from February 13, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
This is a crisis
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.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from February 13, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Donald Trump’s Nasty Budget
2. Author David Cay Johnston on the Damage Trump Is Doing to
3. After $1.5 Trillion Gift to Rich, Trump Demands $1.7
Trillion in Safety Net
4. Donald Trump Is Stealing From Our Children
5. “Russian Hacking”, a dangerous delusion
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:
Trump’s Nasty Budget
This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts
presidential campaign, Donald Trump told the “forgotten men and women
of our country” that he would champion them. As evidence that he was a
different kind of Republican, he promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid
and other programs that benefit poor and middle-class families.
President Trump proposed a
budget that would
slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, transportation
and other essential government services, all while increasing the
indeed. Then again, The New York Times published a long list
that shows that Trump lied over 2000 times in 2017, so the
budget should not come as a very big surprise. (And
indeed it doesn't for me.)
Mr. Trump’s 2019 budget,
combined with the tax cuts Republicans passed last year, would amount
to one of the greatest transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich in
generations. It would also charge trillions of dollars in new debt to
the account of future Americans. It’s a plan that could please only
far-right ideologues who want to dissolve nearly every part of the
federal government, save the military.
military spending by 14.1 percent while cutting funding for the
State Department — the agency that has a mandate to resolve problems
without going to war — by 26.9 percent. It would cut the Department of
Health and Human Services by 20.3 percent and the Department of
Education by 10.5 percent. It calls for (yet again) the repeal of the
Affordable Care Act and proposes cutting food stamps by $213 billion,
or around 30
percent, over 10 years. Medicare and Medicaid, which benefit one-third
of Americans, are targeted for cuts of hundreds of billions of
this is all true (and I agree it is also all awful). Here is more:
adopted Mr. Trump’s proposal, millions of people would stand to lose
health insurance, subsidized food, low-cost housing and other benefits.
The result would be to greatly increase poverty and hunger in America.
This is surely not what most of Mr. Trump’s working-class
supporters imagined during the primary and general election campaigns.
In May 2015, Candidate Trump tweeted,
“I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will
be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.” And in an April
2016 ad that ran in Pennsylvania he promised to “save Social
Security and Medicare without cuts.”
As I started my review: Trump is an enrmous liar. But
there is one question that is not raised in this Editorial:
If it is
[American] people would stand to lose health insurance, subsidized
food, low-cost housing and other benefits. The result would be to
greatly increase poverty and hunger in America."
then how many people do the Republicans, or Trump,
or Trump's government, desire to kill?!
Clearly, if you take away benefits and "greatly increase poverty and hunger in
America"" then your end is to
kill at least some of the American poor.
To be sure: Not by yourself - you will leave it to
them to suicide in this or that way, but then again it are
the Republicans or Trump or Trump's government that stopped the
Anyway... this is a recommended article.
David Cay Johnston on the Damage Trump Is Doing to America
article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It is an interview with David Cay
Johnston and it starts as follows:
David Cay Johnston is an
expert on Donald Trump. The 69-year-old investigative
journalist and author has reported on Trump for decades and has
written two books about the president. “The
Making of Donald Trump,” which was published in 2016, became a New
York Times bestseller, as did his latest, “It’s
Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to
America,” published this year.
Johnston sat down with
Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer for the second
part of an interview on “Scheer
Intelligence” and shared his thoughts on how the Trump
administration is making America worse again.
I think that is all
correct. Here is more (and most of the article is in fact an interview):
The media, Johnston
explains, is a big part of the problem. Journalists helped Trump get
elected by covering his campaign in a shallow way, and now the media is
doing more of the same, focusing on Trump administration’s “palace
intrigue” instead of the actions that are hurting America.
“Nobody is covering what
matters,” Johnston says, “what matters to you, to whether you have a
job and have savings, and whether you are safe, and whether your
children are going to get cancer and lung disease from pollution, what
kind of taxes you are going to pay. None of that is being covered in
any serious way.”
Johnston adds that Trump’s
policies are turning against the very people who helped elect him. Even
so, Johnston believes American citizens will cast aside their concerns
about ethics and vote Trump into a second term if they believe their
incomes are rising.
I agree with Johnston
on "the media", although I think he should have been more clear on the
differences between the mainstream media and the
And this also would
have shed some light on Johnston's "Nobody is covering what matters", that seems a bit too strong in my eyes. Then
Johnston may be right in his belief that Trump may get a second term "if they believe their incomes are rising" - which in my eyes is in fact
expression for the clearer "if they are as stupid or ignorant as I
Here is the first part
that I quote from this rather long but interesting interview:
no, it’s pretty much sort of what I expected. The point of the title is
that even if you diligently follow the news, the press corp, the
political reporters, or I call them politics reporters, did a terrible
job of covering him in the campaign. They never explored all of his
criminal background that we talked about in Part 1 of this interview,
and the horrible things he’s done. But once he got into the White
House, the coverage of the White House—the tweets, the racist comments,
the nonsense, the palace intrigues—I actually think it’s been
excellent. The problem is, nobody’s covering what matters. What matters
to you, to whether you have a job and have savings, and whether you’re
safe, and whether your children are going to get cancer or lung disease
from pollution, what kind of taxes you’re going to pay—none of that is
being covered in any serious way. And so what I set out to do, once the
electoral college put Trump in office—the electoral college the framers
of the Constitution put in place so that if the popular mob, as they
thought of the people, put a madman in office, he would be blocked by
the electoral college—I said, well, we got to focus on covering what he
does, what the government is doing. And that’s what nobody has been
As I indicated above,
Johnston's insistence that only Johnston is covering what needs
covered seems a bit of an overstatement to me.
Here is the second bit
that I quote:
I think Scheer is quite
right about Bill
Clinton and Robert
Rubin, while Johnston is probably
right that Trump's team is considerably worse than
Clinton's team was.
but let me ask you about this team. Because Bannon and a few others are
out, waving the wild flags and so forth. Are they really different than
the others? Bill Clinton brought Robert Rubin in from Goldman Sachs,
and he left to go take over at, or be very active at Citigroup—
They’re—Bob, they’re very different, and let me explain why. Clinton
was, I think, not a good president; certainly in economic issues, for
ordinary people, he was terrible. I mean, I often refer to the
democrats as republican-lite, as in beer, L-I-T-E. But Bob Rubin is a
good example. Bob Rubin’s a big, rich banker; he comes in, he does
things that he sees as helping bankers, then he goes back to, he goes
to Citibank and makes another fortune. This administration is different
because, as Steve Bannon said: I’m a Leninist and we’re here to
deconstruct the administrative state. They are here to destroy the
things that are in our government that are there to protect your
health, your safety, you know, the national security. They quite
literally hate the government of the United States. They have brought
in the worst people possible. This is what the ancient Greeks called a
kakistocracy: a government by the worst of us, by the most venal, the
most corrupt, the most incompetent. And in that sense, they’re
Here is the last bit that I quote from this interview:
and Bill Clinton did terrible things to our economy, and Barack
Obama—and I was the first journalist to write a tough piece about him,
nine days after he took office, for not walking his talk—Barack Obama,
instead of going after the bankers—there should have been thousands of
bankers who would have gone to prison—went on TV and told 60 Minutes: Well,
this is all terrible, but it’s not really a crime. Excuse me?
Fraud is everywhere and always a crime. Eric Holder lied—and I mean
lied; that is, he knowingly told untruths—because he was told by the
inspector general’s office that what he was saying was untrue, and for
10 more months he kept saying: We’re prosecuting a bunch of
bankers; they weren’t. So this is a bipartisan problem of
government representing the rich. But with Donald Trump, you have a
whole new, wholescale new level where two things are happening. Not
only does the man who promised to “drain the swamp” turn it into a
paradise for swamp monsters, and bring in six Goldman Sachs people and
all sorts of polluters or lobbyists for bad banks, et cetera, in a way
that is way beyond anything any of these other folks did. But secondly,
what I lay out in the book are things that haven’t been in the news, or
they’ve been glancingly in the news, some of them, where they are
turning on the very people that put Trump in office. And those people
have real grievances.
I think that is also
mostly correct. There is a lot more in the interview, which is
$1.5 Trillion Gift to Rich, Trump Demands $1.7 Trillion in Safety Net
This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts
Those wondering how
President Donald Trump plans to pay for the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts
for the rich he signed
into law last year got their answer on Monday, when the White House
unveiled its 2019
budget (pdf) blueprint that calls for $1.7
trillion in cuts to crucial safety net programs over the next
decade—including $237 billion in cuts to Medicare alone.
While imposing "severe
austerity" on domestic programs that primarily benefit poor and
middle class Americans, Trump's proposal also aims to hike the
Pentagon's budget to $716 billion—a
seven percent increase from his 2018 request—and provide $18
billion for "the wall."
"The Trump budget is
morally bankrupt and bad economic policy," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote
on Twitter Monday shortly after the White House proposal was made
Yes, and I totally
agree with this summary (and see item 1). Here is
Critics were quick to note
that such severe cuts to healthcare programs that serve the elderly,
the disabled, and the poor will likely come "with
a body count."
"Millions of Americans will
lose access to life-saving programs because the GOP gave $1.5 trillion
in tax cuts to the rich," the advocacy group Tax March wrote on Twitter.
Yes I agree - and while
Johnson is more radical than the editors of the New York Times, he also
does not (quite) pose the question I asked at the end of item
1: How many
people do the Republicans, or Trump, or Trump's government, desire
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
Yes, I agree and this is a
"President Trump's budget
is nothing short of devastating for all Americans who value clean air,
safe drinking water, and protected public lands," Rhea Suh, president
of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement
Though presidential budget
requests are non-binding, they are a strong indicator of the White
House's goals and values, as Indivisible's senior policy manager Chad
Bolt observed while analyzing
the newly released document.
Trump Is Stealing From Our Children
This article is by Tom Engelhardt on Common Dreams and originally on
TomDispatch. It starts as follows:
Well... yes and no: I
agree with most of this, but not with the end, for tax cuts may also be
undone (as Roosevelt showed, and indeed also the Republican Eisenhower).
Think of President Trump
and his administration as a den of thieves. There is, of course, the
obvious thievery: what they will in the end, as with the recently
passed tax “reform” bill, steal from ordinary citizens and offer as
never-ending presents to the already staggeringly wealthy, among them
the president himself (possible
savings up to $15 million annually) and son-in-law Jared Kushner
(possible savings: up to $12 million annually). According
to the Congressional Budget Office, government cash reserves are
already starting to fall
faster than expected as a result of lost revenue from that bill.
And the modest gains offered to ordinary taxpayers to give cover to a vast
increase in the wealth of the top
for will all sunset in
the 2020s, while that bill’s corporate tax cuts are eternity.
Think of such moves
not as acts of petty theft, but as robbery of the most basic sort,
since they involve stealing from the future to fund an increasingly
plutocratic present. The Donald, in other words, isn’t just stealing
from us but from our children and grandchildren.
Again yes and no: I agree
with Engelhardt that Trump is stealing from the future, but then Trump
and the believers in Trump do not believe so, and I would like to see
some distinction between values and facts.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
This isn’t just a
matter of stealing future money from our children and grandchildren, or
even of polluting the American environment in which they’ll grow up in
a fashion familiar to anyone -- like Donald
Trump (or me) -- who was raised in the 1950s. It’s a matter
of stealing everything from them, including potentially the very
environment that’s nurtured generation after generation of children on
this planet for all the thousands of years of human history. If
the president and his crew of climate
deniers have their way and a fossil-fuelized version of energy “dominance”
comes to rule our American world, while the path to alternative energy
growth is crippled,
then they will have stolen from the future in the most basic way
imaginable for the comfort of just a few human beings now.
Well... Engelhardt and I
probably agree for the most part on Trump, and I certainly like
Engelhardt a lot more than Trump. But please: facts are not
Hacking”, a dangerous delusion
This article is by Kit on the
Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
published this short opinion piece today, its
America lost a cyberwar
to Russia in 2016. When will we have truth?
Refuting the stale claims
repeated in the headline, and expanded upon in the prose, is but the
work of a moment. Hitchens’ razor states that any claim made without
evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. A Yale professor should
know that. Therefore the refutation of the claim “Russia hacked the
election” can be made in three simple words: No, they didn’t.
I read this opinion
piece as well, and I was also disappointed, indeed in good part because
the article is by professor Timothy Snyder.
Snyder teaches history at Yale, and became a bit prominent about a year
ago, when he presented his views on Trump and his government.
And he did make some
predictions about what he thought Trump would do, and these predictions
were not correct, but he doesn't review them at all (in the referred
As to Kit's
"refutation" (on Hitchen's principle): Perhaps Hitchen was more or less
right that what comes without evidence can be dismissed without
evidence, but a dismissal is not a refutation.
Besides, my position on
Russian hacking is somewhat different from Kit's:
On the one hand, I
think every secret service hacks, and hacks with abandon since
2001. This holds for the Russians, for the Americans, for the Chinese,
for the English, for the Dutch a.s.o. (for almost any secret service
there is in the world).
On the other hand, I agree
with Kit that there has not been produced any evidence
- since 2016! - that supports the notion that "Russia won a cyberwar"
or indeed that it succeeded in much that - I think - it tries to do,
just like any other secret service.
Then there is this by
Kit on Snyder's beliefs:
No, the scary part is that
he really, really means it. This isn’t propaganda, in the old sense of
that word. This isn’t misinformation to spread an agenda. This is
full-blown delusion. He genuinely believes the Russians are at “cyber
war” with America.
To be crystal clear about
this – there is literally ZERO evidence to support this. The Mueller
investigation is limping along, revealing absolutely nothing (except
that the FBI wanted Hillary to win). The
Steele dossier is revealed to have been paid for by the DNC.
There is no evidence. And
yet he believes.
As I said, my position
is a bit different:
First, I think there is
a lot of evidence that very many secret services are
milking the internet as much as they can. Second, I also think that it
is for the most part not known to ordinary people what the
secret services (of any country) do and do not know about people (from
anywhere). Third, I do not know what Snyder - really -
believes, although I think it likely that Kit is correct in holding
that Snyder swallowed the story that the DNC has been spreading since
Hillary lost the presidency to Trump. And fourth, I think Kit is right
that there is no evidence that the Russians did what the
DNC alleges it did.
Here is Kit's
This is scary. Scary
because it demonstrates that the liberal elite of the USA, and its
vassal states, have totally lost their minds. They live in a fantasy
world, an un-reality. And they will believe anything that is
convenient, anything that supports their un-reality, even if it puts
them on a path to real war.
That should terrify
No, I mostly disagree
and my ground is logic:
At best, Kit showed
something about Timothy Snyder, who does not coincide with "the
liberal elite of the USA" at all. Besides, "the elites" - any
elite, anywhere - have always tended to believe those stories
about themselves that made them look good, also if there was no
evidence for them.
So while I am
disappointed in Snyder and have no faith in the beliefs of the elite of
the USA, I do not draw the strong conclusions Kit draws. But
this is a recommended article.