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Nederlog

Friday, November 24, 2017

Crisis: "Resistance", Trumpian Judges, Net Neutrality, Democrats, History, ME/CFS

Sections                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 24, 2017 
3. About ME/CFS
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, November 24, 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:

A. Selections from November 24, 2017
1. Thankfully Recommitting to Resistance
2. Trump's Judicial Picks: 'The Goal Is to End the Progressive State'
3. How Gutting Net Neutrality Poses a Direct Threat to Political
     Organizing

4. National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
5. The End of the End of History
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. Thankfully Recommitting to Resistance

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

Last Thanksgiving I wrote a column titled, “No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along,” in which I committed myself to resisting this travesty of a man, proclaiming, “I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.”

I made this promise: “As long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.”

I have kept that promise, not because it was a personal challenge, but because this is a national crisis.

I say, but not really, for I think this sounds a bit empty and a bit personal, and it is by a prominent journalist of The New York Times.

Here are some more mostly personal statements by Blow:

Donald Trump, I thought that your presidency would be a disaster. It’s worse than a disaster. I wasn’t sure that resistance to your weakening of the republic, your coarsening of the culture, your assault on truth and honesty, your erosion of our protocols, would feel as urgent today as it felt last year. But if anything, that resistance now feels more urgent.

Nothing about you has changed for the better. You are still a sexist, bigoted, bullying, self-important simpleton. But now all of the worst of you has the force of the American presidency.

And this is the last bit I quote from this article, which seems a bit better:

The legitimacy of your presidency is in question. The corruption of your administration is not. You are a national stain and an international embarrassment. You are anti-intellectual and pro-impulse. The same fingers with which you compulsively tweet are dangerously close to the nuclear codes. You are historically unpopular and history will not be kind to you. It is all so dizzyingly distressing.

In any case, here is my reason why I believe at most half of Blow's assurances: It is all based - quite explicitly, also - on Blow's feelings much rather than on factual evidence.

Besides, as the son and grandson of two heroes of the Dutch resistance against Nazism in WW II, I think "Resistance" is a bit abused in the USA, but I will leave this point aside simply because I do not know anyone else other than my brother with that kind of background. (They do exist - persons with a father and a grandfather in German concentration camps because they resisted the Nazis - but they are quite rare anywhere.)


2. Trump's Judicial Picks: 'The Goal Is to End the Progressive State'

This article is by Jamiles Larty on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian. This is from near the beginning:

(..) [T]he makeup of America’s judges is quietly becoming the site of one of Trump’s most unequivocal successes: nominating and installing judges who reflect his own worldview at a speed and volume unseen in recent memory. Trump could conceivably have handpicked more than 30% of the nation’s federal judges before the end of his first term, his advisers have suggested, and independent observers agree.

“The president himself has said that he expects this to be one of his major legacies. He is going to reshape the bench for generations to come,” said Douglas Keith, counsel with the fair courts arm of the Brennan Center for Justice.

Yes indeed. Here is some more on this topic:

Until recently little attention has been paid to Trump’s judicial appointments. But Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and a member of the Senate judiciary committee, identified the importance of these appointments early on. In June he said: “This will be the single most important legacy of the Trump administration. They will quickly be able to put judges on circuit courts all over the country, district courts all over the country, that will, given their youth and conservatism, have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of American law for decades.

Again: Yes indeed. Here is a sum-up:

But supreme court justices represent just a small percentage of the broader federal judiciary, with roughly 850 seats in regional federal courts nationwide. In many cases, it is these jurists that have the final say on the law of the land in the US, since the supreme court only hears a relatively small number of cases every year.

And for these posts, Trump’s candidates have been whiter, more male and, according to the American Bar Association, less qualified than any incoming cohort in decades.

“I think the goal is to end the progressive state as we know it,” said Baher Azmy, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a progressive-leaning legal advocacy group.

I completely agree with Baher Azmy and this is a recommended article.


3. How Gutting Net Neutrality Poses a Direct Threat to Political Organizing

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on AlterNet, and originally on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai issued a major order Tuesday in which he outlined his plan to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet. Pai wants to repeal net neutrality rules that bar internet service providers from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites and stop companies from charging extra fees for high-quality streaming. A formal vote on the plan is set for December 14th. We speak with Tim Karr, Senior Director of Strategy for Free Press, which is organizing support to keep the rules in place ahead of the vote.
Here is first some more om Ajit Pai:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai issued a major order Tuesday titled “Restoring Internet Freedom,” in which he outlined his plan to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet. Pai described his plan to overturn rules put in place by the Obama administration during an interview with the Heritage Foundation.

AJIT PAI: Essentially, my proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s heavy-handed regulations adopted two years ago on a party-line vote that regulated the Internet. And what I’m proposing to do is to get rid of those regulations.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Pai’s proposal would repeal net neutrality rules that bar internet service providers from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites, and stop companies from charging extra fees for high-quality streaming.
Quite so. And here is Tim Karr:

TIM KARR: This is one of the most extreme proposals we’ve seen this FCC, which is saying a lot, because there have been a number of very extreme proposals over the last six months including efforts to roll back broadband subsidies for working families, efforts to knock away media ownership rules that would allow a company like Sinclair to control local television. This goes even further. It takes away the essential protection that Internet users have to ensure that their online connections aren’t blocked, aren’t throttled, or that their communications aren’t censored in any way.

I mean, really what this is about is the future of communications. The internet is remarkable because it puts that control, the control over media in the hands of internet users. What Ajit Pai is proposing to do is take that away from internet users and hand it to a handful of companies, companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, who have designs on the Internet that are not in the best interest of people like you and me.

Please note Karr's "It takes away the essential protection that Internet users have to ensure that their online connections aren’t blocked, aren’t throttled, or that their communications aren’t censored in any way":

In fact, the internet is censored already, e.g. by anonymous censors of Facebook, that use unknown rules and unknown programs, but the point is also that one's online connections soon may be blocked or throttled by anonymous persons using anonymous rules for anonymous reasons.

Here is some more by Karr:

TIM KARR: Well, the Internet was created as this network where, where there were no gatekeepers. Essentially, anyone who goes online can connect with everyone else online. And that’s given rise to all sorts of innovation, it’s allowed political organizers, and racial justice advocates to use this tool to contact people, to organize, to get their message out.

What Pai is proposing is to take that principle, net neutrality, out of the network and allow these very powerful companies to insert themselves as gatekeepers.
In fact, this is about freedom, personal privacies and censorship, and in fact all personal freedom and all personal privacies are threatened a billionfold more than in previous times, simply because now a few totally anonymous people working for secret services or big corporations can block most personal freedoms one did have before the internet (basically because one's personal privacy could not be stolen nor be abused, while with the internet they can, all in the deepest secret as well).

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


4. National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Seeking to capitalize on the Republicans’ disarray, public cruelty and Trumpitis, the Democratic Party is gearing up for the Congressional elections of 2018. Alas, party leaders are likely to enlist the same old cast and crew. 

The Democratic National Committee and their state imitators are raising money from the same old big donors and PACs that are complicit in the Party’s chronic history of losing so many Congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races—not to mention the White House. 

The large, embattled unions are preparing to spend millions on television ads and unimaginative get-out-the-vote efforts, without demanding fresh pro-worker/pro-union agendas from the Democratic politicians they regularly endorse. 

The same old political consulting firms, which also consult profitably for corporations, are revving up their defeat-prone tactics and readying their practice of blaming the candidates—their clients—when their strategies and lucrative ad buys don’t work.

Yes indeed. In fact, my own ideas about the Democratic Party may be more radical than Nader's, for I believe that the vast majority of the Democrats has been corrupted by the Clintons from the 1990ies onwards, for the Clintons mostly worked for the rich bankers and also were very well rewarded by the big bankers.

And this, that is the explicit and obvious corruption of most Democratic politicians has been the real end that moved the Democratic Party all the time since Clinton ceased being president: Being a politician has become an excellent means for becoming quite rich oneself, and that also seems the best way of understanding most politicians.

There have been a few critics:

Trenchant and prescient criticism of the Democratic Party by its own prime loyalists goes back many years. In 1970, John Kenneth Galbraith, eminent economist, author and adviser to John F. Kennedy, wrote an article for Harper’s, warning about the decline of the Party’s representation of the people’s interest. Twenty years later, Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, wrote a column in the Washington Post calling the Democratic Party “dead.”

But thirty years later (!!) Robert Reich still has not given up the Democratic Party.

And here is the obvious beginning of the grand corruption that corrupted most of the leading members of the Democratic Party:

The other milestone event in 1979 that has turned into a disastrous millstone around the Democratic Party’s neck was the party leadership accepting California Congressman Tony Coelho’s strenuous urging that it start pushing hard for the same corporate campaign cash that the Republicans had long solicited. The full-throated devouring of cash register corporate politics was the final slide into the pit of institutional corruption for the Democrats.

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


5. The End of the End of History

This article is by Klaus Brinkbäumer on Spiegel International. This is from near the beginning:
After the collapse of communism in 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote "The End of History," by which he meant the triumph of Western values. Soon the entire world would be democratized, the victorious political order seemed clear.

How absurd that worldview seems now, in November 2017.

Since September 2001, the West has made a number of missteps. There were the aimless interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. There was the self-inflicted economic crisis of 2008, which was actually not a global disaster but a trans-Atlantic one, as China, Indonesia and India all continued to grow. For too many years we have clearly demonstrated to non-democratic states that democracy may no longer be reliable and is far too fragile: It installs incompetent leaders like Donald Trump in power and leads to blunders like Brexit. It has long been clear that democracy is slow, but now it's obvious that it also makes terrible mistakes.
In fact, I thought Fukuyama was publishing bullshit as soon as I read it (in 1989), while the rest of these introductory paragraphs are also neither very good nor very clear. (E.g.: Who is the "self" in "the self-inflicted economic crisis of 2008"?! It certainly wasn't me, nor indeed any of the non-rich, who are in the vast majority.)

Then there is this:

It must first be said that the government crisis, which has arisen out of the failed coalition talks, is not a crisis of state - at least not yet. A caretaker government is in office, the federal president is exhibiting prudence, the country's economy is robust, and the system is working as it should. Even the chancellor - whose enthusiasm for political communication is limited at best and whose 12 years of leadership have brought the country to where it finds itself today - is proceeding carefully and maturely.

The Social Democrats, meanwhile, twice hastily - indeed, childishly - rejected the idea of joining Merkel in a coalition. There is now no safe way back.
This means - at least in my opinion - that the title of this article is vastly exaggerated.
Here is some more, and again it is rather vague:
In human history, there has hardly ever been such a rapid rise - which really is just a return to form - as that of China over the past 30 years. The country has long since begun financing other states without paying attention to issues like democracy and human rights: The old "Washington Consensus," is being replaced by the "Beijing Consensus."
In fact, I don't even have an idea what Brinkbäumer means by the "Washington Consensus" or by the "Beijing Consensus": Consensus by whom? Consensus on what?
I really have no idea (while knowing a lot about politics).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The idea that democracy was somehow the endpoint of development was megalomaniac. As long as there is something to redistribute, every system has it easy. But in the past 11 years, freedom around the world has receded. Of 195 states only 87 are still free, 59 are partially free and 49 are not free at all according to the NGO Freedom House.
Why does one write down a pretty crazy statement that "[t]he idea that democracy was somehow the endpoint of development was megalomaniac"?!

I suppose that the reason for
Brinkbäumer are Fukuyama's crazy ideas (although I miss the link to megalomania) but I never believed them, nor did I ever believe that "democracy" was an end of history or an end of society, simply because "democracy" is both too vague and not individual enough: I am and was always primarily interested in individual freedom (under law) and equality of rights and laws for all.

There is more about "freedom" in the last paragraph, but again I do not quite understand what
Brinkbäumer means by "freedom", although I guess it has much to do with what he calls "democracy".

Then again neither concept is clear, and I think the same is true of this article.


3. About ME/CFS

The following article is not about politics but is about the disease I have now since 1.1.1979. I have been discriminated now for nearly forty years, precisely as everyone else with ME/CFS: We have been told consistently by most medics that we are not sane because we believe that we are really ill (which is a very classical way of blaming the victim). "Therefore" - according to the vast majority of the medics, each of whom must be, in his or her own estimate, a superhuman genius who knows absolutely everything there is to know about human beings and human diseases - the many millions with ME/CFS are insane ("psychosomatizers" etc.) [2]

I have heard that story for nearly forty years now, and my own conclusion is that 90% of the doctors I saw are total incompetents (and quite dangerous to their patients) - and in fact I am only applying ordinary statistics when I say so. [3]

And at long last there is evidence that it is a real disease - evidence that could have been found forty years ago, if only the vast majority of medical people had not decided that they like the utter and total pseudoscience of psychiatry much more than doing real science themselves, and that they know everything these is to now about human beings and human diseases:
In fact, I will only print the abstract because very few people will be interested:

Abstract

Gulf War Illness (GWI) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) have similar profiles of pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and exertional exhaustion. Post-exertional malaise suggests exercise alters central nervous system functions. Lumbar punctures were performed in GWI, CFS and control subjects after (i) overnight rest (nonexercise) or (ii) submaximal bicycle exercise. Exercise induced postural tachycardia in one third of GWI subjects (Stress Test Activated Reversible Tachycardia, START). The remainder were Stress Test Originated Phantom Perception (STOPP) subjects. MicroRNAs (miRNA) in cerebrospinal fluid were amplified by quantitative PCR. Levels were equivalent between nonexercise GWI (n = 22), CFS (n = 43) and control (n = 22) groups. After exercise, START (n = 22) had significantly lower miR-22-3p than control (n = 15) and STOPP (n = 42), but higher miR-9-3p than STOPP. All post-exercise groups had significantly reduced miR-328 and miR-608 compared to nonexercise groups; these may be markers of exercise effects on the brain. Six miRNAs were significantly elevated and 12 diminished in post-exercise START, STOPP and control compared to nonexercise groups. CFS had 12 diminished miRNAs after exercise. Despite symptom overlap of CFS, GWI and other illnesses in their differential diagnosis, exercise-induced miRNA patterns in cerebrospinal fluid indicated distinct mechanisms for post-exertional malaise in CFS and START and STOPP phenotypes of GWI. 

I say. In fact, there are also some earlier medical arguments that people with ME/CFS are genuinely ill, and I wrote about them e.g. on February 25, 2017

------------------------------
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] Clearly, I would not mind being called - effectively - insane by most medics I went to for help for myself and my ex (also still ill, nearly forty years later) if these were mere personal judgements.

But they are not: These personal judgements are copied as if they are God's Very Own Wisdom by all (medically and intellectually usually utterly unqualified) bureaucrats who do treat you as if you are insane, and also thereby steal much of the money you would have been entitled to if you had been declared ill.

[3] I knew only about the existence of M.E. (as it was then called, and as I think is still the best name for it) more than ten years after both my ex and myself got it.

The main reason was that none of the circa 30 medical doctors my ex and I had seen between 1979 and 1983, all of whom were supposed to be "medical specialists", knew about the existence of M.E. even though it had been quite clearly described in medical articles by an English medic in 1965.

I did not know this until ca. 2000, but my inference about medical (in)competence is an evident statistical generalization from my experiences: If you want to see a medically qualified doctor in Holland, your chances are about 1 in 10. The rest are incompetent liars who seem to be much more interested in money for themselves than in health for their patients.
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