Sunday, September 10, 2017

Crisis: Nuclear Plants, Truth & The Average, Hillary, The ´60ies, On US Hegemony

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 10, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 10, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files
These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from September 10, 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 is a very brief article (with a photograph) on Democracy Now!, without a writer, that I repeat because there is (it seems to me, although I hope I am mistaken) some Fukushima-potential:
Elsewhere, Florida Power & Light said Thursday it was shutting down a pair of nuclear power plants ahead of the storm. The twin-reactor Turkey Point plant, which is 20 feet above sea level, lies just south of Miami on the coast, directly in the path of Irma’s expected landfall. Further north on Florida’s Atlantic coast is the twin-reactor St. Lucie nuclear plant. In order to avoid meltdowns, both plants must maintain constant power to ensure the cooling of nuclear fuel rods in their reactors, as well as highly radioactive spent fuel rods kept in storage pools on site.
I say. 

2. Truth, Too, Can Be Damaged in a Hurricane

This article is by Andrew Rivkin on Truthdig and originally on ProPublica. It starts as follows:

The disinformation and falsehoods that can accompany breaking news online — involving terror attacks or national elections — have become a familiar plague in recent years. Big weather stories, it now seems clear, are not immune.

On Twitter, Facebook and a handful of other venues, hundreds of thousands of people in recent days have clicked or shared items with headlines warning that Hurricane Irma was poised to become a Category 6 storm (on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity) that “could wipe entire cities off the map.”

The fact-checking website Snopes made quick work of debunking that claim. Still, the National Weather Service felt moved to post warnings about fake forecasts.

Meanwhile, Conservative News Today posted a Facebook Live video of a bus being toppled by Irma and a ship in enormous seas said to be carrying “hurricane chasers” heading into Irma. Neither was true. With help from social media, ProPublica tracked the original video of the endangered ship back to January 2013; it was shot in a terrible storm 60 miles or so off the coast of Portugal.

Over the last two weeks, there have also been a host of simplistic proclamations online about the role of human-driven climate change in Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, both overstating and discounting it. As Irma approaches Florida, the issues with sifting fake and real news become more consequential.

Yes, although I am mostly interested in the very beginning of the quote (and much less in hurricanes, here and now):

¨The disinformation and falsehoods that can accompany breaking news online (...) have become a familiar plague in recent years.¨

And all I want to say here and now about this ¨familiar plague¨ are these two points:

  • This is completely new: There never were 2 billion people (as there are just on Facebook alone) or more, many without the least intellectual interests and without any special moral gifts, who now can write on line (more or less: much is extremely ill-written) and say what they please, not hindered by any good factual information, and not hindered by truth, for they often disbelieve in truth at all.
  • I fear this will make huge differences in the coming time, and indeed may well
    give the overall win to the secret services and the rich frauds (and these will install forms of neofascism, in my sense, if successful).
More on this topic later.

3. Complaining About Hillary's Campaign Book Is a Huge Waste of the Progressive Movement's Time

This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Hillary Clinton’s book tour for What Happened officially starts next week, but already it has prompted mounting coverage fanning the Democratic Party’s unhealed Hillary-Bernie split from 2016.

There is a larger takeaway, however, that should rattle Democrats as they look ahead. Their party remains leaderless—or at the very least, its leaders are not doing much to heal the cause of those splits, so they could easily be provoked today.

Instead, Democrats and progressives are mostly getting woe-is-us coverage. Take one report this week, which noted every Democrat they reached groaned, ducked or evaded commenting about its chosen excerpt, in which Hillary blamed Bernie for her loss.

In fact, I don´t think that the Democratic Party is leaderless, but I do think that its present leaders (Clinton, Pelosi, Perez) are incompetent and dishonest, and I also do not think these leaders ever will be different.

Here is some more:

The Democrats have not faced their party's behaviors that split their base in 2016. These cut as deeply as the philosophical divide pitting its we-hate-corporations left against its we-work-with-corporations centrists.

If Democrats are going to get past the Hillary-Bernie divide, it's not just a matter of looking ahead, as Sanders counseled. The party has to create a path where its factions can fairly compete for top posts and nominations, win and lose alternatively, and go on to fight another day. That hasn’t happened. Instead, as seen in most Clinton book coverage, old wounds are resurfacing.

What’s missing is leadership that prioritizes making the party more democratic (...)
In fact, I think the Democratic Party was gravely corrupted by and since Bill Clinton:

Clinton introduced courting the rich, changing politics from (somewhat) real politics to presenting precisely the views that his campaign staff believed to make people vote form him, then and there (see again The Century of the Self, part IV), rather than for rational political plans; destroyed welfare; and gave nearly all powers over the banks to the banks. (And then he was rewarded by the rich, and especially the bankers, with over 100 million dollars.)

And I think it still is gravely corrupted, and will remain gravely corrupted as long as the Clintons and Pelosi are in power, and probably also after that.

And there is this:

Every faction is afllicted and aggrieved, but what can be done to bridge these divides? There may be no such thing as a united Democratic Party anymore, just as there seems to be no such thing as a united Republican Party. But in our system of government, we still need majorities and super-majorities to pass laws and veto legislation. That means the Democrats and the progressives will not be able to win and govern unless they can find new ways to work together. 

What's needed is the kind of leadership that's not in evidence.
I agree, and also have given up any hope the Democrats will change towards the roles it has to play to oppose the rich, simply because it has been thoroughly corrupted by the rich.

4. The Violence of the ’60s Is Nothing Like What We Are about to Face

This article is by Todd Gitlin (<-Wikipedia) on AlterNet and originally on Moyers & Company. It starts as follows:

The late ‘60s and early ‘70s were crazy, but we’re looking wilder.

“This country is going so far to the right you’re not going to recognize it.” Those memorable words were uttered by Richard Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, who proved to be off by almost 50 years. But he and other Nixon cronies, however premature in their timetables, were establishing precedents for today’s worst case scenarios. We have to ask: Which elements of the state-sponsored violence of the ’60s and early ’70s are ready for revival and renewal? What new wrinkles in constitutional crisis might be in the works? Just how far to the right — or the left — will we go?

Todd Gitlin was there, in the ¨late ‘60s and early ‘70s¨, which I knew because I have been delving somewhat into the Sixties this year, and especially into the San Francisco Diggers (see here and here).  [2]

And I was also there in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, though not in the USA but in Europe, and also seven years younger than Gitlin (which made some differences). And Europe also was different fom the USA, though perhaps - the near revolution in France of 1968, which I attended; the student revolts in Germany with the RAF (Ulrike Meinhof (<-Wikipedia) etc. - not less leftist, nor less revolutionary.

Then again, for me the years from 1965 till 1980 were not ¨crazy¨. I thought them fairly hopeful, though I was mistaken, if not for making a revolution, then at least for getting a fairer spread of riches, and a more - real - Leftist climate, but I was  also mistaken about these possibilities as well: The riches were not spread more equally, and much of the real Left of the late ´60ies changed into quasi-Marxism and then into postmodernism, political correctness and a betrayal of the real Left (indeed also by successful politicians like the ¨leftish¨ frauds Clinton and Blair (each of whom is now owning over a 100 million dollars for their services to the rich)).

And I do not believe you can transport the sense of John Mitchell´s words from 50 years ago till today - but this does not mean Gitlin may not be correct in his expectations.

I skip a goodly amount of text and arrive at this:

How do we stack up today? Two of the three protective institutions of this battered democracy are standing up to obstruct the depredations of the Trump regime: the courts and the press — the part that Trump calls “the enemy of the people.” Whether Congress will hold its own remains to be seen.

In fact, about these facts I may be more pessimistic than Gitlin, for I think the courts are so-so, at best, while the mainstream press is corrupt. And while I tend to like the alternative media, in fact these are neither large nor powerful.

Then there is this:

For all the auspicious signs, it’s by no means clear that today’s resistance will successfully withstand the tyrannical forces that are preparing to round up hundreds of thousands, or millions, of immigrants (...)

Perhaps not, but here I may be a bit more optimistic than Gitlin (in the somewhat longer term, and provided Trump does not start a nuclear war), and my reasons are mostly that I yesterday read the whole Joseph Goebbels lemma on Wikipedia, that also gives a decent survey of what the Nazis did bring about in the first half year of their getting power in 1933 (with 37% of the vote!): Very much more than Trump did (who I think is a neofascist).

The article ends as follows:

As we learned in Charlottesville, the police haven’t yet figured out how to dampen the lethal potential. Then and now, the slug-first-ask- questions-later thugs muddy the prospects for nonviolent change. They panic the bulk of the population. They promote the version of “law and order” that comes from the mailed fist.

Add that it’s by no means clear that the commander-in-chief of the White House has the slightest respect for constitutional processes. The sum of his grandiosity and recklessness, and the grandiosity and recklessness of his violent opponents, is the reason why, today, all bets are off.

Hm. I think - and I am a psychologist, that is somewhat relevant - that Trump is not sane, which also explains his grandiosity, his recklessness, his vanity, his ease of lying, his lack of responsibility, and more. And Trump evidently does not have ¨the slightest respect for constitutional processes¨ and indeed never had.

Then again, while I think Trump´s opponents may be violent, reckless and grandiose, I also think that their position is quite different from Trump´s position, while also there are far more non-violent than violent opponents of Trump.

But indeed I also don´t know what will happen and this is a recommended article.

5.  The Dangerous Decline of US Hegemony

This article is by Daniel Lazare on Consortiumnews. It starts with the following summary:

The bigger picture behind Official Washington’s hysteria over Russia, Syria and North Korea is the image of a decaying but dangerous American hegemon resisting the start of new multipolar order, explains Daniel Lazare.

I don´t know, for it seems to me that the USA did become the world´s undoubted number one power in 1991, when the Soviet Union (and its attendant ¨socialist¨ states) collapsed. Also, the military spendings of the USA are (and have been since then) about ten times as large as the next big spender on arms.

Then there is this:

The showdown with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a seminal event that can only end in one of two ways: a nuclear exchange or a reconfiguration of the international order.

While complacency is always unwarranted, the first seems increasingly unlikely. As no less a global strategist than Steven Bannon observed about the possibility of a pre-emptive U.S. strike: “There’s no military solution. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no military solution here. They got us.”

This doesn’t mean that Donald Trump, Bannon’s ex-boss, couldn’t still do something rash.
I happen to agree on this with Bannon, although I grant Trump can ¨still do something rash¨, but I don´t think there are only the two options that Lazare sees: It may also simmer down.

And then there is this:
But this is one of the good things about having a Deep State, the existence of which has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt since the intelligence community declared war on Trump last November. While it prevents Trump from reaching a reasonable modus vivendi with Russia, it also means that the President is continually surrounded by generals, spooks, and other professionals who know the difference between real estate and nuclear war.
No, I don´t think that a Deep State is a good thing at all, for it is completely contradictory to any - genuinely - democratic government. And the only reason
why I am a bit pleased with its existence is that I do not think most or the majority
of the - unknown - members of the Deep State are not sane, while I think Trump is.

I also do not agree with much of the rest of this paragraph, but indeed I will give up on this article, except for quoting one more bit, and that is the end:

Unipolarity will slink off to the sidelines while multilateralism takes center stage. Given that U.S. share of global GDP has fallen by better than 20 percent since 1989, a retreat is inevitable.

And this bit is here because I did not know that U.S. share of global GDP has fallen by more than 1/5th. But this still does not counter my first remarks to the first quotation in this article.

So the brief of this is that I do not believe that there is a dangerous decline of ¨US hegemony¨ now, even if Lazare may be right in the long run.


[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 (!!).

I will write more about the San Francisco Diggers, but I admit I lost part of my interests in them after learning many were hooked on hard drugs: I never was, and I also think, indeed since 1967 or before, that it is a serious mistakes to engage in politics while hooked on hard drugs.
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