January 1, 2019

Crisis: Resistance & Faith, On Assange, Remove Trump, Women At Home, Open Internet


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 1, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 1, 2019. 

1. Summary

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.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from January 1, 2019:
1. Resistance Is the Supreme Act of Faith
2. Giuliani Says Assange Should Not Be Prosecuted

3. America’s New Year’s Resolution: Remove Trump

4. Basic Income vs Guaranteed Jobs: What If We Paid Stay-At-Home

5. The Year Without the Open Internet Order
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:

1. Resistance Is the Supreme Act of Faith

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts - apart from a few lines of poetry - as follows:

The struggle against the monstrous radical evil that dominates our lives—an evil that is swiftly despoiling the earth and driving the human species toward extinction, stripping us of our most basic civil liberties and freedoms, waging endless war and solidifying the obscene wealth of an oligarchic elite at our expense—will be fought only with the belief that resistance, however futile, insignificant and even self-defeating it may appear, can set in motion moral and spiritual forces that radiate outward to inspire others, including those who come after us. It is, in essence, an act of faith. Nothing less than this faith will sustain us. We resist not because we will succeed, but because it is right. Resistance is the supreme act of faith.

Only for some, and not for my grandfather, my father and myself. And while I have been ill today for 40 years now with ME/CFS, in which I also was not allowed to be ill by the Dutch bureaucrats and 90% of the Dutch medical doctors until March 2018 (!!!), which has prevented me to do almost everything that I wanted to do in my life, this was not true of my grandfather and my father.

In fact, my father's father started out as a Protestant and as a middle class owner of a house painting firm, but after he had gone broke five times in a row in the early 1930ies, he radicalized politically and morally, also moved by the arisal of fascism in the 1930ies and the discrimination of the Jews, and in 1937 he became a member of the Dutch Communist Party, also having lost his faith meanwhile.

In part, this was the work my father, who had himself become a member of the Dutch Communist Party in 1935 and before that had also lost his Protestant faith.

The Dutch Communist Party was the only sizeable Dutch group (of around 10,000 members in the late 1930ies) that went into the Resistance, already in the first half of May 1940, and that remained so for the whole duration of World War II.

They were also much hated by the Nazis and thoroughly prosecuted, with the help of the former Dutch police and the former Dutch secret service. In five years, they lost over 2000 of their members, mostly through arrests and subsequent killings (and often tortures).

One of these was my grandfather, who was arrested in August of 1941, and who was convicted as a "political terrorist" by collaborating Dutch judges (almost all Dutch judges collaborated) to concentration camp imprisonment, which he did not survive in 1943, when he was in his early sixties.

My father was also arrested in August of 1941 an also was convicted as a "political terrorist" by collaborating Dutch judges, but survived the war and four German concentration camps (as a "political terrorist").

My father was quite intelligent, with an IQ over 135, but remained a communist all his life after 1945, I think mostly because he had survived four concentration camps in part through the help he got from other arrested communists (both Dutch and Germans).

He also was called by quite a few Dutchmen "a traitor" after 1948 because he was and remained a communist, and because the Cold War had started, but even so was knighted briefly before his death (to my knowledge as the first Dutch communist who was knighted: communists were not knighted in Holland until the middle 1990ies) in 1980 because he was the main person who was responsible for desigining and building an exhibition about World War II, fascism and concentration camps between 1960 and the late 1970ies.

I had given up Marxism in 1970, when I was 20, although I had been educated in it, indeed not because I disagreed with my parents (my mother also had spent time in the communist resistance in WW II but was never arrested) or their moral norms, but because I was seriously interested in philosophy, and had read a lot of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and found I could not agree with their main teachings.

Even so, when I returned from Norway where I lived in 1977 (the biggest mistake in my life) I was within 10 days classified as "a fascist" by the fascist terrorists from the ASVA, that was filled mostly with "communists", who in fact were the radicalized sons and daughters of the rich, who were following the political fashion of the day, that was much strengthened by the fact that the Dutch students had the power in the Dutch universities between 1971 and 1995.

I was honored with he same title ("fascist", "dirty fascist") between 1977 and 1989 by many quasi-communistic sadistic students of the ASVA, also because I had started a political party of students in the "University" of Amsterdam that opposed the ASVA, and in 1988, when I was removed as a student from the faculty of philosophy very briefly before getting my M.A. in philosophy, also as "a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist" (according to some 20 to 30 student members of the ASVA) because... I had dared to criticize the level of my "teachers" of philosophy (all but one were utter incompetents).

These were some of the backgrounds of my grandfather, my father and myself. Now about faith.
My grandfather, my father and my self did not have any religious faith whatsoever since 1935 at the latest.

If you want to know more about faith, click the link, but I, for one, am not sustained by faith but by science, and about the only thing I can agree with Hedges on faith is that "We resist not because we will succeed, but because" we believe we are more right morally and intellectually than those we oppose.

Back to Hedges. Here is more from his article:

The nature, power and cost of civil disobedience, along with the understanding that confronting evil is the highest form of spirituality, is the subject of the play “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine,” written by Dan Berrigan. Transport Group will present a production of the play at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City from Jan. 16 to Feb. 23. It will be performed with three actors, one of whom is my wife, Eunice Wong. Our daughter was baptized by Dan Berrigan (1921-2016).

Well... I suppose this is fine for Hedges, who is a Christian minister, but I tend to deny any influence of spirituality (either it is mostly nonsense or else is not understandable by me - and I consumed - literally - thousands of books on philosophy and logic in the last 50+ years).

Here is more:

The defendants in the Catonsville Nine trial declined to question or challenge any potential jurors during the selection process. Later they would use their testimony not to attempt to prove their innocence—they freely admitted they were guilty of the prosecution’s narrow charges—but to put the nation on trial. They argued that to abide by a higher law they must confront the law. Breaking the law was a function of conscience.

This is quite correct to the best of my knowledge (but I deny any law that is higher than human or natural law).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The Catonsville Nine were indifferent to their fate. “We were obliged in fact to attain some kind of personal liberation before acting at all,” Berrigan wrote, “a certain spiritual detachment from the fact of prison.” They did not expect miracles. They were not deceived by the roller coaster of emotional highs and lows that characterize a consumer culture. Patience, as the Vietnamese in Hanoi told Dan Berrigan, “is a revolutionary virtue.” It was the truth that was on trial.

I do not want to criticize the Berrigans, who were quite heroic, in my judgement, but their situation was rather different from that of my father and grandfather in August 1941: I do not know what the Germans did to my grandfather, but my father was so much abused in prison - where he did not talk - that he attempted to suicide.

Anyway... I like Chris Hedges, but his story does not hold for my grandfather, my father and my self, and also - while my father and grandfather were quite heroic - none of us three believe(d) that - as Hedges' title has it - "religion is the supreme act of faith":

My grandfather, my father and my self act without religion, and only based on our own understandings and our own values. And we do not need nor desire a promise of heaven or a threat of hell to do so.

2. Giuliani Says Assange Should Not Be Prosecuted

This article is by Joe Lauria on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, said Monday that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange had done “nothing wrong” and should not go to jail for disseminating stolen information just as major media does.

“Let’s take the Pentagon Papers,” Giuliani told Fox News. “The Pentagon Papers were stolen property, weren’t they?  It was in The New York Times and The Washington Post.  Nobody went to jail at The New York Times and The Washington Post.”

Giuliani said there were “revelations during the Bush administration” such as Abu Ghraib.  “All of that is stolen property taken from the government, it’s against the law. But once it gets to a media publication, they can publish it,” Giuliani said, “for the purpose of informing people.”

“You can’t put Assange in a different position,” he said. “He was a guy who communicated.”
It so happens that I agree with Giuliani - and indeed disagree with Hillary Clinton. In fact, I don't often agree with Giuliani, but I do on the above.

Here is some more:
The U.S. government has admitted that it has indicted Assange for publishing classified information, but it is battling in court to keep the details of the indictment secret. As a lawyer and close advisor to Trump, Giuliani could have influence on the president’s and the Justice Department’s thinking on Assange.

Giuliani said, “We may not like what [Assange] communicates, but he was a media facility. He was putting that information out,” he said. “Every newspaper and station grabbed it, and published it.”

Giuliani also said there was no coordination between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
I again agree with Giuliani on the above, in so far as my knowledge goes.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Giuliani said: “The thing that really got Hillary is not so much that it was revealed, but they were true. They actually had people as bad as that and she really was cheating on the debates. She really was getting from Donna Brazile the questions before hand. She really did completely screw Bernie Sanders.”

“Every bit of that was true,” he went on.  “Just like the Pentagon Papers put a different view on Vietnam, this put a different view on Hillary Clinton.”

Giuliani said, “It was not right to hack. People who did it should go to jail, but no press person or person disseminating that for the purpose of informing did anything wrong.”

Assange has been holed up as a refugee in the Ecuador embassy in London for the past six years fearing that if he were to leave British authorities would arrest him and extradite him to the U.S. for prosecution.
Again I mostly agree with Giuliani. I say!! And this is a recommended article.

3. America’s New Year’s Resolution: Remove Trump

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

After his first bizarre year, his apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he’d be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions.

Wrong. He’s been worse.

Exhibit one: the “Wall.” After torpedoing Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage over 800,000 government employees (“mostly Democrats,” he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.

On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice Department cases are in limbo.

Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service.

Yes indeed - and incidentally, it is almost three years ago that I decided, as a psychologist, that Trump is insane, and I still think so (much strengthened by the madness Trump unloosened the last two years), but meanwhile I also decided that most people who did not study psychology are probably not capable of thoroughly understanding many of the professional opinions of psychologists.

Here is more by Reich:

In his second year he’s also done even more damage to the nation’s judicial-criminal system than he did before.

At least twice in the past month he’s reportedly raged against his acting attorney general for allowing federal prosecutors to reference him in the crimes his former bagman Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to committing.

This is potentially the most direct obstruction of justice yet. He’s now pressuring an official whom he hand-picked and whose entire future depends on him, to take actions that would impair the independence of federal prosecutors.

Yes, I agree. Here is more:

In his second year he’s displayed even less commitment to keeping the military nonpartisan than he did initially. 

During last month’s teleconference with U.S. troops and coast guard members he continued his rampage against the judiciary, calling the ninth circuit “a big thorn in our side” and “a disgrace.”

Then he turned last week’s surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany into a political rally – praising troops wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps, signing a “Trump 2020” patch, and accusing Representative Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

Quite so. Here is Reich's ending:

Where would we be if a president could simply shut down the government when he doesn’t get his way? If he could stop federal prosecutions he doesn’t like and order those he wants? If he could whip up public anger against court decisions he disapproves of? If he could mobilize the military to support him, against Congress and the judiciary?

We would no longer live in a democracy. Like his increasing attacks on critics in the press, these are all aspects of his growing authoritarianism. We normalize them at our peril.  

Our institutions remain strong, but I’m not sure they can endure two more years of this. He must be removed from office through impeachment, or his own decision to resign in the face of impeachment, as did Richard Nixon.

Republican members of Congress must join with Democrats to get this task done as quickly as possible. Nothing is more urgent. It must be, in effect, America’s New Year’s resolution. 

I mostly agree, but I am probably less confident than Reich is that the USA is still a democracy, or that the American institutions "remain strong". But I agree it is quite desirable that Trump gets - somehow - removed from the presidency before 2021, indeed mostly because of psychological reasons, in my case: I do not think that a person whom I sincerely consider as mad should have the keys to nuclear arms.

4. Basic Income vs Guaranteed Jobs: What If We Paid Stay-At-Home Moms?

This article is by Stephanie Ervin on Naked Capitalism and originally on Evonomics. It starts as follows:

Rising income inequality coupled with the fear that robots will soon occupy more jobs than average Americans has everyone calling for the creation of a modern safety net program. Recent debate on the left and the right falls between guaranteed basic jobs (UBJ) and universal basic income (UBI). Our team at Civic Ventures did an episode of the Other Washington podcast to explore the nuances and virtues of each approach.

As a matter of fact, this article is badly written, at least from my point of view, for I very strongly dislike "simplifications" like "UBI" for "universal basic income" or "UBJ" for "guaranteed basic jobs": I think it is both easier - and faster! - to read the whole name than the abbreviation - "you bee jay" - plus memorizing what it is supposed to mean in the article.

But I do not want to write about abbreviations, but about this - and notably the last paragraph of the following bit:

Our office had the UBI vs UBJ debate internally, and I came up with my own idea about what could be done to address the desire to get Americans the cash they need to fully participate in our economy and exist outside of the scarcity and harms of poverty.

Wouldn’t it be great if we just paid women for the work they already do? We don’t necessarily need to create work (UBJ) or create value (UBI). Instead, we can look for opportunities to compensate Americans for the work they’re already doing — the services they already provide, which benefit other Americans. And, it has the potential to be a lot more practical.

We know that when women earn more money, families do better, because women tend to make economic choices that benefit the family: they invest in education, in healthy food choices, and in other things that lift kids and parents out of cycles of poverty.

What if we paid women (and some men) for the jobs they already do — in the home, raising kids? We have adopted some of these ideas within the in-home childcare space or in-home care providers, but what if we took it a much larger step forward?

I say!!! And I do so - with three exclamation marks - because (1) I was a strong proponent of this idea around 1970 (!!), but then soon learned that (2) I must be "a fascist" or "a terrorist" for proposing something (as a man, also) that the feminists of around 1970 strongly disagreed with:

Around 1970 (and in Holland since 1970) feminists have all been strongly for women to get work (which - in my words - usually amounts to becoming low paid wage slaves), and not for them to raise their own children themselves.

In any case, I ceased being a feminist in 1970, precisely for this reason: I did not and do not think it a good idea to make women wage slaves, and I also do not think this will emancipate them in any way (except perhaps the very richest women, who become professor or doctor).

Here is some more from this article:

Consider what would happen if we decided to pay women and men who choose to stay home with children from birth until they enter full-time school. The government could train those interested in the program in skills like first aid, CPR, basic childcare, on parenting techniques, early brain development. We can use the program itself to create jobs in training and coaching moms through the structured process. And then, most importantly, we can pay women who make it through the program for the primary role they already occupy — dedicated moms. I’ve long believed that modern feminism has lacked respect for and has not given credit to the inherent dignity women hold in the work they already do.

Nothing has to dramatically change, except now the hard work women are doing today would be compensated. We know if those kids were in daycare or with a nanny, that those services have market value, so does staying home with your kids.

Yes, this is more or less correct, although I guess in practice it would have been or will be a considerable problem to pay women to stay at home and raise their own children as they think fit themselves.

Then again, I can say that "I've believed" for 49 years "that
modern feminism has lacked respect for and has not given credit to the inherent dignity women hold in the work they" do at home raising their own kids in their own ways.

I also can add that I have been called "a dirty fascist"
for 49 years for saying things like Ervin does in this article.

Here is the last bit from this article:

If Americans care about lifting children out of poverty, we should pay moms to be moms. It works out financially for everyone and will likely have a positive impact on families and rural America as well as early-childhood development. Women have worked in the home forever, and the cost of childcare has taken many women out of the workforce. It would be really empowering to give all women (and interested men) the opportunity to stay home and raise the kids by paying them to do just that.

Well... I agree in principle, but this idea should have been prominent around 1970, while by now at least hundreds of millions of women have been forced into low-paying and demeaning jobs outside their homes in order to pay those who take over their parental duties.

So I think this proposal sounds rather ironical, but I do more or less agree with it, although I also think that by now it is too late for many women to give up working outside their homes, while it also will be very difficult to have them paid reasonably for working inside their homes.

5. The Year Without the Open Internet Order

This article is by Katharine Trendacosta and Ernesto Falcon on Truthout and originally on the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It starts as follows:

In the waning hours of 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, ending net neutrality protections for the millions of Americans who support them. The fallout of that decision continued all throughout 2018, with attempts to reverse the FCC in Congress, new state laws and governor executive orders written to secure state-level protections, court cases, and ever-increasing evidence that a world without the Open Internet Order is simply a worse one.

The story surrounding net neutrality has always been one of the greed of the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) versus the desires of the majority of people, the actual way the Internet is structured, and the ideal of a free and open Internet. Every win this year represented a win by actual people speaking out over big ISP money.
Actually, this is also the last bit that I quote from this article, mostly because it is fairly long and too detailed. It is recommemded.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they 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 will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).
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