"They 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."
Anything You Can’t Buy in America? Should
2. Anti-Drone Movement Speaks:
'End the Secrecy, No to
to Extinction': Capitalism and the
Life and Earth
4. Court Orders DHS to Release
"Internet Kill Switch"
5. Chomsky’s right: The New
York Times’ latest big lie
is another crisis issue. Possibly because it is a Saturday, there was
not really much on the crisis, but I found five articles, although I
disagree with two, as I will explain.
Is There Anything You Can’t Buy in America? Should There
To start with, an article
by Lynn Parramore on AlterNet:
Actually, this is not a very
good or clear article, but I am not sure whose fault that is. In any
case, it discusses the views of Matthew Sandel, who teaches philosophy
at Harvard, and who seems to have some sensible ideas about markets,
about which he also wrote a book, entitled "What Money Can't Buy: The
Moral Limits of Markets", and it starts like this:
It was the same 2000
years ago in Rome, for example, so that cannot be quite the problem.
Then again, there are some important questions implied here, and Lynn
Parramore gives two:
If you’ve got the money,
there’s hardly anything you can’t buy in America. You can purchase a cushy
upgrade to your prison cell, an internship
at a famous magazine, or a fast-track
through airport security. You can even buy someone’s virginity
in an online auction.
downside of moving toward a society where everything’s for sale?
Then again, these are not
precise questions: At least most things have been for sale in several
economical systems, though the conditions varied, and "what a
market-based mentality costs us"
seems to depend on who is "us".
It’s been quite a while
since we’ve had much serious public discussion about what a
market-based mentality costs us.
But OK - there's more:
[Sandel - MM]
points out that in a society where everything is for sale, things get
much harder for those who have fewer resources, and that markets may
“crowd out” values that are worth caring about, like loyalty and duty.
If we set up a society where people act only out of economic
self-interest, then our “muscles” for other concerns will tend to
atrophy. Sandel pointed to the emptiness of our public discourse as a
sign that this is happening.
But that again is
rather vague, for several reasons, one of which is that it is simply
not true that "people act only out of economic self-interest": In fact,
that seems an ideal only the rich have - and besides, the more
intelligent of the rich only pretend to believe this.
Then we get a point that seems mostly true:
For a long time,
economists have tried to pretend that their field is value-neutral.
Baloney, says Sandel, and it’s high time economists reconnected their
work to moral and political philosophy.
It depends how long "a long
time" is, but this seems mostly correct, and I also agree it is a
mistake, and a major one: Economics is not and never was like physics,
and clearly it relates to values and morality, and to pretend it
doesn't only makes one's economics disjoint from the real facts.
Then we get this:
Ms Parramore, who holds a
Ph.D. "in English and Cultural Theory" thinks it isn't fair, and
postmodernism at least learned her to question things. But that is
baloney: The issue is whether postmodernists were relativists (yes,
they were), and whether their influence took away academic interests in
questions of value and morality (yes, they did, except if these
values were precisely those of the postmodernists who were involved).
Members of the audience
called upon liberals and progressives to stop shying away from
questions of values and morality, and that is a good thing. One member
accused postmodernists of blighting the public conversation of rights
and morals, presumably through their emphasis on relativism.
I hear that a lot. As
someone who studied in an English department in the 1990s, I can
certainly acknowledge the excesses of postmodernism.
And the readers are told - and I do not know whether this has anything
to do with what Sandel said - that:
The real foe of
progressive and liberal morality is not Jacques Derrida but Ayn Rand
(and her acolyte Alan Greenspan), whose celebration of self-interest as
the desirable motivator of human behavior is among the most repugnant
ideas ever to attain widespread acceptance in America, giving Calvinist
predestination a run for its money.
I'm sorry, but I disagree: Both
Rand's "philosophy" and Derrida's idem are awful products, mostly
because they do not have to do anything with the facts and are very
obscurantistic, albeit in different ways, although I know
philosophically uneducated folks think these are "deep thinkers".
There is a little more in the article, but this is about it (as you can
check for yourself), and I do not know either the answer to the
question in the title or what Matthew Sandel thinks - and I suspect the
main reason I do not know is Ms Parramore's postmodernistic education,
that has not learned her to think clearly, or at least not to formulate
2. Anti-Drone Movement Speaks: 'End the
Secrecy, No to Kill
Next an article by
Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
across the globe kicked off the largest-ever anti-drone summit Friday
with a boisterous White House rally then march to the headquarters of
one of the most notorious weapons manufacturers in the world.
I think I agree, and my
reasons are that these are weapons, whether or not they are
manned, or are directed from Utah, and that one should not use
weapons to kill thousands of foreigners, without a declaration
"After ten years of using
drones it is about time that American citizens demand accountability
from our government," said organizer Medea Benjamin of Code Pink in an interview
with Common Dreams. "Our government has been getting away
with a covert program killing innocent people in our names. It is high
time we react and say no to killings, no to secrecy, and no to a kill
Extinction': Capitalism and the Destruction of Life and Earth
Next, a fairly long article by Richard Smith
on Common Dreams:
This is concerned, nominally
at least, with the following facts:
Of course, the fear is
these situations of - say - 4 million years ago may rapidly recur. I
have to say that personally I doubt it, not because I deny facts, but
because it seems more likely civilization will end before it is 4
degrees hotter, simply for lack of fuel and food, and because of wars.
For all the climate
summits, promises of “voluntary restraint,” carbon trading and carbon
taxes, the growth of CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations have
not just been unceasing, they have been accelerating in what scientists
have dubbed the “Keeling Curve.” In the early 1960s, CO2 ppm
concentrations in the atmosphere grew by 0.7ppm per year. In recent
decades, especially as China has industrialized, the growth rate has
tripled to 2.1 ppm per year. In just the first 17 weeks of 2013, CO2
levels jumped by 2.74 ppm compared to last year.
Carbon concentrations have
not been this high since the Pliocene period, between 3m and 5m years
ago, when global average temperatures were 3˚C or 4˚C hotter than
today, the Arctic was ice-free, sea levels were about 40m higher and
jungles covered northern Canada; Florida, meanwhile, was under water
along with other coastal locations we now call New York, London,
Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney and many others.
Then again, Richard Smith has another idea:
But this - apart from
Smith's correctly identifying that his alternative is "impossible as this may seem right now" - seems to me a gross exaggeration:
Why are we marching
toward disaster, “sleepwalking to extinction” as the Guardian’s George
Monbiot once put it? Why can’t we slam on the brakes before we ride off
the cliff to collapse? I’m going to argue here that the problem is
rooted in the requirement of capitalist production. Large corporations
can’t help themselves; they can’t change or change very much. So long
as we live under this corporate capitalist system we have little choice
but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead
of slamming on the brakes, and that the only alternative — impossible
as this may seem right now — is to overthrow this global economic
system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up and replace
them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up political
democracy, an eco-socialist civilization.
The problem is not capitalism: the problem is deregulated
capitalism. I agree that there also need to be big changes
to introduce good regulations, but this seems to me to be more
likely successful than an "overthrow
[of - MM] this global economic system and all of the governments", which anyway is a wild and
unpredictable notion, that is most unlikely to bring what its
proponents want it to bring.
But anyway - I've warned you, and you can read all of the article.
Orders DHS to Release "Internet Kill Switch" Plans
article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
A federal court
this week has ordered the Department of Homeland of Security to
disclose details about the so-called "internet Kill Switch," that would
allow the agency to "deactivate wireless communications networks" if it
determined a localized or national crisis demanded such an action.
In fact, the U.S. government
will probably appeal, although it seems to me that the whole notion of
an Internet Kill Switch is odd and sick, since all that it will do is
make people dumb and voiceless: it will very probably not stop any
In the classicly-rendered
case, DHS has argued that shutting down entire communication networks
might be necessary in order to prevent the detonation of
radio-controlled bomb or explosive device.
But it is a bit nice to know that the U.S. government, and indeed
also the Dutch government, do believe that they do have this right.
The New York Times’ latest big lie
Finally, an article by Patrick L. Smith on the NYT
This starts as follows:
Yes, quite so!
Never before have I
written a column concerning nothing more than a pair of quotation
marks. Then again, never until now have I seen the power of punctuation
so perniciously deployed.
It is not a new
trick. Very popular in hackdom during the Cold War decades. Enclose
something in quotation marks and all between them is instantly
de-legitimized; no argument or explanation need be made. Here, try it:
Cuban ‘doctors’ sent to Angola…”
Or: “… Soviet-made ‘farm equipment’ in Portugal since its 1974 revolution…”
Well, they were
doctors and it was farm equipment. In the latter category I sat in a
Soviet tractor out in the Portuguese vineyards, and damn it if the
camponÍs did not find it useful.
In fact, this kind of sick and sickening degenerate trickery has been
plaguing me for decades, for especially the "postmodernists"
put "everything" that "might" be "somehow" "problematic" between
"quotatation"-marks, thereby effectively declaring that nothing meant
anything like the quoted words would mean if they were not "quoted".
(Yes, I may have overdone it.)
Anyway... here is what Patrick L. Smith protests against:
Here is the lead
in the Times report from the City of Diplomacy:
In fact, he protests
against more, but as to " “right”
": It simply is a fact that Iran does
have that right, without any quotation-marks, and whether
American diplomats like it or not, and to pretend that they merely lay
claim to a “right” that they have not is to trick the readers of
the New York Times.
government’s insistence on formal recognition of its “right” to enrich
uranium emerged as a major obstacle, diplomats said Sunday.
Also, this kind of trickery these days is extremely widespread, and
anyone who uses more than a pair or a few pairs of quotation-marks in
an article either is a very vague and uncertain and useless thinker or
is a fraud.
Finally, quotation-marks should be used only if one quotes,
and not to signalize that the meaning is not what the
word would have were it unquoted: If that is what you mean, you
should spell out the alternative meaning(s) you have in mind,
instead of both misleading your readers and leaving them baffled about
what you do mean.
 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
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.