from February 18, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Sunday,
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 February 18, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Assange Denies That WikiLeaks Backed the GOP
2. Who's in
Charge of the Classified Intelligence About Trump? Trump. It's
3. A Paranoid
America Is Greatly Exaggerating Russian Power
4. Anti-Trumpists Use Mueller Indictments to
Escalate Tensions With
Meaning of America
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:
Denies That WikiLeaks Backed
the GOP in 2016
This article is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts like this:
WikiLeaks founder Julian
Assange has rejected
contentions by The
Intercept that he supported the Republican party during the 2016
presidential election in a series of tweets.
The report from The
Intercept is based on 11,000 messages in a private Twitter chat group
of WikiLeaks’ loyal supporters that were turned over by a longtime
supporter of Assange known only as Hazelpress. The messages were sent
to The Intercept after the WikiLeaks Twitter account, believed to be
run by Assange, made what Hazelpress considered anti-Sem[i]tic remarks
about an Associated Press reporter. Also included were messages about
why WikiLeaks allegedly wanted the Republican Party to win the 2016
The Intercept writes that
the messages provide an “unfiltered window into WikiLeaks’ political
goals before it dove into the white-hot center of the presidential
election” and that they “reveal a running theme of sexism and misogyny,
contain hints of anti-Semitism, and underline Assange’s well-documented
obsession with his public image.”
The article also contends
that “Assange’s thinking appeared to be rooted not in ideological
agreement with the right wing in the US, but in the tactical idea that
a Republican president would face more resistance to an aggressive
military posture than an interventionist President Hillary Clinton
I say. I first thought
that I had reviewed the article Wells refers to, but I had not.
Well... one of the
major problems I have now that surveillance by the secret services
and by the richest of corporate frauds, liars, and propagandists seem
to be the only valid norm there is to
determine who speaks the truth and who lies, is to make out who
lies in this case.
And I do not
know, but I do know I am not going to admit very
partial knowledge by a completely anonymous person
("Hazelpress") to make up my mind, and especially not after I have been
told that Wikileaks' Twitter account is (bolding added) "believed
to be run by Assange" while the opinions of the utterly anonymous
Hazelpress about what he or she "considered anti-Sem[i]tic"
remarks" seem hardly valid to me. (The writing mistake is in the
original and was corrected by
me. Also, I should add that having had experiences with wholly
anonymous sadists and fascists, I thoroughly
dislike anonymous that is: intentionally
I am sorry. Here is
some more by Assange:
Assange has taken to
Twitter to deny that WikiLeaks keeps such messages and says he cannot
confirm any messages from a supporter group. He also disparaged the
article for failing to carry out “basic fact checking” to realize that
the WikiLeaks Twitter account is run by rotating staff and pointed out
that the “article uses messages from late October 2016 when I
infamously had no internet access.” During that time, WikiLeaks was
publishing emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s
campaign chair John Podesta, which damaged her presidential quest.
Assange may be right or
wrong, and I don't know. Here is the last bit that I quote from this
Assange also accused The
Intercept’s owner, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar, of
having a long-running campaign to “neuter Wikileaks.”
Again I have no
and no evidence, and therefore no conclusion.
in Charge of the Classified
Intelligence About Trump? Trump. It's a Problem
This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on
Salon. It starts as follows:
Ever since the House
Intelligence Committee voted to release Rep. Devin Nunes' now-legendary
"memo," and then sent it up to the White House for presidential
permission to declassify it, I've been wondering: How is it possible that the
subject of an investigation gets to look at the evidence against him
and decide whether or not it sees the light of day? There's no appeal
of President Trump's decision in a case like that. He has the ultimate
and unquestioned power to do it.
I say. And I should add
that - having only a very partial knowledge of the American
laws  - I do not know that it is
correct. If it is
- which I tend to believe - I do know the general answer to
Parton's problem: The distinction between the executive
and the legal
functions of any government has NOT been articulated
in U.S. law.
And my reason is what was said in this first paragraph: Clearly, no
defendant should be able to decide what evidence judges will get to
make up their mind whether the defendant is guilty.
Here is some more:
From the moment the
House Intelligence Committee decided to investigate foreign
interference in the 2016 election, Nunes -- who was a member of the
Trump transition himself -- has been coordinating with the White House.
He was caught red-handed last summer, making an utter fool of himself
by holding a press conference in which he pretended to be delivering
recently discovered information to the president, which was later
revealed to have been provided to him by the White House in
a midnight caper worthy of Inspector Clouseau. Nunes then claimed to "recuse" himself from
the probe, but although Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is now supposed to
be in charge, Nunes remains involved up to his eyeballs, often working
in secret and without consultation with the committee. It's extremely
likely that he's still coordinating with the White House and sharing
information about the case.
Well... all I know is that
I neither like nor trust Nunes, nor his memo.
And here is more on the - supposed (?) - rights of the president of the
As Wray told the
committee, the president has the right to classify and declassify any
information the government produces and there's nothing that says
members of Congress cannot provide him with whatever sensitive evidence
they turn up that implicates him. Nobody ever expected members of a
congressional oversight committee, even those of the president's party,
to be so servile that they would willingly give up their own
prerogatives in order to protect a president suspected of conspiring
with a foreign government.
As I said above, I do not
know that Parton, or indeed Wray, is correct, but I do know
that if she or Wray is right in legal terms, then the legal terms in
the USA have been extremely badly
Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
[Trump] is the last
person on earth who would recuse himself from an investigation into his
own conduct. He would consider that to be just plain stupid. If he can
declassify sensitive information that makes him look good and keep
secret that which could incriminate him, he'll do it without a second
thought. He will push the boundaries as far as possible and they are
very far indeed. But the problem goes far beyond Donald Trump. The
classification system in the Unites States is a mess.
Yes, I agree, although I am not quite
convinced that Parton is right in law. But if she is, this is what I
expect Trump to do.
Paranoid America Is Greatly
Exaggerating Russian Power
This article is by Vijay Prashad on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
Russia stealing an
American election? Russia as the great threat? This is the language of
paranoia. Russian hackers might have had an impact on the 2016 US
election. Putin might indeed have wanted a benevolent US president in
the White House. All those things might have been true. But is Russia
really a threat to the United States? That part of the story is based
on a hallucination.
In fact, I
mostly agree with this, indeed since 2016, although I should add (as a
psychologist) that "hallucination" is the incorrect term: What Prashad should
have said is delusion.
But apart from this, my own feeling is that Prashad is right: Yes,
Russia hacked the USA, just as the USA hacked Russia. And yes, perhaps
Putin was more sympathetic to having Trump as American president than
having Clinton in the same role.
Then again, I do agree with Prashad that everything else I have
about Russia (and that I believe more than not ),
including the small
amounts of dollars that were involved, makes it unlikely that Russia is
a major threat to the USA, or indeed did do what the Democrats claim
they did ever since loosing the presidential elections.
Here is some more on recent history:
After the Soviet
Union collapsed, Russia went into what appeared to be terminal decline.
Boris Yeltsin, an alcoholic, conducted a coup against the USSR, earned
US support and then signed away the wealth of his country to a group of
cronies who became known as the Oligarchs. The immense theft destroyed
many of the gains of the USSR. Life expectancy rates dropped, as did
Russian military power. The immense Russian landscape appeared to be
easy prey for financiers from the West and of these new boyars (lords)
Yes, I agree this
more or less fair summary of what happened, and I also add two
First, not only did the Soviet Union collapse: the whole
indeed the state-capitalist construction that was mistaken for
socialism was also destroyed, and all formerly socialist states
were under the aegis of the Soviet Union became capitalistic.
And second, I quite agree with Prashad that Yeltsin was a very bad
leader, whose bad leadership made life much more difficult for nearly
all ordinary Russians, which in turn explains the relative
Here is more on Russia-as-is:
Russia’s economy has
not fully recovered from the hemorrhage that it underwent in the 1990s.
Putin’s reign seemed a miracle because energy prices soared during his
time in office, allowing Russia to become a major energy exporter to
Europe. Putin used that money to do modest repairs to the broken
Russian economy, favoring cities over the countryside and business over
the working-class. These reforms - tepid as they were - allowed for
recovery from the humiliations of the post-Soviet decade. But energy
prices are now down. Russia’s economy remains dependent. It is a
weakness that it cannot easily overcome.
Yes, I think that is
mostly correct as well. Then there is this on military spending in
Russia vs. the same in the USA:
It is important to
point out that the increase of the US military budget insisted upon by
Donald Trump is greater than the total Russian military budget. The new
US budget will spend $105 billion more on the military than it did last
year, taking US military spending to $716 billion; Russia’s total
military spending is $69 billion.
Yes indeed. This article
Neither China nor
Russia is making a push to become the global powerhouse. They are
merely seeking to rebalance a world order that has – since the end of
the Cold War – tilted unhealthily towards the United States.
I agree, and this is a
So is Russia a
threat? Is China a threat? The question really is, to whom? They are
threats to any assertion of US dominance over the planet. But they are
no threat to the United States as such. They are committed to a
multi-polar planet: a sensible solution in our very unstable and
Use Mueller Indictments to Escalate Tensions With
This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Consortiumnews. It
starts as follows:
loyalists are so close to telling the truth when they babble
about “Russian propaganda.” They are openly admitting that it is wrong
to use media to manipulate the ways that Americans think and vote. Now
all we need is for them to admit that they themselves do
this constantly, and we’ll be on the right track.
The word “Russians” is America’s top trend on
Twitter at the time of this writing because of a Mueller indictment of
13 alleged members of a Russian troll farm, those nefarious
supervillains who posted
pictures of puppies and promoted
Bernie Sanders to “sow discord in the U.S. political system,
including the 2016 U.S. election.”
Predictably, no evidence is
added to cohesively tie the establishment Russia narrative together
with allegations of Russia hacking the Democratic Party and giving
their emails to WikiLeaks, meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump
Tower, any shenanigans with well-hydrated Russian prostitutes, or
indeed anything tying the troll farm to Trump or the Russian government
The focus instead is on
people disguising their identities to troll Americans on social media,
which we have
now learned constitutes a “conspiracy to defraud the United
States.” As Disobedient Media’s Elizabeth Lea Vos rightly
points out, it is also behavior that the Hillary Clinton campaign
is known to have funded and engaged in extensively.
I mostly agree with Johnstone
on Russia, but I disagree with her that the USA will be "on the right
track" if only it admits it is also hacking and propagandizing: I agree
it is, but there are lots of - mostly bullshit -
reasons which may invalidate her conclusion, one of which is the (I
admit rather irritating) conviction that born Americans are better
persons than people who were not born Americans.
Here is some more:
In response to this
underwhelming revelation, Democrats and Never-Trumpers are howling for
new Cold War escalations with Russia. This despite the fact that this
administration has already killed
Russians in Syria, greatly escalated
nuclear tensions with Russia, allowed
the sale of arms to Ukraine (a move Obama refused for fear of
angering Moscow), established
a permanent military presence in Syria with the goal of
effecting regime change, forced RTSputnik to
register as foreign agents, expanded NATO with
the addition of Montenegro, assigned Russia
hawk Kurt Volker as special representative to Ukraine, shut
down a Russian consulate in San Francisco and expelled Russian
diplomats as part of continued back-and-forth hostile diplomatic
We are already
at an extremely dangerous point in the ongoing trend of
continuous escalations with a country that is armed with thousands of
nuclear warheads. And these deranged lunatics want more.
I mostly agree (but do not
know about all items in the first paragraph I last quoted). Here is
Congressmen Ted Lieu and Adam
Schiff, Senator Bernie
Sanders, popular commentators Preet
Bharara and Joe
Walsh have all joined in the pile-on, along with many, many
others, all demanding that the president do more to escalate tensions
with Russia even further than he already has.
This is exactly what
renowned U.S.-Russian relations expert Stephen Cohen has
been warning of: an extremely dangerous mixture of continually
escalating Cold War tensions coexisting with hot proxy wars between two
nuclear superpowers, with a president facing immense political
pressures to keep advancing and never, ever back down. A narcissist in
the White House being baited by his political enemies into a game of
nuclear “chicken,” without the ability to swerve when necessary.
I think this is also
mostly true. Here is Johnstone's conclusion:
Do you see what is
happening here? There is never, ever going to be any proof of
Trump-Russia collusion, because that has never been what this is about.
about this before: America’s unelected power establishment doesn’t
care about impeaching Trump, it cares about hobbling Russia in order to
prevent the rise of a potential rival superpower in its ally China. All
this lunacy makes perfect sense when you realize this
I agree with Johnstone in the
sense that I consider it rather unlikely that there will "any proof of
Trump-Russia collusion", but I do
not know about the rest.
This ends as follows:
don't think this will work.
Democrats, it is time to
stop letting them bait you into calling for even more escalations with
a nuclear superpower and start calling for detente instead.
Republicans, it is time for you to stop putting partisan politics ahead
of the survival of our species and start pushing against these
dangerous escalations that your president has been playing right along
with. These escalations are extremely dangerous and getting ever more
so, and in the name of all that is holy I implore you to stop before
the unthinkable happens.
On my knees I beg you all
to stop this madness, for the sake of my children and yours. You
lunatics on both sides of the political divide are going to get us all
killed. In God’s name, stop. Please.
Meaning of America
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?
see a country of white English-speaking Christians.
want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as
money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets
criminals and foreign aggressors.
think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance,
parades, and secure borders.
encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and
Yes, I more or less
agree - and I add also that Trump got over 60 million votes,
relevant for the next bit that I quote:
core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been
found in the
ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of
of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy
rule of law.
not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people
created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their
rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of
people, by the people, and for the people.
Well... I think I
should add that - at least as the situation seems to be now -
this is true only for a rather small
well-educated minority of Americans.
Also, I do not
think that what I think and what Reich thinks are very similar. Quite
possibly the reason is personal, and I am a philosopher and a
psychologist, and Reich is neither (though he is quite
In any case, here is my
kind of reasoning:
The ideals that many -
indeed probably (still) most - Americans rely on in order to judge
country, are fundamental philosophical
ideals that emerged with the
Enlightenment. I do understand them, because I have studied
philosophy for fifty years (at least), which in turn made
me read most
of the philosophers that Franklin, Jefferson and others also read.
Reading so much
philosophy also convinced me that extremely few individuals in
read as much as I have, for which reasons most of those who agree with
Reich are not so much convinced by the real philosophy,
but are usually
convinced by ideologies
derived from them.
This may be a pity but
is unavoidable, if only because of reasons of time and
you ask me how many Americans correspond to these distinctions,
guess, but my guesses are more or less fact-based: I
think between 1
and 5% of all American adults has read a fair amount of philosophy
(mostly in books); between 5 and 25% has read a fair amount of the
(mostly in papers or journals); and about 75%
of all Americans has read neither.
And you may well ask in
what class the - say - 75% of all adult Americans fall, of whom it can
be rather safely concluded that they hardly ever read any
that few of them have taken the trouble to more or less understand the
foundational ideologies on which the USA has been based; and that -
consequently - most adult Americans simply have no rational ideas about
politics, government, welfare, laws, taxes or civilization, at
not in so far as these are based on a rational knowledge of the
foundations of these items.
What shall we call the
- say - 75%? I'd say: stupid or ignorant.
Here is more by Reich on
the common good:
The idea of a common good
was once widely understood and
accepted in America. After all, the U.S. Constitution was
designed for “We the people” seeking to “promote the general
– not for “me the narcissist seeking as much wealth and power as
Yet the common good seems
to have disappeared. The phrase is
rarely uttered today, not even by commencement speakers and politicians.
Yes, I agree with
this, and I
also add that notions like "the common good" have been washed (so to
speak) quite intentionally from the stuff that ordinary people do read,
and that this washing of the public propaganda to
fit the ideals of the
rich has been going on ever since Reagan, and probably before him as
Here is Reich's conclusion:
This unbridled selfishness,
this contempt for the public,
this win-at-any-cost mentality, is eroding America.
Without binding notions
about right and wrong, only the most
unscrupulous get ahead. When it’s all about winning, only the most
succeed. This is not a society. It’s not even a civilization, because
no civility at its core.
I agree, I am sorry to say.
And my own conclusion
is that civilization and civility have been mostly replaced by
a combination of stupidity,
little different from barbarism, indeed not because it is - now
- barbarism, but because the majority that spreads these ideas,
who seem to be nearly all anonymous
as well, simply lacks
and the knowledge
to make rational
between barbarism and the foundations of their own
that term is still correct).
It is very sad, but seems to
be a fact.