from December 31, 2017.
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, December 31,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will
continue with it.
moment and since two years (!!!!)
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from December 31, 2017
Third Parties, Your Time Is Now
2. How the GOP Tax Cut Will Also Shrink Your Paycheck
3. San Juan Major Blasts Trump As Slow Recovery Drags On 100
Days After Hurricane Maria
4. 2017 Was a Big Year
for Scrubbing Science from Government
5. One year, many Trumps: 2017’s 10 best theories about our
items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
Parties, Your Time Is Now
This article is by Lark Lo on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
For third parties in this
country, educational campaigns and working within the Democratic Party
has to stop.
There is this idea among
some that it is too soon to build third-party candidates and a
formidable campaign by 2020, but we have been building third parties
for over 150 years.
We are ready now for a true
Well... I more or
less agree, but (i) this is not a good article (ii) I am not
an American and (iii) the problem is difficult, in considerable
part - it seems to me - because any new party that has a chance
competing against the Republicans and the Democrats and winning, needs a
whole lot of money, while (iv) the corporations or individuals who
may deliver that money are usually only interested in their own
So I will only make a
remark or two about one of the strange facts about the American
"democracy" (I think it is floundering or destroyed, whence my
quotation marks), at least from the European point of view, which is
that there are only two major parties since a 100 years or so:
If political parties
are groups of people trying to get a majority or at least a sufficient
pressure on the government and the lawmakers to realize some of their
own ends and values, which is how political parties tend to be
motivated, the American system of just two main parties is in
mostly against this end.
Thus - for example - in
Holland there tend to be around 15 parties (at least), each of which
tends to articulate its own point of view on several or quite a few
things, of which again some 8 are regularly elected, from which then
some government must be formed,
which almost always will be a government of - somewhat opposed -
political parties, that
also tends to be a compromise.
I do not think
- in fact: not at all - that the Dutch system is ideal, but it certainly
is more democratic than the American system, precisely because
Dutchmen have much more to chose from, and also find their own
points of view a bit better represented in parliaments and city
councils, indeed also if their point of view did not get a
Also, I do not really
know why the Americans have made do - effectively: there always
were a few radical parties that never made a real chance of winning any
election - with just two political parties, but I suspect money
has a lot to do with it.
Anyway... here is more
by Lark Lo:
If you live in Los Angeles
or New York, think about your life right now under a Democratic
everything. Is this what you want the end of Donald Trump to look like?
When Trump is gone, do you want to see a cool coffee shop owned by
trust funders on every corner, $5,000 rents with five roommates,
steadily looking for work in a gig economy where you can’t save and you
have to work for Uber on the weekends, teach yoga at night, float from
contract job to contract job—even though you have a master’s degree?
Possibly so, but this
is at best a prediction, so not very strong in the context of the
Here is some more:
This is also not a
strong argument, and I would replace it by saying that it seems to me
as if the banks and the rich have bought most Republicands and most
Democrats to realize their banking interests rather than - some of -
the public interests of large groups of American voters.
Working within the
Democratic Party system and running educational campaigns is not going
to help anyone. It will not prevent anyone competent who is involved in
any kind of third party from being viewed as an extreme threat.
Anyone who deviates from the
Democratic Party line is viewed as a threat by the party and its
This is the end of the article, that again is weaker than it should be:
The two-party system is a
tool to maintain a feast-or-famine paradigm. It keeps the United States
at war with itself and internationally. It supports the binary idea of
good vs. evil, with no option other than “You’re for us or against us.”
The Democrats are the good
guys (in their own minds), and if the Republicans are the only other
choice, in the average liberal-leaning person’s mind, the lesser evil
But another world is
possible. Third parties, your time is now. It has to be now. We can’t
survive with a little bit of evil anymore.
Well... in fact the
same sort of thing happens if there are - say - 15 parties: One has to
chose one of them - if one votes at all - which means one must
to the 14 other parties.
Then again, as I argued
above, with - say - 15 parties there usually is considerably
more choice from alternative plans and proposals.
In brief, I think it would
be quite good if there were more parties in the USA with a realistic
chance of being elected, indeed simply because this would give the
voters better and more democratic choices, but I also think it
will be quite
difficult, and especially because the two sitting parties have
already been thoroughly corrupted.
the GOP Tax Cut Will Also Shrink Your Paycheck
article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
The morbidly rich
billionaires who own the Republican Party know that when
working/middle-class people get a tax cut, it means that over time
working-class wages will go down – which is why they’re more than happy
to give us all a temporary tax cut.
This is what
wealthy people know that most Americans don’t: Tax cuts for truly
wealthy people increase their income and wealth; tax cuts for working
people actually decrease their income and wealth over time.
also gives fairly extensive explanations that I do not know whether to
believe. In any case, my own explanation is a lot simpler, and
also based on the facts I know about Holland:
Taxing by the government serves two main purposes: To get the
and to help redistributing some of the riches. The second
purpose may be done in many ways, but they explain in principle why the
poor will not profit in tax cuts: Their tax cuts will be quite
any case, while they loose what may be redistributed to them if the
rich also get tax cuts (which will be a lot bigger).
I think that
explication is sufficient. Here is some more by Hartmann:
This is also why
high-tax countries pay higher wages (and have better public services,
paid for with those taxes). In Denmark, for example, the average
full-time MacDonald’s worker earns around $45,000 U.S. equivalent,
although about 40% of that goes to taxes to pay for the national
health-care system, one of the world’s best school systems, and
high-quality high-paid police who treat Danes with respect.
I am sorry,
but I am a European and have lived there 67 years, and most of
what I have read about my own country Holland in the American press was
simply false: It is totally false that soft
drugs are legalized in Holland, but I have read that bullshit very
many times; it is totally false that the Dutch have not
to pay "for the national
health-care system" (that
also is lousy); and by and large most of what I have
Holland in the American press was prejudice
rather than fact.
So I assume
the same about Denmark, that is: I do not trust the information
(although I do believe Denmark is better arranged than Holland, which
is better arranged than the USA).
economist Thomas Piketty, the poorest 50 percent of Americans have seen
their incomes decline by a full 1 percent since 1978— even as incomes
for the top 10 percent of Americans have jumped by a whopping 115
percent and incomes for the top .001 percent have skyrocketed an
astronomic 685 percent.
progressive nature of our tax code – big changes at the top are matched
by much smaller changes at the bottom – accounts for why wages have
“merely” been flat or declined “only” 1% since Reagan, whereas wealth
at the top has exploded under “conservative” tax policies.
Yes indeed - and I did
agree with this above as well. Here is the last bit that I quote from
Starting with Reagan’s
government-defunding, billionaire-friendly tax-cuts in the 1980s we
stopped building and even repairing much of our infrastructure, causing
the deterioration of our nation to developing-world status in many
parts of the country.
I think this is true,
and this is a recommended article.
Juan Major Blasts Trump As Slow Recovery Drags On 100 Days After
article is by the Common Dreams staff. It starts as follows:
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin
Cruz blasted U.S. President Donald Trump as a "disaster-in-chief" in an
interview with ABC News this week while slow recovery
efforts continue 100 days after the Category 4 Hurricane Maria decimated
Puerto Rico in late September.
"Where he needed to be a
commander-in-chief, he was a disaster-in-chief. President Trump does
not embody the values of the good-hearted American people that have
[made] sure that we are not forgotten," Cruz said.
"He was disrespectful to the Puerto Rican people, he was disrespectful
to the American people who were leaving their homes to come help us
This is here mostly
because of San Juan Mayor
Carmen Yulin Cruz: I think she is quite right.
Here is some more:
Cruz has been a leading
critic of the Trump administration's response to the humanitarian
crisis that broke out on the island, a U.S. territory, following the
hurricane. She pointed to the suspiciously low official death count as
an example of the government's inadequate handling of disaster, adding
that she hopes the review recently ordered by Gov. Ricardo Rossello
will reveal how many people died in connection to the storm.
Rossello's order that the government review the official death toll,
which is 64, followed a New York Times report published
earlier this month that documented more than a thousand deaths on the
island following the hurricane.
Note that the
difference between 64 victims and "more than a thousand deaths" is in the order of 1 against 20.
Here is some more:
After outlining the ongoing
issues that residents are experiencing with accessing electricity,
food, and drinkable water, Cruz concluded, "The botched effort has been
insensible, it has been man-made, and has been Trump
I think she is quite
right, and this is a recommended article.
Was a Big Year for Scrubbing Science from Government Websites
article is by Megan Jula and Rebecca Leber on Mother Jones. It starts
Moments after President
Donald Trump took the oath of office last January, nearly all
references to climate change disappeared from the White House
official website. A page detailing former President Barack Obama’s
plans to build a clean energy economy, address climate change, and
protect the environment became a broken link (archived here).
Whenever a new administration takes charge, government websites are
often revised. But during the Trump administration’s first year in
office, a striking number of references to science, climate,
energy, and the environment have all but disappeared from various
I think this is quite
true, and Jula and Leber also give a considerable list in the body of
the article (that I'll skip).
Here is one main point,
that unfortunately is presented in a somewhat confused manner:
But even though website changes range
from negligible to rebranding,
in some cases they reach the level of what
critics assert is outright censorship. “Each one represents a slow chipping away at
science communication from the government,” said Gretchen Goldman, the
research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the
Union of Concerned Scientists.
My point is that censorship
is one thing, while a "chipping away
communication from the government" is quite another thing: Censorship - which
should be mostly forbidden - applies to all possible opinions
and values, whereas science
is man's best and most rational attempt to arrive at the truth. And while
one may be in favor of censorship of some political or moral ideas, one
cannot be in favor of censorship of science (and be rational).
There is next a fairly extensive listing of
9 government agencies and how they changed, sometimes quite radically,
in what they said when the government changed from Democratic to
I will skip them in this review and give one
extends beyond websites, as well. In August, The Guardian reported
that Trump administration officials had instructed U.S. Department of
Agriculture staff to avoid the term “climate change” in their work and
use “weather extremes” instead. NPR found that scientists have begun censoring
themselves and omitting “climate change” from public grant
But all told, the changes are hardly surprising in
an administration that intends to withdraw
from the Paris climate agreement, has blocked
the Clean Power Plan, dropped climate change as a national
security threat, attempted to boost fossil
fuels, and rolled back efforts to plan for
In fact, I am not amazed at all "that scientists have begun censoring
themselves and omitting “climate change” from public grant summaries", but this
is because I learned what few really learn: At least 95% of
all scientists work for money, which also means that money
will tend to be their main interest (in spite of whatever ethical
stances they may take, indeed).
This is a decent article, but it should have
made a sharper distinction between censorship on the one hand,
and suppressing the accepted scientific expressions on the other hand.
year, many Trumps: 2017’s 10 best theories about our Great Leader
This article is by Andrew O'Hehir on Salon. It starts as
In tribute to the black
hole who swallowed the news for an entire year, here are my personal
top 10 theories about Donald Trump of 2017. None of them could possibly
explain everything; none is entirely wrong. Several of them amount to
restating the basic idea in a new way, said idea being “This guy has
totally messed with our minds.”
Early in the year I made it
a weekend without saying or writing his name, and we once chose to
go an entire publication day at Salon with no stories about him. But
Donald Trump cannot be exorcised so easily. He may be defeated or
disgraced someday, but he cannot be undone or erased from history. As
we close out the unbelievable first year of his unbelievable
presidency, our only choice is to try to understand.
yes, but while I know a little bit about O'Hehir I would have
appreciated if Salon, for which he writes since 20 years, would have
added his educational qualifications.
I do not say these are all-important, but it would make some
difference to me to know whether the speculations of a journalist are
based on some decent M.A. degree in the social or physical sciences, or
whether I must assume the speculations of the journalist are not
on any solid understanding of science.
This knowledge was not given by Salon, and I think it is a
may agree with me if you see the "personal top 10 theories about Donald Trump" that O'Hehir distinguishes.
I will list all of them, indeed as stated by O'Hehir, but I will
suppress all explanatory texts in the article, except for two bits:
- Trump is a
historical fluke who will soon be erased (...)
- Trump is an actual
or aspiring fascist dictator
Applebaum of the Washington Post recently observed, the word “fascist” seems to fit
the circumstances pretty well: a leader who treats his narrow election
as a universal mandate, who overtly seeks to undermine democratic
institutions and the rule of law, who thrives on stoking racial or
ethnic tensions and demonizing an imprecisely defined “establishment,”
and who seeks to gather all possible power to himself as the unitary
symbol of both the state and its people. But as she further noted, the
word also carries 20th-century associations of large-scale military
conquest and mass murder, things that Donald Trump and his so-called
movement manifestly lack the willpower, organization or leadership
ability to carry out in practice.
Major proponents: Yale historian Timothy
Snyder, in perhaps the most-read
and most-shared Salon interview of the year. My colleague Chauncey
DeVega (who interviewed Snyder) has been a thought-leader in this
realm, but pretty much every observer and commentator on American
politics who falls somewhere between Jeff Flake and the Revolutionary
Communist Party has flirted with the terminology, and the idea.
the first two of then possible interpretation O'Hehir lists. I
partially agree with Applebaum, Snyder and DeVega, but I note that (i)
I have not seen any journalist who
had a fair understanding of either fascism or neofascism: all
do either without any decent definition, or with something that only
lists a few points, while (ii) I also think that, given decent
definitions of fascism and neofascism, I think it is rather clear that Trump is a neofascist.
again, I did read absolutely no one in about two years of daily
reading who came up with a good definition of either fascism or neofascism - which I think in fact is a shame.
six more interpretations of Trump that O'Hehir distinguishes, and I
think the first five are more or less self-evidently bullshit. I
skip all of them other than listing these, but I will say something
about the sixth:
- Trump is the
embodiment of the true will of the American people
- Trump is the voice
of the voiceless "white working class" and an expression of “economic
- Trump is a Russian
stooge and/or a Republican useful idiot
- Trump is Steve
Bannon’s personal Joffrey Baratheon
- Trump is a
disruptive postmodern genius who has remade reality
- Trump is an avatar
of American ignorance, bigotry and stupidity
Clearly true, and alarming,
but not very illuminating. I think this is just a despairing
reformulation of all the earlier theories, except for the “zero
hypothesis” ones in which Trump doesn’t really matter and the
ignorance, bigotry and stupidity mentioned above are just a passing
weather system before the sun breaks through again.
Everyone who didn’t vote for him, and a fair number of people who did.
Points in favor:
That dizzy feeling you get when you see him on TV and have to remind
yourself, that guy is actually the president.
None. It just doesn’t explain anything.
I am sorry, but to
grant that stupidity
are very important
forces in American democracy is - in my extensive reading the
1/2 years, which must be better than 99% of all readers - quite
in my experience, whereas it would explain a lot, and
the election of the utter misfit Trump; the decline of the mainstream
media as conveyors of truths; and many of the idiocies that are more or
less seriously discussed.
Here are the last two
theories O'Hehir discusses:
- Trump is a seminal
figure in a new Age of Revolution, aka World War IV
- Trump is an enemy
of democracy, the Enlightenment and civilization
Leading proponents; points in favor; points against: No one
could possibly disagree with this. And no one knows what to do about it.
remark that the last theory - "No one could possibly disagree with this" - is opposed by quite a few
proponents of Trump, and indeed it also is rather vague.
In brief, I do not think this is a good article, but I
anyway because it does comprise, if not well, quite a few of the
theories about Trump I have read the last two years.
have now been
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).