7, 2014
Crisis: Privacy, America, Six Principles, Reset The Net, SCOTUS, "Moderation"
   "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. Privacy Tools: Encrypt What You Can
2. America Is Declining at the Same Warp Speed That's   
     Minting Billionaires and Destroying the Middle Class

3. The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the
     Establishment’s Nightmare)

4. Reset The Net: 'Don't Ask for Online Privacy... Take It

5. Conservative Court's Free Speech Rulings Drenched in

6. The Myth of the Great Moderation
About ME/CFS


This is the second Nederlog of May 7. It is a crisis issue. (The first Nederlog of today is in Dutch, and is another part of my autobiography.)

It is about what you can do (in principle) to get some privacy on your computer; about what America looks like now; about six principles that may unite some of the left and the right in the U.S.; about resetting the net; about the majority of the conservative judges on the Supreme Court; and it ends with a nice and clear video about economics, that should clarify rather a lot for many.

1. Privacy Tools: Encrypt What You Can

The first item is an article by Julia Angwin on Truth Dig, but originally on ProPublica:
This starts as follows:

Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the inner secrets of the NSA, he has been urging Americans to use encryption to protect themselves from rampant spying.

“Encryption does work,” Snowden said, via a remote connection at the SXSW tech conference. “It is a defense against the dark arts for the digital realm.”

ProPublica has written about the NSA’s attempts to break encryption, but we don’t know for sure how successful the spy agency has been, and security experts still recommend using these techniques.

And besides, who doesn’t want to defend against the dark arts? But getting started with encryption can be daunting. Here are a few techniques that most people can use.
And after this Julia Angwin gives a reasonable amount of good advice and links, that you can pick up yourself if you are interested. I have a few remarks, though:

First, I am on Linux, for two years now, and am pretty pleased with that. It makes my computer a little more secure, and is easy to install, but was not mentioned.

Second, I can program, and I have tried to install PGP on Linux, but this was painful, and besides I can only send encrypted mails to people who also have installed it, and I do not see many people who can do that: it really was obscure.

Third, while I am in favor of personally encrypting things, I do not think that can be expected from the majority, and anyway it will not help if your computer has been hacked already.

Besides, I think encrypting should be done by providers and email-programs as a matter of course, rather than trying to shift the burden to individuals. But OK: this is a useful article.

2. America Is Declining at the Same Warp Speed That's Minting Billionaires and Destroying the Middle Class

The next item is an article by C.J. Werleman on AlterNet:

This starts as follows (skipping two paragraphs):

America has the most billionaires in the world, but not a single U.S. city ranks among the world’s most livable cities. Not a single U.S. airport is among the top 100 airports in the world. Our bridges, road and rail are falling apart, and our middle class is being guttered out thanks to three decades of stagnant wages, while the top 1 percent enjoys 95 percent of all economic gains.

A rigged tax code and a bloated military budget are starving the federal and state governments of the revenue it needs to invest in infrastructure, which means today America looks increasingly like a Third World nation, and now new data shows America’s intellectual resources are also in decline.

For the past three decades, the Republican Party has waged a dangerous assault on the very idea of public education. Tax cuts for the rich have been balanced with spending cuts to education. During the New Deal era of the 1940s to 1970s, public schools were the great leveler of America. They were our great achievement. It was universal education for all, but today it’s education for those fortunate enough to be born into wealthy families or live in wealthy school districts.

There is considerably more there.

3. The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare)

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

More Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington. We’re five years into a so-called recovery that’s been a bonanza for the rich but a bust for the middle class. “The game is rigged and the American people know that. They get it right down to their toes,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Which is fueling a new populism on both the left and the right. While still far apart, neo-populists on both sides are bending toward one another and against the establishment.

In fact - and see the title - Reich seems to be in favor of populism and in favor of some sort of allegiance between parts of the left and of the right.

I doubt such an allegiance is possible in the United States, besides a mere verbal semblance of it, but here are the six principles, that all are quite reasonable, and that are quoted again without the surrounding text that is indicated by (...):

1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where
     they’re no longer too big to fail.

2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act
3. End corporate welfare
4. Stop the National Security Agency from spying on
5. Scale back American interventions overseas.
6. Oppose trade agreements crafted by big corporations.

It may be Reich is right some sort of allegiance is possible, and there is considerably more under the last dotted link.

In any case, I like the six principles.

4. Reset The Net: 'Don't Ask for Online Privacy... Take It Back.'

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
Led by online freedom organizations, internet firms, and other advocacy groups, a broadbased coalition is coming together with a singular call to "Reset the Net" as a way to beat back government and corporate surveillance on the web.

With a national online day of action scheduled for June 5, supporters of the campaign—including Common Dreams (full disclosure), Free Press, Fight for the Future, Credo Action, Demand Progress, Greenpeace, Reddit, CodePink, and dozens of others—say they will use the anniversary of the first reporting about NSA spying based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden as an opportunity to reclaim the internet from the spying eyes of the National Security Agency and gross abuse of privacy protections.

There also is a brief video for it, that you can find by way of the last dotted link.

I have to say: I like the idea, but it doesn't seem likely to succeed. Then again, it is something, and it may gather weight.

5. Conservative Court's Free Speech Rulings Drenched in Biases

The next item is another article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

According to a new legal study of sitting and recent justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, conservative members of the court are tied much tighter to their own political and ideological biases than the liberal justices when it comes to ruling on cases concerning free speech.

The study—conducted by legal professors Professors Lee Epstein, Christopher Parker, and Jeffrey Segal and first reported by the New York Times—found that despite exceptions, “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings" of the speakers advocating a case. But in the case of conservatives, the study, found those biases are much more pronounced and consistent.

"Justices are opportunistic free speechers," the authors concluded. "They are willing to turn back regulation of expression when the expression conforms to their values and uphold it when the expression and their preferences collide."

I say. That is rather a lot like I argued in my Nederlog of May 4, where I wrote:

What I am much more afraid of than relative ignorance of the technologies involved in cases they must judge, and what does seem to me to be the case in the majority of the Supreme Court, is that they are political judges who judge things politically, and who in this case often side with the few and the strong, not because of any legal argument, but because that is what they think is politically right, correct or desirable (after which they pen something legal to uphold this).

Another Supreme Court may well judge otherwise, but unfortunately quite a few of the present judges were made members of the Supreme Court not on the basis of their legal excellence, but on the basis of political allegiances, and they often judge by allegiance rather than by valid legal arguments.

In fact professor Epstein is quoted as saying:

“Though the results are consistent with a long line of research in the social sciences, I still find them stunning — shocking, really"

Well, I don't find them stunning or shocking, but I agree the present Supreme Court is not served by the best lawyers, and is far too right wing, in practice.

6.  The Myth of the Great Moderation

Finally for today, an article by
Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
This is a terrific short video on why the Great Moderation and the underlying restructuring of the economy during that period, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Economists celebrated the appearance of more stable growth, when in fact, the condition of the patient was deteriorating.
And then it says:

I hope you’ll circulate this widely, since it’s accessible and compelling. Hat tip Lars P. Syll.

OK: I liked it. It is economics, but it is well told, with quite a few good and clear graphs, and it also opposes Keynes and Greenspan:

Incidentally, as to Greenspan and Keynes: Greenspan was a close follower of Ayn Rand, which means that he cannot have had a good mind (as he really believed her); Bertrand Russell said about Keynes that he was certainly the most intelligent man he had ever known.

Finally, the above is not about "socialism versus capitalism": It is about capitalism-with-a-human-face as explained by Keynes versus capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face as desired by Greenspan.

And the first is quite possible, with regulation.
[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] This took so long because both my ex and myself were (and are, to the best of my knowledge: we separated a long time ago) ill since 1.1.1979. This entailed many things, and one was that I did not attend university from 1983-1988.

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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