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."
“You’ve Got to Cozy Up”: More Politicians Admitting That
Money Controls Politics
2. Jeremy Corbyn is the
curator of the future. His rivals are
chasing an impossible dream
3. Meet the Whistleblower Who
Exposed the Secret Room
AT&T Used to Help the NSA
Spy on the Internet
of the Day: Here's Why the Recovery
Has Been So
5. Book review: ‘Notes on the
Death of Culture’ by Mario
This is a Nederlog of
August 19, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about an
interesting article on The Intercept, that is assembling quotes from
politicians who protested against the enormous influence money
currently has on American politics;
item 2 is about George Monbiot on Jeremy
Corbyn, who is supported by
item 3 is about an interview whistleblower
Mark Klein gave; item 4 is
about a quite
stunning chart that shows the influence of money in politics: the more
money politicians receive, the less money any non-rich receive,
striking chart; and
item 5 is about a recent book by Mario
Vargas Llosa, who announced the
death of culture or - alternatively - the replacement of real high
culture by cheap low culture, also among "the intellectuals".
indeed since 1977.)
Also, I removed a number of breaks from yesterday's
NL (on Hazlitt) which makes my
notes more readable. (And I like it quite a few picked this up!)
“You’ve Got to Cozy Up”: More Politicians Admitting That Money Controls
article of today
is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
That is a fine idea!
This is reader participation that is useful. Also, here is the
again to the original
post from which I will quote some, but not all or most.
Three weeks ago I posted a
collection of quotes from politicians acknowledging the obvious
reality that money has a huge impact on what they do, and asked anyone
with more examples to send
them to me.
You really came through.
Here are 15 more great examples, with credit to the people who
Please keep them coming;
I’m looking specifically for working politicians who describe a tight
linkage between money and political outcomes. And I’d still love
to speak directly to current or former politicians who have an
opinion about this.
I’ll continue to
add all of them to the original
post, so you can bookmark that for the complete collection.
First, here is The Donald:
• “I gave to many
people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give
to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know
what? When I need something from them two years later, three years
later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken
system.” — Donald
Trump in 2015.
Here is Jimmy Carter:
• “Now [the United States is] just an
oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of
getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And
the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and
congressmembers. … So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of
our political system as a payoff to major contributors …” — Jimmy
Carter, former president, in 2015. (Thanks to Sam Sacks.)
And this is Bernie Sanders:
millionaire class and the billionaire class increasingly own the
political process, and they own the politicians that go to them for
money. … we are moving very, very quickly from a democratic
society, one person, one vote, to an oligarchic form of society, where
billionaires would be determining who the elected officials of this
country are.” — Sen.
Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in 2015. (Thanks to Robert
Wilson in comments below.) Sanders has also said many similar
as “I think many people have the mistaken impression that
Congress regulates Wall Street. … The real truth is that Wall
Street regulates the Congress.” (Thanks to ND, via email.)
And here is Al Gore:
democracy has been hacked. … The United States Congress … is now
incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies
and other special interests that control their campaign finances.” — Al
Gore, former vice president, in his 2013 book The Future.
(Thanks to anon
in comments below.)
There is a lot more
from where that came from (the original
post) and it is all very well
Corbyn is the curator of the future. His rivals are chasing an
The next article is by George
Monbiot on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
On one point I agree with
his opponents: Jeremy Corbyn has little chance of winning the 2020
general election. But the same applies to the other three candidates.
Either Labour must win back the seats it once held in Scotland (surely
impossible without veering to the left) or it must beat the
Conservatives by 12 points in England and Wales to form an
overall majority. The impending boundary changes could mean that it has
to win back 106 seats. If you think that is
likely, I respectfully suggest that you are living in a dreamworld.
In fact, in this contest
of improbabilities, Corbyn might stand the better chance. Only a
disruptive political movement, that can ignite, mesmerise and mobilise,
that can raise an army of volunteers – as the SNP did in Scotland –
could smash the political concrete.
Actually, I don't
agree with Corbyn's opponents. I don't disagree with the calculation,
but I argue as follows:
First, it is mostly bullshit
in politics to predict who will win the elections in 5 years
time. Very much may happen in five years. Second, if Corbyn
doesn't win the leadership elections of Labour, the other candidates
are mostly Tory-lite anyway, and even if they win the elections, it
will be another Blairite government that may make these leaders New
Labourites millionaires (Tony Blair is rumored to owe 80 million
pounds: that is his personal brand of socialism!) but
not do much for the many poor. Third, while I probably disagree with
Corbyn on many policies, at least he seems both tested and honest,
indeed unlike the fresh new Blairite faces he competes against.
Fourth, the whole argument of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair against the
Old Left (see: Third
Way) was mere bullshit, mere propaganda,
Here is some more
from the article:
That seems quite plausible.
Labour’s inability to
provide a loud and proud alternative to Conservative policies explains
why so much of its base switched to Ukip at the last election. Corbyn’s
political clarity explains why the same people are flocking back to him.
And there is this on Thatcher, who was a rightist extremist compared to
many in the Tory party (of the seventies), like Blair was a
rightist extremist compared to the many in the Labour Party (of the
made the Tories right wing; Blair made Labour Tory-lite:
In an openDemocracy article, Ian Sinclair compares
Labour’s attempts to stop Corbyn with those by the Tories in 1974-75 to
stop Margaret Thatcher. Divisive, hated by the press, seen by her own
party as an extremist, she was widely dismissed as unelectable. The
Tory establishment, convinced that the party could win only from the
centre, did everything it could to stop her.
Anyway - my point is
this, briefly: Jeremy Corbyn is honest and leftist, and both of
positions are real; the Blairites are neither honest nor leftist, but
they are professional politicians capable of mouthing and promising
their campaigns show).
I'd much rather have an honest leftist with whose
can honestly disagree, then professional politicians who
speak the prose of public
relations liars, and whose messages are mostly composed of bullshit, falsehoods and empty
promises-made-to- deceive, and who only serve themselves while
pretending to help others.
This article is worth reading all of and recommended (though I don't
agree with all of it).
Whistleblower Who Exposed the Secret Room AT&T Used to Help the NSA
Spy on the Internet
The next article is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
The whistleblower is Mark Klein (<-
Wikipedia), who is the - former - AT&T employee who revealed that
AT&T used a secret room to help the NSA.
There is a lot more
in the interview, including a fairly absurd series of exchanges between
Rand Paul and Chris Christie (with Christie being absurd, not Paul),
which Mark Klein says this, quite correctly:
KLEIN: Well, of course,
you should get a warrant. They could have done that back then. They
could have gone—used the FISA law. But
George Bush simply disregarded the FISA
law and approved it all on his own signature, which was totally
illegal. So, you know, I might add that while there are a few
dissidents in both parties, like Rand Paul in the Republican side and
Ron Wyden on the Democratic side, both parties—the real political crime
here is that both parties approved this when they passed the immunity
bill for the phone companies in 2008, with the help of Barack Obama, I
might add, and that killed the lawsuit.
Yes, indeed. And here
is a final bit:
GOODMAN: And, Mark
Klein, when President Obama says, "Don’t worry. The reauthorization of
the USA PATRIOT
Act means the companies like yours, that you worked for, AT&T, will
hold the information, not us"?
Well, you should worry. They’re storing everything they collect, and
they collect everything that they can get their hands on, as the NSA
documents reveal. There’s no need for that. They should rip out the
secret rooms. If they have some individual that they suspect, they can
get a warrant for that individual, but they don’t have to collect
billions and billions of communications, which is what they’re doing.
That’s all too tempting for the government to use when they want to go
after someone. And by the way, they didn’t stop a lot of attacks that
happened. They had all this in place, and they didn’t stop the Boston
bombing, for instance, even though they knew the perpetrators
beforehand. So, this is all just an excuse to collect information on
everybody, as far as I’m concerned.
I've said many times: The point of "The War On Terrorism" was not
terrorism, but to deregulate the
laws that protected the American
citizens from being the effective fully known, totally
understood and completely manipulable non-individual
non-citizens that function effectively as the slaves of the secret
organizations their government uses to secretly know everything
about their private lives, even if they don't know it.
We aren't there yet, but that seems to be the end of both the
the governments since Bush Jr.: A society where everyone is fully
known to anonymous secret service men who plunder his computer
behind his back, without his knowledge or consent, and where
everybody who opposes the
government can be disappeared with secret court orders.
of the Day: Here's Why the Recovery Has Been So Weak
The next item is by
Kevin Drum on Mother Jones:
This is a brief article
that starts as follows:
I don't really
have any good hook for posting this chart, but it's one of the most
important ones you'll ever see. It's from the Wall Street Journal and
it shows total government spending (state + local + federal) during the
recession and its aftermath:
And this is part of Kevin
responding to a historically bad recession with a historically strong
stimulus, we responded with the weakest stimulus ever. Government
spending is now more than 25 percentage points lower than normal. If
you want to know why the recovery has been so feeble and unsteady, this
Book review: ‘Notes on the Death of Culture’ by Mario Vargas Llosa
This last item is
by Anne Haverty on The Irish Times:
This starts as
follows - and I like to say that I saw this happening at the University
of Amsterdam from 1977 onwards. See the columns I published in
1988 and 1989:
We may not be
the worst of times, although a case might very well be made for it, but
anyone with a thought in their head would be entitled to say that we’re
living in the stupidest. Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning
novelist, certainly believes we are. In this series of coruscating and
passionate essays on the state of culture he argues that we have, en
masse, capitulated to idiocy. And it is leading us to melancholy and
Yes, indeed. (Side note: In 1984 (!!) the average
the students of the University of Amsterdam was 115; since then
probably sunk to 105.)
abandoned the former minority culture, which was truth-seeking,
profound, quiet and subtle, in favour of mainstream or mass
entertainment, which has to be accessible – and how brave if foolhardy
of anyone these days to cast aspersions on accessibility – as well as
sensation-loving and frivolous.
this kind of culture is essentially valueless.
"being value-free" is not being value-free, but being quite
dishonestly in favor of the best pay, and support for those
who pay the
best, indeed regardless of all other non-monetary values.
There is also this:
We live in the
Society of the
Spectacle. A name that recalls the bread and circuses offered to a
debased populace in the declining Roman empire. Exploited by the blind
forces of rampant consumerism, we are reduced to being spectators of
our own lives rather than actors in them.
sensibilities, indeed our very humanity, is blunted by those who
traditionally saw their role as the guardians of it.
intellectuals, the supine media, the political class have abandoned
substance and discrimination and with treacherous enthusiasm adopted
the idea of the image as truth. The liberal revolution of the 1960s,
especially the events of 1968 in France, and French theorists such as
Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard come in for a lot of invective.
They have turned culture into “an obscurantist game for self-regarding
academics and intellectuals who have turned their backs on society”.
think that is mostly right - and indeed that is what happened at least
the Dutch universities, which have been turned over to the students
1971, which led to 25 years of merely verbal extremists
fighting for their personal
advancements led by degenerates from the Dutch (New) Labour Party. 
summary of his diagnosis:
I probably would not put
it as Vargas Llosa did, but yes: the education I received at the
University of Amsterdam (in which I did make an excellent B.A. and a
very excellent M.A.) in fact was inane, idiotic, banal and also
Llosa is pessimistic about the survival of literature, which is to say
books that aren’t primarily entertainment or pragmatic. He’s
pessimistic about how a society can live without coherent religious
belief (although he himself can) and not fall into despair, about our
abandonment of the concept of privacy. To put the inner self on public
display in the way we’re expected to do is to revert to barbarism.
And the most cultured
countries are the most guilty. We will decline – like many a
civilization before us? – having squandered our inheritance, “this
delicate substance” that has taken millennia to develop and imparted
sense, content and order to our lives. The words “inanity”, “idiocy”
and “banality” appear again and again in Vargas Llosa’s discourse.
I did not learn anything I didn't know already, and
most of the others who were supposedly "educated" there mostly learned only
slogans and propaganda,
and especially in the softer studies i.e.
sociology, psychology, pedagogy, Dutch, and philosophy, though there
were many more such "academic studies".
And one of the saddest things was - in a university were the average
student had an IQ of 115, "studying" for a diploma that would make him
or her money - that the vast majority was too dumb or
too egoistic to
protest about the level of non-education offered to them, and also was
too egocentric to say so once they had a diploma.
 The Dutch situation in the universities between
1971 and 1995 is quite unique, and incomparable: In
1971 the universities were effectively handed over to the students,
who from then on ruled until the end of 1995, and until the mid-80ies
led by the Dutch communist
party (especially in Amsterdam). As expected, the students made an enormous
mess, and upset all studies that do not require real talent
(mathematics, physics, chemistry) or dedication (medicine).
since nearly everyone collaborated (as in WW II, when over 1% of the
Dutch population was murdered by the Nazis for being of the wrong race,
which was far more than anywhere else, except Poland) almost
nobody ever discussed that time, and certainly not honestly.
I will not do it here and now either, but these are the facts,
as is the fact that I am the only student who was removed as a
student from a Dutch university because of his opinions (!!), briefly
before doing my M.A. in philosophy, and while I was seriously ill,
which also is something the
University of Amsterdam refused to discuss with me in person, in mail,
or in letters, while every Dutch lawyer I turned to refused
to work for me "because that is too political for me". And I was
removed for publicly asking these questions.
But I will say this: My grandfather was murdered in a German
concentration camp as a "political terrorist"; my father
survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days of German concentration camp as a "political terrorist"; and I
was removed from the Amsterdam
faculty of philosophy as a "fascist terrorist", while I also was an
invalid. My grandfather got nothing; my father a minimal
"resistance pension" and a knighthood very briefly before he
died; and I got minimal dole, without even an admission that I was and
am ill, and then I was gassed - literally! - because I
protested against the noise the mayor's illegal drugsdealing friends
That is the Dutch civilization, from my point of view:
Sick, degenerate, hypocritical, egoistic and only interested in money,
which is made in part illegally by selling lots of illegal
$250 billion since I was gassed!) "with permissions by the
mayor". whom, you must believe because he honestly says so, doesn't
make a penny...