from February 20, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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 February 20, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. We Live in a Country That Has a Totally Corrupted
2. 3 Reasons Why Millions Still Support Trump
3. “Trump's Economy” Started On January 21, 2018
4. Donald Trump Is America’s Worst, 2nd Worst, or 5th Worst
5. Mueller Indictments: truth v lies in "The Observer View"
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:
Live in a Country That Has a Totally Corrupted Political System
This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. This is from near the
[W]hat Parker and
most Americans didn’t realize was that, in 1982, the die had already
been cast and the oligarchs had already begun seizing the levers of
power in America; a seizure that would lead to the deaths of tens of
thousands of Americans.
The billionaires doing the
seizing of our nation just didn’t come out about it until the
presidency of Barack Obama, when the Koch Network, Adelson, the Mercers
and the Waltons all became openly, and in some cases braggadociosly
political in their “giving.”
As I noted in my book The
Crash of 2016, The American Legislative Exchange Council was
founded in 1973, right after Lewis Powell’s memo – suggesting a
propaganda program to promote the interests of big business and the
rich – began circulating through top corporate and high-net-worth
circles. That year, too, the Heritage Foundation was created. And in
1977, Charles Koch and friends founded the CATO Institute.
Yes, I agree and this
also is a good summary of the kind of American history since
1970 that I have myself arrived at as well, indeed like quite a few
I will therefore give a
bit more attention to this article than I usually do. And it started
all - I agree - with Lewis F.
Powell Jr. and his
memo, that dates back to 1971.
Here is more on Reagan
and on Powell:
While the efforts of these
groups have been multifaceted, their most obvious and deadly impact has
been on the ongoing proliferation of weapons of war in America, and the
denial of healthcare to millions in so-called red states. With the
installation of Reagan, big business and billionaires were finally to
get the tax breaks and other goodies that they wanted from Congress and
the Executive Branch, while waging war on unions and working
But to Lewis Powell, a
lawyer by training and the author of the infamous blueprint for
billionaires to take over America (now known as The Powell Memo),
nothing was more important than targeting the courts.
In his memo, Powell wrote,
“Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded
Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for
social, economic and political change.”
He noted, “This is a vast
area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the
role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is
willing to provide the funds.”
Yes indeed. And in fact
Lewis Powell was quite right:
The laws are extremely
important in establishing the contents and the outlines
of the kind of society they support, and if the rich could assemble
financially, at least, to further their own interests, the rich
would become extremely powerful.
And this is
what happened, largely due to Powell, but indeed over a course of some
In the 1970s, as the US
Chamber of Commerce focused on the courts, employing high-priced, savvy
lawyers, and flooding the Supreme Court chamber with amicus briefs, a
string of explosive decisions throughout the decade gave the
#MorbidlyRich what they needed to eventually overthrow FDR’s New Deal
and to radically reinterpret the 2nd Amendment.
In 1976, in Buckley v.
Valeo, the Supreme Court (which Nixon appointed Lewis Powell to in
1972, the year after Powell wrote his infamous memo) ruled that
political money is constitutionally protected free speech, changing
American law so that those who have the most money would have the most
“First Amendment free speech” in our political system. And if there was
anything that the NRA was getting good at, it was raising money from
weapons manufacturers and others.
was essentially a series of legal, political and economical
changes that Roosevelt started in the early 1930ies to get over the great depression
of the 1930ies. I note that it was not Roosevelt's intention to
destroy capitalism, but to save it, and that he
- and quite a few others - may be said to have succeeded in
doing that. Also, he did this basically in law, namely by
proposing a set of legal regulations that bound what
corporations and banks could do to make or increase profits.
The regulations he
arrived at, after 12 years of presidency, and after WW II, bound the
corporations and the banks from 1945 till 1980, again indeed not
by making them less capitalistic, but by taking care that the very
rich could not do just what they pleased, but
also had to respect the rights of the non-rich
and of the middle class.
Also, I like to add one
more person (an Englishman), simply because I know that he was quite
important in getting the new regulations accepted in 1945: John Maynard
Then there is this:
And in Virginia State
Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, the
Supreme Court ruled that corporate advertising (including promoting M15
weapons of war to our kids) is a protected form of free speech.
(Ironically, William Rehnquist was the sole dissenter; he argued that
corporate “speech” [advertising] was often deceptive. But the deed was
done; Caveat emptor
became the new American normal.)
A year later, in 1977, in First
National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, the Supreme Court overturned
state restrictions on corporate political spending, saying such
restrictions violate the First Amendment rights of corporations, and
giving the NRA and other interest groups an added lever to use to
Both decisions were sick
(and constitute important evidence that the Supreme Court is not
the right way to see to the law, in my opinion): Advertising
is not speech; advertising is nearly always a form of lying or deceiving; and
to equalize lies-in-order-to-make-profits with free
political speech was both extra-ordinarily sick and very
Also, the second
decision essentially gave the biggest power to the richest corporation
(which - in case you doubted it - is a very sick schema), and this was before these combinations of several
persons into a congregation for piracy or deception,
that also takes away most of the personal responsibilities of
those who engage in it, were made persons like you
and me, or indeed super-persons, for they have more
rights and fewer responsibilities than persons of flesh and
Here is more:
Then came the Federalist
Society, founded in 1982 with millions of dollars in funding by the
Koch-connected Bradley Foundation.
They built a nationwide
network of jurists, attorneys, legal scholars, and politicians to
indoctrinate a new generation’s legal system with billionaire-friendly
interpretations: Corporate personhood is real, money is speech,
democracy is not sacred, and organized money should always have
privilege over organized people.
Clearly, the Koch brothers
are extremely rich men who love being extremely rich
men, and are trying to make it as easy as possibly to be extremely rich
without any responsibility. Also, if I except the notion that
"democracy is (not) sacred", the other three propositions they defend
are all lies:
is utter bullshit,
for any person
must be alive and be made of flesh and blood; money
definitely is not speech, and to insist it is, is to say every
billionaire is and ought to have a 1000 times the power of any
millionaire, who in turn has a 1000 times the power of any
non-millionaire; while money should never be privileged above
people: money is paper.
Then there is this
(which is the top on previous laws that made the very rich into
a completely special class of persons):
In 2010 the Supreme Court
wrapped its gift to corporations and gun manufacturers all up in a neat
little bundle with their 5-4 Citizen’s United ruling. With that decision,
America was nearly completely turned over to the wealthy and
Thereafter, oligarchs like
Adelson and the Kochs began openly bragging about how much they were
spending to buy politicians, legislation, tax breaks, and the
deregulation of consumer protections.
Yes indeed. Then there
is this about lobbyists:
In 1971, only 175 companies
had registered lobbyists. By 1982, there were nearly 2,500, and today
there are over 12,000 lobbyists just registered in DC. Oligarchs were
dumping huge amounts of money lobbying for favorable legislation,
although it still isn’t really visible to most Americans until
tragedies like mass shootings give us an insight into how it all works.
here is some more evidence:
Even former President Jimmy
onto my radio/TV program in 2015 to proclaim it:
HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court
has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation
of principles of democracy. Your thoughts on that?
CARTER: It violates the
essence of what made America a great country in its political system.
Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the
essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the
president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators
and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of
our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and
expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s
over. The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this
unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s
already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than
somebody who’s just a challenger.
I think Carter is quite
right and also expressed himself well. And unfortunately, that
is where the present USA is:
It is ruled by a - very
small, very rich - oligarchy; it has unlimited political bribery;
and essentially precisely the same applies to the Senate and
the House: They are all rich men and women who are out to
get richer themselves, with very few exceptions.
And this is a quite
interesting article that is strongly recommended.
Reasons Why Millions Still Support Trump
This article is by Paul Buchheit on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
incomprehensible to many of us that people could support a president who, in Bernie
Sanders' words, "is compulsively dishonest, who is a bully,
who actively represents the interests of the billionaire class, who is
anti-science, and who is trying to divide us up based on the color of
our skin, our nation of origin, our religion, our gender, or our sexual
And what are these "three main reasons" for supporting an
extremely dishonest bully who actively represents the billionaire
class, is anti-science, etcetera?
Based on various trusted
sources and a dab of cognitive science, it's fair to conclude that
there are three main reasons for this unlikely phenomenon.
According to Buchheit these are the
three main reasons:
1. Trump's Followers
Believe They're Better Than Other People (...)
I am sorry, but this seems intentional
to me, and does so for two classes of reasons.
2. They're Driven by Hatred
for Their Perceived Enemies (...)
3. They Refuse to Admit They
Were Wrong (...)
The first class of reasons concerns the above three points, and I will
answer them with reference to myself:
I do believe that I am a better person than some other people,
and in fact I do not know of any man or woman who
believes differently; I also concede that I do feel
hatred for some perceived enemies, and again I say that I do not
know of any man or woman who does not ;
while I am also willing to concede that I only admit that I was
wrong or mistaken if I get a good rational and reasonable
argument to that effect - which seems to me the case for nearly all
And my second class of reasons concerns three excellent
reasons why so many millions of Americans support an extremely dishonest bully who actively
represents the billionaire ckass, is anti-science etcetera:
But I think meanwhile that one has to be a quite
special American to even consider
the possibilities that some Americans are more stupid, more ignorant
and/or more prejudiced than others. Nearly all of the very
many Americans I have read about the USA consistently avoid
even using these words. (It is a bit different on the internet,
I say! (There are a few, such as Bill Maher and George Carlin.)
Economy” Started On January 21, 2018
This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
I like John Atcheson (I
think) but he should be consistent:
Trump and the Republicans
have been passing off the recent gains in employment, the modest
increase in wages, and the growth in GDP as their handiwork. It
wasn’t. To the extent government had anything to do with it, it
was for the most part the policies of the Obama administration that
made it all happen. He can claim some credit for the recent stock
market boomlet, but it’s been rising for nine years now … long before
he oozed onto the stage.
Any economist will tell you
two things about the presidency and the economy. The first is
that presidents really don’t have a great deal of impact on the
country’s economic performance.
He tells his readers in the first paragraph that it was "the Obama administration that made [the
better economy - MM] all happen" (though indeed with some qualifications), and he
tells his readers in the second paragraph that "presidents really don’t have a great deal of
impact on the country’s economic performance".
Nevertheless, Atcheson list the following points about the economy
under Trump - and I list only the boldly printed titles, and
delete the associated text (which you can read by reading the original):
My reasons not to
be much interested in the above sum-up is that I incline
towards Atcheson's second paragraph, that implies neither Obama
nor Trump had much effect on the economy.
There were fewer
jobs created in Trump’s first year than at any time since
GDP growth didn’t change much in 2017 – if anything,
it slowed down (...)
The stock market boom isn’t an indicator of prosperity (...)
economics – the hit now isn’t worth the payback later – unless
you’re a fat cat (...)
is a flim-flam man – stealing credit and shedding blame (...)
This may be a mistake (and what is: "having an effect on the
economy"?), but OK. Then again, what I think is interesting is
the last point, that is also not about presidents, but about
the Republicans and the Democrats:
Democrats have been
accomplices in the corporate give-away
It’s no secret that the
effect of policies that the Republicans have been pushing since Reagan
is to transfer
wealth from the poor and middle class to the very rich, nor that
Trump is doubling down on these policies.
What’s not quite as well
known is that the dominant force in the Democratic Party – the
neoliberal DLC gang – has been party to the looting. Clinton –
both Clintons – have been pushing a centrist, corporate-friendly set of
policies that has feathered Wall Street’s nest, rolled back regulations
on the media and financial interests, cut social welfare programs, and
funded the war machine.
Yes indeed! I have been
saying so for a long time now, but it is nice to see Atcheson
agrees. And this is a recommended article.
Trump Is America’s Worst, 2nd Worst, or 5th Worst President
This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. It starts as follows
(minus a note number):
Presidents/President’s/Presidents’ Day, and the New York Times
is celebrating with a bit of clickbait that ranks
all 44 presidents. It turns out that presidential scholars of the
left outrageously rank Donald Trump as our worst president after only a
year in office (...)
Actually, Presidents' Day (this
seems the correct writing) was yesterday (February 19), but
then I am always running one day behind the news (at least).
And this item is here because of Presidents' Day.
Kevin Drum seems quite correct when he says that the Democratic
presidential scholars (I am sorry: "presidential scholars" are academics,
and I have seen far too many lying academics to swallow that
Democratic presidential scholars ncessarily belong to "the left")
classify Trump as the worst American president ever.
In case you are interested, you will find a complete list of the 44
American presidents in Drum's article, together with their ranking, but
I will skip it here.
What I will not skip is the outcome under Republican
scholars (that Drum calls "right-leaning" rather than rightists). Here
Number 40! Now
that’s more like it. Trump is better than the guy who sleepwalked into
the Civil War and the general who died after only 40 days. But he’s
still worse than the Teapot Dome guy and the guy who inspired the
Mallard Fillmore comic strip. Sad.
In brief, Trump is a bad
president - according to both Democratic presidential scholars (number
44) and according to Republican presidential scholars (number 40).
I agree, although I admit that I do not know what the average
of "presidential scholars" conveys other than that - not very
interesting - average.
Indictments: truth v lies in "The Observer View"
This article is by Kit on the Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
Today’s Observer View focuses on the
Announcement by Robert Mueller that they are indicting 13 Russians and
3 Russian companies for “interfering” in the 2016 Presidential
election. It is, unsurprisingly, full of misleading language, lies by
omission and just straight up lies. It is also anonymous, and since
it’s impossible to imagine Jonathan Freedland ever being too ashamed to
put his byline on propaganda and smears…it’s probably just a press
release from the foreign office.
Let’s dive right in.
In fact, this is a very
good article (and is what The Guardian could have been like if
it had not been massively corrupted - or
that is what I get from its present editor).
Here is the first bit that I quote:
I completely agree. Here
Although the charges
levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are
They’re not. At all. They are barely crimes, if they are crimes at all.
Moon of Alabama has done an
excellent breakdown of this. The primary charges of “fraud” are,
essentially, that these 13 Russians did internet PR through sock-puppet
accounts. This is a marketing tool as old as the internet itself, and
not illegal. The British army has an entire section devoted to it. As
does Israel. In fact, the Guardian reported on a massive
American operation to do the same thing back in 2011.
charges of “failing to register as a foreign agent” are more
serious…but only as a precedent. The idea that foreign nationals have
to register as agents before expressing opinions about domestic
politics is absurd. George Soros wrote a column for the Guardian last
week. Barack Obama begged Scotland to vote “No”, and campaigned against Brexit. Neither
of them are British citizens, or (I’m guessing) registered with Her
Majesty’s government as foreign agents.
Again I completely
agree, and I add this is a - rather frightening - appearance of totalitarianism
(except it isn't according to the present very
sick article it has on "totalitarianism",
that implies no person, no party, no religion, no
book could ever be totalitarian: only states can be
totalitarian, according to this insane article on Wikipedia,
and this again implies that everyone from George Orwell
on who used the term in the - obvious, elementary, clear
- sense in which I use it is either a fraud or does not know
English, that is, as the Wikipedia insists on abusing it).
Here is more:
…they do not directly
support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded
with Moscow to rig the vote.
is the first true thing in the article. It could, however, be truer.
For example, they could point out that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein went
out of his way, during his press conference, to
underline that there was no evidence that “any American was a knowing
participant in this illegal activity.” It was quite clearly a message –
they have nothing on Trump.
Yes, I agree. Here is
I agree (and there are
about 145 million Russians). Here is more:
they haven’t. Thirteen Russians doing viral marketing is not “rigging”,
or “collusion” or “hacking”.
But Trump is not off the
hook. Far from it. His oft-repeated argument, contradicting US and
British intelligence agencies, that stories of covert Russian
meddling were “fake news” has been exposed as false.
is nothing linking the “Internet Research Agency” to the Kremlin.
The US, like
other western countries, is incontrovertibly under sustained assault
from the Kremlin.
Yes - and besides: If "the
Kremlin" is involved (somehow), is "Washington" not involved in
precisely the same?
Quite so (and I dislike Trump
and fear his madness (as
a psychologist) and very much would like to seem him go as president,
but Trump should be judged in terms of known facts, and not
in terms of fantasies).
Why does Trump
continue to defend Russia? With Trump, it is difficult to talk about
credibility. What little he does retain has just measurably diminished.
Trump hasn’t “defended Russia”, he has defended himself,
claiming there was no collusion.
There is in fact quite a bit more that I all skip, although I do
recommend it. Here is Kit's conclusion:
Quite so, again. And this is a
fine article, thay is strongly recommended.
In summary, this editorial
completely misses the point of these indictments. They are not the
first domino to fall, this isn’t the sign of a coming impeachment. Far
from it, it’s an admission hidden in an accusation. After all this
time, and all this hysteria, they have shown they have nothing. The
apparent budget of the Internet Research Agency was 1.2 million
dollars. The Pentagon spends that much on stationary. Is this the
extent of Russian “hacking” we heard so much about?
interference doesn’t look like 13 people with fake facebook names.
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 (!!).
 I am aware that quite a few have said that there
are saints - of various kinds, of various faiths - who do not hate
anybody. Well... I agree it is possible, but (i) I am not a
saint, and (ii) I never met anyone whom I could call a saint.
In brief, if there are saints, they are not effective. And I never met
one, in 68 years.
 Perhaps I should outline my ethics (once
again) for my readers, that I summarized 34 years ago as
Do not be MAD;
do not SIN.
"MAD" abbreviates Meanness (or Greed, but than
the pattern fails); Anger and Dishonesty, while "SIN"
abbreviates Stupidity, Ignorance and Negligence.
may disagree, but this is the summary of my ethics.