Democrats Are Just Openly Antagonizing Their Progressive Base Now
This article is by Sophia Tesfaye on AlterNet and originally
on Salon. It starts as follows:
A dozen Senate Democrats
are threatening to torpedo any semblance of a unified economic message
from the opposition party ahead of this fall’s midterm elections,
trampling over the fiercest progressive voices in the party to do so.
“I don’t think a bill like
that is good for anybody in America,” warned Sen. Elizabeth Warren,
D-Mass., on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, referring to a Republican
effort to roll back rules meant to prevent a repeat of the financial
crisis that struck 10 years ago. Warren is the Senate's strongest
consumer protection advocate, elected in 2012 in a crusade against big
Wall Street bailouts.
Democrats in the Senate
joined the Republican majority to end debate on an amendment to a broad
financial deregulation package late Monday, advancing the most
significant revision of banking rules since the historic 2010
Yes indeed - and for me
this Democratic development where the Democrats embrace the rich for
money, which I think these Democrats do because they are corrupt, is also
the end of any hope or faith in the decency or the rationality or the
honesty of the vast majority of the Democrats.
Here is some more:
“Too big to fail,”
proponents of the deregulation bill argue, has left community banks
“too small to succeed.”
Under the Obama-era
regulations, financial institutions with at least $50 billion in assets
have to undergo frequent "stress testing" by the Federal Reserve to
determine whether they have to enough cash on hand to withstand a
sudden shock. The new bill backed by several Senate Democrats would
require fewer banks to undergo such scrutiny, raising the minimum
criteria of big banks to $250 billion in assets, while changing the
annual stress tests to unspecified “periodic” tests to be conducted by
If the ¨proponents of the deregulation bill¨ do argue as described, they
must be - it would seem to me - three things that few
people are: (i) pretty rich already; (ii) extremely greedy for
themselves and their rich friends; and (iii) utterly and totally insane
or else (iii´)
utterly and totally dishonest.
I am sorry, but I cannot
see this differently - and this does apply to the Democratic proponents
of this utter insanity as well (and see the previous paragraph). There
is more in this article, which is recommended.
4. ACLU Demands Answers on a Disturbing New
article is by Julia Conley on AlterNet and originally on Common Dreams.
It starts as follows:
Civil liberty defenders are
raising alarm over the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA)
increasingly common searches of domestic travelers' personal electronic
devices, including laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
The TSA announced last
October that it would begin using heightened procedures to screen
electronics, but the details of how the policy is implemented and how
agents decide which travelers can be subjected to a warrantless search
of their devices remain "shrouded in secrecy," according
to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
I say. I did not
know this, but I think I can explain it,
although I do not know how many will believe me:
Trump is a neofascist (you´ll have
to read my
definition if you wish to make sense of what I am saying); for many
neofascists there are fundamental differences between
millionaires and billionaires and other people; these fundamental
differences are in fact (for those who believe in them) between
those who are entitled to a human
treatment and those who are not;
and in the present USA everybody who makes less than $60,000 a year
may be subjected to almost anything by representatives of the
government, including the described neofascism of
the TSA, that also is both completely warrantless and "shrouded in secrecy".
At least: That is my explanation. Here is some more:
After receiving numerous
complaints from Americans regarding what they say is an invasion of
their privacy by the TSA, the ACLU's Northern California chapter filed
suit on Monday, demanding information about TSA's procedures and
protocols for searching travelers' electronics and equipment used to
search or extract data from personal devices.
"TSA is searching the
electronic devices of domestic passengers, but without offering any
reason for the search," said Vasudha Talla, a staff attorney with the
ACLU. "We don't know why the government is singling out some
passengers, and we don't know what exactly TSA is searching on the
devices. Our phones and laptops contain very personal information, and
the federal government should not be digging through our digital data
without a warrant."
Yes indeed - and as I
said, for me this is plain fascism or neofascism,
and it also is completely in contradiction with existing laws and
with the Constitution.
There is also this:
The national ACLU and
Electronic Frontier Foundation has also challenged
and Border Protection's (CBP) practice of searching the personal
electronics of people entering the U.S. at border crossings without
probable cause. Thirty-thousand searches were performed by the CBP in
2017, up from 5,000 two years earlier.
Quite so. And
this is a strongly recommended article (and namely because I
insist that the practices described in the article are
fascistic or neofascistic, besides being both illegal and non-
This article is by Galen Strawson
on The New York Review of Books, and it is not a crisis file.
As regular readers of my sites know, in fact I am a philosopher,
at least in terms of the time studied, for I read philosophy - very
seriously, also - from 1965 or 1968 till 1988, when I was denied
my legal right to take my - brilliant - M.A. in philosophy in
an intentional extremely sadistic manner, namely because I was not
a Marxist and
was for science and for rationality in a
¨university¨ that for some 80 to 90% was purely political and not
scientific or rational at all. 
But enough of that. This article starts as follows:
In fact, I do not
know what is the silliest claim ever made, but I have read a great
amount of philosophy, and many - in fact: a large majority - of
the claims made by ¨philosophers¨ do strike me as quite false, and very
frequently also as quite silly (and
this applies to what ¨philosophers¨ of all kinds have said both in the
past, sometimes thousands of years ago, and also in the
is the silliest claim ever made? The competition is fierce, but I think
the answer is easy. Some people have denied the existence of
consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of
experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience. Next to this
denial—I’ll call it “the Denial”—every known religious belief is only a
little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.
began in the twentieth century and continues today in a few pockets of
philosophy and psychology and, now, information technology. It had two
main causes: the rise of the behaviorist approach in psychology, and
the naturalistic approach in philosophy. These were good things in their way, but they spiraled
out of control and gave birth to the Great Silliness.
But I agree with Strawson that the denial of conscious
experience is both silly and false, while it also has been made
for quite a few decades in recent philosophy.
Here is more on what Strawson calls the Denial:
But before that, I need to comment on what is being
denied—consciousness, conscious experience, experience for short.
is it? Anyone who has ever seen or heard or smelled anything knows what
it is; anyone who has ever been in pain, or felt hungry or hot or cold
or remorseful, dismayed, uncertain, or sleepy, or has suddenly
remembered a missed appointment. All these things involve what are
sometimes called “qualia”—that is to say, different types or qualities
of conscious experience. What I am calling the Denial is the denial
that anyone has ever really had any of these experiences.
it’s not surprising that most Deniers deny that they’re Deniers. “Of
course, we agree that consciousness or experience exists,” they say—but
when they say this they mean something that specifically excludes
Yes, I think that is
mostly correct. There probably are some differences between
what Strawson says he means and what I mean by the
and you can get my senses from the last two links, but I also
think that the differences are not important here and now.
is also this - and I think Strawson is mostly right on this:
of the strangest things the Deniers say is that although it seems
that there is conscious experience, there isn’t really any
conscious experience: the seeming is, in fact, an illusion.
Then again, I have to
make two qualifications.
first is that the persons Strawson calls ¨the Deniers¨ tend to be all academic
philosophers in the analytic tradition, and while their
opinions may be fairly well known, their actual scholarly texts
are not often read by non-philosophers (indeed in considerable
part because they tend to be quite difficult to read).
second is that having come as far as this - in fact: all of
six paragraphs into the prose of Mr. Strawson - we are already firmly
¨in philosophers´ country¨, so to speak, by which I mean that it are only
philosophers (as academics) who make such fundamentally confusing
claims about the nature of human experiences (and many other
while there are some other academic subjects that may be as
silly as philosophy - religion, psychiatry and psychology come to
mind - I do think - and I got an excellent M.A. in psychology
after I was denied the right of taking an M.A. in philosophy - that
philosophy is, by and large, the least sensible and the
least scientific of all subjects, except perhaps for religion.
is Strawson on conscious experience:
it comes to conscious experience, there’s a rock-bottom sense in which
we’re fully acquainted with it just in having it. The having is the
knowing. So when people say that consciousness is a mystery,
they’re wrong—because we know what it is. It’s the most familiar thing
there is—however hard it is to put into words.
people often mean when they say that consciousness is a mystery is that
it’s mysterious how consciousness can be simply a matter of physical
goings-on in the brain. But here, they make a Very Large Mistake, in
Winnie-the-Pooh’s terminology—the mistake of thinking that we know
enough about the physical components of the brain to have good reason
to think that these components can’t, on their own, account for the
existence of consciousness. We don’t.
yes and no. First of all, while I agree that all living human beings
experience, in some sense, I don´t think that many experiences some
people do have are easily explained or fully known in
fact, put ¨dreams¨ for ¨consciousness¨ in the above, or indeed ¨the
specific experiences of other people¨ (who may have quite
different talents from the ones we have ourselves), and this
becomes quite obvious. (And incidentally: I almost never dream
never had a nightmare - which seems to be somewhat rare.)
then again, it seems to me Strawson is mostly right in the second
paragraph. In my terms:
is - to me - a quite unproblematic fact that I experience,
but a quite problematic question how to explain my
experiences, and indeed also your experiences, which I assume you
have in a similar form as I have them, but with the added
difficulty that I do not have your experiences, while also
Strawson is quite correct (and I am speaking here as a psychologist as
well) that we make a serious mistake if we assume that ¨we know enough about the
physical components of the brain¨ to explain how it makes us experience.
We do not or only in extremely rough outline.
there is this about naturalism:
states that everything that concretely exists is entirely natural;
nothing supernatural or otherwise non-natural exists. Given that we know that conscious experience exists, we must
as naturalists suppose that it’s wholly natural. And given that we’re
specifically materialist or physicalist naturalists
(as almost all naturalists are), we must take it that conscious experience is wholly material or physical.
And so we should, because it’s beyond reasonable doubt that
experience—what W.V. Quine called “experience
in all its richness… the heady luxuriance of experience” of color and
sound and smell—is wholly a matter of neural
goings-on: wholly natural and wholly physical.
agree and I also am a naturalist. There is also this:
naturalists, then, are outright realists about consciousness, who
accept that they are, in many ways, profoundly ignorant of the
fundamental nature of the physical. They understand the respect in
which the great naturalistic project, spearheaded by physics, hasn’t
decreased our ignorance, but increased it—precisely because of
its advances and successes. We don’t understand quantum mechanics, or
“dark energy,” or “dark matter,” or a host of other things. So be it.
agree about naturalists, but not with the idea that modern ¨physics, hasn’t decreased
our ignorance, but increased it¨. If there is more physics,
there is in a sound sense somewhat less ignorance,
although I may agree
with Strawson that (i) considerable amounts of physics are uncertain,
while (ii) all of physics is quite incomplete (there is a lot
learn and know). And besides, I also think it is probably not physics
that will contribute most to our understandings of how we experience,
but medicine or biology.
could anybody have been led to something so silly as to deny the
existence of conscious experience, the only general thing we know for
explanation is as ancient as it is simple. As Cicero says, there is “no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.”
Descartes agrees, in 1637: “Nothing can be
imagined which is too strange or incredible to have been said by some
philosopher.” Thomas Reid concurs in 1785: “There is nothing so absurd
which some philosophers have not maintained.”
don´t quite agree with the first paragraph, and specifically not with
the thesis that ¨conscious experience¨ is ¨the only general thing we know
for certain exists¨, and I give three reasons.
first reason is that while I agree that I experience,
and also that you
- if you are alive, not asleep and not drugged - also experience I do not
think this is ¨the only general thing we know for certain exists¨. In fact, I think that in
a plausible probabilistic
sense of knowing things (which accordingly may be mistaken) we
know quite a lot more, such as language,
matics. O, and also nonsense: That
exists as well, at least mentally.
second reason is that both the terms ¨we¨ and ¨know¨ (in ¨we know for certain exists¨) are quite difficult
explain or define in a rational fashion, and there are - at least -
considerable differences between what I know about my
experiences (whoever is indicated by ¨I¨) and what I know about
your experiences, if only because I do not have
your experiences (I will assume)
my third reason is that ¨conscious experience¨ (which I agree you and I have) is
quite difficult to explain, especially if we consider terms
like ¨I¨, ¨you¨ and ¨we¨. In fact, there are various logics of
propositional attitudes, that are about phrases that ¨I know...¨, ¨You
believe ...¨, ¨They desire...¨ etc. etc., with ordinary propositions or
propositional attitudes on the dots, but there is no widespread
agreement on them, and there also are many open problems there.
The second paragraph is quite true (and ought to be wholly
non-surprising for any intelligent person).
is Strawson´s ending:
well, but how is it possible to deny the existence of consciousness?
Russell thinks it’s the fault of philosophy. There
are things that “only philosophers with a long
training in absurdity could succeed in believing.” But it isn’t just
philosophers, as Mark Twain notes: “There isn’t anything so grotesque
or so incredible that the average human being can’t believe it.”
This is how
philosophers in the twentieth century came to endorse the Denial, the
silliest view ever held in the history of human thought.
fact, I agree more with Russell (who was an
academically trained philosopher) than with Twain, indeed not
because Twain is wrong, but because academically trained philosophers are
academically trained in what must be for the most part
uncertanties, and most of these philosophical absurdities and
uncertainties are not shared by non-philosophers.
- as I explained - I do not quite agree with Strawson that this
ever held¨ (What about the denial of logic? Or the denial of
mathematics or physics? Or the insistence that no one exists but
oneself? Or the denial there is a past?) but I agree it is
this is a recommended article (though I doubt many will read
it, but then it is philosophy).