Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  September
25, 2014
Crisis: Obama*2, Next Crisis, Snowden, Economics, Arendt, Medicine, Hedges
  "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
Sections
Introduction

1.
 Is Obama misleading the world to war? Depends how you
     define 'misleading'

2. 10 Reasons Obama's Latest War Breaks the Law
3. The Next Crisis – Part two – A manifesto for the
     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 US Expansion

6. Who’s On Trial, Eichmann or Arendt?
7.  a lot riding on…
8.  Chris Hedges on Willful Blindness, Climate Corporatism &
      the Underground Revolt


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

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'

The first 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 (<-Wikipedia).

Here is the start of the article:

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.

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 continue.

Here is one cynical example:
The White 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:

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.

Note the "posthumously". And here is another cynical example:

Take, for example, this definition from a Justice Department white paper, which was leaked last year, intended to justify the killing of Americans overseas:

[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.

To translate: “imminent” can mean a lot of things … including “not imminent”.
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 it is "not imminent".

Again, here is the new meaning of "combat" (and also of "no boots on the ground"):
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.

2. 10 Reasons Obama's Latest War Breaks the Law

The next item is an article by Howard Friel on Alternet:

This is here mainly because of the previous item. It starts as follows: 

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.”

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 wants it.

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):
The supremacy 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 Syria.
Note that Obama had the audacity to insist these 2002 illegal rulings (that also were for other 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.

3. The Next Crisis – Part two – A manifesto for the supremacy of the 1%

The next item is an article by Golem XIV on his site:
This continues Part one that I reviewed yesterday. The present part starts as follows:

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?
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.

But he says "largely" and that seems correct to me, as does also this:
Necessarily much 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 complicated subject.

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:

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.

Outline.

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.

3) Professionalize 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.

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:
(...) 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 (for 99%).

4. Edward Snowden Awarded 'Alternative Nobel' for Revealing Vast Surveillance

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Whistleblower Edward 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 Wednesday.

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 ordinary 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 

The 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?

The next item is an article by Seyla Benhabib on The Opinionater:

Strictly speaking, 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 article:

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 an 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 a partial explanation).

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:

Banality (..) 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 everywhere, and 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.

7.  a lot riding on…

The 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  don’t  can’t 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 do not trust the doctors anymore (and those younger than I also got at most half of the education medical people had between 1865 and 1965), especially not since I know that their diagnoses are wrong and that their pills are not properly tested, while the Key Opinion Leaders they 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 well, and 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 money.

It's just greed - but that these days is good, for most.

8. Chris Hedges on Willful Blindness, Climate Corporatism & the Underground Revolt

The 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.  
---------------------------------

Notes
[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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



       home - index - summaries - mail