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Nederlog

Sunday, Jan 29, 2017
Crisis: On Orwell, The Media, Trump's Demolitions, Fascism, On My Sites
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
2017 Isn't '1984'—It's Stranger Than Orwell Imagined
2. 'Media Is the Opposition': Trump Backs Bannon in Ongoing War
     on Press

3. Donald Trump’s Demolition Derby

4.
Fascism and the Current National Emergency
5. On My Sites: The problems with uploading
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, January 29, 2017.

Summary: This is a crisis log with 5 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is an odd piece about "1984", which I didn't like; item 2 is about a decent article about Trump's backing of Bannon's war with the press; item 3 is about a good article by Bill Moyers about Trump's demolitions; item 4 is about a good article by Peter Wout about fascism in the
USA; and item 5 has no link and is about my - considerable and persistent - problems with both of my sites in 2016, with a possible solution (that I don't like but probably will soon be forced to).

As for today (January 29, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Maybe today it was correct, but that is rare (and uncertain) and besides: I have been daily uploading my site for quite a few years now and not even that gets properly shown now, since about a year, on both sites, and also quite unpredictably.

Somebody really wants you not to read my sites.

More about this later, namely below.
1. 2017 Isn't '1984'—It's Stranger Than Orwell Imagined

The first item today is by Jon Brioch on AlterNet and originally on The Conversation:
This has a subtitle that is worth quoting:
Orwell could not have imagined the internet and its role in distributing alternative facts.
Actually, I don't know what Orwell could have imagined, but it is true that he did not. Then again, I don't think this is a good article, and I will explain myself.

The article starts as follows:

A week after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s “1984” is the best-selling book on Amazon.com.

I have said already that I like this because I like Orwell, but that I do not think it important (and I dislike Amazon, and don't see why they need mentioning: does one perhaps get paid for mentioning this company?). Also, the title of the book was originally in letters, and not in numbers, but that is merely a side-remark.

There is a - sort of - summary of "1984" in it, but I skip it. Here is Brioch's rendering of doublethinking:

Because his job calls on him to research old newspapers and other records for the facts he has to “unfact,” Winston is especially adept at “doublethink.” Winston calls it being “conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies… consciously to induce unconsciousness.”

I don't think that is a clear description. Here is a considerably better one from Wikipedia - and note that the process of doublethinking is very unlogical:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.

And while this is quite unlogical, it has a clear and rational end:

If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one's own infallibility with the power to learn from past mistakes.

Both last quotes were from Orwell. Then there is this:

Oceania was a prescient product of a particular biography and particular moment when the Cold War was beginning. Naturally, then, today’s world of “alternative facts” is quite different in ways that Orwell could not have imagined.

I say, for I don't know what "a prescient product of a particular biography and particular moment" is supposed to mean, indeed in part because "prescient" implies foresight, while Brioch insists in the next sentence that Orwell could not even imagine the present reality (which he also tells his readers at least three times, without ever  providing any evidence or reasons).

Then there is this:

(..) unlike in Oceania, both information and power are diffuse in 2017 America.

Oceania is not the present USA, but the present USA is not by far as "diffuse" as Brioch presents it: Power is firmly in the hands of the rich in the USA, and information is far less "diffuse" than it was 20 or 30 years ago, for then there were thousands of papers owned by thousands of different owners, whereas at present it seems all papers are owned by twelve (12) companies. It is similar in TV and with the internet: There are only a handful of big owners, and these own virtually everything.

And there is this:

In 2004, a senior White House adviser suggested a reporter belonged to the “reality-based community,” a sort of quaint minority of people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.… That’s not the way the world really works anymore.”

Orwell could not have imagined the internet and its role in distributing alternative facts, nor that people would carry around Telescreens in their pockets in the form of smartphones.
In fact, I do not know what Brioch thinks about the facts reported in the first of the above two paragraphs. [1]

As to the second paragraph: We are told for the third time what Brioch thinks Orwell "could not have imagined" (without any evidence whatsoever), but I agree it that smartphones are the present form of Telescreens, except that they render far more
to the spies operating them than the Telescreens did (for everything one does with
a smartphone gets stored, and what got stored is accessible to the secret spies of the NSA, who are currently spying on everyone, and not for what they did but for what they might do).

The article ends as follows:

In Orwell’s Oceania, there is no freedom to speak facts except those that are official. In 2017 America, at least among many of the powerful minority who selected its president, the more official the fact, the more dubious. For Winston, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four.” For this powerful minority, freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make five.
I say. I don't understand the point of this literary paradox (?), but it seems that Winston understood freedom as the freedom of speaking the truth, whereas the
present "powerful minority" understands freedom as the freedom to lie. And so?

My last question is a real one and occurs because I really do not see the point of this article.

2. 'Media Is the Opposition': Trump Backs Bannon in Ongoing War on Press

The second item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and I wrote yesterday about Bannon):

In an interview Friday with a Christian radio show, President Donald Trump backed his chief strategist Steve Bannon in calling the media "the opposition party."

"I think the media is the opposition party in many ways," the president said on "The Brody File," a program on the Christian Radio Network. "I'm not talking about everybody, but a big portion of the media, the dishonesty, total deceit, and deception. It makes them certainly partially the opposition party, absolutely."

I say. This is at least a bit amazing in two ways:

First, to the best of my knowledge, the mainstream media supported Trump, and also gave him lots of free videos during his presidential campaign. It seems they did this mainly because it gave them a lot of money, and not because they believed in Trump, but this is what they did, just as they did not criticize his obvious many lies.

Second, a president who is opposed by the media will very probably have a hard time, but it seems as if Trump is opposing "the media", though as usual he speaks vaguely.

What is my explanation? I think he is abusing his presidential authority to cast doubt on the media (which he thinks ought to support him) in order to weaken them and increase popular belief in Trump's messages (Tweets), and that his aim is to eventually forbid the media that criticize him.

And here is what Bannon said:

Trump's comments show support for a statement made by Bannon on Wednesday, when the former executive chair of Breitbart News told the New York Times that "the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while."

"I want you to quote this," Bannon told the Times. "The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States."

I wrote about this yesterday, but now add that Bannon and Trump are fundamentally mistaken about the media as "opposition", and in fact are lying, for they know quite well that the media is not the "opposition".

They say so, including crazy things like "the media should (..) keep its mouth shut" because they want media that only speak for them, and because they want to - somehow - close the media which do not speak for them.

Here are the Reporters Without Borders:

Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) cautioned just this week that the president's attacks against the media are "reminiscent of an authoritarian government."

"It is clear that Trump views the media as his number one enemy and is taking every single opportunity to try to weaken their credibility," said Margaux Ewen, advocacy and communications director for RSF North America, in a press statement. "RSF reminds Trump's administration that the press does not provide public relations for the president, but reports the truth in order to hold government officials accountable, despite statements to the contrary from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer."

Yes, indeed "the press does not provide public relations for the president, but reports the truth in order to hold government officials accountable" - or at least that is the main function of the press in reporting political news (which is - by far - not the only thing "the media" do) if "the press" is working properly.

Here is more from the Reporters Without Borders:

"The simultaneous attacks on the press for so called 'inaccurate' reporting and the use of what the administration calls 'alternative facts' to counter this reporting are reminiscent of an authoritarian government's tactics," said Delphine Halgand, director of RSF North America.

Trump has also blamed the media for inciting protests against his win in November.

The president's comments signal that his administration will continue its war against the media, which Trump declared on his first full day in office. He described them as "among the most dishonest human beings on earth" during a meeting with the CIA and is reportedly considering banning journalists from the White House—a notable break with tradition that, as former cabinet secretary and renowned columnist Robert Reich put it, evokes hints of tyranny.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

3. Donald Trump’s Demolition Derby

The third item is by Bill Moyers on Truthdig and originally on Moyers & Company:
This starts as follows:

We’re a week into the Trump administration and it’s pretty obvious what he’s up to. First, Donald Trump is running a demolition derby: He wants to demolish everything he doesn’t like, and he doesn’t like a lot, especially when it comes to government.

Like one of those demolition drivers on a speedway, he keeps ramming his vehicle against all the others, especially government policies and programs and agencies that protect people who don’t have his wealth, power or privilege. Affordable health care for working people? Smash it. Consumer protection against predatory banks and lenders? Run over it. Rules and regulations that rein in rapacious actors in the market? Knock ‘em down. Fair pay for working people? Crush it. And on and on.

Yes indeed, and this is how it appears to me as well, though I should add immediately that Trump does have a political ideology and it is neofascism (which might also be defined as: extreme neoliberalism, although this is less good as a definition of it).

Next, there is this about Thomas Frank and his book
The Wrecking Crew:

The Wrecking Crew — and what an apt title it was — showed how federal agencies were doomed to failure by the incompetence and hostility of the Bush gang appointed to run them, the same model Trump is using now. Frank tracked how wholesale deregulation — on a scale Trump already is trying to reproduce — led to devastating results for everyday people, including the mortgage meltdown and the financial crash. Reading the book is like reading today’s news, as kleptomaniacs spread across Washington to funnel billions of dollars into the pockets of lobbyists and corporations.

I have not read The Wrecking Crew but then I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008, and wrote meanwhile until the end of 2016 1445 articles on it, while I am far from stupid. In any case, I agree with Frank on deregulation (and the link is to a good article about it that I wrote in 2015), and probably on considerably more.

Incidentally, I do not like the term "kleptomaniacs" much, and namely not for these two reasons: First, while indeed they - Bush Jr and his followers, Trump and his followers - simply are thieves, I like "thief" better than "kleptomaniac", and also, second and more importantly, they are not just thieves: They are political thieves,
and their thieving politics has better names than "thieves" for it, namely neofascism.
(And indeed I think the term does apply to both Bush Jr and Trump, although they are not quite the same, neither personally nor ideologically).

Then there is this, which is well seen and important:

Jonathan Chait went on to say: “Trump’s brazen use of his office for personal enrichment signals something even more worrisome than four or more years of kleptocratic government. It reveals how willing the new administration is to obliterate governing norms and how little stands in his way.”

For "kleptocratic" see above. But Chait is quite correct in saying that Trump's administration seems based on obliterating governing norms - which norms
(such as: equality, honesty, truth, calmness, rationality, fair sharing, factual reasoning and more) indeed seem to be defended only by intelligent minorities, and not by the president nor by his supporters.

Then there is this:

We were warned. Donald Trump himself told The New York Times, “The law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” Shades of Richard Nixon, who said, “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” And who also announced, “I am not a crook.”

Which leads us to the second design now apparent in Trump’s strategy of deliberate chaos. He may have run a populist campaign, but now it appears he aims to substitute plutocracy for democracy.

Both Nixon and Trump pretended to be above the law, which neither was or is, at least in so far as the USA is a state of law. [2] Then again, while the USA did succeed in keeping up the law and getting rid of Nixon, the question is whether it can legally get rid of Trump.

As to plutocracy:

Plutocracy means government by the wealthy, a ruling class of the rich and their retainers. If you don’t see plutocracy spreading across America, you haven’t been paying attention. Both parties have nurtured, tolerated and bowed to it. Now we’re reaching the pinnacle, as Trump’s own Cabinet is rich (no pun intended) in millionaires and billionaires. He is stacking the agencies and boards of government with the wealthy and friends of wealth so that the whole of the federal enterprise can be directed to rewarding those with deep pockets, the ones who provide the bags and bags of money that are dumped into our political process today.

Yes indeed, except that I think "neofascism" is better than "plutocracy", simply because there is an ideology that moves the American plutocrats, and it is neofascism (although I agree they probably call it "neoliberalism").

And this is a recommended article.

4. Fascism and the Current National Emergency

The fourth item is by Peter Woit (<-Wikipedia) on his site:

This starts as follows:

After the election it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to ignore what Trump tweeted or said, and wait to see what he and the people he surrounded himself with would actually do. We’ve been finding this out over the past few days, and today the nature of the problem we face is now clear. The actions ordered today that are now being carried out by US officials around the world are the product of a deranged and dangerous personality who has surrounded himself with similar others. This is a national emergency with no parallel in our history.

While the US has never seen the likes of this situation, Europe has, with Trump following a playbook familiar from the history of the 1930s. At this point the US may be one terrorist attack away from full-blown Fascism, this time with nuclear weapons. This needs to be stopped, now.

I say. Peter Woit is a mathematical physicist who works at Columbia University. I do follow his blog because I am interested in physics, although I am not a physicist, and because I agree with Woit, and indeed with Richard Feynman, on his position on string theory: it does not seem properly testable, not to Feynman, not to Woit, and indeed not to quite a few others, including me (but I am not important since I am not a physicist).

And I would not have expected a statement like the above from him, though indeed I mostly agree: Trump is a "deranged and dangerous personality" and Trump's ideology
does seem to be neofascism (as I defined it).

Then again, Woit is the son of Latvian refugees and seems to have been moved to his present position by Trump's latest executive order, which banned many refugees from returning to the USA or from entering it.

He also says:

The Constitution does provide two ways to deal with something like this: either the impeachment process or removal under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Many of Trump’s recent statements are clearly the product of delusional mind that is incapable of dealing with reality, and these delusions are now reflected in his actions.

I again agree. But it will be very difficult to stop the president of the USA, even though I quite agree he has a "delusional mind that is incapable of dealing with reality, and these delusions are now reflected in his actions".

This is Woit's ending:

We need to figure out how to fight a new form of Fascism that has just come to power and is starting to rule by decree.

As I have said now many times in Nederlog: I don't think myself that Trump is a fascist, while also there are many definitions of fascism, most but not all of which are not very good. I think he is a neofascist, but again I have supplied my own definition of it, since I could not find any reasonable one. In case you are interested in my ideas about fascism and neofascism, read my On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions.

And this is a recommended article.

5. On My Sites: The problems with uploading

The fifth and last item today is by me and is about my sites.

I have two sites, one in Holland: maartens.home at xs4all.nl, and one in Denmark: maartensz.org at one.com. The first exists since 1996 and the second since 2004.

Both sites are the same (or at least: they are supposed to be, and I think they are, and if I am mistaken it is my mistake and concerns a few files) and both sites are quite big, for they are about 500 MB.

The reasons why I have a site in Denmark are that my brother lives there, and I want some insurance against legal troubles with the Dutch authorities, who might object to
two aspects of my sites, namely (1) my protesting against the kind, the level, the utter
unscientificality, and the (Marxist and postmodernistic) bullshit that was served as "science" to me in the University of Amsterdam in the 1980ies, and (2) my reporting on four successive years of total discrimination because I objected against the horrible noise that the illegal drugsdealers that Mayor Van Thijn of Amsterdam had given his "personal permission" in writing, to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, instead of from his own house. [3]

I think I am quite right in both complaints, but meanwhile and since 2015 or so it seems as if soon either my sites will be forbidden because of my complaints or
my sites will be made unreadable for most.

In fact, they may have been made unreadable for most since the end of 2015, when I got serious problems with both of my sites: They do not update properly anymore.

Updating was no problem on either site until 2015: I uploaded the new stuff, and when I then looked for it, it was there, as indeed it should be. That is: Uploading normally worked for me from 1996 till 2015 on the Dutch site, and from 2004 till 2015 on the Danish site, and it worked in the sense I said it did: All I needed to do was upload it,
and as soon as I had done so I could see it (and the rest of the sites were unchanged).

Since the end of 2015, uploading stopped to work as it did before, on both sites, in the sense that it is since then quite problematic whether it works.

Also, since the end of 2015 I get no decent information about either site anymore: I never got any decent information of "xs4all.nl" [4], and the decent information I did get about the Danish site totally stopped by the end of 2015. [5]

ALL I can do now is put material on the sites and hope it is read: I get no information anymore about people reading the site; I get no information of any kind about any aspect of the 500 MB I put together in 20 years of work: Apparently, I am a sort of slave who needs to pay for the hope that his material is published, but who is not worth to be informed about any aspect of it whatsoever (other than are available on a browser and on ftp).

Incidentally: Everything about my sites is being followed and administered and sold by my providers - except that I have no right (anymore) of ever seeing any of the information my providers collect about and from my sites (for which I have to pay them).

What "works" now is only that I can write a new file for my site in html and upload it (all as before) - but often I do not see it then on either site anymore or on at least one of the sites. (And the last has been the norm through 2016.)

More precisely: I updated every day since more than three years now, and most updates are in Nederlog and in the index of the site, where the last day it was updated is shown, which - if updating were done correctly - should have been today's date (on any given day in the last three and a half years).

Except that often (but unpredictably) it is not: In Denmark, for example, I got last year (2016) many times the index of 31 december 2015, without a link to the correct Nederlog, which then needs to be searched for. This means that people who did try to read my Danish site in 2016 often got it displayed as if it was last updated in 2015,
and without any indication this was false, and without any indication there was a fresh Nederlog every day in 2016.

In Holland, my site never was moved back to 2015, but then it did not update at all anymore, except by reloading + reloading + reloading + reloading - which often happened (for me) because I did not update immediately: If I had not done so for several days, it did not show any new opening index (which was there: it just wasn't shown) nor the last Nederlogs: It showed the date of several days earlier, and the Nederlog for that date, and in order to get the latest, I had to reload several times. (None of this was necessary until the end of 2015.)

So for people who do not know my site very well, it seems as if either site is not kept up anymore, may have stopped in 2015, or is days, weeks, or months behind, whereas it is quite difficult to get the really last Nederlog (which was there every day, every day renewed, all through 2016).

None of this is due to me. I do everything as I did it since 1996. Hence either my providers do it or else someone else does it, and then it is easy to say who: I am one of the main protesters against being secretly surveilled by spies, and these spies meanwhile spy on everyone anywhere, and therefore also on me.

They also proudly announced (in secret, to themselves, but this was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013) that they can "Deny / Disrupt / Degrade / Deceive" anyone who is using a computer connected to the internet (including cellphones).

I do not know the true explanation. But these are the facts about my two sites.


Finally, here is why I am extremely hesitant about writing my providers:

"xs4all.nl" cost me many thousands of guilders and euros between 1996 and 2009, because I very often had to phone in (by a telephone-modem) between ten and thirty times to get any message about whether there was any mail there, and I had to pay for each and every phone tick. I phoned them quite a few times, but I was always - for at least ten years - told the same disgusting lie: "Others do not have the problem, therefore you don't have it either." [6]

"one.com" was quite good until 2015 but then seems to have changed owners, and made everything a whole lot more difficult, while completely stopping the supply of fine - and totally free - statistics about my website. Also, they seem to upload my mails in public (which I dislike) whatever I say or ask.

Anyway - now you know (if indeed you have been able to get it, which I now have no ideas about anymore, and no information about, anymore) what is the problem with my sites.

It will not stop me from updating them daily, but I grant my digital life is made as difficult as it may be, and not by me. (Incidentally... there is a possible solution: Making the daily Nederlogs I write daily into the index file, and link from there to the index. I do not like this, but I may be soon be forced to do this if I want to be read at all.)

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] I think Bush Jr.'s advisor was bullshitting.

[2]
"State of law" is the - somewhat unhandy - translation of the German and Dutch term "Rechtsstaat", which is pretty central to being a democracy, at least in the sense that a state that is not a state of law, also is not a democracy.

Whether the USA at present is a democracy - with mainstream media that don't care for the truth anymore (as soon as it is painful to the government) and with people in power who are millionaires or billionaires - in any sense seems moot. (But I grant that - as yet, at least - it is not a dictatorship nor tyranny.)

[3]
Once more, mainly for the benefit of Americans: The drugsdealing that happens in Holland is all illegal. Hashish and marijuana are forbidden since 1965, and have been forbidden all these years since then.

What I think that the mayor of Amsterdam did around 1987-1988 was to provide a plan for drugsdealing that made it seem legal to foreigners; that provided that the police and the authorities would get no information whatsoever about quantities sold or qualities sold; and that provided the mayor with the - how shall I call it - illegal prerogative of assigning shops to illegal dealers to deal soft drugs from as if these were legal.

I think also (but I have no proof) that the plan provided for a percentage for the mayors and some lawyers from the about 20 billions of euros worth of drugs that are traded in this way in Holland every year.

To give you an indication how much they may have earned: Since 1988 - and according to the numbers of the only parliamentary investigation of drugs - this takes place, which is now for 29 years. 29 * 20 billion = 580 billion euros. 5% of 580 billion euros = 29 billion euros. (Spread over 29 years is also true.)

Again: I do not know this is so. Given the fact that the mayors of Amsterdam since 1988 never answered any of my mails, nor my site, nor ME in Amsterdam in any way,
I do believe they are extremely rich men now.

[4] Also, "xs4all.nl", which I did become a member of in 1996 and which was a very good and helpful site was sold by the real owners to KPN around 2000, who kept the name and the formats, but completely destroyed the excellent service.

The people I was talking to until 2009 were KPN-people (that earned at least 4 times the monthly costs for internet in the form of phone-ticks by me). They were extra- ordinarily impolite, it seems as a matter of principle. (They have since disappeared.)

[5] "one.com" was quite good until the end of 2015, but then a great rot started, which suggests to me they have been sold then. But I do not know this. And they did provide good statistics (from a freely available program, that worked quite well) but stopped doing so by the end of 2015. (There is "a replacement" - that gives 1/1000th of the information previously supplied, and in a format that is 1000 times as bad as that of the free statistics, so awfully horrible as it looks).

[6] This was the standard reply between 2000 and 2009 at "xs4all.nl". And please note that this means that they never needed to know anything about anything whatsoever: If your reply to a serious and honest complaint (that costs me thousands of euros, as well) is the completely unmotivated
"Others do not have the problem, therefore you don't have it either" my inference is that you are a sick sadist who absolutely refuses to do anything, but who also is too much of a coward to say so.

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