from April 21, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
This is a
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
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
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from April 21, 2018
1. Dilma Rousseff: The Rise of Brazil’s Far Right Threatens
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:
Gains Since End of Dictatorship
2. Our Greatest Threat Is the Hardest to Act Upon
3. An Electoral Strategy for National Renewal
4. Of Animals and Monsters and Missiles
5. Bill Curry on the Move Against Public Corruption
Rousseff: The Rise of Brazil’s Far Right Threatens Democratic Gains
Since End of Dictatorship
article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the
The imprisonment of
former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has shaken up this
year’s presidential election. Lula is the front-runner but will likely
be barred from running if he is not released from prison. Polling
second is the far-right former military captain Jair Bolsonaro. We
speak to former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff about the rise of
the far right and the recent assassination of Brazilian human rights
activist and Rio City Councilmember Marielle Franco.
Yes. I am interested in
Brazil, were it only because there live around 209 million persons
in Brazil. Then again, I found the following bit not very
(...) The far right in Brazil, like the far right everywhere, is
anti-woman, anti-black, anti-indigenous persons. And it is in favor of
ending all oversight. And they struggled for this. They want to end any
oversight of labor work situations, analogous to slavery, that continue
to exist in Brazil. They are full of prejudice and intolerance. And
they believe that they can resolve the most complex problems using
brute force or violence, open violence.
But in recent years
democracy has been growing worldwide. And today what we are bearing
witness to, unfortunately, in Brazil, is the return of the far right,
which, since the redemocratization of the country, has never expressed
itself in such clear terms. And that is due to the fact that to bring
about political conditions to carry out a coup by means of an
impeachment, when there’s been no high crime or misdemeanor, they had
to open up that box of monsters. And the Brazilian far right pushed
that and has now destroyed the political center and the center right,
because the center right was pro-coup, and as it dropped out of the
picture, the far right gained strength. This is the main result of the
coup in Brazil (...)
My criticism is that while I
like Rousseff a lot more than her opponents, the above is vague.
Greatest Threat Is the Hardest to Act Upon
article is by Meara Sharma on Truthdig. It is a book review of William
T. Vollmann´s book
Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies”. This is from near the
Vollmann’s new book, “No Immediate Danger,” tussles with the
comprehension-defying nature of climate change. It is a 600-page
amalgam of scientific history, cultural criticism, mathematical
experiments, risk-benefit analyses of energy production and
consumption, and diaristic meanderings through radiation-festooned
landscapes post-Fukushima. The effect is bewildering.
not read this book, but I am following ¨the
environment¨ since 1972 (when I was 22) after I had read an
earlier book by Paul
Ehrlich and then ¨The Limits
to Growth¨, and I am
fairly well informed about ¨the environment¨.
Also, my own strong impression, which is very well
supported by the later editions of ¨The Limits
Growth¨ is that the governments and the parlmentarians,
to do a whole lot for ¨the environment¨ in actual fact did so
that in nearly fifty years none of the - quite pessimistic -
expectations of ¨The Limits to Growth¨ have had to be adjusted.
And incidentally: Yes, I have read quite a few
purported ¨refutations¨ of ¨The Limits
to Growth¨, indeed especially
in the early 1970ies, but while I agree that the report was far from
perfect and can be fairly criticized in a number of ways, I also insist
that (i) their - quite pessimistic - expectations
have been mostly kept up now for 50 years, especially because (ii) the
governments and parliamentarians promised
to do a whole lot, but in
fact did extremely little (beyond
gaining votes for their
Here is more:
The first of two
volumes, jointly called “The Carbon Ideologies,” the whole book is
written as a letter to the future. “Someday,” it begins, “perhaps not
long from now, the inhabitants of a hotter, more dangerous and
biologically diminished planet than the one on which I lived may wonder
what you and I were thinking, or whether we thought at all. This book
is for them.”
Well... the questions in
the second of the above quoted paragraphs may be decent
questions, but I do not think that the question what ¨you and
I¨ - presumed to be ordinary human beings - ¨were thinking, or whether we thought at all¨ is relevant. And I don´t
think it is relevant.
Why so little action? Is it
because many of us don’t care about some “ecosystem somewhere”? Because
the science lacks certainty? Because of companies’ concerns about their
profits? Because of data suppression? Because it is easier not to act?
These questions course through the book.
And my reason is that (i) the actual subject is scientific, and
in the end only a quite small proportion of everyone who is
alive is scientifically qualified in the science or sciences that deal
with the environment, while (ii) those who had much of the power
the last 50 years, which are the governments and the
parliamentarians, seem to have done in hindsight as little or almost as
little as they could do and be
It are not ¨the ordinary people¨ (who in considerable majority
have little idea of real science) who are to blame: it are the
governments and the parliamentarians of the last 50 years who should be
Then there is this:
The title “No
Immediate Danger” refers to a phrase Japanese authorities used after
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, and in the second part
of the book, Vollmann enters that realm. Our insatiable demand for
energy has pushed us toward nuclear power, touted as a miracle solution
that can sustain our way of life without emitting carbon dioxide and
thus contributing to climate change. During trips to Japan, Vollmann
wades through the zeal that surrounds nuclear power (“Will free us from
the fear that our energy resources will run out”) and considers its
hidden and heinous costs. He also interrogates the safety failures of
the plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), whose
management plan stated, “The possibility of a severe accident occurring
is so small that from an engineering standpoint, it is practically
In fact, almost everything
said by the officials of TEPCO were lies. Here is some
more on the same subject:
tsunami survivors, decontamination workers and plant officials, often
supplying them with radiation levels that suggest they’re not as safe
as they think. He is repeatedly met with chilling stoicism. The
disaster was “just bad luck. “Even natural radiation exists, and if it
is natural, it must be all right.” Nuclear power “is necessary. Whether
it is good or bad is another story.” Perhaps this is true patriotism.
Or a coping mechanism.
I don´t think so,
for Vollmann was speaking with - mostly - ordinary persons, who may do
their best, but who are no scientists, no climate
scientists, no biologists, and no physicists.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this review:
I read much of “No
Immediate Danger” in Delhi, where the air is heavy with the refuse of
coal plants, construction and the steady thrum of 10 million cars (as
Vollmann calculates, gross domestic product growth and the growth of
emissions go hand in hand). Breathing in Delhi is the equivalent of
smoking about 40 cigarettes a day, and 1 in 3 children has impaired
I say, and I am referring
to Delhi. It does not bode well at
all for the future.
There are swifter, simpler,
more efficient ways to learn about how human impact on the planet has
set us striding into a “hot, dark future.” But “No Immediate
Danger”—written as calculated denial becomes policy—takes a tack that
feels appropriate. It is overwhelming. It drowns us in calculations,
facts, images, stories. It embodies the confusion of our current
moment, the insidiousness of disbelief, and the mania-inducing reality
that our greatest threat is the hardest to act upon.
As to “No Immediate
Danger”: I shall not read it, because I have been reading about
these things for nearly 50 years now, but for people who are
considerably younger than I am (and who do know some science)
it may be a useful, interesting and probably also a rather embittering
book. And this is a recommended article.
Electoral Strategy for National Renewal
This article is by John Rachel on Truthdig.
It starts as follows:
We have a serious problem
with our floundering democracy.
Our elected representatives
don’t represent us. Thus, the people have no real voice in the
direction and running of the country.
Yes, every election cycle
candidates make delightful speeches, offering vague but pleasant
rhetoric on all the wonderful things they will do for “we the people”
Unfortunately, when they
arrive in Washington, D.C., amnesia sets in, and they forget the folks
back home who put them in their cushy jobs in our nation’s capital.
They then take their marching orders from their deep-pocketed corporate
patrons slash ruling-elite puppet masters, and we get a country that
serves only the rich and powerful, with the rest of us scrambling to
This is - or so I think
- mostly correct: The - very few - persons who are voted in (on
the national level) in the USA do not
do what they promised to
do, and they do very often do what they are paid
to do (by the
In brief, very much of
the parliamentary structure and very many of the persons working in it
have been corrupted
by the rich.
I think that is
correct. Here is Rachel´s - purported - cure:
This is why we’ve created
the CFAR national electoral strategy.
CFAR stands for Contract
For American Renewal. It’s a contract between a candidate for
office and the voters in his or her voting jurisdiction—i.e., their
congressional district or their state.
The candidate contract idea
is simple and straightforward.
The candidate contract takes
the guesswork out of voting.
It’s a radical innovation
that sets a new standard for electoral integrity. It provides a
bulletproof mechanism for deciding where a candidate stands on crucial
issues, how serious that candidate is about solving the problems that
are important to voters, how serious that candidate is about
representing his or her constituents.
In fact, it sets down in
writing exactly what that candidate will be doing on 11 key
initiatives when he or she arrives in Washington, D.C.—right from
I say, which I do
because it is rather unexpected. Also, I have tried the site of the
CFAR a number of times and what I found was the following:
- they have selected
11 rather populous themes with the American voters
- the American voters are
supposed to elect only persons who
signed their contract
- their contract is shown
several times but cannot be copied
At this point I am
growing considerably more skeptical:
those who American voters are going to vote for (and against)
will sign such a contract? I got
evidence for precisely one
person, and I also guess that most of those who want to be voted into
Washington will refuse to be bound by a contract with their
This makes it rather
unlikely - I think - to succeed, and besides, I strongly
sites (except Ralph Nader´s and that is because he is in his eighties)
from which I cannot copy things (without doing several things I
ever do: I give up the sites).
Here is another
explanation of and by CFAR:
Our answer to this
obstinacy, this total defiance of the will of the American people, the
corruption that has poisoned the political process and all but
destroyed our democracy, is the Contract For American Renewal.
The CFAR includes 11
initiatives. These are the things millions of Americans want done—a
huge majority of U.S. citizens.
As different as these items
are individually, they all have one thing in common: None of them gets
through our deadbeat Congress.
Well, I shouldn’t say it’s
deadbeat, because it’s not. Our representatives are working hard to
make sure none of these things gets passed. They’re working hard not
for you and me, but for their rich patrons, their deep-pocketed Wall
Street donors, their Koch brothers, their defense contractors,
investment bankers and hedge-fund buddies.
As I said, but it’s worth
repeating: Candidates always say the right things.
I take it that the diagnosis
is that (i) the great majority of those who get elected are in fact corrupt,
and that is a main reason so few
of the many things that
majorities of the Americans want are being realized (I agree);
and that (ii) to stop them from being corrupt, those who want to be
elected have to sign a contract that they will try to turn the
11 things that CFAR selected into law.
Well... I am rather skeptical
about the second point, simply because I see no good reason
why those who want to be elected
will sign such a contract
and I also see no decent
means to make them stick to the contract.
There may be answers to my
skepticism, but so far I have not found them. And I think I agree
with Truthdig, who prints the last line to the article:
I agree with Truthdig, but I recommend
this article for those who are interested in finding out more
about CFAR (while I think they should have made their
contract copyable, and tend to give up sites - and ideas - that are
expressed on sites I cannot copy).
Truthdig has taken no
editorial position on the Contract for American Renewal.
Animals and Monsters and Missiles over Damascus
article is by Lawrence Davidson on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
President Donald Trump ordered the
bombing of selective targets in the Syrian capital, Damascus last
Friday night. He did so because he was emotionally upset by Syrian
President Bashar al- Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians
in the town of Douma – the last rebel (ISIS-style) stronghold adjacent
to the capital.
Just prior to Trump’s actualizing his
emotions by throwing missiles into Damascus, he had expressed his
opinion (and keep in mind that there is no difference between fact and
opinion for Trump) that President Assad is a “monster” as well as an “animal.” This was at least in part because the
Syrian President stooped to “killing his own people.” The problem with
all this is (1) Trump has no hard evidence that Assad was behind the alleged gas
(2) killing your own people is, unfortunately, what civil wars are all
Alas, the world has always been, and
still is, full of “monsters” and “animals.”
I agree with the first two
paragraphs, but less with the third, although this will throw up a
question that Davidson almost certainly was not thinking of.
And here are the two points
about the third paragraph which makes me somewhat skeptical:
First, who are the ¨ “monsters”
and “animals” ¨ that ¨the world has always been, and still is,
full of¨? The least
have been offered - I think - is an indication about whom Davidson
has in mind: Does he mean the - always very
few - political and
religious leaders who led the world the
last 2000 years or so (and he may well be right about them), or does he
mean - perhaps - simply that most persons
(anywhere, any time)
are ¨“monsters” and “animals”¨?
Davidson does not say.
Second, I get rather irritated
when I see quotes around terms like “monsters”
or “animals”, or indeed, speaking more
precisely, when I see quotes around such terms which do not
indicate that they are terms (as I did in this statement) but
that what is meant is not quite the same as would have
been meant had these terms been used without quotes.
And my main reason is that when one
speaks in that last way, e.g. of “monsters”
or “animals” or “fascists”
or “communists” or “terrorists”
or “torturers” (etc. etc.),
it becomes extremely vague what
one really means, indeed because
saying “X” rather than plainly
calling them X is to indicate that underneath one is not
calling them X, without saying what one would call them.
Then again, as I was saying, this will
lead to a point that Davidson very probably did not
have in mind, but that he alludes to as follows:
Part of the problem might be that our
cultures and institutions infantilize too many of us. By this I mean
that from infancy through old age we are taught to follow orders and go
along with the group. As children we are taught to obey our parents,
then our teachers. When, as teens we (at least in the West) begin to
break away from parental control, we more often than not replace
parental guidance with that of our peer group. Then, on to a career,
where a new set of rules and expectations is imposed. Of course, there
is sociological logic to all of this. We could have no societal
structure and stability without a certain level of rules and obedience
to them. However, there is a price. The price at the state level may be
seen in terms of all too often unquestioning loyalty, patriotism and
solidarity that leads the average citizen to simply follow the leader,
and thereby participate in the violence the state has declared as
First, I mostly agree to the last
But second, this introduces a theme that
Davidson almost certainly completely misses, namely ¨The
Irrational in Politics¨.
In fact, the last link is to an essay of
that title that dates back to 1970 (yes, that is indeed nearly
fifty years ago) that was then written by Maurice Bredon, which was
alias for Chris
Pallis, who was both a quite prominent British/Greek
and also a radical or revolutionary socialist most
of his life (whence his alias) and who was - in my opinion - a quite
interesting and quite intelligent man.
I should add that I only
discovered Chris Pallis and his ¨The
Irrational in Politics¨ a few months ago, and I agree that -
this time without
quotes - the irrational in politics is a very wide subject that
yet has not been studied much by most who are interested in
Third, in the present Nederlog I only add
I will reproduce ¨The
Irrational in Politics¨ on my site, with my fairly
extensive and also - in part - personal comments, but I do not
know when. (I hope to do so within a month, but I am also ill a
very long time and sleep currently too little, so I make no promises.)
Also, in case you might have read
Irrational in Politics¨ (which I strongly recommend)
realize that I am considerably farther from Marx and Reich than
Pallis was (although I agree that he knew and understood both
rather well, at least); that the theme is much wider than
Pallis could treat (in 1970); that the theme of the irrational in
politics has been mostly though not wholly
neglected by most
who were interested in politics the last 50 years; and finally
that, while I do admire and like Chris Pallis, I do not
agree with him (as you may find when I have published my reproduction
Irrational in Politics¨ with my notes).
Now back to Davidson´s text, which ends
There is no ready solution to any of this. The number
of people who will refuse military orders, as suggested by Einstein, or
refuse to shoot protesters, as suggested by B’tselem, is much too few
to stop the mayhem. Our proclivity to violence has been
institutionalized and our fundamental societal need to maintain group
cohesion has been perverted by the those who claim to be our leaders.
It is something of a vicious circle – or maybe just an eternal Catch 22.
I mostly agree with Davidson, but I add
the mere question that if indeed it is ¨something
vicious circle – or maybe just an eternal Catch 22¨, then
why bother with politics?
There are rational answers to the last question, but I will not
them here and now. But this article is recommended.
Curry on the Move Against Public Corruption
article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Yes, I agree with Ralph
Nader. And in case you are interested in Bill
Curry, this was a link.
Bill Curry is wondering why
corruption is the center of debate or upheaval in every country but
writes that, “Hardly a week goes by without a front-page report of
a government toppled or convulsed by corruption
Why not our country?
Reasons abound. One is that corruption has been institutionalized. It
is much more systematic than merely putting cash in an envelope to get
a procurement contract from public officials.
Legalized corruption is all
over Washington, D.C. as trillions of dollars of giveaways, subsidies,
bailouts, and no-bid contracts proliferate.
The ways private commercial interests corrupt public officials are well
known. They come by way of exploding campaign funding, lobbyists with
gifts swarming over legislatures, speaking fees, revolving doors for
corporatists taking key government positions to thwart law enforcement,
and lucrative offers to lawmakers in anticipation of their retirement.
All these lures are much more persuasive when the general public is
quiet and unorganized.
Here is more on corruption:
Again I agree. This article ends
Why is corruption at the
top? Because most people know that corruption is the problem that turns
government against the people. Corruption affects taxes, waste, health
care, drug prices, credit gouging, energy conversion, upgrading public
facilities, living wages and cracking down on corporate crime, fraud,
and obscene corporate welfare (crony capitalism.) It is behind luscious
contracts to the military hardware services industry that President
Eisenhower warned about in his 1961 farewell address. Corruption also
primes the pump for criminal wars of aggression such as the war in
Iraq—by unaccountable politicians like war criminals Bush and Cheney.
Well... I agree there are around
8000 persons (on 326 million Americans in all)
who are elected and who do have far more power than most of the
(326 milions - 8000 persons) have, and I also agree that the
of these 8000 people is corrupt, which
is a very serious
problem (except for the very rich, who pay the corrupt representatives
to do the biddings of the very rich).
Curry is fed up, has fire
in his belly, and wants action.
Taking off from his past
writings and experience over the years and a recent roundtable
discussion we had in Washington on massive public and private billing
fraud, he has drafted a “call to action” seeking a quantification and
analysis of the corruption epidemic, “followed by a strategy for
building a movement and influencing media and political elites.”
The next step in
mobilizing, he urges, would be “a national conference in Washington
this fall to which every institution active in this issue is invited
and asked to adopt a declaration to commit to a fight.”
Are any foundations or
enlightened people of means committed to this fundamental turnaround in
our political economy and its immense, prompt benefits? After all, when
so much that is wrong is made “legal” or “plausible” by corrupt
lawmakers, the peoples’ focus can be quite efficient—535 members of
Congress and 7,383 state lawmakers for one gigantic jumpstart in a key
Also, it seems that Curry´s initiative may be - somehow - related to
My last remark is that I - who visited many conferences between
1966 and 1982 - am quite doubtful about the outcomes of yet one more
conference. And this is a recommended article.
have now been
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 (!!).