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Nederlog


  December
8, 2014
Crisis: Guantánamo, Captives, CEOs, CO2, "Democracy", Propaganda, Corruption, Law
  "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.
Release of Six Detainees After Twelve Years Highlights
     the Historic Evil of Guantánamo

2. A Society of Captives
3. CEO Pay Rose at Twice the Rate of Workers
4.
Not Long to Wait Till Released CO2 Turns Up Temperature
5. Democracy Crisis: We Are Enslaving Ourselves to
     Illegitimate Power

6. Propaganda’s Triumph over Journalism
7.
Attorneys General, Energy Companies Formed Secret
     Alliance to Kill Regulations: NYT

8. The Silence of the Lawyers

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, December 8. It is a crisis log.

There are 8 items with 8 dotted links: Item 1 is about American justice; item 2 is Hedges on our Western societies; item 3 is a brief item on the obscene incomes the rich award themselves; item 4 is an item that says it takes a decade (more or
less) to see measurable changes of the warming up of the earth; item 5 is a good article on the large declines in democracy; item 6 is a fine article on the triumph of propaganda over journalism; item 7 is a brief article about evident gross corruption in the U.S.; and item 8 is a fine article on the silence of most lawyers
in the U.S.

So there are today at least five articles that are good.
And here goes:

1. Release of Six Detainees After Twelve Years Highlights the Historic Evil of Guantánamo      

The first item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The U.S. military overnight transferred six Guantánamo detainees to Uruguay. All of them had been imprisoned since 2002 – more than 12 years. None has ever been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of any wrongdoing. They had all been cleared for release years ago by the Pentagon itself, but nonetheless remained in cages until today.

Among the released detainees is Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Lebanese-born Syrian national and father of four who was seized by the Pakistani police and turned over to the U.S. in 2002 for what was reportedly a large bounty. He was cleared for release in 2009 – five years ago – and has repeatedly gone on hunger strikes inside the camp to protest his treatment. At the age of 43, he has become physically debilitated. As the human rights group Reprieve detailed:

As a result of the conditions inside the prison and the callous treatment he has received, Mr Dhiab’s health has now deteriorated to such an extent that he is confined to a wheelchair. Recent revelations revealed that Mr. Dhiab is being denied access to his wheelchair, meaning he is brutally dragged from his cell and force-fed against his will every day.

I say - most of this I did not know. There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link, including the news that president Obama may have been shamed into doing these releases by president Mujica of Uruguay (who himself had been locked up for 14 years), but I will leave that to your interests.

I merely quote two bits on two - I think - very bad men: Here is the first:
(...) Democrats’ claims that Obama is largely blameless are false and misleading in the extreme, as are claims that no country will accept detainees (...)
And this is the second:
(...) just as Tony Blair’s lucrative subservience to dictators doesn’t prevent him from lecturing the world on the need for democracy
You can check the claims by pressing the links in the last two quotes. For more, you have to click the last dotted link.

2. A Society of Captives 

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to launch a pilot program in New York City to place body cameras on police officers and conduct training seminars to help them reduce their adrenaline rushes and abusive language, along with the establishment of a less stringent marijuana policy, are merely cosmetic reforms. The killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island was, after all, captured on video. These proposed reforms, like those out of Washington, D.C., fail to address the underlying cause of poverty, state-sponsored murder and the obscene explosion of mass incarceration—the rise of the corporate state and the death of our democracy. Mass acts of civil disobedience, now being carried out across the country, are the only mechanism left that offers hope for systematic legal and judicial reform. We must defy the corporate state, not work with it.

Yes, I mostly agree, though I think there are more means than "mass acts", and one of these is getting money out of politics (though I agree that also will be hard, especially now that money has taken over most politics in the U.S.).

And here are the next two paragraphs, with which I also agree [2]:

The legal system no longer functions to protect ordinary Americans. It serves our oligarchic, corporate elites. These elites have committed $26 billion in financial fraud. They loot the U.S. Treasury, escape taxation, drive down wages, break unions, pillage pension funds, gut regulation and oversight, destroy public institutions including public schools and social assistance programs, wage endless and illegal wars to swell the profits of arms merchants, and—yes—authorize police to murder unarmed black men.

Police and national intelligence and security agencies, which carry out wholesale surveillance against the population and serve as the corporate elite’s brutal enforcers, are omnipotent by intention. They are designed to impart fear, even terror, to keep the population under control. And until the courts and the legislative bodies give us back our rights—which they have no intention of doing—things will only get worse for the poor and the rest of us. We live in a post-constitutional era.

And there is this, which continues the last quotation:

Corporations have captured every major institution, including the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and deformed them to exclusively serve the demands of the market. They have, in the process, demolished civil society. Karl Polanyi in “The Great Transformation” warned that without heavy government regulation and oversight, unfettered and unregulated capitalism degenerates into a Mafia capitalism and a Mafia political system (..)

There is a lot more under the last dotted link, which you should read all of, and it ends like this:

The corporate state and its organs of internal security are illegitimate. We are a society of captives.

Yes, indeed. The one qualification I have is that, though I agree, most will not, which shows - in my opinion - that most are simply deceived, and lack the necessary knowledge to reach rational judgments, which again is the case because the free press also largely disappeared, and few have the brains or the time to
do proper research themselves.

3. CEO Pay Rose at Twice the Rate of Workers

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Experts suggest there’s no better time to be a top-level corporate executive as the median income of CEOs of S&P 500 companies reached $10.1 million at the end of 2013.

The amount reflects a 9.5 percent increase year after year and an enormous 43 percent jump from 2009.

There is some more there, including a link to a more comprehensive article on The Guardian, but here I just want to make the point that none of them is worth it: These are not geniuses of art or science; these very probably only are geniuses in greed and egoism; and the only reason they - the very few - profit so extra-ordinarly much is that they live at a time where the very few rich have effectively taken over the economy and run it with the aim of enriching themselves, at the cost of everybody else.

4. Not Long to Wait Till Released CO2 Turns Up Temperature

The next item is an article by Tim Radford, that originated on Climate News Network, but that I found on Truthdig:
This is from the beginning:

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the US have calculated for the first time a precision figure for the average lag between a carbon emission and its effect on the planetary thermometer.

That there is a lag, no one ever doubted: thermal inertia is something everybody observes every time they put the kettle on. The heat goes up, but the water stays cold, for a while.

But the presumption has always been that—given that the world is a huge cauldron and every unit of fossil fuel burned represents a tiny increment—the time lag between cause and effect might be decades.That is, the warming experienced now was triggered by fossil fuel burning in the 1980s or 1990s.

But the two Carnegie scientists, Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira, report in the journal Environmental Research Letters that they have done the sums and arrived at a conclusion. People who light a gas cooker today are quite likely to feel the atmospheric heat from that blue flame in a decade.

I say. To be sure, that "decade" is an average between 6.6 and 30.7 years, while also there are quite a lot of assumptions necessary to derive the figure, but it has been done (and I am at least a bit amazed no one seems to have done this before).

5. Democracy Crisis: We Are Enslaving Ourselves to Illegitimate Power

The next item is an article by Andrew O'Hehir that originally appeared on Salon but that I found on AlterNet:
This is a fairly long piece, from which I select two quotations. The first is this, and explains the title:
On a larger scale, the crisis is about the corruption and perversion of democracy, and in many cases the willing surrender of democracy by those who live in fear of terrorists from distant lands and criminals from the inner city. To borrow an explosive concept from Nietzsche and turn it to new purposes, it’s about the “slave morality” that characterizes so much of American life, meaning the desire to be dominated and ruled, to give up control over one’s own life and allow others to make the decisions.

Since the word “slave” carries special meaning in American history, let me be clear that I’m not talking here about the legacy of 19th-century human slavery (although that too is still a factor in our national life). I’m talking about the plurality or majority of contemporary Americans who have enslaved themselves – in moral and psychological terms — to the rule of a tiny economic oligarchy, and to a state that serves its interests, in exchange for the promise of order, safety and comfort. That order, safety and comfort then become the absolute values, the only values; they become coterminous with “freedom,” which must be defended by the most exaggerated means. If the leaders hint that those values are under attack from sinister forces, or might someday be, the timorous, self-enslaved majority consents to whatever is said to be necessary, whether that means NSA data sweeps, indefinite detention camps, mass murder by remote control or yet another ground war in the Middle East.
I agree with the first paragraph, though I would not have used "slave morality" but rather "stupidity", indeed mostly because "stupidity" seems the real source of "the desire to be dominated and ruled, to give up control over one’s own life and allow others to make the decisions", which I agree seems widely spread in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Something similar holds for the second paragraph: I agree mostly with its contents, but think "stupidity" or "ignorance" may be a better term than "slave" or "slavery", in part also because the former two terms suggest, quite correctly,
that one may be easily deceived into making false choices, much rather than being forced by one's owner.

Here is the second quotation:

As we have seen in Ferguson and elsewhere, the military-industrial complex is now heavily invested in American policing, and local law enforcements now resemble poorly trained regional armies. Furthermore, both invoke the well-established principle that the state holds a monopoly on legitimate violence, and then extend it in insidious fashion: All state violence is now deemed legitimate by definition, and the state itself is the sole judge and guarantor of that legitimacy.
I think that too is mostly correct, especially as regards to "the state itself is the sole judge", which seems both effectively true and a clear case of non-democratic
authority.

As to the rest: I like the article, but I don't quite agree to it. You can check it out by clicking the last dotted link.

6. Propaganda’s Triumph over Journalism

The next item is an article by John Pilger (<-Wikipedia) on ConsortiumNews:
This starts as follows (and is by a long-time journalist):

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?
(...)

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government.” It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions. This power to create a new “reality” has been building for a long time.
The initial questions are - in my opinion - all quite good and quite justified. I do have answers to each of them, but will only answer the first: "Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda?", and I will do that only in a general and schematized format.

My answer to the first question is along the following lines: Assuming that it is true that much journalism these days is little else than propaganda, which I do,
the two only possible reasons I can see is that either ordinary people and ordinary journalists are not as intelligent and courageous as they themselves
think they are [3] or
ordinary people and ordinary journalists are much more prone to corruption than they themselves think they are.

Note that I have excluded a third possible answer: "because they are afraid they are being spied upon by the state's secret services" not because I think that is false now, but because this possibility - universal control of everyone through the
secret services using one's computer - is new, and the corruption of journalism started at least thirty years ago.

Also, there is this:

Why are millions of people in Britain persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary? Following the economic crash in 2008, a rotten system was exposed. For a split second the banks were lined up as crooks with obligations to the public they had betrayed.

But within a few months – apart from a few stones lobbed over excessive corporate “bonuses” – the message changed. The mug shots of guilty bankers vanished from the tabloids and something called “austerity” became the burden of millions of ordinary people. Was there ever a sleight of hand as brazen?

Today, many of the premises of civilized life in Britain are being dismantled in order to pay back a fraudulent debt – the debt of crooks. The “austerity” cuts are said to be £83 billion. That’s almost exactly the amount of tax avoided by the same banks and by corporations like Amazon and Murdoch’s News UK. Moreover, the crooked banks are given an annual subsidy of £100 billion in free insurance and guarantees – a figure that would fund the entire National Health Service.

The economic crisis is pure propaganda. Extreme policies now rule Britain, the United States, much of Europe, Canada and Australia. Who is standing up for the majority? Who is telling their story? Who’s keeping the record straight? Isn’t that what journalists are meant to do?

Again, the questions at the beginning and the end are quite good and quite justified questions. I will answer some, again in a schematic format:

As to: "Why are millions of people in Britain persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary?" my answer must be: Because they are stupid or ignorant and are being massively misled by their media and also by nearly all of their politicians.

As to: "Who is standing up for the majority? Who is telling their story?": Very few are, because - it seems - most journalists these days rather do safe and well-paying jobs (of not telling the truth, but then their audience mostly don't know and so don't criticize).

Anyway - this is a good piece you are recommended to read all of.


7. Attorneys General, Energy Companies Formed Secret Alliance to Kill Regulations: NYT

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states have formed secretive alliances with "energy companies and other corporate interests" to fight Obama administration regulations, a new investigation by the New York Times has found.

The Times notes that though individual attorneys general have before pushed for changes following lobbyists' interventions, "never before have attorneys general joined on this scale with corporate interests to challenge Washington and file lawsuits in federal court."

There is some more under the last dotted link but this - obvious corruption - is the main point.

8.
The Silence of the Lawyers

The next and last item is an article by Bruce Hay, who is a professor at Harvard Law School:
This starts as follows:

As another grand jury has let a cop walk away for gratuitously killing an unarmed black man, a loud silence reverberates through the country, just at it has for many years. It is the silence of the nation’s lawyers.

The fact is, we operate two criminal justice systems in the United States. One is for affluent white people, who when accused of crime are treated as citizens, as people with rights. They get the benefit of the constitutional protections we boast about in textbooks and television shows, protections like due process and trial by jury and proof beyond reasonable doubt. And they are often shown great leniency for very serious crimes, including homicide.

The other system is for poor people and racial minorities, who are treated more like trash to be removed from the streets. They are policed as if they enemy combatants; churned through overcrowded, underfunded courts that traffic in guilty pleas and long prison sentences for minor offenses; and harassed or killed by cops whose brutality would never be tolerated against those whose wealth and skin color entitles them to the privileges and protections of the first system.

Another fact is, the vast majority of the American legal profession maintains steadfast silence about this two-tiered regime.
It is a quite good article, that ends as follows:
Lawyers, after all, are the guardians of the legal process, and we profess allegiance to the ideal of equal justice under law. As we play the part of helpless bystander to America’s two-track system, we do more than expose our fellow citizens to discrimination and mistreatment and gasps of “I can’t breathe.” We expose ourselves to charges of fraud.
Quite so - though I should add that I have seen tens of lawyers, already 25 years ago, while I had excellent cases, but only one of these really helped me, and the rest tried to profit from me, and lied and deceived a great amount, all without any need except for their own moral rottenness.

So again: There are good lawyers, like there are good people and there are intelligent people and there are courageous people: Yes, all quite true... but in small minorities.

---------------------------------

P.S. Dec 9, 2014: Linked two notes and added one "m".
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.)

[2] I note I lately lost around 100 daily readers. Since I do not get any mail
from my readers (except once a year on Wittgenstein), which may be explained in many ways - I have over 1.6 million hits this year in Denmark, and very probably at least twice that in Holland, but nobody mails me (other than once a year or less on Wittgenstein, as if there is nothing else in the nearly 500 MB that is on my site to comment on), and I also hardly get any spam (!!) - I must suppose the main reason is that I used the word "fascism" with a prefixed "neo-", as I did on December 25, 2012, and very recently again.

I take it that most of the readers I have lost believe they know better what fascism is than I do. Well... no, you do not, unless your father and your grandfather were sent to German concentration-camps because they were members of the Resistance (which was very small in Holland, where most
in fact collaborated, which is one reason more than 1% of the total population could be murdered for being of the wrong race and being poor), and unless your IQ is over 150 and you spent reading the last 40 years, and have excellent degrees in psychology and philosophy.

So... the two main reasons why I spoke of "corporate neo-fascism" as the system I see arising especially in the U.S. and England are that (1) this corresponds to a classical definition of "fascism" (on which Wikipedia is very bad): fascism is the system of authoritarian and totalitarian government that arises when the corporations run the state, while (2) I see very many things - extensive racism, a militarized police, a mostly totalitarian press, surveillance of everyone as if they are criminals by secret services - that I can only explain as facets of (neo-)fascism, as defined, which I repeat is a classical definition.

I am very sorry that is so, but I will not shut up, were it only because I have no children because I am ill since 1.1.1979.: I cannot be blackmailed that way into
shutting up and pretending not to see what the more stupid and less learned do not seem to see.

[3] The Dutch have really thought - as far as I can tell - that each of them is the equivalent of Einstein and Da Vinci, and that the only reason no one saw this was that they all chose to dedicate their incredible talents to other things, like soccer or pop music or skating, and certainly not and never that they might just be a little less clever and talented: "Everybody knows everybody is equivalent" was THE teaching everyone received from 1970 till 2000, in all Dutch schools, all Dutch colleges, all Dutch universities (in so far as these were state-sponsored, as most were and are), and it was one that almost everyone seems to have believed, precisely because it made them the equals of the very best. (Two other extremely widely taught principles, also embraced by nearly all Dutchmen I know of, are
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist" (so you never can be validly argued to be less than anyone) and "Everybody knows all morals are relative" (so the Chinese society is just as good as the Dutch one).

I merely note that these totally insane, completely false, very propagandistic  teachings were the core of what everyone in Holland got as moral education, and that these principles seem to have been sincerely embraced by the vast majority, to the best of my knowledge. (I was one of the very few to protest,
and for that reason was thrown, while ill, from the faculty of philosophy as "a fascist terrorist" briefly before doing my M.A. there. This happened to no one else since the defeat of the Nazis.)


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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