A. Selections from
November 20, 2017
This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 20,
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.
moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from November 20, 2017
Behind the Mask of the ‘Moderates’
2. Undercounting the
3. When Will Democrats Stop Being Losers?
4. Is This a 'Sex Panic' or a National Moment of
Reckoning? Can’t It Be Both?
5. Why Trump Lies
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. Behind the Mask of the ‘Moderates’
This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Pity Canada. Its
citizens watch the stages of U.S. decline and then, a few years later,
inflict on themselves the same cruelties. It is as if the snuffing out
of democracy across the globe and the rise of authoritarian regimes are
a preordained Greek tragedy and all of us, in spite of our yearning for
liberty, must ominously play an assigned part.
Canada is currently in
the Barack Obama phase of self-immolation. Its prime minister, Justin
Trudeau, is—as Obama was—a fresh face with no real political past or
established beliefs, a brand. Trudeau excels, like Obama, French
President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in empty symbolism. These
“moderates” spew progressive and inclusive rhetoric while facilitating
social inequality, a loss of rights and the degradation of the
environment by global corporations. They are actors in skillfully
crafted corporate advertisements.
“Liberal democracy is
bifurcating, giving rise to two new regime forms: ‘illiberal
democracy,’ or democracy without rights, and ‘undemocratic liberalism,’
or rights without democracy,” writes political theorist
I think this is mostly
correct (but not all, and I am a European, not an American), but I do
like to make one initial point:
If democracy - that is: a
political situation in which the majorities of citizens DO decide most
their own fates - is loosing, and I agree it is, in the USA, then
the three main
reasons are that
(1) a good part of the voters stopped voting because they are much
disappointed with politics, for a quite a few different reasons
, and indeed in part because
(2) most of the voters and the public have been inundated with
political lies, political misrepresentations, political falsifications,
and many ommissions of real political news, which caused many not
to know what to think anymore, and
(3) most of the politicians are bought by the rich, certainly in
the USA, and this makes the ¨politicians¨ do mostly what the rich
Also, I think my above
analysis is more to the point than a split of ¨liberal
democracy¨ into a ¨democracy¨ without ¨rights¨ or into ¨rights without
¨democracy¨: That seems to me mostly academic verbal cleverness
rather than a real analysis.
But the following is more
or less true, or so it seems to me:
politicians espouse “undemocratic liberalism.” Lifestyle choices and
expressions of personal identity are respected, even championed, while
we are politically disempowered. The focus on multiculturalism and identity
politics is anti-politics. (...)
Yes indeed - but I
also should add that I saw this style of quasi-politics arise in
the 1970ies in Holland. Meanwhile quasi-politics done by
quasi-politicians (who are paid by the rich) has been progressing for
nearly forty years now, and indeed these days seem to have taken
over real politics (which is not
paid by the rich) and real
politicians (who are not paid by
the rich): The rich seem
to have taken over politics by buying politicians. (See item 3 below.)
Here is more:
Canada, France, Australia
and Germany will not crash their economies trying to maintain an empire
they can no longer afford. But they are, nevertheless, steadily
marching toward the new authoritarianism, toward joining the despotisms
rising up in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. The model
for the future is not Liberté, égalité, fraternité—it is
China’s ruthless corporate totalitarianism.
Quite possibly so -
but if so, the main reason is that the politicians mostly have been
bought by the rich while the voters were deceived by propaganda
they read in their papers or saw on the news.
Here is more on the
backgrounds of the present ¨politics¨ (that started in fact with
Thatcher and Reagan in 1979/1980):
The con artists and
thieves, no longer hiding behind the curtains, come out to pillage in
the open, actively making war on the anemic democratic institutions,
from the press to the courts, all of which long ago surrendered to
corporate power. These protofascists rely for control on the array of
undemocratic tools legalized by their “moderate” predecessors—wholesale
surveillance, militarized police, the criminalizing of dissent, the
primacy of “law and order” and the revoking of due process and other
rights by judicial and legislative fiat.
Yes, I again mostly
agree. Here is more on the ¨moderates¨  (whose
¨secret¨ is - it seems to
me - that they have been bought by the rich, if they were not rich to
The “moderates,” like
those on the far right, refuse to acknowledge reality. They speak and
act as if we live in a democracy rather than a system defined by
Sheldon Wolin as “inverted
totalitarianism,” one where the consent of the governed is a joke,
elections are legalized bribery and public policy is determined not by
popular will but by corporate lobbyists. It does not matter, as
illustrated by the Republican tax plan now before the U.S. Senate, what
is just or what the public supports. There are no institutions left in
the United States that can authentically be called democratic.
Hedges´ reference to
his own interviews with Sheldon Wolin are quite justified
last link or this
one), and I will add my own reviews as a link, for I did review all
of these interviews in 2014 and in 2015 and I think these reviews are
quite interesting (for intelligent folks):
Here is the link to a comprehensive review I
wrote in 2014, and this is the first
link to systematic considerations of points raised by Wolin while
this is the second link to
systematic considerations of points raised by Wolin.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Yes indeed. And this is
a strongly recommended article.
Nations have surrendered
their economies to global banks, corporations, the World Trade
Organization and the International Monetary Fund. This has created
political paralysis. The longer this paralysis continues, the more
governing institutions and “undemocratic liberalism” are discredited.
the Civilian Dead
This article is
by Paul R. Pillar on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
to think carefully and critically about the use of armed force against
a target such as Islamic State (ISIS) would do well to read the intensively
researched piece in the New York Times by investigative
journalist Azmat Khan and Arizona State professor Anand Gopal about
civilian casualties from the air war waged by the U.S.-led coalition in
Iraq. The key conclusion is that those casualties are far higher —
probably many times higher — than what the U.S. military acknowledges.
In fact, I have
been believing this ¨key
conclusion¨ for quite a long time
now. Here is some more on some of the reasons why:
It is partly a
matter of deficient record-keeping. It is in large part a matter
of the fog of this kind of war making much faulty and woefully
incomplete information almost inevitable. Although some of the
civilian casualties represent collateral damage in the form of people
who were in the vicinity of bona fide ISIS targets, others were in
places that the targeteers mistakenly identified as having an ISIS
Yes indeed. But
the following is pretty vague or not well formulated:
For consider these
provide disturbing food for thought in at least three
respects. One concerns the values and morality involved in a U.S.
military operation in which so many innocents suffer so much.
A second concerns the counterproductive aspects of an offensive that is
supposed to be a combating of terrorism. (..)
A third implication involves the ability of the American public and
political class to assess adequately what is going on with a military
campaign of this sort. The biggest problem as always is an
unwillingness to pay adequate attention to information at our disposal.
The first seems to be about the American military, although it
is unclear to me who are those whose ¨values and morality¨ are ¨involved in a U.S.
And if this is about the American military, my own concern is
less: They are not draftees forced to kill by the law, but they
are all voluntary military killers, who also function within a strict
authoritarian regime that forbids a lot.
The second seems to be about ¨the counterproductive aspects of an offensive that is
supposed to be a combating of terrorism¨ which to me, at least, strongly suggests that
a considerable part of the battle with terrorism is
with terrorism by the Americans.
But this again is not clearly said.
And the third point is also either extremely vague - ¨the ability of the American public and
political class to assess adequately what is going on with a military
campaign¨ - or else rather
misleading, for the simple reason that ¨the American public¨ is for the most part consistently misled by the
mainstream media, while ¨the political class¨ is again either
very vague or refers to a system in which most leading politicians have
been bought by the rich.
Again this is not clearly said. O well... I did my best to
3. When Will Democrats Stop Being
This article is by John
Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
was made of the “blue wave” some saw on November 7th.
Blue ripple is more like it. Don’t expect those results to
translate into a 2018 landslide for Democrats, unless the Party figures
out what it’s for, not simply what it’s against.
the Party leaders are only too eager to tell you what an idiot Trump
is, or how mean Ryan, McConnell and the rest of the conservative
wrecking crew is. But they are loath to tell you what, exactly,
they, themselves stand for.
tend to agree with this. Here is some more:
we’re treated to a steady drumbeat of Trump’s latest foibles and
failings, or his latest incoherent and fractured rhetoric—and let’s be
clear, Trump’s manifest mendacity, idiocy, and incompetence is both
startling and frightening.
should oppose a lying incompetent idiot as president,
but I agree with Atcheson - I think - that the Democrats are nearly as
bad as the Republicans, for the simple reason that most are bought
I agree with the second
part of the above quote, but I am doubtful about the first part, for I
do not know that ¨the majority of Americans know that Trump isn’t fit to be
President¨, while I am quite
doubtful about the assertion that ¨the majority of Americans¨ know ¨that
Republicans have been the Party of, by, and for the rich¨.
problem is, the majority of Americans know that Trump isn’t fit to be
President. And they’ve known that Republicans have been the Party
of, by, and for the rich for a couple of decades now. For a little over
a quarter of American voters, that’s just fine. They’ve been
blinded by hate, fear and greed; or they are among the 10 or so percent
that prosper under the Republican policies.
But getting a little over 25
to 30 percent of voters has been enough for Republicans to win at every
level, because some 45 percent of eligible voters routinely stay home.
And indeed a good part part of the reasons I am doubtful is
that I agree that no less than ¨45 percent of eligible voters routinely stay
Then again, there is this - which I fear is quite true:
politicians pays off, as two studies dramatically show. One, authored
by Raquel Meyer Alexander, Steven W. Maza, and Susan Schultz, found the
return on investment for lobbying to be 22,000 percent (see; “Measuring
Rates of Return for Lobbying Expenditures: And Empirical Case Study of
Tax Breaks for Multinational Corporations,” Journal of Law and Politics
25, no. 401 (2009): 401–57). That is, for every
dollar spent on lobbying, the companies received $220 in tax benefits.
Another, more recent and comprehensive study examining the two hundred
most politically active companies found
that they got an astounding 76,000 percent return on their
let me put it this way: Most ordinary profits that most firms make are
- net - around 3%. This may also vary a great amount while
it is also true that some firms loose rather than gain, but this seems
to be the average.
what would you do, especially if you were already quite rich, if you
can invest in evidently corrupt politicians, whose bought decisions
will give you a profit of betwee 22,000 % and 76,000 %?!
think that is where American politics is now: Most politicians are
careerists who increase their riches by their corruption, meanwhile
lying about it all.
some exceptions - Warren, Sanders - but these are exceptions -
or that is what I think, indeed because otherwise American politics
becomes totally inunderstandable.
Is This a 'Sex Panic' or a National
Moment of Reckoning? Can’t It Be Both?
This article is by
Andrew O´Hehir on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
As I wrote a few weeks
ago, the “Weinstein moment” created a painful opening for men (and some
women too) to
ask ourselves why we tolerated or excused this kind of
behavior for so long, and what responsibility we had for enabling it. I
covered the movie industry, on and off, for 20 years; I heard the
rumors about Weinstein, about Kevin Spacey, about Brett Ratner.
Everybody did. But I didn’t know those men, except in a severely
limited professional context. They were “sleazy guys,” but I never
looked into it or really even considered doing so. It wasn’t my problem.
I have been interested a
little in Harvey Weinstein, indeed especially because
very ugly (I think), while he also did rather sick things, but I
am not an American nor do I have an American ¨sexual
This article gets
reviewed because since Weinstein there have been quite a few others -
Spacey, Ratner and also Franken and Louis C.K. - who also have been
blamed for misbehaving sexually.
Then again, when I am
faced by questions like this, in a journalistic article, I get doubtful
To frame the question in
bigger and more pretentious terms, what do we know about human
sexuality and gender relations, and how do we know it?
For in fact the vast
majority of the people do
not know much about human sexuality, while most of
what they learned,
in the USA at least, seems to come from their parents or their priests
or their pastors, and none of these are quite enlightened to
start with (for
the most part).
Then there is this:
In that context, it may
be foolish to imagine we can ever reach rational consensus on
inherently fraught and profoundly political questions about sexual
relationships and sexual behavior. “Liberals” and “conservatives,” two
words that themselves barely mean anything anymore, don’t even speak
the same language or share the same understanding of reality.
No, this is bullshit for at
least two reasons:
First, the questions about
¨sexual relationships¨ and ¨sexual behavior¨ are not about ¨politics¨
in virtually any sense I know that term may have - but are about
sexuality, morality and laws. Of
course ¨politics¨ touch on these items
as well, but indirectly.
And secondly O´Hehir either
seems to pretend or else seems to believe that the battle about truth and
has been won by the relativists,
who claim there is no truth
and there is no real science (with much relevance for politics)
both are quite mistaken positions.
5. Why Trump
This article is by Lucian K. Truscott IV on AlterNet and
originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
You want to know
how inured we are to Trump’s lies? A headline in the Washington Post
this week passed almost without notice. “President Trump has made 1628
false or misleading claims in 298 days.” I’ll bet it went right by you,
along with this: “In the past 35 days, Trump has averaged an
astonishing nine claims a day.” That would be false claims, in case you
were wondering. According to the Post’s calculations, Trump has
averaged 5.5 lies a day, putting him “on track to reach 1,999 claims by
the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily
exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month.”
No, I am sorry: I am
reading 35 sites every day to find out what the news is, and I have
read or seen a rather large number of articles that
did make similar points as the Washington Post did.
Then there is this:
But it’s not how
many times Trump has lied that makes him remarkable. It is how he lied,
and why. It would appear that Trump lies instinctively,
automatically, reflexively, almost as a matter of course. But he
doesn’t lie that way at all. Trump tells lies as a way to exercise
power. He used lies to accumulate wealth as a businessman. He used lies
to accumulate votes as a candidate. He used lies to accumulate power as
a president. Now he’s using lies to keep himself from being removed
No, I disagree: Of
course the number of - obvious, self-evident - lies that the
of the USA tells is ¨remarkable¨, if only because very few
or none of the other persons who were president of the
can be plausibly accused of lying as much.
Also, I don´t agree that ¨Trump tells lies as a way to exercise power¨ for at least two reasons:
First, I am a psychologist who agrees with - it seems, currently - over
other psychologists and psychiatrists that Trump is not sane, while
the motives of the insane are more difficult to understand than
those of the sane.
Second, Truscott seems to suggest some rational explanation for
Trump´s lying. I think that is a mistake: A - somewhat -
rational president simply would not lie as much, nor as
glaringly, nor as stupidly as Trump does, even if he was as
authoritarian as Trump is.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which I also
Lies are the way
authoritarians exercise power. If you are governed by a set of rules
and laws, and then tell lies that enable you to break those rules and
laws, the lies give you power. It’s like you’re standing astride the
life of the nation and saying, I know I’m lying. You know I’m lying.
I’m powerful and you’re not. Fuck you.
First, authoritarians who have the power they want do not need
to lie: They simply can lock up or kill anyone (in their territory) who
opposes them. (So Trump does not - as yet, at least - have that power.)
Second, the lies you tell will give you power in ¨a set of
rules and laws¨ only if they are believed. One major problem
with Trump is that many
do not believe his lies, but he insists on telling them
anyway (which is one of the reasons this psychologist thinks he is
And third, while there is something to ¨I know I’m lying. You know I’m lying. I’m
powerful and you’re not. Fuck you.¨ I think in many cases - but not all - Trump
does not know he is lying when he is lying, basically
because he does live in a false made-up ¨reality¨ (where a
black man like Obama must be the inferior of a white man like
Trump, for example).
Anyway - this was not a good explanation of why Trump lies.
 I have now been
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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).
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 gladly admit that I stopped
voting in 1971 (46 years ago). Then again, I am not an average man and
my reasons not to vote in Holland do not matter here and now.
 Here are two remarks on ¨moderates¨:
First, what Hedges says is not about any ¨moderates¨ but is
merely about those who do have some power and who pretend to be
moderates. Second, simply because extremist views are rarely true, I
tend to be more sympathetic to people of moderate views than I am here
- but see the first remark.