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. Is Obama misleading the world
to war? Depends how you
Obama's Latest War Breaks the Law
3. The Next Crisis – Part two –
A manifesto for
supremacy of the 1%
4. Edward Snowden Awarded
'Alternative Nobel' for
Revealing Vast Surveillance
5. “The Most Remarkable Chart
I’ve Seen in Some Time”:
Rich Gain More Ground in Every
6. Who’s On Trial, Eichmann
7. a lot riding on…
8. Chris Hedges on Willful
Blindness, Climate Corporatism &
the Underground Revolt
This is a Nederlog of Thursday,
September 25. It is a crisis log.
1. Is Obama misleading the world to war? Depends
how you define 'misleading'
item is an article by Trevor Timms on The Guardian:
This has a subtitle:
When it comes to
military strikes against Isis in Syria, his administration’s strategy
relies on what the meaning of ‘is’ is
I quoted it because it
'is' relevant - and yes: "our political leaders" change the meanings of
words at will, and do so because their new meanings, which are not
in the dictionaries, and are only theirs and their gangs, and will not
be adopted widely, serve their purposes much better than the real
meanings these words have according to the dictionary. Again yes: this
is definitely Orwellian
Here is the start of the article:
Quite so: It has nothing
to do with the law and everything with political convenience. But as
long as the media do not attack this sickness - and most of them do
not: they lap it up and regurgitate it "for the public" - it will
Want to decipher what the
US military is really doing in Iraq and Syria, or figure out whether
its regional war against the Islamic State (Isis) is legal? Good luck.
The Obama administration’s secret efforts to redefine the ordinary
meaning of key legal terms and phrases has made that near impossible.
For instance, in his
Tuesday statement that US airstrikes that have expanded into Syria,
Obama studiously avoided any discussion about his domestic legal
authority to conduct these strikes. That dirty work was apparently left
up to anonymous White House officials, who told
the New York Times’s Charlie Savage that both the Authorization of
Use of Military Force (AUMF) from 2001 (meant for al-Qaida) and the
2002 war resolution (meant for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) gave the
government the authority to strike Isis in Syria.
In other words: the legal
authority provided to the White House to strike al-Qaida and invade
Iraq more than a dozen years ago now means that the US can wage war
against a terrorist organization that’s decidedly not al-Qaida,
in a country that is definitely not Iraq.
Here is one cynical example:
House previously embraced a re-definition of “civilian” so it could
easily deny its drone strikes were killing anyone than “militants” in
Yemen, Pakistan, and elsewhere, according to a New
York Times report in 2012:
Note the "posthumously".
And here is another cynical example:
It in effect counts all
military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several
administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence
posthumously proving them innocent.
For that is what
"imminent" now means: "not imminent", except that the president says
"imminent" and acts as if this were true, even though he knows
Take, for example, this
definition from a
Justice Department white paper, which was leaked last year,
intended to justify the killing of Americans overseas:
To translate: “imminent” can
mean a lot of things … including “not imminent”.
[A]n “imminent” threat
of violent attack against the United States does not require the United
States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons
will take place in the immediate future.
Again, here is the new meaning of "combat" (and also of "no boots on
According to the
Obama administration, the 1600 “military advisers” that have steadily
been flowing in Iraq fall outside this definition, despite the fact
that “military advisers” can be: embedded with Iraqi troops; carry
weapons; fire their weapons if fired upon; and call in airstrikes. In
the bizarro dictionary of war employed by this White House, none of
that qualifies as “combat”.
So now you may know -
more or less - what president Obama means when he says that "there will
be no boots on the ground, and no combat: the U.S. is merely deflecting
an imminent attack on the U.S. by terrorists, and it is not engaging in
any war": There will be boots on the ground; there will be combat; and
even if there is no imminent attack on the U.S., the U.S. will be
involved in war, that will not be declared and not be called war,
though a lot of people will be killed.
Reasons Obama's Latest War Breaks the Law
item is an article by Howard Friel on Alternet:
This is here mainly
because of the previous item. It starts as follows:
Which is to say that the
attacks are not legal, though they "are", when the (mostly
unknown) dictionary of the White House is presumed, which probably says
that anything is "legal" that the president wants, and is so because he
After the U.S. bombing of
Syria on Tuesday, Obama administration officials issued a number
of self-serving and misleading statements seeking to justify its
actions as complying with international law.
Yesterday the New
York Times reported that “senior Obama administration
officials said on Tuesday that the airstrikes against the
Islamic State – carried out in Syria without seeking the permission of
the Syrian government or the United Nations Security Council – were
legal because they were done in defense of Iraq.” The same report said
that “Iraq had a valid right of self-defense against the Islamic State
because the militant group was attacking Iraq from its havens in Syria,
and the Syrian government had failed to suppress that threat.”
Here are some of the details:
(...) there is no
rule in the [United Natioons - MM] Charter that would permit one
country (in this case Iraq) to invite a second country (the United
States) to bomb a third country (Syria) at the discretion of the first
and second countries and without Security Council authorization.
There is also this
(among considerably more):
clause of the U.S. Constitution – Article VI, paragraph 2 – makes U.S.-ratified
treaties, including the UN Charter, “the supreme law of the land” in
the United States. Because no branch of government is permitted to
violate the Constitution, neither the Congress nor the president has
legal authority to violate the UN Charter. Therefore, the 2002
congressional authorization to invade Iraq – since it was issued
without UN Security Council authorization and in the absence of an
armed attack by Iraq on the United States – was issued in violation of
the Charter, and thus the Constitution. The 2002 congressional
resolution, therefore, in addition to the reasons mentioned above,
cannot serve as the legal basis today for Obama’s decision to bomb
Note that Obama had the
audacity to insist these 2002 illegal rulings (that also were
states, at other times, in other circumstances) are his "legal"
justification for this war.
In any case: this is a good article that I recommend you read all of.
The Next Crisis – Part two – A manifesto for the supremacy of the 1%
item is an article by Golem XIV on his site:
This continues Part one that I reviewed yesterday. The present
part starts as follows:
Well...it depends on who you ask. I'd say
not for Hedges or Chomsky, and also not for me: Witness e.g. my Crisis: Hypotheses about the
causes of the crisis - and the
original was published in 2012,
half a year before I learned about Edward Snowden.
The present crisis is not
yet over and yet we are already overdue for the next.
In Part One I suggested that
not only are the 1% well aware of this but that while they have been
telling us how we must ‘save’ the present system and assuring us that
any radical break with the policies of the past will result in
catastrophe, they have in fact been working hard to engineer very
radical changes. We have all seen the decline in living standards
and are all acutely aware of the changes which directly effect us. But
I wonder if the true significance of the changes, when taken
together, has largely gone unnoticed?
But he says "largely" and that seems correct to me, as does also this:
of what follows is speculative. But the speculation is, I think, rooted
in and extrapolated from what we can already see happening today.
The reasons this must be so are largely
that it concerns the future, that always is uncertain and mostly
unknown even if some predictions can be made with great confidence, and
also because it is politics, which is, if done responsibly, a very
Also, because this is a fairly long paper, and not an easy one, I will
only copy the outline plus its introduction and ending. These now
follow - and I note carefully that this is speculative:
In the present Part two the first five
points are discussed at some length. I leave this to your interests.
Also, there is at least one more part coming. The only thing I will
quote is a brief point on:
As I have been writing
this article it has grown, each section getting longer. I’m afraid I
sometimes find it difficult to know where the sweet point is between,
on the one hand – being too dense, and on the other – over explaining.
So here is a outline of the sections so that you can see where I’m
going and skip the sections that seem obvious.
1) The Over Class must
retain and consolidate their control over the global system of debt.
2) The power to regulate
must be taken from nations and effectively controlled by corporations.
governance. Democracy can be and must be neutered, and an effective way
of doing this is to insist that amateur, elected officials MUST take
the advice of professional (read corporate) advisors. Expand current
law to enforce this.
4) The financial system
badly needs un-encumbered ‘assets’ to feed the debt issuing system. A
new way must be found to prise sovereign assets from public ownership.
Such a new way is suggested.
5) In order to facilitate
the political changes necessary, the public mind-set must be changed.
National Treasures such as the NHS in Britain must be re-branded as
evil State Monopolies.
6) Effective ways must be
found to convince people that democratic rule is no longer sufficient
to protect them.
7) An alternative to
Democracy must be introduced and praised. That alternative must be the Rule of
International Law as written and controlled by the lawyers of the 1%.
People must be told that this is all that stands between them and an
increasingly hostile and anarchic world. But that it can only keep them
safe if it has absolute authority over democracy. People must voluntarily bow to it out of
fear and its decisions must be as absolute and unquestionable.
In conclusion, I suggest
that this amounts to a dystopian version of the old environmentalist
idea of Spaceship Earth. A corporate version where we are just
passengers who must pay our
passage in a ship someone
else owns. No longer inhabitants or citizens with the same inalienable
right to be there and be heard as anyone else.
(...) the future
the 1% want. A future were International Law is held up as the
new supreme, and completely non-democratic arbiter of right and wrong.
International law would be the new god. And like god would be above the
whims and breezes of merely popular wants and desires.
I think that is a plausible idea, also
given the TTP and the TTIP (and the earlier NAFTA): It would remove the
influence of states and peoples and national laws voted by their
peoples; and it would give all power to international bodies that can
effectively do as they please, including the plucking of whole nations
Edward Snowden Awarded 'Alternative Nobel' for Revealing
item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Snowden is among a group of tireless and courageous people being
honored with this year's Right Livelihood Award for their efforts
"stemming the tide of the most dangerous global trends."
The winners of this
year's award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, were announced
The Right Livelihood
Award Foundation, which stated that it will fund legal support for
Snowden, said his honorary award recognizes “his courage and skill in
revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating
basic democratic processes and constitutional rights."
The impact of his
revelations, the Foundation states, "have caused a worldwide
re-evaluation of the meaning of privacy and the boundaries of rights."
Sharing the honorary
award with Snowden is author and editor of the Guardian Alan
Rusbridger "for building a global media organization dedicated to
responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the
challenges of exposing corporate and government malpractices."
That is quite good, as
indeed is the inclusion of Alan Rusbridger (whose paper is much better
than any Dutch paper, and indeed is "undaunted by the challenges of
exposing corporate and government malpractices", which the Dutch papers
are definitely not).
Here is part of what Ole von Uexküll
- who is indeed the great-grandson of the biologist Jakob von
Uexküll (<- Wikipedia) - said:
"With this year’s Awards,
we want to send a message of urgent warning that these trends—illegal
mass surveillance of ordinary citizens, the violation of human and
civil rights, violent manifestations of religious fundamentalism, and
the decline of the planet’s life-supporting systems—are very much upon
us already," von Uexkull's statement continues. "If they are allowed to
continue, and reinforce each other, they have the power to undermine
the basis of civilized societies."
"But the Laureates also
demonstrate that the choice is entirely in our hands: by courageous
acts of civil disobedience in the public interest, through principled
and undeterred journalism, by upholding the rule of law and documenting
each violation of it, and by building social movements to resist the
destruction of our natural environment, we can turn the tide and build
our common future on the principles of freedom, justice, and respect
for the Earth," he continued.
Yes - if
people are not misled by professional propagandists and political
liars. But I agree this is the only reasonable hope.
5. “The Most Remarkable Chart I’ve
Seen in Some Time”: Rich Gain More Ground in Every US Expansion
next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
If you had any doubt the
US economy had been rearchitected to favor the haves versus the
have-lesses, this chart by Pavlina Tcherneva should settle it. Justin
Wolfers, hardly a raging liberal, just tweeted:
I say. Incidentally,
the charts show more (that you find in more detail and with another
graphic in Yves Smith's article): Obama was a lot better (or worse)
than Bush in favoring the rich and very rich, for under Obama
the top 1% grabbed 93 cents of every dollar created, and under Bush
this was 65 cents, while under Clinton it was 45 cents. Also, under
Obama the 99% lost income, and that also was a first. "Change! I
promise you change!"
6. Who’s On Trial, Eichmann or Arendt?
next item is an article by Seyla Benhabib on The Opinionater:
this is not a part of the crisis, but it interests me, whose father and
grandfather were locked up by the Nazis in concentration camps as
"political terrorists" (translation: members of the resistance), which
my grandfather did not survive.
Also, the article may interest those who are interested in Hannah
Arendt, of which
there still is a considerable group.
Here is the start of
The new English
translation of Bettina Stangneth’s “Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The
Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer,” is the latest in a long line of
scholarship that aims to illuminate the inner life of Adolf Eichmann,
one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious, and most analyzed, figures. Based
on troves of memoir, notes and interviews given by Eichmann in
Argentina, where he lived under the pseudonym Ricardo Clement between
1950 and 1960, it is an impressive historical study — one that
underscores the fanatical nature of Eichmann’s anti-Semitism.
Much of the reaction to
the book hinges on how these new findings reflect on Hannah Arendt’s
“Eichmann in Jerusalem,” her 1963 work based on her witnessing of
Eichmann’s trial, which famously depicted him as the embodiment of “the
banality of evil.” This is not surprising, given the echo in
Stangneth’s English title, and the enduring controversy generated by
Arendt’s interpretation, which arouses outrage for allegedly
diminishing Eichmann’s moral culpability for his role in the Holocaust.
There is a lot more
in the article, but this is sufficient for stating my own position.
First, I am not
admirer of Hannah
Arendt. I read a number of her books, including The Origins of
Totalitarianism and The Life of the Mind, and while I do
not think them bad, I found more original and more worthwile ideas by
others on the same topics (about which I have read a lot).
Also, she was much
too friendly to Heidegger, especially after he had been a fanatic
follower of Hitler, after WW II, which may be explained in part by
noting that she had a "long and stormy romantic relationship"
(Wikipedia) with him in the 1920s. (This is barely mentioned but not
really treated in the Wikipedia-article on Arendt, by the way.)
Second, I think she
mostly meant well, but simply lacked the intelligence of a Bertrand
Russell (which is not much of a criticism: very few have, but this is
Third, she has been
very much criticized especially because of her phrase "the banality of
evil", and that mostly by American writers who did not know German, and
probably also had not checked the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,
which has this definition:
(..) 1861. [ad. F banalité (..)] 1. Anything trite or
trivial; a commonplace. 2. Triteness, triviality 1878.
And while I also do
not consider her work on Eichmann very well done, I do not think there
is anything wrong with using "the banality of evil" for a system like Nazism, which in
Germany was both very evil and very commonplace
(especially after the socialists and communists had been put in
concentration camps, that started already in 1933): Most ordinary
Germans did support Hitler, at least till the early 1940ies.
Fourth, here is a
quotation from the final paragraph:
But by coining the phrase
“the banality of evil” and by declining to ascribe Eichmann’s deeds to
the demonic or monstrous nature of the doer, Arendt knew that she was
going against a tradition of Western thought that sees evil in terms of
ultimate sinfulness, depravity and corruption.
Yes indeed: Evil, in
Hitler's Germany, was a commonplace, for it was nearly
it was supported by most - non-socialist, non-communist, non-Jewish -
persons. And Arendt was also right in rejecting the overly religious
meanings that the term "evil" tends to have: One may be quite evil, and
yet belong to the great conformist
majority, and one may do very evil deeds, and yet be widely praised and
admired and thanked by the great majority of one's own groups.
Anyway - there is a
lot more in the article.
next item is an article by 1 boring old man on his site:
In fact, 1 boring old man is a mostly pensioned
psychiatrist with a good mind, who has been writing a lot the last
years on the
decline of medicine in the United States. Here are two summary
paragraphs of his, about the present situation in medicine:
The trials are conducted
by technicians trained specifically to do drug trials. They follow
formal protocols and administer formal tests – rating scales that are
used for diagnosis and to catalog responses. They ask about adverse
experience and transcribe what they’re told. The patients are recruited
from clinics and through advertisements rather than just being people
who are seeking treatment. The results are tabulated and analyzed on
computers by statisticians. The trials are primarily financed by the
drug’s manufacturer and analyzed by their own scientists. Many of the
published articles have been written by medical writers hired by the
trial sponsor. The involvement of the actual clinician authors whose
names are on the published papers varies from none to some, but they’re
rarely authors of the sort who did that early Imipramine study. Like I
said, "It’s a different world now."
It would be the naive person, indeed, that was unaware of
the increasingly blurred boundary between commerce and medical
practice. Yesterday at a charity clinic in a very rural community, over
10% of the patients I saw asked if Cymbalta®
was right for them. Being asked that repeatedly is bad
enough. But what’s worse – I
even know the answer. It feels like a pincer move – living
between a contaminated literature and a successful Direct-To-Consumer
ad campaign. Throw in ineffective and complicit professional
organizations, an academic community that is often asleep, the
restrictions from third party payers, and the accusations of activists,
and sometimes you just want to throw up your hands and surrender. And
sadly, many physicians [and patients] have done just that.
As indeed have I, being a mere patient, who now is ill
for 36 years, since the first year of his studies, that he
finished with only straight A's, while ill, but that he can't use
because he lacks the energy and has muscle aches all the time, because
he is ill - and even so, he still is not considered an ill
person by the bureaucracy and the policians from the Dutch Labour Party
that ruled Amsterdam from
1948 till a few months ago.
But yes, I still write about my illness, but I
trust the doctors anymore (and those younger than I also got at most half
of the education medical people had between 1865
especially not since I know that their diagnoses are wrong and that
their pills are not properly tested, while the Key Opinion
rely on are in fact public
relation figures who write their stuff for
the pharmaceutical corporations.
It's all a great pity, for I am very much pro science -
but these days I must make that real science
(like: physics, mathematics, logic, which were the main subjects of my
M.A.) - for many modern "scientists" have turned out to be
quasi-scientists who do
their thing for money rather than for truth,
and who are for
sale to the highest bidder, that indeed also may pay them quite
certainly in the U.S. in medicine and psychiatry.
This is also why it is a great pity: it could easily
have been different, with some more scientists interested in truth, and
not for sale, for there is nothing necessary about
selling out for
It's just greed - but that these days is good, for
Hedges on Willful Blindness, Climate Corporatism & the Underground
final item today is not an article but a video with Abby Martin from
Breaking The Set. It is an interview with Chris Hedges, that lasts 19 m
14 s, and it is a good interview:
To be sure, I don't
quite agree with Hedges, in that I do not think the climate is the
right topic to revolt over (income inequality seems to me much better:
the 99% against the 1%) nor do I believe the Americans are ready to
revolt, but even so: he is one of the few journalists, these days, who
is honest and rational and who writes well.
 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
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
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: