from December 8, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
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 three 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 December 8, 2018:
1. Republicans Are Clinging to Power in
Wisconsin. Expect to See More GOP
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:
The World Still Isn’t Meeting Its Climate Goals
3. Wall Street's Corruption Runs Deeper Than You Can Fathom
4. Bernie Sanders: Billionaires Are Destroying the Fabric of
5. Why Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?
Are Clinging to Power in Wisconsin. Expect to See More GOP Power Grabs.
This article is by
Emma Roller on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
On Tuesday, as Wisconsin
Gov. Scott Walker prepared to light the state capitol Christmas tree,
protesters gathered in the Capitol rotunda to boo
him. The protesters’ jeers were merited. After being soundly
defeated in his bid for re-election, Walker and his allies in the state
legislature have launched an all-out assault on democracy — a
transparent power grab before Democrats take office.
In November, Wisconsin
voters elected Democrats to all six statewide positions that were up
for grabs, including electing Democrat Tony Evers to replace Walker in
the governor’s mansion. In response, Republican state lawmakers
abruptly called a rare “lame-duck” session last Friday afternoon and
introduced a sweeping raft of legislation aimed at neutering Evers’s
powers as governor, as well as those of other Democrats elected to lead
the state’s executive branch. On Monday night, as Republicans rushed
the bills through the Joint Committee on Finance, more than 1,000
protesters gathered outside the state capitol and the hearing room to
protest the power grab.
Yes indeed: I quite
agree. And if this is possible, or indeed cannot legally be changed
back rapidly, democracy is quite dead in Wisconson. And not only
for here is more:
And Wisconsin isn’t the
only state where Republicans have been ramping up efforts to negate the
will of voters — it’s becoming part of the GOP’s regular playbook. In
Michigan, a lame-duck push by the GOP is also seeking to neuter
incoming Democratic elected officials. The same thing happened in North
Carolina in 2016, when Republicans in the state legislature executed
the same lame-duck
power grab after voters elected Democrat Roy Cooper as governor.
Taken together, the actions of Republicans in these states add up to an
unprecedented seizure of power. They are holding entire state
governments hostage in order to further oppress people who are
struggling to meet their basic needs, while continuing to enrich the
Republican donor class. If the U.S. political commentariat saw this
happening in another country, they would call it what it is: a coup.
Yes, I agree again.
Then again, I have to add that I do not understand (now) why these
cannot be turned back as quickly as they were endorsed, indeed in
invalid way, for if this were valid it would give the power to the
Republicans forever: Either they win, and continue, or else they loose
and make it legally impossible for the Democrats to govern.
And yes, that is not
democracy, but a kind of legalized tyranny. Here is more:
Yes, though I repeat my
question: What I do
not understand (now) why these laws cannot be turned
back as quickly as they were endorsed.
None of these power grabs
have been as expansive as what’s happening in Wisconsin. During an
all-night session on Tuesday in Madison, Republicans continued their
vote-o-rama on amendments intended to curtail the powers of incoming
They did a lot of damage:
protecting a work requirement for state health care; limiting the
governor’s ability to renegotiate disastrous deals for public subsidies
to private companies; shifting some of incoming Democratic Attorney
General Josh Kaul’s core responsibilities to the legislature; and, in
perhaps the most wicked vote of the night, moving to limit early voting
in Wisconsin from six weeks to two weeks — a proposal that a federal
down just two years ago, saying it “intentionally discriminates on
the basis of race.” Republicans also voted to approve more than 80
last-minute appointments made by Walker, despite the fact that many of
the candidates had no public hearing
Here is more, on gerrymandering
(and the link is to an explanation of it):
Wisconsin’s GOP has been
able to maintain its vice-like grip on state government despite rising
unpopularity with one neat trick: gerrymandering. In 2011, the
GOP-controlled state legislature redrew Wisconsin’s maps in one of the
most blatant examples of partisan
gerrymandering in the past decade. Wisconsin is a purple
battleground state, yet Democrats have not been able to hold more than
39 of the assembly’s 99 seats since Republicans redrew the maps in
2011. Democrats won 205,000 more votes than Republicans statewide this
year. But thanks to gerrymandering and urban clustering of Democratic
voters, Democrats were only able to flip one state assembly seat.
Republicans kept control of 63 of 99 seats in the chamber, and actually
gained a seat in the state senate, increasing their majority to 19-14.
Again, that is not
democracy at all. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I agree and this is a strongly recommended article.
Look at what’s happening in
Wisconsin, and it becomes abundantly clear that Republican leaders
don’t really believe in the separation of powers, or in a peaceful
transfer of power, or in anything else one might consider bedrock
principles of a functioning democracy. It’s well past time for
Democrats, the political press, and anyone interested in preserving
small-d democracy to take Republicans at their word and recognize that
they have no interest in a system of government made legitimate by the
consent of the governed.
World Still Isn’t Meeting Its Climate Goals
This article is by
Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich on The New York Times. It has a subtitle:
Three years after
nearly 200 countries signed a landmark climate agreement in Paris, they
are still far off-track from preventing severe global warming in the
decades ahead. This month, diplomats
from around the world are gathering in Katowice, Poland, to discuss
stepping up their efforts.
Well... I have been
the evironment and/or the climate from 1972 (when I read ¨The Limits
Growth¨) onwards, and my own conciusion about these
agreements about the prevention of global warming is that they have
been failing since 1972.
So I did not accept the Kyoto agreement
(and was right), and I do not
accept the Paris
agreement and fully expect to be right in assuming
that it will be a failure as well.
And while I grant that verbal agreements on global warming are
required, I think those that have been reached on a
are much too low, while also the verbal agreements will not be kept by
The article itself starts as follows:
Yes - and in fact this is
a considerably more polite form of what I said above: 3 degrees
is too much; 2 degrees Celsius is also too much; but in
fact ¨many large
emitters aren’t even on track to
meet their self-imposed targets¨ - and this was the same since 1972.
enormous challenge. Under the Paris deal, every nation volunteered a
plan to curtail its greenhouse gas emissions between then and 2030. But
many large emitters aren’t even on track to meet their self-imposed
targets, according to new data from Climate Action Tracker.
Right now, current pledges put
the world on pace for around 3 degrees Celsius of warming this century.
To reach the broader Paris goals, countries would have to dramatically
accelerate the transition toward clean energy over the next 12 years.
even if every country did manage to fulfil its individual pledge, the
world would still be on pace to heat up well in excess of 2 degrees
Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels, the
threshold that world leaders vowed to stay “well below” in Paris
because they deemed it unacceptably risky.
Here is more:
“It is plain we are
way off course,” said António Guterres, the secretary general of the
United Nations, in a speech in Katowice this week. “We are still not
doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and
catastrophic climate disruption.”
Yes, he is right - and he also
would have been right if he had extended this back to 1972.
This is from the ending of this article:
Many of the Paris
pledges remain fairly opaque, and nations are often vague on what
specific policies they will take to meet them. There is still no
official mechanism for quantifying progress. As a result, groups like
Climate Action Tracker have had to make rough estimates as to whether
countries are on pace to meet their pledges and how much further each
country would need to go for the world to stay well below 2 degrees of
TYes - and as before, since
1972: The ¨pledges
opaque, and nations are often vague on what specific policies they will
take to meet them¨ - and
they have never met them since 1972, and will not do so again. This
a recommended article.
Street's Corruption Runs Deeper Than You Can Fathom
is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Of the myriad policy
decisions that have brought us to our current precipice, from the
signing of the North
Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the invasion
of Iraq and the gerrymandering of
House districts across the country, few have proven as consequential as
the demise of Glass-Steagall.
Signed into law as the U.S.A. Banking Act of 1933, the legislation had
been crucial to safeguarding the financial industry in the wake of the
Great Depression. But with its repeal in 1999, the barriers separating
commercial and investment banking collapsed, creating the preconditions
for an economic crisis from whose shadow we have yet to emerge.
Carmen Segarra might have
predicted as much. As an employee at the Federal Reserve in 2011, three
years after the dissolution of Lehman Brothers, she witnessed the
results of this deregulation firsthand. In her new book, “Noncompliant:
A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street,” she
chronicles the recklessness of institutions like Goldman Sachs and the
stunning lengths the United States government went to to accommodate
them, even as they authored one of the worst crashes in our nation’s
Yes indeed: I
completely agree. Here is more:
“They didn’t want to hear
what I had to say,” she tells Robert Scheer in the latest installment
of “Scheer Intelligence.” “And so I think what we have in terms of this
story is really not just a failure of the banks and the regulators, but
also a failure of our prosecutors. I mean, a lot of the statutes that
could be used—criminal statutes, even, that could be used to hold these
executives accountable are not being used, and they have not expired;
we could have prosecutors holding these people accountable.”
Yes, again I completely
agree. Here is more:
Carmen Segarra: (...)
When I joined the Federal Reserve, as you pointed out, I was hired from
outside the regulatory world, but within the legal and compliance
banking world, to help fix its problems. And I was well aware of the
problems that existed. And scoping the problems itself was relatively
easy; I mean, within days of arriving, I had participated in meetings
where you had Goldman Sachs executives, you know, lying,
doublespeaking, and misrepresenting to regulatory agencies without fear
of repercussions. And where I saw Federal Reserve regulators actively
working to suppress and expunge from the record evidence of wrongdoing
that could be used by regulatory agencies, prosecutors, and even the
Federal Reserve itself to hold Goldman Sachs accountable. The question
was, when I arrived, you know, are these problems fixable? And, spoiler
alert: I don’t think so.
I think this is also
completely correct - which also means that I agree
with Segarra that in
the present (il)legal and (im)moral environment ¨these problems¨ are not ¨fixable¨, for the simple reason that the
and Goldman Sachs have succeeded in getting far
too much power.
Here is the last bit
that I am quoting from this article:
I think Segarra speaks
quite truly, and there is a lot more in this strongly
CS: One of the
things that happened as a result of Glass-Steagall coming down was that
a lot of the investment bankers were allowed to take over the
commercial banks. And those investment bankers knew nothing about
banking, and Goldman is a great example of that. I mean, when I arrived
three years in after the financial crisis, what was one of the things
that was very shocking to me was going into meeting after meeting with
Goldman senior management and hearing them lie, doublespeak, and most
shockingly of all, insist that they didn’t have to comply with the law.
Sanders: Billionaires Are Destroying the Fabric of Our Country
is by Paul Jay on
Truthdig and originally on The Real News
This is from near the beginning:
PAUL JAY: In one of
the panels yesterday you said it’s not just about concentration of
wealth and how the inequality, how unfair that is, the suffering it
causes. But concentration of wealth means concentration of power. How
do you challenge that power?
Yes, I completely
with Sanders, which is also why I am a socialist (of the democratic
kind), as indeed were George Orwell and Albert Einstein: See here Crisis: On Socialism.
BERNIE SANDERS: This is not
easy stuff. But we are certainly not going to deal with it if we don’t
discuss it. And one of the crises that we face right now is that you’ve
got a media that will not talk about this issue. And you’ve got,
essentially, two parties that don’t talk about it very much.
So what you have here is,
first of all, massive income and wealth inequality. And as a nation we
have got to think from a moral perspective and an economic perspective
whether we think it is appropriate that three people, one, two, three,
own more wealth than the bottom half of the American society. You know,
that’s really quite outrageous, and it’s appropriate that we take a
hard look at that. But it is not just that the one tenth of 1 percent
owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. They don’t put their
wealth underneath their mattresses, right. They use that wealth to
perpetrate, perpetuate their power. And they do that politically. So
you have the Koch brothers and a handful of billionaires who pour
hundreds of millions of dollars into elections, because their Supreme
Court gutted the campaign finance laws that were in existence, and now
allow billionaires quite openly to buy elections.
So wealth equals power,
politically. Wealth means that if I own a company in the United States,
I own a GE plant, where there may be hundreds or thousands of workers,
and that plant may be making money, but not as much money as it could
make if I took it to China or to Mexico, I have the power to do that.
Because politicians are not going to stop me. Because we have
disastrous trade laws. If I am a billionaire, it is likely that I will
have control over media, as well. So you have a handful of media
conglomerates owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country
and in the world determining what the news is; what is appropriate for
the American people to discuss and not to discuss.
Besides, I also think that before socialism or indeed
another economical system somehow arrives, it is extremely difficult
or quite impossible to rule the rich, precisely because the
rich have acquired virtually all powers, mostly by reverting the
(which was done under Bill Clinton - and see the
previous item) and the Citizens
United case, that essentially allowed the
few rich to invest as
much money into getting their politics accepted as they wanted.
Here is more, on Goldman Sachs:
BERNIE SANDERS: I
don’t know that you can’t reform them. And I think your point is,
though, very well taken. What we need–look, let’s be clear. You have …
I will never forget, Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, came
to Congress a few years ago. And this is after the taxpayers of this
country bailed them out because of their greed and their illegal
behavior. This is chutzpah. These guys, after being bailed out by the
middle class and working families of this country, after causing
incalculable harm, which–the Wall Street crash cost us millions of
jobs, people lost their homes, they lost their life savings. These
guys, after getting bailed out, they come to Congress. They say, you
know, what we think Congress should do is you gotta cut Social
Security, and Medicare, and Medicaid. And by the way, lower corporate
tax rates and give more tax breaks to the wealthy. That’s power. That’s
chutzpah. We have it all, we can do whatever we want to do.
Yes, but Blankfein and
others have chutzpah simply because they have the powers they
for a long time.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
There is an establishment within the Democratic Party. There are Wall
Street contributors in the Democratic Party, corporate contributors in
the Democratic Party. And they have a very different and more
conservative vision for the future of the Democratic Party than I do.
My vision is pretty simple. My vision is that we have got to have the
guts to take on Wall Street, take on the pharmaceutical industry, take
on the insurance industry, take on the 1 percent, create an economy
that works for all. And while we do that, we bring our people, and that
is black, and white, and Latino, and Native American, and Asian
American together. I think that’s the way you do it. And we’re
beginning, beginning, beginning to see that.
Well... I more or less
agree, but then again in fact I have been agreeing with the
this - ¨an economy that
works for all¨ and not just for the rich, or mainly for the rich - for
50+ years now, and I still see no progress and a lot of setbacks.
this is why I am in favor of socialism (though I do not know
that will be possible, soon or ever): See my Crisis:
Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?
is by Alvaro Sanchez on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Tell people their
gas taxes are going up and they
will riot, literally. Tell people that 62
individuals hold the same amount of wealth as the 3.7 billion people
who make up the poorest half of the world’s population and we don’t
blink an eye. Okay, maybe we do a hard blink but we certainly don’t
And I agree with Sanchez that the underlying reasons why the gas taxes
are going up have a lot to do with the fact that very few rich men hold
enormous amounts of money and therefore enormous amounts of power,
while the very many non-rich have hardly any or no money whatsoever,
and lack almost all powers.
And as I have been saying several times already, my own view is
these enormous inequalities between the very few rich and the very many
non-rich can be overcome only after something like Socialism has been introduced, and these extreme differences in
wealth and power have in fact been declared illegal.
Here is more:
has widened all over the world, leaving many people struggling who
previously enjoyed more secure prosperity. In the U.S. and France the
cost of living continues to increase while wages and earnings stagnate
for most. At the same time the top earners seem to accumulate all the
2017 Oxfam reported that the top one percent secured 82 percent of all
wealth while the bottom 3.7 billion who make up the poorest of the
world saw no increase in their wealth. Favorable tax policies for
the rich in the U.S.
recently approved budget show signs of exacerbating wealth
inequality in those countries, leaving people with scarce resources
contributing greater amounts of their income to basic necessities like
housing, food, health care, education, and transportation. And when
government needs to step in to rescue someone from economic collapse,
it seems to only bail out corporations like banks, automakers, and utilities.
Regular citizens do not seem to enjoy the same level of concern from
decision makers about our economic well being.
Yes indeed - and no: These
things just do not ¨seem¨ to be the case: they are the
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
But why do people
riot over gas taxes and not massive wealth inequality? Because we feel
the economic pain from a gas tax increase more intensely and
immediately than structural systems that help a very small set of
people to accumulate wealth. All people can understand a gas tax
increase. Very few people can explain the income ramifications
from the 2017 tax reform approved in the U.S., the largest tax reform
of last 31 years.
No, I think that is a
partial explanation, and one of the many things this explanation
is that one may be against ¨a
gas tax increase¨ without
being against the social, economic, political and legal system in which
one lives and has been educated: Most people are not
and also were never educated to doubt or question the social, economic, political and
legal system in which they live. But this is a recommended
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 (!!).