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Nederlog

February 11, 2015
Crisis: Jon Stewart, Tories, Clintons, More War, French autocracy, An Illusion
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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. Jon Stewart to leave The Daily Show after surprise
     announcement

2. The Tories are putting Britain’s democracy up for auction
3.
Big Backers of Clinton Foundation Found in Leaked Swiss
     Bank Files: Report

4. 
Obama Seeks Broad Powers to Wage Geographically
     Limitless War On ISIS

5.
French Website Shutdown Law Decried as Attack on Free
     Speech

6. The Future of an Illusion
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, February 11, 2015.

This is a crisis log. It has 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Jon Stewart's announcement that he will leave The Daily Show; item 2 is about the English Tories, who indeed have put democracy on auction in Great Britain; item 3 is about some of the big backers of the Clintons; item 4 is about Obama's plans to have more wars almost anywhere for almost any motive, and all without any democratic sanction; item 5 is about a recent French autocratic law that provides the government with the authority to close any website without any judicial or political interference; and item 6 is about psychiatry, that indeed was and still is a fraudulent illusion for the most part.

1. Jon Stewart to leave The Daily Show after surprise announcement 

The first item today is an article by Ben Quinn and Rory Carroll on The (Mostly Destroyed [2]) Guardian:
This starts as follows (under a faint video without any data on duration or anything else: The Guardian's New Style [2]) - and I changed the link to the Wikipedia instead of The Guardian:
Jon Stewart is to step down later this year as host of The Daily Show after nearly two decades spent satirising – and influencing – US politics.

Stewart, 52, announced his departure in an emotional address at the end of Tuesday night’s show, saying his 16-year run in the hot seat was enough.
There is also this:

The Comedy Central show, which he took over from Craig Kilborn in 1999, established Stewart as a singular force in US political and media life.

The comedian, who served as executive producer, garnered about 2.2 million viewers per night with biting satire that entertained, provoked and at times shaped the political agenda – often with progressives echoing his talking points and conservatives denouncing them.
And there is considerably more in the article, and indeed also in many other articles on the internet on the same subject.

What do I think? Jon Stewart is smart and funny and it will be quite difficult to replace him with someone who is as smart and funny. Then again, I did not like him as much as I like Bill Maher, though that is personal: I found Stewart to be a little too noisy and too comic - for my tastes. (But I liked and like him - though not as much as a few others, notably George Carlin and Bill Maher.)

Then again, this is in fact a very sad fact, if you think about it:

The two best American news shows I know - John Stewart's and Bill Maher's - are in fact shows by comedians, which are not only a lot funnier and wittier than the main stream news, but also give more real news than the main stream media, because they censor less and deceive a lot less.

2. The Tories are putting Britain’s democracy up for auction

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on the (mostly destroyed [2]) Guardian's site:
This starts as follows:
Britain’s railways, the NHS, the education secretary’s dignity – is there anything the Tories won’t flog off for a bit of cash? A morning jog with Nicky Morgan followed by a “hearty breakfast” (a recalcitrant comprehensive school served with bacon and eggs, perhaps) may not appeal. There’s always a “mini-Iron Man-style” 10k cross-country run with Iain Duncan Smith, which is probably a pilot scheme for a new daily regimen for benefit claimants. Or there’s shoe shopping with Theresa May, although this cruel and unusual abuse may have to wait until she has finally scrapped the Human Rights Act.

The revelations about the Tory auction at Grosvenor House, published on Buzzfeed, are amusing but probably not very surprising. Britain’s booming rich have a taste for many things: fine wines, yachts, country mansions – but this season’s must-have accessory is a political party. That awful embarrassment of the financial sector plunging the country into economic disaster could have led to all sorts of unseemly demands for tax hikes on the über-rich. A wise investment, then, to back a party that continually reminds us that the nation’s ills are down to benefit claimants, immigrants and public sector workers.

There is a considerable amount more of both satire and of saddening facts, and it ends as follows:
There is no shortage of reasons to be frustrated with a Labour party not offering an inspiring enough alternative. But for Tories to be auctioning off dinners, bronze statues of Thatcher and pheasant shooting escapades in our nation of food banks, zero-hour contracts and poverty wages – well, it should concentrate the senses. Our shameless, rapacious economic elite keep the Conservatives afloat not out of generosity, but because they expect a return. Can money buy democracy? In less than three months, we will find out.
I am not an optimist about this, though I agree mostly with Owen Jones.

Then again, I also think more is involved than money, such as the Conservative- lite "Labour Party", that was intentionally destroyed by Blair and his Third Way total bullshit, and the lies, propaganda and advertisements that misled the large group of the unintelligent uneducated
before - half of the people does have an IQ of maximally 100 (and many of these brilliant minds have a (n anonymous) site on Facebook) - and may do so again, with sufficient money for sufficiently many lying or misleading advertisements.

But indeed it would be little short of a disaster to have Cameron re-elected, though I do not put that past the present British electorate, that in majority seems to read no books and to have an average IQ of maximally 100, and therefore is very easy to deceive. (And if you deceive all of them, you have
the majority: it is as simple as that, in the end: deceiving the unintelligent uneducated.)

3. Big Backers of Clinton Foundation Found in Leaked Swiss Bank Files: Report

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Commom Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Large financial backers of the Clinton Foundation charitable fund have been found among those named in the trove of leaked documents from a Swiss division of HSBC bank this week, raising questions about the integrity of such individuals and what it says about the relationships they have with the powerful Clinton family.

According to the Guardian newspaper, which broke the story, on Tuesday:

Leaked files from HSBC’s Swiss banking division reveal the identities of seven donors to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation with accounts in Geneva.

They include Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate and one of the foundation’s biggest financial backers, and Richard Caring, the British retail magnate who, the bank’s internal records show, used his tax-free Geneva account to transfer $1m into the New York-based foundation.

(...) political observers are increasingly asking whether the former secretary of state’s focus on wealth inequality sits uncomfortably with the close relationships she and her husband have nurtured with some of the world’s richest individuals.

And this gets quoted from an earlier Common Dreams article, from the summer of 2014:

Clinton has been looked on with suspicion by progressives following high-paid speaking engagements with Goldman Sachs and other powerful Wall Street institutions since leaving her post at the State Department. And last month, Clinton put her weight behind the powerful biotech industry by speaking at their national conference, not only endorsing their business model but offering political advice on how to overcome public opposition to the use of genetically-modified seeds and industrial-scale, chemical-based agriculture.

Also this week, comments made by Clinton suggest her political strategy, if elected, would follow her husband's well-worn tactic of "triangulation," tacking to the political right as a way to curry favor with Republican and corporate interests, but doing so in a way that ameliorates the objections of progressives and liberals. Bill Clinton was famous for doing this when he passed "welfare reform" legislation and deregulated the financial industry in the nineties, both of which, according to many experts and analysts, say paved the way for the current economic crisis the country is now suffering.

Yes, precisely. I don't think Hillary Clinton will be of much help to anyone who is not rich, but then she may be the only choice other than a gross liar, a fool, and/or a paid huckster from the GOP, who will even do more for the rich.

Oh, The Land Of The Free, The Home Of The Brave!!

4. Obama Seeks Broad Powers to Wage Geographically Limitless War On ISIS

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dream:

This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama is seeking broad congressional authorization for the U.S.-led war on ISIS that would allow for further deployments of ground troops, years of intervention, and geographically limitless military operations, according to media reports on Tuesday.

There is also this:

According to reports, the president is seeking authorization for at least three years of military intervention, at which point the next president could then seek reauthorization.

The proposal would not put any geographical limitations on the use of military force, similar to the 2001 AUMF, which was passed in the wake of the September 11th attacks and was used by both the Bush and Obama administrations to justify war and occupation in Afghanistan, covert drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, military intervention in countries from Ethiopia to Iraq, indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram prison, and more.

While the president is proposing a repeal of the 2002 AUMF, which authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq and use of force against Saddam Hussein, he is seeking to leave the 2001 AUMF firmly in place. Raed Jarrar, Policy Impact Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, told Common Dreams that this would amount to "a blank check for war from 2001 and another blank check from 2015."

The proposal, furthermore, does not ban deployments of U.S. troops. While it calls for a prohibition on "enduring offensive ground operations," it is not clear exactly what this term means, and analysts warn that this vague wording could, in fact, open a back door to another ground offensive.

In brief, Obama has sold out again to the military-industrial complex, that probably pays best and makes the most profit from any war.

5. French Website Shutdown Law Decried as Attack on Free Speech

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

This starts as follows:

A new law enacted Monday in France will allow the government to shut down websites without a court order, in a move that officials say will help combat terrorism and child pornography but which civil liberties advocates warn threatens free speech rights.

The law, which has been under consideration for years, gained new traction after last month's attack against the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters in Paris. It implements provisions from two existing French laws—the Loppsi Act of 2011, which blacklists sites providing child pornography, and the Terrorism Act of 2014.

Under the new regulations, the government may order any internet service provider to shut down a website within 24 hours. Blocked websites will redirect to a landing page that explains why it was shut down and, in the case of child pornography websites, include a recommendation to seek medical help.

There is also this, that gives some specific reasons to be against this - and while I am against child pornography, since it appears to me to be based on a kind of sadism [1], I also insist that governments as a rule - with lots of money, lots of militaries, lots of police, and lots of secret spies - also are a (state) terroristic force, which would be a lot less worse if one could basically trust the government, e.g. because it is basically democratic, but one cannot:

"With this decree establishing the administrative censorship for Internet content, France once again circumvents the judicial power, betraying the separation of powers in limiting what is the first freedom of all in a democracy—freedom of speech," said Felix Tréguer, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, which promotes internet rights in France, adding that website blocking "is ineffective since it is easily circumvented."

"It is also disproportionate because of the risk of over-blocking perfectly lawful content, especially with the blocking technique retained by the Government," Tréguer said.

Here is the last paragraph of the article:

But some critics, like Tréguer, disagree that the law will be useful at all. "The measure only gives the illusion that the State is acting for our safety, while going one step further in undermining fundamental rights online," he said.

Yes, indeed - except that the law probably will be useful, but only to lock some sites that almost certainly will be opened again a few days later. And besides, the law is strongly anti-democratic: The least that ought to have been there, but isn't, is a judge's - non-secret - approval that, indeed, the site does transgress the law.

But no: In France, now the government decides which sites are Bad and may be locked down by the government, without any judiciary person having anything to say.

6. The Future of an Illusion

The next and last item for today is an article by Gary Greenberg on Bookforum:

This is about psychiatry, and is the review of a recent book by one of the (undoubtedly rich) psychiatric weirdos who was behind the DSM-5. And Gary Greenberg is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, and was first mentioned on
Nederlog in the end of 2010, where I also included a reference to
Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness that still works and is well worth reading.

The present article starts as follows:

Has there ever been a medical specialty as beleaguered as psychiatry? Since the profession’s founding in 1844, the doctors of the soul have had to contend with suspicions that they do not know what mental illness is, what type their patients might have, or what they should do about it—in other words, that they are doctors who do not practice real medicine. Some of the worry comes from the psychiatrists themselves, such as Pliny Earle, who in 1886 complained that “in the present state of our knowledge, no classification of insanity can be erected upon a pathological basis.” In 1917, psychiatrist Thomas Salmon lamented that the classification of diseases was still “chaotic”—a “condition of affairs [that] discredits the science of psychiatry and reflects unfavorably upon our association,” and that left the profession unable to meet “the scientific demands of the present day.” In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association voted to declare that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness, a determination that, however just, couldn’t possibly be construed as scientific. And for the six years leading up to the 2013 release of the fifth edition of its diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, the APA debated loudly and in public such questions as whether Asperger’s disorder were a distinct mental illness and if people still upset two weeks after the death of a loved one could be diagnosed with major depression. (The official conclusions, respectively: no and yes.)

If that doesn't sound pretty insane - if you are still upset 15 days after your wife or husband dies, with whom you have been married for 30 years then, psychiatrists decided, you must have a major depression, that qualifies you for taking very expensive, very strong, and possibly quite dangerous "medicines" - then here is the second paragraph:

To the diagnostic chaos was added the spectacle of treatments. Psychiatrists superintended horrifyingly squalid asylums; used insulin and electricity to send patients into comas and convulsions; inoculated them with tuberculin and malaria in the hope that fever would cook the mental illness out of them; jammed ice picks into their brains to sever their frontal lobes; placed them in orgone boxes to bathe in the orgasmic energy of the universe; psychoanalyzed them interminably; primal-screamed them and rebirthed them and nursed their inner children; and subjected them to medications of unknown mechanism and unanticipated side effects, most recently the antidepressant drugs that we love to hate and hate to love and that, either way, are a daily staple for 11 percent of adults in America.

Well... I am a psychologist (and one who has a better M.A. than almost anybody), and I have been schooled since 2010 on psychiatry, that until then
was rejected by me as an evidently silly, false but not very harmful
pseudoscience (which is what most psychologists, at least in Holland, do think, at least when I was educated) simply because most couldn't pay for it - but this was too naive and too friendly:

In my present opinion psychiatry is a massively fraudulent pseudoscience, and indeed an illusion, that I strongly advice everyone (who is not completely insane) to stay away from, because it is not based on any real science; because it does not really know most of the things it claims to know; and because about the only thing you will be "helped" with are strong medicines of very doubtful efficacy - but you can be sure that they are expensive, and will make a lot of money for psychiatrists and for Big Pharma. [3]

Here is Gary Greenberg, who does work as a psychotherapist:

I may be critical of psychiatry, but as a clinician, I would be thrilled if the portrait Lieberman paints of the mental health field bore a closer resemblance to reality. If a scientific medicine of the brain were truly available, I’d be glad to avail myself of it. At the very least, I’d be relieved not to worry that every time I sent a patient to a psychiatrist, she might return with a fistful of prescriptions, little idea of how the drugs work (for no one really knows) or what side effects she may suffer, and no guarantee that she will get better.

Yes, indeed. There simply is no "scientific medicine of the brain", and to claim it exists as the foundation for psychiatry is mere fraudulence.

Anyway... this is a decent article, but the earlier one (
Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness) is better, at least if you are interested in criticizing psychiatry.

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Note
[1] Because children are not adults, cannot and do not judge emotional and sexual matters as adults do, and are much weaker and more ignorant than almost any adult.

[2] I will write a special on it, but not today. But if you think that a text site with most information removed and hardly any pictures is "modern" or "helpful" after 1992, you should love The Guardian's new text site, model 1992, with a font from 1935, that you can only switch off by major destruction, and where all articles now come without most links to other articles on The Guardian's thoroughly postmodern site.

[3] Speaking of money: I should add one more thing: Unlike psychiatrists and psychologists, I have not the least financial interest in whether or not you accept my judgments: I do not practice either psychiatry or psychology, and you get my opinions for free. But my opinions are well-founded, and are those of a - non-practising - philosopher and psychologist: See e.g. my long and thorough DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis".
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