September 30, 2018

Crisis: Nader on Kavanaugh, The Climate, More Kavanaugh, Sanders, Tim Berners-Lee


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 30, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 30, 2018.

1. Summary

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.

On the moment and since more than 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 I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from September 30, 2018:
1. Ralph Nader: Kavanaugh Is a Corporation Masquerading as a Judge
2. The Trump Administration Has Resigned Itself to Climate Catastrophe
3. Unhinged? Unlikely
4. Sanders Demands FBI Investigate Whether Kavanaugh Committed

5. One Small Step for the Web…
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. Ralph Nader: Kavanaugh Is a Corporation Masquerading as a Judge

This article is by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams. It starts as follows - and this is also a repeat from September 7, indeed in part because I am getting quite sick of hundreds upon hundreds of articles on Kavanaugh by journalists I do not have any inkling of.

This article started as follows:

Observers say that confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become President Trump’s second pick for a lifetime job on the Supreme Court will make the Court more conservative. It is more accurate to say Kavanaugh will make the Court more corporatist.

With Kavanaugh, it is all about siding with corporations over workers, consumers, patients, motorists, the poor, minority voters, and beleaguered communities.

Repeatedly Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions put corporate interests ahead of the common good—backing the powerful against the weak, the vulnerable, and the defenseless.

Apart from his declared views pouring power and immunity into the Presidency (which is why Trump wants him), Kavanaugh could be the most corporate judge in modern American history. Two meticulous reports on his judicial decisions, one by the Alliance for Justice (AFJ) and one by Public Citizen demonstrate that for him it’s all about corporations uber alles.

Yes, I think that is all correct. Incidentally - but I admit blaming lack of competence on American journalists makes no difference - I took the point of "corporations uber alles" (which means: corporations above everything) as the defining difference between fascism (which I defined by listing 10 legal, social and political criterions) and neo-fascism (likewise), and I mention this here because some rare lost soul might inspect my definitions.

Well... I like them and think they are important, but having read and reviewed over 2000 articles on politics and having found completely zero with a remotely possible definition of "fascism" or "neofascism", I admit I have decided these concepts are too intricate for almost any journalist.

Anyway. Back to the article:

Here is AFJ’s summary:

Kavanaugh has repeatedly ruled against efforts to combat climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gases. He also repeatedly ruled against protections for clean air. He has repeatedly sided with the wealthy and the powerful over all Americans. He has fought consumer protections in the areas of automobile safety, financial services, and a free and open internet. Kavanaugh has also repeatedly ruled against workers, workplace protections and safety regulations.

Do you want him to be on the Supreme Court?

Kavanaugh is a corporate supremacist to a fanatic level of protecting corporate cruelty and greed. Giving him an unaccountable lifetime position on the Court will weaken our democracy and empower the corporate state.

Yes. I entirely agree - and am also well aware my agreement is based on an agreement with Nader's values. But that is no shortcoming.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Watch out for a cruel man with a folksy smile. Watch once again the Democratic Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee minimizing Kavanaugh’s bias for corporations—except for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Given the lives, injuries, and sickness at stake; given the dictatorially approved taxpayer-funded corporate welfare and bloated corporate contracts with governments draining the peoples’ necessities, given Kavanaugh’s mindless support for corporate dollars corruptly buying elections, maybe the motto against this awful nomination should be “Kavana-ugh!”

I agree again, and hope he will not be elected a Supreme Court judge, though I have to admit that I doubt it. And this is a recommended article (and was first published on September 6).

2. The Trump Administration Has Resigned Itself to Climate Catastrophe

This article is by Jacob Sugarman on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

If the earth’s temperature climbs 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), sea levels are expected to rise 40 centimeters and the availability of fresh water could decrease as much as 9 percent, according to a 2016 study from the scientific journal Earth System Dynamics. An increase of 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) would be catastrophic; whole swaths of Africa, South America and Asia would see dramatic reductions in their crop yields, and 98 percent of the planet’s coral reefs would be at risk.

By the Trump administration’s latest estimations, the planet will warm as much as 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F) by 2100—this despite the president’s claim that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. But not only is it unwilling to address this impending cataclysm, it appears eager to accelerate the earth’s demise.

Well... yes and no: Yes, these are predictions of what very well may be the case in 2100 (that is, in 82 years), and no, Trump's government does not believe these predictions, indeed without offering a rational argument why not.

But 82 years is a long time and a lot may change in the mean time, including technical advances that are at present quite unknown.

So I am not quite as pessimistic as Sugarman appears to be (and he is talking about a time - 2100 - in which very few of those presently alive will be alive).

Here is some more, and this is by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is part of Trump's government: 

The safety agency’s findings are broadly consistent with recent studies indicating a global climate crisis has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, and that accelerated Arctic warming has prolonged summer weather in North America, potentially leading to “very-extreme extremes.” A report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in August raised the possibility of a “Hothouse Earth” in which warming oceans and climbing temperatures create a feedback loop that endangers the very future of humanity. Such models remain theoretical, but U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres recently declared that “climate change is moving faster than we are” and that “we face a direct existential threat.”

Well... either they "remain theoretical" or else Guterres is correct with his present assertion that “we face a direct existential threat”, but not both, in my opinion.

Here is the last bit that I quote from the present article:
What ultimately distinguishes the NHTSA’s statement is its nihilism. “The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society,” Michael McCracken, a former scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program, tells the Post. “And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it.”
Again, well... for it seems the NHTSA is talking about 2100 (?) while McCracken is talking about the present. And I think this article is too vague to take serious.

3. Unhinged? Unlikely

This article is by Peter Dreier on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Some reporters, bloggers, and pundits think that during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Judge Brett Kavanaugh just “lost it” and became "unhinged."  

I disagree.  I have no doubt that he was angry and emotional, but he was not out-of-control. Rather, his comments were very strategic and calculated. He was putting on a performance -- the performance that Donald Trump insisted he put on under threat of withdrawing his nomination.

Kavanaugh spent several days huddled with White House officials preparing his testimony and discussing their strategy for combatting the various accusations of sexual assault, drunkenness, and violent behavior. It is well-known that at Trump’s request, Kavanaugh appeared on Fox News to defend himself and that Trump was unhappy with his performance, which he thought was too timid and defensive. Kavanaugh's testimony was his last chance to show Trump he was worthy.

In fact, there are three claims in the quoted bit: First, Kavanaugh may have been "unhinged". I agree with Dreier that this is quite unlikely. Second, in fact, Kavanaugh was "putting on a performance". I think Dreier is correct about this as well. And third, Kavanaugh acted on an instruction by Trump to perform as he did. Here I say that Dreier may be right, but he does not give enough evidence.

In any case, here is more:

In his testimony on Thursday, Kavanaugh adopted Trump’s modus operandus when confronted with accusations of misconduct and wrongdoing.   Attack.  Never admit a mistake.  Charge your opponents with being part of a conspiracy. Lie if necessary.  Kavanaugh’s rant on Thursday, like Trump’s similar rants throughout his presidency, demonstrate that both are unfit for public office.

I more or less agree with this, and certainly with the last statement. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

In January 2017, more than four million Americans took to the streets as part of the women’s march to protest Donald Trump’s reactionary agenda. A key part of that agenda was changing the composition of the Supreme Court to guarantee a right-wing majority that will repeal Roe v Wade  and same-sex marriage, dismantle voting rights and environment protections, and eviscerate the rights of miners, janitors, school teachers, and other workers and their unions. 

Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court will guarantee that, even if Trump is impeached, resigns, decides not to run for re-election, or is defeated for re-election in 2020, his legacy will guaranteed in the right-wing Supreme Court for the next three or four decades.

I more or less agree with the first part of the above quote, although I do want to point out that - as formulated - this was a political or moral objection to "changing the composition of the Supreme Court".

Meanwhile, I have objections to the Supreme Court as is, namely that I think it is a major weakness that its judges are nominated for life, which only is the case in the USA and nowhere else, whereas I would say 10 to 15 years should be the limit, after which another judge
should be chosen.

And this objection of mine is not concerned with Kavanaugh or with the political color of the majority of the Supreme Court. This is a recommended article.

4. Sanders Demands FBI Investigate Whether Kavanaugh Committed Perjury

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) demanded that the newly reopened FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh examine both the serious accusations of sexual assault against him and whether he lied to Congress in his testimony.

"In order for this FBI investigation regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to be complete," Sanders wrote, "it is imperative the bureau must not only look into the accusations made by Dr. Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick, it should also examine the veracity of his testimony before the Judiciary Committee."

The Vermont senator went on to call on the Senate to not "constrain" the FBI probe to one week, arguing that a truly thorough probe could take longer.

I think all of this is quite correct. Then there is this from Sanders' full letter (that is fully quoted on Common Dreams):

In addition to investigating the accusations made by multiple women, a thorough investigation should include a review of Judge Kavanaugh’s numerous untruthful statements in his previous testimony before Congress. Specifically:

  • In his previous testimony before Congress, Judge Kavanaugh was asked more than 100 times if he knew about files stolen by Republican staffers from Judiciary Committee Democrats. He said he knew nothing. Emails released as part of these hearings show that these files were regularly shared with Kavanaugh while he was on the White House staff.
This is a good question. Then there is this:
  • In 2004 Judge Kavanaugh testified the nomination of William Pryor to the 11th Circuit “was not one that I worked on personally.” Documents now contradict that statement. Newly released documents also call into question whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful that the nomination of Charles Pickering “was not one of the judicial nominees that I was primarily handling.”
This is another good question. Then there is this:
  • Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly told the committee he never drank to the point where he didn’t remember something.  He also denied ever becoming aggressive when he drinks. However there have been many reports from those Judge Kavanaugh attended high school, college and law school with that contradict this assertion.
Which is another good question. And there is this:
  • Kavanaugh claimed he did not drink on weeknights but an entry on his calendar for Thursday July 1 states, “Go to Timmy’s for Skis w/ Judge, Tom, Pj, Bernie, Squi.” Kavanaugh clarified to Sen. Booker that “Skis” referred to beer.
So he may have lied about this as well. Here is the ending of Sanders' letter:

A fundamental question the FBI can help answer is whether Judge Kavanaugh has been truthful with the committee. This goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court. If a thorough investigation takes longer than a week, so be it. First and foremost, we need the truth.

Yes, I quite agree and this is a strongly recommended article.
5. One Small Step for the Web…

This article is by Tim Berners-Lee on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

I’ve always believed the web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world. But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.

Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.

This is why I have, over recent years, been working with a few people at MIT and elsewhere to develop Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web.

Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance — by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.

I don't like Tim Berners-Lee and I don't trust him, and my distrust goes back to 1996, when I got an internet connection (with a very slow telephone modem, that remained in place till 2009, when I got fast internet, since when I also have lost virtually all e-mails about my site).

What I specifically distrusted in 1996 were two things: First, why were e-mails not coded?

And second, having been threatened with murder and been literally - physically, factually - gassed in 1988 by the drugsdealers that Amsterdam's mayor Ed van Thijn had given his "personal permission" to deal soft drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived (in spite of all laws forbidding the dealing of any drugs, including soft drugs): how do I prevent that I get more murder threats (for neither the police of Amsterdam nor Van Thijn ever answered any of the many written complaints I made).

I never got an answer to the first question; I tried to avoid the second problem by virtually always refusing to use my real last name; and I am extremely frightened of the internet that Tim Berners-Lee created, precisely because he worked for DARPA; because he did not do anything about coding e-mails and other personal stuff; because not doing anything about coding was extremely much in the service of the secret services; and because it turned out that the internet is by far the strongest reason to fear neofascism: the internet allows the full personal knowledge of anyone and everything on every person's computer, and enables the secret services of each and every state to know everything there is to know everything about anyone.

You may assure me Berners-Lee did not know this. I deny it: He worked for DARPA that was controlled (to an extent) by American security, which had as early as the late 1960ies had stated
it wanted another kind of society - called: "a technotronic society" in the late 1960ies - that would enable the security forces to draw up a new society, which I call neofascism, that is fully controlled by the rich and by the security forces, and that knows everything about anyone.

This is from the late 1960ies:

Mr Brzezinski realises that the technotronic society fills some
people with uneasiness (in this respect the reactionaries and the
revolutionaries are as one).
   However Mr Brezezinski does not expect that the Luddite
lovers of freedom and anarchy will seriously obstruct the new
order. For one thing, 'it will soon be possible to assert almost
continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-
date, complete files, containing even personal information
about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in
addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be
possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the
future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the
rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them.

This has been realized by Tim Berners-Lee and this works now, and indeed has made the security forces from anywhere know more about anyone - tenthousands of times more - than even the KGB and the Gestapo knew.

There is more about Brzezinski, security and the internet here: Crisis: Propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968 which lists some discoveries I made in 2012.

In brief, I do not believe Berners-Lee. Also he indulges in pure propaganda like this:

Solid is guided by the principle of “personal empowerment through data” which we believe is fundamental to the success of the next era of the web. We believe data should empower each of us.

Imagine if all your current apps talked to each other, collaborating and conceiving ways to enrich and streamline your personal life and business objectives? That’s the kind of innovation, intelligence and creativity Solid apps will generate.

With Solid, you will have far more personal agency over data — you decide which apps can access it.

Sorry, but this just bullshit. Here is more of the same article:

Together, Solid and inrupt will provide new experiences benefitting every web user — and that are impossible on the web today. Where individuals, developers and businesses create and find innovative, life- and business-enriching, applications and services. Where we all find trusted services for storing, securing and managing personal data.

I’m incredibly optimistic for this next era of the web.

And I totally distrust the maker of the present horrible internet.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 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 (!!.)
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