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Nederlog


  November
11, 2014
Crisis: Udall, U.S. Judges, Obama, Reich, Sanders, Amazing Randi
  "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
















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Sections
Introduction

1.
Senator Who Put Pentagon Papers Into Public Record
     Urges Udall To Do Same With Torture Report

2.
We Need Someone to Judge the Judges   
3. Cable companies 'stunned' by Obama's 'extreme' net
     neutrality proposals

4. The Choice of the Century
5. Sanders Calls for Voting Holiday to 'Fix' Failed Democracy
6. The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, November 11. It is a
crisis log.

Also, today is the day I first got my site in 1996 (it opened a bit later), which means that I now have one site for 18 full years, and another, that is a copy of the one, for 10 years. There is a brief earlier file of today that commemorates this, though I kept it very simple and brief, since it is mainly for me.

Today's Nederlog contains 6 files with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Udall and the chance that he may out the Senate's report on the CIA (hm); item 2 is on a way to judge the U.S. judges; item 3 is on Obama, the internet corporations and net neutrality; item 4 is on an article by Robert Reich; item 5 is on Senator Sanders project for an Election Day and a Democracy Day; and item 6 is on the Amazing Randi (though the wikipedia article on him is better than the NYT article).

Also, I should say I updated the latest crisis index (the fourth) until yesterday.

And here goes:

1. Senator Who Put Pentagon Papers Into Public Record Urges Udall To Do Same With Torture Report  

The first item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution establishes an absolute free-speech right for members of Congress on the floor or in committee, even if they are disclosing classified material. It states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”

Within hours of Colorado Senator Mark Udall losing his reelection bid last week, transparency activists were talking about how he should go out with a bang and put the Senate intelligence committee’s torture report into the congressional record.  The report is said to detail shockingly brutal abuse of detainees by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration, as well as rampant deception about the program by top officials. But the Obama White House is refusing to declassify even a summary of the report without major redactions. And Republicans take over the Senate in January. 

Udall is one of two senators — along with fellow Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden — who have consistently demanded greater transparency from the intelligence community. If he made the report public on the Senate floor or during a hearing, he couldn’t be prosecuted.

The last time any senator did anything nearly so grand was in 1971, when Mike Gravel, two years into his 12 years representing the state of Alaska, entered 4,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record just before the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an injunction on publishing them in the press.

Now, Gravel is urging Udall to join the club.

I say. Indeed, from the rest of the article, Mike Gravel is quite in favor of Udall's speaking out, and is also willing to help him if he does.

I am also in favor of Udall's speaking out, simply because this is the last realistic chance to get the truth about the CIA under Bush Jr. and I think everyone has the right to know the truth.

Whether Udall will speak up? I really don't know.

2. We Need Someone to Judge the Judges 

The next item is an article by Jordan Smith on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Judge Edith Jones is no stranger to controversy. The 65-year-old jurist has served since 1985 on the notoriously fractious 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and is known for her conservative and often controversial opinions. She’s decided that a sleeping lawyer isn’t necessarily a bad one for a criminal defendant to have, claimed that bankruptcy filings have increased because of a “decline in personal shame,” and said that the legal system is corrupt in part because it has strayed from its religious underpinnings.

But it was a speech at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law last year that earned her a formal ethics complaint, filed by several Texas civil rights groups and a group of nationally known legal ethicists. In that speech to an audience of law students—billed as a federal death penalty “review”—Jones allegedly made a host of improper and racist statements that, according to the complainants, violated her duty to be impartial and damaged public confidence in the judiciary. According to multiple affidavits, Jones said, among other things, that minorities are more “prone” to commit violent crimes (when questioned about this, Jones hedged, saying she was talking about statistics and that, “sadly,” blacks and Hispanics commit more violent crimes than do others); that Hispanic nationals would rather be on death rows in the U.S. than in Mexican prisons (even though Mexico has outlawed the death penalty); and that questions of racism, mental retardation, and even actual innocence are simply “red herrings” raised by defense attorneys interested only in helping heinous murderers to avoid execution.

I say. There is a lot more in the article, that shows American judges seem to be badly followed and controlled by anyone with a sound understanding of their tasks and limitations, and that seems also to suggest a remedy: To create an inspector
general to control them.

I tend to agree with the last idea, but since I do not know a lot about the practice of law in the U.S., which is rather different also from what it is like in Europe, that is all I say.

3. 
Cable companies 'stunned' by Obama's 'extreme' net neutrality proposals

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

This starts as follows:

America’s major telecoms and cable companies and business groups came out fighting on Monday after Barack Obama called for tough new regulations for broadband that would protect net neutrality, saying they were “stunned” by the president’s proposals.

The president called for new regulations to protect “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. His move came as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalises a new set of proposals for regulation after the old rules were overturned by a series of court defeats at the hands of cable and telecom companies.

This requires some close reading.

First, there is this: "Barack Obama called for tough new regulations for broadband that would protect net neutrality". That is, what he wants are "tough new regulations for broadband"; and what he promises is that these "would protect net neutrality".

These seem to me to be quite incompatible, and therefore - I take it - the internet companies were "stunned".

Here is more, namely about why the cable companies were "stunned":

The cable and telcoms giants are particularly concerned by Obama’s call for FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Such a move would reclassify consumer internet as a “common carrier” service – like the telephone – and give the regulator greater power to control prices and services.

“We are stunned the president would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the internet and [call] for extreme Title II regulation,” said Powell.

So second: This seems to be the old saying vs doing that seems to move so much that Obama does. Here he says he is for protecting "net neutrality", while what he proposes is a whole new schema to control it.

For there is also this:

Fred Campbell, former head of wireless communications at the FCC and now executive director of free market tech group Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology said applying Title II to the internet would create “legal uncertainty at home and encourage the efforts of totalitarian regimes abroad to tighten their control over the internet – the 21st Century’s mass media communications system.”

Obama’s endorsement “of 1930s era Title II classification would lead to unprecedented government interference in the internet, and would hurt consumers and innovation,” said lobby group Broadband for America.

What do I think? I am afraid net neutrality already has been passed, in effect, and I like neither Obama's plans nor those of the cable companies. In fact, I expect to be screwed by either, and if I have a choice I'd rather be screwed by
cable companies - the less powerful - than by govermental regulations.

But this is a judgment that I may change later, if I know more.

4. The Choice of the Century

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

The President blames himself for the Democrat’s big losses Election Day.

“We have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we’re trying to do and why this is the right direction,” he said Sunday.

In other words, he didn’t sufficiently tout the Administration’s accomplishments.

I respectfully disagree.

If you want a single reason for why Democrats lost big on Election Day 2014 it’s this: Median household income continues to drop.

Really now?!

First of all, the president did not say that he is to blame, which Reich does say he did: He said some non-clarified "We" - I take it he meant: "The Democrats" - are to blame. That is definitely not the same, though it is of lesser interest.

Second: Why would a drop in incomes move those whose incomes dropped - most - to vote for the party of the rich? Robert Reich does neither answer nor raise the question, though the question really is obvious.

I have four answers, that are not complete: First, a part of those who voted were seriously misled. I do not know what part, but this must have been considerable, simply because billions were paid, in advertisement lies, to reach those they could mislead. Second, a part of those who voted do not believe the Democrats anymore - which I, with a Democratic president like Obama, find not difficult to understand. Third, quite a few of those who would have voted if they could, did not, in part because of voter registration laws, not having identity papers etc. Fourth, a good part of those who may vote do not vote anymore because either they do not believe in politics (anymore) or because (more likely) they don't believe in either Republicans or Democrats (anymore).

There are more factors that enter, but these are quite important ones.

Here is what Reich has to say about the supposedly "recovering" "American economy", that is considerably more sensible than the foregoing:

So why is this called a “recovery” at all? Because, technically, the economy is growing.

But almost all the gains from that growth are going to a small minority at the top.

In fact, 100 percent of the gains have gone to the best-off 10 percent. Ninety-five percent have gone to the top 1 percent.

The stock market has boomed. Corporate profits are through the roof. CEO pay, in the stratosphere.

Yet most Americans feel like they’re still in a recession.

And they’re convinced the game is rigged against them.

So there you are: 90% are losing money so that 10% - in fact mostly: the rich 1% - can gain money. And the economy still grows ("technically") because the sums the rich gain, and that the non-rich loose, are so enormous.

As to the game being rigged:

Fifty years ago, just 29 percent of voters believed government is “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.”

Now, 79 percent think so.

That indeed is a large difference. (But "fifty years ago" = "1964", that indeed is quite a long time ago).

Here is Reich's diagnosis of what the president or the Democrats should have done:

What the President and other Democrats failed to communicate wasn’t their accomplishments.

It was their understanding that the economy is failing most Americans and big money is overrunning our democracy.

And they failed to convey their commitment to an economy and a democracy that serve the vast majority rather than a minority at the top.

Really now?! As far as I know most Democrats like it that "big money is overrunning our democracy": most are themselves owners of big money, who also spend most of their time listening to some of the around 100,000 lobbyists that hang around Congress. And as far as I know most Democrats like it that their - so called - “democracy" works for the "minority at the top" (for else there would
have been many more protests).

And here is Reich's plan, or perhaps the choice, that he offers to the Democrats:

They can refill their campaign coffers for 2016 by trying to raise even more money from big corporations, Wall Street, and wealthy individuals.

And hold their tongues about the economic slide of the majority, and the drowning of our democracy.

Or they can come out swinging. Not just for a higher minimum wage but also for better schools, paid family and medical leave, and child care for working families.

For resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and limiting the size of Wall Street banks.

For saving Social Security by lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes.

For rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, and ports.

For increasing taxes on corporations with high ratios of CEO pay to the pay of average workers.

And for getting big money out of politics, and thereby saving our democracy.

It’s the choice of the century.

Democrats have less than two years to make it.

I agree it is "the choice of the century", and I also agree with the things Reich lists that have to be changed.

But given the Democrats as they are, and given they "
have less than two years" to make the choice, my prediction is that the Democrats will, in majority, though not all of them, "refill their campaign coffers for 2016 by trying to raise even more money from big corporations, Wall Street, and wealthy individuals."

It's a great pity, but that is the realistic expectation - indeed unless there is another major economical crisis in 2015: That indeed might change part of the Democrats.

5. Sanders Calls for Voting Holiday to 'Fix' Failed Democracy 

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Responding to the "disgraceful" voter turnout for last week's midterm election—just 36.6 percent—Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt.) argued on Monday that the way to "fix" American democracy is for Election Day to be established as a national holiday.

"Can we be satisfied with a 'democracy' when more than 60% of people don’t vote and some 80% of young people and low-income Americans don’t either?" Sanders wrote in a Guardian op-ed published Monday.

The column follows Sanders' announcement late last week that he will introduce legislation in upcoming days calling for the creation of "Democracy Day" to provide all Americans with the time and opportunity to vote.

I say. It seems to me that the creation of an "Election Day" and a "Democracy Day" are - and I am not against them - about a 100 years (or more) late, and also that their creation now is quite unlikely.

Besides, you don't "fix" a so-called "democracy", which pulls only a little over 1/3rd of the voters to vote, and leaves 4 out of 5 young and low-income Americans out, by creating such a day (if that were possible, which it very probably isn't).

Ah well...

6. The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi

The next and last item for today is an article by Adam Higginbotham on The New York Times:

It's mainly here because I like Randi, which I do because I dislike frauds and cheats and deceivers. The article is quite long and not very good although readable. (But in fact, the Wikipedia article on Randi is considerably better...)

---------------------------------
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)



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