from January 11, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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 January 11, 2019:
1. Frightening Prospect If an
Authoritarian Like Trump Declares State of
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. Bill McKibben: We're Headed for
Hell, or Some Place Like It
3. The Mystery Military Bases of the Pentagon
4. 4 Reasons Corporate Media Refuse to Talk About What Matters
5. From Yellow Vests to the Green New Deal
Prospect If an Authoritarian Like Trump Declares State of Emergency
This article is by
Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Trump says that
will likely declare a national emergency over the border wall if
negotiations over the government shutdown continue. We speak with
Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The Congress has given
the president quite a bit of authority to declare emergencies with
terms that are almost unbounded,” Weissman says. “Congress has always
expected, and society has always expected, that presidents wouldn’t
abuse that authority recklessly, declaring emergencies just because
they want to. We obviously have a president now who has no such
Well... I agree
with Weissman that the USA has ¨a president now who has no such constraints¨ (that would make him act reasonably
or at least to pretend to act reasonably, in my terms) but
if the rest of this introduction is true, that seems mostly be caused
by the fact that Congress has failed to provide for unreasonable
presidents and has made do with mere ¨expectations¨.
Anyway. Here is more:
GOODMAN: But let me ask
about President Trump declaring a national emergency. Some are
speculating that the fact that the White House counsel is with him as
he goes down to the border to McAllen, Texas, suggests he might be
talking about declaring this emergency, which he says he has an
absolute right to do. What is the significance of this? And then,
possibly, the Pentagon coming up with two-and-a-half billion dollars
extra to build the wall. And what does it say about a budget where an
agency can find two-and-a-half billion dollars extra?
WEISSMAN: Well, you know,
first, we shouldn’t ignore that last point you made. I mean, there’s so
much money being wasted on military spending right now, you know, huge
amounts of just money inside the Pentagon sloshing around, going to
places where they can’t identify who is being paid and what it’s for.
That’s its own legitimate national crisis that needs to be addressed.
Yes, this is quite correct.
There is more in other Nederlogs, but - if my memory does not deceive
me - it comes down to these facts: (1) the Pentagon has not
been properly audited for more than 25 years, in spite of the fact that
(2) the Pentagon receives more than half of the taxes
that are gathered, which means (amongh othe things), as Weismann says,
that (3) the Pentagon has ¨huge
amounts of just money inside the Pentagon sloshing around, going to
places where they can’t identify who is being paid and what it’s for¨.
Here is some more:
But to the bigger point
about the emergency, you know, as a matter of law, it’s going to be a
complicated thing. The Congress has given the president quite a bit of
authority to declare emergencies with terms that are almost unbounded
and with powers that have few bounds. Congress has always expected, and
society has always expected, that presidents wouldn’t abuse that
authority recklessly, declaring emergencies just because they want to.
We obviously have a president now who has no such constraints. So, if
he does proceed, which I think is reasonably likely, it’s going to be a
complicated matter of law.
But beyond what the law is,
if you just think about the underlying principles, the sort of—the real
constitutional principles, the democracy principles, it’s a serious
matter, beyond just the outrage of funding a stupid, needless and
immoral wall, or even part of one, which is what he would propose to
do. He wants funding for a border wall. Congress is saying no. The move
to call a national emergency is for the president to say, “I will not
be constrained by what Congress says. Even though there’s not really a
national emergency, I’ll just invoke these powers. I can do something
that would otherwise be illegal, simply by declaring a national
Now, that is—if you follow
the logic of that, that leads to almost unbounded presidential power.
And when you have an authoritarian like Donald Trump in office, that is
a frightening prospect.
Yes indeed - I quite
agree. Besides, I add that in any
parliamentary democracy, at least in so far as it is real, it is the parliament (basically: Congress in the USA)
that has the real power in the country, and not
its president, for that indeed would not be a parliamentary
democracy but a kind of dictatorship or authoritarianism. And this is a
McKibben: We're Headed for Hell, or Some Place Like It
This article is by
Dharna Noor on Truthdig and originally on The Real News Network. It
starts as follows:
DHARNA NOOR: I’m
here in Burlington, Vermont, where the Sanders Institute has convened
hundreds of international civic leaders, artistic leaders, political
leaders to address the problems of our age, like the economic crisis,
social crises, and, importantly, the climate crisis. And I’m here with
somebody who has been doing this for decades, for a very long time.
Bill McKibben is a founder of 350.org, a leading environmental
organization. He’s a leading environmentalist in his own right, and
author of one of the first books on climate change for a mass audience.
Yes indeed, and here is
some more information about Bill
DHARNA NOOR: So
we’re coming off of a panel where you moderated some leading minds on
the climate crisis to talk about not only the problem itself, but what
can be done about it; how we can address economic justice and
environmental justice and racial justice together. Could you talk about
where this idea of the Green New Deal has come from?
BILL MCKIBBEN: Yeah.
I mean, this is an exciting moment, right? This was sort of at the
beginning of a new idea–not that new. People have been talking in one
way or another about a big, some kind of big infrastructure program
that would deal with both our economic woes and our climate crisis. But
it feels a little more real now. Clearly there’s something in the air.
Yes, I agree - and
incidentally, as you can see from item 5 below, there
are now also some American top economists who support the ideas of the
Green New Deal.
Here is more:
Yes, I basically agree
with McKibben. In fact, Ralph Nader has argued similarly: See here.
(...) But you know, we’re up against so much. While so
much movement is happening with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and
Representative Tlaib, from across the House, you know, there are so
many others who are opposing this. You mentioned the Trump
administration’s latest report, but they issued it on Black Friday, a
day that nobody’s really watching what’s happening in the news. Talk
about how we can overcome some of these struggles.
BILL MCKIBBEN: The
only ways to win these fights are to build movements, because the
fossil fuel industry has all the money. That’s their weapon. There’s no
secret to it. They use it to bludgeon entire political parties into
submission. But sometimes organized people can beat organized money if
they get together in numbers large enough. And that’s what’s been
happening increasingly over the last few years. There’s now enough
human beings really scared and really determined to do something that I
think the politicians won’t be able to hide this forever.
Here is more:
You see what happens in our current framework when a few
thousand people show up at the border, and it causes a national
freakout, that scientists, climate scientists tell us with great
conviction that we’re looking at 150, 200, 300 million people on the
move by the middle or latter part of this century. That’s the kind of
thing that destabilizes the entire globe.
Yes, I quite
agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Or perhaps a considerably lower
temperature that still is insufficient to have living people
(for I remember that the temperature of hell is supposed to be 450 C).
Anyway - this is a recommended article.
DHARNA NOOR: Why
are we calling it a Green New Deal? What is the, why are we invoking
the same name as FDR’s New Deal?
BILL MCKIBBEN: Well,
because that was one of the last times that we looked systemically at
our economy; not taking little piecemeal things here and there, but
really making some big, powerful moves. One of the things that’s
important to remember about the New Deal, and that I hope the Green New
Dealers will remember, is that it also involved a lot of
experimentation. Some of the things they tried early on didn’t work, so
they quickly abandoned them and went to other things. And that’s good.
Pragmatism is important here. Any discussion around climate change is
held honest by the physics of this dilemma.
DHARNA NOOR: And
just lastly, could you talk about the stakes if we don’t usher in this
kind of Green New Deal?
BILL MCKIBBEN: If
we don’t do something here and around the world quickly, then we’re
headed, if not to hell, then to a place with a very similar temperature.
Mystery Military Bases of the Pentagon
is by Nick Turse on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. I
abbreviated the title.
Also, this is a good article that is too long to
properly excerpt. Instead, I offer a survey of the present American
military presence in the world.
This is from near its beginning:
Yes indeed. It should be
added that there are around 200 states in the present world, where the
number is a bit uncertain because the definitions are not precise. And
also the USA spends more on war (that they call ¨defense¨) then
the next 10 or 11 countries which follow it spend combined on war.
Officially, the Department
of Defense (DoD) maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states,
eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of
these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio. Just
to start down a long list, these include bases on the Indian Ocean
island of Diego Garcia, in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as well as
in Peru and Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and
known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn’t include any mention
of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or
Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any
number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and
even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.
Here is more:
Yes indeed. And here is an
important reason why American bases in foreign countries are kept
According to David Vine,
author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military
Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, there could be
hundreds of similar off-the-books bases around the world. “The missing
sites are a reflection of the lack of transparency involved in the
system of what I still estimate to be around 800 U.S. bases outside the
50 states and Washington, D.C., that have been encircling the globe
since World War II,” says Vine, who is also a founding member of the
recently established Overseas Base Realignment and Closure
Coalition, a group of military analysts from across the ideological
spectrum who advocate shrinking the U.S. military’s global “footprint.”
Precisely. (As a side
note: It is the same in Holland, where I have demonstrated a lot in my
teens - in the 1960ies - to stop the presence in Holland of American
atomic weapons. Well... their presence was always and systematically
denied from 1963 to 2013, when the drunk former president Lubbers
admitted they always had been there. They still are.)
“Undocumented bases are
to oversight by the public and often even Congress,” Vine explains.
“Bases are a physical manifestation of U.S. foreign and military
policy, so off-the-books bases mean the military and executive branch
are deciding such policy without public debate, frequently spending
hundreds of millions or billions of dollars and potentially getting the
U.S. involved in wars and conflicts about which most of the country
Here is more:
The Overseas Base
Realignment and Closure Coalition notes that the United States
possesses up to 95% of the world’s foreign military bases, while
countries like France, Russia, and the United Kingdom have perhaps
10-20 foreign outposts each. China has just one.
The Department of Defense
even boasts that its “locations” include 164
countries. Put another way, it has a military presence of some sort in
approximately 84% of the nations on this planet — or at least the DoD
briefly claimed this.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
Again precisely so. There
is a lot more in this article, that is strongly recommended.
The annual cost of
U.S. military personnel overseas, as well as maintaining and running
those foreign bases, tops out at an estimated $150 billion annually,
according to the Overseas Bases Realignment and Closure Coalition. The
price tag for the outposts alone adds up to about one-third of that
total. “U.S. bases abroad cost upwards of $50 billion per year to build
and maintain, which is money that could be used to address pressing
needs at home in education, health care, housing, and infrastructure,”
Vine points out.
Reasons Corporate Media Refuse to Talk About What Matters
is by Thom Hartmann on Common Dreams and originally on the Independent
Media Institute. It starts as follows:
I agree with everything in
the above quote, but I do not like “m@therf*cker”,
indeed probably for a reason my readers may not get: I think
absolutely everyone who reads this article knows what to put for the
¨@¨ and the ¨*¨ - which means that still to do so seems rather
crazy to me, and quite childish.
The media recently was all
over Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for calling Donald Trump a “m@therf*cker” in the context of wanting to
impeach him. It got lots and lots of coverage, over a period of several
days, while the really big work the Democrats were doing in the House
is largely ignored, along with most other consequential issues of the
Ever since the media began,
in a big way in the 1980s, to ignore actual news and go for highly
dumbed-down or even salacious stories, many of us who work in the media
have been astonished by this behavior by the network and cable news
organizations and the major newspapers.
They used to report the
details of policy proposals in great detail (see this report
from the 1970s about Richard
Nixon’s proposal for universal health care, comparing his with Ted
Kennedy’s, for example). But since the Reagan era, the networks have
largely kept their coverage exclusively to personality, scandal, and
Why would that be? Why,
since the late 1980s, has the “news” lost any semblance of actual news
and detail, and degenerated into a cleaned-up version of the National
Then again, I do not know who is to blame for this, so I merely
register that I consider it very silly.
Here is more:
In fact, I do not
have a TV since 1970, mostly because I hate advertisements
while I also had learned, in the previous 7 years in which my parents
had TV, that I learned almost nothing by viewing it.
Watch a few hours of
cable TV media, and—outside of a very few shows—odds are you won’t hear
any detail of actual policy whatsoever. Every issue is instead framed
in the horse-race format of “who’s going to win this fight”—leaving
Americans uninformed about the consequences to themselves of the issues
being fought over.
So in fact I doubt whether I have ever seen ¨a few hours of national cable TV media¨ (I can watch some of these on
the internet), and my reasons are as before: It does not teach me
anything and besides I find it extremely boring.
But I agree with Hartmann, and here is more:
Trying to figure out why
is, I’ve come up with four possible reasons (none of which are mutually
exclusive; it may be all or a combination of them).
End of the Fairness Doctrine
In 1987, Ronald Reagan
ordered his FCC to cease enforcing the Fairness Doctrine. This
much-misunderstood regulation required radio and TV stations, in order
to keep their licenses, to “pay” for their use of the public airwaves
(the property of We the People) with actual news. It was called
“broadcasting in the public interest.”
Because of the Fairness
Doctrine, every one of the networks actually lost money on their news
divisions, and those divisions operated entirely separately from the
entertainment programming divisions of the networks.
CBS, ABC, and NBC had
bureaus all around the world and employed an army of reporters.
In fact, this also is
a fairly long and good article - which means that my excerpt is
partial. And in any case, I quite agree with this first reason Hartmann
found ¨Why, since the late 1980s,
has the “news” lost any semblance of actual news and detail, and
degenerated into a cleaned-up version of the National Enquirer?¨
Here is more:
2. The Rise of
Reality TV grew out of the
strikes of 1988 and 2001. In each case, the networks had to figure
out a way to offer compelling programming with shows that didn’t
require union writers. In 1988, they mostly did documentaries on
policing like “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted”; in 2001 they rolled
out the full-blown reality programming we know today, starting with
The networks learned two
big lessons from this. The first was that “reality” programming
actually pulled an audience, and thus was profitable. Extremely
profitable, in that it didn’t require union writers and generally
didn’t even require union actors.
The second was that it was
incredibly cheap to produce.
agree with this reason as well. Here is more:
Media Corporations Are Corporations, Too
Consider: When was the last
time you heard an intelligent discussion on TV about taxing the rich?
Or holding corporations accountable when they break the law? Or how
destructive oligopolies and monopolies are to workers? Or how big
pharma scams us about their R&D expenses and price fixing, buying
up generic companies, etc.? The list could go on for pages.
The simple fact is that TV
“news” organizations are now for-profit operations, and, lacking
regulation like the Fairness Doctrine, thus have the same natural and
inherent biases toward protecting corporate power and privilege, and
the wealth and privilege of their management and largest shareholders.
Yes, I agree
with this as well. Here is more:
The final possibility that
occurs to me (and others in media with whom I’ve discussed this over
the years) is that the large TV and radio news operations simply like
what the GOP stands for. They also know that if GOP policies were
widely understood, the Republican Party would fade into the kind of
powerless obscurity it enjoyed for most of the FDR-to-Reagan era, when
working people’s salaries were growing faster than management and the
middle class was solid and stable.
This is the core of GOP
ideology that media shares: Cut taxes on rich people, kill off the
unions, cut welfare so more of that money can go to rich people’s tax
cuts, deregulate big corporations so they can act without regard to the
public good, and subsidize big corporations with government funds
whenever and wherever possible.
I think this is
also quite true, especially the second paragraph. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
Yes, I quite agree. Then
again, I also observe that the opposites have been happening in the USA
since 1980, so restoring ¨a
rational media landscape¨ ¨to America¨ will very probably be quite difficult. And this
is a fine article that is strongly recommended.
The solutions to these
problems are not particularly complex, although the GOP will fight them
Reinstate the Fairness
Doctrine, put back into place ownership rules, and break up the big
media monopolies so there’s a diversity of voices across America.
Overrule the Supreme Court’s (by legislation or constitutional
amendment) Citizens United (and similar) ruling to regulate money in
politics, diminishing the power of big corporations and billionaires
(and foreign governments).
In other words, restore to
America a rational media landscape.
Yellow Vests to the Green New Deal
is by Joseph
Stiglitz on Common Dreams and originally on Project Syndicate. It
has a subtitle:
movement behind the Green New Deal offers a ray of hope to the badly
battered establishment: they should embrace it, flesh it out, and make
it part of the progressive agenda
I have selected this
article because it is by one of the most prominent economists there
are and because I like it that he supports the idea of a
Green New Deal (as does Paul Krugman, but I stopped reading him).
Also - in case you were to ask me - I have no idea who Stiglitz
(or his subtitle) is referring to when writing about ¨the badly battered establishment¨.
Anyway. This is from near its beginning:
There are good reasons
today’s disgruntlement: four decades of promises by political leaders
of both the center left and center right, espousing the neoliberal
faith that globalization, financialization, deregulation,
privatization, and a host of related reforms would bring unprecedented
prosperity, have gone unfulfilled. While a tiny elite seems to have
done very well, large swaths of the population have fallen out of the
middle class and plunged into a new world of vulnerability and
insecurity. Even leaders in countries with low but increasing
inequality have felt their public’s wrath.
Yes, this seems
all true. Here is some more:
Yes, I agree
again. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The Green New Deal is
premised on three observations: First, there are unutilized and
underutilized resources – especially human talent – that can be used
effectively. Second, if there were more demand for those with low and
medium skills, their wages and standards of living would rise. Third, a
good environment is an essential part of human wellbeing, today and in
If the challenges of
climate change are not met today, huge burdens will be imposed on the
next generation. It is just wrong for this generation to pass these
costs on to the next. It is better to leave a legacy of financial
debts, which our children can somehow manage, than to hand down a
possibly unmanageable environmental disaster.
And I agree again
(but still don´t understand whom Stiglitz is referring to with
his ¨the badly battered
establishment¨). This is a
The Green New Deal sends a
positive message of what government can do, for this generation of
citizens and the next. It can deliver today what those who are
suffering today need most – good jobs. And it can deliver the
protections from climate change that are needed for the future.
The Green New Deal will
have to be broadened, and this is especially true in countries like the
US, where many ordinary citizens lack access to good education,
adequate health care, or decent housing.
The grassroots movement
behind the Green New Deal offers a ray of hope to the badly battered
establishment: they should embrace it, flesh it out, and make it part
of the progressive agenda. We need something positive to save us from
the ugly wave of populism, nativism, and proto-fascism that is sweeping
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 (!!).