This starts as follows:
The Washington Post late Friday night
explosive story that, in many ways, is classic American
journalism of the worst sort: The key claims are based exclusively
on the unverified assertions of anonymous officials, who in turn
are disseminating their own claims about what the CIA purportedly
believes, all based on evidence that remains completely secret.
If that is true (and it very probably is)
then the Washington Post should not have published this
"explosive story" at all, for it seems to be pure fantasy that
is not backed up by any evidence
Here is some more on this total bullshit (that
is very convenient to Hillary Clinton):
It is total bullshit because (i) no actual evidence of any kind is given and because
(ii) even "the
CIA’s “secret assessment”" remains a secret.
These unnamed sources told the Post
that “the CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia
intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the
presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence
in the U.S. electoral system.” The anonymous officials also claim that
“intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to
the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked
emails” from both the DNC and John Podesta’s email account.
Critically, none of the actual evidence for these claims is
disclosed; indeed, the CIA’s “secret assessment” itself remains
There is this on the background and the probable reasons for this total
Needless to say, Democrats — still eager
to make sense of their election loss and to find causes for it other
than themselves — immediately declared these anonymous claims about
what the CIA believes to be true, and, with a somewhat sweet,
religious-type faith, treated these anonymous assertions as proof
of what they wanted to believe all along: that Vladimir Putin was
rooting for Donald Trump to win and Hillary Clinton to lose and used
nefarious means to ensure that outcome.
Again, the point is that "the Democrats"
have no proof whatsoever: All they have is wishful
Given the obvious significance of this
story — it is certain to shape how people understand the 2016
election and probably foreign policy debates for months if not years to
come — it is critical to keep in mind some basic facts about what is
known and, more importantly, what is not known:
(1) Nobody has ever opposed
investigations to determine if Russia hacked these emails, nor has
anyone ever denied the possibility that Russia did that. The source of
contention has been quite simple: No accusations should
be accepted until there is actual convincing evidence to
substantiate those accusations.
There is still no such evidence for any
of these claims. What we have instead are assertions, disseminated
by anonymous people, completely unaccompanied by any evidence, let
alone proof. As a result, none of the purported evidence — still —
can be publicly seen, reviewed, or discussed. Anonymous claims
leaked to newspapers about what the CIA believes do not constitute
proof, and certainly do not constitute reliable evidence that
substitutes for actual evidence that can be reviewed. Have we really
not learned this lesson yet?
Perhaps Glenn Greenwald
is quite right that this story - which for all I know has no
evidence whatsoever - "is certain
to shape how people understand the 2016 election and probably
foreign policy debates for months if not years to come".
If so, it means that wishful
thinking, fantasies, lies and bullshit have totally
replaced real news in the mainstream media in the USA.
There is a lot
more in the article, which is recommended, but that seems to me to be
the main lesson.
2. Media, Morality and the
The second item is by Neal Gabler
(<- Wikipedia) on Moyers & Company:
This starts as follows:
If you have any doubts that the
phenomenon of Donald Trump was a long time a’coming, you have only to
read a piece that Gore Vidal wrote for Esquire
magazine in July 1961, when the conservative movement was just
beginning and even Barry Goldwater was hardly a glint in Republicans’
I like Gore Vidal (<-
Wikipedia) (see - for example - here,
and there are more files about him in August 2012 )
and I also totally agree that Ayn Rand (<-
Wikipedia) was a "trash novelist and crackpot
I did read two of her books between 1971 and 1974, and that was
precisely the sort of conclusion I drew then: She cannot write novels
at all, and her philosophy is uninformed baloney. I still think so, and
found no reason to read more of her.
Vidal’s target was Paul Ryan’s idol, and
the idol of so many modern conservatives: the trash novelist and
crackpot philosopher Ayn Rand, whom Vidal quotes thusly:
In most quarters, in 1961, this stuff would
have been regarded as nearly sociopathic nonsense, but, as Vidal noted,
Rand was already gaining adherents: “She has a great attraction for
simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to
paying taxes, who hate the ‘welfare state,’ who feel guilt at the
thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their
It was the morality of altruism that
undercut America and is now destroying her.
Capitalism and altruism are
incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in
the same man or in the same society. Today, the conflict has reached
its ultimate climax; the choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of
rational self-interest, with its consequence of freedom… or the
primordial morality of altruism with its consequences of slavery, etc.
To love money is to know and love the
fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your
passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men.
The creed of sacrifice is a morality
for the immoral…
The above quotation of Rand (which is also bullshit) may very well have
Friedman (<- Wikipedia), for he insisted for many years that
CEOs have and ought to have just one norm: Profit, and
the more the better.
There is also this, which is in part due to Ayn Rand's influence:
The Republican Party has been the
party of selfishness and the party of punishment for decades now,
trashing the basic precepts not only of the Judeo-Christian tradition,
but also of humanity generally.
Vidal again: “That it is right to help
someone less fortunate is an idea that has figured in most systems of
conduct since the beginning of the race.” It is, one could argue, what
makes us human. The opposing idea, Rand’s idea, that the less fortunate
should be left to suffer, is what endangers our humanity now. I have
previously written in this space how conservatism dismantled the
concept of truth so it could fill the void with untruth. I called it an
epistemological revolution. But conservatism also has dismantled
traditional morality so it could fill that void. I call that a moral
agree with the first of the above two quoted paragraphs.
As to the two
revolutions Neal Gabler identified, I'm a bit more skeptical, indeed in
part because Neal Gabler is a journalist and a film critic (while I am
academically a philosopher and a psychologist).
First about the "epistemological
revolution". I don't disagree that "the concept of truth" has been
"dismantled", and that this was done, in part at least, to "fill the void with untruth", but in
fact I have seen this first happen in 1978, when the academic
year in the University of Amsterdam was officially opened by a
public speech by professor Brandt who claimed literally (in
translation) the utter lie and contradiction (for to know something =
to believe something that is true) that
Everybody knows that truth does not
But that is meanwhile more than 38
years ago.  It was followed in the
middle 1980ies by postmodernism,
that got quite popular among many academics, that insisted that there
is no truth
and no reality:
all there is are texts and interpretations
(and see here, for a good example
of somebody who was too intelligent
to accept that bullshit).
That got contradicted by several competent
people (especially after 1996, when Alan Sokal
beautiful hoax of the postmodernists), that seems to have undone
rather a lot of postmodernism, though not all, in the next 5 to 10
And now - in the end of 2016,
again 20 years after the Sokal affair, I am reading, in fact
only since quite
recently, that "we are in the age of post-truth" ("post-truth" als was
The Oxford Dictionaries' "word of the year" of 2016), that in fact does
not seem to have much to do with serious or even
quasi- serious discussions of truth but mostly with the rather evident desires in the
mainstream media to lie
and to propagandize
(mostly because this is both a lot easier and quite well-paid by the
I think all of this is true (!), but I do not
know to which of these diverse attacks
on truth Neal Gabler refers.
Next about the "moral
revolution". In fact, I don't know that "conservatism
also has dismantled traditional morality". What
I agree with (if this is what is meant) is that in ordinary
morality there is a shift towards indifference and egoism, but I
don't know this is a "moral
revolution", indeed in part because morality is less well-defined than truth or science, and in
part because much of morality (since a very
long time also: you could be burned for ages for not being a Christian,
for example) is filled with various
kinds and styles of hypocrisy. 
I agree the rises of indifference and
egoism are unsympathetic, but at least part of it may very well be due
to a decrease of hypocrisy,
which I think in good part because I have
seen extremely little solidarity, concern or help for people
who are genuinely ill, for nearly 38 years now (like me, with M.E.)
This is the last bit that I'll quote from
But what happens when those extremists
who advocate a bizarre morality that elevates selfishness and deplores
altruism commandeer one of our two major political parties? What do you
We know the answer. You do nothing.
not quite. For one thing, it depends on who "You" are taken to be. (And
it is false for
quite a number of "leftist public intellectuals", like
Reich and Chomsky.)
For another thing: What should
one do and what can
one do, if one is not "a public intellecual"? It seems to me
that most of
the prominent folks of the Republican Party - who tend to agree
selfishness and greed are good, while altruism
is bad, and indeed
tend to agree with Ayn Rand - cannot even be reached by almost all
ordinary people (which is in fact quite like the prominent
folks of the Democratic Party).
In brief, it is my guess that - by
large - most ordinary American people are not much concerned
bizarre morality that may rule the top of the Republican Party: They
simply don't care.
But this is an interesting article, though
I don't agree with everything in it, and it is recommended.
3. No, America, It Wasn’t Russia: You Did This to Yourself
The third item is by Juan Cole on Truthdig and
originally on Informed Comment:
This starts as follows:
The headlines scream, “Secret
CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House”
and “Obama orders review of Russian Hacking during Presidential
I don’t doubt that the Russian
Federation employs hackers and PR people to influence public opinion
and even election outcomes in other countries. So does the United
States of America. But I am skeptical that anything the Russians did
caused Donald Trump to be president.
For more on this see item 1.
Incidentally, Cole's view is not quite like Greenwald's view,
for Greenwald says there is no evidence (and he is right)
whereas Cole says that he is skeptical that "the Russians"
Trump to be president". Cole may well be right, but I do not
think he has much evidence
for his particular form of skepticism.
Here is Cole's view:
Trump was in plain view. He had all
along been in plain view. His hatred for uppity or “nasty” women, his
racism, his prickliness, his narcissism, his rich white boy arrogance
and entitlement (apparently even to strange women and other men’s
wives), his cronyism and his fundamental dishonesty were on display
24/7 during some 18 months of the campaign, and it wasn’t as though he
were an unknown quantity before that.
Americans voted for him anyway.
That is, it is Cole's view that the
did decide, in majority also, at least in the Electoral College if not
in number of votes (for these were won by Clinton), that they preferred
Trump over Clinton.
As I said, Cole may be right, but
I am a little more skeptical: I agree with Greenwald - see item 1 - that there is no evidence either way,
and I agree with several others (also quoted in Nederlogs of this year)
that it is rather easy to manipulate many of the computers that
are used in the USA in elections.
But there does not seem to be any (good) evidence they
4. Michael Hudson: Economists’ Deadly but Innocuous-Seeming
The fourth and last item today is by Rosh Ashcroft on Naked Capitalism
and originally on Meet the Renegades:
This is the text
from an interview Rosh Ashcroft had with the economist Michael
Hudson who happens to believe (as I do) that most of
economics is not
a real science (but much more of an ideology than a science), and
(as I argued completely by myself, in 2009) that the way to solve the
crisis (in which Hudson also believes) is by writing down the debts.
We will come to that, and start with the crisis (and there is much more in the interview than I selected):
"a black swan" refers (metaphorically) to an unexpected but real
counter-example (in the metaphor: To the generalization that "all swans
are white", on the discovery of black swans in Australia).
RA: You make a distinction between the
real economy and Wall Street or the financialized economy and when you
say that the debt has built up since World War II, year on year. Are
you’re saying that when the real economy can no longer service that
debt, we have a financial crisis?
MH: That’s when you have a crisis.
RA: So it isn’t a black swan as such?
MH: It is inevitable. The magic of compound
interest means that interest grows and the debt accumulates. When you
add in new money creation, debts grow faster than the economy at large.
So the situation that existed in 2008 remains the case today: Debt in
almost every country is equal to the entire GDP, the entire national
And what Michael Hudson is saying: No, the crisis is not due to
an unexpected but real counter-example to economic theories; it is
due to a completely mistaken economy and politics, both of
which are now mainly driven by lousy analyses and wishful
I agree, and I also agree (if that is Hudson's idea, which I
is) that the crisis is much deeper than merely economical: It is also ethical and political,
and indeed - in my opinion - also scientific, for
universities are by now both much worse and much
more expensive than
they were in the Seventies and Eighties.
Here is some on one background of the American economics, which
a fine and quite true point about "free markets"
(that I have made many times before):
"Great Moderation" is new to me, but the fact that real
hardly risen since Reagan (in 1980) is well-known to me, and the "Great Moderation" seems to be part of that tendency (that
lasts now 36 years, and has incredibly profited the few
rich, at the costs of the many poor ).
RA: So just let’s define the Great
Moderation. Which years would you put the great moderation between?
MH: About 1995 to 2008. As Alan Greenspan explained it, he said that it
was moderate because labour didn’t complain. Productivity was soaring
and wage rates did not go up in the American economy. He explained this
before the Senate committee, as what has been called the “Traumatized
Worker Effect.” He said that workers are so deeply in debt that they’re
afraid to strike. They’re afraid to complain about working conditions,
because they could be walked out the door, and if they are fired, if
they don’t have a job, then suddenly the interest rates they pay on
their credit cards go up to 29 percent. They’re one month away from
insolvency, one month away from homelessness.” So Greenspan said, in
effect, “We’ve hooked them. We’ve got them.”
RA: And his view is that’s the
optimum state for workers, why?
MH: Because that’s what he calls a “free
market.” It’s a free market where the 1% get to smash the 99% without
any ability of the 99% to fight back.
Hudson seems quite correct to me when he says that - in effect, without
really saying it - Greenspan
(<-Wikipedia) said "We've hooked [the workers]. We've
got them." And Greenspan was strongly in favor of that, for Greenspan
was strongly in favor of maximum profits for the rich (which
nearly always come from exploiting the non-rich more: higher prices or
Also, Hudson is quite right when he says that the utter
of the workers is what Greenspan and his kind of economists call a
A situation where the rich 1% can do as they please to the
Here is Hudson on what happened to economical thinking and to most
The right wing, the monetarists,
the Libertarians and neoliberals, especially through the Chicago school
– they have taken over the economic journals, and will not let any
alternative analysis or views be pushed.
"the Chicago school" = Milton Friedman's (<- Wikipedia) kind of
economics, which again
got quite (in)famous for supporting the economy of Chili's dictator
That’s the genius of Chicago free-market
economics. It’s the Pinochet principle: You cannot have a Chicago-style
free-market unless you’re willing to kill or eliminate everybody who
disagrees with you. Free-market economics Chicago-style must be
totalitarian. There must be no alternative. This is what is happening.
This is how economic education in the United States is. It’s the
Pinochet model without the machine guns.
And I do not know whether Hudson is right about "free-market economics Chicago-style",
for I do not know enough about what's happening inside the economists'
departments in American universities, but I do know that
economics" is ideological
crap and propaganda,
and has little or
nothing to do with real science.
Here is Hudson's prediction for the (near) future:
RA: If we take it to its logical
conclusion, where does it end? Totalitarianism?
MH: It ends with economic planning
shifting out of the hands of democratic government into the hands of
the central bankers and the Treasury. They will do to Europe what
they’ve done to Greece. They will do to the United States what they’ve
done to the Baltics, who celebrate austerity and mass immigration and
demographic collapse as if it is a miracle instead of economic disaster
I do not know whether Hudson is
right in this, but he may well be. Also, he is right in the
sense that the economy in Europe, at least, now is in "the hands of the central bankers and the Treasury".
And while I doubt that "the central
bankers" can do to Europe what they did do in Greece, and not
because I think that "the central bankers" will
not want to do
that, but because I think Europe will be destroyed economically
it gets reduced as far as Greece has been, I may be mistaken.
Here is, as the last bit that I'll quote
from this article, Michael Hudson on what he thinks should be done to
get out of the current crisis:
MH: In the end there’s only one way of
solving the problem. That’s to write down the debts. There is no way
today’s debts can be paid. The only way to free the economy from these
payments for debt service is to write down the debts. That’s what
finally happened in Rome.
I agree, and had the same
idea as Hudson
in 2008/9 - but then Obama nominated Timothy Geithner
(<-Wikipedia), and Geithner
arranged it so that everybody lost except the rich
bankers, who got a whole lot richer.
And this is a recommended article.