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Nederlog

September 28, 2015
Crisis: Brutalized, Republican Extremists, Reich, Roberts, me+M.E.

 "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. 
How the Brutalized Become Brutal
2. It Is Time To Get Very Afraid: Extremists, Authoritarians
     Now Run the GOP and No One Can Stop Them

3. WHY WE MUST END UPWARD PRE-DISTRIBUTIONS TO THE
     RICH

4. There Are No Brains Left in Washington
5.
me and M.E. - September 2015


This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 28, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are five items with five dotted links: Item 1 is by Chris Hedges and is in fact a repeat from 2014 (with my repeat of my review); item 2 is an interesting article that explains the force of the Movement Conservatism in the present Republican Party; item 3 is a good review by Robert Reich of the many pro-rich changes in the American economy the last 35 years; item 4 is an article by Paul Roberts about the decline in infrastructure and the increases in wealth of the very rich (but I disagree about brains); and item 5 is the monthly
issue on me and M.E., which this time has a quite interesting medical paper on
the benefits of (especially) mB12 for a considerable group of people with M.E.
or F.M. (but it contains a mistake in the dosages of folic acid).

1. How the Brutalized Become Brutal

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

Here is its second paragraph:
Our terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. We do not stand over the decapitated and eviscerated bodies left behind on city and village streets by our missiles, drones and fighter jets. We do not listen to the wails and shrieks of parents embracing the shattered bodies of their children. We do not see the survivors of air attacks bury their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We are not conscious of the long night of collective humiliation, repression and powerlessness that characterizes existence in Israel’s occupied territories, Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not see the boiling anger that war and injustice turn into a caldron of hate over time. We are not aware of the very natural lust for revenge against those who carry out or symbolize this oppression. We see only the final pyrotechnics of terror, the shocking moment when the rage erupts into an inchoate fury and the murder of innocents. And, willfully ignorant, we do not understand our own complicity. We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them. This is a recipe for endless terror.
Yes, indeed - but thus it has been always, the last 5000 years of civilization, in which there were very many major wars and hundreds of millions needlessly and often cruelly killed.

Also, one difference between Chris Hedges and most men is that Hedges has been a war reporter for a long time: He certainly knows what he is writing about, but indeed most people do not.

This is from the start of the second page:
Christopher Browning in his book “Ordinary Men” tells of a German reserve police battalion that was recruited to carry out mass executions of Jews in World War II. Browning’s book echoed the findings of the psychologist Stanley Milgram, who concluded that “men are led to kill with little difficulty.” Browning, like Milgram, illustrates how easily we become killers. This is a painful truth. It is difficult to accept.
Yes, indeed - and you should read Browning and Milgram. Especially Browning makes it quite clear that ordinary human beings can be easily changed into mass murderers: the "ordinary men" he studied, who definitely were ordinary men for the most part, and were also not strongly committed Nazis, killed on average over 160 civilians, who had done them absolutely nothing. (Also, Browning makes it clear that the one person who protested doing this was let off without punish-
ment, though this may have been mostly accidental.)

Hedges article ends with a consideration of how this might stop:
To break this cycle we have to examine ourselves and halt the indiscriminant violence that sustains our occupations.
Unfortunately, that never happened, nowhere - and I mean on a massive scale, for it certainly happened with some individuals, but these were always in a minority and were usually not listened to.

Actually, both Hedges' article and my review are from August 2014, and are here because Truthdig chose to reprint it, while promising a new article by Chris Hedges today.

I repeated the review because I think it is OK; because I myself had forgotten I wrote it (which is not so odd, because since then I reviewed over 1500 articles); and mostly because it mentions
Christopher Browning's “Ordinary Men”, which is a very important book in my opinion, for it explains rather a lot about the real roots of Nazism, which are - according to Browning, and I agree - rather common and rather ordinary.

2. It Is Time To Get Very Afraid: Extremists, Authoritarians Now Run the GOP and No One Can Stop Them

The next article today is by Heather Cox Richardson on AlterNet, but originally on Salon:
This starts as follows - and in case you don't know, here is a link to the lemma Movement Conservatism on Wikipedia:
Movement Conservatives just claimed the head of House Speaker John Boehner. His political death was the price of preventing a catastrophic government shutdown after Movement Conservatives in Congress tied the very survival of the United States government to their determination to defund Planned Parenthood. Movement Conservatives are gunning for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next. We should be very afraid.
Here is some more about the Movement Conservatives:
Boehner and McConnell are not wild-eyed lefties. They are on the very far right of the American political spectrum: fervently pro-business, antiabortion, opposed to social welfare legislation. But they are old-school politicians who still have faith in the idea of American democracy.

Movement Conservatives do not. They want to blow up the government and remake America according to their own radical ideology.

And this explains the late William F. Buckley's role:
In 1951, a young William F. Buckley, Jr., came up with a blueprint for destroying the American consensus. Rational argument was a losing strategy, Buckley wrote in “God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom.’” If voters were presented with facts, said Buckley, they would choose government regulation. So a new breed of Movement Conservative leaders must start from the premise that what Buckley called “individualism”—that is, an economy in which individual action was untouched by the state—was as sacrosanct as the Ten Commandments. Buckley gave this same untouchable status to Christianity, another fundamental that could not be questioned.
Put otherwise, the basis of Movement Conservatives are a combination of libertarianism and Christianity.

And here is the relation between Roosevelt's New Deal (<- Wikipedia)
Buckley's ideas:

McCarthy began the process of creating an enemy that Movement Conservative followers could hate. His outrageous accusations divided American citizens into good and evil. Buckley and his brother-in-law, L. Brent Bozell, expanded this theme, dividing Americans into “Conservatives” like McCarthy and themselves, who were trying to save the nation, and “Liberals” who wanted to destroy it. Their Liberals were all those who endorsed the New Deal consensus. Although New Deal supporters made up the vast majority of Americans, Buckley and Bozell announced that these traitors must be purged from the country. Instead, the nation must return to its glory days with a new “orthodoxy” of strict individualism and Christianity.
Next is the relation between Bush Jr.'s administration and the Movement:
By the time of the George W. Bush administration, Movement Conservatives controlled the Republican Party, and they abandoned reality in favor of their simple story line. A member of the Bush administration famously noted to journalist Ron Suskind that “the reality-based” view of the world was obsolete. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” this senior adviser to the president told Suskind. “When we act, we create our own reality.”
Which means - to my mind, who is i.a. a psychologist - that Mr Suskind is not sane: No one can "create" their own "reality". That is a total delusion. But yes,
it may be quite popular with leading politicians and bureaucrats, who like their
own power and risk neither their own lives nor the lives of their families.

Finally, there is the present field of Republican presidential candidates:

Trump is not an outlier. Jeb! says that black people vote for Democrats to get “free stuff.” Mike Huckabee insists that the United States is criminalizing Christianity. Bobby Jindal promises to “fire” Congress. Ted Cruz hints that President Obama is a Muslim and warns that no Muslim should be president. All of the candidates demonize undocumented immigrants.

And Carly Fiorina makes the outrageous claim, on national television, that political opponents murder babies to harvest and sell their brains. Think about that.

Scientifically speaking, all these ideas are not sane - but then I am rather sure
these people know that they are not speaking science, but are speaking ideology, which in their cases is extreme right wing ideology. I think that is done mostly consciously, and quite probably on the same footing as Buckley proposed: No more facts, but merely ideological constructs (for that misleads the best).

And the reason for speaking only in terms of their own ideological constructs, which have very little to do with reality, is that they are all quite radical, and want to destroy most of the - still existing - regulations, and most of the government.

I liked the article, because it did clarify several things for me: Recommended reading.

3. WHY WE MUST END UPWARD PRE-DISTRIBUTIONS TO THE RICH

The next article today is by Robert Reich on his site (and the capitals are his):
This is from the beginning:

Intellectual property rights—patents, trademarks, and copyrights—have been enlarged and extended, for example, creating windfalls for pharmaceutical companies.

Americans now pay the highest pharmaceutical costs of any advanced nation.

At the same time, antitrust laws have been relaxed for corporations with significant market power, such as big food companies, cable companies facing little or no broadband competition, big airlines, and the largest Wall Street banks.

As a result, Americans pay more for broadband Internet, food, airline tickets, and banking services than the citizens of any other advanced nation.

Yes, indeed - and while the relaxation of the antitrust laws are a clear application of deregulation, the extended intellectual property rights show that libertarians
and pro-rich activists know how to regulate if it is in their own interests.

Here is another example of the same mechanism:

Bankruptcy laws have been loosened for large corporations—airlines, automobile manufacturers, even casino magnates like Donald Trump—allowing them to leave workers and communities stranded.

But bankruptcy has not been extended to homeowners burdened by mortgage debt or to graduates laden with student debt. Their debts won’t be forgiven.

That is: bankruptcy laws have been deregulated for the rich, but not for the non-rich (home owners or people with student debts).

Then there is this:

The largest banks and auto manufacturers were bailed out in 2008, shifting the risks of economic failure onto the backs of average working people and taxpayers.

Contract laws have been altered to require mandatory arbitration before private judges selected by big corporations. Securities laws have been relaxed to allow insider trading of confidential information.

And that went in conjunction with this:

Meanwhile, so-called “free trade” agreements, such as the pending Trans Pacific Partnership, give stronger protection to intellectual property and financial assets but less protection to the labor of average working Americans.

As to the pensions of workers or their trade unions, there is this:

And employment benefits have shriveled. The portion of workers with any pension connected to their job has fallen from just over half in 1979 to under 35 percent today.

Labor unions have been eviscerated.
Here is the main consequence, which also was much desired by those who profit from them:

All of these changes have resulted in higher corporate profits, higher returns for shareholders, and higher pay for top corporate executives and Wall Street bankers – and lower pay and higher prices for most other Americans.

They amount to a giant pre-distribution upward to the rich. But we’re not aware of them because they’re hidden inside the market.

I think the following is not so much "a more basic problem" as the other side of the same coin:

The more basic problem is that the market itself has become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed interests that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while average workers have steadily lost bargaining power—both economic and political—to receive as large a portion of the economy’s gains as they commanded in the first three decades after World War II.

So far I agreed. Also, I add something:

All of these developments are the product of some 35 years of conscious right-wing policies that were started under Reagan and Thatcher (though prepared before), and as the above list of outcomes show these policies were quite successful: The few rich have become a whole lot richer, and the many non-rich have become poorer or - at best - remained where they were 35 years ago.

But I disagree with this conclusion:

The most important political competition over the next decades will not be between the right and left, or between Republicans and Democrats. It will be between a majority of Americans who have been losing ground, and an economic elite that refuses to recognize or respond to its growing distress.

Firstly, I think the important political competition is - still, and since many years - between the right (pro-rich) and the left (pro-fairness), though I agree there are several rights and several lefts.

And second, while I think the political parties of the U.S. are both unwieldy and irrealistic, I believe it is much more likely that the fight will remain mostly between the - currently rather extreme - rightist Republicans, and the - currently very vaguely - leftist Democrats.

But otherwise, this is a good article that lists many of the major changes that have taken place over the last 35 years in a brief and clear format: Recommended reading.

4. There Are No Brains Left in Washington

The last article today is by Paul Craig Roberts (<- Wikipedia) on his site:
This starts as follows
Washington’s IQ follows the Fed’s interest rate – it is negative. Washington is a black hole into which all sanity is sucked out of government deliberations.
I disagree, for one may be both quite insane and quite clever, and indeed that seems to be the case in Washington D.C.: Rather - though not: very - clever people who decide policies on a quite irrealistic basis, that are accepted on ideological grounds that have very little to do with reality. That also seems true of both the Republicans and the Democrats, though I would agree - see item 2 and item 3 - that the Republicans are considerably worse than the Democrats.

But the following bit is correct (and see the
Wolfowitz Doctrine on Wikipedia):
One has to assume that Putin and Xi Jinping are aware of the Wolfowitz Doctrine, the basis of US foreign and military policies, but perhaps they cannot believe that anything so audaciously absurd can be real. In brief, the Wolfowitz Doctrine states that Washington’s principal objective is to prevent the rise of countries that could be sufficiently powerful to resist American hegemony.
There is more in the article, but I want to select two points about the decline of the United States.

The first is about its infrastructure - the public roads, bridges, libraries, public schools, public transport systems:

In 2004 I predicted in a nationally televised conference in Washington, DC, that the US would be a Third World country in 20 years. Noam Chomsky says we are already there now in 2015. Here is a recent quote from Chomsky:

“Look around the country. This country is falling apart. Even when you come back from Argentina to the United States it looks like a third world country, and when you come back from Europe even more so. The infrastructure is collapsing. Nothing works. The transportation system doesn’t work. The health system is a total scandal–twice the per capita cost of other countries and not very good outcomes. Point by point. The schools are declining . . .”

The second is about the main cause of the decline:

The concentration of US income and wealth in the hands of the very rich is a new development in my lifetime. I ascribe it to two things.

One is the offshoring of American jobs. Offshoring moved high productivity, high-value-added American jobs to countries where the excess supply of labor results in wages well below labor’s contribution to the value of output. The lower labor costs abroad transform what had been higher American wages and salaries and, thereby, US household incomes, into corporate profits, bonuses for corporate executives, and capital gains for shareholders, and in the dismantling of the ladders of upward mobility that had made the US an “opportunity society.”

The other cause of the extreme inequality that now prevails in the US is what Michael Hudson calls the financialization of the economy that permits banks to redirect income away from driving the economy to the payment of interest in service of debt issued by the banks.

Both of these developments maximize income and wealth for the One Percent at the expense of the population and economy.

I agree with both points, which may indeed be summarized thus:

The US is collapsing because the few rich have, mostly through some 35 years of successive deregulations, that also made offshoring possible, appropriated nearly all of the income and riches (and while doing so also destroyed an important part of the American market: The non-rich have too little money).

5. me and M.E. - September 2015

The last item today is the monthly update on my M.E. The previous file in this M.E.-series is from August 25 last. There I wrote that I am still more ill than I was in 2014, especially after doing too much in the end of April.

That is still the case, but I have been a little bit better the last month, in which I took this:
vitamin C: 3 grams:
This increased the dose I have been taking by 1 gram a day.
Calcium+vitamin D+vitamin K:
I take 1 pill a day of each, which together with the Multi Total gives the daily required amounts
Potassium: 2 pills a day
This gives 800 mg a day.
Metafolin: 1 pill a day
This gives 1000 mcg a day.
Magnesium: 1 pill a day.
This gives the daily required amount, together with Multi Total.
Vit mB12 5000 mcg: 1 pill a day.
Vit aB12 3000 mcg: 1 pill every 2 days.
Multi Total: 2 pills a day.
This gives the daily recommend dosage (which is much too low
in vitamins, but is sufficient in minerals).
This differs little from what I started taking on August 22, after 3 weeks with hardly any vitamins, that were worse. (I take 1 gram more C, added adenosyn- cobalamin, and added 1 Multi Total.)

I also found a quite interesting medical article, that was published in April of this year in PLOS:
This is by Björn Regland

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