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. Who Are the Koch
Brothers and What Do They Want?
2. The Energy Revolution Is In Reverse
Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain't Seen
4. Jared Diamond: We Could Be
Living in a New Stone Age
Obama’s First-Amendment Defense of Political Liars
On Charles Sanders Peirce
This is the Nederlog of April
19. It is another crisis
Today also is the day Charles Sanders Peirce
died a 100 years ago. I
doubt the name will say much to most of my readers, so there also is a
brief article about him at the end. I think he was the most important
philosopher of the previous two centuries - but there still is no good
or complete edition of his works, and much of his work never was
published. (There is something done about it now, but it has not been
finished, and anyway is too expensive for me.)
Apart from that, there are five crisis items: Sanders on the Koch
brothers; data that the energy situation worsens; Krugman on Piketty;
Diamond on the future; and Washington's Blog on Obama on lying
politicians (Obama is for it, I suppose as a compromise).
1. Who Are the
Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?
The first article today is by Senator Bernie Sanders on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
As a result of the
disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and
large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to
influence the political process. The results of that decision are
clear. In the coming months and years the Koch brothers and other
extraordinarily wealthy families will spend billions of dollars to
elect right-wing candidates to the Senate, the House, governors’
mansions and the presidency of the United States. These billionaires
already own much of our economy. That, apparently, is not enough. Now,
they want to own the United States government as well.
There is rather a lot
more, and it ends thus:
Four years ago, the Supreme
Court handed down the 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election
Commission. A few weeks ago, they announced another horrendous campaign
finance decision in McCutcheon v. FEC giving even more political power
to the rich. Now, many Republicans want to push this Supreme Court to
go even further. In the name of “free speech,” they want the Court to
eliminate all restrictions on campaign spending – a
position that Justice Thomas supported in McCutcheon – and a
view supported by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Importantly, as a means of being able to exercise unprecedented power
over the political process, this has been the
position of the Koch brothers for at least the last 34 years.
I think Sanders is
right, although being ill since 36 years I have no children or
grandchildren. (And see item 3.)
And let’s be very clear.
Their goal is not only to defund Obamacare, cut Social Security, oppose
an increase in the minimum wage or cut federal funding for education.
Their world view and eventual goal is much greater than all of that.
They want to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been
signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle
class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in
this country. Every piece of legislation!
The truth is that the
agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic
society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic
and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of
Our great nation must not
be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.
For the sake of our
children and our grandchildren, we must fight back.
The Energy Revolution Is In Reverse
The next item is an
article by Alex Kirby that I fount on Truth Dig, but that first
appeared on Climate News Network:
This starts as follows (and
see item 4):
Keeping the rise
in global average temperatures to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial
levels will not be prohibitively expensive, the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) says, though it won’t be easy.
There is more under the last
dotted link, but for the moment "the
world is not simply ignoring the IPCC. It’s moving smartly away from
the clean energy future that the Panel says is attainable".
There’s just one problem:
the atmospheric facts show that the world is not simply ignoring the
IPCC. It’s moving smartly away from the clean energy future that the
Panel says is attainable towards an inexorably hotter and more risky
Reaching the target will
mean cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40-70% over 2010 levels by
mid-century, the IPCC report says. Yet what is happening at the moment
is the exact opposite: average global emissions rose by a billion
tonnes a year between 2000 and 2010, faster than ever before.
To avoid the worst
impacts of climate change as cheaply as possible, the report urges an
energy revolution to end the dominance of fossil fuels. The IPCC says
investments in renewable energy need to triple, with subsidies to
fossil fuels declining and a switch to natural gas to help countries to
get rid of coal.
About Oligarchy? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
next item is an
article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
interview with journalist Bill Moyers set to air Friday, Nobel
laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman celebrates
both the insights and warnings of French economist Thomas Piketty whose
new ground-breaking book, Capital in the Twenty-First
Century, argues that modern capitalism has put the world
"on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of
an oligarchy—a society of inherited wealth."
The conclusions that
Piketty puts forth in the book, Krugman tells Moyers, are revelatory
because they show that even people who are now employing the rhetoric
of the "1% versus the 99%" do not fully appreciate the disaster that
global wealth inequality is causing.
I don't know. What
Krugman is going on about, also in an interview with Bill Moyers, is
that there is - as Piketty revealed to economists, but as I never
doubted - a strong tendency for inherited wealth to persist, but I very
much doubt quarreling about percentages makes much sense.
Jared Diamond: We Could Be Living in a New Stone Age by
an article by Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney on Mother Jones:
This starts as
In fact, this is what I
Diamond of: From his 1991 book The Third Chimpanzee (that at the time had another
sub-title), that I bought and read in 1991, and that I liked (though I
thought him a bit too positive, although I also thought the theme
needed that, if the book was to be popular, as indeed it was).
Jared Diamond didn't
start out as the globe-romping author of massive, best-selling books
about the precarious state of our civilization. Rather, after a
Cambridge training in physiology, he at first embarked on a career in
medical research. By the mid-1980s, he had become recognized as the
world's foremost expert on, of all things, the transport of sodium in
the human gall bladder.
But then in 1987,
something happened: His twin sons were born. "I concluded that gall
bladders were not going to save the world," remembers Diamond on the
latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. "I realized
that the future of my sons was not going to depend upon the wills that
my wife and I were drawing up for our sons, but on whether there was
going to be a world worth living in in the year 2050."
The result was Diamond's
first popular book, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future
of the Human Animal.
Now there is a new edition of it (after several other ones), this time
subtitled "For young people", and this edition also has been shortened
and given more
illustrations, and indeed addresses young people.
Incidentally, for those who think this is not about the crisis:
According to Diamond, who has children, there is a 51% chance that
mankind will survive the next 100 years, and a 49% chance it either
will not, or only barely, poorly, and thrown back in time for ages.
Anyway, there is a lot more under the last link.
First-Amendment Defense of Political Liars
This starts as follows -
and note that Ohio and fifteen other states do have laws that forbid
politicians to lie:
by Eric Zuesse on Washington's Blog:
In fact, the situation
seems to be as follows:
President Obama, through
his U.S. Solicitor General, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, has
now stated that lying in political campaigns isn’t merely protected by
the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, but that it is an
especially protected form of speech, which must not be hindered by any
state government, such as by the state of Ohio. Ohio has outlawed such
intentional deception of voters, and has established heavy criminal
penalties against it, when it can be proven. The idea behind this
law is that any democracy in which lying in political campaigns isn’t
penalized by severe penalties, won’t remain a democracy much longer,
but will instead descend into a kleptocracy: theft of elections
themselves (via lies), so that they become just nominal “elections,”
which are controlled by whatever aristocrats can put up the most money,
to lie the most effectively, to the biggest number of voters:
It’s an important Supreme
Court case. As Constitutional lawyer Lyle Denniston has noted, in
his “Argument preview: Attack ads and the First
Amendment”: “In all of the history of the First Amendment, the
Court has never ruled that false statements are totally without
protection under the Constitution.” However, this Supreme Court
will have an opportunity to do that here, in the case SBA List v. Dreihaus; or else, to
do the exact opposite — to open wide (even wider than they now are) the
floodgates to political lies.
Public opinion (e.g., this), and the President of the United
States (via his Solicitor General, to be discussed here below), seem to
favor opening the floodgates.
With Obama arguing
on the Republican side, and the Republicans arguing on the Republican
side, how will the Republican U.S. Supreme Court rule on this matter?
Also, I have always
known politicians are liars, but I agree with Zuesse they should not
(1) because they are supposed to lead the people very much rather tan
mislead them, and they can lead them only if they talk the truth (as
they see it) most of the time, at least: otherwise they lead by
misleading, and (2) because allowing them to lie, without punishment,
increases their powers a lot: Few of those who elect them have the
time, knowledge and money to try to sort out their lies, if they are
free to make these.
Here is the last statement of the article:
Lying in politics
is toxic to democracy. It’s destroying not only this country, but the
entire world. Obama wants to protect it, just like he protected the banksters from prosecution.
Yes. I agree politicians
should not lie, and may be legally forbidden to do so, although my
reasons are probably not the same as Zuesse's: They have
sufficient resources to stretch the truth anyhow, even if they do not
6. On Charles Sanders Peirce
Peirce, also known as Santiago in place of or added to the
middle name Sanders, was born on September 10, 1839 and died on April
19, 1914, aged 74. He was an American philosopher, logician,
mathematician and scientist.
Here is one consecutive piece from the Charles
Sanders Peirce section in Wikipedia, in which I have only deleted
The main reason to quote this
is to bring out how extremely original Peirce was - and the
above only summarizes
some of his discoveries in logic. He did a whole lot more, for
you are - to start with - referred to Charles
Peirce (Wikipedia) and to Peirce (Stanford
Peirce made a number of
striking discoveries in formal logic and foundational mathematics,
nearly all of which came to be appreciated only long after he died:
he suggested a cardinal arithmetic for infinite numbers, years before
any work by Georg Cantor (who completed his dissertation in 1867) and without access
to Bernard Bolzano's 1851 (posthumous) Paradoxien des Unendlichen.
he showed how Boolean algebra
could be done via a repeated sufficient single binary
operation (logical NOR), anticipating Henry M. Sheffer by 33 years. (See also De Morgan's Laws).
he set out the axiomatization of natural number arithmetic,
a few years before Richard Dedekind and Giuseppe Peano. In the same paper Peirce
gave, years before Dedekind, the first purely cardinal definition of a
finite set in the sense now known as "Dedekind-finite", and
implied by the same stroke an important formal definition of an infinite
setset that can be put into a one-to-one
correspondence with one of its proper subsets.
(Dedekind-infinite), as a
he distinguished between first-order and second-order quantification.
In the same paper he set out what can be read as the first (primitive) axiomatic set theory,
anticipating Zermelo by about two decades
In 1886 he saw that
Boolean calculations could be carried out via electrical switches,
anticipating Claude Shannon by more than 50 years.
By the later 1890s
he was devising existential graphs, a diagrammatic
notation for the predicate calculus.
Based on them are John F. Sowa's conceptual graphs and Sun-Joo Shin's diagrammatic reasoning.
I only want to add three more things here and now:
I think he was the most original and most interesting philosopher of
the last two hundred or more years.  Even so,
there is - as also with Leibniz
- no good or complete edition of his works, and much of what he
did remains completely unpublished, although I guess his most important
ideas have been published the last hundred years, and also currently
something is being done about it (that I cannot afford).
There are several reasons for the fact that there is - as yet - no
good edition of his works. I name only a few: Peirce led a mostly
isolated life, and was very poor the last 20 or more years - "He spent much of his last two decades unable
to afford heat in winter and subsisting on old bread donated by the
local baker. Unable to afford new stationery, he wrote on the verso side of old manuscripts.": quoted from Wikipedia - and he had some
important enemies, who several times succeeded in blocking him in
a job or publishing a book.
Why he had some important enemies is mostly unknown, but it must have
had to do with his great originality, that also extended to more things
than his work: he was - for one example - sanctioned a lot for
"having travelled with a woman he was not married to", even though he
was divorced and married her later, and probably also with the fact
that he had from his teenage years onwards frequent bouts of trigeminal
neuralgia, that is described as "the most painful condition known
In any case, if you are interested in real philosophy, you ought to
 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 covers Bertrand Russell
Plumpton Ramsey, who in my opinion were the best of the 20th
and also in the 19th Century's John Stuart Mill,
Nietzsche and quite a few other first class minds. (And yes, I am a
philosopher, and have read Peirce and about Peirce since 1972 or 1973.)
(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: