from December 12, 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 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 12, 2018:
1. Google CEO Hammered by Members of
Congress on China Censorship
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. Joe Kennedy and the Precarious
Promise of "Moral Capitalism"
3. The Democrats’ Best Response to Republican Power Grabs
4. Can a New Political Party Save America From Itself?
5. China Tariffs are a Regressive Tax on Americans, and Risk a
CEO Hammered by Members of Congress on China Censorship Plan
This article is by
Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Well... I´d say Kevin McCarthy
evidently - more or less right, although he does not mention the
that the Americans as well are all surveilled by their (secretive)
¨national security¨ agency (and also by Facebook, Google, Apple and
Microsoft), where Pichai is - evidently, again - lying.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai
came under fire from lawmakers on Tuesday over the company’s secretive
plan to launch a censored search engine in China.
During a hearing held by
the House Judiciary Committee, Pichai faced sustained questions over
the China plan, known as Dragonfly, which would blacklist broad
categories of information about democracy, human rights, and peaceful
The hearing began with an
opening statement from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said
launching a censored search engine in China would “strengthen China’s
system of surveillance and repression.” McCarthy questioned whether it
was the role of American companies to be “instruments of freedom or
instruments of control.”
Pichai read prepared
remarks, stating “even as we expand into new markets, we never
forget our American roots.” He added: “I lead this company without
political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate
that way. To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our
Also, my own opinions on Pichai and Google (both of which are very
secretive) are that (i) the ¨core
principles¨ and ¨business interests¨
are not democracy, or freedom, or human rights, but profits for
Google and profits for Pichai, and that (ii) Pichai´s main
is to weather Google through the present mini-storm, and then
to start making money on China, by helping the Chinese Communist
Party round up anyone who disagrees with it on any Chinese computer.
At least, that is what I expect. Here is some more:
Rep. David Cicilline,
D-R.I., told Pichai that the Dragonfly plan seemed to be “completely
inconsistent” with Google’s recently launched artificial
intelligence principles, which state that the company will not
“design or deploy” technologies whose purpose “contravenes widely
accepted principles of international law and human rights.”
“It’s hard to imagine you
could operate in the Chinese market under the current government
framework and maintain a commitment to universal values, such as
freedom of expression and personal privacy,” Cicilline said.
Pichai repeatedly insisted
that Dragonfly was an “internal effort” and that Google currently had
“no plans to launch a search service in China.” Asked to confirm that
the company would not launch “a tool for surveillance and censorship in
China,” Pichai declined to answer, instead saying that he was committed
to “providing users with information, and so we always — we think it’s
ideal to explore possibilities. … We’ll be very thoughtful, and we will
engage widely as we make progress.”
Again I say ¨well¨, and
here are my reasons:
As to Pichai: Obviously he is lying, and indeed I think myself
of Google´s supposed principles are merely propaganda: it
that moves Google, and always has moved Google, and other
are merely adopted in public because they help making a profit.
As to Cicilline: He is
right that (in effect) Dragonfly is a totalitarian
instrument that will
help the Chinese Communist Party to impose totalitarianism all over
China. But - I think - he is wrong in believing that the moral
principles Google sports in public are anything other than propaganda
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Yes indeed and I
Pichai was and is lying. And this is a recommended article.
Pichai’s claim that the
company does not have a plan to launch the search engine in China
contradicted a leaked transcript
from a private meeting inside the company. In the transcript, the
company’s search chief Ben Gomes discussed an aim to roll out the
service between January and April 2019. For Pichai’s statement to
Congress to be truthful, there is only one possibility: that the
company has put the brakes on Dragonfly since The Intercept first
exposed the project in August.
Kennedy and the Precarious Promise of "Moral Capitalism"
This article is by
Michael Winship on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:
I more or less agree with
the first paragraph, although I also think it ought to be supplemented
by a statement that says that while there is no legal nobility
royalty in the USA (which I agree both are good), it has been
by the rule of the rich.
We are a nation that was
founded in opposition to hereditary rule. The founders rejected the
notion of a king and embraced the principle that there were to be no
royal families who generation after generation governed on the
assumption of divine right.
In recent decades, we have
made two notable exceptions to this democratic disdain of dynasties.
And indeed the second paragraph points to the Bush family, which has
been ruling in diverse forms since three generations, and the Kennedy
family, that has been ruling, also in diverse forms, for four
generations at least (and in fact longer).
There is more on both families in the article, which I mostly skip, but
there is this on ¨Joseph Kennedy III,
38, grandson of Bobby¨:
Prime among the Kennedy
cousins and siblings these days—and touted as a potential White House
candidate—is Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, 38, grandson of Bobby,
representing the Massachusetts Fourth District and just elected to his
fourth term in the House.
He says he’s not a
candidate for the presidency in 2020, but he’s sure talking like one.
On the Monday after Thanksgiving, Joe
Kennedy spoke to the New England Council, which describes itself as
“the nation’s oldest regional business organization.”
Kennedy echoed the words of
his grandfather Bobby, who spoke out against “the other America” of
poverty and despair, and even those of highborn President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, the so-called “class traitor” who famously declared that he welcomed the
hatred of the business and financial cabals, and warned that
“government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by
organized mob.” FDR knew that without capitalist reforms, revolution
might be inevitable.
This seems mostly
correct, and I have to admit that so far I had not been aware
Kennedy III, which may be explained either by my not living in the USA
or by my getting old. (I think it is mostly the first - and no, I have
never been interested in rich families.)
Here is more:
I say, but I don´t
believe it. First of all, this was
and is all in the very long Kennedy tradition of speaking for the
Democrats, and indeed Joe Kennedy III did. But second, while I
believe that he believes it (more than not) himself, I - who am
rich - I don´t believe it mostly for two reasons:
Joe Kennedy’s speech was
about what he called “moral capitalism,” and while he may not quite
have reached the height of FDR’s or his Kennedy forebears’ rhetoric, it
was an impressive and eloquent shout out against the vast income
inequality and greed that threaten the republic, “this deep sense of
unease that Americans are working harder and harder for less and less.”
...They live in cities
and towns more likely to be medically underserved, educationally
ostracized from today’s job market, plagued by inadequate
infrastructure, burdened by crumbling housing or homes no one can
shoulder the hard words that make life hurt—eviction, addiction,
They hail from the places
where polling locations suddenly disappear; where the biggest economic
engine is a payday lender; where lead poisons children’s water; where
injustice and insufficiency fester for generations before government
thinks to step in.
First, the inequalities between the few rich and the many poor
become much more pronounced since Reagan, and second in effect
the few rich (who may be pro Democrats or pro
Republican, but who first
of all are rich) anyway have the power in the USA, and now they
have the way to remain in force indefinitely, by surveilling
(anywhere, and in the USA).
And this happens in China - see item 1 - and it is
happening and will
happen in the USA, although I grant it is not as far in the USA
as it is in China.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Well... I agree with
Winship that ¨moral capitalism¨ sounds to me like ¨cold heat¨ (an
I don´t believe in it, and in fact my main reason is the
fact that the few rich (either in government or in Facebook, Google,
Amazone, Apple etc.) may know everything of everyone
The top 1 percent owns 40
percent of our country’s wealth, Kennedy noted. “The average CEO makes
361 times what their average worker makes. Payouts to shareholders
after the GOP tax bill will hit $1.3 trillion this year while wages
still hover at the lowest they’ve been in over half a century.”
Kennedy told the assembled
businessmen and businesswomen of the New England Council that unlike
many, he still believes in capitalism but that it needs to be rebuilt,
the current system stripped “to the studs.” And he called for
Good luck, Joe, with both
those capitalist and bipartisan things. God help us if the gulf between
the super rich and the rest of us gets any wider. Unless big business
and the wealthy follow Kennedy’s lead and start to rethink their
covetousness, any promise of “moral capitalism” could prove as empty
and oxymoronic as George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.”
That is far too much power (much
more - tenthousands
times more, at least - than the KGB or the Gestapo could
ever have), while I think that ¨all power corrupts and absolute power
corrupts absolutely¨. And this is a recommended article.
Democrats’ Best Response to Republican Power Grabs
is by Jacob T. Levy on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Michigan and Wisconsin, lame duck Republican-majority legislatures are
enacting laws to limit the powers of incoming Democratic governors. Two
years ago in North Carolina, the same happened.
These moves are particularly striking examples of recent aggressive
Republican procedural hardball. Whatever the right rules are for the
separation of powers, they should apply to both parties and not be
are exploring the possibility of legal challenges to those maneuvers.
But party leaders face a more difficult, and perhaps more
consequential, problem: Should they go tit-for-tat and escalate
procedural shenanigans, rules-stretching and rules-breaking? Or should
they strive, leading by good example, to maintain a system of norms
that have provided political stability in the hopes that a more
moderate, reasonable Republican Party will re-emerge?
Well... the first quoted paragraph seems mostly
correct, but the second paragraph is based on a false opposition,
for the simple reason that the Democrats also have been playing
dirty to help Democrats being elected. It is possible this went a
little less far than the Republicans, but otherwise they are mostly
the same, at least on the basis of my information.
Here is more:
midterm election results showed that its scandals and disgrace have
already focused voters’ attention. That’s not the time for retaliation
and escalation. It’s the time offer prescriptions for rebuilding the
rules that accompany a diagnosis that helps voters make sense of how
badly wrong things have gone. Democrats can try to punish Republicans
at the ballot box by trying to strengthen rather than weaken democratic
rules that accompany a diagnosis that helps voters make sense of how
badly wrong things have gone¨
seems both senseless and too late, for indeed things have
gone very ¨badly
wrong¨ since a long time,
namely since Reagan and for almost forty years.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
As I said, this is utterly
is also the best approach for Democrats in the short term because
they’re not in a strong position to retaliate even if an angry activist
base wants them to. Despite some losses last month, Republicans remain
in control of more governor’s seats and more state legislatures. More
important, making things worse right now really is the wrong thing to
a New Political Party Save America From Itself?
is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
When it comes to
criticizing the Democratic Party, nothing speaks like experience within
the belly of the beast. Ralph Nader is living proof. After years of
effectively pressuring congressional Democrats to protect consumers and
the environment against corporate greed, he watched firsthand as the
party bowed to the demands of Big Business during the Jimmy Carter
Yes indeed - and this happened
over forty years ago, and has been growing in strength in
the Democratic party (that it bowed and bowes ¨to the demands of Big Business¨) ever since.
Besides, I think myself, as a European, that having just two
(that make any chance of winning any major election) is itself
undemocratic. Then again, Street is giving
an argument why he thinks having just two parties (that make any chance of winning any major
election) doesn´t work in a democratic way.
I think that is correct. Here is more - and ¨he¨ is Nick Brana, who is
presently trying to get a Movement for a People´s Party off the ground,
after having run into trouble in the Democratic Party:
Now he thinks of the
Democrats and the Republicans as “two subsidiaries of a single
corporation.” While the Republicans make no serious pretense of being
anything but an oligarchic organization, Brana says, the Democrats play
a more “insidious” and disingenuous part. Their “counter-revolutionary”
role is to masquerade as the people’s voice and function as a great
“black hole for progressive energies and passions.” In his estimation,
the Democratic Party is a nefarious shock-absorber for the ruling class.
While commuting to and from
his job for McAuliffe, Brana began listening to left-wing podcasts
featuring iconic author and dissident Noam Chomsky, whose description
of the U.S. as “a one-party state with two right-wing parties”
(Brana’s words) resonated with his own experience.
Well... I agree with
principle, but then again such an agreement does not make a
(etc.) party (that makes any
chance of winning any major election) any more likely.
Here is more on Brana:
This experience dispelled
Brana once and for all of the notion that he could make the world a
better place through the Democratic Party. The party, he determined,
was not a political entity at all but a privately owned business under
the command of “a committee of corporations.” Thinking that the
organization’s “oligarchic” nature could be undone by “some magic
bullet” candidate, Brana told me, “is like believing that a single drop
of clean water could purify a bucket of toxic sludge.”
“You don’t take the
Democratic Party over,” Brana says. “It takes over you.”
Possibly so, but then
again many disagree. Then there is this:
Were it not for the fixing
of the primaries and the Democratic National Convention by the
Clintonite “committee of the corporations” that owned the Democratic
National Committee, Sanders might well be sitting in the White House
right now. Trump would be back in his Manhattan tower, his political
life relegated to the Twittersphere.
Yes, but this did not
happen. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Proving the axiom that the
Democratic Party resents the progressive left more than it does an
increasingly dangerous right, establishment Democrats accused Sanders
of nasty things like “voodoo economics,” “unicorn politics” and
unrealistic “pie-in-the sky” prescriptions. Bill Clinton himself
stooped to accusing Sanders of stealing voter data and calling his
supporters “sexists” who smeared anyone who “disagreed with them as
part of the establishment.”
Well... firstly, you
(normally). And second, I agree Sanders was
mistreated and abused by leading Democrats. But third, I also do not
see a third party (that
makes any chance of winning any major election) arise in the USA,
though I agree that would be desirable.
5. China Tariffs are a
Regressive Tax on Americans, and Risk a Recession
is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
“I am a Tariff Man,” Trump
tweeted last week. “When people
or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want
them to pay for the privilege of doing so…. We are right now taking in
$billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.”
I’m sorry, Mr President,
but you got this wrong. Tariffs are
paid by American consumers. About half the $200bn worth of goods you’ve
already put tariffs on come almost exclusively from China,
which means American consumers are taking a hit this holiday season.
These tariffs function
exactly like taxes. By imposing them,
you have in effect raised taxes on most Americans. You have made
Yes indeed. Also, Trump
was - as usual - clearly lying:
Yes indeed again.
I needn’t remind you that
your Tax Cuts
and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and
the rich by about $150 billion annually. You claimed it would cause
companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American
jobs. They didn’t. (See General Motors.)
They spent most of their
tax savings buying back their own
shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not
surprisingly, the boost was temporary. Last week the stock market
erased all its gains for 2018, and worse may be in store. The whole
American economy is slowing.
Your tariffs could put us into
a recession. The world’s other big
economies are slowing, too.
Besides, I have been ill for forty years now (with ME/CFS that, after a
mere 39 years of waiting, was declared to be ¨a serious chronic
disease¨ in Holland in March of 2018), which also kept me very
poor (which I would not have been if I had been healthy, for I
do have extremely good academic degrees), and this in turn enables me
to say that for people as poor as I am the crisis of 2008 is still
continuing (and may get a lot worse soon).
Back to the article. Here is the last bit that I quote from it, which
is a Reichian proposal:
Yes, I agree (and
would also solve Google´s problem - see item 1 - or
so it seems to me), although I think this Reichian proposal is very
unlikely to be followed by Trump.
John Bolton, your national
security adviser, has said the real issue is “a question of power”, and
the theft of intellectual property has “a major impact on China’s
economic capacity and therefore on its military capacity”. Bolton
advises you, right?
But if this is your real
motive – and, quite frankly, I can’t come up with another reasonable
one – might I suggest a better way to protect national security?
You have the authority to
stop foreign corporations from buying any American corporation whose
technology is critical to national security. So why not prohibit
American corporations that possess such critical technology from
sharing it with China, even if that’s the price of gaining access to
China’s lucrative market?
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 (!!).