from January 18, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
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.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from January 18, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Would the Air Force Let Airman Trump Near a Nuclear Weapon?
2. What's Killing America's Middle Class?
3. We Asked Ethics Experts About Trump’s Worst Abuses During
Year In Office
4. Democrats Also Voted to Shut Down Debate on Trump
5. Twitter Rock Star Obama’s Silence Must Delight Trump
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:
the Air Force Let Airman Trump Near a Nuclear Weapon?
This article is by Steven Buser, who is a clinical psychiatrist and
former major in the U.S. army. It starts as follows:
This is indeed also what I
would have expected, although I think I can explain, in part at least,
commander-in-chief, the one who would decide when and how to use those
weapons, is the only individual in the chain who is not
subject to the
ongoing certification" of
the Nuclear Personnel Reliability Program:
psychiatrist for the United States Air Force, one of my
responsibilities was evaluating the mental stability of airmen who
handled nuclear weapons, using the standards laid out in what is called
the Nuclear Personnel Reliability Program. There is no need to justify
why our military would take every precaution necessary to ensure that
the men and women in uniform handling nuclear weapons were fit to do
so, whether they were in charge of a missile silo or loading nuclear
bombs onto aircraft — or giving the orders to them, on up the chain of
command. Strangely, the commander-in-chief, the one who would decide
when and how to use those weapons, is the only individual in the chain
who is not subject to the ongoing certification under the program.
According to the program, or
P.R.P., personnel who handle nuclear weapons are held to higher
standards of physical and mental readiness than other personnel, and
The president is the Commander in Chief, but he is not
a military man, does not stand under military discipline, and
is essentially the president because he got elected by the majority
(in the Electoral College), also without any check on his
capacities or mental health.
The problem is that the Commander in Chief has the full powers
to end human civilization, and may do so all by himself.
Here is some more:
What if President
Trump were, instead, Airman Trump, and was to be assessed under the
program’s guidelines; would I certify him as “P.R.P. ready” to work in
the vicinity of nuclear weapons?I have not had the opportunity to
examine the president personally, but warning signs abound. What if I
had reliable outside information that Airman Trump displayed erratic
emotions? That I saw very clearly that he was engaging in cyberbullying
on Twitter? That he had repeatedly made untruthful or highly distorted
statements? That his language implied he engaged in sexually abusive
behavior? That he appeared paranoid about being surveilled or
persecuted by others, that he frequently disregarded or violated the
rights of others?
In fact, I think this is
the right way of approaching the question: As a psychiatrist
work for the army) you wonder whether the Commander in Chief is as fit
to make his decisions as those you have to test as “P.R.P. ready” - and it is evidently
indeed without anything like a psychiatric diagnosis, that the
president of the USA is very probably not fit:
We’ve been here a
few times before, but unlike those other times our commander-in-chief
adds, without equivocation, to this angst almost daily with his words
and actions. We have always assumed that the person at the top has the
mental fitness to meet whatever standards the Air Force set for the
rest of the chain of command. What keeps me up at night? The
realization that, at the worst possible time, we have a chief executive
who I believe would probably fail the P.R.P.
Here is the ending of Busen's
including Mr. Trump, should have the unilateral power to begin a
nuclear war. Congress must protect the American people, and taking away
the option of an impulsive first strike nuclear attack is a clear and
sane way to prevent a dangerous and insane result.
Yes, I agree, although
currently that is not a solution. But I agree with Steven
Busen and this is a recommended article.
Killing America's Middle Class?
This article is by Jim Hightower on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
It is said that the rich
and poor will always be among us—but nowhere is it written that the
middle class is a sure thing.
Even in this country of
grand egalitarian aspirations, where the common yeoman (neither rich
nor poor) has been hailed from 1776 forward as America's greatest
strength, the U.S. actually had no broad middle class until one was
created in the 1930s and '40s. Before then, most Americans either lived
in poverty or right next door.
And, yes, "created" is the
correct term for how our middle class came to be, with two historic
forces of social transformation pushing it. First, the widespread
economic devastation of the Great Depression created a grassroots
rebellion of labor, farmers, poor people, the elderly and others
against the careless moneyed class that caused the crash. These forces
produced FDR and his New Deal of Social Security, worker rights and
protections, consumer laws, anti-monopoly restraints and other policies
that put government on the side of the people, empowering them to
counter much of the corporate greed preventing their upward mobility.
Second, the government's
national mobilization for World War II created an explosion of new
jobs, growth and opportunities for millions who'd long been blocked
from sharing in our nation's prosperity. The war effort opened people's
eyes, boosted confidence and raised expectations, leading to a post-war
rise in unionism, passage of the GI Bill, a housing boom and a doubling
of the median family income in only 30 years. In short, by the late
1970s, we had created a middle class that included nearly 60 percent of
This is a fairly long
quotation (for Nederlog) but I kept it because it does seem correct
me and to be so in relatively brief compass:
Yes, the American middle
class was created in good part by Franklin
Delano Roosevelt in the
1930ies, and by John Maynard
Keynes and most American
politicians - both Democrats and Republicans - between 1946
Also, this was a political and legal
creation, much rather than the outgrowth
technological or economical development, which raises the far
more general questions
(i) why one should not try to design the society one desires by
politics and law, and
(ii) why one should not try to limit the amounts of power and
wealth individuals may own.
And I think one can, and indeed should, if one wants to prevent
the authoritarian and totalitarian
rule of a handful of extremely rich
men, but I also refer the interested reader to my Crisis: Robert Reich,
Socialism, 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis and especially to the part on -
democratic - socialism there.
Here I return to
Hightower's article that proceeds to give the reasons why the
middle class was attacked from 1980 onwards:
Then—pffft—the momentum was
gone. Beginning in the 1980s, right-wing Republicans and Democratic
comparatists switched sides, and ever since they've increasingly
allowed corporate lobbyists and campaign donors to disempower America's
workaday majority, further enrich themselves and impose an abominable,
un-American culture of inequality across our land.
Just as progressives
deliberately pushed public policies to create the middle class, so are
today's economic royalists deliberately pushing plutocratic policies to
destroy it. That is the momentous struggle that calls us to action this
I think that is correct.
here is the end of the article:
What we have here is
plutocracy in action—the precious few are intentionally knocking down
and locking down the many to further enrich themselves. This is the
reason that the social cancer of inequality is spreading so rampantly
in America, devouring the very middle class that Trump & Company
are using, ironically and cynically, as an Orwellian rational for
passing their plutocratic agenda.
Yes indeed, and this is
a strongly recommended article.
Asked Ethics Experts About Trump’s Worst Abuses During His First Year
This article is by Andy Kroll on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:
No president in modern
history has run roughshod over the laws, guidelines, and norms of
running an ethical and transparent administration like Donald Trump.
He’s refused to divest
any of his business holdings or meaningfully separate himself from his
company. He’s visited (and so promoted) his private properties and golf
courses at a breathtaking clip: Of his first 362 days in office, Trump
spent one-third of them—121 days—at a Trump property, according
to NBC News. His business has cashed in on his presidency by hiking
membership fees and peddling access. His aides have promoted
Trump family properties and products. A year in, it is fair to describe
the Trump administration’s approach to clean, ethical government as,
Below, six experts in clean
government, ethics, anti-corruption, and transparency who have tracked
the administration describe what they see as Trump’s most
egregious ethical failings from his first year in office.
I think this is a good
idea, although I also think I should add that,
while I did get
excellent academic degrees in philosophy and psychology, I am wondering
a bit how one becomes "an expert in clean government, ethics, anti-corruption,
There certainly is not
academic study and a science of these things, and it also would seem to
me as if real experts in these fields should have studied
like philosophy, psychology, law and politics, indeed all together.
But this may be
skepticism about science
in modern universities: I think there is less
and less real science, while there are more and more political and
moral courses that are taught as if they are sciences, while in fact
they are not real sciences.
And I keep it at this, mostly
because the experts do exist now, and they may be
questioned, and they were by Andy Kroll.
Here are two from more
answers. The first is this (and I will not name the experts: if
want to know who they are, check the original):
My first question is: I can
only pick one? If the answer is yes, the biggest one is obviously going
to be Trump’s continued ownership stake in his properties.
foreign governments, outside organizations—any of them seeking to
influence him or just have access to him can do so by frequenting his
hotels, going to Mar-a-Lago. By spending money at his properties. To me
it’s such a glaring deviation from what we expect from our elected
officials. It’s really selling access and profiting off these
properties, and everyone can have a go at it. That’s the biggest one.
Yes, I think that is a fair
choice - and remember that the experts in ethics and a lot more were
asked "what they see as Trump’s
most egregious ethical failings from his first year in office". I think this is a fair choice,
may serve as a ground to terminate Trump's presidency.
Here is the other answer I
I think that is also a
choice, though I am well aware that most (American) presidents rarely
speak the full truth. Then again, I also never saw a more
more massive and more general liar than Donald Trump, at least
not in the West.
But to me the biggest is
his incessant lying. After all, you can’t have ethics without honesty,
and just 16 percent of what Trump says is true or mostly true. His
worst lies are those about that pillar of our democracy: opposition and
dissent. Whether it is his false attacks on the press, law enforcement,
the intelligence community, or Democrats, the president is using
distortion and misrepresentation to squeeze the space for disagreement.
The normal brakes of honesty and decency do not stop him. It is nothing
less than an assault on truth itself—and the attack in that value
underlies so much else that is wrong with this administration. It is
Trump’s greatest moral failure—and with so many others, that is saying
And this is a recommended article.
Also Voted to Shut Down Debate on Trump Administration’s Surveillance
This article is by Alex Emmons on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
A critical mass of Senate
Democrats voted with Republicans on Tuesday to shut down any further
debate on a bill that strengthens the government’s spying powers. The
bill would renew a key surveillance authority for the National Security
Agency until 2023 and consolidate the FBI’s power to search Americans’
digital communications without a warrant.
The motion, which passed 60-38,
virtually guarantees that the final bill will pass likely later this
week and quashes any opportunity to debate whether protections should
be added. Eighteen Democrats — including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who had
previously proposed an amendment to restrict the FBI’s surveillance
authority — voted in support of the motion. They were joined by 41
Republicans and one independent, Angus King, giving the
pro-surveillance bloc the supermajority needed to push the bill forward.
Let me first make two quite general assumptions about politics in
the USA, and also elsewhere, but this article is about the USA, and
the developments I am going to make two assumptions about are most
prominent in the USA:
The first assumption is that surveillance
+ unencrypted computers = the royal road to neofascism:
Both all the secret services in the world and the
largest corporations - Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft - can
now find out (and have been able to find out since 2001)
absolutely everything about almost
everyone by stealing all their private data:
Their e-mails, their incomes, their taxes, their values, their desires,
their knowledge, their family, their friends, their sites, their
contacts and anything else can all be fully copied and are
fully copied by the secret services and the largest corporations,
and indeed also by few others, simply because lots of money are
required to find out all about almost everyone.
This has given the secret services - virtually anywhere:
not just in the USA - vastly more powers than the KGB ever
had in the Soviet Union. If you believe these powers will not
be used, you are vastly more naive than I am: surveillance +
unencrypted computers = the royal road to neofascism. (Check
my definition if you did not already!)
The second assumption is that politics in the USA
(and this is more about the USA than the first assumption about
surveillance) has fundamentally changed
since 1980 and the coming of the internet:
used to be about what the majority of the people
wanted, and put - in the USA - two parties against each other; politics now is about what the rich and the
powerful want, and all want more riches and more powers, and
those who are neither rich nor powerful have been fundamentally shifted
out from positions in which they could influence the leading politicians:
The leading politicians now are mostly bought
(by lobbyists etc.)
Note this does not mean that the politicians have changed their
for they still need to be elected. It does mean that
once they are elected, the powers that make their choices are not their responsibilities to those who elected
them, but the powers that pay them to get
reelected, or simply to vote as they want.
In brief, politics has become mostly totally corrupted.
I think both assumptions, and indeed especially the second, do
explain what has been happening in the USA since Powell Jr., since
Reagan and since 2001.
And I return to Alex Emmons:
opposed it, including minority leader Chuck Schumer, along with eight
Republicans, led by libertarian Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee R-Utah.
Tuesday’s vote was a major
blow to privacy activists, who saw the sunset of NSA authority as a
strategic opportunity for Congress to rein in NSA surveillance and
restrict how the government can use the information it collects. “The
American people deserve to have an opportunity for some real amendments
to make sure, at the end of the day, we have policies that keep our
people safe and protect our liberties,” said Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.
“What we’re debating is whether the Senate will be the Senate.”
Yes - but if I am
right, especially in my second assumption above, the
Senate has ceased being a democratic Senate and has changed into a Senate where most members are
bought by the richest (who anyway strongly tend to be for
total surveillance of everyone).
Here is more:
Well... I explain the
wonderings of "privacy
activists" by my above two
assumptions, and specifically by the fact (I think it is a fact) that both
the rich and the government have extremely strong interests
in trying to find out what anyone thinks, wants, desires and
can do: That knowledge will enable the rich few to
manipulate everybody else as they see fit, and arrest them if they
think things the government does not want them to think.
Documents leaked by Edward
Snowden in 2013 revealed that the law serves as the basis for two of
the NSA’s largest surveillance programs: PRISM,
which collects communications from U.S.-based internet companies, and Upstream,
which scans the data passing through internet junctions as it enters
and exits the U.S.
Tuesday’s vote left privacy
activists questioning why Democrats would willingly hand such massive
powers to the Trump presidency.
It is all very easily explained, though indeed it is also not
at all democratic.
This is from the ending of this article:
Speaking against the
motion Tuesday, Paul argued that the entire premise of backdoor
searches is unconstitutional. “Should the government be allowed to
search this database to prosecute you for not paying your taxes or for
a minor marijuana violation? Absolutely not,” said Paul. “Why? Because
this information is gathered without a warrant.”
Most importantly, privacy
activists saw the Senate vote as a monumental defeat, which not only
gives vast surveillance powers to Donald Trump, it helps consolidate
them for future presidencies.
“A truly remarkable
historical moment,” tweeted
Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and
National Security Program. “If Dems had held firm, they could have
blocked a bill to give the Trump administration unprecedented powers to
spy on Americans. But they didn’t. So now, this president — and future
ones — will almost certainly be handed that power.”
Yes, I agree: This
decision brought full neofascism in
the USA very much closer.
Rock Star Obama’s Silence Must Delight Trump
This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts
Former President Barack
Obama continues to mystify his supporters. He is watching his successor
tear down what they see as his administration’s hard-earned initiatives
to protect the people’s health, safety and economic well-being, while
twisting Washington toward more coddled, tax-subsidized corporatism.
Yet our former president mostly remains quiet on matters of substance,
providing no powerful voice for Americans to rally around.
Mr. Obama is the most
popular politician in America. He can command the mass media like no
other citizen, should he choose to strengthen the opposition to the
corrupt Donald Trump. Even more, he has reportedly the third largest
twitter following—a staggering 98 million followers—in the U.S. Of the
top ten, all the rest are well known entertainers. With only Katy Perry
(at 108 million) and Justin Bieber (at 105 million) exceeding his
numbers, Obama’s twitter followers are almost triple those who follow
Trump’s daily hard-edged rages that make mass media news.
I think this is correct,
though indeed I did not know about the two most
users of twitter - which I also think an intentionally stupifying and
fundamentally utterly sick and advertising way to spread one's own
values as if they are slogans, and can only be sloganized.
Also, I do not
am mystified by Obama since 2009: I think he was and is a follower of
Bill Clinton in the sense that both realized when around 20 that they
are quite clever and quite poor, while they both wanted to be rich.
And lying in
both are tremendous liars, also in terms of their effectiveness -
seemed the best way to get rich and powerful really fast,
succeeded: They did get from virtually no money to - it seems -
$100 million by being presidents for eight years. And that seems a good
reward, and indeed one of the most rewarding jobs in the USA.
That both massively frauded
those who elected them and that both were very corrupt seems
also quite pertinent, but these may well have been mostly the means
which to earn over $100 million dollars each, in a few years, at least
from their - secret - private personal point of view, given their real
interests (personal power and personal riches).
Here is more on Obama
So does Obama care? Does he
galvanize his huge following with a reach into the media? Not at all.
He is urging people generally to make the world better in 2018. He is
praising various persons by name who have helped homeless people in
Chicago or have funded scholarships in Charlottesville, Virginia. While
Trump is rampaging against Obama’s achievements, our ex-president is
tweeting: “Michelle and I are delighted to congratulate Prince Harry
and Meghan Markle on their engagement.”
As in fact may be explained
in the terms I gave above: Obama has arrived as a rich man, and
was his main personal end. So why should he engage in politics, except
that of the most trivial kind?
Here is the last bit I quote
from this article:
Let’s put it simply.
Obama’s America and his domestic vision of America are under relentless
attack by Trump, his mass media of talk show hosts and the forces of
extreme reaction. Obama can use the mass media and rally the opposition
to Trump like no other Democrat in the public arena. Instead, he is
behaving like a rock star, as if posing for Parade Magazine with all
the pomp and celebrity imagery which, by the way, keeps his Twitter
audience ahead of Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.
Trump couldn’t be more
delighted. His bullying politics of intimidation works, especially for
visible public figures without the tough fortitude behind their very
general compassionate pronouncements.
I agree - but as I
said, I have been convinced for a long time that both Bill
Barack Obama fundamentally were political frauds
who were out to become
what they succeeded to be: Rich American millionaires,
which also was their personal end, much
rather than a desire to help or protect the American people.
This is a recommended