from November 20, 2018
Bit (John Oliver)
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
I have been
writing about the crisis since September
1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) 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 more than 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
I shall continue.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from November 20, 2018:
1. Are We About to Face Our Gravest Constitutional
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:
2. ‘Message of Change’: 16 Rebel Democrats Vow to Oppose Pelosi
3. Ginsburg’s Ribs and the Future of SCOTUS
4. James Risen: Trump Is Attacking Free Press 'In a Way We
in Modern American History'
5. Failing to Learn the Lessons of 2018
We About to
Face Our Gravest Constitutional Crisis?
This article is by
Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Before this lame-duck
Congress adjourns in December we could face the most serious
constitutional crisis in the history of the republic if Donald Trump
attempts to shut down the investigation by special counsel Robert S.
A supine and pliant
Republican Party, still in control of the House and the Senate, would
probably not challenge Trump. The Supreme Court, which would be the
final arbiter in any legal challenge to the president, would probably
not rule against him. And his cultish followers, perhaps 40 million
Americans, would respond enthusiastically to his trashing of democratic
institutions and incitements of violence against the press, the
Democratic Party leadership, his critics and all who take to the
streets in protest. The United States by Christmas, if Trump plays this
card, could become a full-blown authoritarian state where the rule of
law no longer exists and the president is a despot.
It certainly is quite
possible that Trump will try to shut down Robert Mueller's
investigation, and I agree this would be quite problematic.
Then again, I do not think I quite accept that in that case "The United States by Christmas" will "become a full-blown authoritarian state where
the rule of law no longer exists and the president is a despot".
In fact, Hedges did not
write "will" (which is what I wrote, because I am not a fan of
political speculation that cannot be refuted), for he wrote "could".
But with "could" we firstly do not have a prediction which may be falsified,
and secondly, I agree with Hedges that the situation with Trump
as president is serious enough:
Yes indeed, and this is
all quite true - and incidentally, see item B below,
which is about authoritarianism, including Trump's.
Trump has flouted the
Constitution since taking office. He has obstructed justice by firing
the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, and
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing Sessions with the Trump
partisan Matthew Whitaker. The president regularly ridicules the
Mueller investigation and insults its leader. In a tweet last week he
called the investigation a “witch hunt,” a “total mess” and “absolutely
nuts,” and he went on to assert that Mueller and his investigators were
“screaming and shouting at people” to make them provide “the answers
they want.” He called those involved in the probe “a disgrace to our
He has repeatedly delivered
diatribes against the press as “the enemy of the people,” belittled,
mocked and insulted reporters during press conferences and defended his
revoking of the White House press
credentials of a CNN reporter. He and his family openly use the
presidency for self-enrichment, often by steering lobbyists and foreign
officials to Trump’s hotels and golf courses. He has peddled numerous
conspiracy theories to discredit U.S. elections and deployed military
troops along the southern border to resist an “invasion” of migrants.
Here is more:
However, an attempt
to fire Mueller and shut down the investigation would obliterate the
Constitution as a functional document. There would be one last gasp of
democracy by those of us who protest. It is not certain we would
Well... in the first place
I do not think there is any agreement or indeed any clarity
about what would "obliterate
the Constitution as a functional document". And in the second place, if you were to ask me,
I think this has happened in 2010, with the
Citizen's United case, when the majority of the Supreme Court
decided (in effect, and minus legalistic evasions) that money =
votes and that corporations = persons.
I think that was an utterly insane decision, if considered on
its judicial principles, but then again I do not think the
judicial principles (which were essentially raped) were important: What
was important is that this decision would make the few rich very much
more powerful, which is what the Republicans wanted, and by that time
Republican judges in the Supreme Court had the majority, and decided to
give the Republicans what they wanted.
In other words, it was all politics, dressed up as if
Back to the article. Here is more by Hedges:
“Trump knows once
the Democrats control the House, they can subpoena the records of his
administration,” Ralph Nader said when I reached him by phone in
Connecticut. “He’s going to want to get this over with, even if it
sparks a constitutional crisis, while the Republicans still control the
Congress. There’s little doubt this will all come to a head before the
Christmas holidays. Unfortunately for Mueller, he has not issued a
subpoena to the president that would have protected him [Mueller]. If
he had issued a subpoena, which he has every right to do, especially
after being rebuffed in hours and hours of private negotiations for
information from the president, he would be protected. Once you issue a
subpoena, you have a lot of law on your side. If Trump defied a
subpoena, he would get in legal hot water. But short of a subpoena,
it’s just political back and forth. By not issuing a subpoena Mueller
is more vulnerable to Whitaker and Trump.”
I respect Nader a lot, but
this strikes me as speculation. It may well be true, but that I
do not know.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
“Trump is in a
dimension by himself,” said Nader. “He has inured the public to all
kinds of scandals, bad language, accusations, admissions, harassment of
women, boasting about it, lying about his business and keeping his tax
returns a secret. You have to have an even higher level of damning
materials in the [Mueller] report in order to breach that level of
inurement that the public has become accustomed to.”
Yes, that is
undoubtedly true. And this is a recommended article, although I doubt I
quite agree with it.
of Change’: 16 Rebel Democrats Vow to Oppose Pelosi
This article is by
Julie Hirschfeld Davis on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
A rebellious group
of 16 Democrats went public on Monday with their opposition to electing
Representative Nancy Pelosi speaker when the new Congress convenes in
January, taking the first formal step in a bid to force a leadership
shake-up that could change the face of their party.
I think I quite agree with
the "rebellious group of
16 Democrats", but I did not
read their letter, and 16 rebellious Democrats does not
appear as a
lot, at least not in my eyes.
is also exposing significant divisions just as Democrats take the
In a letter to Democratic
colleagues, 11 lawmakers and four newly elected members of the House
declared that “the time has come for new leadership,” and said they
would vote accordingly both when their party meets next week for an
internal round of secret balloting to choose leaders and in a floor
vote in January.
Here is a bit from the letter they wrote to their colleagues:
are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our country
and our caucus,” they wrote, calling Ms. Pelosi “a historic figure
whose leadership has been instrumental to some of our party’s most
important legislative achievements.”
the signers said Democrats had won this month’s midterm elections on a
“message of change.”
majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would
support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across
the country, want to see real change in Washington,” the letter said.
“We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that
I think this is all correct, and this is about the
facts in the House:
Well... I said that "16 rebellious Democrats does not appear
as a lot" and this
is shown here: If
all 435 members of the House were present and voting, Ms. Pelosi would
need a majority of 218 to be elected speaker. Democrats now control 232
seats, according to The New York Times’s latest count, meaning that 16 defectors would be enough
to deny her the post. Still, the numbers could change, with four races
yet to be called.
who had collected 17 signatures on the letter as of late last week had
hoped to demonstrate more opposition to Ms. Pelosi, holding off on
releasing it so they could draw 20 or more names; their decision to put
it out Monday with fewer names than they had originally raised
questions about whether the effort was flagging.
the list of potential “no” votes is longer.
just 1 of the 16 decides to vote for Pelosi, she very probably
There also seems to be a bit of an age difference. Here are
some politicians of the
ages which Pelosi, who is 78, supports:
H. Hoyer of Maryland, 79, is running to reclaim his former spot as
majority leader, and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina,
78, is seeking to return to the No. 3 position as whip. Ms. Pelosi
endorsed both Monday, confirming that she means to keep the
longstanding top-three lineup.
In contrast, the rebellious Democrats all are in their
forties of fifties, or younger. But I think this may be incidental. And
while I am much against Pelosi as an elected speaker (and much against
Schumer, Perez and Hillary Clinton) I do not at all know
will loose as the new speaker, while my guess is (unfortunately) that
she will win. And this is a recommended article.
Ribs and the Future of SCOTUS
is by Bill Blum on Truthdig and originally on The Progressive. This is
from near its start:
First as to Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
She is a Democrat, who have the minority in the Supreme Court; she
recently broke three of her ribs; and she is 85.
Even before Ginsburg’s
accident, the prospect of her departure from the court prompted calls
from liberal activists and some prominent law professors to revive
Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing plan of the New Deal era. Some
writers on the left, like Current Affairs columnist Vanessa Bee, argue
that “court packing is necessary to save democracy.”
While no doubt controversial,
such a plan may be the best—and possibly only—way to counter
conservative domination of the Supreme Court, which will otherwise
continue for decades to come. But implementation won’t be easy. It will
require the Democrats to take back both the presidency and the Senate
Next about the Supreme
Court: I think its major shortcoming is that its judges
nominated for life - which also seems to be the only case
the world. I think that rule has to go, and I think that judges to the
Supreme Court should be nominated for 6 to 10 years (after which they
could be renominated once).
But this is not the case, and it will also be difficult
And given that, and given the fact that the Supreme Court by now is
more political than legal, I think that court packing (which was
considered by Roosevelt in the 1930ies, but not instituted) may be a
Here is some background:
Under the Constitution’s
“advice and consent” clause, only the Senate has the power to approve
or reject federal judicial nominations. Because the Senate eliminated
the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominations in 2017 to clear the
way for Neil Gorsuch’s elevation, the upper chamber exercises that
power by a simple majority vote. The House gets no say.
With the Supreme Court
already tilting decisively to the right, any further attrition of its
liberal membership could make the tribunal more conservative than it
has been at any time seen since the Gilded Age. Even with the court’s
present five-four conservative majority, a host of core liberal
precedents are at risk, ranging from affirmative action and abortion
rights to environmental protections, wage and hour standards, voting
rights, and same-sex marriage.
Yes indeed. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
The advantage of expanding
the number of Supreme Court justices is that expansion only requires an
act of Congress.
The Constitution does not
establish the number of justices. That determination is up to Congress.
If the Democrats reclaim the
Senate and hold onto the House, they could abolish or amend the
remaining filibuster rules that still apply to pending legislation and
increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court by a majority vote
in both chambers. A Democratic president could then sign enabling
legislation into law.
Yes. Meanwhile, all
this is quite uncertain, and the Supreme Court probably will remain
conservative and pro-Republican in majority, and may remain so for
next thirty years if no changes are made. And this is a recommended
Risen: Trump Is Attacking Free Press 'In a Way We Haven't Seen in
Modern American History'
is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Speaking from his years of
experience being pursued by the Obama Justice Department for simply
practicing journalism and refusing
to reveal his confidential sources, Intercept reporter
James Risen told The
Hill on Monday that President Donald Trump is building on his
on the free press by "demagoguing" the media "in a way we haven't
seen in modern American history."
"Obama tried to put me in
jail for seven years... A lot of conservatives try to point to me as an
example of Obama on press freedom and I fully agree with the view that
he had a terrible record on press freedom," Risen said. "The difference
with Trump is that he is demagoguing the issue in a way we haven't seen
in modern American history."
Yes, I think Risen is
quite correct. Here is more:
Trump, Risen said, is
"going to the people constantly to try to destroy their belief in the
press and I think the Acosta incident is really just a symbol of
that—it's a symbol of an attempt to discredit not only CNN
but the entire press corps in Washington and really more generally the
press all over the country."
As Common Dreams reported,
in addition to the White House's attacks on CNN, Trump's
Justice Department also inadvertently revealed in a court filing that
it has secretly charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been
living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid
extradition to the U.S. for publishing classified and embarrassing
information that the American government was keeping secret from the
Journalists and civil
liberties advocates immediately decried the unspecified charges as a
dire threat to the free press.
Quite so, and this is a
to Learn the Lessons of 2018
is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. This is from near its beginning:
I think this is quite
correct. Here is more - and also see item 2:
In many ways, ballot
initiatives are a better measure of how popular progressive issues are
with the American voter because they separate the issues from party
affiliation, or identification with a particular incumbent.
Even in deep red states,
progressive ballot initiatives won handily. For example, initiatives to
raise the minimum wage won in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri in
2018. Doesn’t get much redder than that. And that’s on top
of eleven minimum wage ballot initiatives the voters passed between
2004 and 2016, many in red states.
Similarly, initiatives on
criminal justice reform, progressive budget reforms, Medicare
extension, voter re-enfranchisement, and anti-gerrymandering were on
the ballots in blue and red states, and all passed, and most enjoyed
majority support from both parties. In blue California, voters
overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to repeal the gas tax, and in
deep red Utah, a measure to establish an independent redistricting
commission looks like it will win.
Because here’s the dirty
little secret centrist Democrats, conservatives and oligarchs don’t
want you to know: on
an issue-by-issue basis, the overwhelming majority of Americans are
There’s a reason this
hasn’t translated into votes and victories. First, almost no one has
been representing a progressive position since Reagan and the DLC
highjacked politics and handed the process over to the oligarchy.
You can’t beat something with nothing, and the Democrats offered
nothing but tactics, identity politics, and nano-issues.
Which brings us to the
second reason progressivism hasn’t done well since the days of the
Great Society – values. By choosing identity politics, “winning
issues,” and clever tactics like “triangulating,” rather than a more
broadly structured appeal to use the power of government to achieve the
common good, the Democrats essentially played into the hands of the
Republican’s divide and conquer strategy.
I think this is also quite
correct, and especially the fact that the Democrats did NOT "appeal to use the power of government to achieve the
common good", which in fact is
one of the most important differences between (real ) Democrats and
Republicans (who are nearly all against government and for
This article ends as follows:
Well... I agree in
principle that all these things "can" (or could) be done, but I think
it also is too optimistic, at least as long as Pelosi, Schumer, Perez
and Clinton rule the Democrats, for they are mostly - in fact - against
most of the above. But this is a recommended article.
There is a progressive
momentum in America right now. And that means we can do great
things again. We can pass single payer health care; we can
protect and expand Social Security; we can stop stupid and costly wars;
we can tackle climate change; we can raise up and restore the average
citizen’s hopes and prospects by creating a level playing field for
all; we can rebuild our crumbling infrastructure; and we can make our
educational system—once the envy of the world—affordable and excellent,
And yes, these things are
affordable. By ending stupid wars, cutting the obscenely bloated
defense budget, imposing a small transaction fee on the sale of stocks
and securities, raising taxes on the uber wealthy, increasing the tax
on corporations, upping the inheritance tax to where it was for decades
(while protecting farmers and folks with less than $5 million estates);
and by removing the cap on income that now protects the wealthy from
paying their fair share into the payroll tax system supporting Social
Security, all these things are possible, without blowing up the deficit.
But if what passes for your
“big ideas” are de minimus stratagems and tactics like “paygo” or a
freeze on middle class tax cuts, then I’m sorry, but you’ve got to go.
This is a time for vision and courage, not stratagems and caution.
B. Extra Bit (John Oliver)
is by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
"There's a pretty good
chance you may have been watching the news at some point this year and
found yourself wondering, 'What the fuck is happening in the world and
That's how John Oliver started
his "Last Week Tonight" monologue on authoritarianism this week. With
his characteristic humor-filled, informative style, the comedian went
on to analyze three traits that authoritarians in power across the
globe share in order to come to grips with why they're so appealing to
voters. Oliver also tried to determine whether the U.S. is headed in
the same harrowing direction as are one third of the countries on earth.
Yes indeed and here is
Oliver's program from last Sunday:
It is strongly
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 (!!).