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Nederlog

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Crisis: On John Kelly, Legal Pot, Trump´s Insanity, Catalonia, On Democracy

Sections                                                crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 22, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, October 22, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) 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.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from October 22, 2017
1. It Didn’t Just Start Now: John Kelly Has Always
     Been a Hard-Right Bully

2. This Is How Legal Cannabis Is Improving Public
     Health

3. Trump and His ‘Beautiful’ Weapons
4. Half a Million March in Massive Uprising Against
     Spanish Plan to Overtake Catalonia

5. The Essential Ingredient of Democracy
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:

1. It Didn’t Just Start Now: John Kelly Has Always Been a Hard-Right Bully

This article is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s gruesome defense Thursday of President Donald Trump’s call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson was shocking.

But it should not have been a surprise. Any examination of Kelly’s past public remarks makes clear he is not a sober professional, calculating that he must degrade himself in public so he can remain in place to rein in Trump’s worst instincts behind the scenes. Rather, Kelly honestly shares those instincts: He’s proudly ignorant, he’s a liar, and he’s a shameless bully and demagogue.

You can check out Trump´s and Kelly´s earlier statements to the widow of Sgt. Johnson. I am mostly interested in Kelly´s character in this review, that is explained by Jon Schwarz as follows:

This can be seen most clearly in a celebrated speech Kelly delivered on Veterans Day in 2010 while still a Marine Corps general. It demonstrates conclusively that, long before Kelly and Trump ever met, they were on the same page when it comes to hysteria and venom. (Kelly’s son Robert had been killed in action in Afghanistan just days before, but Kelly said identical things both before and long after his son’s death.)

So here’s Kelly’s worldview, as expressed in 2010:

In the article each of the following five points is supported by quite a few paragraphs of text. I leave these to your interests, and only quote the titles:

1. No one outside of the military can legitimately
     question any of America’s wars.
2. No one who is in the military ever questions any
     of America’s wars.
3. America and its wars are and have always been
    good.
4. America is under terrifying threat from
     incomprehensible lunatics.
5. Our country is hamstrung by its sniveling
     “chattering class.”

Of course, 1. is a total falsehood and 2. is quite false as well, while 3. is again a total falsehood.

But I grant Kelly is a professional soldier, as are two of his sons (one of whom got killed), and professional soldiers do not have the same set of values as most civilians do - which would be a reason not to nominate them in a civilian government, or so I would say.

Here is Jon Schwarz´s ending:

So even before Kelly’s ugly performance Thursday, there was no reason to hope he would put any kind of brake on Trump. Kelly may be personally far more palatable; he’s certainly no mewling coward like Trump and has unquestionably put his life where his mouth is. That goes for his children as well — his other son is also a Marine — even as Trump’s kids are the living embodiment of every criticism Kelly makes about U.S. society.

But there’s a reason these two men found each other. They see the world in fundamentally the same way, and Kelly is going to help Trump do what he wants to it.

I mostly agree, except that I would say that one rather big difference is that Kelly and his sons are professional soldiers, while Trump escaped military service with bullshit, and Trump´s sons do not have to service at all because the draft was ended by Nixon, and a professional army was instituted, that consists of volunteers from the poorest classes in the the lower ranks.

This is a recommended article.


2.  This Is How Legal Cannabis Is Improving Public Health

This article is by Paul Armentano on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Legal cannabis access is associated with numerous favorable public health outcomes. Here are just a few of them.

I am Dutch and I live in a country were marijuana was easy to get and not at all legally dangerous to use in the last 50 years.

Also, I have always been a supporter of the legalization - but the Dutch never legalized marijuana: What they did, thirty years ago, was - I think - the following:

Some leading politicians made a deal with the criminal class and with the secret services [2] and the judges that ¨allowed¨, in practice though not in law, to set up a system of semi-legally selling great amounts of marijuana in Holland and also throughout Europe through ¨coffee- shops¨ (in Holland) that were all ¨personally permitted¨ by the mayors in the cities they were to deal publicly in illegal marijuana, I think for a percentage of the amounts sold.

In that way the combination of the criminal dealers, the politicians, the secret services [2], and the Dutch judges were capable of selling at least 10 billion euroos each year in illegal marijuana and hashish, and probably three times as much when cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, ecstasy etc. are added, against profits for each that I do not know, for this and most other true information about all illegal drugs is mostly systematically not published, neither in Holland (which is the Colombia of Europe, as far as illegal drugs are concerned, for a mere thirty years now) nor outside Holland. [3]

But this was the background about Holland. Here is more about marijuana in the USA, where a few states have legalized it (which I am strongly in favor of because marijuana is not dangerous and not addictive).

Here is the first advantage to human health:

FEWER OPIOID DEATHS

Changes in the legal status of cannabis is associated with significant reductions in opioid-related mortality. Data
I think this is probably be true as is the following associated fact - and let me add that each point in the original article comes with more text than I quote in this review:
FEWER OPIOID-RELATED HOSPITALIZATIONS
(...)
published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that medical cannabis regulation is associated with year-over-year declines in overall opioid-related mortality, including heroin overdose deaths.

LESS PRESCRIPTION DRUG USE

Patients in states where marijuana is legal use far fewer prescription drugs than do those in jurisdictions where cannabis remains prohibited.
(...)
I am a bit amazed that there is also less other prescription drug use.

And I do not know of a similar result in Holland, although it also is a fact that the one and only decent survey into illegal drugs is the Parliamentary Van Traa Report (<- mostly Dutch link) that was written in 1996, and that is also rarely mentioned since Van Traa either was murdered or otherwise killed in 1997.

Then there is this, which I think is very probably true:

LESS ALCOHOL USE

Market research indicates that many adults are choosing legal pot over booze. (...)
All I add here is that alcohol is far more dangerous for both users and others than marijuana (as does follow from the extensive facts that are known about Holland: there are FAR more deaths and violence and accidents associated with the consumption of alcohol than with the consumption of marijuana).

Then there is this result:

FEWER DRUG TREATMENT ADMISSIONS

The opening of medical cannabis dispensaries is correlated with an immediate decrease in narcotic-related admissions to drug treatment facilities. (...)
And there is also this finding:

LESS OBESITY

Changes in marijuana’s legal status is associated with an annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.
This seems to me fairly small (¨a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity¨) but OK.

I also think that the situations in Holland and in the USA as regards marijuana and hashish are difficult to compare. But this is a recommended article, and as long as the Dutch politicians keep illegally profiting from selling illegal marijuana and hashish, the Dutch also will not legalize it - which is less a problem for Holland than for the rest of Europe, where many of the illegal drugs manufactured or imported into Holland are being sold.


3. Trump and His ‘Beautiful’ Weapons

This article is by William Blum on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Capturing the wisdom and the beauty of Donald J. Trump in just one statement escaping from his charming mouth: “Our military has never been stronger. Each day, new equipment is delivered; new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world – the best anywhere in the world, by far.” [Washington Post, Sept. 8, 2017]

Yes indeed, for this also is the kind of statement that one expects to be made by a man diagnosed as a malignant narcissist a.k.a. megalomaniac.

Here is a bit of the analysis of William Blum:

Here the man thinks that everyone will be impressed that the American military has never been stronger. And that those who, for some unimaginable reason, are not impressed with that will at least be impressed that military equipment is being added EACH DAY. Ah yes, it’s long been a sore point with most Americans that new military equipment was being added only once a week.

And if that isn’t impressive enough, then surely the fact that the equipment is NEW will win people over. Indeed, the newness is important enough to mention twice. After all, no one likes USED military equipment. And if newness doesn’t win everyone’s heart, then BEAUTIFUL will definitely do it.

There is more in the article, that is recommended. 


4. Half a Million March in Massive Uprising Against Spanish Plan to Overtake Catalonia

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Catalans did not take the news that Spanish Prime Minister will move to impose direct rule on their region quietly on Saturday. Nearly half a million people marched in Barcelona soon after the prime minister's press conference.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia, joined the demonstration before a planned speech responding to Mariano Rajoy's statement that pending the approval of the senate, which his party controls, he would remove the Catalan government from power and call for a special election in the coming months.

This article is mostly here because I am for Catalonian independence, although my reasons are mostly based on the facts that I am and always have been an opponent of the Greater Europe that was brought about in 2002 (with the euro) and I also am - I suppose mostly for sentimental reasons - an admirer of the Catalonia that George Orwell described in ¨Homage to Catalonia¨ (<-Wikipedia, that dates back tot 1937, but that is still eminently readable).

And this is from slightly earlier:

Saturday, October 21, 10:00am:

Thousands of Catalans were expected to protest Saturday afternoon after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would take control of Catalonia by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, weeks after the region's independence referendum.

Defying the majority of Catalan voters who approved of a split from Spain in Catalonia's independence referendum this month, Rajoy spoke at a press conference about his plans to transfer the power of the region's president, Carles Puigdemont, to the central government, and hold early elections in the next six months.

This is a recommended article (although I would appreciate it a lot if Common Dreams stopped quoting Tweets from totally unknown people: I do not think that is proper journalism in most cases).


5. The Essential Ingredient of Democracy

This article is by Adam Eichen and Frances Moore Lappé on Common Dreams and originally on YES! Magazine. This has a subtitle, which I quote:
We need more than good-heartedness to save our democracy. We need the courage to act on it.
I agree - but this also makes me a total disbeliever in any real democracy. Here are some of my reasons:

I am at least twice as old as the writers of this article, and I have had far too many experiences with ¨democracy¨ and ¨law¨ in Holland, where I have learned both of these are simply switched off if the politicians like them to be switched off, while almost nobody protests, e.g. as regards the great declines in education, the illegal dealings in illegal soft drugs, the acts and structures of the universities, and being threatened with murder by the illegal drugsdealers that were protected by the mayor, the lawyers, the police and all bureaucrats of the City of Amsterdam, that also were allowed by them to gas me.

Here is more by the writers of the article:

On what human strengths does democracy depend? It’s a huge question and an urgent one, as many Americans fear their democracy is in free fall.

Fortunately, in digging for answers, our constitution itself offers a useful starting point. The Preamble establishes the republic’s commitment to “promote the general Welfare,” which is possible only so long as citizens grasp that their well-being is tied to the well-being of others and also act on this awareness. Arguably, the effectiveness of their action would depend on key civic virtues, especially cooperation and fairness.

So far, so good.

Trouble is, in today’s nasty, polarized political culture, these strengths can seem like a huge stretch.
I agree, but none of the rules of democracy that were nominally in place in 1977, when I returned from Norway to my native country Holland were respected in my case. Not at all.

Again, these supposed rules of democracy were also not maintained in the case of my parents, who were very courageous communists in the Dutch resistance (when my father and his father also were locked up in German concentration camps for being ¨political terrorists¨): After 1948, my parents were often called ¨traitors¨ (of Holland), because they were communists - even though the communists were the only sizeable group (of around 10,000 persons, of whom 2000 were murdered) that went into the resistance against the Nazis in Holland.

Here is more by the writers of the article:

The biggest threat to democracy may be not that we are insufficiently attuned to our fellow citizens, but that we’re almost too social. Our need for others’ approval can be overpowering. In fact, belonging is so important for most of us that it’s frightening to break with our tribe. Our need to fit in is so strong that in the infamous 1950s conformity experiments by Solomon Asch, most subjects went along with the group’s opinion, denying what their own eyes were telling them. Even on a trivial matter, presumably fear of being different and risking rejection triumphed.
I quite agree and indeed here is more about the totalitarianism that guides most groupthinking.
Herein lies the edgy lesson for democracy. While capacity for cooperation and sensibility to fairness come fairly easily for most of us, another essential civic virtue requires more. In our current moment of extreme breakdown in common decency—brought on by a money-dominated political system and a brutal form of capitalism generating widespread distrust and fear—another essential virtue is calling out for attention: courage.
Yes indeed - and in terms of courage my parents were extremely courageous, but also for some twenty years after the war discriminated as if they were traitors, whereas I, who created a student party that was for science and rationality in the universities was discriminated for twelve years as ¨a dirty fascist¨ (by many communists and/or post- modernists, now all ¨neoliberals¨) and - when I was illegally excluded from taking the M.A. in philosophy - as ¨a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist¨ (according to the same) because I honestly criticized the incompetent frauds and parasites that were my extra-ordinary lousy ¨teachers¨ of philosophy.

It is possible that the Dutch are less courageous than other nations, as would indeed seem to follow from the fact that over 1% of the total Dutch population was murdered in WW II for being of the wrong race, while few Dutchmen helped them.

I don´t know. Here is the conclusion of the writers of the article:
Democracy dies without citizen defenders. Thus, in this time of extreme peril for democracy, the opposite of evil is no longer goodness. The opposite of evil is courage. Goodness without courageous action is not good enough.
If so, I have lost my faith in democracy in Holland: At least 99 out of 100 Dutchmen is too afraid to speak up, even if merely well over half of them might disagree with them.

For more, see the items on totalitarianism, groups and groupthinking in my Philosophical Dictionary.

------------------------------
Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).

[2] I include the secret services especially because Noam Chomsky insisted that the secret services and illegal drugs are always narrowly connected (for that illegal trade also is part of their finances).

[3] I refer you to the Dutch ¨ME in Amsterdam¨ where e.g. my horrible experiences with murderous Dutch dealers in illegal drugs and the City of Amsterdam are described:

I was left for 3 1/2 years completely alone when I protested against the murderous illegal drugsdealers that the mayor of Amsterdam gave his ¨personal permission¨ to deal illegal drugs from bottom floor of the house where I lived, that included his ¨personal permissions¨ to gas me (literally) and to threaten me with murder, for these things happened as well to me.

Also, neither the City of Amsterdam nor any of its mayors, lawyers or bureaucrats reacted in any way to my complaints ever since 1991. I suppose they all made too much illegal money from the illegal drugstrade in illegal drugs in Holland,  which is at least 10 billion euroos each year.

I do not know how much of this money ended up in the pockets of the
mayors, lawyers or bureaucrats who all protected the illegal dealers, and it also is not my duty to know.
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