November 25, 2018

Crisis: Noam Chomsky, On Selfishness, On "Fake Facts", The "Green New Deal", On Mueller


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 25, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 25, 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 November 25, 2018:
1. Noam Chomsky: The Future of Organized Human Life Is At Risk
2. On the philosophers of selfishness
3. Here are 10 incredibly fake facts Trump supporters think are true
4. Will Democrats Back a 'Green New Deal'?
5. The Rehabilitation of Robert Mueller
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. Noam Chomsky: The Future of Organized Human Life Is At Risk

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title, and in fact this is one of the five interviews with Chomsky that are reported on Democracy Now! that I mentioned the day before yesterday. It starts with the following introduction:
As the death toll from the climate change-fueled Camp Fire in California continues to rise and hundreds remain missing, we rebroadcast our conversation about climate change with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky from October. He says Republican Party leaders are dedicated to “enriching themselves and their friends” at the cost of the planet, and warns: “We have to make decisions now which will literally determine whether organized human life can survive in any decent form.”
Yes, I think Chomsky is mostly right. In fact, I do not know all his reasons, but my own view is - and this agrees with Chomsky - that both the dangers of a nuclear war and the dangers of the environment (aka the climate) are sufficiently large to maintain it is at best 50/50 that there still will be a humankind in 2118.

And besides, if there is to be one, then there must be no nuclear war for another 100 years, while massive changes in environmental policies are required, that also must happen soon.

Here is more:

NOAM CHOMSKY: A couple of weeks ago, the IPCC, the international group of scientists monitoring climate change, came out with a very ominous report warning that the world has maybe a decade or two to basically end its reliance on fossil fuels if we’re to have any hope of controlling global warming below the level of utter disaster. And that, incidentally, is a conservative estimate. It’s a consensus view. There are—repeatedly, over the years, it has been shown that the IPCC analyses are much less alarmist than they should be.

Now comes this report in Nature that you mentioned, a couple of days ago, which shows that there has been a serious underestimate of the warming of the oceans. And they conclude that if these results hold up, the so-called carbon budget, the amount of carbon that we can spew into the atmosphere and still have a survival environment, has to be reduced by about 25 percent. That’s over and above the IPCC report. And the opening up of the Amazon to further exploitation will be another serious blow at the prospects of survival of organized human society.

All of this is quite correct. Here is more:
The Trump department of highway standards, whatever it’s called, just issued a long report, hundred-page report, urging that all regulations on automotive emissions should be ended. And they had a very logical argument. They said if we extrapolate current trends by the end of the century, the climate will have warmed several degrees centigrade, meaning a huge rise in sea level, which they underestimate. So, basically, we’re going over the cliff anyway, and automotive emissions really don’t add much to this, so there’s no point cutting them back. The assumption of the department is that everyone in the world is as criminally insane as we are, and isn’t going to do anything about it. And since—on that assumption, yeah, let’s just rob while the planet burns, putting Nero into the shade—he only fiddled while Rome burned. I can’t think of anything like this in human history. You just can’t find words to describe it.
I more or less agree, but this is the first time that I read that there now is a Trumpian "hundred-page report, urging that all regulations on automotive emissions should be ended".
And I agree this sounds very crazy.

Then again, I think I may disagree with Chomsky on Trump, though probably indeed not by much: I think Trump's "calculation" is basically this: "While very many may die, very rich men like myself will survive, and thrive as before".

I do not think that assumption is correct, but then again Trump is an ignoramus, and besides he is insane (say I, as a psychologist).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
We have to make decisions now which will literally determine whether organized human life can survive in any decent form. You can just imagine what the world would be like if the sea level rises, say, 10 or 20 feet or even higher, which is within the range—easily within the range of predictions. I mean, the consequences are unimaginable. But it’s as if we’re kind of like the proverbial lemmings just happily marching off the cliff, led by leaders who understand very well what they’re doing, but are so dedicated to enriching themselves and their friends in the near future that it simply doesn’t matter what happens to the human species. There’s nothing like this in all of human history. There have been plenty of monsters in the past, plenty of them. But you can’t find one who was dedicated, with passion, to destroying the prospects for organized human life. Hitler was horrible enough, but not that.
And I think Chomsky may well be correct here as well. Incidentally, I live in Amsterdam, Holland, that is 2 meters (more than 2 yards) below the present sea-level. And I do think that if the sea rises 10 feet (more than 3 meters), it is very likely Amsterdam will disappear in the North Sea.

This is a strongly recommended article.

2. On the philosophers of selfishness

This article is by Amanda Marcotte on AlterNet. I abbreviated the title. This is from near its beginning:
In the food service industry, “Christian” is synonymous with “selfish.”

Unfair stereotype? Probably. Big groups, regardless of affiliation, tend to tip poorly. More to the point, waiters probably remember the bad Christian tippers more because the hypocrisy is so stunning. The image of a man piously preening about what a good Christian he is in church only to turn around and refuse the basic act of decency that is paying someone what you owe them perfectly symbolizes a lurking suspicion in American culture that the harder someone thumps the Bible, the more selfish and downright sadistic a person he is. And that perception—that showy piety generally goes hand in hand with very un-Christ-like behavior—is not an urban myth at all. On the contrary, it’s the daily reality of American culture and politics.

Yes, I think the above is probably correct - and see here for more. Here is more from the article:

It’s absolutely disgusting how the politicians who make the biggest show of how much they love Jesus would be the first in line to bash him if he returned with a message of clothing the naked and feeding the poor. The Jesus of the Bible multiplied the loaves and fishes. His loudest followers these day gripe about feeding people, claiming it creates a “culture of dependency.” They may even comb through the Bible to take quotes out of context to justify their selfishness toward the poor, as Rep. Steven Fincher did when he claimed the Bible says, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Yes indeed. Here is more:

In reality, the relationship between Christian piety and support for selfish policies is fairly straightforward. It’s not that being Christian makes you conservative. It’s that being conservative makes being a loud and pious Christian extremely attractive. Without Christianity, the underlying mean-spiritedness of conservative policies is simply easier to spot.

Yes, I think that is correct, although the above is especially correct about the USA. Here is more:

The fact that conservatism causes obnoxious Christian piety in American culture is most obvious when looking at some of the theological developments that have accrued since the philosophers of selfishness decided to use Christianity as their cover story. The “prosperity gospel” that has developed in recent years is a classic example.

The prosperity gospel teaches, to be blunt, that you can tell how much God favors you by how rich you are.
I think this is also true. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Increasingly, the only thing religion has left to justify itself is that it provides cover for people who want to have bigoted, selfish beliefs but want to believe they are good people anyway. As these social trends continue, we can expect the alignment between public piety and grotesquely selfish political beliefs to get worse, not better.

Well, yes - but I think that the steps for most - American - Christians (or "Christians") are these: First, many Christians do have bigoted and selfisch believes (which are often taught by their religious leaders); second, most Christians are quite stupid and quite ignorant - and will strongly tend to deny that they are bigoted and selfish, though they are; and third, combining the two previous points, they experience themselves as good people.

Also, I do have one bit of criticism: I do not think the above has much to do with philosophy.
Anyway... this is a recommended article.

3. Here are 10 incredibly fake facts Trump supporters think are true

This article is by Michael Hayne on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Americans, divided and polarized as they are, live in two distinct worlds. In one world, the earth is not flat, climate change is real and Bill and Hillary aren't pimping kids out in the basement of a pizza restaurant.

The other world is devoid of reason, evidence and pretty much any type of historical facts. Despite the fact that Trump voters have been fleeced by the biggest con man in the world, they continue to devour the lies he sells on a silver platter.
I think the above bit is partially correct, but I also believe that there are more than two distinct supposed worlds in the present USA.

In any case:

Here are 10 incredibly fake facts that Trump supporters believe are true.

I set this apart because I will quote all ten facts, but I will suppress most of the associated texts. The suppressions are indicated by "(...)"s and if you want to read the texts, you have to go to the original article:

1. Trump is a devoted Christian. (...)

2. The economy is improving because of Trump. (...)

3. 'Millions voted illegally' (without a single shred of proof). (...)

Ignorance is bliss, right?

4. Immigration is off the rails and illegal immigrants are all violent criminals. (...)

But facts are not how you Make America Great Again!

5. Trump should have the power to overturn judicial rulings. (...)

These are the first five "fake facts" that most Trumpian voters - somehow - believe. As I said, I suppressed most of the associated texts, but the above list seems mostly correct.

Here is more:

6. Trumpcare is great while Obamacare is awful. 

Okay, this one is especially heinous. During Trump's presidential campaign, he talked constantly about how easy it would be to gut Obamacare and impose a version of his own that would cover everyone. Here are the facts:

  • Around 24 million people will lose their health insurance—many of them his most vocal supporters
  • Premiums, especially for Americans 50 and older, will increase dramatically.
  • States can opt-out of protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Coverage will get worse.
  • Medicaid will be gutted.

Trumpcare is stealing from the poor to give to the rich, but his supporters don't mind being screwed by their dear leader.

I kept the text here, simply because it is quite correct and deserves to be more widely known.

Here are the last four "fake facts" most Trumpian followers believe in:

7. Barack Obama was not born in the United States. (...)

8. There's a war on gun owners. (...)

9. All the investigations into Trump's ties to Russia are bogus. (...)

10. Trump is honest and trustworthy. 

This may be the greatest fake fact of fake facts: Trump is honest and trustworthy. Despite the fact that nearly everything that comes out of his mouth is a brazen lie that can be disproved in a New York minute, his supporters think he's honest. That's just a special kind of ignorance you can't fix. While some of his supporters have since seen the light of day, a majority of them still trust him despite all the explanations of his lies the media makes. (...)

Yes indeed - and I kept the text for the last "fake fact", again because it is true, deserves to be more widely known, and besides supports my own thesis (as do all of the 10 "fake facts") that anyone who believes these "fake facts" are real facts must be quite stupid or quite ignorant, and probably both. And this is a recommended article.

4. Will Democrats Back a 'Green New Deal'?

This article is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Common Dreams and originally on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

News related to climate change is rarely good. More often than not, it engenders a sense of doom and helplessness among the public. But lately there has been a glimmer of hope on the horizon for climate justice, and it bears the name Sunrise Movement.

Even before the midterm elections took place, activists in the youth-based climate justice organization had planned a sit-in at the Washington, D.C., offices of California representative and longtime Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. A week after the election, the approximately 200 people that crowded into Pelosi’s office were visited by newly elected New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Addressing the climate activists, Ocasio-Cortez said, “My journey here started at Standing Rock,” referring to the powerful indigenous-led rebellion to stop the Dakota Access pipeline project in 2017. Immediately afterward, Ocasio-Cortez pledged to introduce legislation to create a “Select Committee on a Green New Deal,” as one of her first actions in Congress.

In fact, this more or less continues "Do you know where your lawmaker stands" from November 21, and it also adds some clarity on both the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal.

Here is more:

William Lawrence, a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, explained to me in an interview that the movement is motivated by the existential threat of the climate crisis. “We have hundreds of millions of lives worldwide that are at stake because of the threat of runaway climate change,” he said. The solutions out of this crisis are known and achievable: “We need to overhaul our energy system, our food system and our transit system,” Lawrence explained. In his opinion, “The only way to do that in time is for the government to take an active role in the economy to shape and guide the transition. That’s exactly how we got ourselves out of the Great Depression.”

Yes, this seems mostly correct to me. Here is more:

What activists with the Sunrise Movement are cleverly doing is demanding that their elected representatives, including Pelosi, Pallone and Lee, answer the question: “What Is Your Plan?” “Not only do they not have a plan,” said Lawrence, “but they don’t have a plan to make a plan.”

Actually, I do not think that Pelosi etc. "don’t have a plan to make a plan". I dislike Pelosi, but I don't think she is stupid.

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

Lawrence and his fellow activists are demanding that Democrats back a “Green New Deal”—a proposal whose very name invokes the important government jobs program that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law to help end the Great Depression. The idea is one whose time has come. Rampant poverty and climate change are arguably the two most important challenges facing the U.S. today. A Green New Deal would address both crises together. At this moment, Congress has no plan to solve either income inequality or global warming.

Yes indeed, and this also gives some more clarity om the "Green New Deal", which its proponents also do not think will succeed before 2021, when they hope Trump will be gone and the Democrats will have many more seats in the House and the Senate. This is a recommended article.

5. The Rehabilitation of Robert Mueller

This article is by Kit Knightly on the Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
The “Resistance” – the loose affiliation of liberals, progressives and neo-conservatives dedicated to opposing Donald Trump – is NOT a grass-roots movement. They don’t speak for the everyman or the poor or the oppressed. They are a distraction, nothing more. A parlor game. The face to Trump’s heel.

The Resistance is the voice of the Deep State – Pro-war, pro-globalisation, pro-Imperialism. It just hides its true face behind a mask of “progressive values”. They prove this with their own actions – opposing Trump’s moves toward peace with North Korea and finding common ground with Russia.

Yes, I think that is fundamentally correct, indeed in part because I very quickly sickened of the "Resistance", which I did already in 2016.

Here is more:

This process has contrived to turn hard-line, inveterate warmongers into a pantheon of “liberal” heroes. John “bomb bomb Iran” McCain was mourned across the media as if he were a champion of civil rights, while Bill Kristol and his ilk are suddenly regular guests on notionally “liberal” channels.

…and Robert Mueller receives a glowing write-up in the Guardian, being praised as “America’s straightest arrow”.

Yes, I again mostly agree. Here is more:

Far more telling than what it does say…is what it does not say. It mentions Mueller’s role as head of the FBI during the launch of the “war on terror”, but doesn’t go into any of the abuse of human rights that accompanied (and still accompanies) the increasingly authoritarian powers granted to US intelligence agencies by the Patriot Act.

Let’s be clear: Mueller’s FBI was complicit in rendition, torture, Gitmo. All of it.

Yes, quite so. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Obviously, Trump’s administration is dangerous – it still stokes warlike approaches to Iran and Russia. It has directly threatened Venezuela and Cuba. But you can’t fight the right-hand of the Deep State by clasping the left. They all join in the middle. They’re the same monster.

Anti-Trumpers, all over the world, need to take a good look at WHO they’re fighting alongside, and ask themselves WHAT they are fighting for.

I agree and this is a recommended article.


[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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