This is a Nederlog
of Tuesday, December 15, 2015.
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about the Paris Conference, and I find myself (a bit oddly) in
agreement with George Monbiot, who thinks nothing real was achieved; item 2 is about Matt Taibbi on Trump and TV: it seems
to me that - as usual - the lack of intelligence and education of the
majority of Americans is left out; item 3 is about
Reich who wrote about "a revolt of the middle class" in the USA that I
see no evidence for (and that for Reich may take another 15 years or
so); item 4 is about an update on one of the Drone
Papers; and item 5 is about how Congress slipped in
a bill that will probably pass and kill encryption (that is not easily
breakable by the NSA).
1. A Turning Point for the Climate or a Disaster?
first item is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows, and I
explain why the item is here under it:
In what’s been described as a
historic turning point, nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris Saturday to
a global accord to rein in rising greenhouse gas emissions blamed for
warming the planet. The accord was reached at the conclusion of the
two-week U.N. climate change conference, known as COP21. Under the
deal, nations will make voluntary commitments to begin cutting
emissions. In addition, the deal provides billions more dollars to help
poor nations cope with the transition to a greener economy powered by
renewable energy. "What we saw in the last two weeks was that every
country around the world agreed we have to do much, much more to fight
climate change effectively, and to begin to set up a dialogue and
mechanism for rich countries to aid the poor countries, and to make
room for continuous ambition moving forward," says Michael Brune,
executive director of the Sierra Club and author of "Coming Clean:
Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal." But climate justice
activists disagree on how effective the agreement will be in rolling
back the effects of climate change. "What I see is an agreement with no
timetables, no targets, with vague, wild aspirations," says British
journalist and author George Monbiot, columnist with The Guardian and
author of the 2006 book, "Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning."
"I see a lot of backslapping, a lot of self-congratulation, and I see
very little in terms of the actual substance that is required to avert
climate breakdown." We speak with both Brune and Monbiot about the
fact, I gave the
explanation yesterday: See item 3 and
note 1 there. And on this
issue I am (at least with a bit of amazement) at the side of George
Monbiot, who is quoted as having said in the discussion:
MONBIOT: Well, I wish I
could be as optimistic as Michael, but what I see is an agreement with
no timetables, no targets, with vague, wild aspirations. I mean, it’s
almost as if it’s now safe to adopt 1.5 degrees centigrade as their
aspirational target now that it is pretty well impossible to reach. I
see a lot of backslapping, a lot of self-congratulation, and I see very
little in terms of the actual substance that is required to avert
climate breakdown. That’s what we’re facing. We’re facing an
existential crisis for humankind. And the response by the world’s
leaders has been anything but commensurate with that crisis.
Quite so. There
is rather a lot more in the article, but this is what it comes down to.
And besides, it seems as people like Michael Brune have let themselves
bewitched by propaganda
and vague promises without any assurance they will be kept.
2. Matt Taibbi: It's Too Late To Turn Off Trump
The second item is by
Dartagnan on AlterNet (and originally on Daily Kos):
This starts as follows:
At some undefined moment over the
past two weeks a light bulb suddenly came on over the talking heads in
our corporate media as it dawned on them that Donald Trump was saying
things that were really not so nice and kinda scary. Why it
took them nearly half a year to reach this epiphany has not been
satisfactorily explained or even examined, but as Matt
Taibbi takes note in Rolling Stone, a good
bet is that it had something to do with ratings, a fact ironically acknowledged by Trump himself.
I think the good ratings are part of the
explanation, but there is also probably more, simply because Trump has
been saying these things for a long time.
One possible additional explanation is that
since 1980 a new kind of
"journalist" has come to the top of their profession: Those who don't
do any real investigative reporting while making a good living by not
asking any really critical questions of the government, and basically
handing on the government's rendering of the news that the government
Another possible explanation, that may be
beneath the previous one, is
that many of the new kind of "journalists" have been trained by postmodernists,
and have no faith in truth
or honesty: truth is just one of many possible "narratives"; honesty is
for fools trying to speak the truth; and a well-meaning "journalist"
should try to keep his job, make money, and be tacit
on anything that is critical or very critical of anything his or her
But I am guessing. I think both influences
are there, but I cannot
estimate their sizes.
As to Trump, there is this:
Trump simply embodies the TV
culture that created him and that most Americans wallow in every night
of their lives. His views and pronouncements, in their idiotic
simplicity and unworkability, follow suit:
This seems notable especially because of what
it leaves out:
The stupidity - sorry: the lack of intelligence
- that marks the majority of everyday Americans (left, right and
You may complain about Trump's massive
inanities, but the reason these
are and remain popular is simply because so many members of his
audience (i) have no better ideas or values and (ii) do not even see
any need to look beyond the mainstream media that provide their mostly
I dislike Trump, but the basic problem is not
Trump but the
fact that so many Americans don't have decent ideas or values
(other than the shit their TVs offer them), and also seem not
to care or not able (even) to read the necessary sources for
somewhat informed ideas and values.
Here is some more:
As Taibbi puts it, “TV is
the ultimate leveling phenomenon. I makes everyone, rich and poor,
equally incapable of dealing with reality.”
So it’s long past the point where taking
Trump off the air would do any good. That ship probably sailed when
Americans duped themselves into voting for a B-movie actor in 1980 who
talked tough while bankrupting the country, and told themselves ever
since that this was a good idea.
Possibly Matt Taibbi is
right, but not
about me: I don't have a TV since 1970 and rarely viewed it
since, simply because it is too stupid and contains far too many advertisements,
far too much propaganda,
and far too many stupidities,
inanities and bullshit.
I just do not want to waste time on bullshit mostly designed to
please the halves with IQs that are 100 maximally.
And I don't think that is due to any
peculiarity of myself,
apart from the fact that
I am more intelligent than most and better
educated than most. If there
were more like me (as there are, but not many) there would be fewer who
watch TV or at least fewer who lap up the propaganda as if it were true.
Again: It is not Trump who is the
problem, but the many
Americans who have hardly any ideas or values other than their TVs tell
Revolt of the Anxious Class
third item is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
The great American middle class
has become an anxious class – and it’s in revolt.
Really? I don't think so myself. Here
is some of my evidence, given by Reich:
The odds of falling into poverty are
frighteningly high, especially for the majority
without college degrees.
Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck
to paycheck. Most could lose their jobs at any time.
Many are part of a burgeoning
“on-demand” workforce – employed as needed, paid whatever they can get
whenever they can get it.
Yet if they don’t keep up with rent or
mortgage payments, or can’t pay for groceries or utilities, they’ll
lose their footing.
And this means that the
of the middle class, that anyway does not have radical ideas, simply
have no money and no other resources to start a revolt on.
There is also this, which seems mostly
Government won’t protect
their jobs from
being outsourced to Asia or being taken by a worker here illegally.
Government can’t even
protect them from
evil people with guns or bombs. Which is why the anxious class is
arming itself, buying guns at a record
They view government as
not so much
incompetent as not giving a damn. It’s working for the big guys and fat
cats – the crony capitalists who bankroll candidates and get special
favors in return.
Here is Robert Reich's lesson:
But is this a "revolt of the anxious [middle] class"? I think not. What Reich sketched is not so
much a revolt as a turning to fascists, authoritarians, bullies, liars
and peddlers of bullshit.
Now someone comes along who’s even more
of a bully than those who for years have bullied them economically,
politically, and even violently.
The attraction is understandable, even
If not Donald Trump, then it will be
someone else posing as a strongman. If not this election cycle, it will
be the next one.
The revolt of the anxious class has just
He may be right, but this is not "a revolt".
4. The Kill
The fourth item is by Cora Currier on The Intercept:
This starts as follows
(after a general
introduction) and seems a partial repeat, with some additional
material, of an item first published in October 2015, as part of The Drone Papers:
Essentially, this means that the American
government acts as if it is an authoritarian government that
denies its inhabitants the right to be properly informed about the
The Obama administration has been loath
to declassify even the legal rationale for drone strikes — let alone
detail the bureaucratic structure revealed in these documents. Both the
CIA and JSOC conduct drone strikes in Yemen, and very little has been
officially disclosed about either the military’s or the spy agency’s
“The public has a right to know who’s
making these decisions, who decides who is a legitimate target, and on
what basis that decision is made,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal
director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Both the Pentagon and the National
Security Council declined to respond to detailed questions about the
study and about the drone program more generally. The NSC would not say
if the process for approving targets or strikes had changed since the
study was produced.
And I think that is true. There is a lot more in the article, that is
Congress Reportedly Slipping CISA Spy Bill Into Must-Pass Omnibus
fifth item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Gore Vidal said around 2007 that it would
take 10 to 15 years to neutralize the internet.
He may have been too optimistic: It seems the
present bill will pass
and that will be the end of all encryption (that is not easily
breakable by the NSA).
Also, this is again an example of how
Congress these days work: Attach any bill with authoritarian
degeneracy to another bill that must pass, and you can create an authoritarian anti-democratic state in a few years.
And it works, because only a very few
will raise questions:
Most members of Congress (nearly all millionaires) are much more
concerned about getting the money that they think is due to them from
Digital rights groups are sounding the
alarm after sources reportedly confirmed on Monday that the
controversial cyber-surveillance bill formerly known as CISA has been slipped
into the "must-pass" omnibus spending bill that Congress is expected to
vote on later this week.
Fight for the Future, a leading digital
rights group that has organized fierce grassroots resistance to CISA
(otherwise known as Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) and similar
bills, issued a statement
saying that all eyes will be on President Barack Obama should the
legislation reach his desk.
"Now is when we’ll find out whether
President Obama really cares about the Internet and freedom of speech,
or whether he’s happy to roll over and allow technologically illiterate
members of Congress break the Internet in the name of cybersecurity,"
said the group's campaign director, Evan Greer.
Negotiators have been working to pass
some version of the CISA bill, which would allow the sharing of
Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology
and manufacturing companies, for more than three years.