from March 31, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
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 March 31, 2018
1. Remembering Stephen Hawking, Groundbreaking Physicist and
Advocate for Climate,
Palestine & Peace
2. Can Presidents Be Sued for Malpractice?
Do Trump's Voters Even Care If the President
Is a Criminal?
4. Jimmy Carter Fears America's Transformation From Democracy
Oligarchy Is All but Complete
5. The Lure of Elections: From Political Power to Popular
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:
Stephen Hawking, Groundbreaking Physicist and Advocate for Climate,
Palestine & Peace
This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the
On Saturday, members
of the scientific community, family, friends and fans alike will gather
to remember the life and legacy of groundbreaking physicist Stephen
Hawking. Hawking died on March 14 at his home in Cambridge, England, at
the age of 76. For decades, Hawking enchanted both scientists and
science lovers by making groundbreaking discoveries about the origins
of the universe, then translating these ideas for millions of
nonscientists worldwide. His career and life itself have been
celebrated as a medical miracle. Born in Oxford, Britain, in 1942, he
was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder known as Lou Gehrig’s
disease at the age of 21. Doctors said he had only a few years to live.
Instead, he went on to live for more than 50 years, traveling the world
in his motorized wheelchair and communicating through a custom-made
computerized voice synthesizer. His only complaint was that the
synthesizer gave him an American accent. He also protested against U.S.
wars, including the U.S. war in Vietnam and the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
We speak to Kitty Ferguson, author of two books about Hawking, “Stephen
Hawking: An Unfettered Mind” and “Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory
Indeed. First, in case you
are interested, here is a link to Lou
Gehrig’s disease. And second, I have to admit that I do not
know much about Stephen Hawking, mostly because the real physics and
mathematics he did are beyond me. (I think I could have been a somewhat
decent physicist or mathematician, but I certainly did not have
Hawking's great talents. Then again, I know enough of both to be almost
always much disappointed by popularizations, that I have learned to
avoid. In case you want to know why see my "On Feynman and "Genius"" from 2011.)
Here is more:
This is Stephen Hawking,
speaking at the White House in 1998.
HAWKING: Yet if, as I
hope, basic science becomes part of general awareness, what now appear
as the paradoxes of quantum theory will seem as just common sense to
our children’s children. … However, to a large extent, we shall have to
rely on mathematical beauty and consistency to find the ultimate theory
GOODMAN: That’s physicist,
professor and best-selling author Stephen Hawking, speaking in 1998 at
the White House.
I do not think
so myself, and here are my reasons:
First, "basic science"
- if this is to cover some (non-trivial) mathematics, as it should - is
most ordinary people. It is a great pity, but it also is a fact.
And second, there
definitely are "the
paradoxes of quantum theory",
and I also take it that - if Trump does not blow up the world -
these will eventually be resolved somehow, and physical science and
possibly parts of mathematics need changing for that, but in case this
takes more than 40 or 60 years, most of the present science,
mathematics and physicists will simply have disappeared from
the memories of almost all non-physicists, indeed just as the physics
of a 100 or indeed 60 years ago has disappeared for most non-physicists.
Then again, I suppose
Hawkings probably will still be known in 50 or a 100 years, unlike most
other presently living physicists and mathematicians.
Here is some more:
GOODMAN: Last year,
Stephen Hawking said that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from
the Paris climate change agreement will cause avoidable environmental
damage. This is Hawking speaking to the BBC
ahead of a birthday conference in Cambridge, which was organized to
mark his 75th birthday.
HAWKING: We are close to
the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s
action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus with a
temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulfuric acid. Climate change
is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we
act now. By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of
the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable
environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural
world, for us and our children.
I quite agree with
this. There is some more in the article, which is recommended, mostly
because Hawkings was a truly special and brilliant man.
Presidents Be Sued for Malpractice?
This article is by Eugene Robinson on Truthdig. This starts
You can’t make this stuff
up: President Trump has announced he will nominate a medical doctor who
has no discernible management experience to run the second-largest
agency in the federal government.
Can presidents be sued for
The man Trump has named to become
secretary of veterans affairs, Dr. Ronny Jackson, happens to be the
president’s personal physician. More to the point, given Trump’s
perpetual hunger for sycophancy, is the fact that Jackson showered the
president with hyperbolic Dear-Leader-style praise during a widely
viewed television appearance in January.
Trump has “incredibly good
genes,” Jackson said in describing the physical examination he had
given the president. Trump’s overall health is “excellent.” His
“cardiac assessment” put him “in the excellent range.” If his diet had
been a bit better, “he might live to be 200 years old.” In any event,
“I think he will remain fit for duty for the remainder of this term and
even for the remainder of another term if he’s elected.”
To start with malpractice: The
answer is a clear no, simply because Trump is not a medical doctor, a
lawyer or an architect. Then again, I agree with Robinson's distaste
for Dr. Ronny Jackson, and especially for his saying that the grossly
overweight president who has the habit of very often three
times repeating a simple point in his Tweets, "might live to be 200 years old": No man ever reached that age in fact.
Then there is this:
I assume Jackson has been
more, shall we say, plain-spoken with the president about his health
than he was with the public. But am I suggesting that flattery, rather
than merit, is what makes him Trump’s choice to replace ousted VA
Secretary David Shulkin? Absolutely, because no other explanation makes
I agree. And here is
some on and by Shulkin:
I think this all is
correct (but do not know about "the political environment in Washington").
“I am convinced that
privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and
companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans,”
Shulkin wrote in his op-ed. “The private sector … is ill-prepared to
handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from
closing or downsizing VA hospitals and clinics, particularly when it
comes to the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of
Shulkin wrote that “in
recent months” the political environment in Washington has become
“toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive,” making it impossible
for him to do his job. “It should not be this hard to serve your
country,” he wrote.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I can’t say I’m
surprised. Trump put neurosurgeon Ben Carson in charge of the
Department of Housing and Urban Development, despite Carson having zero
experience in housing policy. He put Betsy DeVos in charge of the
Department of Education, despite her apparent unfamiliarity with actual
schools. He put politician Rick Perry in charge of the Department of
Energy, which Perry wanted to eliminate until he learned what the
There are at least two
plausible explanations for Trump's nominations of evident incompetents:
(1) he nominated them
because they are incompetent, because he wants to destroy a good part
of the American government, as his former
chief strategist Stephen Bannon wanted; and/or
(2) he nominated
them because he cannot get bettter men for his government.
I do not know whether
it is one or the other, although I suspect it is both. And this
is a recommended article.
Trump's Voters Even Care If the President Is a Criminal?
This article is by Jacob Sugarman on AlterNet. It starts as
Earlier this month,
the Democracy Fund voter Study Group released an
astonishing report. While an overwhelming majority of Americans
favor a constitutional democracy, 32 percent of Trump voters would
prefer a "strong leader" who doesn't have to answer to Congress or a
body politic. "The highest levels of support for authoritarian
leadership," the Study Group concluded, "come from those who are
disaffected, disengaged from politics, deeply distrustful of experts,
culturally conservative, and have negative views toward racial
Well... first of all, a
good percentage of American voters did not vote in the last
presidential elections; second about half of these were pro Trump (but
we are already down to some 30% of the American adult population; and
third, we need to consider one third of these, it seems.
This means we are talking about some 10% of the American
voters, or so
it seems to me.
Here is more by Sugarman:
So if the
president's base has no
real commitment to democratic values, would they care if the
president were found culpable in any of the scandals presently roiling
the White House? Jan-Werner Müller, a political theorist at Princeton
University and the author of the 2016 book What Is Populism? has his doubts.
Well... I agree
or so very probably would admit almost anything done by Trump must be
good because it is done by Trump (and they voted for him), but
I do not
see any special reason why I should take "a political theorist
at Princeton University" seriously.
Even if Trump violated
campaign finance laws in his alleged hush payment to Stormy Daniels,
obstructed justice in the Mueller investigation or was discovered to
have colluded with the Kremlin, Müller contends, he might not face any
political consequences for his misdeeds.
Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
What might look like
corruption or cronyism to neutral observers is seen by the supporters
of populists as doing the right thing for the right people, the 'real
people.' This is why the tribal appeal of populism is so crucial.
Populist leaders thrive on distinctions between 'us' and 'them,'
between 'the people' and 'the establishment.'"
Possibly so, but I think totalitarianism
would have been the far better distinction, except that I also
that the (renewed) definition of it on the Wikipedia is a fraud
that intentionally took away all human interest by denying
(utterly falsely) that any person, any party, any
politics, or any
preferences can be totalitarian (in terms of the Wikipedia's
definition), except if they are part of a totalitarian state.
As Müller sees it, the
president's supporters have been conditioned to tolerate a criminal
commander-in-chief. Because Trump campaigned on the promise to
dismantle a rigged political system, his voters likely interpret his
looting and graft as a means to an end.
Carter Fears America's Transformation From Democracy to Oligarchy Is
All but Complete
This article is by Leslie Salzillo on AlterNet. It starts as
At 93, former
President Jimmy Carter is out promoting his 32nd book titled Faith:
A Journey For All while taking
interviews with various news groups along the way. This week, Judy
Woodruff with PBS interviewed Carter in a two-part series. Here are
excerpts from the first and second discussions.
I must admit that from all
American presidents since Eisenhower, I like Carter the best, and not
because I agree with him on faith, or indeed most other things, but
because he seems to be fairly honest (for an American
Here is the first bit that I quote:
I think everything Carter
said above is quite correct - which is pretty rare in a former or
actual American president.
When Woodruff asked
Carter his thoughts on the state of the country, the 39th U.S.
We now have a development
in America where the massive influx of money into campaigns has
elevated rich people, powerful people above the average person.
So, we are moving toward
an oligarchy of a powerful element of rich people compared to a true
And I think the other
thing, besides the massive amount of money we have put into elections,
is the gerrymandering of districts, which guarantees a continued
polarization of people.
We have a situation now
where people who are in power impose a lot of punishment on unfortunate
people. We have seven times as many people in prison now as we did when
I left the White House, for instance. We have got a much greater
disparity of income among Americans than we have ever had before.
In fact, eight people in
the world — six of them are from America — own as much money as half of
the total population of the world, 3.5 billion people.
In America, we have the
same problem, maybe even in an exaggerated way. We have marginalized
the average person, for the benefit of the wealthier people in America.
And here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Again I think Carter was
quite correct. And this is a recommended article.
A little further down in
the interview, Woodruff asks Carter to rate Donald Trump’s
performance during these last 14 months.
I don’t think he’s doing
He’s made some very
serious mistakes. I think the worst mistake he’s made so far has been
the appointment of John Bolton to be his national security adviser.
I know Bolton from way
back at a distance. I have never met him personally. But he has been
very eager to go to war with different people, including North Korea
and Iran. He’s been in the forefront of every kind of radical
enhancement the United States can make based on its own military
prowess. He’s — he’s told lies about things where I knew the truth. And
so I just have very little confidence in him.
Lure of Elections: From Political Power to Popular Power
This article is by Frank Ascaso, Enrique Guerrero-López,
Patrick Berkman and Adam Weaver on Truthout. It starts as follows:
In the wake of the
2016 presidential election, the gravitational pull of electoral
politics has gripped the left with renewed intensity. Fueled by the
popularity of Sen. Bernie Sanders, discontent with political elites and
the failure of the Democratic Party to defeat Trump, various segments
of the left see an opening for breathing new life into building a
"party of the 99 percent," a "party of a new type" or a "mass socialist
party." Others are content running leftist candidates as Democrats
under the guise of radical pragmatism. Given the history and structural
limitations of such projects, social movements, activists and
organizers should regard these calls with caution. If we want
meaningful social change, or even basic progressive reforms, the
electoral road leads us into a strategic cul-de-sac. Instead of better
politicians, we need popular power -- independent, self-managed and
combative social movements capable of posing a credible threat to
capitalism, the state, white supremacy and patriarchy.
I say, which I do this
time because I do not believe it. Specifically, I disbelieve
"Instead" in "Instead of
better politicians, we need popular power": Why not popular power and better
And yes, I am quite willing to agree that most American
politicians are corrupt or dishonest or incompetent or are
really out to get themselves rich, but voting takes very
trouble and does give a fair indication how how popular your politics
are, indeed quite possibly regardless of the actual politicians who
Then there is this:
An oft-cited 2011 Pew Poll revealed that 49 percent of
Americans under 30 had a positive view of socialism, while just 47
percent had a favorable opinion of capitalism. Disillusionment with
President Obama, coupled with a steady stream of post-recession
movements from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, had
significantly altered public discourse, expanded the field
of struggle and pulled the broader political spectrum to the left.
I am sorry but (i) this is
from seven years ago, and (ii) I do not care much for the
opinions of "Americans
under 30" on the subjects
of "capitalism" or "socialism", simply because I know that
having serious opinions on these subjects requires considerable
And while I do think some "Americans
under 30" are quite
capable of having serious opinions about these subjects, I do not
think they are the majority.
Then there is this:
But this is wrong;
elections are a trap with more costs than benefits. Political change is
a question of political power, and the electoral arena is a field of
battle that caters to the already rich and powerful. It hands our power
to politicians. As a result, when popular candidates win electoral
office without the backing of powerful social movements (even
candidates of the left), they are powerless to take meaningful action.
Instead, electoral campaigns drain movements of vital resources
that could be better spent elsewhere. The electoral road is not a
shortcut to power; it is a dead end -- structurally, historically and
I am sorry, but this
simply seems baloney to me. And once again: voting takes very little trouble
and does give a fair indication how how popular your politics are,
indeed quite possibly regardless of the actual politicians who get
It is nonsense to be interested only in voting; but it is also
nonsense to insist that you should not vote, especially because
voting is easy.
Finally, the quotes are all from the beginning of this fairly long
article that seems to have been written by four anarchists. Well... I
am a (philosophical) anarchist, but not of their kind.
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 (!!).