from May 14, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
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 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
These are five crisis files
that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from May 14, 2018
1. Killing Gaza
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. Here's the Real Reason Tech Billionaires are Prepping for
3. Republican Insider Explains How Religion Destroyed the GOP
4. Ready, Fire, Aim: Idiocy in Action
5. "Making America Great Again" Assumes That It Once Was
1. Killing Gaza
article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Israel’s blockade of
Gaza—where trapped Palestinians for the past seven weeks have held
along the border fence with Israel, resulting in more than 50
killed and 700 wounded by Israeli troops—is one of the world’s worst
humanitarian disasters. Yet the horror that is Gaza, where 2 million
people live under an Israeli siege without adequate food, housing,
work, water and electricity, where the Israeli military routinely uses
indiscriminate and disproportionate violence to wound and murder, and
where almost no one can escape, is rarely documented. Max Blumenthal
and Dan Cohen’s powerful new film, “Killing Gaza,” offers an
unflinching and moving portrait of a people largely abandoned by the
outside world, struggling to endure.
Yes, I think all
of this is correct - which I say because I know, more or less,
most of the facts that Chris Hedges mentions, but he certainly knows
them a lot better than I do, because he has been a war
correspondent in the region for many years.
“Killing Gaza” will be
released Tuesday, to coincide with what Palestinians call Nakba Day—“nakba”
means catastrophe in Arabic—commemorating the 70th anniversary of the
forced removal of some 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 by the Haganah,
Jewish paramilitary forces, from their homes in modern-day Israel. The
release of the documentary also coincides with the Trump
administration’s opening of
the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Also, I think it is worth saying (as a Dutchman, althoug I agree this
is an entirely different subject) that I know that Max Blumenthal
is correct when he says (as reported on Wikipedia) that
¨Blumenthal referred to Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a "Somali-born author
and anti-Islam activist" with "a history of fraud".
And yes, I also know this
has little or nothing to do with Gaza, but he is quite right:
she is a fraud and a major liar, and little else (as most Dutchmen
know, but few Americans do).
Back to the article:
The film begins in the
Shuja’iyya neighborhood, reduced to mounds of rubble by the Israelis.
The wanton destruction of whole neighborhoods was, as documented by the
film, accompanied by the shooting of unarmed civilians by Israeli
snipers and other soldiers of that nation.
“Much of the destruction
took place in the course of a few hours on July 23,” Blumenthal, who
narrates the film, says as destroyed buildings appear on the screen,
block after block. “The invading Israeli forces found themselves under
ferocious fire from local resistance forces, enduring unexpectedly high
casualties. As the Israeli infantry fled in full retreat, they called
in an artillery and air assault, killing at least 120 Palestinian
civilians and obliterated thousands of homes.”
I take it this is quite
true, and indeed generalize it by saying that this seems to be the
present system of war (in many countries, and indeed also
in a major
way in Gaza):
Those who are being
killed by the military are not anymore the military
the opposing party - as tended to be the case until Vietnam - but the
civilians of the opposing party.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
That is what I just meant
by saying that in modern war in the last 50 or 60 years it are mostly
civilians who are being killed by
the military of the opposing party
(which incidentally also happened in WW II). And this is a
targeted power plants, schools, medical clinics, apartment complexes,
whole villages. Robert Piper, the United Nations Coordinator for
Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, said in 2017 that Gaza had
“a long time ago” passed the “unlivability
threshold.” Youth unemployment is at 60 percent. Suicide is
epidemic. Traditional social structures and mores are fracturing, with
divorce rising from 2 percent to 40 percent and girls and women
increasingly being prostituted, something once seen only rarely in
Gaza. Seventy percent of the 2 million Gazans survive on humanitarian
aid packages of sugar, rice, milk and cooking oil. The U.N. estimates
that 97 percent of Gaza’s water is contaminated.
the Real Reason Tech Billionaires are Prepping for Doomsday
article is by Jason Rhode on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It
starts as follows:
If you pay attention to
what Silicon Valley’s best and brightest are up to, you know about tech
survivalism. The digital elite are preparing for the Apocalypse, and
have been for a while.
As Evan Osnos wrote in his New Yorker feature, “Doomsday Prep for
Survivalism, the practice
of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain
picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard
of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has
expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and
New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and
others in their economic cohort.
I think this is
correct. Also, I think there are several reasons for this, and I
to agree (more than not) with one set of reasons, that say - more
less, and I am summarizing this briefly - that it is likely that
civilization will collapse in the none too far future, and quite
possibly soon, because of overpopulation and global warming.
Then again, although
these reasons may play a role, they are less important than the
following set of reasons:
The Guardian noted that the end-of-days obsession could be
traced back to a single source, a sort of ur-text of rich-guy panic: a
1999 book called "The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive
during the Collapse of the Welfare State." It was written by James Dale
Davidson, a private investment advisor, and Lord Rees-Moog, a British
You can probably already
guess at what the book says. More or less, it’s a pastiche of extolling
the virtues of how the rich are superior, persecuted by the state, and
how digital realms can and will liberate them and make them sovereign
individuals. It’s a familiar trope: Ayn Rand had John Galt spew the
same list of self-serving ideas sixty years ago in “Atlas Shrugged.”
That an elite caste of
people would find inspiration in these kinds of ideas is unsurprising.
But there’s a more obvious reason that rich people are doomsday
preppers: because that ideology mirrors their politics and their
sociological views of people.
Aristocracy is the faith
that a few individuals are better than the herd. Aristocracy justifies
great wealth. Aristocracy says that most humans are inherently evil and
will turn on each other. The mob needs strong rulers to stay sane. If
authority breaks down, the rabid animals will run wild.
I have not read the
book, but this may very well be quite correct.
Then again, I should add that
while I am not an aristocrat in the above sense, I am also
certainly not a democrat who believes (or pretends to believe,
in public, and often it is mere pretension) that ¨all people
Indeed, if this were literally
true, there would be just one person
(or two twins, perhaps). I think there are pretty large differences
between people on many relevant dimensions:
A few are considerably more
beautiful than most others; a few are
taller than others; a few are stronger and more athletic than others; a
few are more intelligent than others; a few are much better chess
players or mathematicians or actors, and so on.
And while these are quite
true in my opinion (and I am taller and more intelligent than the
vast majority, indeed by rather objective criterions (my length
and the marks I got in my academic studies: I scored only As, while
being ill all the time)), I do not
believe that being better in
some widely liked respects than most others is any reason for being
more wealthy, nor is it any reason to be against legal equality
of all people, nor is it any reason to insist upon unlimited wealth for
a few and poverty for the vast majority. These are all fallacies.
Back to the article. This is
from its ending:
Well... I certainly would not
put it as Rhode does, but I agree (more or less) that many of the
aristocrats-in-the-tradition-of-Ayn-Rand, to put it that way, whose
presumed aristocracy mostly depends on their wealth, are such
aristocrats because such
aristocracy enables them to believe
What are the tech-preppers
really worried about? Not death by fire, quake, or ice. Not the rising
seas, or the zombie plague, not the return of Christ or rogue comets.
Seen clearly, the calamity that the wealthy fear is democracy
returning to the United States. Every tall tale they tell involves the
specter of the mob.
understand, at a deep level, that their ill-gotten gains are predicated
on an unjust system. Deep in the brain, where reptile impulses live,
tech-bros know hoarding is wrong. Human beings — even very wealthy
human beings — have a bone-deep sense of injustice. We know a
that they belong to the few who deserve their wealth, and not to the
many who deserve to be poor (or non-rich).
And I agree with Rohde that this is a major fallacy, that
adopted mostly because of wishful
thinking by the wealthy. This is a recommended article.
Insider Explains How Religion Destroyed the GOP
article is by Mike
Lofgren on AlterNet and originally on Viking Press.
It starts as follows:
I like Mike Lofgren and
on January 12, 2017:
Having observed politics up
close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the
conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may
have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican
Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that
rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the
GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent
The following exceprt
is reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of the Penguin Group
(USA) Inc., from "The
Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and
the Middle Class Got Shafted," by Mike
Lofgren. Copyright © 2012 by Mike Lofgren.
Two of the reasons I
like Mike Lofgren (whom I don't know at all) are that
(i) he had quite a few ideas like I have, and indeed some better
than I had, i.a. because he is much closer to USA institutions than I
am, and (ii) he has a strong Republican background, which I
like because this means he is quite informed, while having to
think through his background (which is mostly against his own
In fact, I think that was
the first time I heard about him, and the reason was his book
from 2016, not the one mentioned and excerpted in the present
article. Then again, Lofgren´s earlier book is interesting as well, and
I will quote three bits from it. This is the first:
Also, I think it should have
been added below this article - which does mention Mike
Lofgren's book from 2013 - that he also published a
later book, "The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the
Rise of a Shadow Government", in January of 2016.
Some liberal writers
have opined that the socioeconomic gulf separating the business wing of
the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that
could crack. I am not so sure. There is no basic disagreement on which
direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far it
should go. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age; the
theocrats to the Salem witch trials. If anything, the two groups are
increasingly beginning to resemble each other. Many televangelists have
espoused what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel—the
health-and- wealth/name-it-and-claim-it gospel of economic entitlement.
If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad! This
rationale may explain why some poor voters will defend the prerogatives
Yes indeed: I basically
agree, and especially with ¨If
you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad!¨ (and see item 2
Also, there is a far wide theme below what Lofgren says in the
above paragraph, that I introduce here and now by reference to a
essay that dates back to 1970: ¨The
Irrational in Politics¨ by ¨Maurice Brinton¨ (in fact: Chris Pallis,
who was a prominent neurologist and a socialist), that I find quite
interesting, and plan to have on my site with my extensive notes.
The version I linked to is on marxists.org. There are quite a few other
versions of the text elsewhere: I selected this one simply because it
is a fine edition (from 1975).
Two of its theses I will summarize as follows: (1) Very much of
¨politics¨ - in theory and in practice - is quite
(when measured with sensible factual or scientific
considerable part because (2) very many in ¨politics¨ - in theory and in practice - are
quite irrational and very
often reach their conclusions by wishful
thinking and ignorance
(also if they are quite intelligent).
These are my formulations, and I put scarequotes around
¨politics¨ because I am talking in fact about hundreds of millions
individuals, and hundreds of political systems, ideas, slogans,
proposals, values etc. of the last hundred and fifty years or
Back to the article:
The Tea Party, which
initially described itself as wholly concerned with debt, deficit, and
federal overreach, gradually unmasked itself as being almost as
theocratic as the activists from the religious right that Armey had
denounced only a few years before. If anything, they were even slightly
more disposed than the rest of the Republican Party to inject religious
issues into the political realm. According to an academic study of the
Tea Party, “[T]hey seek ‘deeply religious’ elected officials, approve
of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought
into political debates.” The Tea Party faithful are not so much
libertarian as authoritarian, the furthest thing from a “live free or
Yes, I think that is
correct as well - and in fact, talking again with reference to ¨The
Irrational in Politics¨, one major reasson is that religion is quite
like politics - as most religionists consent to my thesis, provided
their own religion. (And yes, I am an atheist.)
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which is about Ayn
Ayn Rand, an
occasional darling of the Tea Party, has become a cult figure within
the GOP in recent years. It is easy enough to see how her tough-guy,
every-man-for-himself posturing would be a natural fit with the Wall
Street bankers and the right-wing politicians they fund—notwithstanding
the bankers’ fondness for government bailouts. But Rand’s philosophy
found most of its adherents in the libertarian wing of the party, a
group that overlaps with, but is certainly not identical to, the
“business conservatives” who fund the bulk of the GOP’s activities.
(...) The problem is that Rand proclaimed at every opportunity that she
was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity
as a religion of weaklings possessing a slave mentality.
Yes indeed - and Lofgren
is logically speaking quite correct. For me the basic reason a
atheist like Rand (who could not even write a decent book - and yes, I
did read ¨Atlas Shrugged¨ in the early 70ies, and was appalled
the horrible style and the awful values and ideas) is popular
in the GOP is again ¨The
Irrational in Politics¨. And this is a recommended article.
Fire, Aim: Idiocy in Action
article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Trying to parse Trump’s
decision to withdraw from the Iran agreement shows why “balanced news”
may end up destroying the world. We’ll examine why in a moment,
but first, let’s summarize Trump’s reasoning – or what passes for
reasoning in his addled, emotionally adolescent, ADHD brain.
He says it was a “bad deal;
a terrible deal.” As Tony
Schwartz, the actual author of The Art of the Deal
notes, Trump—who barely read the book—has come to believe he was the
author of The Art of the Deal, and making deals has become,
in his mind, his greatest forte. So naturally, any deal struck by
someone else—especially Obama—is second rate and something he could
Yes, I agree and the
reference to Tony
Schwartz is worth reading if
you don´t know already about the real write of The Art of the Deal.
Also, I explain “balanced news” as follows. News (and
political ideas, and religious ideas, and nowadays also scientific
ideas) is ¨balanced¨ about some issue if (i) the issue is presented as
difference of opinion between - usually - two sides, often presented as
pro and con, and (ii) the two sides are presented as more or less equal
(on the surface, at least), while (iiii) the reporter - as is the case
with news - takes no (explicit) position: ¨He merely presents
Clearly, there are some
theses that may be treated fairly in this way, but
not almost any political or religious subject or thesis.
To take two
examples from mathematics (because this is clear): You can
idea that a fairly tossed coin will fall heads this way, but you cannot
treat the idea that 2+2=22 that way (if you are minimally rational and
know how to count).
And in fact, news is
presented as ¨balanced¨ because it keeps the beliefs and values
journalist (in the case of news) out of the picture, while pretending
he or she is ¨objective¨ because he or she presents both sides ¨in a
fair way¨ (say: discrimination, or higher taxes, or global warming etc.)
For most political and
religious ideas, this simply is false, and mostly
amounts to lying
at least pretending, and not to honest reporting.
Back to the article:
I think this is quite true
and is explained in my previous comment. Here is the last bit I quote
from this article:
The point is, Trump’s
objections have no foundation, and his actions actually exacerbate the
very issues he raises. Essentially, what he’s done is to increase
the likelihood of a nuclear conflict in the Mideast, in the name of
preventing one. And he had no alternative plan. Ready, fire
aim. Just as he and his Republican cronies did with their attempt
to repeal Obamacare.
Look, let’s not mince
words. This is idiotic, and it is extremely dangerous. Yes,
there were flaws in the agreement. But it did stop Iran from
developing nuclear weapons for more than fifteen years. To
scuttle this achievement without any alternative plan or any
consideration of some of the unintended consequences (an increase in
Russian influence, and undermining moderates in Iran just when they
were gaining momentum, for example) is simply madness.
But across the “liberal”
media, you’ll find stories representing both “sides.” From NPR
to the New York Times to the Washington Post,
articles presenting the rational for Trump’s act of idiocy abound.
Yes, I agree - but then
most of the ¨news¨ is being presented in a
(quasi) balanced way on the
mainstream media, and I think this will remain the same. There - still
- is journalism about politics (and religion and news, etc.) that is
more or less decent journalism, but you will not find much on the
¨balanced¨ ¨each side may be true, and we leave it to you to decide¨
presentations in the mainstream media.
One of the concerns people
raised as Trump began his presidency by appointing an obscene list of
foxes to guard our collective national chicken coup, while breaking
campaign promises at a rate that was grotesque even by the standards of
politicians, was that we not let Trump’s irrational, infantile,
plutocratic, mendacious behavior become the new normal.
But by treating what is
manifestly one of the stupidest, least thought out and dangerous
decisions in modern history as if it were something with “sides” the
media has done exactly that, and that effectively gives him license to
continue his destruction of the national and international commons.
I agree this is a major danger for rational thinking and arguing,
while few things are certain,
most political, religious and other
theses are not 50/50, and also cannot be fairly
without people taking positions. And this is a recommended article.
America Great Again" Assumes That It Once Was
article is by Mark Karlin on Truthout. It starts as follows:
The United States is
exceptional in believing that it is exceptional. It dominates the world
with its military but falls behind many other nations in standards that
define quality of life. "Only in the United States can you have
endless discussions of the legality of war without ever mentioning that
war is illegal," says author and activist David Swanson in this
Precisely, and in fact
this is a fine article from which I will select three bits. This is the
completely agree (and because I generally do
take positions - see item
4 - here is my position on Kaine: as long as Kaine (and others) are
prominent in the Democratic Party, I don´t believe it is any better
than the Republican Party, and besides, it seems to me - who is not
American - that most American politicians have been corrupted).
Mark Karlin: What
is your working definition of the sense of United States exceptionalism?
David Swanson: What
I describe in the book is a collection of beliefs or attitudes, whether
or not articulated, that hold the US government, military and nation to
be central to one's identity and to be superior to and not even to be
judged on the same plane with anyone else. This is a way of thinking
that is not dependent on any empirical facts, but is itself observable
in opinion polls and in uniquely US phenomena, such as debates over
whether or not to bomb another country, or discussions of history or of
public policy that assume the rest of the world does not exist.
Last week, US Sen. Tim
Kaine spoke here in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia about
war powers. He claimed that Trump sending 100 missiles into Damascus
could have been legal if only Trump had gotten approval from Congress.
I brought up something that went unmentioned through the whole event
and asked him if the UN Charter was not the supreme law of
the land under Article VI, and he admitted as much but shrugged it
off. Only in the United States can you have endless discussions of the
legality of war without ever mentioning that war is illegal.
Here is more from the article:
You spend a good
portion of your book comparing the United States to other nations. How
does the US fare?
Miserably. The United
States leads the world in everything from military spending to
war-making to incarceration to various measures of environmental
destruction, and various other undesirable categories. The United
States trails behind all other wealthy countries, managing only to
surpass poor countries in all kinds of measures of well-being, such as
life-expectancy, health, education and happiness. And this poor showing
is not balanced out by something else. Even in every conceivable
measure of "freedom" and "democracy," even those measuring the
viciousness of capitalism, the United States fails to rise to the top.
"We're Number 1!" taken as a factual and positive claim is simply false.
Again precisely so. And
this is the last bit I selected:
What is the damage
the notion of American exceptionalism does?
It's hard to fit into a
book, much less an interview, but this attitude damages everyone it
touches. It deprives people of identifying with 96 percent of humanity
and most of human history and prehistory. It deprives the people of the
United States of emergency aid, of global cooperation, of everything
good and decent that a military budget could have bought, of all the
world's innovations in environmental sustainability, education, crime
reduction, health coverage, democracy, etc. And, of course, it is
central to the propaganda that launches murderous wars and justifies
all cruel foreign policies.
And precisely so. This
is a strongly 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 (!!).