This starts below a photo of a smiling Kim Jong-un and 7 "exhilarated" general types, as follows:
Yes, I think this is mostly correct. I do not
know the nuclear capability of North Korea, but at least now it doesn't
seem serious (and North Korea is a poor country with an average income
of $150 a month and a population of some 25 million).
U.S. officials have repeatedly (and falsely) claimed that
North Korea is on the verge of having the capability to carry out a
nuclear strike on U.S. soil. And the Trump White House has done little
to tamp down media speculation about nuclear war, perhaps because the
hype plays to its advantage.
In fact, President Trump’s rhetorical brinksmanship has some
resemblance to the governing style of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean
dictator whom Trump recently called “a pretty smart cookie.”
A population that feels threatened by mass violence tends to line up
behind its protector. Exaggerated beliefs about North Korea’s nuclear
capabilities serve to justify America’s own provocations. These include
Foal Eagle, a military exercise carried out on North Korea’s doorstep by
U.S. and South Korean forces every spring since 2002.
It probably will become more serious (if North Korea continues to exist
as now) but not just yet and probably not the coming years:
The North Korean missile that’s drawn the most speculation is called the
KN-08. It has only been tested twice. Both tests ended in failure.
Nevertheless, NBC has offered advice on what Americans should do in case of a nuclear strike. Fox News reported on Hawaii’s “emergency attack plans.”
This means - for me at least - that NBC and Fox News contributed to war hysteria.
Here is some more on the reasons why:
There is a problem with this scenario. The North Korean missiles that are theoretically capable of reaching Hawaii do not work.
Nor do many other key components of the country’s arsenal. Last Friday,
two days after Harris’s warning, North Korea tried to launch a
medium-range ballistic missile. It was not mounted with a nuclear
warhead — it’s unclear whether North Korea is actually capable of
mounting a working nuclear bomb onto a working missile. The missile flew
22 miles, never leaving North Korean airspace, before exploding into
I agree with Mattathias Schwarz that the
North Koreans now and probably in the coming years will not be capable
of doing much with long distance rockets or nuclear arms.
2. Why Obama’s Big Cash-In Matters
article is by by Paul Street on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
One of my little online entertainments this year has been to ask my
social media network a question: “So, what’s Obama up to lately?”
I want to know, but I haven’t had the stomach to follow the man once he left the White House.
Truth be told, I burned out on Obama years ago.
I called him out as a corporate, neoliberal imperialist and a de facto
white supremacist (as ironic as that might sound given his technical
blackness) from the beginning of the nationwide “Obamas” phenomenon in the summer of 2004.
Paul Street certainly was rather a lot earlier than I was (indeed by about 5 years:
I gave up on Obama in the second half of 2009), but he is American and
a journalist, and I am Dutch and am (in spite of having a large site
that is updated every day) not a real journalist (for I neither
had the education, nor the experience: if I am something on the
internet, it is mostly a commentator).
But I do agree with Paul Street, who undoubtedly knows a lot more about Obama and his many pretensions than I do:
From 2006 through 2011, I dedicated inordinate research and writing to
the “BaRockstar.” Prior to his 2009 inauguration (an event I found
likely once George W. Bush defeated John F. Kerry in 2004), I tried to
warn progressives (and anyone else who would listen) about Obama’s
coming presidential service to the rich and powerful, their global
empire and the white majority’s desire to deny the continuing power of
anti-black racism in the United States. I collected my warnings in a
2008 book that bore the deceptively neutral title “Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics.”
Yes, I quite agree. And as I said, I arrived
at a similar conclusion as did Paul Street, but only by the second half
of 2009 (when I was also deflected by my illness - since 1.i.1979 - to
comment on developments around ME/CFS that turned out to be wholly false two years later, in 2011).
I continued to follow Obama closely. In 2010, my next book, “The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power,”
detailed his dutiful fealty to the nation’s “deep state” masters of
capital and empire (and to white majority opinion on race) during his
first year in the White House. This volume exhaustively refuted partisan
Democrats who insisted that Obama really wanted to do progressive
things but was prevented from that by a Republican Congress. It was a
Here is some more on Obama's real values, from after he was re-elected in 2012:
Yes, indeed. In fact, there is rather a lot
more in the article, that I want to leave mostly to your own interests,
except for two points.
After his 2012 re-election, Obama spoke at The Wall Street Journal
CEO Council. “When you go to other countries,” Obama told the corporate
chieftains, “the political divisions are so much more stark and wider.
Here in America, the difference between Democrats and Republicans—we’re
fighting inside the 40-yard lines. … People call me a socialist
sometimes. But no, you’ve got to meet real socialists. [Laughter.] I’m
talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. My health care reform is
based on the private marketplace.”
It was what the socialist writer and activist Danny Katch called “a touching ruling class moment.”
The warm feelings made good capitalist sense. Fully 95 percent of the nation’s new income went to the top 1 percent
during Obama’s first term. Obama won his second term partly by
appropriating populist rhetoric from an Occupy Wall Street movement he’d
helped dismantle with infiltration and force in the fall and winter of
The first is this, and it is from Mike Lofgren (whom I like - see e.g. here):
As Mike Lofgren noted in his widely read book “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government”:
“Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its
strategies, if for no other reason than it has the money to reward
government operatives with a second career beyond what is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice—certainly beyond the dreams of a government salaryman” [emphasis added].
Yes indeed, and I think this is both a quite good and a probably true guess:
Wall Street now has both the money and much of the power in Trump's government, and they got there basically because they were lifted to that position by the enormous corruption that was embraced
by Obama in 2009: From then on, they also knew they could more or less
do as they pleased, for neither Obama nor Eric Holder did anything to prosecute any banker for any of their many frauds.
And the second point is that my own
guess is that Obama will try to cash in at least as much as Bill and
Hillary Clinton did, who now own over 100 million dollars, mostly
through extremely well-paid speeches to very rich bankers, and receiving great amounts for their autobiographies.
So I guess that Obama - who meanwhile got
$65 million for his autobiography, and who was promised $400,000 for
his first speech to very rich bankers - will not stop until he has made a $100 million dolllars as well.
And this is a recommended article.
3. The New GOP Plan to Repeal Obamacare Would Actually Create Real 'Death Panels'
This starts as follows:
The third article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
Now it’s the House Republicans who are correctly being accused of creating so-called death panels.
Yes indeed. I do not know whether there will be death panels in the Republican plan, but then these probably are not needed either, for the Republicans plan to leave all the poor to their own devices to pay for healthcare, that few will be able to pay.
Sarah Palin went on a famous tirade in 2009 after she and John McCain
lost the presidential election, saying the bill that would become known
as Obamacare would lead to medical rationing and life-and-death
decisions by faceless bureaucrats about who got coverage and who would
Seniors and the disabled “will have to stand in front of
Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a
subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether
they are worthy of health care,” Palin said, lying at that time in a manner that anticipated the rise of Donald Trump.
As of early Wednesday, House Republicans appeared to be blinking when it
comes to amassing enough votes to pass their latest Obamacare repeal
bill because what they are hearing loud and clear is turning crazy
Sarah’s macabre vision into reality. Americans struggling with cancer
and other life-threatening illnesses are expressing their concrete fears
that the House’s latest handiwork will accelerate their
demise, because it repeals Obamacare’s ban on insurers rejecting
coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allows insurers to
segregate these people into pricier high-risk pools. Both are disasters.
And few of the American poor will be able to pay because health insurance - as I
understand it - was based on the principle of spreading the risks of
serious disease over all insured, instead of excluding everyone with a
disease from being insured, which is what the profit hungry want.
But the profit hungry are in power, so that is what they are trying to do: Only insure those who do not have some pre-existing condition, which in effect is a minority of the over 50 year olds.
This is indeed why this will be a disaster for millions or tens of millions of poor Americans.
And this is a recommended article.
4. Trump's Unnecessary Cruelty
The fourth article is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their
I think Reich may well be correct. Here are four important reasons Reich gives why he thinks so, and I copy them without the additional text, that you can find by clicking the last dotted link:
1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor
2. Trump and his enablers in the GOP are on the way to repealing
Affordable Care Act
3. Trump is banning Syrian refugees
4. Trump is rounding up undocumented immigrants
And I admit that Reich might be
mistaken about Trump's cruelty: He may be cruel not because he likes
cruelty (?), but simply because he doesn't care for the poor, the
persecuted nor the refugees, rather as he doesn't care for the
Here is Reich's ending:
Why is Trump doing this? These actions come when unemployment is
down, crime is down, and we have fewer undocumented workers in the U.S. today
than we did ten years ago.
Trump is embarking on an orgy of cruelty for absolutely no
reason. This is profoundly immoral. It is morally incumbent on all of us to
Quite possibly so, though indeed it may
also be because Trump doesn't care for the poor because he thinks they
have (in his opinion) "poor"- African or Mexican - "genes", unlike his own German genes. (Trump does think that his genes are "very good".)
5. ‘I, for One, Welcome Our New Insect Overlords!’ How the Chattering Class Bully-Worships Trump
The fifth article article is by Mike Lofgren (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
I mentioned Mike Lofgren above, and supplied a link
to him. There is considerably more in the Nederlogs since 2016 on him,
either under his name or the deep state (with or without capitals) in the index for 2016.
And this article starts as follows:
In his review of Bertrand Russell’s Power: A New Social Analysis, George Orwell wrote the following: “Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion… ”
Orwell may have exaggerated, but there is some truth in what he said.
These days, in Washington as in Hollywood, the hordes of journalists,
pundits, press agents, pollsters, consultants and similar glitterati
appear to attach a normative value to notoriety, power and influence,
thereby investing the person thus described with even more
notoriety, power and influence. Like medieval saints, the exalted ones
possess mysterious powers and receive dispensation thanks to behavior
that would be expected from the rest of us as the norm, like ordinary
Both Bertrand Russell (<-Wikipedia) and George Orwell (<-Wikipedia) belong to my 10 or 15 most liked authors, which is one reason for me to make a remark on the possibility that "Orwell may have exaggerated":
Indeed he may have, but he wrote his review in the late 1930ies,
at a time when Stalin ruled the Soviet-Union, Hitler ruled Germany, and
the world was in an economical crisis. Besides, while "bully-worship"
is a vague term, it also is an undeniable fact that very many have admired the powerful and the rich, often for no better reason than that they had a lot of power or a lot of money.
And indeed Lofgren is right in writing that "the hordes of" present-day "journalists,
pundits, press agents, pollsters, consultants and similar glitterati
appear to attach a normative value to notoriety, power and influence", which seems to be the same mechanism.
Here is more:
For almost five decades, the right-wing propaganda machine has bombarded
America with the message that the “elites” (defined as the press,
university professors, lawyers and other upper-middle professionals, but
not as corporate CEOs, fossil fuel billionaires or the
upper-middle professionals who happen to toil at right-wing foundation
jobs) are sniffish, reflexively anti-American and constitutionally
opposed to middle-American values.
I think that is correct (and I don't live in the USA), and while there is something to saying that "the press,
university professors, lawyers and other upper-middle professionals"
belong to "an elite", this was intentionally misleading propaganda,
because the elite they belong to is neither the elite of power nor the
elite of money, but only the elite of education - which socially
speaking is not much of a - really effective - elite, even if journalists and professors get better paid than blue collar workers.
There is this on Trump's power and Trump's accomplishments:
Trump’s party controls the presidency, both houses of Congress and the
Supreme Court. Yet to date, his so-called accomplishments are laughably
meager compared to previous incoming presidents.
I agree mostly, and indeed this makes me slightly less unhappy with Trump's presidency, although I still think a man like him never should be president.
There is this on Trump's character:
The authors of the Politico piece insist other journalists
don’t “get” Trump, but he’s pretty easy to figure out. He’s an
authoritarian bully. Yes, most of us have seen his campaign rallies and
cotton to the fact his devoted followers think a bully is admirable and
that nothing on earth will shake their religious faith in him. But in
addition to being a bully, he’s also ignorant, doesn’t do his homework
and is incurably lazy. That means resolute opposition can stop him, and
so far, it mostly has.
Yes, I think that is correct. Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
We are 100 days plus into the Trump presidency. His inability to enact
his agenda so far is a promising sign, but that doesn’t mean our luck
Again yes, and I also think it would be naive - after 100 days - to believe that "our luck
will hold". And this is a recommended article.
6. Nearly 500K People Urge Congress to "Take Away Trump's Nuclear Football"
The sixth and last article today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams, and is about one of my main worries since Trump became president of the USA (which arises in my case in part because I am a psychologist; I have known some quite mad persons; and I think, as many psychologists and psychiatrists also do, that Donald Trump is not sane):
This starts as follows:
Close to 500,000 people have
signed a petition, delivered to Congress on Wednesday, that urges
lawmakers to take President Donald Trump's finger off the nuclear
The petition supports the "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act,"
legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey
(D-Mass.) that would prohibit Trump from launching a nuclear weapon
without Congress first authorizing a declaration of war.
"No American president should be allowed to launch an unprovoked
nuclear war," Markey said at the press conference marking the petition
delivery. "The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress,
and we should not allow President Trump—or any president—to use nuclear
weapons except in response to a nuclear attack against the U.S. or our
More than a dozen advocacy groups helped circulate the petition, from
the anti-nuclear Peace Action to the democracy watchdog Public Citizen.
I did not know this, and while I completely agree with the end of the legislation that was introduced by Lieu and Markey, I have two somewhat critical remarks, albeit not
about Lieu and Markey:
First, I like to point out that it is a - long existing - fact that it is Congress (and only Congress) that has the legal right to declare war, and not
the president of the USA, although it is also true that these laws have
been watered down a lot by both Bush Jr. and Obama (who pretended their
executive powers covered the legislative powers, which in fact is one sign of a dictatorship).
And second, given the extreme
importance that any nuclear war will have (it will almost certainly
kill most persons), and while I agree that 500,000 signatures is quite
a lot, it also is less than 1/6th of 1 percent of all Americans.
Then again, I completely agree with the petition, for reasons like these:
"It's time to take away Trump's nuclear football," Levine said.
Many highlighted the destructive power of modern weapons—especially when handed over to a president with a temper and a shaky grasp of geopolitics.
"Our Constitution created a government based on checks and balances
and gave the power to declare war solely to Congress," said Lieu. "A
nuclear first strike, which can kill hundreds of millions of people and
invite a retaliatory strike that can destroy America, is war. The
current nuclear launch approval process, which gives the decision to
potentially end civilization as we know it to a single individual, is
"Furthermore, the single individual currently possessing the sole
power to start WWIII is Donald J. Trump. The president has demonstrated a
frightening ignorance of the nuclear triad, crowed about being
'unpredictable' with our nuclear arsenal, and taken to Twitter to make
provocative statements about U.S. nuclear posture," Lieu added. "The
fate of humanity just may be at stake."
Yes indeed. And here is some more, also quite true to the best of my knowledge:
Lillyanne Daigle, network campaigner for Global Zero, added, "One
modern nuclear weapon is more destructive than all of the bombs
detonated in World War II combined—yet there is no check on Trump's
ability to use the thousands of nuclear weapons at his command. His
power to do so is absolute, and once he hits the proverbial red button
there would be no take-backs."
"That such devastating power is concentrated in one person is an
affront to America's founding principles," Daigle said. "The proposed
legislation is an important first step to reining in this autocratic
system and making the world safer from nuclear catastrophe."
I quite agree, and have two additional points:
First, what Lieu and Daigle say is the law in the United States: Only Congress can declare war. Second, the reason that the president has the power to lauch nuclear arms is - or so it seems - that anyone has about 4 minutes to decide what to do in case the USA is attacked (with nuclear arms).
And I make these points to insist that this does not change anything about the law or the petition: No American president should be allowed to start a nuclear war.