from June 5, 2018
B. One Extra Bit
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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 June 5, 2018:
1. Trump Says Appointment of Special Counsel is ‘Totally
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. Reagan, Deregulation and America’s Exceptional Rise
in Health Care
3. Germans Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help
Far-Right Nationalists Take
Power Across Europe
4. Did Mark Zuckerberg Lie to Congress About Facebook's User
Is Donald Trump Above the Law? He Clearly
Thinks So — and the Threat
to Democracy is Real
Says Appointment of Special Counsel is ‘Totally Unconstitutional’
article is by Michael Shear on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
declared on Monday that the appointment of the special counsel in the
Russia investigation was “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” and asserted that
he had the power to pardon himself, raising the prospect that he might
take extraordinary action to immunize himself from the continuing
a pair of early-morning tweets, Mr. Trump suggested that he would not
have to pardon himself because he had “done nothing wrong.” But he
insisted that “numerous legal scholars” had concluded that he had the
absolute right to do so, a claim that vastly overstated the legal
thinking on the issue.
I say - but yes: Caligula Trump said so. Since he was
elected (not by a majority) he has behaved as a Ceasar, and the above
is more of the same, for now he asserts that he is totally beyond any
Then there is this (and of course Trump lied):
Trump’s assertion that “numerous legal scholars” believe he could
pardon himself ignores the one official opinion on the subject. In
August 1974, just days before former President Richard M. Nixon
resigned, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal
Counsel, Mary C. Lawton, said in a memorandum that “it would seem” that
Mr. Nixon could not pardon himself.
wrote that such a pardon would appear to violate “the fundamental rule
that no one may be a judge in his own case.” But she did not explain
how that principle would limit the constitutional power of the
president to pardon.
Well... Lawton is a legal scholar, and as one who has
been exposed to the (Dutch) laws regularly (which I mostly won, but
that is an aside) I know that legal scholars doubt that 2+2=4
or that it either rains or else does not rain, until a judge approves
these mathematical and logical truths.
I have studied logic and say that
of course no one can be his own judge in a legal case in any decent
democracy. Then again, I agree that democracy has been mostly killed in
the USA, and not just by Trump but by Reagan, Clinton, Bush Jr. and
Obama as well, though indeed it is also true that Trump is the worst of
the lot, probably in part because he is insane (I say, as a
psycho- logist - and please check the last link).
Here is some more, this time by the leader of the
president has the power to pardon himself or herself, if they did the
presidency would function above and outside the law,” said Senator
Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, on the Senate floor.
“If a president can pardon himself, then it’s virtually a monarchy, as
far as the president is concerned.”
I don't like Schumer, but he is quite correct in the
above, and this is a recommended article.
Deregulation and America’s Exceptional Rise in Health Care Costs
article is by Austin Frakt on The New York Times. This is from near its
1980s divergence in health costs, some readers and experts observed,
coincided with a broad push toward deregulation.
Gaumer, an associate professor at Simmons College School of Business,
pointed to changes in how hospitals and doctors were paid. Before the
early 1980s, payments by Medicare and other insurers were tied to
costs. If it cost a hospital, say, $5,000 for a patient’s surgery,
that’s what the hospital was paid, plus a bit more for reasonable
then payers (private
insurers and government health care programs like Medicare) began to
shift financial risk to providers like hospitals and doctors. It
started with a law that began affecting most hospitals in 1983,
changing how Medicare paid hospitals to a fixed price per visit,
regardless of the actual costs. This approach later spread to other
Medicare services and other payers, including private insurers. If
providers could get costs down, they made money. If they couldn’t, they
and other providers began to behave more like businesses,” Mr. Gaumer
said. “And the culture of health care delivery began to change.”
In fact, this article is about health care costs in
the USA, and refers back to an earlier article that I have not
read. But yes, the above quotation is quite right - I think,
and have argued at length in the last 5 years of Nederlog - in stating
there is a strong relation between deregulations
(which amounts to taking down laws
that protected the many non-rich from the depradations the few rich
could impose on them) and the enormous health care costs in
the USA, that started to rise since Reagan became president.
And the article is right about Medicare as well. Here
is what has been happening in health care in the USA since the 1980s:
1980s deregulatory agenda was evident in states as well. Many abandoned
health care price and capital investment controls. Managed care — in the form of health
maintenance organizations — was the free-market replacement to
government regulations. Investor-owned, shareholder-driven, for-profit
companies became common in health care for the first time. They focused
on revenue and profit maximization, not cost control.
“‘Greed is good’ was more than a catchy
movie line — it was the Me Decade’s dominant theory,” Professor
McDonough said. “No other advanced democracy embraced deregulated
health care markets in the way that the U.S. did. It swept through
health care as it did every other part of the U.S. economy.”
I think Donough is quite right, although I must
add that the Dutch (I happen to be Dutch, unfortunately) also know how
to do this:
In 1975 my health care insurance cost 20
euros a month and was complete, without me having to pay anything; in
2018 my health care insuranxe costs 170 euro a month, and I
have to pay almost 400 euros of my own costs before getting
restituted anything, and meanwhile the glasses I got for free from
1975 till 2000 now cost 800 euros.
These are enormous advances for the few rich, and that is one reason why I see neofascism
(in my sense: check the link) arising from Reagan and Thatcher
onwards. There are many more reasons and this is a recommended article.
Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help Far-Right
Nationalists Take Power Across Europe
article is by Robert Mackey on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
As I have been saying for
over two years now, I think Trump is a neofascist madman. It does not
quite follow logically that his ambassadors must be men (or women) like
Trump, but this Grenell sure sounds as if he is Trump-alike.
The German government
demanded a formal explanation from the United States on Monday of what,
exactly, the new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, meant when
he promised to use his office to help far-right nationalists inspired
by Donald Trump take power across Europe.
interview with Breitbart News, published on Sunday, Grenell said he
was “excited” by the rise of far-right parties on the continent and
wanted “to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other
Here is more on him:
Grenell, a former
Fox News pundit whose abrasive Twitter style had already
alienated many Germans, tweeted on Monday that it was “ridiculous”
to suggest that he would endorse candidates or parties, but stood by
his claim to Breitbart that Europe, like America, was “experiencing an
awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites and
their bubble. Led by Trump.”
Of course a president and
a bilionaire like Trump does not belong to the elite ...
according to Trump himself, and according to his spokesman Grenell,
that is. (How idiotic can you be in politics these days? As
idiotic as you please, seems to be the correct answer.)
Finally, here is Verhofstadt, a European I do not like:
Guy Verhofstadt, a
former prime minister of Belgium who now leads the Alliance of Liberals
and Democrats for Europe, a free-market group in the European
“We have to defend Europe against Trump. It’s not up to his ambassador
to influence our elections and steer our society. We respect the
sovereignty of the U.S., they have to respect ours.” Verhofstadt added
the hashtag #GrenellRaus — “Grenell Out” — to his tweet.
But Verhofstadt is right
in what was quoted above, and this is a recommended article.
Mark Zuckerberg Lie to Congress About Facebook's User Privacy?
This article is by Julia Conley on Truthdig and originally
on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Of course Mark Zuckerberg
lied to Congress. And incidentally, it is my - strongly confirmed -
guess that the vast majority of the 2 billion members of
Facebook do use cell phones or tablets, both of which seem still
to be open to all manner of advertisers.
At least one member of
Congress regarded new information about Facebook’s data-sharing
partnerships with tech companies as evidence that the company’s CEO,
Mark Zuckerberg, lied to lawmakers in April about the control users
have over their information on the social media platform.
The New York Times reported
Sunday that Facebook formed deals with at least 60 makers of cell
phones and other devices allowing them access to users’ personal
information and that of their Facebook friends, without explicit
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft,
and Samsung were among the companies Facebook reached agreements with,
allowing the companies to access users’ relationship status, religion,
political views, and upcoming events they attend.
Here is some more (and "other devices" comprises tablets):
Facebook prohibited tech
developers from accessing the data of users’ friends after discovering
the Cambridge Analytica breach in 2015, but the makers of cell phones
and other devices were not subject to the restriction.
“It’s like having door
locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to
all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff
without having to ask you for permission,” Ashkan Soltani, a research
and privacy consultant, told the Times of the new
And therefore Soltani is
quite right: Pretended locksmith Zuckerberg handed out their keys to
protect their privacies to his paying friends who can still steal their
privacies. (And that is how it is with all Zuckerberg's
of the "dumb fucks who trusted" him.)
Here is the last bit I quote
from this article, which is abput a former advertising and privacy
official of Facebook:
Yes, I think
Parakalis is quite right - but I am not going to quote his series of
Tweets because I hate Tweets. There are some in the article, which is
Sandy Parakalis, a former
advertising and privacy official at Facebook who left the company in
2012 and has raised concerns over its use of users’ data, posted on
twitter about Zuckerberg’s earlier statements and urged lawmakers to
hold the CEO accountable for the newly uncovered privacy breach.
Donald Trump Above the Law? He Clearly Thinks So — and the Threat to
Democracy is Real
article is by Chauncey De Vega on AlterNet and originally on Salon.
This is from near its beginning:
Beginning with Trump's 2016
campaign and now through to the second year of his presidency, for
Salon and my podcast I have spoken with dozens of the world's leading
historians, sociologists, political scientists, philosophers,
psychologists, psychiatrists and journalists, as well as former
intelligence and other national security experts about the crisis and
threat to American democracy posed by Trump.
There is a consensus:
Donald Trump is an authoritarian and a demagogue. He means what he says. None of Trump's words or
threats are empty or mere hyperbole.
The rule of law is the only
thing protecting America and the country's citizens from Trump, the
Republican Party and their allies' campaign against democracy, civil
rights, and the common good.
Well... I agree that "Donald Trump is an authoritarian and a
demagogue", but in fact -
as I have been arguing since the beginning of 2016, with academic
degrees in philosophy and in psychology - I think he also is a neofascist
(in my sense: see the link) and a madman (in the sense of the
DSM-5, for in those terms he is a narcissist,
which is a serious personality disorder).
Also, I don't
quite agree with "None of
Trump's words or threats are empty or mere hyperbole" but here my argument is less
conclusive, for I think that Trump is a madman, but he also
knows that many of his lies are lies - or else he is even
more mad than I think, namely if he still (for example) genuinely
believes there were more people attending Trump's presidential
inauguration than Obama's. (I admit I do not know.)
Here is a summary of
Trump plus Trump's lawyers asserting that Trump's election elected
a Ceasar rather than a president:
On Saturday afternoon, the
New York Times published a confidential memo from Trump's
attorneys which was sent to Justice Department special counsel Robert
Mueller earlier this year. This document is ominous: It reveals how
just how imperiled under assault the Constitution and rule of law are
under Trump's presidency. Once more it is tempting to announce that a
type of Rubicon has been crossed in America. But in truth every day
seems to bring a new low in our ongoing civic disaster.
Trump's lawyers, the Times
reminds us, have asserted "that he cannot be compelled to testify"
either to Mueller or before a grand jury, and argued in the
confidential letter "that he could not possibly have committed
obstruction [of justice] because he has unfettered authority over all
Here is more on Ceasar
As the Times reporters
drily continue, Trump’s "broad interpretation of executive authority is
novel," and may ultimately be tested in court. In essence, Trump's
lawyers have claimed that the Trump is the law, an American
king who may not rule by divine right but certainly believes that
he is the embodiment of the State and the ultimate decider of what
Quite so. Then again,
you and I may agree this is crazy, illegal, undemocratic, unreasonable,
etc. but Trump and his lawyers disagree, while the mainstream
media all lie at
least in the direction of Trump, namely by not saying he is
The American corporate news
media, for the most part, continues to aid and abet Donald Trump by
refusing to name his lies as such (they are often described instead as
"misstatements," "falsehoods," "exaggerations" or "deflections"),
offering a platform for his professional liars and other propagandists
and engaging in dangerous exercises of "both sides do it" or
"what-aboutism." The media's professional commitment to "balance" and
"fairness" becomes meaningless when one side of the debate has utter
disdain for democracy and the very idea of a free and independent press.
And not only that, for if
Trump's lies reach the Supreme Court, the last 50 years of moves
(in my sense: see the link) have produced a supreme court that may
agree with Trump in majority and indeed also on completely incoherent
O well... This is a strongly
B. One Extra Bit
an extra bit in the crisis series. I did so before a few times. This
time it is about physics, mathematics and philosophy, which are three
subjects I have been seriously interested in for 50 years now.
This is the article, which is over 100 Kb, but it is quite good and
fact, it is a review of two books, both of which seem to be quite good.
The writer of the article is an American philosopher of science and
physicist called Tim
Maudlin. I did not know of him before today, but I liked
his article a lot, which is the reason I review it.
Then again, I immediately admit I cannot properly review it in
the context of Nederlog because the article takes over 100 Kb, and
therefore I shall give just three quotations.
The first is the start of the article:
Quite so and well
put, except for the last statement: I agree that "if the majority is misguided on just this one
topic, then almost everyone must be mistaken on some issues of great
importance", and in fact
strengthen it to the thesis that absolutely everyone must be
mistaken on some issues (including myself), but I deny
that it follows (or is true) that "it is paradoxical to accept one’s own folly".
People are gullible. Humans
can be duped by liars and conned by frauds; manipulated by rhetoric and
beguiled by self-regard; browbeaten, cajoled, seduced, intimidated,
flattered, wheedled, inveigled, and ensnared. In this respect, humans
are unique in the animal kingdom.
another characteristic. Humans alone, he tells us, have logos:
reason. Man, according to the Stoics, is zoön logikon, the
reasoning animal. But on reflection, the first set of characteristics
arises from the second. It is only because we reason and think and use
language that we can be hoodwinked.
Not only can people be led
astray, most people are. If the devout Christian is right, then
committed Hindus and Jews and Buddhists and atheists are wrong. When so
many groups disagree, the majority must be mistaken. And if the
majority is misguided on just this one topic, then almost everyone must
be mistaken on some issues of great importance. This is a hard lesson
to learn, because it is paradoxical to accept one’s own folly.
My reason is basically that one may be quite rational - as
indeed many philosophers of science and many academic skeptics have been - in saying one does not know everything, and
indeed also in saying that one is uncertain about many things.
Anyway... Here is what this article is about (but I deny it is a
"paradox", other than in the sense of "unexpected consequence"):
I have written about Errol
Morris (plus Thomas Kuhn) before, and agree with Morris (and personally
rejected Kuhn (and Feyerabend) already in 1971, on what were then and
now quite good grounds from my knowledge of philosophy of
The two books under
consideration here bring the paradox home, each in its own way. Adam
Becker’s What Is Real? chronicles the tragic side of a
crowning achievement of reason, quantum physics. The documentarian
Errol Morris gives us The Ashtray, a semi-autobiographical
tale of the supremely influential The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions (1962) by Thomas S. Kuhn. Both are spellbinding
intellectual adventures into the limits, fragility, and infirmity of
human reason. Becker covers the sweep of history, from the 1925 birth
of the “new” quantum physics up through the present day. Morris’s tale
is more picaresque. Anecdotes, cameos, interviews, historical
digressions, sly sidenotes, and striking illustrations hang off a
central spine that recounts critical episodes in the history of
I do not know Becker, but I have spend considerable attention on
quantum mechanics, especially in 1982 and in 2000, and have seen now
that my arguments from then currently belong to a group of persons who
distinguish between two senses of saying no: One can deny
things, as in saying "it is not true that p" and one can also falsify
things, as in saying "it is false that p" (and the latter logically
implies the former, but not conversely).
And I discovered the distinction myself in February of 1975, but did not
succeed in properly working out its consequences for quantum mechanics.
There is also this about Errol Morris:
The subtitle of Errol
Morris’s new book is, “Or the Man Who Denied Reality.” That might
suggest a biography of Bohr, but the face on the cover is that of
Thomas Kuhn. A renowned documentarian known for his dogged pursuit of
truth that got one man off death row, Morris had a short-lived stint as
Kuhn’s graduate student at Princeton. The cut-glass ashtray of the
title was hurled at Morris’s head by Kuhn in a fit of pique. Morris has
never forgiven Kuhn. And the ashtray is the least of it. Morris loathed
Kuhn’s relativism and abandonment of reason and evidence, and Kuhn
loathed Morris back.
Morris’s book is a settling
of scores, both personal and philosophical. It is also delightful,
digressive, unpredictable, engrossing, amusing, infuriating, and
As I said, I am completely
with Morris, and indeed despise Kuhn myself since 1971, and indeed not
because of what he said so much as because he said so much quite
unclearly (while pretending to be clear).
Here is the last bit I
quote from this fine article, which is in bold because it is set apart
from the main text, in bold:
Errol Morris’s clash
with Thomas Kuhn was preordained: it is one thing to remark how hard
truth can be to establish, and quite another to deny that there is any
truth at all.