1. The Suicide of the Liberal Church
2. Five Reasons Ted Cruz Is Even More Dangerous Than
3. 18 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is a Vulgar, Two-Bit
Caesar, According to America's
4. What the Mainstream Doesn’t Get About Bernie Sanders
5. The Real Legacy of
This is a Nederlog of Monday, January 25,
This is a
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article by Chris Hedges (who is a minister) about the
churches (in the USA) with some notes on my own total lack of religion;
item 2 is a brief article by Robert Reich who argues Cruz is more dangerous than Trump; item 3 is about an article with plentiful conservative reasons not to vote for Trump; item 4 is about an article that gives two reasons the main media miss about Bernie Sanders; and item 5
is about a long article by Sue Halpern that I recommend to lovers of
Apple and Steve Jobs (neither was loved by me since 1981, and Jobs
Suicide of the Liberal Church
by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
wrote that all institutions, including the church, are inherently
Niebuhr asserted that no institution could ever achieve the
morality of the individual. Institutions, he warned, to extend their
lives when confronted with collapse, will swiftly betray the stances
that ostensibly define them. Only individual men and women have the
strength to hold fast to virtue when faced with the threat of death.
And decaying institutions, including the church, when consumed by fear,
swiftly push those endowed with this moral courage and radicalism from
their ranks, rendering themselves obsolete.
As I have said several times, I like Chris
Hedges because he is smart and he has courage, and both are - in my opinion
- fairly to very rare personal qualities,
which are admirable. 
But I don't agree with everything he says (in good part
because I am a thinking person, I cannot agree on everything with anyone else),
and one of the disagreements I have with him is on religion.
In fact, there are at least two basic and rather large disagreements I
have with him: First, I am a philosopher and a psychologist who is completely
non-religious since I was born (meanwhile nearly 66 years ago). And
second, Chris Hedges does not believe in atheists - which means in my
case he does not believe in me, in my parents, in 3 out of 4 of my
grandparent, in the parents of two of my grandparents, and in their
parents - for the atheism on my mother's side of the family goes back
to the 1850ies.
There is more below on my complete lack of any
First a brief sketch of the situation Chris Hedges complains about -
and I should say that he is now also a Protestant minister:
The number of adults in the
mainline Protestant churches—Presbyterian, Unitarian-Universalist,
Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Congregationalist—decreased from
about 41 million in 2007 to 36 million in 2014, according to the Pew
Research Center. And the average age of the congregant is 52. The
Catholic Church also is being decimated; its decline has been
exacerbated by its decades-long protection of sexual predators within
the priesthood and the Vatican’s relentless campaign, especially under
John Paul II, to force out of the church priests, nuns and lay leaders
who focused their ministries on the poor and the oppressed. The
Catholic Church, which has lost 3 million members over the last decade,
has seen its hold on the U.S. population fall to 21 percent from 24.
Actually, these numbers are far better
(for religious folks) than the Dutch proportions of religious people, and also better
than the European proportions. Also, I think falls of respectively
1/7th and 1/8th part in Protestant and Catholic members in the USA,
while considerable, do not amount to their "being decimated".
But what Chris Hedges is really concerned about is not so much the
decline in Christian faith, as the decline in Christian liberal
faith, in which I think he is correct, at least in part:
The self-identified religious
institutions that thrive preach the perverted “prosperity gospel,” the
message that magic Jesus will make you rich, respected and powerful if
you believe in him. Jesus, they claim, is an American capitalist, bigot
and ardent imperialist. These sects selectively lift passages from the
Bible to justify the unjustifiable, including homophobia, war, racism
against Muslims, and the death penalty. Yet there are more students —
2,067 — at the evangelical Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary alone
than at the divinity schools and seminaries of Yale, Harvard, Union,
Vanderbilt and Chicago, whose combined enrollment is 1,537.
The doctrine these sects preach is
Christian heresy. The Christian faith — as in the 1930s under Germany’s
pro-Nazi Christian church — is being distorted to sanctify nationalism,
unregulated capitalism and militarism. The mainstream church, which
refuses to denounce these heretics as heretics, a decision made in the
name of tolerance, tacitly gives these sects credibility and squanders
the prophetic voice of the church.
I am not saying Hedges is mistaken, though
it seems to me - who is indeed
a complete religious outsider  - that
liberal faction in Christianity always has been in a minority, not only
now, but also in the 1930ies, in the 1830ies etc.
Here is the last quotation I will give from Hedges' three pages, and
this sounds quite true to me:
During the rise of the American species
of corporate fascism — what Sheldon Wolin called “inverted
totalitarianism” — the liberal church, like the rest of the liberal
establishment, looked the other way while the poor and workingmen and
-women, especially those of color, were ruthlessly disempowered and
impoverished. The church and liberals were as silent about the buildup
of mass incarceration as they once were about lynching. The mainline
church refused to confront and denounce the destructive force of
corporate power. It placed its faith in institutions—such as the
Democratic Party—that had long ceased to function as mechanisms of
The church, mirroring the liberal
establishment, busied itself with charity, multiculturalism and
gender-identity politics at the expense of justice, especially racial
and economic justice. It retreated into a narcissistic
For one thing, I agree that "corporate
fascism" is a better term than "inverted totalitarianism", indeed in
considerable part because the former identifies those
who run corporations for their own mega-status and their own
mega-riches, and also in part because "inverted
totalitarianism" is more a name for a technique of control
they used, rather than of a real - conservative, greedy, egoistic, immoral -
political philosophy or ideology (which is what fascism is).
Then again, that is less important - in
the course of Hedges' arguments - than the turning away from liberalism
and the turning towards power that he sketches, and in which he seems to be
right, although with my side-note that this always has been the case,
and not only in the Christian churches: Christianity, like religion in
general, is not predominantly liberal or democratic, but tends to be,
and tended to be for a very long time, towards the illiberal and the
Again, Hedges is also right in his last quoted paragraph, but the
decline or indeed the inversion of genuine liberal standards and their
replacement by "charity, multiculturalism and
gender-identity politics" not only is true of religion but happened in
politics as well, and on a larger scale: This is not real leftism
anymore, it is part of the mock "leftism" that has been growing over
the past 35 years, and that mostly replaced the real leftists, who
indeed are mostly inspired
by truth and justice.
Finally, about my own complete lack of any religion: I think Chris Hedges is simply mistaken and also morally
wrong in insisting that he does not believe in atheists. (And I do have degrees in philosophy and psychology.)
It is a logically much better
tenable position than that of any of the more than 3000 factually
existing and each other factually contradicting religions, and it
simply is nonsense to insist that anyone who chooses one of
these 3000 different divinities must be more right than any atheist.
Also, it is not polite to atheists (and I never said I do not believe in religious people either).
Reasons Ted Cruz Is Even More Dangerous Than Donald Trump
is by Robert Reich on Truthdig, and originally on Reich's Facebook page
(which I never read since I detest Facebook):
This starts as follows - and I give
excerpts of the points. For the full text, click the
last dotted link:
Five reasons Ted Cruz is even
more dangerous than Donald Trump:
1. He’s more fanatical. (...)
2. Cruz is a true believer. Trump has no
firm principles except
making money, getting attention and gaining power.
3. He’s smarter. (...)
4. He’s more disciplined and strategic.
5. Cruz is a loner who’s willing to destroy
Both men would be disasters for America, but Cruz would be the larger
18 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is a Vulgar, Two-Bit Caesar,
According to America's Conservatives
third item is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
The Republican Party’s “serious
people” wing has issued an anti-Donald Trump manifesto in the
vaunted conservative journal, National Review. The
piece is filled with irony, humor and blunt assessments of how the GOP
is crumbling from within. But it’s all there, confirming everything
that’s been said about what Trump represents and how he has exacerbated
the Republican Party’s identity crisis.
I say. I did not know that. Also, I will not
quote all 18 reasons, and the 9 reasons I do quote, which follow, are
all quoted without text, which you can find, if interested, by clicking
the last dotted link.
Here are 9 of the reasons (none of which was thought up or phrased by
Republican politician who doesn’t read what we write.
I don't think they are all true, but it is
nice to know there are quite a few Republicans who are rather insistent
that Trump does not represent them.
4. He’s a boor, a
creep, a louse and political fraud.
6. He's an egomaniac
who changes his mind too much.
lacks every important qualification for office.
More vulgar than an “American Mussolini."
12. He’s a poser
who’s trashing the Republican Party.
14. He’s a sexist pig and a
16. He’s mentally
ill and would be worse than any
18. He’s a thin-skinned crybaby and
Here is the lesson Steve Rosenfeld draws:
I think that is also a bit of an exaggeration
("everything"?) but it is
true that Trump does not seem to be much liked by many Republican
If Trump snares the GOP nomination, the
nation’s leading conservatives have given a great gift to his
Democratic Party competitor. They need not look any further than the National
Review anti-Trump manifesto to
confirm everything Trump’s critics have been saying.
4. What the Mainstream Doesn’t Get About Bernie Sanders
fourth item is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
The normally perspicacious Paul Krugman
wrote a column on Friday entitled “How
The last paragraph sums up his argument
Sorry, but there’s nothing noble about
seeing your values defeated because you preferred happy dreams to hard
thinking about means and ends. Don’t let idealism veer into destructive
Krugman seems to think that Sanders’
idealistic stands are “happy dreams” because change happens from the
hard work of compromise and settling for half-loafs. As a result,
he suggests that Hillary Clinton and her pragmatism are the “adult”
approach and the strategy most likely to lead to change.
have treated this before, and my own point of view is simply that
Krugman prefers Clinton to Sanders, and indulged in considerable bits
of obvious propaganda, as is obvious from his terminology ("happy
dreams", "destructive self-indulgence", "adult" etc.)
Also, I don't think this is very serious, unless you think Paul Krugman
must be right and is too intelligent to use propaganda.
The following two points are more
I would not have formulated it thus, but John
Atcheson is right that Sanders does try to "snatch
control of this country from corporations and the uber rich", who
indeed got that control as a result of 35 years of intriguing, that also were mostly successful, and I
guess he is also right in saying that if Sanders succeeds in getting great numbers of
voters to vote, he will very probably win - and in saying (not quoted)
that if he doesn't succeed in doing that he will very probably loose.
There are two things the MSM and the
punditocracy don’t understand.
First, Sanders isn’t simply trying to
get himself elected; he’s trying to ignite a revolution that will
snatch control of this country from corporations and the uber rich and
hand it back to citizens.
Second, the fact of the matter is that
“none-of-the-above” has won every election since 1960, with some 40 to
50 percent of those eligible to vote not voting. That is, the
number of potentially eligible voters who stayed home was larger than
the number voting for the winning candidate. And the dirty little
secret is that America is
a left of center, progressive electorate on an issue-be-issue basis,
and many of these are the ones who stay home in disgust at their lack
If Sanders is to win, he must get a sizable
number of the disaffected and cynical voters to reengage in the
political process. If he does, he wins.
In short, it's all down to the intelligence and the morality of ordinary Americans...
5. The Real Legacy of Steve Jobs
The fifth and last item Sue Halpern on The
New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:
Partway through Alex Gibney’s
earnest documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, an
early Apple Computer collaborator named Daniel Kottke asks the question
that appears to animate Danny Boyle’s recent film about Jobs: “How much
of an asshole do you have to be to be successful?” Boyle’s Steve
Jobs is a factious, melodramatic fugue that cycles through the
themes and variations of Jobs’s life in three acts—the theatrical,
stage-managed product launches of the Macintosh computer
There is a whole lot more in the article,
which is especially recommended to Apple- and Jobs-lovers. I read it
all, but I never needed any convincing that I do and did not like Jobs nor
(1984), the NeXT computer
(1988), and the iMac computer (1998). For Boyle (and his screenwriter
Aaron Sorkin) the answer appears to be “a really, really big one.”
Gibney, for his part, has assembled a
chorus of former friends, lovers, and employees who back up that
assessment, and he is perplexed about it. By the time Jobs died in
2011, his cruelty, arrogance, mercurial temper, bullying, and other
childish behavior were well known. So, too, were the inhumane
conditions in Apple’s production facilities in China—where there had
been dozens of suicides—as well as Jobs’s halfhearted response to them.
Apple’s various tax avoidance schemes were also widely known.
In fact, the only thing I really liked about Apple was Wozniak's - the
true genius behind Apple - Apple II computer, which a good friend of mine bought in 1980, and
which did little else than run AppleBasic, but that was quite good and quite effective, even though
you had to store everything on cassette tapes.
After that, all I saw of Apple were very expensive closed source machines that
were very well propagandized, but since I much dislike both closed
source and propaganda, I never was an Apple-fan or a Jobs-fan.
 One of
the things I will never agree with is the Dutch very
widely spread value that "everybody knows that everybody is of equal
value". For me, that is a gross lie, that tries to bring down all
individual human excellence, which is always rare and always
individuial, to the level of the most common, the most stupid, the most
greedy, the most egoistic and/or the most talentless.
Also, I am quite certain that
in many who do insist that "everybody knows
that everybody is of equal
value" - you, me, Hitler and Einstein, to take four examples out of
many more - do so on purpose, because they much dislike the idea that
anybody (who is not a singer or a star (!)) is more talented than they
are, and because they know there are many more stupid than intelligent
 I do
or did have several friends who were raised non-religiously, more or
less as I was, but who became Buddhists. I reject all religions, and
always did: it's nonsense or false.