A. Selections from August 22, 2017
This is a Nederlog of
Tuesday, August 22,
This is a
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 probably will
continue with it, but on the moment
I have several problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health.
explained, the crisis files will have a different
format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items
I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one
selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit
of a taste of the item linked.
So the new format is as follows:
Link to an item with its orginal title,
One selection (usually) from that item
Possibly followed by a brief comment by
me (not indented).
This is illustrated below, in selections A.
2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from
August 22, 2017
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:
This article is by
Chris Hedges on Truthdig (that currently has the worst
self-presenation as a journal I've ever seen ).
It starts as follows:
I drink coffee in the
morning on a round, ornate oak table that once belonged to Harlan Fiske
Stone, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1925 to 1946 and the chief
justice for the last five of those years. Stone and his family spent
their summers on this windswept, remote island six miles off the coast
Stone, a Republican and
close friend of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, embodied a lost era
in American politics. His brand of conservatism, grounded in the belief
that the law is designed to protect the weak from the powerful, bears
no resemblance to that of the self-proclaimed “strict
constitutionalists” in the Federalist
Society who have accumulated tremendous power in the judiciary. The
Federalist Society, at the behest of President Trump, is in charge of
vetting the 108 candidates for the federal judgeships that will be
filled by the administration. The newest justice, Trump appointee Neil
Gorsuch, comes out of the Federalist Society, as did Justices Clarence
Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The self-identified “liberals”
in the judiciary, while progressive on social issues such as abortion
and affirmative action, serve corporate power as assiduously as the
right-wing ideologues of the Federalist Society. The Alliance for Justice
points out that 85
percent of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees—280, or a third
of the federal judiciary—had either been corporate attorneys or
government prosecutors. Those who came out of corporate law firms
accounted for 71 percent of the nominees, with only 4 percent coming
from public interest groups and the same percentage having been
attorneys who represented workers in labor disputes.
I say. Here is an item of
background information: The Wikipedia link to Harlan Fiske
Stone. And I agree that (to
the best of my knowledge) (i) "the
self-identified “liberals” in the judiciary, while progressive on
social issues such as abortion and affirmative action, serve corporate
power as assiduously as the right-wing ideologues of the Federalist
Society", while (ii) "85 percent of President Barack Obama’s
judicial nominees—280, or a third of the federal judiciary—had either
been corporate attorneys or government prosecutors".
Here is more on Stone's
I agree completely with Judge
Brandeis: "We can have democracy
in this country, or we can have great
wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both." And indeed democracy in the USA seems
mostly dead, not only because of concentrated great wealth, but also
because that concentrated great
wealth has bought up all of the mainstream media, that now mostly tout
Stone repeatedly warned
that unchecked corporate power would mean corporate tyranny and the
death of democracy. He was joined in that thinking by Louis D.
Brandeis, his fellow justice and ally on the court, who stated, “We can
have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth
concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
The supposed clash
between liberal and conservative judges is largely a fiction. The
judiciary, despite the Federalist Society’s high-blown rhetoric about
the sanctity of individual freedom, is a naked tool of corporate
oppression. The most basic constitutional rights—privacy, fair trials
and elections, habeas corpus, probable-cause requirements, due process
and freedom from exploitation—have been erased for many, especially the
2.3 million people in our prisons, most having been put there without
ever going to trial. Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and
associations are criminalized. Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has
pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence,
secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.
And I also agree that (i) "the
judiciary" "is a naked tool of corporate oppression"; that (ii) "the most basic constitutional rights—privacy, fair trials
and elections, habeas corpus, probable-cause requirements, due process
and freedom from exploitation—have been erased for many"; that (iii) "constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and
associations are criminalized";
and that (iv) "our judicial system" (..) "has
legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets
and secret prisons in the name of national security", which is the beginning of the rule of
secret services over all.
Here is the final bit that I'll quote from this article:
rights have steadily been stripped from us by judicial fiat. The Fourth
Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly
describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be
seized.” Yet our telephone calls and texts, emails and financial,
judicial and medical records, along with every website we visit and our
physical travels, can be and commonly are tracked, recorded,
photographed and stored in government computer banks.
Yes indeed: Everybody's
"telephone calls and
texts, emails and financial, judicial and medical records, along with
every website we visit and our physical travels" are "tracked,
recorded, photographed and stored in" - secret - "government computer
banks" that are owned by
the secret services. Since 9/11/2001, at the latest.
And this is a
May Not Finish His Term But the Assassination Complex Will Live On
This article is by Jeremy
Scahill on The Intercept. This is from near the beginning:
There is considerably more in
the article, that is recommended. Here is a restatement of the above
argument (with some - moral - colorings and some deletions by me):
Amid the deluge of
scandal, incompetence, and bigotry emanating from the Trump White
House, the relative calm of the Obama era seems like a far-off galaxy.
The reality that Trump may not even finish a full term as president,
either due to removal or resignation, means that the palace intrigue
must be reported on thoroughly by the press. But a dangerous
consequence of the overwhelming, obsessive focus on the daily Trump
affairs is a virtual dearth of coverage on the permanent, unelected
institutions of U.S. power, namely the military and the CIA.
Spend just a moment
studying moves of the Pentagon and Langley during the Trump era, and
you will find that very little has changed in their post-9/11 course.
Covert operations continue unabated throughout the Arab world and,
increasingly, in Somalia. The U.S. remains in Iraq and Afghanistan and
is becoming entrenched more deeply in Syria. If anything, the military
and CIA are less restrained and are in greater control of decisions —
that arguably create policy rather than implement it — than they were
under Obama. And civilians are being killed at a greater rate under
Trump, particularly in Iraq and Syria. There are reports that Trump has
delegated more unilateral authority to the commanders than his
predecessor and has relaxed rules ostensibly put in place to minimize
civilian deaths. He has surrounded himself with generals who have spent
their lives studying and preparing for war and know how to marshal the
resources needed for overt and covert campaigns. This — combined with
Trump’s questionable sanity, his pathological addiction to television
and Twitter, and his compulsive need to respond to random pundits and
congressmen at all hours — removes a crucial component of civilian
oversight of the world’s most lethal force.
1. Obama's government was competent, Trump's isn't (but both
mainly work(ed) for the rich, as can e.g. seen by Obama's
reserving ten trillion dollars for "the American defense",
while winning a Nobel Prize for peace).
2. Trump may well be removed or may resign himself as president. (I
think this depends - for now, at least - on whether Robert Mueller's
investigations can proceed.)
3. The military and the CIA are creating policies
implementing policies (which is the end of any
4. Trump's governent is one of Goldman Sachs bankers, pensioned
generals and a number of incompetent Republicans (such as Carson)
who seem to have been nominated to destroy most of the
functions they are supposed to execute.
5. And indeed Trump is
not sane (as many psychologists and some psychiatrists have
been saying since 2016, and I am i.a. a psychologist who agrees), as
indeed (also) can be inferred from his insane Tweets.
That seems a fairly fair representation
of the US government at the moment. There is considerably more in the
argument, that is recommended.
Fish: Democrats Don't Offer Voters a 'Viable Vision'
This article is posted
by Emma Niles on
Truthdig (that currently has the worst self-presenation as a journal
I've ever seen ), but is in fact about an article and interview by
Robert Scheer. It starts as follows (it seems under a picture of Hamilton Fish
I did not know until
today who is Hamilton Fish (V, as he is the fifth in succession with
that name), but he does seem a quite decent man (in terms of my values)
- check out the Wikipedia) and I think he is quite right in the
opinion I just quoted.
“I think journalism
is our number one priority right now, in terms of the rehabilitation of
our nation,” Hamilton Fish tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer
in this week’s episode of KCRW’s “Scheer
And my reason to agree with Fish is quite simple:
If the (mainstream) media are filled with lies or propaganda,
by liars or propagandists, almost anything done by almost anyone
falsified, denied or wholly kept from being discussed. And that
situation, that is, one in which the (mainstream)
media are mostly written by
liars or propagandists, does seem
to be the situation of both most papers and most internet sites,
most conducive to totalitarianism
And here is Fish - who is a long-time Democrat - on what the Democrats
have had to offer since Bill Clinton became president:
“I can’t really
remember when a person running as a Democrat had something to offer,”
Fish says, noting that he is a Democrat and has run for office as a
Democrat in the past. “We’ve been defending a status quo for about 35
years, against what we describe as a reckless, irresponsible,
increasingly partisan and sharp-edged ideological right-wing adversary,
and we never really — truthfully, we never really countered their
palaver with a viable vision for the American voters.”
I'd say that the
reason is that Bill (and Hillary) Clinton sold out massively to the the
rich bankers (who rewarded Bill Clinton after his presidency with
100 million dollars for doing precisely what they wanted), while the
differences between what the rich bankers want and what the Republicans
want are totally irrelevant as far as the incomes of and the
deregulations for the
rich bankers go: There the Democrats and the
Republicans are mostly one and the same, indeed because both groups
paid by the bankers: the main differences are in the kinds of
that sell these ideas to their voters.
And here is Robert Scheer (rather further down the interview), about
the positions of the journalists and of the papers and the media
that pay their salaries:
RS: So let me
shift the topic a little bit and ask, what is the future of journalism?
And I know you–my own view is the model of journalism is broken, and no
one has a way of putting it back. And it’s basically not a conspiracy,
it’s the result of technology and the growth of the Internet. And the
fact of the matter is, when I worked at the LA Times for 29 years, they
could run a pretty good paper based on advertising, ‘cause the
advertisers had no choice; if they–maybe they could go to broadcast,
but print was a pretty good way of displaying your car ads and
everything else. And that’s the only way they could find their readers.
Yes, I agree,
although - and see Brezinski, in 2012
- I am not averse to the
suggestion that the internet-as-is is the product of a conspiracy,
simply because Brezinski could "foresee" the present internet more or
less in 1969, which in fact is most unlikely, unless it
then being planned, at least in my view (for no one can
successfully predict things happening 25 years into the future, if that
future was not planned long before).
Forgetting about the internet for the moment, I do agree that the
reason the paper media got corrupted by big money and
is almost solely the disappearance of their advertisers to the internet.
And given that, it's not a miracle that most of mainstream
media got sorely
corrupted. Finally, here is Robert Scheer summing this up:
RS: . This is what
Confucius dealt with, it’s what Aristotle dealt with; it’s always been
the key issue in trying to have sanity in the ordering of human
affairs: how do you remain accountable to the people who are being
governed, OK, so that you’re not screwing over these people. And
somehow, and we began by discussing the failure of elite education and
the meritocracy; we talked a little bit about what happened to
liberals. But the saving graces of society was the assumption that
people of power could also be held accountable or hold themselves
accountable. The power would not be allowed to just corrupt them. And
that’s been lost.
There is considerably
more in the article, that is recommended.
Absurdity of Corporate Tax Cuts During the Corporate Pillaging of the
This article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
It could be argued that
the greatest American pillaging is the transfer of taxpayer funds into
the bloated military, or a greed-driven private health care system that
deprives human beings of essential medical care. But the conversion of
American technologies into low-taxed plutocratic profit may be the most
flagrant attack on the middle class.
It can also be argued that the products of the technological companies
have enriched and energized our lives in numerous ways, and that the
high-tech job market has never been better. But the rest of us pay
dearly for all the technological benefits, much more than just the
hundreds of dollars for phones and phone service. We have lost
middle-class jobs and middle-class wealth. We have lost our share of
the national productivity that is the direct result of 70 years of
taxpayer input into the technologies that have enriched fewer and fewer
Yes indeed: I quite agree
with the first paragraph, while the second may be restated as follows:
There are advantages to some of the many "technological
the internet has brought the world, but nearly all of these
are for the richest 5% (of Americans), while these advantages are
realized by disadvantaging the other 95%.
And there is this on the
latest corporate tax cuts (which will further enrich the few very rich,
at the costs of the many non-rich):
Tax Cuts: Are They Kidding?
Donald Trump and the
Republicans want a lower corporate tax rate. But many of the largest
U.S. companies have paid ZERO federal income
taxes in recent years, and overall the corporate world pays
anywhere from 13
to 19 percent, about half the
35 percent statutory rate that they so often complain about.
In 2016, fifteen of the
largest corporations in America, with combined revenue well over a
trillion dollars, paid less than 6
percent in U.S. federal income taxes.
Meanwhile, profits have
been growing at the fastest
rate in six years, with a double-digit increase
in the most recent quarter.
Yes indeed. Incidentally,
the taxes on the rich that were supported by the Republican
amounted to 70% or more, and did NOT destroy capitalism at all,
indeed the few rich profited a lot less under Eisenhower, which
benefitted the non-rich.
And here is the list of the
very few companies that profit enormously:
88 percent of all search advertising; Facebook (including Instagram and
WhatsApp and other acquisitions) has 77 percent of all social
media traffic; Amazon processes nearly half of online retail
Baker notes that we pay higher prices for computer software
because of the patent and copyright monopolies claimed by Microsoft and
other tech companies. Baker also
discusses the monopolistic effects of patents in the pharmaceutical
industry: "The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other
diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars
annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars."
That is, the horrible
foursome consisting of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (I am
missing Apple), that I do not use at all (except for Yotube, I
There is considerably more
in this article, that is recommended.
to Impeach Trump
This article is by
Marjorie Cohn on Truth-out. This is from near the beginning:
reprehensible behavior in this moment creates a new sense of urgency.
We cannot postpone consideration of impeachment until Special Counsel
Robert Mueller finishes his criminal investigation. It is time to
pressure the House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment
against Trump for his abuse of power. We must stop this president
before he launches a new civil war and/or nuclear war.
Tracinski, writing on the conservative website The Federalist, concurs.
"We're done with the 'Well, maybe it won't be so bad and we should take
what we can get' phase of this administration," he wrote, apparently
referring to Republicans who are holding their noses while hoping for
tax cuts and more right-wing Supreme Court justices.
"It's time for the 'He's a
disaster and needs to go' phase," Tracinski continued. "For everybody's
good, Donald Trump needs to not be president, and he needs to not be
I agree, and it is
interesting that Marjorie Cohn quotes a conservative and (it seems) a
federalist. And as stated quite a few times in earlier Nederlogs, my
own reason, as a psychologist, to desire that "he needs to not be president yesterday" is that I think (since the beginning of
2016) that Donald Trump is
Here is more by the
conservative Tracinski, who seems to have been disturbed by the events
pointed out, "this was a Nazi march from the beginning, planned by
Nazis, for Nazis." The day before the deadly rally, the neo-Nazis and
white supremacists marched through Charlottesville with Ku Klux
Klan-like tiki torches, also chanting the Nazi slogan, "Blood and Soil."
I do not know
is correct, but if it is, the initial statement of the quote seems to
be quite true.
Here is the last bit that
I'll quote from this article:
An August 2-8 poll
from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 40 percent of
Americans -- including almost three-quarters of Democrats and 7 percent
of Republicans -- favored Trump's impeachment. That poll took place
before the deadly Charlottesville rally.
But do Republicans have the
will to impeach Trump? Maybe not. Of those who took issue with his
statements, almost none called out the president directly. Sen Cory
Gardner (Colorado), one of the few who did, tweeted, "Mr. President --
we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this
was domestic terrorism."
I say: 75% of the Democrats is for impeachment, while 7% of
the Republicans are. And while 40% is not a majority, I do
think that 4
out of 10 Americans who agree that Trump must go, after seven months of
presidency, is not bad.
And this is a
I have now been saying since the 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.
They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
The only 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 (!!).
 The site of Truthdig changed recently,
and changed to the worst looking site I have ever seen. I admit
part is due to the settings of my Firefox, that have to deal with my
rather bad eyes, but (i) I also looked at the new Truthdig site
without my Firefox settings, and while it is not quite as bad
(pictures are not overwritten) it still is no good, and also (ii) I
have no trouble seeing and reading all the other 34
sites I look at every morning, with my own settings of Firefox.
I do hope this gets rapidly changed back (as was The
Guardian, that also, for something like three months, produced only
texts without pictures on its opening site).