12, 2014
Crisis: Obama *2, Scots, Yahoo, British Conservatives, Money-In-Politics
  "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 Unauthorized War
2. Scottish independence: how the Tories became pariahs
3. News Organizations Finally Realize Obama’s War Plan Is
     a Hot Mess

4. Secret Surveillance Battle Between Yahoo and the U.S.
     Government Revealed

5. 'Poison pill' privatisation contracts could cost
     £300m-£400m to cancel

6. ‘Money-in-Politics’ Amendment Ignored

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 12. It is a
crisis log.

There are six items with six dotted links. I think most of the items are interesting - which I say because sometimes I think the items that I found are not very interesting, though they are about the crisis, and I could not find any better. Also, you do not need to agree with me on what is interesting.

Anyway, here goes - and this was published a bit earlier than is usual:

1. Obama’s Unauthorized War

The first item is an article by David Cole on the New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:

In his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Barack Obama set forth a four-part strategy for dealing with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS or, in President Obama’s usage, ISIL. He spoke of continuing airstrikes in Iraq and extending them into Syria, training Iraqi forces and supporting Syrian rebels to fight ISIS, general counterterrorism operations, and humanitarian aid. But he did not put forth his strategy for dealing with the US Congress. And the Constitution demands that he obtain support from Congress if he wants to engage in what could potentially be a long war with a new terrorist group.

President Obama announced that he intends to carry out a sustained military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, a campaign that his own military has said could last many years; it is nearly thirteen years since we set out to degrade and destroy al-Qaeda, and there’s no end in sight yet. In his speech, President Obama avoided the word “war,” but that is the more common word for the kind of sustained military campaign he described. And under our constitution, the president cannot go to war without congressional approval except in narrow circumstances not present here.
It's a bit repetitive, but it is here mostly to support what I said yesterday:
  • The American government goes to war again.
  • The American government has no right to go to war without the explicitly given consent of Congress and without the explicitly given consent of the United Nations.
  • There is no such consent, from neither side.
It seems as if Obama can get the support of Congress, but he doesn't want it, just as he doesn't want to call his war a "war". As to that, here are some more bits by David Cole:
Obama apparently thinks he doesn’t need any authorization to drop bombs from the sky with the aim of killing human beings—even in a country, Syria, where he plainly will have no permission from the sovereign to do so.
On Meet the Press this Sunday, Obama claimed, “I have the authorization that I need to protect the American people.” The host, Chuck Todd, didn’t press him on where that asserted authority comes from. Congress certainly has not given it.
Does the fact that the president will not put “boots on the ground” except for indirect training and support make what he proposes any less a “war”? No. Just as ISIS is a “terrorist group, pure and simple,” as Obama claimed, bombing Syria is war, pure and simple. And war requires Congressional authorization.
In brief: The coming war is completely illegal, but this probably doesn't matter much, since such things as legality or international agreements are out of date: Obama does as he pleases, regardless of laws or signed international agreements, and the next president will very probably exonerate him.

Scottish independence: how the Tories became pariahs

The next item is an article by Patrick Wintour on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

On one account Ed Miliband decided to tell David Cameron on Monday he would not be at prime minister's questions on Wednesday because he wanted to campaign in Scotland, and somehow, either in the meeting or shortly afterwards, it emerged the Tory leader would also skip PMQs for Scotland. Some Labour MPs were squirming at the sight of Miliband appearing to arrive as part of a Westminster establishment, and specifically at the same time as the Tory party leader, one of the most despised political forces in Scotland.

Cameron admitted his party's pariah status in Scotland when he urged Scots not to vote yes simply "to kick the effing Tories". The unpopularity of the Conservatives is of course one of the most powerful factors driving the yes vote.

The rest of the article - more or less - explains why the Conservatives have "pariah status" in Scotland. I'll leave it to your interests: one reason it is here is to show I do take an interest in backgrounds.

But I do think the Scots have a right
"to kick the effing Tories", and they can do so next week. And here is the ending of the article:
(....) the failure of devolution ambitions in the 1970s set the stage for the experience of Thatcherism, and the current determination in Scotland … to kick the effing Tories.
3. News Organizations Finally Realize Obama’s War Plan Is a Hot Mess 

The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State counts on pretty much everything going right in a region of the world where pretty much anything the U.S. does always goes wrong.

Our newspapers of record today finally remembered it’s their job to point stuff like that out.

After which there follows a survey of quotations which support the contentions in the first two paragraphs. Here is a quotation from the New York Times:
Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.
And that is mild compared to further quotations from the NYT in the article. There is also the Associated Press:
For a president criticized as overly cautious and reluctant to lead, Barack Obama is taking a huge risk. He is thrusting U.S. fighting forces into a growing military operation with clear dangers, unknown costs, an indefinite length and unpredictable consequences.
There is considerably more in Froomkin's article, including an analysis by Karam and Salama who point out ISIS (I suppose Obama speaks of ISIL, of course after talking to his propaganda (sorry: public relations) team, because he much rather says "is ill" than "is is" - which I find contemptible, but likely) counts some 20,000 fighters plus a lot of propaganda.

Froomkin, after quoting a lot more, concludes:
It’s great our leading mainstream news organization are finally pointing out the flaws of a president’s plan to bomb Iraq. Last time around, they waited until over a year after the invasion to suddenly pile on.
Yes, though one wonders why, given also that the MSM (Mainstream Media) have been quite complicit in "the war on terrorism" since 9/11, namely by almost only reporting what the governments thought fit to be read or seen by the public.

I will not try to answer that question here and now, and only give one more quotation, from Andrew J. Bacevic, who is a professor of political science, who served in Vietnam, who lost a son in Iraq in 2007, and who concludes, after a list of problems that he claims - I think correctly - will not be solved by Obama's military intervention:

All the military power in the world won’t solve those problems. Obama knows that. Yet he is allowing himself to be drawn back into the very war that he once correctly denounced as stupid and unnecessary — mostly because he and his advisers don’t know what else to do. Bombing has become his administration’s default option.

Rudderless and without a compass, the American ship of state continues to drift, guns blazing.

It may be that I am cynical, but I do wish to note that all these "guns blazing" spell vast profits for the military-industrial complex, and that it does not seem to me to be inconceivable that these profits do form a rudder and a compass, now that big money rules politics, while the public has been for the most part  propagandized into submission (by means of the rational argument: "Terror! Terror! Terror! Terror! Terror!").

4. Secret Surveillance Battle Between Yahoo and the U.S. Government Revealed

The next item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

More than 1,000 pages documenting a secret court battle between Yahoo and the government over warrantless surveillance will soon be released, the company said Thursday afternoon.

In 2007, Yahoo fought back against the government’s demand for information on certain overseas customers, saying that the request was over-broad and violated the constitution.

Yahoo’s challenge ultimately failed, knocked down by both the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, which oversees secret government spying) and its review court. The company then became one of the first to hand over information to the NSA’s PRISM program, which allowed the government access to records of internet users’ chats, emails, and search histories, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The targeted user was supposed to be foreign, but U.S. communications could still be swept up in the effort. Google, YouTube, AOL, and Skype were also among the companies that provided communications data to PRISM. According to the Washington Post, the government used the FISC court’s decision in the Yahoo case to pressure those others to comply.

In a statement on the company tumblr, Yahoo’s general counsel wrote that the government at one point threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day if it did not release the data.

I say. I think Yahoo was quite right, and I also think the FISC is not a legal court (and see item 5) : There is no jury, no argument, and no lawyers for both parties, and it all is secret to boot: This is military-style rubber stamping under the pretense that it comes from a legal court. It doesn't, not according to my - quite standard! - opinions of what constitutes a legal court.

Then again, what can you do as a single private company against the most powerful state in the world that has decided to not apply proper and constitutional legal means because this is claimed to be justified by "the war on terror"? And imposes its will by fines of $250,000 a day?

5. 'Poison pill' privatisation contracts could cost £300m-£400m to cancel 

The next item is an article by Alan Travis and Rajeev Syal on The Guardian:

This starts as follows - and one reason to include this is that it sounds much like what the TTIP is meant to do, on a much larger scale also:

Taxpayers will face a £300m-£400m penalty if controversial probation privatisation contracts are cancelled after next May's general election under an "unprecedented" clause that guarantees bidders their expected profits over the 10-year life of the contract.

Labour is already committed to unpicking the justice ministry contracts to outsource probation services but will not now be able to do so without incurring the multimillion pound bill because of "poison pill" clauses written in by Chris Grayling's department.

The Ministry of Justice say they are only following Treasury guidance by including the clause, which raises the prospect that similar clauses are being included in other politically controversial contracts across Whitehall that are to be signed before next May's general election.

To me this sounds illegal and it certainly is unjust:

You are a conservative "Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice" in Great Britain - and you agree that future parliaments should pay as much as
£400m in penalty (from the taxes everyone has to pay then) if your present plans and agreements with some private corporations were to be voted out by the next parliament.

In this way the present government can determine policies for the next 25 years: Simply put in a clause in a contract that allows the corporations who sign the contracts to be paid all their costs and all their profits plus a penalty if the next parliament thinks it is a bad idea.

6. ‘Money-in-Politics’ Amendment Ignored

The next and last item is an article by Nat Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

An important debate is underway in the United States Senate this week, but if you are, like most, a casual consumer of the news, you probably wouldn’t have heard about it. This is no indictment of your news-gathering habits, but rather of what passes for mass communication in modern America, in other words, the mainstream media’s systematic suppression of important information.

What is this non-reported devate about? This:

The ignored debate is on a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution – the 28th in its history – that would empower Congress to restrict campaign financing and spending in an effort to rein in the deep-pocketed oligarchs who have been spending billions of dollars in recent years to influence electoral outcomes.

In a 79-18 procedural vote on Monday, the Senate agreed to consider the amendment, which is expressly intended as a response to Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United and McCutcheon that have overturned campaign finance laws on constitutional grounds, severely limiting the ability of Congress to impose regulations on the raising and spending of money in elections.

So indeed I would say this is very important - though clearly not according to the mainstream media, who feed its public endless bits on Ray Rice's domestic violence and on iPhone 6, pretending that is the news their watchers like to see. (Which they may also be right in doing: Half of their public has IQs below 100, and can be told or not told virtually anything.)

Here is one of the few American senators I trust more than not:

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said on Monday, “Now you may not know it if you watch TV lately or if you read the newspapers because this issue gets very little coverage, but the truth of the matter is that the issue that we will be debating this week is the most important issue that we have discussed in a number of years.”

“The major issue of our time,” he said, “is whether the United States of America retains its democratic foundation or whether we devolve into an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires are able to control our political process by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who represent their interests.”

It seems probable that big money will win, and indeed in part because they have corrupted the mainstream media. Here is the end of the article that explains how and why, at least partially:

The entire campaign this year is expected to cost more than $4 billion – a record for a midterm election – and of course most of that money will end up going directly into the coffers of the media companies that will be inundating voters with advertisements — mostly negative and largely misleading — in the weeks leading up to the election.

It is this massive gravy train of cash that the media is loath to give up, and perhaps it is for this reason that we’re not hearing a peep about the historic debate in the Senate this week to amend the Constitution.

For it is not just that the mainstream media want their advertisements (what if American politics were run on the principle: No political ads in the month before the elections: we do not want our elections being run by the best ads money can buy?!); it is also that many of their journalists and editors have been changed to persons who are more eager to get wealthy than to write the truth.


[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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