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Nederlog


  October
1, 2013
Crisis: Hedges, Boyarsky, Scheer, NSA, Sibelius
  "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.










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Sections
Introduction
1. The Sparks of Rebellion
2. The Reason Republicans Were Willing to Shut It Down
3. The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America
     Will Never Face Prosecution

4. NSA Holds Internet Records Longer Than Obama Said
5. Target or Not, the NSA is Storing the Metadata of Millions
6. Dear Secretary Sibelius: don’t make us wait another 3
     decades !
About ME/CFS

Introduction

This also is a bit earlier than otherwise, and again the reason is mostly that I could. The first five items are about the crisis, and the sixth and last is about a letter by an American M.D. who addresses the head of the CDC. (I think the letter is OK, but it will probably not succeed, though I would be glad to be mistaken.)

1. The Sparks of Rebellion

I start today with Chris Hedges on Truth Dig, who tries to find the basis for a non-violent rebellion:

Here are his opening paragraphs:

I am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt.

Vladimir Lenin placed his faith in a violent uprising, a professional, disciplined revolutionary vanguard freed from moral constraints and, like Karl Marx, in the inevitable emergence of the worker’s state. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon insisted that gradual change would be accomplished as enlightened workers took over production and educated and converted the rest of the proletariat. Mikhail Bakunin predicted the catastrophic breakdown of the capitalist order, something we are likely to witness in our lifetimes, and new autonomous worker federations rising up out of the chaos. Pyotr Kropotkin, like Proudhon, believed in an evolutionary process that would hammer out the new society. Emma Goldman, along with Kropotkin, came to be very wary of both the efficacy of violence and the revolutionary potential of the masses. “The mass,” Goldman wrote bitterly toward the end of her life in echoing Marx, “clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify!”

It so happens that I have read (and sometimes reread) all of them - also Lenin and Marx - and had done so by the age of 20, which was in 1970. The main reasons for doing so were that my parents were sincere communists all or nearly all their lives, and I was interested in theories.

I should say first that most of them are not very relevant today, as they also were not in 1970 (though nearly all students thought differently, and many called anyone who disagreed "a fascist").

There are two main reasons for this (and a lot of of lesser reasons): First, most were mistaken in at least some of their general assumptions; and second, they wrote for men of their own times - and when they wrote they expected a revolution during their own days, for the most part.

Then again, I mostly like Kropotkin and Goldman, and indeed agree with the quoted sentiments of the latter, which I explain, for the most part, by a lack of intelligence.

Also, Chris Hedges is aware of most of this, or so it seems:
We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers. Most manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and, of those that remain, few are unionized. Our family farms have been destroyed by agro-businesses. Monsanto and its Faustian counterparts on Wall Street rule. They are steadily poisoning our lives and rendering us powerless. The corporate leviathan, which is global, is freed from the constraints of a single nation-state or government. Corporations are beyond regulation or control. Politicians are too anemic, or more often too corrupt, to stand in the way of the accelerating corporate destruction. This makes our struggle different from revolutionary struggles in industrial societies in the past.
Indeed - but then I am not one of those who believes in developing "a revolutionary theory", for at least three different reasons, that are all quite good:

First, there simply is not the knowledge available of society and of social processes to found a rationally credible "
revolutionary theory".

Second, if it were to be found, it would only be read by few, and would be understood by far fewer (for it would be mostly mathematical).

Third, it neither matters nor is needed: One can always cry for "Revolution!", that mostly will not work, but very rarely may work, akthough then usually not for the reasons or for the ends of those who demanded it, and besides one wants to avoid mythologies about "reborn new men" or of "places of plenty for all where everything is made and works for the best interests of everyone".

Then again, Hedges is
mostly right about the following:
The most important dilemma facing us is not ideological. It is logistical. The security and surveillance state has made its highest priority the breaking of any infrastructure that might spark widespread revolt. The state knows the tinder is there. It knows that the continued unraveling of the economy and the effects of climate change make popular unrest inevitable. It knows that as underemployment and unemployment doom at least a quarter of the U.S. population, perhaps more, to perpetual poverty, and as unemployment benefits are scaled back, as schools close, as the middle class withers away, as pension funds are looted by hedge fund thieves, and as the government continues to let the fossil fuel industry ravage the planet, the future will increasingly be one of open conflict. This battle against the corporate state, right now, is primarily about infrastructure. We need an infrastructure to build revolt. The corporate state is determined to deny us one.
But there also need to be some shared values, that posit ends to strive for, and to that extent it is about ideology - and indeed that is also one of the main problems of this time: That there are, so far, no realistic shared values about the ends one is willing to strive for, especially not of such ends as contradict the present society or societies.

Next, I also think Hedges is mostly right in the following:
The state, in its internal projections, has a vision of the future that is as dystopian as mine. But the state, to protect itself, lies. Politicians, corporations, the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and our ridiculous television pundits speak as if we can continue to build a society based on limitless growth, profligate consumption and fossil fuel. They feed the collective mania for hope at the expense of truth. Their public vision is self-delusional, a form of collective psychosis. The corporate state, meanwhile, is preparing privately for the world it knows is actually coming. It is cementing into place a police state, one that includes the complete evisceration of our most basic civil liberties and the militarization of the internal security apparatus, as well as wholesale surveillance of the citizenry.
But the problem here is that most people do not see it that way - either they still believe what their politicians tell them or else believe they, at least, will make it.

And here is Hedges' end, that shows fairly clearly what I think is wrong with his position:
If we are to face what lies ahead, we will not only have to organize and feed ourselves, we will have to begin to feel deeply, to face unpleasant truths, to recover empathy and to live passionately. Then we can fight.
What's wrong here is - in my opinion - either that it requires too much (most people do not "feel deeply" about most things; most do not like "to face unpleasant truths", and few can "recover empathy and to live passionately") or else that the times are not yet bad enough for sufficiently many people to do some new thinking, and to stand up and live for themselves.

But I do like
Chris Hedges, who sees more clearly than most.

2. The Reason Republicans Were Willing to Shut It Down

So it has happened: The U.S. government has been shut down, at least in most of its paid efforts, and the reasons are that the Republicans, or the Tea Party part of them, wants to undo "Obamacare" by hook or by crook.

Here is a piece by Bill Boyarsky on Truth Dig that may clarify some things:
It starts as follows:

Don’t write the Republicans off as totally crazy. They know that if Obamacare works, it will wreck chances for attaining their real goal—lowering taxes on the rich, wiping out regulations and widening even more the gap between the very rich and everyone else.

That is why they and their business allies are fighting so hard against the Affordable Care Act and threatening to bring the federal government to a halt. If the Republicans lose on Obamacare, it will be nearly impossible for them to shrink government the way they’ve been dreaming.

And while I am not convinced this is right, it does explain part of their reasoning. There is considerably more that I skip, but here is most of Boyarsky's conclusion:

If the Affordable Care Act works, its success will tilt the balance in favor of government-aided health care—and clear the way for eventual approval of the best solution: a single payer system, Medicare for all.

But if the Republicans win, succeeding in dismantling Obamacare or even forcing a year’s delay, the cause of an activist government will be dealt a blow that will be felt for generations. That will strengthen the GOP for the 2014 congressional elections and 2016 presidential race.

Again I think this is probably too simple-minded, but he does have a point.

3.
The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution

Now I relay my attention, though I stay on Truth Dig, namely by turning to Robert Scheer, who explains that there is done an enormous amount of leaking by government people, to journalists and "journalists" (those who go by the name, but either are bought or are without guts), some of which maybe much more dangerous than anything disclosed by Edward Snowden.

The only difference is that the leakers who are not facing prosecution leak materials that support the government:
Here is the beginning:

Secrecy is for the convenience of the state. To support military adventures and budgets, vast troves of U.S. government secrets are routinely released not by lone dissident whistle-blowers but rather skilled teams of government officials. They engage in coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to influence public opinion. They leak secrets compulsively to advance careers or justify wars and weapons programs, even when the material is far more threatening to national security than any revealed by Edward Snowden.

Remember the hoary accounts in the first week of August trumpeting a great intelligence coup warranting the closing of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies in anticipation of an al-Qaida attack? Advocates for the surveillance state jumped all over that one to support claims that NSA electronic interceptions revealed by Snowden were necessary, and that his whistle-blowing had weakened the nation’s security. Actually, the opposite is true.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

4.
NSA Holds Internet Records Longer Than Obama Said

Next, a bit about the NSA and Obama's audacious honesty. This is by Alexander Reed Kelly, who - again - writes for Truth Dig:
Here it is, without the quotation from the Guardian:

The NSA stores the online metadata of millions of Internet users for up to a year, whether they are targets of investigations or not, The Guardian reports Monday that top secret documents reveal.

Metadata is the record of almost everything a person does online, from browsing history to email account activity and details, as well as some passwords. It can be used to build a detailed picture of a person’s life both off- and online.

Obama and his officials have repeatedly said that the NSA keeps the contents and communications of only people it intentionally targets. These internal documents demonstrate otherwise.

Quite so - and one just cannot trust Obama.

5.
Target or Not, the NSA is Storing the Metadata of Millions

Finally as regards the crisis for today, the same report done by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

Here is the beginning:

The NSA is recording the online metadata of millions of people—whether or not they are on the NSA target list—and dumping it into a repository where it is stored and searchable for up to a year, the Guardian revealed Monday citing documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

This new revelation directly contradicts claims by President Obama that the NSA only stores information from people who are specifically targeted.

And this is a part of the end:

Civil liberties advocates slammed the findings that the NSA is not only spying on millions of people without justification but is also holding onto the information it obtains. “This report confirms what whistleblowers have been saying for years: the NSA has been monitoring virtually every aspect of Americans' lives – their communications, their associations, even their locations," ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer told Common Dreams in an email.
Also, all of this - the government's actions and its lies - are quite illegal.

6. Dear Secretary Sibelius: don’t make us wait another 3 decades ! 

This last piece and link is again motivated by my having M.E. for 35 years, all without help, except for basic and minimal dole.

I wrote about the letter signed by 35 of the most qualified medical researchers into M.E., who now have decided to support the CCC definition, that also are regarded by most patients and myself as good, on September 26.

Here is a follow up by an American MD:
Here is one paragraph from it, with bolding by the author - and I must presuppose "This history":
This history is largely why I and other patients, now joined by expert clinicians and researchers, experience a collective shudder of fear and horror when they hear DHHS plans to a) construct a clinical case definition employing professionals unfamiliar with ME/CFS, b) separate from a research case definition, c) at several separate meetings no less. ME/CFS’s past is filled with examples of ineffective and harmful ideas and treatments visited upon patients without listening to their stories nor to those of the clinicians taking care of them. Confusion and harm has already been incurred by applying research based on one definition (e.g. Oxford-based PACE trials) to patients diagnosed with another definition (Fukuda) and by employing a research case definition (Fukuda), without a solid clinical grounding, that focuses on the wrong symptom. Why make that same mistake again?
And here is my answer (which is not in criticism of the author, who means well):

Because it serves the interests of many psychiatrists and many medical people not to think, and to simply prescribe GBT and SSRI's to people they like to consider to be mad, because doing so does satisfy their interests.

But we will see.

---------------------------------

Note


[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay 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 of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1. 1979:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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