16, 2014
Crisis: Sen. Sanders, Lincoln, Bill Clinton, U.S., Spying, Goldsmith
  "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

Bernie Sanders Sets Sights on the White House
 Abraham Lincoln and the road to despotism  
3. Bill Clinton's Out of Touch Economically -- and That's a Big

4. America’s Pseudo-Democracy
5. Undercover Operations Growing in 'Every Corner of the
     Federal Government': New York Times

6. The Man Who Warned the World of What Was to Come

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 16. It is a
crisis log.

This is a crisis file with 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Senator Sanders and his preparations to try to become the next president; item 2 is
about a relation between Lincoln and Marx I did not know (with a good quotation of Lincoln); item 3 is about Bill Clinton's - bullshit - economy; item 4 is about
America's pseudo-democracy; item 5 is about the great growth of undercover
operations in the U.S.; and item 6 is about the late Sir James Goldsmith, who
was economically quite sharp and sensible.

And here goes:

1. Bernie Sanders Sets Sights on the White House

The first item is an article by Michael Schulson on Tablet Magazine:
This starts as follows:

The midterm elections are over, which means that it’s time for everybody’s favorite electoral sport—namely, speculating about the next big Election Day. And it looks like presidential politics may have its first significant Jewish candidate since Joe Lieberman’s ill-fated primary run in 2004.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and who identifies as a socialist, took major steps this week toward announcing his candidacy. On Monday, Sanders sealed a formal relationship with marquee strategist Tad Devine, a veteran of the Gore and Kerry campaigns. On Tuesday, Sanders told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that he would probably run, provided he had enough grassroots support on issues like income inequality.

I say. That is, I am not amazed that Senator Sanders will "probably run", but I did not know that he is Jewish (and I am not an American and am generally not much interested in religious affiliations, which I also completely lack), and also I'd say he is a "social democrat" much rather than a "socialist" (but I agree the same terminologies in the U.S. and Europe may mean something quite different).

The rest of the article is mostly about Sanders' Jewishness and I must say it still doesn't interest me much. But I like it that he declared his (probable) candidacy, simply because he is one of the few senators who mostly make sense, by my lights. Also, I agree - mostly - with this bit:
It’s hard to imagine Sanders winning the nomination. Still, with strong positions on issues like income inequality and corporate politicking, Sanders is primed for a high-profile run.
Yes... but a lot can happen in the coming two years, and if there is another economic collapse, as there well may be, then Sanders' chances will be a lot better than they appear now.

2. Abraham Lincoln and the road to despotism  

The next item is an article by David F. Ruccio on the anticap blog:

This starts as follows:
It is a glaring omission in his otherwise remarkable discussion of the relationship between Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln, An Unfinished Revolution, that Robin Blackburn neither discusses nor does he include the text of Lincoln’s First Annual Message to Congress (the equivalent of what we refer to today as the president’s State of the Union), of 3 December 1861.
I must say that although my parents and grandparents were communists, and I was till I was just 20, in 1970, when I gave it up, that I never heard anything about "the relationship between Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln". Since this holds for me, it very probably holds for most others, but OK... Lincoln is quite interesting, as the following quotation shows, with Lincoln speaking:
(...) there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class–neither work for others nor have others working for them.
Yes, indeed - although these days it is also true that capital may be the fruit of fraud, deception, lies etc. - see Bill Black yesterday! - especially since the Department of Justice in the U.S. does not anymore attack the big frauds, except perhaps by claiming a part of their profits for the privilege of being cleaned of all guilt - which is plainly a reward of major corruption and a sign of corruption.

3. Bill Clinton's Out of Touch Economically -- and That's a Big Deal

The next item is an article by R.J. Eskow on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

He's eloquent, he's popular ... and he's out of touch with the daily lives of most Americans. Bill Clinton's economic worldview spells trouble, both for a party that's still reeling from defeat and for a nation where millions of people struggle just to make ends meet.

Hillary Clinton, the heavily-favored contender for the Democratic nomination, has made Bill's presidency and her role in it an essential part of her resume. But "Clintonism," the Wall Street-friendly economic ideology of a bygone era, has passed its sell-by date.
Well... this is a decent article that warns against Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president. I must say that I never liked Bill Clinton, simply because it was already clear to me before he was elected that he was a "leftist" seeming candidate that
was in fact for the banks, but I agree that he is popular, and also a better talker and probably more intelligent than Obama.

But yes, Bill Clinton is fundamentally very deceptive, as the article makes clear.

4. America’s Pseudo-Democracy

The next item is an article by Lawrence Davidson on Consortium News:
This starts as follows:
Given the dangerous results of the recent election in the United States – one that saw the Republicans, a right-wing party increasingly populated with neocon warmongers, reactionaries and plutocrats take control of both houses of Congress – it might be time to take a look at a sober look at U.S. democracy.
And it continues thus:
For instance, there is the fact that, at any particular time, one-half to two-thirds of Americans are paying little or no attention to what is going on in the public realm. They do not know, and maybe they don’t care, who is making policy for their community, be it in the mayor’s office, the state house or the White House.

Yet, despite this disregard, they can be readily manipulated by their politicians using the media. This is often done through scare tactics involving innuendo and outright lies about things of which the populace is ignorant: weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, barbarian Russians in the Ukraine, terrorists in Israel/Palestine, and a more recent one, the danger of an allegedly pending Ebola plague in the U.S. The extent to which this sort of misinformation can be used to sway the opinion of an otherwise uncaring public is limited only by how much money candidates and their parties have to spend on media advertising.
In more general terms what does this all tell us of U.S. democracy? Well, it tells us that, just like more authoritarian forms of government, it is a system that is open to officially sponsored deceit. It tells us that this lying and other forms of corruption have been so persistent over time that millions of Americans are alienated from the political process.

Yes - but while the article is decent, I want to concentrate on the above points
and make a general statement on American democracy in five points:
  • More than half of the - American - electorate is incompetent or uninterested in what makes their society and its politics. Consequently:
  • More than half of the electorate can be bamboozled by a few very rich persons, largely owing to the decisions of the Supreme Court that money is free speech, and that corporations are persons;
  • The American government is grossly and on purpose illegal as regards banking and big pharma, which are no longer prosecuted, or only prosecuted for a part of their loot, and as regards spying and undercover operations, which are illegal but protected and kept secret by the government, in part because:
  • Especially spying makes the - in fact: very few - top bureaucrats and top governors extremely powerful (much more than anyone has ever been in human history) - for which reasons:
  • The American government is no longer legal, nor democratic, nor a fair expression of the informed consent of the majority of the inhabitants.
I agree it is not yet too late to turn it back, but the longer these five points last, the less likely is it that it will be turned back, especially because of the first and second point, that may be summarized thus: A democracy where more than half of the electorate cannot rationally judge the issues will die as a democracy, and will turn into an authoritarian state and government.

And that is what is happening right now.

5.  Undercover Operations Growing in 'Every Corner of the Federal Government': New York Times

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Undercover operations, once the domain of the FBI, have expanded to "virtually every corner of the federal government," a New York Times investigation published Saturday found—and the scope of those missions has become so wide that it risks abusing civil liberties and possible entrapment of targets. investigation

Officers from at least 40 agencies played various roles in the operations—student protesters, doctors, business people, and welfare recipients among them—to investigate "wrongdoing," according to the Times. At the Internal Revenue Service, for example, officers posed as accountants to investigate tax evasion.

But often, the operations involved officers infiltrating political rallies outside of state courthouses to look for "suspicious activity," or pretending to be food stamp recipients at neighborhood grocers to suss out welfare fraud.

"[C]hanges in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents," the Times writes.

I say - and much of this seems to me more like the total moral degeneracy of government rather than anything else, indeed especially if the left or the poor are frauded by some police officer pretending to be one of them (as indeed also happened in Great Britain: There police officers went so far as to impregnate their female victims).

If you doubt this, here is a quotation from the New York Times' article:
It is impossible to tell how effective the government’s operations are or evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs, since little information about them is publicly disclosed. Most federal agencies declined to discuss the number of undercover agents they employed or the types of investigations they handled. The numbers are considered confidential and are not listed in public budget documents, and even Justice Department officials say they are uncertain how many agents work undercover.
What sick bullshit prevents these government officials to tell at least the number of their undercover agents?! And there is this:

Undercover work can be a "very effective law enforcement method, but it carries serious risks," former FBI undercover agent and New York University law fellow Michael German told the Times. "Ultimately it is government deceitfulness and participation in criminal activity, which is only justifiable when it is used to resolve the most serious crimes."

According to the investigation, undercover officers are considered to be a "more effective way of monitoring large crowds," like those that gather freely for political protests, such as reproductive rights outside of courthouses or other government buildings. The Supreme Court, for example, staffs more than 150 police officers, all of whom are trained in covert tactics. When protesters gather for issues like abortion rights, teams of officers—dressed down and often youthful-looking—stand or wander in the crowd to look for suspicious activities.

But in fact these degenerates seem to spy on anything that may be not quite as the government likes it, such as "abortion rights", which certainly are not criminal.

6. The Man Who Warned the World of What Was to Come

The next and last item today is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:

This starts as follows:

Almost two years ago I featured the first part of James Goldsmith’s eerily prescient 1994 interview with Charlie Rose in which he warned of the stark threats posed by NAFTA, GATT (the predecessor to the WTO) and the generalised move toward freer borders and more centralised, corporatist governance. As Goldsmith so succinctly put it:

Instead of the economy being there to serve us, we are there, adoring, serving economic indices.

Since its publication the post has been read by thousands of visitors. Now the time has come to feature the full interview in all its naked glory, including a fiery debate between the late British billionaire financier and Laura Tyson, then chairwoman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors which was leading the case for U.S. adoption of GATT.

Actually, I owe the discovery of Sir James Goldsmith (<- Wikipedia - for he was a Sir as well as a rich business tycoon) to Don Quijones, although in fact he also wrote about it in August of this year, for then I discovered him.

But indeed Don Quijones is quite right in saying that he was very prescient, and he also tried to move the public politically, although he largely failed in that, in
part because he died in 1997, at 64.

In any case, the meat of the article - under the last dotted link - is a five-part video series, that together comprise an hour, of the interview that Charlie Rose had with Goldsmith in 1994.

I have seen it all (in August) and indeed it is a good interview: You are much recommended to watch all of it, were it only because (1) it really is a good interview with someone who saw quite clearly, and it also clarifies that (2) there
are a few rich business tycoons - though indeed not many - who do talk a lot
of sense, basically because they really understand economics and politics.

And Goldsmith was much out of favor with the economics he saw shaping up in the 1990ies, and would have been very much more out of favor with what
happened since.

But he did see it coming, for which reason he is very well worth watching.

[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)

       home - index - summaries - mail