in item 4, I leave that to you.

3. Stock Market Is Rigged, Explains Michael Lewis On '60 Minutes'

Next, not an article but a video, by The Young Turks, who now have 7 times more subscribers (1,5 million) than when I first saw them, in 2009, which means that they are doing something well:

This treats the following - and I cite the blurb that is on Youtube:

The U.S. stock market is rigged, with elite traders buying access to a high-speed network that allows them to figure out what you've just ordered, order it first, then raise the price before your order is complete.

And according to Michael Lewis, author of a new book about high-frequency trading called "Flash Boys," this form of "front running" is completely legal.

"The insiders are able to move faster than you," Lewis said on "60 Minutes" on Sunday night.

I have dealt with this yesterday but this gives some more details and also is interesting in that Cenk Uygur (the presenter) says he was and is positive that

"there will be another monumental melt down, and the next economic melt down we will not be able to fix".

It seems to me that indeed is considerably more probable than not, and the basic cause of it is the persistence of the deregulation, that was started by Clinton and continued by Bush and Obama.

In fact, it seems good news to me, although my main reason to call the news of a probable catastrophy "good news" is that a major collapse of the US also involves a major collapse of the NSA.

Otherwise, I would certainly not call this "good news" - and this shows how scared I am of totalitarian government, which is the direction the US is firmly moving towards under Obama's direction. For more see my Crisis + DSM-5: It's deregulation, stupid! and the crisis series.  

4. Senate Report: Torture Didn't Work and the CIA Lied About It

Next, an article by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones:
This was also considered in item 2, but this is a bit more radical. Also, it gives an indication of what is in the - sofar undisclosed - report, with some qualifications that there is no certainty yet:

Several officials who have read the document said some of its most troubling sections deal not with detainee abuse but with discrepancies between the statements of senior CIA officials in Washington and the details revealed in the written communications of lower-level employees directly involved.

Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

As Kevin Drum says:

So the torture was even worse than we thought; it produced very little in the way of actionable intelligence; and the CIA lied about this in order to preserve their ability to torture prisoners.

Anybody who isn't sickened by this needs to take very long, very deep look into their souls.
Yes, indeed - and personally I am against torture, period. That is, regardless of whether it works.

One reason is that my father was tortured by the Nazis, as "a communist political terrorist". He did not speak, and was a very tough man, but tried to suicide afterwards, in case there was another "interrogation". (Neither succeeded, happily, and instead he was convicted to the concentration camp, which he survived, unlike his father.)

5.  Was Marx Right?

Finally, an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, who asks this question:
This is mainly here because my parents were Marxists, which I gave up when I was 20, in 1970, but also because, as Yves Smith says:
"Marx is suddenly fashionable after many years of being The Economist Who Could Not Be Named",
although "suddenly" must be taken with a bit of salt: it dates back to 2008, when indeed suddenly there was a considerable interest in "Capital" and other works by Marx, that there hadn't been since the 1970ies.

Yves Smith's article is OK and you can read it using the above link. I want to say a few more things about Marx and Marxism, and my own approach to them.

First, there is a large difference between Karl Marx and his modern followers, which is mostly due to three things:

Marx was much more intelligent than almost any of his followers, and had tried really hard to grasp the foundations of the capitalist economy; his modern followers generally know very much less of economy than he did, and are generally followers rather than real thinkers in their own right; and while
Marx saw very deeply into economy, his system was definitely mistaken in some ways, that are probably best explained by Steedman's "Marx after Sraffa" and Morishima's "Marx's Economics" (both of which need some acquaintance with matrix algebra) - and he has been dead now for 127 years.

I am fairly certain the previous paragraph is correct, because I did read a good amount of economics and politics, and a great amount of philosophy, logic and mathematics. Also, I am not going to explain Marx's economics here, for which I refer you to the previous two books I mentioned, and I must warn you that you do need some higher mathematics.

Next, the question "
Was Marx Right?" is too vague: He made many predictions, some of them right, some of them wrong, but he did live from 1818 till 1883, and was definitely not concerned with the 21st century, and certainly did not expect it as it turned out to be (whatever one thinks it is), as indeed is fair enough: almost no one is able to predict the next year or the next twenty-five years with any accuracy, let alone one and a half century. Also, his system does not say anything that is really applicable to current problems. (Read "Capital", indeed all three volumes, in case you disagree!)

Marx was a real intellectual and an independent thinker, who in fact is much less read than people think or indeed claim: Most "marxists" I have known - a whole lot, both in the Dutch Communist Party and in the University of Amsterdam - had read nothing by him, or only "The Communist Manifesto", and no one I have known had read as much by and about him as I have done.

About the
Marxists I am much more definite than about Marx, especially about the Marxists since the 1950ies: They are Marxists mostly not because they read Marx (few did, and far fewer really studied him), but because they are or pretend to be romantic idealists with a liking for politics and politicking, which generally means they are much interested in power, generally without understanding it.

I am not nor ever was a romantic idealist, and I don't like politicking, and I have my own analysis of
power, that is definitely not Marxist, so my advice is not to team up with Marxists: They are well analysed by Raymond Aron's "The opium of the intellectuals", which indeed is Marx or what Marxists made of him, and I found very good parallels between the French marxists of the 50ies Aron describes, and the Dutch marxists of the 1960ies I met or knew about. (Then again, I know this advice will probably not be heeded, and especially not if you are a romantic idealist who likes politicking - which seems a character type, in my experience, about which one also has little choice, and which I happen to lack.)

But I have one last warning: many of the leading
marxists I have known, or known of, which again is quite a lot, only or mostly pretended to be radicals, and what really drove them was their own desire to make it themselves, somehow, in politics, journalism or the universities, that is, among leftists. (Note this is often not so easy to see or say, for there are many ways and degrees of pretending.)

I detest them, but I must honestly admit that dishonest merely pretending quasi-marxists are what most leading "marxists" turned out to be, in my life, and also that quite a few of them eventually made it, as some form of pundit, professor, or vaguely leftist politician, and thus they succeeded in getting from politics what they wanted
, for themselves, which was generally a good income and some social status, although indeed it was necessary for them to mostly "give up", publicly, at some point, what they never really had: A marxist conviction.

So most "marxists" I have known were quasi-marxists, who were only in it for themselves - which I insist on with the more fondness since my parents were both
real marxists, and quite honest, but indeed not socially successful.
[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 am aware there are a few cases this is not so, and some more cases, including Greenwald's, where a certain caution is necessary. But by and large, what I said is true, and belongs to the free press: Socially important findings with good evidence ought to be published, in order that society can discuss and evaluate the findings. If this is not so, and if only things should be published nobody important objects to, there is no longer a free press.

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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