from January 29, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
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 29, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The Useful Idiocy of Donald Trump
2. Trump to Ask for $716 Billion for Defense Spending
3. Obama's 'Final Year': Epitaph for an Illusion
4. Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews
5. Trump’s America: Open to Global Capital, Not People
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:
Useful Idiocy of Donald Trump
This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
The problem with Donald
Trump is not that he is imbecilic and inept—it is that he has
surrendered total power to the oligarchic and military elites. They get
what they want. They do what they want. Although the president is a
one-man wrecking crew aimed at democratic norms and institutions,
although he has turned the United States into a laughingstock around
the globe, our national crisis is embodied not in Trump but the
corporate state’s now unfettered pillage.
Trump, who has no
inclination or ability to govern, has handed the machinery of
government over to the bankers, corporate executives, right-wing think
tanks, intelligence chiefs and generals. They are eradicating
the few regulations and laws that inhibited a naked kleptocracy.
They are dynamiting the institutions, including
the State Department, that served interests other than corporate
profit and are stacking the courts with right-wing,
corporate-controlled ideologues. Trump provides the daily
entertainment; the elites handle the business of looting, exploiting
I agree with Hedges that
Trump seems to have ¨handed the
machinery of government over to the bankers, corporate executives,
right-wing think tanks, intelligence chiefs and generals¨ and I also agree that these folks ¨are stacking the courts with right-wing,
And I think I may disagree a
little with Hedges on Trump´s intelligence and his madness, which
probably has a lot to do with the fact that I am a
happens to think that by far
the best explanation for Trump´s extremely many oddities (let´s say)
is that (i) he is in fact a
madman - as some 70,000 other psychologists and
psychiatrists seem to have agreed to, meanwhile, and also because I
think that (ii) Trump is in fact a neofascist, as I have defined them:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where
the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that
propounds an ethics which has profit as
its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist,
anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist,
and that has a corporative
organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are
stronger than a national government or state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
I have quoted my
definition once again, because I think it is correct; and because I
know a whole lot about fascism, but
have never read a proper definition
of it by any journalist whatsoever (because there are more than seven
characteristics (?!)), indeed also not by Hedges.
So here is my point-by-point argument why Donald Trump is a neofascist on the basis of the
above definition of the term ¨neofascism¨:
1. a government with a centralized
powerful authority: Existed already in the USA.
2. the opposition is propagandized, suppressed or censored:
Evidently so as regards
while Trump clearly desires to suppress those who criticize him.
3. propounds an ethics which has profit
as its main norm: Evidently so.
4. has a politics
that is rightwing: Evidently so.
5. has a politics
that is nationalistic: Evidently so. (¨Make America Great
6. has a politics
that is pro-capitalist: Evidently so.
7. has a politics
that is anti-liberal: Evidently so.
8. has a politics
that is anti-equality: Evidently so.
9. has a politics
that is anti-leftist: Evidently so.
10. wishes a government in which multi-national corporations are
strongest: Evidently so.
Besides, Trump indeed also is a racist. And there is one
feature that is missing in the above definition:
11. the American
government´s secret services have been trying for 17 years now to know
about absolutely everyone living absolutely anywhere: in the
end this is by far
the biggest danger of a threatening neofascism, in addition
above 10 criterions that are all satisfied by
Trump and his government.
Finally, about Trump´s
intelligence: If he is a genius, I am a cucumber, and if he is in
any way brilliant I would be quite amazed, but I do not know Trump at
all. I take it he is not stupid, though probably also much pampered by
a lifetime of riches, but what I am very worried about is that
I do think - as a psychologist, which gives me six years
of possibly more insight than non- psychologists have 
- he is both mad and quite irresponsible.
I leave it at this, and
return to Hedges´ text:
institutions are hollowed out, a process begun before the election of
Trump, despotism is inevitable. The press is shackled. Corruption and
theft take place on a massive scale. The rights and needs of citizens
are irrelevant. Dissent is criminalized. Militarized police monitor,
seize and detain Americans without probable cause. The rituals of
democracy become farce. This is the road we are traveling. It is a road
that leads to internal collapse and tyranny, and we are very far down
I agree with Hedges
thay the USA is quite far down the road to some form of
neofascism, although the outcome is not necessarily despotism.
For the amount of despotism that an authoritarian government
uses tends to be roughly proportional to the opposition and
resistance it faces, and there are at least two alternatives:
The first is inverted
totalitarianism, which is a term introduced by the American
political philosopher Sheldon Wolin.
Wolin was also extensively (and interestingly) interviewed by Hedges in
2014, and here is the last file
of my reviews of these interviews in Nederlog (which still ought to
alternative is that the largest part of the American population has
given up intelligent caring for their government and the
form of their government, and may proceed more or less as they have
been now and the last seventeen years of continuous American wars
faught in other continents than the American one.
I do not know
how likely either alternative is, but they do exist. Here is
The elites’ moral and
intellectual vacuum produced Trump. They too are con artists. They are
slicker than he at selling the lies and more adept at disguising their
greed through absurd ideologies such as neoliberalism
and globalization, but they belong to the same criminal class and share
many of the pathologies that characterize Trump. The grotesque visage
of Trump is the true face of politicians such as George W. Bush, Bill
and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Clintons and Obama, unlike
Bush and Trump, are self-aware and therefore cynical, but all lack a
While I agree that all
American politicians I have seen do remind me of con artists, I think I
like to avoid terms like ¨intellectual vacuum¨, ¨criminal class¨ and
In fact, they may be
more or less correct from a left(ish) point of view, but the right does
at least have an
ideology to put forward (neoliberalism),
while I also think most of the rich right do not think of
themselves as a ¨criminal class¨ but as a
class of leaders, and
also do not think they are themselves ¨pathological¨, but in fact that leaders
like they are deserve the
riches they get.
Then there is this by
The elites in dying
cultures turn everything into a commodity. Human beings are
commodities. The natural world is a commodity. Government and
democratic institutions are commodities. All are mined and wrecked for
Yes, I agree mostly -
and see yesterday´s ¨A Summary of ¨The
Century of the Self¨¨.
There is also this on
what commodities are and cannot be:
The elites in a dying
culture confuse what the economist
Karl Polanyi calls “real” and “fictitious” commodities. A commodity
is a product manufactured for sale. The ecosystem, labor and money,
therefore, are not commodities. Once these fictitious commodities are
treated as real ones for exploitation and manipulation, Polanyi writes,
human society devours itself.
I think I agree with
Polanyi and Hedges, and indeed it might have been added that
one of the real differences between
commodities and non-commodities
is not whether something can be sold on a market, but whether purported commodities
are rapidly or at all replaceable by
alternative commodities - and Polanyi is right that e.g. the
ecosystem, money and labor (in a sense) are not commodities:
they cannot be replaced (as are, in a similar sense,
culture: these may be mostly absent in a given society, but if there
are less depraved societies, these will tend to take over).
Here is the last bit I
quote from this article, on Trump´s impeachment:
I agree with Hedges
(unfortunately) that it ¨is
unlikely¨ that Trump will
be impeached, at least as long as the Republicans have the majority in
the Senate and the House.
investigation—launched when Robert Mueller became special counsel in
May and which appears to be focused on money laundering, fraud and
shady business practices, things that have always characterized Trump’s
financial empire—is unlikely to unseat the president. He will not be
impeached for mental incompetence, over the emoluments
clause or for obstruction of justice, although he is guilty on all
these counts. He is useful to those who hold real power in the
corporate state, however much they would like to domesticate him.
And this is a strongly recommended article.
to Ask for $716 Billion for Defense Spending
This article is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
This is reviewed here
simply because $716 billion is an enormous amount of money (all
from the taxes), and also because Trump and his government do
be coursing for a major war.
The Trump administration is
expected to request a raise in the defense budget to $716 billion in
2019, a significant increase—7 percent—over the prior year, The
Washington Post reported Friday. The request is considered by many
to be a shift away from the administration’s expressed concerns about
If approved, the new budget
would be a victory for Defense Secretary James Mattis, who last week argued
in favor of an increase to prepare for the possibility of armed
conflict with Russia or China, or perhaps “rouge nations” like North
Korea. The Pentagon’s unclassified, 11-page
summary of the National Defense Strategy did not provide details on
how a shift toward addressing China and Russia would be enacted but did
state that spending requests would reflect this goal.
Here is a bit more:
Yes indeed, and this is a
The increase would cover
the Pentagon’s annual budget, as well as spending to support ongoing
wars and to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pentagon officials said
the budget increase would prioritize preparing for conflict with “major
world powers” and “modernize the military’s aging weapons systems.”
'Final Year': Epitaph for an Illusion
This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
Final Year," with its all-star cast of President Barack Obama,
Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. adviser Samantha Power, and
national security deputy Ben Rhodes, might be the saddest movie of the
It's a fly on the
campaign-style documentary of the last year of Obama’s foreign
policy as seen from inside the bubble of power. While Kerry, Power and
Rhodes travel the world, seeking to complete Obama’s global legacy,
they dismiss the possibility that Republican president candidate Donald
Trump might win.
As a result, the HBO-produced
film arrived for a limited run in Washington theaters this
month with subtext that producers and leading actors did not intend and
barely understood. Designed to celebrate Obama & Co’s
statesmanship, the movie also illuminates their cluelessness.
I say. I did not
this, but since I do not like Obama at all (I think he was a fraud,
like Bill Clinton), I like the news that the film that was designed to
hail Obama failed to do so if only for the simple reason that they
dismissed ¨the possibility
that Republican president candidate Donald Trump might win¨.
Here is a description
of the contents of the film, that indeed seem to be mostly propagandistic:
“The Final Year” does
little to convey the reality of Obama’s tenure as commander-in-chief,
rendering the movie bloodless in more ways than one. We see no video
from the brutal Syrian civil war, from which Obama mostly, and
wisely, abstained. There’s no aerial footage of
U.S. drone strikes, which Obama escalated
ten-fold from his much-reviled predecessor George W. Bush.
Instead, we get emotionally
charged scenes in which the stars can display their sympathy and
intelligence in service of Obama’s second-term diplomatic initiatives:
the Paris Climate Agreement, the international pact to curb Iran’s
nuclear program and the normalization of relations with Cuba.
The article ends as follows
In his final year, Obama
& Co. made an intelligent case for their policies, not realizing
that outside the bubble of power, their elite audience had little
appeal to, or credibility with half the American electorate. Around the
world, the difference between Bush’s neoconservative crusades and
Obama’s restrained interventionism was real and critical. At home, it
was a distinction without a difference.
No, I think this is mistaken,
if only for the simple reason that the differences between
Clinton and Donald Trump in terms of votes were quite small,
and because in fact Hillary got more ordinary votes than Trump,
but she was not elected because of the particularities of the -
non-elective - Electoral College.
Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews
This article is by Nat Parry on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
It is with a heavy heart
that we inform Consortiumnews readers that Editor Robert Parry has
passed away. As regular readers know, Robert (or Bob, as he was known
to friends and family) suffered a stroke in December, which – despite
his own speculation that it may have been brought on by the stress of
covering Washington politics – was the result of undiagnosed pancreatic
cancer that he had been unknowingly living with for the past 4-5 years.
He unfortunately suffered
two more debilitating strokes in recent weeks and after the last one,
was moved to hospice care on Tuesday. He passed away peacefully
Saturday evening. He was 68.
I say. I did
Parry (<-Wikipedia) was seriously ill, but until today I did not
think his life was in danger, nor did I know that he died last Saturday.
And indeed I am rather
sad, although I never met him nor mailed with him. I am so for three
interconnected reasons: He was an honest man, he was a fine
journalist, and his site was one of the relatively few
sites that was honest, intelligent, and nearly always quite sensible,
which indeed also are the three characteristics on which the
mainstream media tend to fail.
Besides, Robert Parry
was almost a year older than I am, which means - especially since I have been ill for 39 years now, with M.E.,
which by now is slowly being admitted is
a real and serious
physical disease, but which will happen in Holland officially
the bureaucrats and political officials) only after I am dead,
I am rather sure, even if I get to be 98.
Here are some memories
of Nat Parry about his father:
One of my earliest memories
in fact was of my dad about to leave on assignment in the early 1980s
to the war zones of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and the
heartfelt good-bye that he wished to me and my siblings. He warned us
that he was going to a very dangerous place and that there was a
possibility that he might not come back.
I remember asking him why
he had to go, why he couldn’t just stay at home with us. He replied
that it was important to go to these places and tell the truth about
what was happening there. He mentioned that children my age were being
killed in these wars and that somebody had to tell their stories. I
remember asking, “Kids like me?” He replied, “Yes, kids just like you.”
Here are some more
By the time Barack Obama
was elected the 44th president, Consortiumnews.com had become a home to
a growing number of writers who brought new perspectives to the
website’s content. While for years, the writing staff had been limited
primarily to Bob, Sam and me, suddenly, Consortiumnews was receiving
contributions from journalists, activists and former intelligence
analysts who offered a wide range of expertise – on international law,
economics, human rights, foreign policy, national security, and even
religion and philosophy.
One recurring theme of
articles at the website during the Obama era was the enduring effect of
unchallenged narratives, how they shaped national politics and dictated
government policy. Bob observed that even a supposedly left-of-center
president like Obama seemed beholden to the false narratives and
national mythologies dating back to the Reagan era. He pointed out that
this could be at least partially attributed to the failure to establish
a strong foundation for independent journalism.
Yes, I think that is
correct - and Obama also was at most a ¨leftish¨ president,
where both my term and my quotation-marks indicate that I think both
were mostly propaganda,
as indeed with the first major deregulator,
And I also think that
Robert Parry was quite right about independent journalism: It
was already rather bad from 1980 till 2000, but since then, mostly but
not solely because of the wars that started in 2001, the journalism
of the mainstream media has mostly collapsed, mostly because of a
lack of honesty in journalists
or (especially) editors, who made
the articles they published depend more on their
profitability than on its perceived truth
or relevance for democracy.
Here is Nat Parry on
his father´s death:
My dad’s untimely passing
has come as a shock to us all, especially since up until a month ago,
there was no indication whatsoever that he was sick in any way. He took
good care of himself, never smoked, got regular check-ups, exercised,
and ate well. The unexpected health issues starting with a mild stroke
Christmas Eve and culminating with his admission into hospice care
several days ago offer a stark reminder that nothing should be taken
And as many Consortiumnews
readers have eloquently pointed out in comments left on recent
regarding Bob’s health, it also reminds us that his brand of journalism
is needed today more than ever.
Parry did die of pancreatic cancer that was undiagnosed
the last five years. (And I dislike much of modern medicine because I have M.E. and have been
mistreated by medics the last 39 years, but I will leave this out,
except here, parenthetically.)
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
I am quite glad,
simply because Consortiumnews has shown itself to be a fine site,
that I also have quoted and reviewed rather a lot from the last six
years. And I do hope they will exist at least another 30 years,
indeed because sites like Consortiumnews are both rare and needed
by anyone interested in the real and the true news and in
of the news.
As someone who has been
involved with this website since its inception – as a writer, an editor
and a reader – I concur with these sentiments. Readers should rest
assured that despite my dad’s death, every effort will be made to
ensure that the website will continue going strong.
Indeed, I think that
everyone involved with this project wants to uphold the same commitment
to truth-telling without fear or favor that inspired Bob and his heroes
like George Seldes, I.F. Stone, and Thomas Paine.
This is a recommended article in which there is considerably more than
5. Trump’s America: Open
to Global Capital, Not People
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
to global CEOs and financiers in Davos, Switzerland: “America is open
business.” We’re now a great place for
you to make money. We’ve slashed taxes and regulations so you can make
a bundle here.
to ambitious young immigrants around the world, including those brought
here as children: America is closed. We don’t
want you. Forget that poem
affixed to the Statue of Liberty about bringing us your poor yearning
breathe free. Don’t even try.
America, global capital is welcome, people aren’t.
Yes indeed. Here is
some more on the differences between global capital and - non-rich -
Actually, ¨global capital¨
doesn´t want or care for anything, for the global capitalists
do. And they indeed want profit, it seems indeed completely
independent of whatever social or ecological harm done: if
profitable, excellent; if not, we rich try something else.
I have news for the so-called businessman. America was built by
from all over the world, not by global capital.
capital wants just one thing: A high return on its investment.
Global capital has no
obligation to any country or community. If there’s another place around
the world where taxes are lower and regulations laxer, global capital
will move there at the speed of an electronic blip.
capital doesn’t care how it gets a high return. If it can get it by
wages, outsourcing to contract workers, polluting air and water,
investors, or destroying communities, it will.
are different. Once they’ve rooted somewhere, they generally stay put.
develop webs of connections and loyalties.
Here is the last bit that I´ll quote from this article:
raised taxes – especially on big corporations and wealthy individuals –
order to finance good schools, public universities, and infrastructure.
regulated business. And we welcomed immigrants and reunited families.
capital came our way not because we were a cheap place to do business
because we were fabulously productive and innovative place to do
Trump and his rich backers want to undo all this. No
one should be surprised. When they look at the economy they only see
money. They’ve made lots of it.
the real economy is people.
I more or less agree, but
probably would have added that one difference between the few
the many non-rich is that the rich do not care for the
therefore are also not interested in their fates.
This is a recommended article.