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Nederlog

Monday, October 2, 2017

Crisis: The U.S. Empire, U.S. Democracy, Trump, On Catalonia, Herr Drumpf


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 2, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 2, 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 October 2, 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:

1. The End of Empire

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig [2]. It starts as follows:
The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
I agree with nearly all of this, but I hesitate to draw the inference that Chris Hedges draws, viz. (as the title says) ¨The End of Empire¨. And this is not because I would not like to see the USA collapse:

I think a major economical collapse of the USA is about the only chance mankind has to escape the neofascism that has been prepared the last 40 years since Thatcher and Reagan took power.

And this is not something I like, for such a collapse, that very probably would extend to Western Europe, may well cost the lives of tens of millions. But given the enormous amounts that are at stake for the rich few who possess most, and also for the poor many they were stolen from, and the enormous military defenses that the rich few have drawn up for themselves from the taxes from the many, I think such a collapse is the only possibility for the repressed many to get around the military and the police.

I do not know whether this will happen, but it is something that I do hope will happen, for the alternative is a
neofascism that may last centuries, based as that it on the fact that the very few who command the big money now know almost everything about almost everybody, and also have - as long as they command riches - the power to implement their desires on anyone who does not command riches, and will repress almost everybody who is not very rich and is not willing to assist the very rich to repress everybody else.

Here is more by Chris Hedges:
Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” by “a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg” that will “forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.”
I don´t know what will happen, but since I believe Trump and his government are by far the best described as neofascists - and see my definition if you disagree - I think that  McCoy´s expectations are the most realistic: The future seems to be either a neofascist empire
¨of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and a¨ self-selected international financial leadership of the very rich¨
or else either something like socialism (that may have many different forms, some also not at all sympathetic to me) or else utter collapse, quite possibly mediated by nuclear arms.

Here is more by Chris Hedges:
The brutality abroad is matched by a growing brutality at home. Militarized police gun down mostly unarmed, poor people of color and fill a system of penitentiaries and jails that hold a staggering 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although Americans represent only 5 percent of global population. Many of our cities are in ruins. Our public transportation system is a shambles. Our educational system is in steep decline and being privatized. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, depression and morbid obesity plague a population that has fallen into profound despair. The deep disillusionment and anger that led to Donald Trump’s election—a reaction to the corporate coup d’état and the poverty afflicting at least half of the country—have destroyed the myth of a functioning democracy. Presidential tweets and rhetoric celebrate hate, racism and bigotry and taunt the weak and the vulnerable. The president in an address before the United Nations threatened to obliterate another nation in an act of genocide.
I mostly agree. Here is the end of the article:
A discredited elite, suspicious and even paranoid in an age of decline, will see enemies everywhere. The array of instruments created for global dominance—wholesale surveillance, the evisceration of civil liberties, sophisticated torture techniques, militarized police, the massive prison system, the thousands of militarized drones and satellites—will be employed in the homeland. The empire will collapse and the nation will consume itself within our lifetimes if we do not wrest power from those who rule the corporate state.
Again I mostly agree - and my own version of the conditions in which the West is living in since 9/11 (which was fake i.e. the most probable explanation for 9/11 is that this was somehow engineered by the American secret services and the American secret military forces) you can find in yesterdays´ 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis although these hypotheses were first formulated by me in 2012.

And this is a recommended article.

2. We Are Being Held Hostage to Unpopular Conservative Thinking: 7 Reasons Our Democracy Fails

This article is by Neal Gabler on AlterNet and originally on BillMoyers.com. It starts as follows:

Of all the myths the Republicans have perpetrated, and there are a lot of them, perhaps none is more powerful or insidious than the foundational one that this is an overwhelmingly conservative country and that progressives are outliers in it, along with its pernicious corollary that conservatives are “real” Americans while liberals (and the minorities who support liberal policies) are somehow counterfeits.

It is a brilliant bit of propaganda. The only problem is that it isn’t factually true, at least for those who still believe in facts. While there are more self-described conservatives than liberals, in large part, I think, because of the conservatives’ success at conflating their brand with Americanism itself, the gap has been narrowing. And in any case, party identification is just about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. What is more important: Most Americans reject conservative policy positions. Again and again, on issue after issue, the majority of Americans seem to tilt to the left: on immigration, including Trump’s border wall; on Obamacare repeal; on leaving the Paris climate accord; and on gay marriage.

Hm. I don´t think this is quite correct, simply because I agree that there are more self-described conservatives than liberals and also because of Gabler´s own qualification that the propagandistic thesis he rejects (in which he is quite right) ¨isn’t factually true, at least for those who still believe in facts¨.

But then the people who believe in - real - facts seem to be in a minority in the USA, for it seems as if the majority reads the mainstream media, and the mainstream media just do not report ¨the facts¨ anymore, at least not if the facts are of a political or religious kind: Then the real facts tend to be replaced by bits of propaganda and deceptions, or else by simply not mentioning the facts at all.

And the other major difficulty that I see - although I agree that ¨the majority of Americans seem to tilt to the left¨- is that the great majority of the Americans either are too stupid or too ignorant or too propagandized to think rationally and in a fact-based way, and believe all manner of non-facts for reasons that are based on a combination of their ignorance and their prejudiced wishful thinking.

And this happens on the left as well as on the right, although I probably agree that the left tends to be less stupid and less ignorant than the right [3].

Here are six of the seven reasons that induced Neil Gabler to think that these are the ¨reasons our democracy fails¨, as the title has it:

1. Rural votes are worth more than urban votes.
2. White votes are worth more than minority votes.
3. Rich and middle-class votes are worth more than poor votes.
4. Old voters are worth more than young voters.
5. Single-issue voters are worth more than more general interest voters.
6. Republican primary voters are worth more than other voters.

My problem with this is that I think that while this is probably in various ways quite true (and there is text for each point that you can find by going to the original article), it also pertains to a quite complicated manipulation of voters.

I agree that the GOP engages in this manipulation of voters, which has consequences as are sketched in the above six points, but there is more than voter manipulation - such as the interminable amounts of propaganda that are spread by the mainstream media - that explains the GOP´s many votes.

Here is the last of the seven reasons that are discussed by Gabler, with a bit of accompanying text:

7. Finally, big surprise!, an oligarch’s vote is worth that of tens of millions of ordinary voters.

Several reporters have weighed in that one of the major reasons the GOP persists with its inane health care repeal plan — again, the public be damned — is that big donors have threatened to withhold their money if the Senate doesn’t proceed. The GOP, needless to say, has a near-monopoly on oligarchs. Enough said.

Instead, I´d say that the rich oligarchs have a near-monopoly on both the GOP and the Democratic Party: By far the most Senators and members of the House seem to have been bought by the rich.


3. It Is Truly Hard to Imagine That Our President Is Such a Disgusting Person, and 63 Million People Voted for Him

This article is by Kali Halloway on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
Donald Trump’s bigotry and cruelty were on display again this week in his response to the devastation in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, where he alternately chose to ignore and insult the survivors of hurricane Maria. As the crisis mounted, Trump took a brief respite from berating NFL players to tweet about Puerto Rico—not in support of the island’s suffering residents, but to callously focus on the commonwealth’s "broken infrastructure & massive debt."
I agree with this bit, but I should add immediately that it does not and did not amaze me (not at all) that 63 million Americans voted for Trump: If most of them are systematically lied to and propagandized by the mainstream media (both the paper press and their sites), as I think they have been for 30 years at least, then that is what I would expect.

And there is this:
Trump’s indifference to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico is par for the course. Racism and malice form the core of who he is; these traits are the essence of his presidency, and while his response is stunning, it’s also perfectly in line with every other action he’s taken in office. To change horses midstream—to govern with a semblance of the empathy, competency or integrity he has lacked throughout his life—would be out of character. In other words, Trump’s gonna Trump. The more disturbing fact is that 63 million people recognized Trump’s hatefulness and racism, liked what they saw enough to vote for him, and even now, continue to fervently support him.
In fact, I do not know ¨that 63 million people recognized Trump’s hatefulness and racism¨, and in fact I think there are considerably less fanatic alt-right racists in the USA than the ¨63 million¨ who voted for Trump - and once again I appeal to the fact that those who voted for Trump were (in good part, and not all of them) deceived by their own lack of intelligence and lack of true information.

4. More Than 700 Injured as Spanish Police Try to Prevent Catalan Independence Vote

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 760 people were injured in Catalonia after Spanish police clashed with voters who attempted to cast votes for the region's independence referendum, which Madrid has deemed unconstitutional, Reuters reports.

Despite the reports of violence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised the police force for its actions in Catalonia Sunday.

Alarming photos and videos continued to circulate on social media into the evening (...)
Yes indeed (and I chose this report from various reports on the same facts): The police I saw were dressed like modern SS´ers rather than ordinary police, and they seem to have seriously wounded quite a few.

There is also this:

Madrid has declared the vote unconstitutional, but Catalan citizens and members of the regional government have vowed to move forward with it. In recent days they have protested by the thousands, and even occupied more than 160 local schools that were set to serve as polling stations, in attempts to avoid the national police's promise to prevent voting.

The BBC reports:

Police officers are preventing people from voting, and seizing ballot papers and boxes at polling stations. In the regional capital Barcelona, police used batons and fired rubber bullets during pro-referendum protests.

(...)
Catalan firefighters even battled with police officers on Sunday, trying to protect voters from the national police.
Even so, many Catalans did vote, and it seems of those who did vote, over 90% voted for independence of Catalonia. And I do not know how this will finish, but it certainly is not the last that I will read about it.

More later, and this is a recommended article.


5. On Leadership, Humanity and Golf Trophies

This article is by Abby Zimet on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
We Can't Even. Improbably, Drumpf's response to the humanitarian catastrophe engulfing Puerto Rico keeps....getting....worse. To review: He ignored the disaster for days while he played golf - they were just brown people, after all - leading to a recovery effort so belated and half-assed it's been deemed "malpractice." Called out on his incompetence, he responded as any sociopath would with lies, deflection
and grotesque finger-pointing. He has rolled out the PR moves and boasted of his "great reviews," though the Department of Defense warns 95% of people still have no power and 55% have no water. He's offered moronic defenses: Puerto Rico is “an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water." And he's attacked the victims: He complained about their debt (smaller than many states'), slammed San Juan's tireless mayor as "nasty," and called those begging for food and water "ingrates" who "want everything to be done for them" - this, days after proposing a two trillion dollar tax cut for the rich.
Yes indeed (except that I dislike reading psychiatrese like ¨sociopath¨ [4]: the correct term - when doing psychology or rational psychiatry - is psychopath and not ¨sociopath¨ for everybody is a ¨sociopath¨ if his or her norms differ from the most popular values and norms: That is not psychiatry but prejudice.).

There is also this:
Twitter, Donald's fave, has him, "THE WORST PRESIDENT in the history of USA" - a claim followed by, "He's the WORST AMERICAN in HISTORY...fixed that typo for you," followed by, "He's the WORST PERSON IN HISTORY...fixed that typo for you." For some people, a highlight of Sunday's NFL games, where players continued to protest, was the appearance of the Oakland Raiders' Marshawn Lynch in a t-shirt that read, "Everybody vs. Trump." Keith Olbermann, meanwhile, pulled no punches. "Republicans! This is the creature you have unleashed on us," he wrote. "GET THIS SON OF A BITCH THE FUCK OUT OF HERE."
I suppose there are at least possibly four more ¨fixed typos¨ on Twitter (that I despise and don´t use, and like to see as little of as possible): IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM, IN THE UNIVERSE, IN ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS, and IN ALL POSSIBLE UNIVERSES. Then again all of this is merely emotional language.

It´s here because I mostly agree with the first paragraph.

------------------------------
  Notes

[1] 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 (!!).

[2] As far as Truthdig is concerned:

I like it, but since I am prodded to say whether I ¨Enjoy Reading¨ it, since the latest change: I have now since over 5 years problems with my eyes, that make it necessary for me to remove the white background color that is - quite unaccountably - still the standard on websites. It is replaced by blue in my case, and that is the only change I make to Firefox (the latest, also).

Also, I am over 65 and read that something like 20/25% of the over 60-year olds do have problems with their eyes.

Well... with the latest change on Truthdig all pictures and nearly all names of the writers of the articles, and all photographs (except for the ¨Truthdig¨ motto) totally disappeared for me, and I am faced with a blue mess, from which I can try, if I am patient enough, and load some files (from whence the pictures and the names are not removed), to find what I remember of those writers that are good...

In brief, for me and for something like 1 in 5 of the over 60 year olds the latest incarnation of Truthdig is a mess.

I suppose one explanation is that they don´t like readers over 60... (I reject that explanation, but I do think their latest change in formatting was a very bad one.)

[3] I am very sorry, but I do believe in truth, in intelligence and in knowledge.

Then again, I have been called (completely falsely) ¨a dirty fascist¨ for 40 years now, and (sickeningly
falsely) ¨a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist¨ for 29 years now, in both cases in the - for me - fascistic and terroristic ¨University¨ of Amsterdam, and because I said I believed in truth, in which hardly anybody in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam believed since this was denied in 1978 in these words: ¨Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist¨, which was said in the public opening of the academic year 1978/1979 on authority of the Board of Directors (all fascists and all terrorists, in my opinion, which I can say now because these fascist terrorists now are dead) and which has been the official ideology of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam ever since.

So I know that in Holland I am one of the (very?) few who does believe in truth, and who even has excellent philosophical, logical, factual and personal reasons to do so. I know these reasons are far too difficult for the many to read, but please... am I allowed to say these are my beliefs?! With two communist parents who had the rare courage to be in the Dutch resistance against the Nazis? With a murdered grandfather because he had the rare courage to be in the Dutch resistance against the Nazis? As a liberal anarchist and a socialist, though indeed not as a communist or a postmodernist (who had the majority in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam from 1971 to 1995)?!

Which caused all sickening discriminations of me as ¨a dirty fascist¨ and ¨a terrorist¨ by the ¨communist¨ postmodernists of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam?!

[4] I have been saying this quite a few times now (and this also applies to ¨narcissism¨ and quite a few other lemmas on the present Wikipedia): A sociopath is somebody who does not agree with the currently popular norms in a society. To classify that as a ground for declaring a person insane, which is what the DSM of the APA does, is to make psychiatry the instrument of the KGB in the former Soviet Union: Disagreement with the prevailing social standards is not a ground for declaring one insane - except in the former Soviet Union and its allies, and except in the DSM of the APA.

I dislike the DSM. I dislike the APA. I am a psychologist and a philosopher. Why does Wikipedia speak psychiatrese instead of proper English?! It is utter unscientific, improper trash, that is not even proper English. (There are good English terms for ¨malignant narcissist¨, namely megalomaniac, and for conscience-less greed, namely a psychopath. I much prefer these over the sick and ugly psychiatrese sanctioned by the APA. O, and by Wikipedia.)
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