11, 2014
Crisis: Obama *2, Beheadings, Go-Slow, China, Dr Healy
  "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
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next

Obama's legal rationale for Isis strikes: shoot first, ask
     Congress later

2. Obama Claims All 'Authority Needed' to Further Expand
     'Endless War'
3. Why More Americans Should See the Beheading Videos
4. Tech firms begin 'go-slow' protest in battle for the web
5. How the Chinese regime uses web censorship to
     strengthen the state

6. Dr Munchausen: Pharmacophile

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 11. It is a
crisis log.

There are six items with seven dotted links, and I'd say at least the items about Obama and about China are interesting. And the last item is about the crisis in medicine and psychiatry (which may be of less concern to some, but yes: these too are in crisis).

1. Obama's legal rationale for Isis strikes: shoot first, ask Congress later

The first item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:

This presupposes (to an extent) that you know president Obama has announced  that he, together with his friends and allies, will degrade and destroy ISIS (which he calls ISIL).

In case you want to read his speech, here it is:

It is basically propaganda, but then that is to be expected. Here are some bits from the speech, quoted in the order in which they occur:

Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.
Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.
This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.

My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL.
May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

I note the following:

  • First, "counter-terrorism" = terrorism. I'm sorry, but that is what it is.
  • There is no permission of Congress, not for fighting in Syria nor in Iraq (but I agree he probably may get it).
  • As to "a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven": The U.S. president assigned himself the freedom to drone anyone anywhere, on the ground that they may have "threatened America". I suppose to some he sounds like an adult, but since when can any president from any state threaten to bomb anyone anywhere he disagrees with?
  • The "American leadership" paragraph is total bullshit: In the end the Americans fight for the American military-industrial complex and oil industries, which have an excellent spokesman in Obama.
  • There is an "appropriated" missing after "have" in "I have the authority": He does not have the authority, and he does not want to ask it, though he probably would get it, from Congress at least - but see below.
  • It's all a divine mission, to blow up unknown persons with drones, in a pretended fight "for freedom and justice", that seems in fact to be about the continued billions of war-related profits for the military-industrial complex.

Supposing the speech, here is the beginning of Spencer Ackerman's article:

In the space of a single primetime address on Wednesday night, Barack Obama dealt a crippling blow to a creaking, 40-year old effort to restore legislative primacy to American warmaking - a far easier adversary to vanquish than the Islamic State. Obama’s legal arguments for unilaterally expanding a war expected to last years have shocked even his supporters.

Ahead of Wednesday’s speech the White House signaled that Obama already “has the authority he needs to take action” against Isis without congressional approval. Obama said he would welcome congressional support but framed it as optional, save for the authorisations and the $500m he wants to use the US military to train Syrian rebels. Bipartisan congressional leaders who met with Obama at the White House on Tuesday expressed no outrage.

Yes, indeed. It is as if the Emperor Obama has decided to kill a couple of tenthousand or hundredthousands of people he regards as his enemies, and meanwhile is doing so (he is the emperor: you should Trust Him), while he (or He) is kind enough to inform the body of millionaires that are his parliament,
while at the same time he is telling them "No, I don't need your support. I am the Commander; these are My troops; I do what I please - but if you agree you may support me. (If not, expect the FBI and the NSA.)"

But indeed, it is as Ackerman states: "
Bipartisan congressional leaders (...) expressed no outrage." They are quite willing to quit their powers, and to compromise liberty for a mere false semblance of security.

Here is more from Spencer Ackerman:

Taken together with the congressional leadership’s shrug, Obama has stripped the veneer off a contemporary fact of American national security: presidents make war on their own, and congresses acquiesce.

The constitution envisions the exact opposite circumstance. A 1973 reform, the War Powers Resolution, attempted a constitutional restoration in the wake of the Vietnam war, ensuring that the legal authorisation for conflict deployments were voided after 60 days.
Precisely. It is completely unconstitutional, quite illegal, and it is terrorism (of the kind that purports to be "counter"). But it is popular, I grant, precisely as Goering predicted.

As to Obama's peacefulness, here is more Spencer Ackerman:

While Obama may think of himself as a bulwark against perpetual US war - and while his political adversaries consider him insufficiently martial - his actions tell a different story. Obama’s foreign-policy legacy is marked by escalating and then extending the Afghanistan war beyond his presidency; empowering the CIA and special-operations forces to strike on undeclared battlefields in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya; the 2011 Libya war; and now returning US warplanes to the skies above Iraq, and, soon, expanding their mission to eastern Syria.
Which altogether are "undeclared battlefields" (which makes them unconstitu-
tional!) in six different countries. And note please that each
"undeclared battlefield" brings much (private) profit to the military-industrial complex.

Here is the last bit by Spencer Ackerman:

The American and global publics can reasonably ask what 13 years of US war have durably achieved. One answer, unlikely to have been anticipated by the architects, caretakers and practitioners of this conflict, is the hobbling of legislative restrictions on war enshrined in the constitution, and the expansion of a legal authority Obama said last year kept the country on an unacceptable footing of perpetual war.
I do not know these consequences were "unanticipated", in part because the American authorities clearly wanted to do as they please for a long time, and it seems that under Obama now they can: "I am a former professor of constitutional law. I wipe my ass with the Constitution. The millionaires that got elected, often by spending large fees on their elections, applaud me. What more do I want?! I can do as I please." (No, He did not say that. But He might just as well. "Change"!)

Obama Claims All 'Authority Needed' to Further Expand 'Endless War'

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This is given to the same theme as item 1, and starts as follows:
With President Obama expected to deliver a national address on his plans for expanding the U.S. war against militant forces in Iraq (and possibly Syria) on Wednesday, the U.S. public is once again facing the sad fact that after thirteen years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, permanent war has become the nation's steady state.
Yes - and at a time that the U.S. can least afford it: Very much could be done with the trillions that disappear in the war and the pockets of the leaders of the military-industrial complex, but according to Obama it is far more important to drone the ISIS than to improve the U.S. roads, education, economy, jobs, student debts, other major debts, banks, and what not: First kill the anti-American terrorists in Yemen or Syria! That is urgent! They may kill you in Oklahoma!

Jon Queally continues:
On Tuesday, Obama met with Congressional leaders where he indicated his position that he already had all the authority he needs to execute the strategy he has in mind.
He does not have "all the authority he needs to execute the strategy he has in mind" - but given the state of Congress, and the fear of terrorism by non- Americans he can pretend to have them. Nevertheless, it remains quite illegal and quite unconstitutional, but then will very probably be exonerated by the next U.S. president.

Jon Queally continues:
In a piece posted in Bloomberg, political correspondent Jonathan Allen said the "trick" Obama has to achieve in his Wednesday night address will be "getting the American public, Congress and allies abroad to sign on" to his new strategy to take on the group know as the Islamic State (formerly called ISIS), which operates in war zones in both Iraq and Syria.
Yes. It is a trick because constitutionally he needs approval of Congress, and indeed also the approval of the United Nations. But he doesn't want either, because he believes Congress may be more extreme than he is (in which he may be right!), and anyway he seems to think that if he wants to kill people he calls "terrorists", he has a right to (which is just unconstitutional nonsense, as he very well knows, but few in Congress care).

Next, Jon Queally quotes Glenn Greenwald:

Here’s how you know you live in an empire devoted to endless militarism: when a new 3-year war is announced and very few people seem to think the president needs anyone’s permission to start it (including Congress) and, more so, when the announcement - of a new multiple-year war - seems quite run-of-the-mill and normal.
Yes. But then I must again insist that half of the U.S. electorate has an IQ lower than 100, and hardly has a sense of history, a grasp of politics, an understanding of propaganda, any legal nous, or any grasp of philosophy or science, while all may vote, and all count as 1:

If you keep saying to such an electorate that "these are evil terrorists who want to kill you, and these are more evil terrorists, and they are not even Christian, and they want to crucify you, and see there are even more Hitler-like Islamic terrorists who want to kill you, rape your wife and daughters, and since all I want to do as your president is to drone them a bit, I think I may" - then you get the go-ahead, regardless of law, of common sense (the chance of an American being killed by terrorists is less than being hit by lightning), of decency, of morality, or of international legal agreements, provided you are the most powerful nation to start with, that spends enormous amounts on "defense".

And this is what has been happening, though indeed less by Obama himself than by most of the media. (But Obama uses this propaganda, and adds some of his own, e.g. that he has authority that he in fact totally misses.)

Finally, here is Mark Weisbrot, who gets quoted by Jon Queally:
Just as the U.S. Constitution provides a check on the president’s authority to wage war, at the international level there is the law of the United Nations, which is supposed to govern the use of force in international relations.  Article 2 of the U.N. charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, prohibits the use of military force against other nations unless authorized by the Security Council.  There are exceptions, for threats of imminent attack, but the U.S. is not under imminent threat of attack and no one has claimed that it is.
That is fair and true enough - except that it hasn't worked all this century. (And Iraq did not form "imminent threat" in 2001, and the untruths about "weapons of mass-destruction" it was supposed to have, turned out to be gross lies.)

3. Why More Americans Should See the Beheading Videos 

The next item is an article by Peter Maass on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Beheading is barbaric. The men of the Islamic State who executed James Foley and Steve Sotloff are monsters. Yet their monstrosity does not fully explain our fury over their beheading videos, or the exhortations we have heard to not share or distribute the harrowing images.

We are right to be repulsed. But I think part of our horror stems from the fact we rarely see images of American victims of war. It is the last taboo in our era of endlessly transgressive media — publishing photos or videos of injured, dying, or dead Americans in a war zone. How has this taboo been maintained? To a great degree, the reason is censorship on the part of the American government.

Yes - although it seems to me that murdering by poison (that may not work) is not very much less barbaric or monstrous, and yet that is current U.S. law. I agree those murdered got a trial and may be guilty of murder themselves, but legal murder is not a legal sanction anymore in nearly all Western states, except for the U.S.

I do not know whether more Americanas should see the beheading videos: I didn't, and I do not think seeing them would change my opinions (and I have seen plenty of puctures of cruelly killed men, women and children), but I agree with Peter Maass that the American people has the right to see "
images of American victims of war".

What difference that would make I do not know, but censorship nearly always is a very bad thing, if only because it makes the censors more human or at least more powerful than those they deny the right to see what the censors have seen.

4. Tech firms begin 'go-slow' protest in battle for the web

The next item is an article by Dominic Rushe on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Much of the internet went on a “go-slow” protest on Wednesday, as some of the world’s largest tech companies began a protest over proposals that could create fast web lanes for some companies.

Tech firms including Netflix, Etsy, FourSquare, KickStarter, Mozilla, Reddit, PornHub and Vimeo installed a widget on their sites to show how they believe the internet would look if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturns “net neutrality” rules.

I am in favor of net neutrality, but I did not see any of this yesterday, though it also is the case I did not look for it.

There is a lot more in the article, that I leave to your interests.

5. How the Chinese regime uses web censorship to strengthen the state 

The next item is an article by Andrew Brown on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:
The Great Firewall of China is one of the wonders of the modern world. Hundreds of thousands of censors are employed to ensure that as little as possible is published on the internet that might inconvenience or threaten the government. The tendency among western liberals and pro-democracy types is to suppose that this must make the state less efficient. But suppose the censorship is so fine-tuned that it actually strengthens the repressive apparatus by making it cleverer, rather than simply squelching all opposition?
And according to Andrew Brown, that is exactly what happened. I tend to believe him (but do not know Chinese). Here is how the Chinese system of state censorship (for that is what it is) works:
The result, which confirms earlier results, is that you can say pretty much anything you like on Chinese media, providing that it does not lead to any kind of action. “Chinese people can write the most vitriolic blogposts about even the top Chinese leaders without fear of censorship, but if they write in support of, or [even] in opposition to an ongoing protest – or even about a rally in favour of a popular policy or leader – they will be censored.”
Here is one of the consequences (which goes against Keith Alexander and the NSA's pretensions):
It is also a blow at the idea of artificial intelligence and algorithmic censorship. If the internet is to capture information of use to the ruling party, it has to be operated by human censors. There are lists of keywords that will get a post blocked or at least reviewed, but these are very crude and easy to circumvent.
I think that is correct, at least now, and also in the U.S. This doesn't mean that I agree to the spying of the NSA; it does mean that I do not think it will at present find much.

Finally, here is the last sentence of the article (which is good):
This is future George Orwell never saw: a jackboot poised above a human face – and the face talks on and on about kitten pictures.
For that is allowed. Of course, the jackboot will come down if any action outside the internet is involved, somehow...

6. Dr Munchausen: Pharmacophile

The next and last item is an article by Dr. Healy on his site:

In fact, this article dates back to 1997, when it was refused by three journals. It is a good article, and supports my contention that you better avoid psychiatrists, if you can help it (and instead you may visit a psychologist, who probably will be more inclined to listen to you, precisely because he or she cannot prescribe pills).

Here is the last paragraph:
Medicine has become the Religion of our day – the Opium of the Masses.  It took a very long time to discover abuse and pedophilia in institutions like the Catholic Church.  It may be particularly difficult to do so when it comes to an institution that people feel they have little option but to believe in.
Yes, indeed - and I also like to remark that the state of medicine is a lot worse than it was till 1980 or so, precisely because Big Pharma since then moved in, and Big Pharma doesn't care for patients, nor for patients rights, nor for real and adequate information, or indeed for medical doctors who disagree with it: It only cares for profits, indeed quite as the neoliberal ideology has it.

For more - if you want it - see the DSM index or
DSM-5: Medicine is a very sick business in the US - 2.
P.S. Sep 12, 2014: I made a few corrections and added a link
[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.) 

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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