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."
1. The Supreme Court Just Gutted
Finance Law. Here’s What
2. In 'Blow to Democracy,' SCOTUS Strikes Down
3. Disaster: What You Need To Know About Today's
Supreme Court Ruling
Errol Morris on Rumsfeld, the truth and “The Unknown
5. The Certainty of Donald
on Usher's Syndrome
This is the Nederlog of April
3. It is another crisis
It is a bit abnormal, in that it has just three subjects: The death of
American democracy, and the opinions of Donald Rumsfeld, to which I
added a bit late in the day an update on Usher's syndrome.
Then again, the first subject has three items devoted to it, and the
second no less than five, although the last four of these are a four
series that I liked but that may be a bit too philosophical for others.
I think the first subject is quite important, and it has
happened now, thanks to the last decision by the US Supreme Court, that
handed the United States on a platter to the plutocrats, allowing them
to invest billions into politics to get their desires satisfied, and
the second is
interesting, though not as much as the first, but also I should add
that today I found nothing else in the morning, which means that
probably there will not be much later in the day either.
In any case, I have served it up in six sections, though the fifth one
contains four dotted links.
The Supreme Court
Just Gutted Another Campaign Finance Law. Here’s What Happened.
The first article today is by Andy Kroll on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
After this, there is a
considerable amount more, in which Andy Kroll explains the decision.
This I'll leave to you, but it is well done.
The Supreme Court on
Wednesday released its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal
Election Commission, the blockbuster money-in-politics case of the
current term. The court's five conservative justices all agreed
so-called aggregate limit on the amount of money a donor can give
to candidates, political action committees, and political parties is
unconstitutional. In a separate opinion, conservative justice Clarence
Thomas went even further, calling on the court to overrule Buckley
v. Valeo, the 1976 decision that concluded it was
constitutional to limit contributions to candidates.
In their dissent, the
court's four liberal justices called their colleagues' logic "faulty"
and said it "misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional
interests at stake." The dissent continues, "Taken together with Citizens
United v. Federal Election Commission, today's decision
eviscerates our Nation's campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant
incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy
that those laws were intended to resolve."
The decision is a boon for
wealthy donors, a potential
lifeline for the weakened Democratic and Republican parties, and
the latest in a series of setbacks dealt by the
Roberts court to supporters of tougher campaign laws.
'Blow to Democracy,' SCOTUS Strikes Down Campaign Contribution Limits
The next item is an
article by the Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams, and the subject is
that of the previous item:
This starts as
There is more under the
last dotted link that I leave to you, also since I have one more
comment on the Supreme Court's decision:
In a boon to the role of
big money in politics, the Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowly struck
down overall limits on the amount of money individuals can
contribute to candidates, parties and political
action committees during the federal two-year election cycle.
The decision left
the cap of $2,600 per election that an individual can give to any
single federal candidate but removed the limit on the grand total that
can be contributed to all federal candidates.
The ruling means
that a single person can write a $5.9
million check for expenditure by candidates, political parties and
political committees, according to Public Citizen.
"This is truly a decision
establishing plutocrat rights," said Robert Weissman, president of
Public Citizen, slamming the ruling as a "devastating blow at
the very foundation of our democracy."
Disaster: What You Need To Know About Today's Supreme
a video by The Young Turks of 16 min 51 sec:
Cenk Uygur this decision marks the death of democracy in the United
States, and he explains this fairly well. The main reason is that this
decision gives big money far more power over politics than it
I have made the beginning of the title today "US democracy much
weaker", which seems to me certainly true.
And I must add one consideration that I have not heard or read so far,
which is that a major part of the blame should go to the stupidity,
whether due to native lack of intelligence or proudly acquired
ignorance, of the average Americans.
My reasoning here is that the millions or billions of the rich will be
spend mostly on advertisements,
and advertisements only convince fools or ignoramuses. Also, I am
willing to agree that there are more ignoramuses than there are fools,
but this does not make it nicer: it makes it only more bitter.
Errol Morris on Rumsfeld, the truth and “The Unknown Known”
Next, an article by Andrew O'Hehir on Salon:
I should start with
quoting the subtitle, because it does clarify:
interviewer" refers to Errol
Morris (<- Wikipedia), whom I have written about before in Nederlog, namely
on March 29 and December 10 of 2011, both in the
context of a discussion of Thomas Kuhn and
his opinions, a philosopher
of science who is much despised by Morris, for good reasons, and indeed
also by me, who thinks he was a major bullshitter.
Our greatest interviewer
meets the Bush era's great bullshit artist, who has no doubts, no
regrets and no questions
Here is a bit of what I wrote on March 29, 2011:
In 1972 - when I already had decided Kuhn
was mostly a fake and phony, who used ideas from others, notably Popper and Polanyi, with
a personal twist and some highly pretentious terminology of Kuhn's
invention, at least in the contexts in which he used them, namely
"paradigm" and "incommensurability" (*) - Mr Morris was a
graduate student at Princeton, studying with professor Kuhn, then quite
famous as a philosopher because of his "The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions"; fell into debate with professor Kuhn about Kuhn's pet
ideas, that Mr. Morris felt unable to swallow, for rather palpable good
logical reasons; and in reply got thrown an ashtray at him by professor
Kuhn, that missed Mr. Morris, after which professor Kuhn also took
additional steps to remove Mr. Morris from Princeton, in which he
Indeed, that seems the
main reason why Errol Morris became a film maker rather than a
philosopher, which seems to have unpacked quite well. Here is a bit
more of what I wrote in 2011:
All of this is quite
relevant to Donald
Rumsfeld (<- Wikipedia) because he was a high official who
glorified in postmodernistic
which he had mostly taken from others, like "the known unknown and the
unknown known", and "the absence of evidence that is not evidence of
I may return to the series later, and then
lift some quotes from it, because it seems to me to discuss one of the
postmodernism and its dangers quite well, which is the false thesis
that there is no independent reality against which we can compare our
ideas, statements and terms, and that all there is are only texts,
pretensions and propaganda, and no truths or facts of the matter - and
indeed this is true, but it is true of bad philosophy, of
postmodernism, of fairy tales, of political and religious superstitions
and of pseudoscience only, but is not true of real science and not true
of rational natural
But then that is the strength and
postmodernism: It reduces everything to propaganda,
and it insists nothing can be refuted, since nothing can be true or
false, except metaphorically, for which reason postmoderns are capable
of supporting any doctrine, making any career, in any way, and do so,
for while they are relativistic
about everything that does not touch their own personal interests, they
are absolutists about their excellencies, authenticities, and rights on
tenure, fame, money, and media-exposure.
Frankfurter wrote in On Bullshit:
"For the bullshitter
(...) is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false.
His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and
of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his
interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether
the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out,
or makes them up, to suit his purpose."
That's what Kuhn produced, and by this
he produced a paradigm of bullshitting in and around philosophical
topics of all kinds.
The three basic reasons this happens are: Personal greed for tenure or
status; lack of talent;
lack of character (the
last link is in Dutch). See my lemma
Academic philosophy in my
Philosophical Dictionary and my Spiegeloog-columns (that
I wrote as a student: Now you ought to know why I am not a
tenured professor: I am smart and honest).
The present article, under the last dotted link, is a good
interview with Morris, on the occassion of his having made a film about
Rumsfeld. I'd certainly recommend you read it if you are interested in
Morris (who is an interesting man).
5. The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld
Next, four articles by Errol Morris
(<- Wikipedia), that form a series, and are on The New York Times:
Originally, Morris tells
in the interview in item 4, this was called
"Philosophy" rather than "Certainty", but on reflection Morris -
correctly - decided that "Philosophy" would be too much praise.
The three reasons these are here, apart from the fact that I read all
of them with some pleasure, is that (1) Rumsfeld is a good example of postmodernistic thinking in politics,
which indeed also explains his total lack of remorse: if there is no truth and no falsity, and in the
end everything is merely bullshit and propaganda aka
relations", together with "interests" that desire, make or finance
these, indeed you need to have no remorse for anything; (2) the stolen bullshit he got
famous with; and (3) the lack of any depth, conviction, feeling,
remorse, or indeed any real rational thinking, on the part of one of
the architects of the Iraq war.
Then again these files are mostly here to back up the
previous item, and to clarify my insistence on the continuing
importance of postmodernism, which
I also agree is less prominent than it was 20 years ago, but in part
this is so because it got widely accepted, both as a recipe for bullshit, and
as a way of speaking, writing and thinking about many things, and
notably about politics.
on Usher's Syndrome
Finally, an update on an item of March 29, when I linked a brief video of
a woman with Usher's
Syndrome, who first heard when she was 40. That video went viral,
and indeed is quite moving, and here is Jo Milne's - the woman who has
Usher's Syndrome - own story on The Guardian:
It is a nice and clear
article, and it also explains she found out that she has Usher's
Syndrome when she was 29. I found out I was ill when I was 28, on
1.1.1979, since when I have not been healthy, but I have to grant that
was, in my case, considerably less bad than having Usher's Syndrome,
which means that one is or will be deafblind.
P.S. Apr 4, 2014: Added a link to Kuhn.
 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
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 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
from is quite pertinent.)
(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: