from October 24, 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 24, 2018:
1. American Democracy Is on the Brink
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:
2. The Fascist Threat Our Political Establishment Won't
3. Democrats Running for Congress in 2018 Back Medicare for All
4. Why Do Only Some Lives Matter?
5. Chris Hedges: Donald Trump “is the product of a failed
Democracy Is on the Brink
This article is by
Hartmann on Truthdig and originally on The Independent Media. It
starts as follows:
The Republican Party is
currently hoping to win nationwide using two simple elements: explicit
and overt racism, and voter suppression.
No “ideas”; no pitch for
tax cuts; no discussion of their “replacement” for the Affordable Care
Act; no push for better schools, hospitals, airports, roads or bridges;
no promise for more and better jobs—none of these staples of the 2016
presidential campaign can be found in pretty much any Republican
Instead, the public
Republican message is all about race or the subset of race, religion
(“Muslim” stands in for “brown Arab” in GOP-speak) and “immigration”
(aka brown people from south of our border). Republicans across the
country are even recruiting white supremacist and neo-Nazi gangs to threaten or assault Democrats
and their supporters, while President Donald Trump praises the
criminal assault of reporters in the wake of jurnalist Jamal
Yes, I think that is
correct. And here is how the GOP does it:
secretaries of state across the nation are vigorously purging voters
from the rolls (over 14 million, more than 10 percent of America’s
active voters, in the past two years, according to investigative
Immediately after the five
Republican appointees on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted
the Voting Rights Act in 2013, 14 GOP-controlled states moved,
within a year (some within days), to restrict access to the vote,
particularly for communities of color, students, and retired people.
And in fact 14
million fewer voters, because these voters have been somehow
purged, but who would have voted mostly for the Democrats, is a large step towards the GOP winning the
elections of 2018 again.
Here is some more on
how this worked in earlier presidential elections:
But it became the
foundational go-to tactic for the GOP in 2000.
While they used smear and
innuendo to attack Al Gore (ridiculing him for helping write the
legislation that created the modern internet, for example), the main
thing that got George W. Bush into the White House was voter
suppression crimes committed by his brother, then-Florida Gov. Jeb
Bush, and Bush’s Secretary of State, Katherine Harris. Throwing
somewhere between 50,000 and 90,000 African American voters off the
rolls, they were able to get the vote close enough that five Republican
appointees to the Supreme Court functionally awarded Bush the
presidency. (The BBC covered this in 2001 in two
major investigative reports here and here that
were literally seen all over the world except on any American media.)
By 2016, the Republican
Party had fine-tuned their voter suppression and intimidation systems
to the point that they ran in nearly 30 states like well-oiled
machines. Between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, for
had purged more than 2 million voters from its rolls, the vast
majority (more than 2:1) in heavily African American and Hispanic
I say, which I do
because I did not know most of the specifics. Here is more:
Fortunately for America,
investigative reporter Greg
Palast is executing such lawsuits right now, and the purge
lists he’s acquired in the past two weeks include over 90,000 people in
largely Democratic parts of Nevada,
769,436 voters purged in Colorado,
340,134 in Georgia,
550,000 in Illinois,
a large but as-yet-uncounted list from Nebraska,
and 469,000 just purged in Indiana.
More are coming in virtually daily, as Palast continues his lawsuits,
along with the NAACP
and Rainbow Push.
Note that these are indeed 2
million purged voters. Here is the last bit from this article:
Thomas Paine, in his
on First Principles of Government, noted that, “The right of voting
for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are
protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for
slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that
has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.”
If we fail to do something
large, substantial and dramatic about the scourge of voter suppression,
we must all begin learning how to rivet chains.
Those are our options.
I fear this is mostly
correct, and this is a strongly recommended article.
Fascist Threat Our Political Establishment Won't Acknowledge
This article is by Henry
Giroux on Truthdig and originally on CounterPunch. This starts as
Marx was certainly
right in arguing that the point is not to understand the world but to
change it, but what he underemphasized was that the world cannot be
transformed if one does not understand what is to be changed.
I do not like Henry Giroux, and do not mostly
because he reminds me far too much of the many Dutch professors
I experienced; because he writes an artificial and complicated English;
and - among other things - because at 75 he uses (it seems) a portrait
of some 40 years ago, as if he is a filmstar.
And this introduction is an example: If Marx was right in
his claim that ¨the point is not
to understand the world but to
change it¨ (which he did
make in his twenties), he contradicted the thesis that ¨the world cannot be
transformed if one does not understand what is to be changed¨.
I agree (more or less, for it is again formulated imprecisely)
latter, and I also believe that the older Marx would have agreed with
me, and therefore not with the former, but Giroux mixes up the
inconsistency while pretending that he is consistent.
Here is what I mean by his artificial
and complicated English:
with injustice necessitates combining the demands of moral witnessing
with the pedagogical power of persuasion and the call to address the
tasks of emancipation. We need individuals and social movements willing
to disturb the normalization of a fascist politics, oppose racist,
sexist, and neoliberal orthodoxy.
I only mark the
words that trouble my logical mind: ¨Any¨, ¨dissatisfaction¨, ¨injustice¨, ¨necessitates¨, ¨moral witnessing¨, ¨the pedagogical power of persuasion¨, ¨the
tasks of emancipation¨ and ¨a fascist politics¨.
And no, I really do not
understand the above.
You may say or believe you understand the last quotation above,
think (very confidently) that you are mistaken.
Here is more:
In a time of
increasing tyranny, resistance in many quarters appears to have lost
its usefulness as a call to action. At the same time, the
pedagogical force of civic ignorance and illiteracy has morphed into a
national ideal. Tyranny and ignorance feed each other in a theater of
corporate controlled media ecosystems and function more as a tool of
domination than as a pedagogical outlet in pursuit of justice and the
practice of freedom.
What is ¨the
pedagogical force of civic ignorance and illiteracy¨? I agree (if indeed I do, which again
I don´t know) that stupidity and ignorance are
very important forces in human
history, and I am also quite
prepared to agree both appear to be systematically not
mentioned in all of the very many writings I have meanwhile
read about the American presidential elections.
Again (while I am a psychologist and a philosopher, who has
read much difficult prose) I do not know what Giroux
might have meant with the last two sentences quoted above.
Here is more:
(..) the most
unscrupulous of liberal and conservative politicians such as Madeline
Albright, Hilary Clinton, and even James Clapper, the former director
of national intelligence, are now claiming that they have joined the
resistance against Trump’s fascist politics. Even Michael
Hayden, the former NSA chief and CIA director under George W.
Bush, has joined the ranks of Albright and Clinton in condemning Trump
as a proto-fascist. Writing in the New York Times, Hayden,
ironically, chastised Trump as a serial liar and in doing so quoted the
renowned historian Timothy Snyder, who stated in reference to the Trump
regime that “Post-Truth is pre-fascism.” The irony here is hard to
miss. Not only did Hayden head Bush’s illegal National Security Agency
warrantless wiretapping program while the head of the NSA, he also lied
repeatedly about his role in Bush’s sanction and implementation of
state torture in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This at least is understandable.
But then I also know since quite a few years that Albright,
Clapper etc. belong to the rich Democrats who adopted what used to be a
Republican position, in part because the Republicans turned far more
rightist, and in part because such a position guarantees their own
incomes from rich sponsors, or so it seems to me.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
In some cases,
liberal critics such as Christopher R. Browning, Yascha Mounk,
and Cass R. Sunstein document insightfully America’s descent into
fascism but are too cautious in refusing to conclude that we are living
under a fascist political regime. This is more than a retreat from
political courage, it is a refusal to name how liberalism itself with
its addiction to the financial elite has helped create the conditions
that make a fascist politics possible.
This seems also false to me and
besides it is rhetoric
rather than rational argument: I think Browning is a much
better academic than Giroux, and I agree with Browning´s ideas
the USA is descending into fascism, but has not yet arrived at ¨a fascist political regime¨.
Anyway... I chose this article because of its title, but it is, once
again, mostly not understandable to me, and that is not
due to my lack of intelligence but to Giroux´s lack of clarity.
Running for Congress in 2018 Back Medicare for All
is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:
The majority of Democrats
running in congressional races are banking not on centrist healthcare
plans in the hopes of appealing to moderate voters, a new survey
suggests—but on the increasingly popular Medicare for All proposal,
which now has the support of a majority of Americans across the
National Nurses United
(NNU) surveyed hundreds of Democratic House candidates and found that 52
percent of them proudly back a universal healthcare program in the
form of Medicare for All. Running in races across the nation, 225
Democrats who will appear on ballots for national seats support the
I say, which I do
because I did not know this, and because it seems a good
idea. Here is
some background information:
The news comes on the same
day as the release of a Hill.TV and HarrisX poll which
found that 92 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans
support Medicare for All. Enthusiasm for the proposal is on the rise
despite Republicans' efforts at fearmongering and warning against a
system that would expand access to one of the country's most consistently
popular social programs to all Americans.
Given these numbers, in
fact I fail to understand why not all Democrats support a program that
is supported by 92 percent of Democrats, but OK.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Quite so, and this is a
With their explicit
endorsements of Medicare for All, Democratic candidates are offering
voters a stark contrast to the Republican Party's
attacks on healthcare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
earlier this month to make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid to offset the
deficit that has exploded to $779
billion since President Donald Trump took office less than two
years ago, thanks in part to that $1.5 trillion tax cut the Republicans
passed last year, benefiting corporations and the wealthy.
Do Only Some Lives Matter?
is by Robert C. Koehler on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
What would it take for
everyone’s life to matter as much as Jamal Khashoggi’s?
I ask this question over at
the edge of the news, looking for a doorway into the human conscience.
“The U.S. sold a total of
$55.6 billion of weapons worldwide in the fiscal year that ended Sept.
30 — up 33 percent from the previous fiscal year, and a near record. In
2017, the U.S. cleared some $18 billion in new Saudi arms deals.”
This is from CBS News Moneywatch two
weeks ago. No big deal, just a look at the U.S. weapons biz, which has
been thrust into the national spotlight recently.
“Mr. Trump,” the story
continues, “has dismissed the idea of suspending weapons sales to Saudi
Arabia to punish its crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, for any
involvement in the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. ‘I
don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into
the United States,’ Mr. Trump said this week. . . .”
The last part of the
above quote may be reconstructed as: Trump is more concerned
than with human lives (apart from his own and - perhaps - some family
members), and I have seen this done in other articles.
But the main reason I
review this article is its first sentence, mostly because I
that almost every prominent journalist (regardless of relevant
knowledge) did write about Kavanaugh, and them again did
Kashoggi, which also meant that almost every prominent journalist
neglected to write about quite a
few other things they may have known
More below, and here is
Why is it, then, that when
you multiply these murders by a hundred or a thousand or a million,
they become so much easier to talk about and write about and justify —
with the focus on strategy, politics, economics and jobs — than is the
murder of one man? Why is there not one word in this Moneywatch story
as heart-stopping as “bone saw”?
I ask this in no way to
belittle the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but rather to belittle . . .
no, to undo, to rip apart . . . what we call news. If it weren’t for
news that normalizes and softens war, that turns it — here in the 21st
century — into a spectator sport, the military industrialists and their
political supplicants could not sell it to the public with such ease.
Well... in journalism one
normally cannot pay much or any attention to individual victims
if one is reporting on many victims (like tens, hundreds or thousands),
while one can do so if there is only one victim.
This explains part of the
phenomenon Koehler describes. But more explanations are necessary, and
one is simply that prominent journalists are more or less free
to decide what they write about, and like to write about prominent
horrible things, because doing so makes them even better known than
they are already.
Here is the ending of
“The report, to be
delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council next month, comes
not long after a Saudi-coalition strike this month killed 40 children
on a school bus.”
Eventually the story tosses
in this little moral grenade:
“A report released by Human
Rights Watch last week warned Britain, France and the United States
that they risked complicity in unlawful attacks in Yemen by continuing
to supply arms to Saudi Arabia.”
But none of this has the shock
value of the torture and murder of a man at the Saudi consulate in
Istanbul on Oct. 2, not even the murder of 40 children on a school bus.
Why do only some lives matter?
I have explained the
last question above, at least to a considerable extent, and this is a
Hedges: Donald Trump “is the product of a failed democracy”
is by Chauncey DeVega on Salon. This is from not far from its beginning:
I like and admire Chris
Hedges, and that is the main reason to review this article. Most of it
is interview, and in the rest of the text that I quote the bold text is
by DeVega and the non-bold text is by Hedges.
journalist Chris Hedges spent several years embedding himself in
different communities across the United States investigating our social
and cultural disease. In his new "America: The Farewell Tour," Hedges
explores what went so wrong with American society over the last few
decades that an authoritarian like Trump would be voted into
office by tens of millions of the country's citizens.
Can America be salvaged? Is
the American experiment in democracy over? How did an unholy union of
Christian fascism and unchecked corporate power combine to destroy the
American dream and gut the commons? Are the American people fighting
back to reclaim democracy and a healthier society?
Here is the first bit of the interview that I quote:
Donald Trump has
been president for almost two years. At this point are things better or
worse or as expected?
The situation is worse.
Donald Trump was always a pretty frightening and repugnant figure. But
even I wouldn't have predicted that he was this bad. He and this
situation are completely unhinged. By virtue of every benchmark of a
functioning democracy -- including the debasing of the political
discourse in the United States -- Donald Trump has really accelerated
the decay. This includes things such as the tax cut for the rich,
deregulating the coal and the fossil fuel industry, opening up public
lands for exploitation, the assault against public education,
dismantling the EPA and stacking the courts with ideologues from the
Federalist Society. As a whole the situation with Trump is pretty grim.
Quite so. Here
You have a Democratic Party
running around talking about James Comey or the Podesta emails or
WikiLeaks or Russia without addressing the core issue, which is the
orchestration of incredible social inequality -- which the Democrats
were part of and thus don't address. The longer the Democrats follow
this track of believing that Trump will implode and attempting to blame
his election on Russian interference, the more dangerous the situation
becomes. The Democrats are demonizing outside forces such as Russia
without addressing the core issue which has created this largest
transference of wealth upwards in American history and a corporate
oligarchic elite which at this point is worse than even the Gilded Age.
I think this is quite
right. Here is more:
Trump is the symptom, not
the disease. He is the product of a failed democracy. Political
theorist and philosopher Sheldon Wolin explained this in his
book "Democracy Incorporated."
Wolin showed how there are no institutions left in America that are
authentically democratic. What exists is the leaching of entertainment
into politics. It is the manipulation through the public relations
industry as well as a system that's calcified the lockout of third
parties or insurgent candidates. Substantive social and political
issues are marginalized. Manufacturing consent by the news media and
popular culture at large is the norm.
Yes, I think this is
also quite correct - and for more about Sheldon Wolin,
there is a whole
interviews Hedges had with Wolin. It is here and is strongly
(and you can also get Hedges´ original interviews with Wolin from
Here is more:
postmodernism run amok, where people think that reality TV is real?
You are exactly right.
Trump does not exist. These are fictional creations and personas. And
yet because these fictional creations are so convincing and
disseminated nonstop through electronic devices, in many ways they're
more real to us than the people who live next door. We build our
emotional relationships with these fictional personas, and this leaks
into the news because it thrives on celebrity gossip. News has become a
mini-drama with a star and a villain and a supporting cast.
Yes, it is postmodernism-for-the-masses,
in which "truth does not exist", "truth
is relative", "all moral norms are equally relative", "all men are
equal" etc. etc.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this fine interview:
I’m most afraid of climate
change. The clock is ticking. We have very little time left. Once we go
over two degrees Celsius increase in global temperature we could very
well go into a kind of feedback loop where it doesn't matter what we
do, it's over. Climate scientists would agree. And of course, a system
breakdown like that will spur on the ultimate imposition of
a dystopian corporate totalitarian system that's already set to go.
What I'm most hopeful about
is that more people are not buying into this ridiculous neoliberal
ideology. It is an ideology used to justify corporate and oligarchic
In fact, I am
afraid of the surveillance of everybody by the secret services
- quite realistic - possibility of a nuclear war (that will finish
human civilization), but I agree climate change is very
well. And this is a strongly recommended article, in which
there is a
lot more than I quoted.