from February 14, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
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 14, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. South Africa’s Ruling Party Finally Turns Against Zuma
2. Judge Upholds Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange
3. Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?
4. Sanders Confronts Mulvaney Over Trump Budget That Would
5. The Worst of the Worst
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:
Africa’s Ruling Party Finally Turns Against Zuma
This article is by Christopher Torchia on Truthdig and originally on
The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
ruling party on Tuesday disowned President Jacob Zuma after sticking
with him through years of scandals, ordering him to resign in an
attempt to resolve a leadership crisis that has disrupted government
business in one of Africa’s biggest economies.
The announcement by the
African National Congress did not immediately end the protracted
turmoil in a party that was the main movement against white minority
rule and has led South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994. If the
politically isolated president defies the party’s order, the matter
could go to parliament for a motion of no confidence that would further
embarrass the party once led by Nelson Mandela.
I say, though in fact I
ask: Why did this not occur years
and years earlier? In case you want to know why I
ask, consider this on Jacob Zuma (from
Wikipedia, on which there is a lot more):
Zuma has faced significant
legal challenges before and during his presidency. He was charged with rape in 2005, but was
acquitted. He has fought a long legal battle over allegations of racketeering and corruption,
resulting from his financial advisor Schabir Shaik's conviction for
corruption and fraud. On 6 April 2009, the National
Prosecuting Authority dropped the charges against Zuma, citing
political interference, although the decision was successfully
challenged by opposition parties, and as of February 2018 the charges
were before the NPA for reconsideration. After extensive state-funded
upgrades to his rural homestead at Nkandla, the Public
Protector found that Zuma had benefited improperly from the
expenditure, and the Constitutional Court
unanimously held in 2016's Economic
Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly that Zuma
had failed to uphold the country's constitution (...)
In fact, there is a whole
lot more, such as the fact that Zuma received in 2009/2010 a mere £1.2m - 1.2 million English pounds - for
"spousal support" for the wives he divorced. And his style of utter
corruption continued for nine years as well.
And my own conclusions from
these nine years of major corruption of the leadership of the
ANC and of South-Africa are two:
(1) This corruption must be fairly widespread to be able to
continue for nine years, and
(2) while I admire Nelson Mandela, I think Zuma is just as bad as
any white exploiter.
And in fact I think so since
2009, which also has diminished my interests in South-Africa, although
I do speak two of the current languages there.
Here is some more from 2018:
“A disciplined cadre of the
ANC, you are given a chance to resign on your own, but if you lack
discipline you will resist,” party chairman Gwede Mantashe said at a
provincial rally, according to South African media.
“Once you resist, we are
going to let you be thrown out through the vote of no confidence
because you disrespect the organization and you disobey it, therefore
we are going to let you be devoured by the vultures,” Mantashe said.
Well... I think Zuma is
a very bad and greedy man, and I am glad he - probably
- will be removed, but I am not very optimistic about his
replacement, although I will also wait and see. (My reason not to be
very optimistic is that the ANC maintained Zuma for nearly nine
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
ANC leaders must act
“swiftly, but constitutionally” to remove Zuma so the “work of
recovering our future, which was imperiled by his ruinous regime —
characterized by incompetence, corruption, state capture and low
economic growth — can begin in earnest,” said Bonang Mohale, CEO of
Business Leadership South Africa, a group that promotes development.
“State capture” is a term
used in South Africa to describe the alleged looting of state
enterprises by associates of Zuma, who denies any wrongdoing (..)
Yes. And this is a
Upholds Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange
This article is by Jill Lawless on Truthdig and originally on The
Associated Press. It starts as follows:
A judge upheld a
British arrest warrant for Julian Assange on Tuesday, saying the
WikiLeaks founder should have the courage to come to court and face
justice after more than five years inside Ecuador’s London embassy.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot
rejected arguments by Assange’s lawyers that it is no longer in the
public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking
shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. Prosecutors
there were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by
two women, which Assange has denied.
Well... let met put it
as questions: How sadistic is
Arbuthnot? How morally degenerate is Arbuthnot? How much an eager
servant of the Tories is Arbuthnot? Being both a philosopher and a
psychologist, my own tendencies for answering these questions
should be fairly obvious - and in case you doubt me (which is always
allowed): Who cares for the Daily Mail type of "judgement" that
Assange lacks courage (which anyway seems slander to me)?!
And please note that
the legal reasons for prosecuting Assange, at least to the
extent that these rested on Swedish judges and judgements, have
Then there is this:
“He appears to consider
himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes
in his favor,” the judge said, drawing exclamations of dismay from
Assange supporters in the public gallery.
Assange can seek to appeal,
though his lawyers did not immediately say whether he would.
Swedish prosecutors dropped
their investigation last year, saying there was no prospect of bringing
Assange to Sweden in the foreseeable future. But the British warrant
for violating bail conditions still stands, and Assange faces arrest if
he leaves the embassy.
Since this has little
or nothing to do with the law, I can say that Arbuthnot seems
to be morally degenerate, or an eager servant of the Tories, and
not free from sadism.
(I am judging as a psychologist, not as a judge.)
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
I think Summers was
arguing correctly, both in terms of the law, and in
terms of the - pretty extreme - dangers Assange runs in the
USA, for the chief of the CIA wants to see him tortured.
Assange’s attorney had gone
on to argue that arresting him is no longer proportionate or in the
public interest. Lawyer Mark Summers argued the Australian was
justified in seeking refuge in the embassy because he has a legitimate
fear that U.S. authorities want to arrest him for WikiLeaks’
publication of secret documents.
“I do not find that Mr.
Assange’s fears were reasonable,” the judge said.
“If the United States
initiates extradition proceedings, Mr. Assange would have the ability
to raise any bars to the extradition and challenge the proceedings” in
a British court, she said.
Then again, if Arbuthnot is a measure for English justice, I'd
weight is nil or negative:This is not justice but cruelty
masquerading as justice. And this is a recommended article.
We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?
This article is by Paul Silker, Michael Palmieri and Dante Dallavalle
on AlterNet and originally at Democracy at Work. It starts as follows:
In this episode, Left Out
speaks with Professor Steve Keen about his latest book, Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?,
as well as the failure of mainstream economics.
A decade after the largest
economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is still
a popular belief among the public and mainstream press that “no
one saw” the 2007-08 financial crisis coming. The truth is, however,
that a handful of unorthodox economists had the foresight to warn of
the crisis, and were able to develop and apply the right analytical
framework to the large amounts of empirical data available, allowing
them to forecast why and how it
In late 2005, Keen became
one of the first in this tiny club of economists to get it right (and
one of only two do so with mathematical models), earning himself the
Revere Award from the Real-World
Economics Review for “being the economist who most cogently
warned of the crisis, and whose work is most likely to prevent future
Well... yes and no. I
like the initiative but I also have some questions, which are not
resolved in this article:
(1) I know since 50
years that I do not respect mainstream economics (of which I
have read a fair amount), and I am also not at all shocked that
mainstream economists failed to see the - enormous - crisis of 2008
(2) I also do not know whether Steve Keen is correct, and
(3) I doubt that the review of the Real-World Economics
Revies ("most cogently", "most likely") is quite correct.
And as I said, I do
know considerably more of - the supposed - "science of economics" than
most non-economists. Then again, the above only expresses my ignorance,
and not positive knowledge.
Here is the last bit I
quote from this article:
So what distinguishes
Keen’s approach to economics from the mainstream theory (also known as
According to Keen, it’s
because of his focus on the importance of credit in a dynamic,
non-equilibrium framework. From that viewpoint, he identifies the ratio
of private debt to GDP—and the rate of change of that ratio—as a key
determinant of the state of the economy.
In the first half of our
interview, Professor Keen explains why conventional economic theory
doesn’t describe capitalism accurately, as well as Hyman Minsky’s
hypothesis on the significance of private debt in the economy—
something that is largely ignored by the predominant “Neoclassical”
school of economics today.
In the second half, we turn
to the prescriptive. Keen contends the main thing people need to think
about is that “as well as workers and capitalists we have creditors and
debtors in this economy— and by far the most important social clash
these days is not between workers and capitalists, it’s between the
financial sector and the rest of the economy.”
Well... in fact there
are at least four different schools of "economy" (and probably
more). Also, I must say that I do not think that the presence of "creditors and debtors" is that
important, and namely not because credits and debts tend to disappear
after considerable shake-ups of "the economy".
Besides, I should also
express my skepticism
about "the left": I think that most "leftists" these days
(though not all of them) are not so much leftists or Leftists
(who are in favor of - democratic
- socialism, that will overhaul
capitalism) but are something else, which I - who stems from one of
most Leftist families in Holland - do not consider real
Leftists at all.
Then again, I admit I do not
know anything about "Democracy at Work", and this is a recommended
Confronts Mulvaney Over Trump Budget That Would Kill 'Tens of Thousands'
This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts
Just 24 hours after
denouncing President Donald Trump's newly-unveiled budget as "morally
bankrupt," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took full advantage of his
chance to grill Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney directly during a
Senate hearing on Tuesday, calling the White House's 2019 blueprint "the
budget of the Koch brothers" and arguing thousands would die if the
plan became law.
Yes, I agree
with Sanders, although I doubt his "thousands": To me it seems more
likely the changes of Trump and his cabinet will make the lives of
millions of Americans impossible or extremely hard to bear, perhaps
now, but within one or two years.
Here is more:
Trump budget's call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Act),
Mulvaney to explain "the morality of a budget which supports tax breaks
for billionaires, throws 32 million people off of the health insurance
they have, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of fellow
I suspect that the
explanation Mulvaney could have used if he were honest, which
runs along these lines: "My president is a racist, and so am I, if only
out of loyalty; my president thinks black people are inferior, and so
do I (if only out of loyalty); and in fact we both think rather like
the present-day Supreme Court does (in majority, at least)": "There are
Supermen, like our Very Great Genius, the White Man Trump, whose value
is strictly proportional to the money they have, and there are
non-supermen - and We Love The Richest (if White)."
I admit I am guessing, but if I am mistaken, at least I
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I completely agree, and
this is a recommended article.
Sanders also called
attention to Trump's promises on the campaign trail to not cut Social
Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, and concluded that his 2019 budget
demonstrates that he is doing "exactly the opposite."
"President Trump ran for
office and he said, 'I'm a different type of Republican, I'm not the
Mick Mulvaney type of Republican. I'm different. I'm gonna stand with
working families. We're gonna take on the establishment,'" Sanders
said. "Well it turns out he did exactly the opposite, and this budget
is a clear manifestation of him doing exactly the opposite."
Worst of the Worst
This article is by Michael Tomasky on The New York Book Review. It
starts as follows:
This is more or less
correct, and is the beginning of a fairly long review of Michael
Wolff's "Fire and Fury" and of Donald Frum's "Trumpocracy:
Corruption of the American Republic". I think the review is decent,
but I'll quote only two bits, and these are concerned only with Wolff's
book. If you want to read more, there is the original.
On January 10, The
Washington Post reported that Donald J. Trump passed a milestone
that none of his predecessors is known to have attained: just short of
the anniversary of his first year in office, he told his two thousandth
lie. It had happened sometime the day before, when the president was
meeting with legislators to discuss immigration and tossed out a few of
his old standbys—about how quickly the border wall could be built,
about “the worst of the worst” gaining entry to the United States
through a visa lottery, and about his wall’s ability to curtail the
The path from the first lie to
the two thousandth (and now beyond), a veritable Via Dolorosa of civic
corruption, has been impossible for even the most resolute citizen to
Here is the first bit I quote:
In fact, I don't
think that is quite right, but this may be due to my personal
Here we are, a year later.
From my reading and television viewing, the general assessment of most
pundits seems to be that it’s been worse than we could have imagined
(except on the Fox News Channel, where everything in Trump world is
coming up roses and the gravest threat to democracy is still someone
named Clinton). But honestly, who couldn’t have imagined any of this?
To anyone who had the right read on Trump’s personality—the vanity, the
insecurity, the contempt for knowledge, the addiction to chaos—nothing
that’s happened has been surprising in the least.
I think most close observers
of Trump understood his personality perfectly well. If that’s right,
what, then, could explain the surprise?
First, I dismiss "the
general assessment of most pundits", in part because I find it hard or impossible to
believe them anyway, and in part also because I am a
psychologist, unlike most pundits, and I am convinced since March of 2016 that Trump
is - most probably, as indeed by now over 70,000 psychologists and
psychiatrists agree - quite
mad, and as such completely unfit
to be president of the
Second, I also think Tomasky is both too vague and a bit misleading
about those who had "the
right read on Trump’s personality", and for two reasons:
First, very few or no one at all is capable of rationally
predicting the choices a madman will make; and second, I do think
quite a few of Trump's choices were surprising, also to the
psychologists and psychiatrists who agree that Trump is not sane. (One
example are Trump's obvious lies about the size of his presidential
Then again, I do think Tomasky is mostly right.
Here is the last bit I quote from his - much longer - review:
The attacks on Wolff
haven’t stuck partly because it all rings so true. But I think there is
also another reason. Some critics have tried to accuse Wolff of not
playing by the standard rules of journalism, by which they mean to
insinuate that he’s taken off-the-record material and put it on the
record. But no one has produced evidence of this. And in fact, outside
of eight or ten salacious quotes, nothing in Fire and Fury
seems out of the ordinary.
Yes, I think that is
correct - and I admit this was one of my initial worries. But
it seems correct that most of the facts Wolff states in his book indeed
Fire and Fury has
performed a great public service: it has forced mainstream Washington
to confront and discuss the core issue of this presidency, which is the
president’s fitness for office.
There is a lot more in the article, which is recommended.