This is the Nederlog of April
9. It is another crisis
There was a bit more than yesterday, but I did again select five
articles, that I
serve below. There also is a personal section at the end, in which I
say a bit about Multatuli and Frank Zappa.
And since it occurs in the first two items, and has happened quite a
few times earlier, here are my reasons why I fairly often report on several
journalists' renderings of the same events or
facts in several
items, which I do sometimes on the same day, sometimes on different
The basic reason is that I know from my own experience, and also from
my father's experience, that if you know the events or facts that are
reported rather well, you also know that the journalists who report it
missed certain things, misreported other things, and simply do not
what you know.
Also, while there certainly is a lot of bad journalism, this is wholly
unavoidable: A journalist seldom has more than a few hours and a
superficial acquaintance with the facts he or she reports - and that is
apart from the bias he or she may also feel about the facts he or she
reports, that may also shine through (which I generally do not mind:
I'd rather see that someone states what he thinks, also when I
disagree, than that he or she pretends to be "quite objective", which
hardly possible in journalism, and also is not what journalism is for).
So this is no complaint against journalists: it is a fact of life, and
usually the only way you can have some more or less adequate
representation of facts you did not see yourself is - if you want to
know - by reading several
interpretations by several persons in several papers or journals.
1. Edward Snowden: US
government spied on human rights workers
The first article today is by Luke Harding on The Guardian:
He told council members:
"The NSA has specifically
targeted either leaders or staff members in a number of civil and
non-governmental organisations … including domestically within the
borders of the United States."
Snowden did not reveal which groups the NSA had bugged.
The assembly asked
Snowden if the US spied on the "highly sensitive and confidential
communications" of major rights bodies such as Amnesty and Human Rights
Watch, as well as on similar smaller regional and national groups. He
replied: "The answer is, without question, yes. Absolutely."
I am not amazed at all -
but it's noteworthy that, once again, the former spies are not so much
spying as doing politics, in secret.
Snowden also makes a logical point I have made several times before:
He added: "Look at
the language officials use in sworn testimony about these records:
'could have,' 'may have,' 'potentially.' They're prevaricating.
Yes, precisely - and propagandizing,
knowing that they do not know but pretending
and covering it all up by strategic uses of "may" and "could" - which,
to repeat myself, when suitably placed in a sentence, make any
statement that does not state a flat contradiction seem
truth-like. (For it "could" be true, usually conveniently "forgetting"
this means it just as well "could" be false.)
And since what were once spying institutions, which now have moved into
being the secret police that does secret politics:
program amounted to an egregious form of mass surveillance, Snowden
suggested, because it hoovered up data from "entire populations".
Anyone using non-encrypted communications might be targeted on the
basis of their "religious beliefs, sexual or political affiliations,
transactions with certain businesses" and even "gun ownership", he
There is rather a lot
more under the last link, but I have another report on the same event:
2. Edward Snowden Says NSA Spied on Amnesty
International and Other Human Rights Groups
The next item is an
article by Kasia Anderson on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows, and is
much briefer than the previous item:
contractor-turned-whistle-blower Edward Snowden made a virtual visit to
a Council of Europe summit in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday to claim
that the American security agency had spied on human rights
organizations, including Amnesty International.
Most of the rest is copied
from The Guardian though what was not copied was one of Luke
descriptions of Edward Snowden: "The
exiled American spy", though
indeed Harding also describes Snowden as "The 30-year-old whistleblower".
Is Good: A 300-Year History of a Dangerous Idea
The next item is an
article by John Paul Rollert on The Atlantic:
MBA students, few words provoke greater consternation than “greed.”
Wonder aloud in a classroom whether some practice might fairly be
described as greedy, and students don’t know whether to stick up
for the Invisible Hand or seek absolution. Most, by turns, do a little
Such reactions shouldn’t
surprising. Greed has always been the hobgoblin of capitalism, the
mischief it makes a canker on the faith of capitalists. These students'
troubled consciences are not the result of doubts about the efficacy of
free markets, but of the centuries of moral reform that was required to
make those markets as free as they are.
It is here because of
its title, and I have read the article, by "an adjunct associate
professor of the University of Chicago's Booth Business Schools", but I
must admit that while Rollert writes fair amounts about Adam Smith and Bernard
Mandeville, I doubt he has read them well (which I have).
In any case, one of
the things that is missing in this article is a definition of
greed. Here it is, from my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, still the
best dictionary I know of:
sb. Orig, Sc.1609. [f. GREEDY.] Inordinate or insatiate longing, esp.
for wealth; covetous desire.
This means that
etymologically greed is bad,
and those MBA students who are feeling doubtful about this simply do
not know grammar, which includes clear definitions of the terms one
uses - and this is also why Oliver Stone's "greed is good" is an
evidently self-refuting statement, and for that reason a good
piece of satire.
This also means that
people who desire other people's wealth, by whatever means, simply will
not describe their desire as greed - if they know
English properly well.
Ayn Rand was
originally a Russian (she arrived in the US aged 21 and was called
Rosenbaum originally) and seems not to have learned English very well.
Here I am judging from my recall of her work, that I partially read
circa 1972, because it was recommended by some Americans I knew, and
that I found simply awful: the literature was stupid, wooden,
schematic and dull, and the philosophy was grandiose, quite unsubtle,
not well-informed and rather stupid.
I still think I was
quite right in my assessments, but of course these do not hinder her
popularity in the least, and indeed may have helped her to gain it.
Anyway - here is a
last quote from the article:
uncritically, and by default, political economy accepted as its axioms
the fundamental tenets of collectivism,” she declared in a sweeping
indictment of the Invisible Hand tradition. “The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in
the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve ‘the
common good.’” That may be so, but it is “merely a secondary
consequence.” Instead, capitalism is the only economic system in which
“the exceptional men” are not “held down by the majority” and in which
(as she said elsewhere) the “only good” that humans can do to one
another and “the only statement of their proper relationship” are both
acknowledged: “Hands off!”
Her aim was simple: To relieve greed, once and for all, of any moral
For me, that means
she simply did not really understand English: When you use a
term like "greed" for a particular desire, it means you disapprove of
it, and when you approve of it or are indifferent, you do not use
It is as simple as
Also, having quoted
her: (1) "political economy" has not accepted "the fundamental tenets of collectivism": it is very much more diverse than
that; (2) it has often been argued in favor of capitalism that
it is "the best way to
achieve ‘the common good’"
(although I disagree: there certainly are better schemes, but I also
agree these may be impractical given the characteristics of most men);
and (3) Rand wrote especially for "exceptional men",
and rather like a very bad Nietzschean: Nietzsche without style
and without wit, for self-aggrandizing American plutocrats and bank
Anyway - there is a
lot more in the article, but it did not enlighten me.
THE MINIMUM WAGE SHOULD REALLY BE RAISED TO $15 AN HOUR
I have retained the
capitals, although I do not like them. This article starts as follows:
Momentum is building to
raise the minimum wage. Several states have already taken action
— Connecticut has boosted it to $10.10 by 2017, the Maryland
legislature just approved a similar measure, Minnesota lawmakers just
reached a deal to hike it to $9.50. A few cities have been more
ambitious — Washington, D.C. and its surrounding counties raised it to
$11.50, Seattle is considering $15.00
Senate Democrats will
soon introduce legislation raising it nationally to $10.10, from the
current $7.25 an hour.
All this is fine as far
as it goes. But we need to be more ambitious. We should be raising the
federal minimum to $15 an hour.
I agree. Reich
proceeds by giving 7 reasons, but these he well explains in one of his
videos, with his drawings, and in under 2 minutes 41 seconds:
This is well worth
seeing, especially for Americans: it is brief and to the point, and
well done, whether you agree or not.
5. It’s Time the CIA Gets Some Serious Oversight
Finally, an article
by Katrina vanden
Heuvel, that I found on Common Dreams but originates on The Nation:
Every once in a
while, the CIA’s “Because I said so” club lets loose with a bit of preposterous condescension that reminds
us why, along with extraordinary rendition and drone strikes, we’re
also a nation of transparency and checks and balances. In this case,
the crowing comes from Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., former head of the CIA’s
National Clandestine Service and the administrator of that agency’s
post-9/11 enhanced interrogation (i.e., torture) program. We shouldn’t
believe the “shocking” results of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA)
Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation, Rodriguez says,
especially those that lay bare the lies and exaggerations promulgated by the CIA and
the ineffectiveness of the program itself.
Why not? Because Rodriguez
was there, and you weren’t.
Yes indeed - that's what
almost everyone who wants to keep the Senate's report from being
published wants you to believe: "Trust them, it wasn't shocking
or painful; trust them, it wasn't torture; trust them,
they meant well, but above all: TrustTM
them, for you shall not read the Senate's report."
Or as Vanden Heuvel says:
If we ever want to
know the truth about what atrocities were committed by our government
in our name under the umbrella of the “Global War on Terror,” then we
need to not only conduct investigations into them but also release the
results—however sickening they might be—with as little redaction as
possible. We need to re-establish the precedent (exemplified by the Church Committee of the 1970s) that accountability
matters. Not only will we as a nation not abide torture, but we won’t
stomach erstwhile torturers, either.
And as she also asks:
Indeed, what is
the point of congressional oversight if the committee charged with it
allows itself to be pushed around by the agency it oversees?
Anyway - this is a good
article with which I agree.
two notes that relate to other things than the crisis:
I have re-uploaded all of Multatuli's Ideen 7,
with my comments, because I saw that not all backgrounds were
displaying (most were not), and also I had not correctly numbered after
Idee 1260d. Both problems have been repaired.
And in case you want some nice music by Zappa: I liked the following,
is a video of
Actually, these are 10
musicians, involved in "Zappa plays Zappa" (which is a project led by
Zappa's son Dweezil, that has been going on for quite a few years now).
I do not know from what year this is, but this is good, at least if you
like Frank Zappa's music.
In fact, I think "Zappa
plays Zappa" is often better than Frank Zappa's own recordings, because
the apparatuses are better, and the musicians also are either better or
are better trained.
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.)
(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: