from March 6, 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 March 6, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Behind Public Persona, the Real Xi Jinping Is a Guarded
2. Trump's Brand Is Ayn Rand
Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger
4. Arkansas to Become First State to Implement Trump's
Gutting Wall Street Reform? Follow the Money.
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:
Public Persona, the Real Xi Jinping Is a Guarded Secret
This article is by Steven Lee Myers on The New York Times. It starts as
One Sunday last
month, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, traveled to a village in the
mountains of Sichuan Province. He wore an olive overcoat with a fur
collar, which he kept zipped up even when he entered an adobe house to
meet with villagers. Around an indoor fire pit, he sat among a circle
of people wearing traditional clothes of the Yi minority group.
“How did the
Communist Party come into being?” he asked at one
point as he extolled the virtues of socialism. Without hesitating, he
answered. “It was established to lead people to a happy life,” he said,
and then he added:
“That’s what we
should do forever.”
Mr. Xi’s remark
— specifically its open-ended pledge — suddenly resonates more deeply
than before. Barring the unexpected, delegates gathering this week for
the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing will rubber-stamp
constitutional changes that will enable Mr. Xi to remain the country’s
leader indefinitely by eliminating presidential
Mr. Xi's statements are similar to similar statements by Stalin
Hitler, who also wanted "to lead people" (not all, as you may
noticed) "to a happy life". And indeed they are also similar to
statements by political leaders who did not end up as tyrants.
brief, it says almost nothing except that it is quite typical political
again, Myers is quite right that - to my knowledge, at least -
legal stop to yet another twenty years of dictatorship by China's
supreme leader very probably will be voted away
by the institution that has been the background of all Chinese
since 1948: The Chinese Communist Party. And these indeed are the term
limits of twice five years as supreme leader.
some more on Mr. Xi:
Mr. Xi, who
will turn 65 in June, has done more than any of his predecessors to
create a public persona as an
avuncular man of the people, even as he has maneuvered behind the
scenes with a ruthless ambition to dominate China’s enigmatic elite
government’s propaganda apparatus regularly depicts him as a firm yet
adoring patriarch and leader who fights poverty and corruption at home
while building China’s prestige abroad as an emerging superpower.
What is striking is how little is known about Mr. Xi’s
biography as a leader, even though he has held the country’s highest
posts since 2012 — president, general secretary and commander in chief,
I quoted it, but in fact I don't think this is
special for an authoritarian leader in an authoritarian country.
Besides, if there had been a lot of information about his personal
history (which itself is unusual in China), the problem would have been
to sift the falsehoods and the propaganda from the truth.
Then again, the following seems true, at least in so
far as state sponsored propaganda
may be "true":
In one recent video shown on state television, he was
depicted as the “arms, legs and heart” of the entire nation. The script
evoked the “family-state”
ideal at the center of Confucianism, showing a cutout of Mr. Xi
guiding a bicycle with a young girl behind him. In the report from
Sichuan, part of a 23-minute feature that appeared on state television
two days later, two villagers uttered the same refrain on the theme.
“He is like our
parents,” each said.
deliberations and decisions unfold in utmost secrecy. Leaks have all
but ended in the Xi era, a reflection of fear as much as loyalty. Even
a move that could profoundly reshape China’s destiny was opaque to all
but the few who work closely under him in Zhongnanhai, the government
compound beside the Forbidden City that is, for ordinary Chinese, an
informational black hole.
As I have
said before, all of this is a example of propaganda in
system, that I do agree may very well
turn much more authoritarian quite soon, and specifically
because the Chinese Communist Party has acquired, indeed thanks to the
help of the neofascist internet designed by Brzezinski and the American
DARPA, almost complete control over more than one billion
the last bit that I quote from this article:
dominance of politics was on display on Monday when the National
People’s Congress opened in Beijing. A sampling of the nearly 3,000
delegates found no one who would express even the slightest reservation
about the constitutional change.
I do not find this very amazing, for all of
are already high ranking party members. But I do find this
increase in the authority of China's supreme leader, which he probably
can maintain until his death, very worrying, for it shows how
internet is the tool of the richest or the most powerful, because it
allows a very few to know - implicitly, for the most part, but
everything known can be given to the police or the military - absolutely
everything about virtually anyone
who uses the internet to communicate.
And this is a recommended article.
2. Trump's Brand Is Ayn
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as
Donald Trump once said
he identified with Ayn Rand’s character Howard Roark in “The
Fountainhead,” an architect so upset that a housing project he designed
didn’t meet specifications he had it dynamited.
Others in Trump’s
circle were influenced by Rand. “Atlas Shrugged” was said to be the
favorite book of Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state. Rand also
major influence on Mike Pompeo, Trump’s CIA chief. Trump’s first
Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, said he spent much of his free time
The Republican leader of
the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan,
required his staff to read Rand.
I say. Part of the
reason that I do so is that I have read "The
Fountainhead" in the early
Seventies, mostly because I had some American friends who recommended
it, and in the early Seventies I did not know anything
Rand, and was willing to learn.
Well... I should add
that I thought "The
Fountainhead" the worst
book I had ever read, until 1972 when I read it, at least, mostly
because of the combination of totally ludicrous ideas and values,
coupled to an incredibly bad style.
Also, I do
the above list of admirers of Rand that either they are lying
authorities tend to do, especially about their own ideology, or
that they are without the least shade of any taste for literature, for
even if you admire Rand's ideas and values (which I grant are extremely
greedy, quite dishonest, so very rich men may easily admire her), if
you did not
see that her style is truly awful I submit you know extremely
Here is more about
Who is Ayn Rand and
why does she matter? Ayn Rand – best known for two highly-popular
still widely read today – “The Fountainhead,” published in 1943, and
“Atlas Shrugged,” in 1957 – didn’t believe there was a common good.
She wrote that selfishness is a virtue, and altruism is an evil that
When Rand offered
these ideas they seemed quaint if not far-fetched. Anyone who lived
prior half century witnessed our interdependence, through depression
Actually, I don't know
and this bit also seems to me too close to Reich's - also rather vague
- ideas about the common good (which I agree with him
exists, but which also is not easy to pin down).
And for one thing - I
admit: as far as I can remember her - she simply did not admit any
altruism because she was misled by an argument that was first refuted
by Joseph Butler
in the 18th Century and by William Hazlitt
in the 19th
Century. It went like this: (i) All your feelings are your own
feelings. (ii) So are all the feelings you have about
else. (iii) Therefore all your feelings are egoistic.
This argument (which
convinced many) utterly fails for at least two reasons:
The first is the
and grammatical reason that "my interests in furthering my
interests" is definitely not the same as "my interests in furthering your
though I grant that both start with "my interests"; and the
second is the factual
reason that - for one example - many mothers who live in dire
circumstances do sacrifice part of their own self-interest,
e.g. in food, for the sake of the interests of their children.
Here is some more about
But then, starting in
the late 1970s, Rand’s views gained ground. She became the intellectual
godmother of modern-day American conservatism.
This utter selfishness,
contempt for the public, this win-at-any-cost mentality is eroding
Without adherence to a set
of common notions about right and wrong, we’re
living in a jungle where only the strongest, cleverest, and most
get ahead, and where everyone must be wary in order to survive. This is
society. It’s not even a civilization, because there’s no civility at
It’s a disaster.
Yes and no: I mostly
agree with the first two of the above quoted paragraphs (and Ronald
Reagan's enormous intellect was convinced by Rand, it seems) but I do
not quite agree with the third paragraph, and my reasons
are in part
logical and in part factual:
The reasons are that "a set of common notions about right and wrong" (which I agree with Reich
exists) is quite difficult to pin down because (i) there are many different values, different
different statuses between different persons, and
because (ii) the only
decent way to make sense of what "the common good" means is by
reference to laws, and that both
in their motivations and in the way they are applied,
arguments about laws are simply beyond most people.
Besides, there is the
historical reason that the lives of the many without money were far
more difficult in the 19th, 18th and earlier centuries than they were
in - say - the Seventies in the USA, but this does not mean
societies that existed then in the West were no societies, or had no
civilization: Clearly they were, and clearly they had.
Here is more by Reich
on the common good:
The idea of the common
good was once widely understood and accepted in America. After all, the
Constitution was designed for “We the people” seeking to “promote the
welfare” – not for “me the selfish jerk seeking as much wealth and
Yet today you find
growing evidence of its loss – CEOs who gouge their customers, loot
corporations and defraud investors. Lawyers and accountants who look
way when corporate clients play fast and loose, who even collude with
skirt the law.
Wall Street bankers who
defraud customers and investors. Film
producers and publicists who choose not to see that a powerful movie
depend on is sexually harassing and abusing young women.
Politicians who take
donations (really, bribes) from wealthy donors and corporations to
their patrons want, or shutter the government when they don’t get the
results they seek.
Well... yes and no again.
First, I completely agree
that very many CEOs, very many lawyers, very many accountants, all Wall
Street bankers, and many politicians make money for themselves in
extremely dishonest and also quite egoistic
ways, and indeed also nearly
all of them do not say anything honest about their very dishonest ways
of getting personally rich (as, for example, the Clintons did - 100
150 million dollars - and as, for
example, the Blairs did -
apparently 100 to 150 million pounds).
But second, the U.S.
Constitution, which I agree speaks about "We the people" and
was designed to “promote the
welfare” does not coincide at all with "American law", and it
American law that should be investigated to get to a somewhat
notion about what "the common good" might mean.
And here is the ending of
The common good consists of
our shared values about what we owe one another as citizens who are
bound together in the same society. A concern for the common good –
keeping the common good in mind – is a moral attitude. It
recognizes that we’re all in it together.
If there is no common good,
there is no society.
No, I am sorry: This is
simply much too vague.
MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?
This article is by Nornan Solomon on Consortiumnews. It
starts as follows:
The evidence is
damning. And the silence underscores the arrogance.
Actually, Solomon does
give a list of journalistic malfeasance as MSNBC, at least according to
FAIR, but while I mostly agree with it, I do not quote it. (If
it read the whole article.)
More than seven weeks after
a devastating report from the media watch group FAIR, top executives
and prime-time anchors at MSNBC still refuse to discuss how the
network’s obsession with Russia has thrown minimal journalistic
standards out the window.
FAIR’s study, “MSNBC
Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen,” documented a
picture of extreme journalistic malfeasance at MSNBC:
Here is more on "Russia-gate" (as I spell it):
I think this is mostly
correct as well, and I have two additions to it.
incessant “Russiagate” coverage has put the network at the media
forefront of overheated hyperbole about the Kremlin. And continually
piling up the dry tinder of hostility toward Russia boosts the odds of
a cataclysmic blowup between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.
In effect, the programming
on MSNBC follows a thin blue party line, breathlessly conforming to
Democratic leaders’ refrains about Russia as a mortal threat to
American democracy and freedom across the globe. But hey—MSNBC’s
ratings have climbed upward during its monochrome reporting, so why
worry about whether coverage is neglecting dozens of other crucial
stories? Or why worry if the anti-Russia drumbeat is worsening the
risks of a global conflagration?
FAIR’s report, written by
journalist Ben Norton and published on Jan. 8, certainly merited a
serious response from MSNBC and the anchors most identified by the
study, Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes. Yet no response has come from
them or network executives.
First, I'd say that if it is true that "MSNBC’s ratings have climbed upward during
its monochrome reporting"
(which I do not know but will assume here), that then MSNBC satisfied
the main norm for capitalist firms (which is: making profit), although
I agree with Solomon that they did not do this by what he or I
would consider decent journalism.
And second, it still seems widely assumed that Chris Hayes is a
and a progressive, while the same message is given about Rachel Maddow.
For your information: As far as I remember, I haven't looked at them
for at least a year, and indeed my main reason is "Russia-gate".
Here is how Maddow and Hayes did respond to the FAIR report:
But the network and
its prime-time luminaries Maddow and Hayes refused to respond despite
repeated requests for a reply.
That is, not at all.
is Solomon's conclusion:
Well... I don't
and, as I said, one of my reasons is "Russia-gate", but I am somewhat
less upset than Norman Solomon appears to be, because I blame it less
on MSNBC than I blame it on the stupidity and ignorance of
many of its
viewers and on MSNBC's interests to make a good profit, which indeed
As the cable news network
most trusted by Democrats as a liberal beacon, MSNBC plays a special
role in fueling rage among progressive-minded viewers toward Russia’s
“attack on our democracy” that is somehow deemed more sinister and
newsworthy than corporate dominance of American politicians (including
Democrats), racist voter suppression, gerrymandering and many other
U.S. electoral defects all put together.
At the same time, the
anti-Russia mania also services the engines of the current militaristic
It’s what happens when
nationalism and partisan zeal overcome something that could be called
to Become First State to Implement Trump's Assault on Medicaid
This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts
administration is waging
a vicious war on Medicaid—a program that provides life-saving
healthcare to around 74
million Americans—and its effects will soon be felt in the state of
Yes, I agree - but since I agree
I also have a question that I have posed several times
now, but which
does not get posed by others. It is this: How many poor or
ill or old
Americans do Trump and his government desire to kill?
And in case you object to the question: Trump and his government want
to take away or to radically diminish the support the poor, the ill and
the old do get in the USA, at least till now,
and will be hitting no less than 74 million Americans.
I find it a completely factual
question: How many poor or ill
or old Americans do Trump and his
government desire to kill? Also, in case you do not have my
disadvantages: Fortunately, I am not an American, but a Dutchman, but I
am poor, I am ill (since nearly 40 years), I am old (at nearly 68), and
also I am brilliant (with an IQ over 150), though definitely not
genius - and because I am the first three, I am among the only
are going to get less in Dutch society (where I definitely
moved away from in 1980 at the latest if only I had been
healthy): the poor,
the ill and the old.
Anyway... here is more from the article:
In an article
on Monday, Vox's Dylan Scott made clear that Arkansas' plan
amounts to just a fraction of the broad nationwide attacks on Medicaid
launched by red states, which are "putting the lifeline for millions of
poor Americans at risk."
"The stakes are
huge: Work requirements for food stamps have been linked to substantial
drops—up to 50 percent in some isolated cases—in the program's
enrollment," Scott observes. "As many as 25 million people could be
subject to Medicaid work requirements if they were instituted
nationwide. In a very real sense, health coverage for millions of
Americans who rely on Medicaid could be at risk under the agenda Trump
I think that this
is fundamentally correct, so I ask again
(before it happens): How many
poor or ill or old Americans do
Trump and his government desire to kill?
Here is more on
provisions in the Arkansas waiver that will require those with
disabilities to "prove" they are exempt from work requirements every
two months and other forms of red tape, Judith Solomon, vice president
for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),
in a blog post on Monday that the measure is "certain" to increase "the
gaps in coverage, worsen health outcomes, and possibly increase state
but... How many poor
or ill or old Americans do Trump and his
government desire to kill?
are my reasons to answer the last question by saying: To the best
knowledge, at least tens of millions:
And my reason is that I -
for one - could not have worked for half the time while I am
I am for nearly forty years now), which means that in terms of the
American laws that are now being instituted in Arkansas, I would have
had no money for the rest of the year, which simply would
me to suicide - as I believe tens of millions of the poor, the ill
the old will be soon forced to do in the USA. And this is a strongly
plan, if Medicaid recipients fail to comply with the new rules—which
require recipients to work, look for a job, or participate in job
training for at least 80 hours a month—for a period of three months,
they will lose coverage for the rest of the calendar year.
Gutting Wall Street Reform? Follow the Money.
This article is by Pam Martens and Russ Martens on
Wallstreetonparade. It starts as follows:
Today’s front page of the
print edition of the New York Times has articles on the Oscars, the
election in Italy, Ben Carson’s reign at HUD and the death of an
elderly Briton who once broke the four-minute mile among numerous other
less than urgent news pieces. What it does not have on its front page
is any headline showing concern that the seminal piece of Wall Street
reform legislation of the Obama era, which already has enough loopholes
to set off champagne corks on K Street, may be dismantled this week by
a vote in the Senate. The move would come in the midst of the 10th
anniversary of the greatest Wall Street collapse and economic
catastrophe since the Great Depression, both of which were underpinned
by casino capitalism — Wall Street banks making obscenely leveraged
bets for the house while holding Mom and Pop deposits.
This is now the new normal
at the New York Times with its editorial page editor declaring
in December at a staff meeting that the paper is “pro-capitalism.”
This is really code for “Wall Street is our home-town team and we’re
not going to bite the hand that feeds us” – even if it means intentionally
rewriting the facts on what actually caused the Wall Street crash.
Yes indeed: I cannot
say anything but - having read The New York Times daily for ten years
at least - this is all quite true.
Oh, as to being “pro-capitalism”: I agree with the
explanation given by the Martens, were it only because Robert Reich
does not agree with the NYT at all, while he is
definitely pro-capitalist. In other words, being “pro-capitalism”
does not have the necessary explanation that (I agree) the New
Times seems to give to it, which is indeed pro Wall Street and its big
banks much more than being “pro-capitalism”.
Here is more:
Citigroup was the poster
child of the 2008 financial crash. It had loaded up on dodgy
off-balance sheet “assets,” lied about its subprime debt exposure, and
then received the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history. In December
2014 Congress allowed Citigroup to take a chain saw to Dodd-Frank.
Citigroup pushed through a measure in the must-pass spending bill to
keep the government running that allowed it and the other biggest banks
on Wall Street to keep their riskiest assets – derivatives – in the
commercial banking unit that is backstopped with FDIC deposit
insurance. The taxpayer-subsidized deposit insurance allows the mega
banks to get a higher credit rating than they would otherwise receive
while paying pathetically low interest rates to savers on those
deposits. By holding tens of trillions of dollars in
derivatives on their respective commercial bank books, the mega banks
are perceived as too-big-to-fail and can put a gun to the head of
taxpayers for another bailout the next time their risky bets fail. All
of these tricks are effectively public subsidies of a banking system
And to the best of my
knowledge (which goes pretty far on these topics) this again seems all
true. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
The situation with the
anticipated vote this week in the Senate is so critical that Senator
Elizabeth Warren has released a video about the threat on YouTube. (See
video below.) Warren says in the video that the proposed legislation
“takes about 25 of the 40 largest banks in this country and just moves
them off the special watch list and treats them like they were tiny
little community banks that just couldn’t do any harm to the economy.”
Warren adds: “Those exact same 25 banks that are being taken off the
watch list got about $50 billion in taxpayer bailout money during the
Which in fact seems an
utter shame to me, but I also take it Elizabeth Warren is quite
correct. Incidentally, here is the link to
Warren's video. And this is a recommended article.