Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Crisis: President Trump, Ai Weiwei, "Center-Left", Systemic Oppression, US Wars

Sections                                                crisis index

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


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 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 and since nearly two years (!!!!) 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 [2]:

A. Selections from October 10, 2017
1. The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette
2. World-Renowned Artist Ai Weiwei on His Child-
     hood in a Labor Camp, Art, Activism, Prison &

3. The 'Center-Left' Had Its Chance—It’s Time For
     Something New

4. This Is What Systemic Oppression Looks Like
5. How We Learned Not To Care About America's
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 Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette

This article is by Editorial on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Republicans used to care a lot about how a president comports himself, and whether he acts at all times with the dignity his station demands.

“Is President Obama Disrespecting the Oval Office?” Fox News asked in 2010, with a link to images of Mr. Obama and his aides tossing a football, or eating apples just inches from the Resolute desk.

“Wear a suit coat and tie,” said Andrew Card Jr., President George W. Bush’s former chief of staff, in reaction to pictures of Mr. Obama in shirtsleeves in 2009.

“I do expect him to send the message that people who are going to be in the Oval Office should treat the office with the respect that it has earned over history,” Mr. Card said.

But hey, that was then! In 2017, there’s a whole new bar for tolerable conduct by the commander in chief. Our original guide cataloged several dozen examples. Almost five months later, it’s clear that an update is necessary. This expanded list is meant to ensure that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans never forget what they now condone in a president.

So, if you are the president, you may:

And then follow - if I have counted well - 75 quotes from Trump, all with links to identify that he really made them. I do not know why they are in big capital letters, but here are three quotes from the beginning of the list:

Mock a foreign leader with a demeaning nickname and threaten his country with nuclear annihilation over Twitter

Call for the firing of “son of a bitch” athletes who choose to exercise their right to free speech

Criticize victims of that hurricane still living without drinking water or electricity by saying they “want everything to be done for them
There are 72 (I think) more quotes. I copied them all, in part because I think (as a psychologist, and like 53,000 other psychologists) that they illustrate - quite well, also - that Trump is not sane and also in part because they are documentation.

This is a recommended article.

2. World-Renowned Artist Ai Weiwei on His Childhood in a Labor Camp, Art, Activism, Prison & Freedom 

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

I should start this review by saying there are two more interviews with Ai Weiwei  (<-Wikipedia) on Democracy Now! All interviews were made on the same day and all are very well worth reading.

The present interview starts with the following introduction.
Ai Weiwei has been called the most powerful artist in the world—and the most dangerous man in China. Born in 1957 in Beijing, he spent his childhood and youth in a hard labor camp in the Gobi Desert in remote northwest China. As a student at Beijing Film Academy, he first became involved in art and activism. He spent his twenties in New York City and then returned to China. In 2008, after a massive earthquake in Sichuan, China, Ai Weiwei launched a citizen investigation to collect the names of the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who died, partially as a result of the highly shoddy government construction of the schools. While his citizen investigation catapulted him to international fame, it also enraged Chinese government officials. In 2009, his popular blog was shut down. A few months later, police broke into his hotel room and attacked him, punching him in the face and causing cerebral hemorrhaging. In 2010, Ai Weiwei was placed under house arrest, after the Chinese government demolished his studio. Then, in 2011, he was arrested at the Beijing airport and held for 81 days, without any charges. Chinese authorities seized his passport and refused to return it until 2015. For more on the remarkable life of this world-renowned dissident and artist, we speak with Ai Weiwei.
Yes indeed. I have just one quote from this interview, namely the following, about the treatment of people who did not quite have the same ideas as Mao Ze Dong (<-Wikipedia):

AI WEIWEI: I was born in 1957. That’s the year my father was purged as a so-called rightist.

AMY GOODMAN: He had been a friend of Mao Zedong?

AI WEIWEI: Yeah, he’s the same generation, maybe younger than Mao Zedong. And they all spent time in—before the new nation established. So he belongs to this early revolutionary group. And he was a poet. He studied in Paris. And right after he came back to China, he was being put in jail for six years. Then, later, he joined the revolution. After the '49, he was criticized. And with about half-million of the intellectuals in China, they're being all put in the labor camps to—called re-education. So I grew up in these camps. During the Cultural Revolution, he really has to do very hard labors, insulted, beaten and—

AMY GOODMAN: This was in the Gobi Desert?

AI WEIWEI: Yeah, in the northwest, in the Gobi Desert, very far, farrest location you can get on the Chinese map.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was your understanding of what happened to you, as a child?

AI WEIWEI: As a child, you have no way to think otherwise, because everybody is in an extremely difficult situation. You think it’s like you’re standing in the rain, everywhere is under the rain. You know, it’s not—there’s no exception. So, he spent about 20 years, but cannot write words, you know, doing a lot of—to clean the public toilet. And he often been beaten and, you know, very—and sometimes he comes home with all the ink poured from—his head, you know, has become totally black, and going through a lot of this kind of insulting.

AMY GOODMAN: They poured ink over his head?

AI WEIWEI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just there’s a lot of meetings. The meetings, he have to stand in front of other people, and they would say all kinds of bad words about him. And he has to confess his crime, [while] he never committed any crime.

There is a lot more in the present interview and in the two accompanying interviews, and all are very well worth reading.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. The 'Center-Left' Had Its Chance—It’s Time For Something New

This article is by Richard Eskow on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The once-proud political project known as “centrism” is collapsing around the globe, despite increasingly desperate attempts by billionaire backers to revive it.

The center-right’s implosion can be seen in the weakened state of Theresa May’s Conservatives in Great Britain, the recent setback for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and the withering of the GOP’s Mitt Romney wing.

But what about the center-left, the “New Labour”/”New Democrat” phenomenon that once seemed to offer so much hope? Can it survive? More importantly, should it?

I do not think that "New Labour" ever was real Labour, just as I do not think that the "New Democrats" were ever real democrats:

Both were organized by the corrupt [2] tops of formerly social democratic parties; and both only served their own interests (as can be seen from the fact that the Clintons now own between $120 and $150 million dollars, while Tony Blair seems to own around £150 million, that shows their tremendous honesty and dedication, to their own incomes).

In fact, I never thought that Blair or Clinton were social democrats in any real sense, though I grant both started abusing the jargon (but they rapidly changed that as well).

Then there is this:

Political scientist Sheri Berman recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that made the case for Western Europe’s failing social democrats. “Across Europe, social democratic or center-left parties are in decline,” Professor Berman writes, adding:

“In elections this year in France and the Netherlands, the socialist and labor parties did so poorly that many question their future existence… Even if you don’t support the left, this should be cause for concern. Social democratic parties were crucial to rebuilding democracy in Western Europe after 1945. They remain essential to democracy on the Continent today.”

Professor Berman correctly diagnoses one aspect of what ails these parties, noting that center-left politicians like Britain’s Tony Blair and Germany’s Gerhard Schröder “celebrated the (free) market’s upsides while ignoring its downsides.”

If Berman is a political scientist (I do suppose she has the degrees) then I am a mathematician because I know how to add.

As to the Netherlands (I am Dutch, unfortunately [3]):

Prime minister Wim Kok was a lifelong careerist who started as "a labour leader", then personally took care of removing nuclear arms (if you believed him in 1981); and then totally killed social democracy as did Blair, Clinton and Schröder as soon as he got to be prime minister.

After him, the leadership of the Dutch "social democrats" fell into the hands of the grandsons and/or great-grandsons of the Dutchmen David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, who helped the SS to round up over 100,000 Dutchmen with a Jewish background [4], who all were murdered.

David Cohen and Abraham Asscher were rewarded by the SS with their lives and the lives of their families and their millions in money.

And after WW II neither of them even had to face a Dutch judge (who might have rewarded them, because most Dutch judges, like the complete Dutch Supreme Court - except for its Jewish chief, who was dismissed - were collaborators of the Nazis).

It is true that the Dutch "social democrats" recently lost the great majority of their seats in parliament, but this was because they collaborated for four years with the Dutch "liberals" (really: neoconservatives) in the latest functioning Dutch government.

I take it that they lost so many votes because the Dutch voters that previously voted for them felt betrayed by them, and if so, they are quite right.

Then again, I should add that I am one of the small minority of Dutchmen who knows about the Nazist heroics of David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, for their betrayal of more than 100,000 murdered Dutch with a Jewish background [4] is hardly ever mentioned in Holland.

But the Dutch "social democrats" are presently led by the great-grandson of Abraham Asscher, who also is - to the best of my information - a millionaire, as was his great-grandfather, who kept his millions and his life because he collaborated with the SS, and helped them to round up any and all Dutchmen with a Jewish background [4] (except if they were family of Asscher or Cohen, or so it seems). [5]

Back to the article, that gives some background on the pretended "social democracy" of Blair, Clinton and Schröder:

It’s worth lingering for a moment on those downsides: Economic inequality continued to skyrocket under Blair in Great Britain and Schröder in Germany, and Bill Clinton in the United States. The global economy was gravely damaged by the financial crisis of 2008, as Professor Berman notes. but that near-catastrophe wasn’t caused by impersonal forces. It was the result of widespread banker fraud, made possible by the active collaboration of politicians from both parties.

The center-left rarely even chastised, much less prosecuted, bankers for their criminality in the runup to the economic crisis, whose devastation is still felt around the globe. Instead, it left them in charge of their institutions and in possession of their freedom and their ill-gotten gains.

This is mostly quite correct, except that I refuse to call the people who did these things, and their parties who kept supporting them for the most part, "center-left":

Their policies, and the enormous ciminal frauds by the bankers, are neither leftist (in any real sense of that term) nor centrist: They were rightist, and the top - and certainly Clinton and Blair - now are multi-millionaires because they helped the frauding bankers.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

The political program Professor Berman eulogizes didn’t just fail to “offer a fundamental critique of capitalism.” It provided capitalism’s worst excesses with ideological cover. Instead of hewing to well-understood professions of left-leaning values like “equality,” it offered cliches about “equality of opportunity” that were indistinguishable from those of its center-right opponents.

Worse, when confronted with the economic damage that bankers caused, the European center-left turned against its supposed constituency by bailing out the banks and imposing strict austerity measures on working people.

Precisely. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

4. This Is What Systemic Oppression Looks Like

This article is by Abby Zimet on Common Dreams. It struck my eye because of the following picture:

   Clicking the picture leads to the source at Common Dreams

I like it although I do suppose "y'all" refers to the majority of white Americans. And understood like that, the above is simply true.

And this is a recommended article.

5. How We Learned Not To Care About America's Wars

This article is by Andrew Bacevich (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Consider, if you will, these two indisputable facts.  First, the United States is today more or less permanently engaged in hostilities in not one faraway place, but at least seven.  Second, the vast majority of the American people could not care less.

Nor can it be said that we don’t care because we don’t know.  True, government authorities withhold certain aspects of ongoing military operations or release only details that they find convenient.  Yet information describing what U.S. forces are doing (and where) is readily available, even if buried in recent months by barrages of presidential tweets.
Yes I agree, except that I also like to notice that (i) half of the American population (over 160 million persons) have an IQ that is maximally 100; that (ii) the vast majority of the American people is not at all well- educated; which means that (iii) stupidity and ignorance play a major role in American politics (and elsewhere), while also (iv) to get the real information, Americans have to read the non-mainstream media, because the mainstream media mostly lie, propagandize, deceive or simply omit many of the things that are important to many.

In other words, there are some excuses, although basically I agree with Bacevich.

Here is more by Bacevich:

Ever since the United States launched its war on terror, oceans of military press releases have poured forth.  And those are just for starters.  To provide updates on the U.S. military’s various ongoing campaigns, generals, admirals, and high-ranking defense officials regularly testify before congressional committees or brief members of the press.  From the field, journalists offer updates that fill in at least some of the details -- on civilian casualties, for example -- that government authorities prefer not to disclose.  Contributors to newspaper op-ed pages and “experts” booked by network and cable TV news shows, including passels of retired military officers, provide analysis.  Trailing behind come books and documentaries that put things in a broader perspective.

But here’s the truth of it.  None of it matters.

Like traffic jams or robocalls, war has fallen into the category of things that Americans may not welcome, but have learned to live with.  In twenty-first-century America, war is not that big a deal.

I mostly agree with this is as well, with the same qualifications as I made under the previous quote.

Then there are eight points that all are discussed by Bacevich, that I all leave to your interests, except for the titles:

Americans don’t attend all that much to ongoing American wars because:

1. U.S. casualty rates are low. (..)
2. The true costs of Washington’s wars go untabulated.(..)
3. On matters related to war, American citizens have
    opted out. (..)

4. Terrorism gets hyped and hyped and hyped some
    more. (..)

5. Blather crowds out substance. (..)

6. Besides, we’re too busy. (..)

7. Anyway, the next president will save us.

8. Our culturally progressive military has largely
   immunized itself from criticism. (..)

The article ends as follows:

A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.  But don't expect your neighbors down the street or the editors of the New York Times to lose any sleep over that fact.  Even to notice it would require them -- and us -- to care.

And again I mostly agree, with the qualification that I care (but I am not an American) and that there also are groups of Americans who care, although I agree they are in a minority.

This is a recommended article.


[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 (!!).

[2] Once again the Wikipedia item "Corruption" comes with the utterly bullshit warning that in this article
"The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. "
Once again: There is no "worldwide view" of nearly all articles in any good encyclopedia, because there simply are too many differences of opinion on nearly anything of human value: There is no worldwide law, philosophy, religion, culture, civilization, set of values, ethics, morality, ideas about truth, ideas about science a.s.o. a.s.f.

Those who pretend there are such views or that they have them are liars.

[3] I have lived this year 40 years in Holland, in which I have been 7 years threatened with murder by people who lived in the same house as I did against whom no Dutchmen defended me; I have been ill now for nearly 39 years in which the - real and serious - disease that my ex and I have since January 1979 was never admitted to be real; I have been kicked from the "University" of Amsterdam very briefly before getting my M.A. in philosophy because I dared to speak the truth about the incompetent parasites who taught me "philosophy"; I have been threatened for 3 1/2 years with murder by the illegal drugsdealers in illegal drugs that mayor Van Thijn gave his "personal permission" to trade illegal drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, and I have been gassed in the same house and had to live there for 3 1/2 years with an extremely dangerous leaking chimney and murder threats and again nobody from the City of Amsterdam - the City police, the mayor, his lawyers a.s.o. - lifted as much as one finger to help or protect me; and I have now been called - completely falsely: I have the best real leftist background of anyone who ever studied in the "University" of Amsterdam - "a filthy fascist" for a mere 40 years, and "a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist" (both according to the frauds of the ASVA) for 29 years.

For more information about my background, my parents and my grand- parents see the notes from yesterday.

I grant that I returned to Holland from Norway in 1977, where I could have lived and studied as well, and that this was the biggest mistake in my life.

But I could not have predicted the utter sickness, the real terrorism, the awful "education", and the above horrors.

I despise Holland and most Dutchmen; I love Norway, but cannot return there because I also earned less in the last 40 years than any other Dutchman who did not have to go to jail.

[4] I am putting it like I do because I know that quite a few of these supposed Jews had lost their religion, and were liberals, socialists, social democrats or communists.  (In fact, most of the supposed Jews I have known - quite a few - were communists, although this mainly depended on the fact that my parents were communists.)

I agree most or all of them had "a Jewish background" in some sense, but for me being a Jew is like being a Catholic or a Protestant: These are religions and not races.

[5] I am one of the very few Dutchmen who says so, and I do say so because both of my parents and my father's father risked their lives and torture in resisting the Nazis in WW II. My mother was never caught, but my father and grandfather were, in June 1941. My grandfather was murdered; my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days as a "political terrorist" in four German concentration camps.

I'd say that my family was far braver than David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, but it is also true that my family was neither Jewish nor rich.
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