from December 27, 2017.
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, December 27,
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 two years (!!!!)
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
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from December 27, 2017
Six Major Legal Battles of 2017 Will Persist
2. Trump Just Kicked off a Global Tax War
3. The Arctic Will Never Be Frozen Again
4. Che, Stalin, Mussolini and the Thinkers Who Loved Them
5. Edward Snowden’s new app helps ward off computer hijackers
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:
Major Legal Battles of 2017 Will Persist in 2018
This article is by Bill Blum on Truthdig. It starts as
Every American president
influences the course of our law and legal institutions through Supreme
Court appointments or by pushing legislation and executive orders. But
few have had as much impact in one year as the current occupant of the
White House, Donald J. Trump.
An intemperate, burgeoning
autocrat swept into office by a hypermasculine nativist revival and
backed by the most rapacious elements of the corporate oligarchy, Trump
has had a hand in shaping all of the year’s biggest legal stories.
At the same time, he has
engendered a dogged resistance in the courts that has slowed and in
some instances blunted his agenda.
The struggles promise to
continue into 2018 and beyond.
I think this is
correct. Here is a preview of the themes Bill Blum treats:
Although it would be
impossible in a single column to catalog all of the legal fault lines
Trump has opened, here are six that should make any list:
More precisely, I give the
titles of the six major battles Blum mentions, but I suppress all
the text: You can read all of it by clicking on item 1:
Then again, here is one
what I think is the most important of the above six items,
namely from the Deconstruction of the Administrative State:
Neil Gorsuch and
the Supreme Court
Deconstruction of the Administrative State
The #MeToo Movement
#FakeNews, the First Amendment and Net
The Mueller Investigation, Presidential
Pardons and the Specter
Yes indeed. There is
considerably more in this interesting article, that is recommended.
The president may be short
on intellectual candlepower, but Steve Bannon, his former chief
strategist, isn’t. At a meeting of the Conservative
Political Action Conference in February, Bannon explained that one
of his—and the president’s—central goals was “the deconstruction of the
What Bannon meant by the
catch phrase was nothing less than the dismantling of the social safety
net and the regulatory framework instituted since the New Deal to protect
the public from the most predatory aspects of the free market.
Although Bannon left the
White House in August, his influence was felt early in Trump’s first
year and lives on. One of Trump’s first
executive orders, signed Jan. 30, required that executive
departments slash two regulations for every new regulation they create.
In addition, Trump has stacked
his administration with Cabinet members and directors dedicated to
undermining the statutory goals and objectives of the agencies they
have been appointed to lead.
Just Kicked off a Global Tax War
article is by James S. Henry on AlterNet and originally on DC Report.
It starts as follows:
Before Trump even signed
the new tax law, there were troubling signs that it is the first shot
in a global tax war that threatens working people and the public
pension plans that sustain them in old age.
The Trump bill, which reads
like a wish list for Goldman Sachs and its clients, has already
triggered an aggressive “race to the bottom” in international corporate
tax rates, rules and regulations. It is the exact opposite of his
campaign promise to help the middle class.
Indeed, and I agree.
Incidentally, the reason that this will cost the middle class a
that the state needs taxes, and if the rich and the corporations pay
less taxes either the middle classes have to pay more taxes to
get the same services or else they have to give up on the
services, such as support for the poor, infra-structure, education etc.
Here are some of the
effects Trump has unleashed outside the USA:
What the mainstream
American news has failed to notice are the global responses, including:
South Korea, Mexico and
Chile are also actively considering corporate tax cuts, in response to
the U.S. measure, my interviews with key global tax analysts around the
I say! I do not quite
understand all the reasons for these changes, but two important ones
are that (1) this will keep the rich and the corporations outside the
competitive with those inside the USA, and besides (2) most of the rich
most of the corporations want to pay as little taxes as possible: They
hate to contribute to anyone but themselves or their own shareholders
and their corporate executives.
And here is one of
aims of the rich and the corporations in the USA:
Congressional Republicans have tried for years to weaken Social
Security and undermine its finances in the hopes they can kill the most
popular social support program in the country. They are expected to
step up their efforts to weaken Social Security, arguing that with the
tax cut legislation there just isn’t enough money to sustain the social
More precisely: The
rich and the corporations want all advantages for themselves, and aim
at destroying all or most of the help the non-rich get from the
There is more in this
article, that is recommended.
Arctic Will Never Be Frozen Again
article is by Eric Holthaus on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:
Last week, at a New Orleans
conference center that once doubled as a storm shelter for thousands
during Hurricane Katrina, a group of polar scientists made a startling
declaration: The Arctic as we once knew it is no more.
The region is now
definitively trending toward an ice-free state, the scientists said,
with wide-ranging ramifications for ecosystems, national security, and
the stability of the global climate system. It was a fitting venue for
an eye-opening reminder that, on its current path, civilization is
engaged in an existential gamble with the planet’s life-support system.
In an accompanying annual
report on the Arctic’s health—titled “Arctic shows no sign of
returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades”—the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees all
official U.S. research in the region, coined a term: “New
I say, which I do
because I did not - quite - know this. Incidentally, here are
remarks on the above quotation:
First, there still is
ice in the Arctic: This is about its (bolding added) "trending toward an ice-free state". But this does seem to be a major
difference, that also is of worldwide significance.
Second, I think
Holthaus is correct in saying that "on its current path, civilization is engaged
in an existential gamble with the planet’s life-support system". In fact, I also think this gamble
has been going on since the 1950ies - see e.g. Aldous
Huxley being interviewed by Mike Wallace on May 18, 1958 - and I
agree it seems to come to this:
Either "civilization" wins, and effectively we are all
dead, or else "the
planet’s life-support system"
wins, and there is a chance of human survival.
Here is more on the
state of the Arctic:
Until roughly a decade or
so ago, the region was holding up relatively well, despite warming at
roughly twice the rate of the planet as a whole. But in recent years,
it’s undergone an abrupt change, which now defines it. The Arctic is
our glimpse of an Earth in flux, transforming into something that’s
radically different from today.
At a press conference
announcing the new assessment, acting NOAA Administrator Timothy
Gallaudet emphasizes the “huge impact” these changes were having on
everything from tourism to fisheries to worldwide weather patterns.
Here are again two remarks on
the above quotation:
First, I have been interested
in "the environment" since 1972, when I first read "The Limits
to Growth", and in fact I
have been expecting these rather sudden changes ever since, mostly
because changes such as these involve enormously many feedback
that keep things going more or less as they were as long as they are
maintained, but may cause many radical and unexpected changes once
are disturbed, which now is the case (if the polar
correct, which I think they very probably are).
And second, I quite agree
with Timothy Gallaudet, and add that my own guess is that there will be
many radical and unexpected changes in the next couple
This is from the ending of
That the Arctic is now a
relic of a time gone by—the first major part of the planet on a
countdown clock—should shock us. It’s one of those facts that those of
us who closely follow climate change knew was coming. And with its
arrival, it is devastating in its totality.
The loss of the Old Arctic
is as close as humanity has come so far to irreversibly transforming
its planet into something fundamentally different than what has given
rise to civilization over the past 10,000 years. This is a terrifying
transition, and one worth mourning. But it’s also a reminder that our
path as individuals and as a society is not fixed.
Yes, I agree. And there
is more in this article, that is recommended.
Stalin, Mussolini and the Thinkers Who Loved Them
article is by Aram Bakshian Jr. on NationalInterest.org. This is from
near the beginning:
Paul Hollander, professor
emeritus of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and
an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at
Harvard, is well qualified to examine the impact and origins of the
twentieth- and twenty-first-century love affair between many members of
the Western intelligentsia and some of the most ruthless, bloody
dictators and political systems of the age. As he explains in his
“This book continues to
explore several of my long-standing and converging interests. They
include totalitarianism, communist systems, intellectuals and politics,
the relationship between the personal and political, between political
ideals and practices, the spiritual problems of modernity, and the
apparently limitless capacity of idealistic human beings, notably
intellectuals, to engage in wishful thinking and substantial political
quite agree with Hollander, but I have three remarks:
as it is currently defined on the Wikipedia, is utter baloney:
A correct definition of it is here. I
suppose Hollander will agree with me, but I do not know it, and
therefore I remarked on it.
what I especially agree with is this:
limitless capacity of idealistic human beings, notably intellectuals,
to engage in wishful thinking and substantial political misjudgments"
Then again, I do not
know from which background Hollander wrote his book, nor do I
know the background of NationalInterest.org, although I suspect the
latter may be conservative (which doesn't matter to me as long as it is
Third, an important reason for me to be interested in the many
intellectuals who were quite mistaken is that both of my parents were
communists for 45 years, which is a position they acquired in the
1930ies and first half of the 1940ies, when my father, my mother and my
father's father were all in the communist resistance against the Nazis.
This also caused my father's
and my grandfather's arrest in June of 1941, and their being convicted
as "political terrorists" to German concentration camps, that my father
survived, but by grandfather did not.
And this also caused my own communist education, which was
somewhat special in that I am the only one with my - quite
thorough - communist
background who gave it all up when I was 20 (before
adult), and I gave it all up mostly because I had been reading Marx and Engels quite
seriously since I was 15 or 16, and found them intellectually mistaken.
As I said, I was the only one with my background who gave it up
at 20: Everybody else I know of with a similar background
remained a member of the Dutch CP until the early or the middle 1980ies.
Here is a bit on Plato (from much more):
PERHAPS WE should blame it
all on Plato. Ever since he introduced his concept of the “philosopher
king,” countless intellectuals have been besotted by the notion of
finding and working hand in hand with the ideal Big Brother, often with
lethal results. “Let there be one man who has a city obedient to his
will, and he might bring into existence the ideal polity about which
the world is so incredulous,” wrote the founding philosopher in his Republic.
Plato named the ideal polity of his dreams “Kallipolis” (Greek for
“beautiful city”). The search for an earthly Kallipolis, and a ruler
with “a love of knowledge, intelligence, reliability and a willingness
to live a simple life”—and, better yet, the opportunity to mold him
with their own hands and then wield power through his—has tempted
intellectuals forever after. Unfortunately, on the few occasions when
the dream seemed to come true, results tended more to the tragic and
absurd than to the productive and uplifting.
Since I am a
philosopher, I know we should not "blame it all on Plato", although I do not like Plato. In fact, I think
Hollander was right when he wrote that some of the main reasons that so
many intellectuals did support totalitarians
(as I define them) are wishful
thinking plus substantial political (ethical, intellectual,
philosophical, scientific) misjudgments.
Indeed, it seems to me
to be especially wishful
thinking that was at fault, which I defined as follows:
inference of conclusions that conform to one's desires because
they conform to one's
desires: "It is so, because I desire it to be so; it
is not so, because I desire it not to be so."
of Wishful Thinking: I desire it were true, therefore it
This is also the schema
that - for example, together with thousands of other proud
Here is some more:
Through it all runs a theme
admirably encapsulated by a valued old acquaintance of mine, the late
Robert Conquest. Hollander quotes Bob’s description of George Orwell.
Orwell’s main concern, he
wrote, “was the gullibility of the intelligentsia. How could so
many educated minds believe all that fantasy and falsification?” It is,
Hollander adds with admirable understatement, “an interest I share.”
I like Robert Conquest,
who also started out as a communist, and especially his "The Great
Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties", but I do not agree
him politically and indeed I am not and never was a conservative. 
This is from the ending
of the article:
To paraphrase Erasmus by
way of Cecil Rhodes: So much folly, so little time. Hollander is a
superb cicerone to what amounts to an intellectual freak show, a
gallery of great minds entranced by even greater villainy. He has
produced a devastating catalogue of the delusional propensities that
led so many modern intellectuals to embrace so many dictators of
varying degrees of infamy.
Yes. And as I said: It
was not a matter of intelligence,
as such, though it was a matter of intellectual self-discipline,
and many intellectuals failed
and instead indulged in years or indeed decades of wishful
And this is a
Snowden’s new app helps ward off computer hijackers
This article is by Nicole Karlis on Salon. It starts as
The world’s most famous whistleblower is turning his focus
to personal computer security. In partnership with the Freedom of
the Press Foundation and a developer collective known as The
Guardian Project, Edward Snowden has announced a new open source app that
can turn your Android phone into a digital watchman to guard your
laptop, computer, or any other device or object that can be tampered
with when you're not looking.
“Haven turns any spare Android phone into a safe room that
fits in your pocket,” Snowden says in the app’s launch video.
“Haven does more than watch your back, it gives you peace of mind.”
for I did not know this. And while I should add that I much
is for me, because I decided that I will not use any
cellphone, and only use Firefox and Thunderbird to access the
internet, while I also am not quite certain this might work on Linux,
which I use as an OS, this certainly is interesting news for
the app can’t physically stop intrusions — it's not a robot
butler, after all — it can give the victim documentation
of said intrusion.
It all sounds quite well,
though the article makes it clear there remain some things that need to
done to Haven.
"If you’re the secret police making people disappear, Haven
changes the calculus of risk you have to go through," Snowden told
Wired. "You have to worry that every possible cell phone might be a
The app is meant to be used on an old Android "burner" phone
— a term used to refer to pay-as-you phones that can be easily bought
or disposed of without a formal contract.
This certainly is an interesting app for everyone who dislikes that his privacy is stolen.
And this is a recommended article.
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 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
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 (!!).
 In fact, it is a bit difficult to
say where I stand politically.
What seems to be the best indication is that I am, indeed consciously
so since I was 21 in 1971, a philosophical
anarchist, and that mainly for two reasons: I like individual
anarchism, but I also think anarchism is very difficult or impossible
to realize as long as human beings remain on average as they are.