Tuesday, August 29, 2017 

Crisis: On ¨Antifas¨, Texas Flooded, About Trump, Russian Threat, On The Democrats

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 29, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 29, 2017.

1. Summary

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 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 [1] and with my health.

As I 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, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from August 29, 2017

The 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 Todd Gitlin (<-Wikipedia) on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

During his speech in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Donald Trump spat out the nickname “antifa,” short for “anti-fascist” but also a reference to a particular strand of aggressive left-wing activism. In Mr. Trump’s telling, the presence of antifa activists during the violence in Charlottesville, Va., this month was evidence that the far left is just as violent as the far right: “You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks, and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything.”

Surrogates have aped Mr. Trump’s “blame both sides” rhetoric; overnight, antifa — and its assumed synonym, “alt-left” — have become right-wing shibboleths, right there with “social justice warrior” and “liberal snowflake.” In truth, there is no symmetry between either “alt-right” and either “antifa” or “alt-left.” Antifa is the backlash to the backlash, a defensive response to the growing presence of right-wing extremism.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry. Because antifa groups are willing to use force when needed, provoking them can trigger a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes. In fact I wrote recently two reviews of what I shall call (for lack of a better term) ¨the US antifa movement¨. They are here and here, and they are well worth considering (and I won´t repeat most of my arguments).

The brief of my reaction (and I come from a deeply anti-fascist family for three generations, with both my father and my grandfather locked up in concentration camps in WW II for resisting the Nazis) is as follows.

Here is my opinion about ¨the antifas¨, who do threaten violence, but also shorten the fascism they are supposedly against to ¨fa¨:
(..) my own conclusion from the forces of postmodernism, "fake news", bullshit, and the enormous amounts of propaganda and lies in the mainstream media, is that " “activism” [that] emphasize self-improvement or self-expression rather than seeking concrete change in society or policy" is much more like self-adornment, self- aggrandizement and self-promotion than it is like - real - leftist politics.

I simply do not believe in the honesty of postmodernists, and besides I think the vast majority of those I have spoken to (quite a lot since the 1980ies) are obscurantistic and ignorant fools. And indeed, if you are pretending that you oppose racism while you "studiously avoid topics like colonialism, capitalism, exploitation, liberation, revolution, invasion, or other actual analyses of domestic or global affairs", either you must be quite stupid or you must be trying to deceive others.
I just don´t believe in ¨the antifas¨ without a lot more arguments what they are really for: My parents and grandparents risked their lives and being tortured because they opposed the fascists and not ¨the fas¨, and they opposed them because they disagreed with their politics, their ethics, their economics, their racism and their lack of humanity, and not to aggrandize themselves nor from some sort of vague unhappiness they could not express.

Here is the next bit by Todd Gitlin, still from the beginning of his article:

So far, there is a fearful asymmetry between the far right and antifa: Over the decade ending in 2016, estimates of the percentage of politically motivated killings committed by right-wing extremists range from 73 to 92 percent, according to the conservative Daily Caller. Despite the spurious rhetoric of equivalency, supporters of antifa have, to date, killed no one.

Who are the antifa, then? They do not advocate a positive doctrine, racial or otherwise. Some supporters consider themselves (as Mr. Trump accurately said) anarchists, some Marxists of different stripes; others don’t care much what you call them. There is no national antifa organization; most organized groups are local, concentrated in Texas and the Northwest. There’s not even a consensus among adherents as to whether to pronounce the term AN-tee-fah or an-TEE-fah. They aim to confront, expose, shame — and sometimes convert — white supremacists.

It’s action and style, not doctrine, that unites them.
In brief, the antifas do not look much like real antifascists such as my parents and grandparents. They look like ¨leftist¨ postmodernists: They lack a positive doctrine; they are not organized other than locally; and they don´t even agree on how they pronounce their own term: ¨AN-tee-fah or an-TEE-fah¨ - but in any case they are against the fahs it seems, and not so much against the fascists.

There is considerably more in Gitlin´s article, that is recommended.

2. Texas Governor Warns of a Long, Slow Recovery

This article is by Julie Turkewitz, Richard Perez-Pena and Jack Healy on The New York Times. This is about the flooding of parts of Texas. There may be more in Nederlog tomorrow, but I don´t know yet.

This article starts as follows:
As one of the most destructive storms in the nation’s history pummeled southeast Texas for a fourth day, forecasts on Monday called for still more rain, making clear that catastrophic flooding that had turned neighborhoods into lakes was just the start of a disaster that would take years to overcome.

Local, state and federal officials conceded that the scale of the crisis was so vast that they were nowhere near being able to measure it, much less fully address it.

Across a region that is home to millions of people and includes Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, no one has a clear idea how many people are missing, how many evacuated, how many hunkered down or were trapped in their waterlogged homes, or how many inundated houses and vehicles are beyond saving.

It is “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced,” Gov. Greg Abbott said, warning against expecting anything resembling recovery any time soon, or a return to the way things were.
There is a lot more in the article, but it is fair to say that at the moment there is not much information about the damages that struck Texas, except that they do seem very considerable.

3. Donald Trump Is Leading a 'Cult of Toxic White Masculinity' That May Destroy Our Institutions and Endanger Our Safety

This article is by Don Hazen and Kali Holloway on AlterNet. This article starts as follows:

For every lie he tells, every promise he breaks, every newly submitted exhibit in the case proving his corruption, Donald Trump’s base only adores him more. Trump is historically the most unpopular president in modern American history, but polls suggest he may also be among its most fervently supported. If there’s anything Trump’s campaign and presidency have proved, it’s that 35 percent of voters in this country will back him passionately, no matter what he does.

Chauncey DeVega, politics writer for Salon, is a keen observer of Trump and his supporters. DeVega argues that Trump is less a political figure than the leader of a cult of toxic masculinity, a nearly religious movement deeply infused with the racism, misogyny and nativism that has long been part of this country’s national character. DeVega believes the advancement of Trumpism will have disastrous and far-reaching consequences that will last for years beyond this presidency.

AlterNet executive editor Don Hazen and senior writer/associate editor Kali Holloway spoke to DeVega about Trump, the media’s obsession with his base, and what we can do to push back against the administration's agenda.

This is the beginning of a long and decent interview with Chauncey DeVega, who is black, and who had quite a few of his articles over the last nine months or so reviewed in Nederlog. The brief summary of these reviews is that I like DeVega´s point of view, but don´t quite agree with it.

And I will quote two bits from the - quite long - interview with him. Here is the first (and this is DeVega speaking):

They recently had a panel on CNN—and the sample size is so small, but I have no reason to doubt it—those folks literally said no matter what he does they'll support him. These are Republicans. We have to be careful of the media narrative separating Republicans from Trump voters. No, Trump won every category of white voters. He's a Republican. They own him. He's the leader of their party and his policies are the logical extension of everything that they wanted to do, which is why they keep protecting him.

He's also a fascist based on the criteria for fascism: wanting a one-party state, subverting democratic norms, hostility to the media, nationalism and masculinity, violence, militarism, chronic lying—which disorients the public—assaults on the truth. The only thing he hasn't done yet is mass ethnic violence and encouraging it and that's coming. We saw that in Charlottesville. We saw that with his open embrace of white supremacists and white nationalists. I think you're right on when you ask, where's the huge protest? I think people are tired, they're exhausted, they're still in shock.

In fact, I think Trump is a neofascist rather than a fascist, but DeVega does mention a number of relevant criterions, so I mostly agree, as I also do with his pessimism. And here is some more on DeVega´s pessimism:
I think that we’re going to see a further erosion of our institutions, and our government becoming even more broken. The law really is the only thing trying to protect us and the law—lawyers and the courts—they have no enforcement power. I think things are going to get very, very, very, very, very dire very quickly, and I don't know what the resistance looks like in this country. I think the American people are so drunk on consumerism, and unfortunately too many of our white brothers and sisters are drunk on white supremacy, white privilege and white identity politics. As long as they think he's beating up the brown people, or the Muslims, which is what fascists do, they'll go along with it. This country is in deep trouble.
Yes. There is a whole lot more in the interview (with which I do not all agree), but it is recommended. 

4. Inflating the Russian Threat

This article is by Jonathan Marshall on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

Readers of the New York Times have more to sweat about than hot summer weather in the Big Apple. The paper’s chief military correspondent, Michael Gordon — co-author of the infamous 2002 story about Saddam Hussein’s “quest for A-bomb parts” — has all but warned that war in Europe could break out at any minute with the mighty Russian army.

I didn´t know about Michael Gordon, but if he wrote that, he was then an obvious major liar. He certainly is now, if he ¨all but warned that war in Europe could break out at any minute¨: I have lived in Europe the last 67 years, and it is not at all like that.

But then the mainstream media these days, and in fact since quite a long time, are more like the centers of propaganda for the views of their rich owners than that they are genuinely informing their readers with real news that serves the interests of the readers rather than the owners.

And as my readers may know, I am not a believer in ¨Russiagate¨ etc. and in fact mostly agree with the people from the VIPS (<- Wikipedia), like William Binney, who do know very much more about the US secret services than most journalists, and who say that ¨Russiagate¨ is mostly baloney.

So I agree with Jonathan Marshall´s point of view, and merely give one more bit from his article:

The average reader would never know that U.S. and NATO forces themselves engaged this summer in “their largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War,” to quote NPR. Nor would they know that NATO collectively spends 12 times more than Russia on its military, or that its European members alone field nearly 75 percent more military personnel than Russia.

And only the most attentive reader, reaching the bottom of the long New York Times story, would have learned that “Russian officials have told NATO that the maneuvers will be far smaller than Western officials are anticipating and will involve fewer than 13,000 troops.”

Yes, that seems correct to me - and this also is one of my many reasons to say that most people are successfully deceived by the propaganda from the mainstream media.

This is a recommended article.

5. What Do Democrats Stand For?

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. This is a brief article that comes with a video. This is from the ending:

If Democrats stand for one thing, it must be overcoming this unprecedented economic imbalance and creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of the bottom 90 percent, to take back our economy and politics.

This requires, at the least:

1. Public investments in world-class schools and infrastructure for all.

2. Free public universities and first-class technical training for all;

3. Single-payer Medicare-for-All;

4. Higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for this;

5. Using antitrust to break up powerful monopolies on Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Agriculture.

6. Getting big money out of our politics.

Together, these steps form an agenda to reclaim our economy and democracy for all. Will Democrats lead the way?

Well... I have two remarks on this: (1) I completely agree with Reich that the things he considers necessary are necessary, but (2) these things were already fairly to very obvious in 1990, when Clinton had won the presidential elections, and Reich got to be part of Clinton´s government - that did hardly any of these six things.

And I think that these days, under Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, it is quite clear what the Democrats stand for: Wall Street, that paid them millions.

So indeed I don´t believe in the Democratic Party, and certainly not in one with the present leadership (Clinton, Pelosi, Perez), that simply got sold to and bought by Wall Street since many years.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 (!!).

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