from October 3, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
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
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from October 3, 2018:
1. Brett Kavanaugh: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
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. Chomsky: I Just Visited Lula, the World’s Most Prominent
3. Donald Trump and the Self-Made Sham
4. How America Can Free Itself From Wall Street
5. The Kavanaugh Case: Sex, Lies, Privilege (and Plenty of
1. Brett Kavanaugh:
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
It is quite a
while since I last put up a video in Nederlog, but this time I do. Here
it is - and it is very much worth seeing, and the following is
the same link as the title. I will explain a bit more after that:
In fact, this is the
best explanation that I have seen why Brett Kavanaugh
should not be appointed to the Supreme Court. Besides, it is
funny, intelligent and well made, and therefore you should see
it if you are interested in the USA or in its Supreme Court at all.
Now for two more explanations:
First, why I rarely refer to TV and also rarely put up
I rarely refer to TV because I have rarely watched TV since 1970,
when I started living by myself and decided I wanted no TV,
simply because I thought it was stupid and ugly, while I almost never
learned anything watching it. (I also missed seeing - I believe - at
least 10,000 ¨murders¨ each year.)
Of course, this was a personal decision and no one
needs to follow it,
although I expect that those who disagree most with me probably have a
much lower IQ/intelligence than I have. (Sorry, but
differences between persons.)
Also, while I still lack a TV (almost 50 years now) I did see
some at my parents when they
were still alive; I saw bits at friends' houses; and I saw some since
2009 on Youtube, but all of that only convinced me more: I simply
not want TV, because I almost never like watching it, and I also
never learned anything from watching it.
Second (and I meant to write this bit for several weeks) there now is
an exception, and that exception is John Oliver´s ¨Last
This is what TV might have been, and what TV shows should
be like, for ¨Last
Week Tonight¨ is intelligent,
funny, informative, and fast, and I usually agree with it.
I have to confess I found this out the last few weeks, for the simple
reason that I avoided watching Oliver until a few weeks ago. I take it
I am one of the very few, but yes: I have now seen most of
Tonight¨ that is available on Youtube, and I can recommend all
of them. O, and for more on Kavanaugh, see also item 5.
I Just Visited Lula, the World’s Most Prominent Political Prisoner
This article is
by Noam Chomsky
on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Tolstoy’s famous observation about unhappy families: Each “is unhappy
in its own way,” though there are some common features — for prisons,
the grim and stifling recognition that someone else has total authority
over your life.
My wife Valeria and I have
just visited a prison to see arguably the most prominent political
prisoner of today, a person of unusual significance in contemporary
By the standards of U.S.
prisons I’ve seen, the Federal Prison in Curitiba, Brazil, is not
formidable or oppressive — though that is a rather low
bar. It is nothing like the few I’ve visited abroad — not
remotely like Israel’s Khiyam torture chamber in southern Lebanon,
later bombed to dust to efface the crime, and a very long way from the
unspeakable horrors of Pinochet’s Villa Grimaldi, where the few who
survived the exquisitely designed series of tortures were tossed into a
tower to rot — one of the means to ensure that the first neoliberal
experiment, under the supervision of leading Chicago economists, could
proceed without disruptive voices.
Nonetheless, it is a prison.
Quite so, I suppose,
and - as far as I can remember - this is the first appearance
of Chomsky as a writer on The Intercept. Chomsky is almost 90
The above first
paragraph continues thus:
Quite so. There is a
whole lot more in this article, but I will only quote two more
bits. Here is the first, and Dowbor is a Brazilian economist:
The prisoner we visited,
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – “Lula,” as he is universally known — has
been sentenced to virtual life imprisonment, in solitary confinement,
with no access to press or journals and with limited visits one day a
The day after our visit,
one judge, citing press freedoms, granted the request of the nation’s
largest newspaper, Folha of São Paulo, to interview Lula, but another
judge quickly intervened and reversed that decision,
notwithstanding the fact that the country’s most violent criminals —
its militia leaders and drug traffickers — are routinely interviewed in
To Brazil’s power
structure, imprisoning Lula is not enough: They want to ensure that the
population, as it prepares to vote, cannot hear from him at all, and
are apparently willing to use any means to accomplish that goal.
The judge who reversed the
permission wasn’t breaking any new ground. One predecessor was the
prosecutor at the 1926 sentencing of Antonio Gramsci by Mussolini’s
Fascist government, who declared, “We must stop his brain from working
for 20 years.”
“History doesn’t repeat
itself but it often rhymes,” as Mark Twain observed.
In fact, it seems as if Dowbor
was talking about Brazil. Then again, Joseph Stiglitz
is a very prominent economist who agrees with Dowbor, and is
speaking about the whole world.
continues, “After 2014, GDP dropped sharply while interest and profits
of financial intermediaries increased between 20% and 30% a year,” a
systematic feature of a financial system that “does not serve the
economy, but is served by it. It is negative net productivity. The
financial machine is living at the expense of the real economy.”
The phenomenon is worldwide.
Joseph Stiglitz summarizes
the situation simply: “Where before finance was a mechanism for
getting money into firms, now it functions to get money out of them.”
That is one of the sharp reversals of socio-economic policy brought to
the world by the neoliberal assault, along with the sharp concentration
of wealth in few hands while the majority stagnates, social benefits
decline, and functioning democracy is undermined by obvious means as
economic power concentrates, increasingly in the hands of predatory
I think they are right, but I should add that (i) I do not know
enough of ¨economy¨ to say so, and also that (ii) I do know
enough of economy to seriously doubt it is a real
science. (There are at least three quite
of ¨the science of economy¨, and none has proved
for those who believed in any of the others - to give just one reason.)
Here is the last bit that I quote from this
article, and it is from near the ending:
I quite agree (and while
believe Russian hackers did hack some things in the USA, I have
proof of any kind that they interfered with the 2016 American
It is not, of course, that
interference with elections is off the agenda. On the contrary, alleged
Russian interference with the 2016 election is one of the leading
issues of the day, a topic of intense inquiry and much frenzied
commentary. In contrast, the overwhelming role of corporate power and
private wealth in corrupting the 2016 election, following a tradition
that goes back over a century, is scarcely noted. After all, it is
perfectly legal, even endorsed and enhanced by decisions of the most
reactionary Supreme Court in recent memory.
Buying elections is the
least of the corporate interventions into the pristine American
democracy that is being sullied by Russian hackers (with results
that were undetectable). Campaign spending goes through the roof, but
it is dwarfed by lobbying, estimated at about 10 times its scale – a
plague that escalated rapidly from the early days of the neoliberal
regression. The effects on legislation are enormous, extending even as
far as literal writing of legislation by lobbyists, while the
congressional representative who signs the bill is off somewhere
seeking funds for the next election.
As to lobbying: There are at least 10 lobbyists per senator,
and so far
as I can see they effectively bought most of the persons ¨elected
the people¨ (also in the House). And this is a strongly
Trump and the Self-Made Sham
This article is
by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. This starts as follows:
built what I built myself.”
boast has long been at the core of the mythology of Donald Trump, Self-Made
Billionaire. As the oft-told story goes, young Mr. Trump accepted a
modest $1 million loan from his father, Fred, a moderately successful
real estate developer from Queens, and — through smarts, hard work and
sheer force of will — parlayed that loan into a multibillion-dollar
a classic American tale of ambition and self-determination. Not Horatio
Alger, exactly, but appealing, and impressive, nonetheless.
that, like so much of what Mr. Trump has been selling the American
public in recent years, this origin story was a sham — a version of
reality so elaborately embellished that it qualifies as fan fiction
more than biography. Also, as we’ve come to expect from Mr. Trump, the
creation of this myth involved a big dose of ethically sketchy,
possibly even illegal activity.
Yes, quite so - and I should add that ¨the core of the mythology of Donald Trump¨ refers to a quite long article
in yesterday´s New York Times that strongly
Here is more:
And this article ends as follows:
Donald Trump emerged as the favorite son, Fred made special deals and
arrangements to increase Donald’s fortunes in particular. The Times
found that, before Donald had turned 30, he had received close to $9
million from his father. Over the longer haul, he received upward of
what, in today’s dollars, would be $413 million.
Along the way, it seems that
certain liberties were taken with tax laws. The Times found that
concocting elaborate schemes to avoid paying taxes on their father’s
estate, including greatly understating the value of the family
business, became an important pastime for Fred’s children, with Donald
taking an active role in the effort. According to tax experts, the
activities in question show a pattern of deception, a deliberate
muddying of the financial waters.
Mr. Trump’s willingness to bend the truth — and the rules — in the
service of his myth looks less like innocent exaggeration than
malicious deception, with a dollop of corruption tossed in for good
measure. It’s not the golden, glittering success story he has been
peddling. It’s shaping up to be something far darker.
Yes, I agree, but being a psychologist I insist there
is more to Trump: He is
not sane, for he almost certainly has megalomania
aka a - grandiose or malignant - narcissistic personality disorder
(and I am one who feels quite unsafe with Trump´s insane finger on or
close to the nuclear trigger).
America Can Free Itself From Wall Street
This article is
by Ellen Brown
on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Wall Street owns the
country. That was the opening line of a fiery
speech that populist leader Mary Ellen Lease delivered around 1890.
Roosevelt said it again in a letter to Colonel House
in 1933, and Sen. Dick Durbin was
still saying it in 2009. “The banks—hard to believe in a time when
we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created—are still
the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill,” Durbin said in an interview.
“And they frankly own the place.”
Wall Street banks triggered
a credit crisis in 2008-09 that wiped out over $19 trillion in
household wealth, turned some 10 million families out of their homes
and cost almost 9 million jobs in the U.S. alone. Yet the banks were
bailed out without penalty, while defrauded home buyers were left
without recourse or compensation. The banks made a killing on interest
rate swaps with cities and states across the country, after a compliant
and accommodating Federal Reserve dropped interest rates nearly to
zero. Attempts to renegotiate these deals have failed.
Yes, quite so - and
Ellen Brown does know banks. Here is her general solution
the problem of the banks:
Local governments have been
in bondage to Wall Street ever since the 19th century despite multiple
efforts to rein them in. Regulation has not worked. To break free, we
need to divest our public funds from these banks and move them into our
own publicly owned banks.
Yes, I agree.
considerably more in the article that I skip. It ends as follows:
I agree - although this is
at present nothing but a small beginning of what may
turn out as major
changes. And this is a recommended article.
The numbers are there to
support the case for a city-owned bank, but a critical ingredient in
effecting revolutionary change is finding the political will. Being
first in any innovation is always the hardest. Reasons can easily be
found for saying no. What is visionary and revolutionary is to say,
“Yes, we can do this.”
As California goes, so goes
the nation, and legislators around the country are watching to see how
it goes in Los Angeles. Rather than criticism, council President Wesson
deserves high praise for stepping forth in the face of predictable
pushback and daunting legal hurdles to lead the country in breaking
free from our centuries-old subjugation to Wall Street exploitation.
Kavanaugh Case: Sex, Lies, Privilege (and Plenty of Beer)
This article is
by Joe Lauria on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
We may not
learn anything new about the Brett Kavanaugh affair when the FBI
finishes its week- long investigation. It may still ultimately come
down to who you believe. But based on his performance before the Senate
Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh left few doubts about his fitness for
the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yes, quite so - and for
more see item 1, which is strongly
here is one main reason (that is also in item 1) that shows why I think Kavanaugh
is completely unfit to become part of the Supreme Court:
His tirade, crying,
petty lies, interruptions of senators and demands they answer his
questions—often about beer—and not theirs, showed Kavanaugh lacks the
emotions and honesty to sit on a bench.
His blatant partisan
attacks shattered the myth of impartial justices who just stick to the
Lawyers who stand before
the Supreme Court are warned not to anger a justice, lest it override
the merits of a case. Imagine being a Democrat and standing before
Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Republican votes in his vest pocket, Kavanaugh was free to shout down
Democrats on the panel. It won’t go down as a great moment in U.S.
Kavanaugh is a sick
who should not be on the Supreme Court.
And there is a lot more in the
article that is strongly recommended.
WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): So the vomiting that you reference in the Ralph
Club reference, related to the consumption of alcohol?
Senator, I was at the top of my class academically, busted my butt in
school. Captain of the varsity basketball team. Got in Yale College.
When I got into Yale College, got into Yale Law School. Worked my tail
did the world “ralph” you used in your yearbook…
already — I already answered…
refer to alcohol?
KAVANAUGH: … the
question. If you’re…
it relate to alcohol? You haven’t answered that.
KAVANAUGH: I like
beer. I like beer. I don’t know if you do…
KAVANAUGH: … do
you like beer, Senator, or not?
do you like to drink?
Senator, what do you like to drink?
The word “beer” came up
53 times in the testimony. Kavanaugh badgered other senators about
their drinking habits.
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
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 (!!).