10, 2013
Crisis: corporations, obama, marketing war, lehman brothers, spinoza
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

Prev- crisis -Next

1. U.S. Government Also Spying On Corporations?
2. Obama Remembers He’s Not George W. Bush
How the White House and the CIA Are Marketing a War in the YouTube Era
4. Happy Anniversary Lehman Brothers, And What We Haven’t Learned about Wall Street Over the Past Five Years
Why Spinoza Was Excommunicated
About ME/CFS


Today there is more on the crisis: How the spying on the corporations may eventually tame the spying on everyone; how Obama had a non-Bush moment; how the White House is marketing war; how neither Congress nor the government did anything to tame the banks, for five years now; and finally why Spinoza was excommunicated, though that last bit is thrown in mainly for my pleasure, and has nothing to do with the crisis.

1.  U.S. Government Also Spying On Corporations? 

To start with, 5 1/2 minutes of video by The Young Turks. It is worth looking at because it is informed:

Besides, Cenk Uygur mentions one of the things that may - eventually - save ordinary people's privacy, which is this:

The NSA - or better, the secret services of The Five Eyes the U.S., Great Britain,
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, by now are almost everywhere and are able to read everything, encrypted or not (with a few exceptions, that don't matter).

This means that Edward Snowden's many ex-colleagues, who lack Snowden's courage and honest, are in a position to read very many - encrypted - trade secrets of multinational companies - which they may try to sell to the multinational competition.

All of this is certainly true, except for the so far unproven possibility that such sales have been going on. But once that has happened or is probable, the shit will hit the fan.

And indeed, I agree that is a very interesting possibility.

2.  Obama Remembers He’s Not George W. Bush

Next, an article by Robert Scheer on Truth Dig:
This is - once again - about the war with Syria that the White House has been plotting. Here are the first 1 1/2 paragraphs:

It may come to naught—calls for peace so rarely still the drums of war—but there was a moment Monday when the odds for sanity seemed to finally stand a chance of prevailing. It came when President Obama acknowledged the Russian proposal for Syria to avert war by agreeing to destroy its chemical weapons stock as “a potentially positive development.” It was quintessentially an un-Bush moment when suddenly this presidential “decider” seemed possessed of a brain capable of reversing his disastrous course.

It helped that a majority of the public, and even many of its representatives in Congress, had expressed strong opposition to entering into a civil war without a plausibly positive outcome. According to The New York Times/CBS News poll conducted over the weekend, “nearly 9 in 10 Americans are concerned that United States military action in Syria will become a long and costly mission” and would lead to “a more widespread war in the Middle East.”
Note Obama's moment of sanity occurred in response to a Russian proposal. Maybe it helps avert the war, but I am not certain, in part because I am currently rereading Thucydides' "The Pelopponesian War", that is full of warnings like these
There is much that is unpredictable in war, and attacks are usually made as the result of a sudden impulse. (p. 130) [2]
And also (something neither Kerry nor Obama really seems to consider when droning):
People grow angry when they suffer things that they are quite unused to suffer and when these things go on actually in front of their own eyes. They do not wait to think, but plunge into action on the spur of their impulse. (p.131) [2]

3. How the White House and the CIA Are Marketing a War in the YouTube Era

Next, a piece on Common Dreams by former US Congressman Denis Kucinich:

It starts as follows:

Governments have always used fear and manipulation of emotion to get the public to support wars. The Bush administration did it in 2002 in Iraq and it is happening again in Obama's push for war in Syria.

In possibly the biggest development yet in the story, we learned this weekend that the CIA has now been enlisted to sell this new war with unproven evidence. On Saturday, U.S. intelligence officials claimed they "authenticated" 13 videos that show the horrific aftermath of a chemical attack in Syria in August. What exactly did they "authenticate"?

And a little further on:

The release of these graphic videos is a cynical maneuver by the White House because the rest of the case for war remains unproven, with open questions about transcripts, satellite imagery and signal intelligence under the shield of classified information. What does it mean when the government's case for war relies more on emotion than on evidence? Welcome to war marketing in the YouTube era.

It also has a list of points to prevent this, which you can find under the last dotted link.

4. Happy Anniversary Lehman Brothers, And What We Haven’t Learned about Wall Street Over the Past Five Years

Next, a piece by Robert Reich on another aspect of the crisis:

Here is most of the initial two paragraphs:

While attention is focused on Syria, the gambling addiction of Wall Street’s biggest banks is more dangerous than ever.

Five years ago this September, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, and the Street hurtled toward the worst financial crisis in eighty years. Yet the biggest Wall Street banks are far larger now than they were then. And the Dodd-Frank rules designed to stop them from betting with the insured deposits of ordinary savers are still on the drawing boards — courtesy of the banks’ lobbying prowess..
And here is some more:
No company, least of all a giant Wall Street bank, will eschew a chance to make a tidy profit unless the probability of getting caught and prosecuted, multiplied times the amount of any potential penalty, is greater than the expected profits.

Have we learned nothing since September, 2008? Five years ago this month Wall Street almost went under. We bailed it out. Millions of Americans are still suffering the consequences of the Street’s excesses. Yet the Street’s top guns and fat cats are still treating the economy as their own private casino, and raking in even more than before.
Also, all of this could have been stopped, for the existing antitrust laws are quite sufficient to do it ... if Congress and the government wanted it. But they do not want it.

Why Spinoza Was Excommunicated

Now we are going for something quite different, namely an article by Steven Nadler in "Humanities", which I reproduce here mostly for my own satisfaction, and to show what idiots Dutchmen often are - and since I am a philosopher, who wrote over 20 books I cannot publish [3], now and then I will write about philosophy:
In fact, you do not need to read the article (though you may), for the main point is the following curse that was proclaimed in Amsterdam in 1656, against Baruch Spinoza, who later found fame as a philosopher:
After all of this has been investigated in the presence of the honorable hakhamim [“wise men,” or rabbis], they have decided, with the [rabbis’] consent, that the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel. By decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of the entire holy congregation, and in front of these holy scrolls with the 613 precepts which are written therein; cursing him with the excommunication with which Joshua banned Jericho and with the curse which Elisha cursed the boys and with all the castigations which are written in the Book of the Law. Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up. Cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in.
The article is quite learned, though I knew of most of the things it says, but the above proclaimed curse is new for me. I also quote only part of it: For all, you have to follow the last dotted link.

My reasons to list this item are exposed in Dutch, in Nederlog articles from 2007:
The first is my rather amazed reaction to three Dutch intellectuals - who I have learned are all equivalents of Einstein and Von Neumann, for the Dutch for over thirty years educated all Dutchmen to the tune of "Everybody knows that everybody is equivalent to everyone" - because Spinoza got presented by these three Dutch geniuses (dr. Bloksma, dr. De Kok and drs. Van Reijen) as a "kaltgestellte Jew" - "kaltgestellt" is German slang for "murdered" - while he was neither the one nor the other, since 1656:
the said Espinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel.
And besides, it explains why I am myself not much impressed by Spinoza: I have read the Ethics, when I was 20, because it was supposed to have been composed  "more geometrico" - but especially from the beginning I could hardly make head nor tail, and the rest also was not very logical or mathematical.

Now, you may say: That is just me - but I found out, much later, that George Boole had had quite the same reaction, ca. the 1840ies, and indeed had written about it:
"The Ethics of Benedict Spinoza is a treatise, the object of which is to prove the identity of God and the universe, and to establish, upon this doctrine, a system of morals and philosophy. The analysis of its main argument is extremely difficult, owing not to the complexity of the separate propositions which, through a (..) defect of clearness, it is perplexing whether we ought to accept or reject. While the reasoning of Dr. Samuel Clarke is in part verbal, that of Spinoza is so in a much greater degree; and perhaps this is the reason why, to some minds, it has appeared to posses a formal cogency, to which in reality it possesses no just claim." (From George Boole, "An investigation of The Laws of Thought on which are founded the mathematical theories of logic and probability", p.187)
The three Dutch philosophical geniuses had no idea of this - or if they had, they violently disagreed with Boole, but remained silent.

The other article I wrote is from half a year later, and treats more modern Spinoza-followers, each and all the equivalents of the first three. (That is: They must be all universal geniuses, according to what I learned in the University of Amsterdam: "Everybody knows that everyone is the equivalent of everyone".)

It is quite amusing, but all in Dutch, so I just translate its last  paragraph:
In brief: the Dutch interest in Spinoza seems to me to be mostly disposed by Dutch chauvinism: Had Spinoza been British, Laplander or Italian, then there would have been no Dutchman (except for a very few, for not everybody is stupid or a phony, even if most are, alas) who would have the least interest in him.
And thus it is.
[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] I am quoting from
Thucydides. "The Pelopponesian War", translated by Rex Warner, first published in 1954, the edition I am using in Penguin Classics, of 1982.

[3] Because I am a member of those who get paid dole in Holland, and such persons are not allowed to sell books they wrote - which probably will not sell much, though the materials on Leibniz, Hume, Mill and Multatuli, to name only some, are quite good.

But I am one of the most inferior Dutchmen, who even claims to be ill, so to hell with me and my civil and human rights:

I have been told by many of the equivalents of the above - professors, doctors or civil servants - that I am "a fascist" and "a terrorist"; that my mother is "a dirty whore" and that my father is "a mad strikeleader". My complaints have never even been answered, and in the City of Amsterdam, since I protested, at least 250 Billions of euros in illegal soft drugs have been illegally turned over, while no Dutch judge or district attorney ever paid any notice...

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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