from December 24, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
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 three 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 December 24, 2018:
1. Trump, Angry Over Mattis’s Rebuke,
Removes Him 2 Months Early
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. Paul Ryan's Entire Career Was a Cash
Grab for Billionaires
3. This Could Stop Congress From Forcing Shutdowns
4. Here's why 'platforms' like Tumblr are a totalitarian threat
5. Communities Without Consequences: Demographics and the
Destruction of Democracy
Angry Over Mattis’s Rebuke, Removes Him 2 Months Early
This article is by Helene Cooper
and Katie Rogers on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
than two hours after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis went to the
White House on Thursday to hand a resignation letter to President
Trump, the president stood in the Oval Office and dictated a glowing
tweet announcing that Mr. Mattis was retiring “with distinction” at the
end of February.
Mr. Trump had not read the letter. As became apparent to the president
only after days of news coverage, a senior administration official
said, Mr. Mattis had issued a stinging rebuke of Mr. Trump over his
neglect of allies and tolerance of authoritarians. The president grew
increasingly angry as he watched a parade of defense analysts go on
television to extol Mr. Mattis’s bravery, another aide said, until he
decided on Sunday that he had had enough.
a tweet later that morning, the president announced that he was
removing Mr. Mattis from his post by Jan. 1, two months before the
defense secretary had planned to depart. Mr. Trump said that Patrick M.
Shanahan, Mr. Mattis’s deputy and a former Boeing executive, would
serve as the acting defense secretary, praising him as “very talented”
and adding that “he will be great!”
Yes indeed, although I read in other articles
same subject that Trump had read the letter but did not
I do not know what is the truth.
Here is some more:
Officials in allied nations,
who had already expressed unease over Mr. Mattis’s resignation, voiced
exasperation over his hastened departure. “And now Trump gets rid of
SecDef Mattis almost immediately,” Carl Bildt, a former prime minister
of Sweden, wrote on Twitter. “No smooth transition. No effort at
reassurance to allies. Just vindictive.”
I think this is correct. Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
By Sunday morning, Mike
Pompeo, the secretary of state, had informed Mr. Mattis that he would
have just over another week in his current job. Mr. Pompeo and John R.
Bolton, the president’s third national security adviser since taking
office, are left to direct policy while the president considers an
official replacement for Mr. Mattis. In a call with reporters, a White
House official framed Mr. Shanahan’s tenure as one that could keep
daily operations stable in the interim.
Yes. And this is a recommended article.
Ryan's Entire Career Was a Cash Grab for Billionaires
This article is by
Peter Certo on Truthdig and originally on OtherWords. This from near
I think I fully
Certo, but this is on my understanding that Ryan´s plans
mostly of making the few rich a lot richer and the many poor a lot
For years, the ten-term
Wisconsin Republican — who’s retiring as Democrats prepare to take over
the House — enjoyed an improbable reputation as a “deficit hawk” and
“deep thinker” about fiscal issues.
Year after year, as House
budget chairman, Ryan would roll out his latest “blueprint.” He’d
literally roll up his sleeves for the cameras and detail his latest
plans to slash rich people’s taxes and scale back public services for
For a while, mainstream
liberals greeted Ryan as a serious interlocutor.
They treated his plans to
privatize Medicare, eviscerate Social Security, and shred the safety
net as valid viewpoints in the Adult Conversation they wanted politics
to be. Even if you didn’t agree with him, they said, you had to admit
Ryan “had a plan” to “deal with the debt.”
That scam propelled Ryan to
the House speakership in 2015. Then the long con really took off.
I also think my understanding is correct:
Indeed, although I have a
minor correction: ¨a feat
of pure sociopathy¨ is
virtually meaningless because sociopathy is psychiatric
makes one a madman in the eyes of psychiatrists simply because
one does not agree with a society´s dominant norms. (Thus,
persons were considered mad in the Soviet Union because they
with the dominant norms in the Soviet Union.) I would replace it by
something like ¨an evil feat¨.
For five straight years
before Ryan took over, deficits had declined. By the time he gave his
self-satisfied farewell, they’d increased by $343
billion — a product of Ryan’s tax breaks for corporations and
millionaires, which will cost $2
trillion over the next decade.
Thanks to the very deficit
he created, Ryan then left office warning that Congress needed to cut
guessed it — Medicare and Social Security. (No doubt he’s
still stinging from his 2017 failure to throw 24 million Americans off
their health care — a feat of pure sociopathy he
actually said he’d been dreaming about since he “was drinking
out of kegs.”)
Here is more:
I quite agree with Certo
Ryan´s qualities. As to Ayn Rand (and I do not know how much
influenced Ryan): her attitudes to ¨“the primordial savages” who made up “the collective” —
i.e., the public¨ are extremely
arrogant and amounts to something that is
little different from the thesis that
¨the public¨ is too stupid to take care of its own interests, and should
be manipulated into doing what their manipulators
think is best
for them - that is, to two classes of humans: the rich and smart
the non-rich and stupid.
Ryan was never a serious
thinker and he didn’t care about debt. He was a frat bro from
a wealthy family who read a lot of Ayn
Rand, a writer who called it “a disease” to do anything good for
“the primordial savages” who made up “the collective” — i.e., the
A bad model for public
servants, if you ask me.
Here is the ending of this article:
I mostly agree and this is a
The silver lining is that
Ryan’s villainy — like Trump’s — spurred the growth of powerful
movements to expand health care, rebalance the economy, and get the
U.S. out of immoral wars. Lawmakers from those movements — Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and others — and a new House
majority can now get to work burying Ryan’s legacy forever.
No one who isn’t a
billionaire — or a bombmaker — will miss him.
Could Stop Congress From Forcing Shutdowns
is by the Common Dreams staff. It starts as follows:
Yes, I completely
with Ocasio-Cortez, and will turn below to my reasons, but first a bit
from a Tweet of Ocasio-Cortez:
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called
for congressional salaries to be put on hold during the next government
The US government went into
a partial shutdown at midnight on Friday after President Trump refused
to sign a spending bill that did not include $5 billion for his wall on
the U.S.-Mexico border. He had long claimed that Mexico would pay for
unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown
on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from
that decision,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.
“Have some integrity,” she
added, calling for salaries to be furloughed for the next
Yes indeed, and here is the
My three reasons why I completely
agree with Ocasio-Cortez are that (1) it is simply very unfair
to dismiss persons working for the government because someone
partially closes the government on political grounds, and (2) it is even
more unfair to force hundreds of thousands to work for the
government without pay, while (3) in Holland certainly and I
think also in the rest of Western Europe, at least, as well, one
dismiss people who work for the government on the ground that the
government will stop working in part for a period, nor can one stop
paying these people.
Members of the House and
the Senate are paid $174,000 a year. According to Roll Call,
153 House members and 50 senators are millionaires.
More than 420,000 federal
workers who are considered “essential” will continue working — but
without pay, according to CBS News. Those employees may eventually
receive back pay. However, an additional 380,000 workers will be
furloughed and may miss a paycheck depending on how long the shutdown
And I think my three reasons are entirely fair.
why 'platforms' like Tumblr are a totalitarian threat
is by Keith Spencer on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from
near its beginning:
Yes, I mostly agree - but
if you were to rely on (the ever-worsening) Wikipedia for an
understanding of the term ¨totalitarianism¨, you are totally
out of luck, for according to Wikipedia, which seems to mirror
Brzezinski in this and other respects, totalitarianism can
Long before Tumblr’s
C-suite decided to go full Protestant, similar situations occurred at
other digital platform sites. When San Francisco–based Uber lowers
the base fare for its global workforce of millions of drivers, a worker
in Mumbai suddenly suffers. And when the engineers at Facebook in Menlo
Park decide to toy with the algorithm that determines who and what you
see in your Timeline, the reduction in visibility is felt by a small
family business in Cairo.
There is something innately
absurd about this undemocratic, totalitarian arrangement: it can make
one’s success (or failure) feel utterly arbitrary, as if we were all
mere puppets driven by randomly-changing algorithms. And
yet, for the corporate imaginations who set the decrees,
there is a Machiavellian logic at work driven by — what else? — profit.
exist only in states which are totalitarian (which then
is mostly undefined), and not outside them. So as long as the
USA is assumed to be democratic, it cannot possibly totalitarian -
according to Wikipedia, that is.
For me, that is intentional bullshit
and I define totalitarianism (about which I have been reading more than
50 years) as follows:
Totalitarian: Ideology or religion that is
pretended to have final answers to many important human questions and
problems and that is pretended to be thereby justified to persecute
persons who do not agree with the ideology or the religion.
This is the usual
form that every human ideology assumes
- religious, political and otherwise, with science as the
almost only partial exception.
The supposed truths
and values of
tend to be absurdities according to the common sense of whomever does not
have the religion or ideology. And in general Voltaire's sharpwitted
dictum applies here: "If we believe in
absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
the main factual, moral and intellectual problem of virtually all
religions and political ideologies is not that most of the key theses
of the religion or ideology are nonsensical, false or not
properly based on evidence,
but the fact that these key theses are used in a totalitarian
And yes, I also do not
quite agree with Spencer´s choice of the term ¨totalitarian¨ for the
actions of the leaders of Uber, Facebook, Google etc. and namely not
because these leaders do not call for persecution of the people
disagree with - but I can understand why he uses the term.
Here is more on what I
call the a-social media, for that is what they are:
Yes indeed - and please
realize that the a-social media try to keep their members on their
sites by advertisements in order for their members to read more
advertisements, simply because that is how the a-social media make
money: From advertisements.
Social media corporations
Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram are interested in keeping us glued to
their sites, regardless of the social repercussions. One might argue
that all companies attempt to get consumers habituated to their
products; yet social media’s influence in our lives is personal and
intrusive in a way that few industries have ever been before. "Your
telephone in the 1970s didn’t have a thousand engineers on the other
side of the telephone [who were] updating the way your telephone worked
every day to be more and more persuasive," digital ethicist Tristan
Harris explained in a CBS interview.
And not only that, for the a-social media know much more
about you, your family and your friends than you know yourself (or your
family and friends know about themselves):
Yes indeed, although I disagree
with ¨we¨ because I know about Facebook for a
long time, but
it sickens and sickened me so much that I never became a member
and only visited it twice (to check out lies somebody had
written about me,
and which were only on Facebook).
Nowadays, social media
literally categorizes, manages, and controls our relationships with
friends and confidants. In the process, it affects what we see of their
lives, the emotions we feel and receive, and the information we are
fed. In this regard, the social media industry is far more intimate
than the newspaper industry; more manipulative than the beauty
industry; and more precise in its targeting than television. And now,
for many bloggers, marketers, newspapers, businesses and — yes — sex
workers, it is also the hand that feeds them.
Why, then, do these sites
all undergo spontaneous algorithm changes that alienate vast swaths of
their userbase? Again, the answer has to do with eyeballs and thus
profit. Facebook constantly refines its algorithms to keep users
on its site as long as possible, and solicits feedback "so that you
spend more time using the service — thus seeing more of the ads that
provide most of the company’s revenue," as Harris said. This is
standard practice for social media companies.
Here is more:
Well... here at least two other
considerations are quite relevant. The first is that the leaders of
Facebook insist that (i) they are entitled to do with their -
programs (aka algorithms, but that is a term I dislike) as they
simply because they are private companies. The second is that the
majority of the members of Facebook is too stupid and/or
to understand what Facebook is doing to them.
When Facebook suddenly
its Timeline algorithm last year, thousands of news sites saw their
traffic drop dramatically — resulting in a sudden dip in advertising
dollars. Facebook made the decision because its industrial
psychologists figured out that people stay more engaged (read: spend
more time on the site) if they see their friends' posts, rather than
the posts of news sites or magazines that they might follow.
I think both are quite correct. There is a lot more to be said about
either point, but I will not try to do so in this review.
Here is Franklin Foer (who edited the New Republic) quoted:
I think that is at least partially
misleading, for what Zuckerberg wants is
that the individual
persons who become members of Facebook become totally transparent
predictable, and advertisable, and manipulable) whereas he wants
Facebook to be as non-transparent as he can possibly make it.
[Facebook CEO Mark
has described Facebook [as] being like a government. It sets policies.
I think that he has generally had a vision of where he wants to lead
his users. [The] idea of sharing, [is] so deeply embedded in Facebook;
[Zuckerberg] wants the people who use Facebook to become more sharing
individuals. This is consistent with one of the big values at Silicon
Valley, which is transparency; Silicon Valley believes in the religion
of transparency. So one way in which [Zuckerberg] justified Facebook is
that it causes people to be more transparent. They expose more of their
lives to their friends and to their family, and they expose their
views, they expose where they go to holiday, and that this is going to
make us ultimately better human beings.... I mean, really, in my view,
they have a set of ideals, but they also have a business model. They
end up reconfiguring your ideals in order to justify their business
Here is the ending of this article:
I mostly agree with this,
although I still do not think that the choice of ¨totalitarian¨
best choice of words. I think that - for example - authoritarian
would have been better, but this is a recommended article.
This is all to say that
reached a point where the power wielded by said platforms has few
analogues in history. An errant piece of code or an intentional
Facebook Timeline change has an instant, damning effect on so many
lives. Such an arrangement speaks to the totalitarian nature of Silicon
Valley: the eggheads who know best make the rules, and the rest of
us — whether magazine, sex worker or Uber driver — are just grist for
the digital mill.
Without Consequences: Demographics and the Destruction of Democracy
is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Well... while I did not
know that ¨there’s a
virtual cottage industry (..) to explain it¨, I do know that (1) I have read
quite a number of articles that seem to be written by such a cottage
industry but (2) I have missed in each
of these ¨explanations¨ what seem to be the main reasons to
explain why ¨America
elected an ignorant, racist, profane, incompetent, reality show buffoon
as President¨ and why Trump
¨seems to have taken some
40 percent of Americans down his hate-filled,
myth-fueled, anti-science rat-hole¨.
Even after more than two
years, the notion that America elected an ignorant, racist, profane,
incompetent, reality show buffoon as President still seems
incomprehensible to the rational, reality-based world.
What is even more
inconceivable is that Trump seems to have taken some
40 percent of Americans down his hate-filled,
myth-fueled, anti-science rat-hole with him. Worse, the
Republican Party is abandoning
democracy and a sizable number of citizens seem prepared to
join them, with 52
percent of Republicans saying they’d back Trump if he
suspended elections in 2020.
How did hate-speech, white
nationalism, and authoritarianism gain so much ground in the “home of
the brave and the land of the free?”
The answer is complex, and
there’s a virtual cottage industry forming to explain it.
My reasons are that at least
40 percent of the
Americans is stupid
and these are the two main reasons for Trump´s success - but I
do not know of anybody else who insists on this, even
while it is or ought to be obvious that 50% of all Americans
have an IQ
that is less than 100.
And I think the main reason why I missed that obvious (partial)
explanation very many times is that the articles I do read are
by professional journalists, who want to avoid criticisms of the gifts
of many of their readers, especially if their opinions are not
flattering for at least 50% of their readers.
Well... I am not a professional journalist at all, and never
was, while I am strongly interested in the truth, and
that is my main explanation for the fact that you will not
read my main explanation for the fact that Trump was chosen as
Back to the answers that Atcheson does give:
Yes indeed: This is quite
true. Then there is also this:
Citizens in small states
always enjoyed a disproportionate amount of power by virtue of the way
the constitution was negotiated. For example, voters in Wyoming
have about 290,000 people per Senator, while in California the ratio is
about 19,020,000 people per Senator. And as the population has
grown, citizens in states with only one Representative have had their
voices amplified even further. Since the electoral college is
defined by Congressional representation, this plays out in the
Well... yes, but when people do ¨get their information from ideological
monocultures that reinforce their biases and prejudices¨ my own explanation is that the main
reason for this must be that they are stupid
Finally, the rise of a
segmented news environment in which people get their information from
ideological monocultures that reinforce their biases and prejudices,
with social media further insulating them from any exposure to
alternative views, has allowed people and media to substitute myth,
rumor and outright lies for data, reality, and context.
And there is this:
No, it is not
people can ¨form communities of
like-minded people on the Internet¨
- in fact, this is what happens when you somehow throw a great number
of people together so that they can easily communicate: it is human.
Worse, people can now
communities of like-minded people on the Internet. This isn’t simply
the creation of specific news and information tailored for people’s
prejudices – this is the creation of virtual communities in which
people’s worst fears, prejudices and biases are reinforced, not
tempered. In short, these communities create a culture that not only
fosters the most heinous species of propaganda, but allows it to be
more sweeping in its influence.
What is bad is that many of the ¨communities¨ people form
consist mostly of stupid and/or ignorant people who refuse to read or
see materials (they could easily see if they wanted) because it
disagrees with their values
what is also bad is
that the a-social media
strongly further that people only read their a-social media and
hardly any other; and what is also bad is that the a-social
media are led by persons who are by far the most interested in the
profits they make themselves from exploiting their a-social media
well as they can.
Here is the ending of this article:
Yes, I agree with this, and this
is a recommended article in spite of my criticisms.
The solutions are a
progressive and populist set of policies like those in Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.
Only hope can extinguish despair; only concrete action can counter
Sadly, the Democratic
leadership seems intent on embracing the tired old tactics of identity
politics, faux progressive rhetoric, and
pay-to-play neoliberalism in lieu of a set of real progressive
policies that would lift all Americans, mitigate climate change, and
unite us in the process.
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 (!!).