who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. NSA Blows Its Own Top
Secret Program in Order to
2. CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate
3. Stock Market Is Rigged, Explains Michael Lewis On '60
Senate Report: Torture Didn't Work and the CIA Lied
5. Was Marx Right?
This is the Nederlog of April
1. It is another crisis
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).
NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to
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:
Director Gen. Keith Alexander says future Snowden leaks could lead to
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 , 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
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:
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.
misled on interrogation program, Senate report says
The next item is an
article by Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima on The
This starts as
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
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
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.
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:
As Kevin Drum says:
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.”
Yes, indeed - and
personally I am against torture, period. That is, regardless of whether
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.
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!)
But 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
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
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
from is quite pertinent.)
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.
(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: