from October 17, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
I have been
writing about the crisis since September
1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will
continue with it.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from October 17, 2018:
1. America Is Authoritarian by Design
The items 1 - 5 are today's
selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
Are Vanishing at an Alarming Rate, New Study Finds
3. Trump Is America´s Most Dangerous Export
4. ‘I Want Us to Be That Party Again’
5. Max Boot on the end of conservatism: “The Republican Party
be burned down”
Is Authoritarian by Design
This article is by
Paul Street on Truthdig. I do not quote from its beginning, because
that is too much about individual American persons. This is from
roughly half way:
Beyond these dramatic
stories, media consumers heard the usual timeworn calls for
“comprehensive immigration reform” and clear “paths to citizenship.”
Notice, however, what escaped critical examination. As during its
breathless coverage of the “unaccompanied minor” migration crisis in
2014, the corporate media this year has had little to say about the
following ways in which the United States has helped make Mexico and
Central America unlivable for many of its people:
- Flooding these nations
with cheap, subsidized U.S. agricultural exports, devastating campesino
communities in the name of “free trade.”
- Using so-called free
trade agreements to force the privatization of government enterprises,
the deregulation of corporations, the slashing of social budgets and
the displacement of communities by foreign mining projects.
- Intensifying drug gang
violence and power by advancing the militarized “War on Drugs.”
- Accelerating climate
change, which has ravaged Central American coffee and corn production.
- Funding and equipping
authoritarian and violent, mass-murderous “Third World fascist” regimes
(including a right-wing junta the Obama administration helped install
in Honduras toward the beginning of 2009) and forces allied with U.S.
and business interests in Central America.
I agree more or less,
but this is also a bit too vague for me to address properly.
Also, and once again: if you use the term ¨fascist¨ (and many more
rather fundamental political terms (!!)) you should give a clear definition,
such as mine.
in any case, you should
know that there are more than 20 different
definitions of ¨fascism¨ - but so far I have not read a single
journalist in the last 5 to 10 years
provide a clear definition of fascism, nor
did I read a single journalist
who simply stated the fact that there are many
definitions of fascism.
(See here: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions).
Here is a bit about Kavanaugh:
Well... I am Dutch and
noticed that Supreme Court judges are nominated for life when
considering Kavanaugh, and immediately protested. Since then I found
the USA is the only country with this rule. And I do not
it discussed before at all.
It is disgusting almost
beyond words that a likely sexual predator and obvious dissembler will
render judgment on matters of solemn legal, political and societal
relevance for a generation. But as troubling as Kavanaugh’s personal
history and untruthfulness are, it’s been even more troubling to see
them render important questions about abortion rights, presidential
immunity from prosecution, and torture virtually meaningless.
Equally distressing has been
our continuing failure to address the authoritarian absurdity of
essential political and judicial institutions crafted by 18th century
slave owners and merchant capitalists for whom self-governance was the
ultimate nightmare. Why in the name of anything remotely akin to
democracy should Kavanaugh and his eight high court colleagues hold
these powerful positions for life?
Here is something about the lack of a genuine democracy in the USA:
Red Wyoming, home to more
than 573,720 Americans, holds U.S. senatorial parity with blue
California, where 39.5 million Americans reside. That’s one U.S.
senator for every 19.5 million Californians vs. one U.S. senator for
every 287,000 Wyoming residents.
Just one of New York City’s
five boroughs, Brooklyn, has 2.6 million people. If Brooklyn were a
state and U.S. senators were apportioned there at the same
populace-to-senator ratio as Wyoming, Brooklyn would have nine U.S.
senators. (It’s unlikely that a single one of them would be a
The following 13 states
together have a combined population of roughly 34.4 million: Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi,
Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Together these 13
red states send 26 Republicans to the U.S. Senate. California, with 5
million more people than these 13 states combined, sends two Democrats
to the upper chamber of Congress.
That seems all true,
and indeed is quite undemocratic, at least for those that
insist that democracy means that the vote of each and every voter counts
Here is the last bit I
quote from this article, that is itself a quotation:
From Hedges’ aptly titled
new book, “America:
The Farewell Tour”:
The destruction of
democratic institutions, places where the citizen has agency and a
voice, is far graver than the ascendancy to the White Hose of the
demagogue Trump. A creeping corporate coup d’etat has destroyed our
two-party system. It destroyed labor unions. It destroyed public
education. It destroyed the judiciary. It destroyed the press. It
destroyed academia. It destroyed consumer and environmental protection.
It destroyed our industrial base. It destroyed communities and cities.
And it destroyed the lives of tens of millions of Americans no longer
able to find work that provides a living wage, cursed to live in
chronic poverty or locked in cages in our monstrous system of mass
This coup also destroyed
the credibility of liberal democracy. Self-identified liberals such as
Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama mouthed the words of liberal
democratic values while making war on these values in the service of
corporate power. The revolt we see rippling across the country is a
revolt not only against the corporate system that has betrayed workers,
but also, for many, liberal democracy itself. This is very dangerous.
It will allow the radical right to cement into place an Americanized
I think this is
stronger than I would put it, biut Hedges is certainly correct about
the ¨creeping corporate
coup d’etat¨ that started
under Reagan, and was probably mostly caused by Lewis
F. Powell Jr.
Are Vanishing at an Alarming Rate, New Study Finds
This article is by
Jake Johnson on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as
When a scientist who
studies the essential role insects play in the health of the ecosystem
calls a new study on the dramatic decline of bug populations around the
of the most disturbing articles” he’s ever read, it’s time for the
world to pay attention.
The article in question is
a report published
Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
showing that in addition to annihilating
hundreds of mammal species, the human-caused climate crisis has
also sparked a global “bugpocalypse” that will only continue to
accelerate in the absence of systemic action to curb planetary warming.
study in PNAS is a real wake-up call—a clarion call—that the phenomenon
could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems,” David
Wagner, an invertebrate conservation expert at the University of
Connecticut, said in response to the new report. “This is one of the
most disturbing articles I have ever read.”
to agree, although I am not a biologist, and I do so in part
have been reviewing articles in Nederlog about the decline of the
that threatens a similar result: Without - a
sufficient number of -
bees, there will not be enough pollination, and many people will die.
report just mentioned does not just state that bees are
suggest large numbers of insects are
And that was a summary.
Here is the reaction of a biologist:
by Bradford Lister of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Andres
Garcia of National Autonomous University of Mexico, the study found
that “[a]rthropods, invertebrates including insects that have external
skeletons, are declining at an alarming rate.”
“We compared arthropod biomass
in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest with data taken during the 1970s
and found that biomass had fallen 10 to 60 times,” the researchers
write. “Our analyses revealed synchronous declines in the lizards,
frogs, and birds that eat arthropods. Over the past 30 years, forest
temperatures have risen 2.0 °C, and our study indicates that climate
warming is the driving force behind the collapse of the forest’s food
“Holy crap,” Wagner
of the University of Connecticut told the Washington Post when
he learned of the 60-fold drop of bug populations in Puerto Rico’s
Luquillo rainforest. “If anything, I think their results and caveats
are understated. The gravity of their findings and ramifications for
other animals, especially vertebrates, is hyperalarming.”
to agree and write it as I did because I am not a biologist.
But I do think this is quite disheartening, and this is a strongly
3. Trump Is America´s
Most Dangerous Export
This article is by
Robert Reich on his site.
Incidentally, and before I go on, I want to notify you of the following
two facts: I am now making the following changes in all
articles I review:
(1) I dislike all-capitals and much italics, and will replace
This probably has a little to do with my eyes, but I
dislike screaming, which is what all-capitals means. And I dislike
italics and use bold instead. (2) I dislike titles that stretch
over 3, 4 or 5 or more lines - see AlterNet, especially - and notably
the articles are small. In some cases, I simply do not read
articles at all, and if I review them I shorten the titles.
(that on his site has an all-capitals title) starts as follows:
Yes, I think this is true.
Here is more:
Donald Trump is not only
undermining democracy here at home, but he’s also emboldening dangerous
authoritarian movements around the world. Trump’s presidency has become
America’s most dangerous export.
FIRST: Trump has provided
cover for authoritarian leaders around the world who are actively
attacking the media and suppressing the truth to entrench their power.
anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric have lent legitimacy to racist and
xenophobic political parties across Europe. His success playing on
racial fears and stoking nationalist sentiment has been a model for
This is also true. Here is
Trump has undermined the international institutions committed to
protecting human rights and defending democracy.
And this is true. Here is
Unlike former U.S.
presidents, Trump doesn’t publicly mention human rights.
In a break with decades of
U.S. foreign policy, Trump has attacked NATO, weakening the alliance as
Putin threatens to undermine democracies in Western Europe.
Well... I do not insist that
democracy is dead in the
USA, but what is (still) alive of democracy is far less than there was
in the 1970ies. And this is a recommended article.
As in the 1930s, economic
strains are fueling the rise of demagogues who direct anger and
resentment toward scapegoats such as immigrants and minorities – lying
about them with impunity.
But the truth is still getting
through to most people, and democracy is still alive. Yet in sharp
contrast to the 1930s when the president of the United States defended
our democratic ideals, Trump is now helping lead the charge against
Want Us to Be That Party Again’
is by John Nichols and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
The above quotation is
correct as far as it goes, but I am in doubt about the fact that
Ocasio-Cortez is listed as a fellow author. I do not think that is a
good idea, and my main argument is that journalists should be
independent of politicians (indeed also if they
or I like the politicians).
says she is “just the canary in the coal mine.” The
twenty-eight-year-old activist and educator from the Bronx became a
national phenomenon after she defeated
Congressman Joe Crowley, the fourth-highest ranking House Democrat, in
a June 26 New York primary.
Pundits and politicians raced
to portray Ocasio-Cortez, whose proudly progressive campaign was backed
by groups that seek to turn the Democratic Party to the left (including
Democratic Socialists of America and Justice Democrats), as an outlier.
But, by the end of the summer,
there had been many more primary upsets by progressives who challenged
the party’s caution
In a number of cases, the
progressives who prevailed in those primaries had gotten a boost from
Ocasio-Cortez, who hit the campaign trail nationwide following her
primary win. Along the way, she made time to talk with me about how she
believes movement politics can and will transform the Democratic Party.
Here’s some of what she had to say.
Anyway. Here is some more:
Ocasio-Cortez: I have said that I really
think that there is a hunger for an assertive, strong, ambitious,
defined effort to establish and advance economic and social and racial
justice for working-class Americans. There’s a hunger for it. Not just
“Don’t be a racist,” but “What actions are we going to take to be a
Well... I like justice as well
but it is not a precise concept and there certainly are other
politically interested persons who have quite different ideas than
Ocasio-Cortez, but who would argue similarly.
And in any case, I would have liked Ocasio-Cortez to have said that justice,
in her opinion, requires a real democracy and a non-totalitarian
free press, and also requires a broad interpretation. (You
should allow that those who disagree with you may also be concerned
with justice, although it is not quite like your own concept of
Here is some more:
I think this is weak. What Ocasio-Cortez ought
to have talked about are the values and ideas of the Democrats
rather than the people they ought to appeal to.
Q: In what ways do
you want to see the Democratic Party change?
I think we need to be a party that is first and foremost accountable to
working-class people again, and to marginalized people. I don’t want
that to be something that we just talk about, but something that we are
about. I want us to be that party again.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this rather unsatisfactory
For me, a moral framework informs my political views. If you are really
committed to a moral framework, you have to work at it. If you’re
serious about justice, if you’re serious about what is good and what is
right, you can’t just sit in a church pew or in the middle of a
library, or wherever you are, and just engage with it privately. You
have to live it publicly.
So, for me, a lot of politics
is about moral questions—especially in this time and in this age.
I think this is also
weak, for the simple reason that every politician who is honest
(!), of whatever political convictions, should agree that politics
is about ideas and values, and that the values are mostly moral.
Boot on the end of conservatism: “The Republican Party needs to be
is by Chauncey DeVega on Salon. It starts as follows:
The Republican Party is no
longer a "conservative" organization. Donald Trump has given
Republicans and other movement conservatives permission to surrender to
their worst temptations and excesses. Rather than embracing some
concept of responsible tradition and being averse to change, the
Republican Party and movement conservatives are now a destructive and
anti-democratic force. Norms about consensus that have dominated
American politics for at least four decades have been discarded.
Assumptions that Congress should be a coequal branch of government
which serves as a "check and balance" against the presidency have
Donald Trump is more than
an imperial president. He is an American fascist and demagogue who is
aided and abetted by Republican and other conservative elites.
Possibly so, but I only
point out that saying that ¨Donald
Trump¨ ¨is an American fascist¨ is (at the very least
- and see: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions) a 21-fold
ambiguity. Also see here.
Here is some more on
Republicans and former Republicans like Max Boot:
Where one would reasonably
expect a torrent of "principled" conservatives to abandon Donald
Trump and this version of the Republican Party most have chosen to stay
put. Donald Trump is their leader. This Republican Party is their
home. There is, however, a small cadre of Republicans who
have decided that this version of the Republican Party is not to be
supported. Some of them have been so bold as to publicly declare that
Donald Trump is a threat to American democracy and for that reason they
will now support the Democrats. Author, scholar and policy expert Max
Boot is one such person.
His newest book is entitled "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left
Yes, and here is Boot talking:
Even though I'm not a
Democrat -- and don't necessarily agree with Democrats on everything --
I think it is imperative to have the Democratic Party win in November.
If the Democrats win, I believe that will be the beginning of a
recovery from this Trumpian period. Republicans, a lot of whom are just
being very cynical, need to know that Trumpism is not going to succeed.
Moreover, I think a victory
by the Democrats will cause the people who are not the hardcore Trump
true believers to reassess what they're up to. This is especially true
of the politicians, many of whom are deeply hypocritical and cynical.
In their hearts, they know exactly how dangerous Trump is. They just
lack the courage to act on it.
Well... I also hope
that the Democrats win, but I certainly do not think that ¨the
Democrats¨ are a single group, and I think I would have added (probably
unlike Boot) that I also hope that these are not ¨the Democrats¨ led by Pelosi and
Here is some more:
Why did it take so
long to accept the obvious truths about the Republican Party?
I asked that about myself.
I really grapple with that. The real reason is this tribal instinct,
which I feel is probably the most powerful impulse in politics. A
desire to be in union with other people that you identify as your
confederates, your fellow ideologues, however you define it -- and
you're not going to be part of a movement if you focus a bright light
on some of the dark, ugly parts of that movement. I might add, this is
not a universal problem just on the right.
Yes, I think Boot may
well be right about this, and this is also a major reason why I am not
a member of any political party since I am 20 (which meanwhile is
nearly 50 years ago): I am not a person with a ¨desire to be in union with other people that
you identify as your
confederates, your fellow ideologues¨, for I always wanted to do my own
thinking and valuing.
Here is Boot about the
majority of the Republicans (with a seat):
Ultimately, they are
cowards. Certainly, the Republican politicians are cowards because they
saw what happened to Mark Sanford in South Carolina. He is a Republican
congressman who was somewhat critical of Trump and ended up losing his
primary. That is the No. 1 fear of every politician in Washington, that
they're going to lose their primary, and they know that a tweet from
Trump could set them on the road to being out of office. These cowardly
politicians then rationalize and come up with explanations for why
they're doing the right thing, even though I think in their heart of
hearts they know they are not doing the right thing.
Boot certainly knows
the Republicans far better than I do, and I think he may be quite right
(and not only about Republicans) that they may fear to be ¨going to lose their primary¨ if they disagree with Trump.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Can the Republican
Party be saved in its present form, or does it need to be burned down
and reduced to rubble? What would that look like?
I think the Republican Party
needs to be burned down. The Republican Party has to suffer devastation
at the ballot box, otherwise they will continue on their current path.
They need to understand that they can't win political power by
attacking minorities, by engaging in racist and xenophobic rhetoric, by
pursuing isolationism and protectionism. This is not a winning
political formula. The only way they're going to get that message as if
they in fact start losing at the ballot box. So even though the first
and only Democrat I've ever voted for was Hillary Clinton, I’m now
urging everybody to vote straight party, straight-ticket Democratic in
I mainly agree, though
I also hope that the Democrats who will be elected will be considerably
to the left of Pelosi and Clinton. This is a recommended article, in
which there is rather a lot more.