from December 29, 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 29, 2018:
1. The 'Highest Danger' of the Cold War
Isn’t Behind Us
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. Trump goes all-in on the shutdown:
Here's why it's a losing bet
3. The 10 Best Chris Hedges Columns of 2018
4. Progressives Slam Pelosi for Pushing 'Weak' Climate Panel
5. The Mock Democracy
'Highest Danger' of the Cold War Isn’t Behind Us
This article is by
Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
odds were stacked against
the two authors of “The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson,
America’s Man in Cold War Moscow” when it came to treating their
subject with anything resembling journalistic precision or objectivity.
That’s primarily because they resembled their subject a little too
closely—in addition to being the book’s co-writers, Jenny and Sherry
Thompson are also Llewelyn Thompson’s daughters.
Jenny and Sherry Thompson tell Scheer that their shared impulse in
taking on the project was part intellectual and part emotional. The
senior Thompson, who was stationed in Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to
the Soviet Union during two crucial stretches of the Cold War, died
more than four decades ago, so the sisters were invested in his memory
as well as his legacy. “We started this whole project for our families
… we wanted to discover who he was,” Sherry says. “It really needed to
be a proper book.”
it is, and then some. According to Scheer, who notes the book’s
positive reception in the diplomatic community, “The Kreminologist”
ranges far beyond a professional profile of Thompson himself. In fact,
Scheer says, it’s “the indispensable book to understanding the
trajectory of the Cold War.” Most important, it capably debunks the
lingering “fundamental fallacy” about a conflict that remains
dismayingly relevant to this day.
say, which I do because I lived more than 68 years and cannot recall
ever hearing about Llewellyn
E. Thompson - so this was a (fairly minimalistic) link.
here is the "fundamental fallacy" Scheer asserts Jenny and Sherry
[T]he thing that made me
suspicious of this book at first, it happens to be written by his
daughters, who also were there, Jenny Thompson and Sherry Thompson. And
my first response was, OK, they’re going to have very nice things to
say about their father. And, boy, was I wrong. This is the
indispensable book to understanding the trajectory of the Cold War:
what was it really all about? And in particular, about a fundamental
fallacy in the Cold War.
That we could be virtuous at the same time as we were conniving.
That is, that is one
aspect of the fallacy. In fact, I more or less agree. Here is more:
RS: (..) [I]t seems
to me the basic issue raised by your father was that the whole
construction of the Cold War was built on a fallacy. I don’t know that
he would use that word, because he was witnessing it as it evolved. But
was communism nationalist or internationalist? And speaking primarily
about its fountainhead, the Soviet Union. And the assumption of the
Cold War was there was this ideology of communism; the Soviet Union had
adopted it, and this led inevitably to a universalist, expansionist
position. But as the book moves along, we find that the Soviet Union
was largely a nationalist phenomenon (..)
In fact, it seems to me
that Scheer is saying that most Americans in government, in the
Pentagon and in the secret services at the time of Krushchev, misjudged
the Soviet government, and did so by believing in the ideology that
government projected, while not considering the real underlying facts.
That is one part of
Scheer's argument, and I think it probably is basically correct.
There also is another
part, that says that the present American government, and the
American governments since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991
(very soon followed by the collapse of most Western communist parties),
made the serious mistake of under- standing Russia as if it
committed to the ends and values the Soviet Union had till 1991.
I think that is also
mostly correct, but while I believe the first fallacy was - probably -
mostly due to a combination of real fallacies and lack of relevant
knowledge, the second fallacy is probably mostly - American - propaganda.
I do so for the simple reason that the Americans were strongly
involved in making the former Soviet Union
capitalist, and must have known they succeeded for the most
But they also wanted an
enemy. Here is one of the Thompson sisters:
JT: (..) I think, as
you mentioned, Russia today, I think people don’t really realize that
Russia today is not the Soviet Union. It doesn’t profess an ideology.
Obviously it has nationalist interests. And because of the sort of Cold
War mindset, it’s easy to whip up anti-Russian sentiment, simply
because we’re ready to accept that. We were accepting, you know, we
were anti-Soviet during the Cold War. I think what we need to do now is
be very careful, because we’re getting into a position of another arms
race with Russia today, and also the possibility of rising rhetoric and
making the tensions higher will, could possibly lead to even nuclear
Yes, I think that
warning is quite correct. Here is Scheer on two of Thompson's
conclusions (the father):
RS: (..) And he came
to two conclusions. One–and this was a very important observation in
your book, I think–he understood about the Soviet Union, that there was
an enormous contradiction between their appearance, their illusions,
what they presented themselves as, and what they really were. And (..)
it was quite clear at the end of the book that he was shocked that
there’s that same kind of genre of deception, self-deception, on the
part of the elites of both of these societies.
Yes, I think that is
probably correct, and it may be rephrased as two propositions: (i) the
Soviet Union was in actual fact quite different from the ideology it
projected - which I think is correct, at least from Krushcev
and (ii) both the leaders of the Soviet Untion and those of the USA
were mostly guided in their actions to each other by the ideologies
that the other projected, much rather than the real facts - which I
think is also correct.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
JT: (..) I think
this is, this is a major lesson that we learned from the book: you have
to try to understand the other, and to anticipate what the consequences
might be of any particular action that you contemplate. Long-term
consequences are really overlooked these days; everybody goes for the
short-term gain, and they don’t look at the long, long picture.
I quite agree and this
is a recommended article.
goes all-in on the shutdown: Here's why it's a losing bet
This article is by
Amanda Marcotte on Salon. It starts as follows:
I agree with the second
paragraph which I think would be impossible in Holland and in
Europe: You can't force - no less than 400,000 - government workers to
work without pay. But indeed that is Europe and not the
Despite portraying himself
as a great dealmaker, it's become sadly clear that Donald Trump,
overgrown manchild, only knows how to bellow threats and blackmail his
opponents. Which is why we're now six
days into a government shutdown over Trump's demands for border
wall funding — money that is largely symbolic, as it falls billions of
dollars short of what building the president's ludicrous and
unnecessary wall would actually cost. The entire shutdown makes no
sense, except as amateur dramatics from a man who wants to look like a
wheeler and dealer but has no real negotiation skills.
Unfortunately, real people
are getting hurt to placate the reality TV president's need to have
drama for drama's sake. Nearly
400,000 federal workers are furloughed and another 400,000 or more are
being made to work without pay. The result is that important
government work isn't getting done, causing trash cans to overflow and threatening
to slow down access to food assistance and other necessary services.
I do not quite agree with the first paragraph, because it
as if he is quite crazy - which I in fact agree he is, but as a
psychologist, and not in Marcotte's terms, as an "overgrown manchild, [who] only knows how to
bellow threats and blackmail his opponents".
Here is some more:
As many others have
Trump does not see himself as the president of all Americans. He only
sees himself as the president of his own followers. As I
noted earlier this month, the supposed reason for the shutdown —
border wall funding — is largely a pretext. Shutting down the
government is increasingly viewed by the Fox News crowd as a way to
stick it to the liberals, and therefore a good thing in and of itself.
Well... mostly not,
say. First, Trump sees himself sometimes as the president of
followers and sometimes as the president of all Americans, and
reasons for the one and for the other are probably both confused.
Second, perhaps the border wall funding is a pretext (and Trump
been promising for 2 years that the Mexicans would pay it), but I don't
know. And third, shutting down the government is a bad idea,
regardless of what Fox New says.
Here is some more:
Again mostly no, for I see
the above two paragraphs as a very easy but invalid confusion
a few American neo-Nazis and Trump's government.
faithfully adhere to Trump's party line and blame Democrats for the
shutdown, most other Americans correctly realize that Trump is to
blame. Morning Consult reports that Trump's
approval rating has sunk to 39 percent,
which is where it fell after
he made excuses for the white supremacists who rioted in
Charlottesville in the summer of 2017.
Government shutdowns, in
other words, appear to be about as popular as neo-Nazis: More popular
than you'd hope, unfortunately, but still strongly disliked by the
majority of Americans.
Then there is this:
Trump is best dealt with
the emotional level where he lives -- that of a toddler throwing
tantrums. That means letting him cry it out until he's tired, instead
of giving him what he wants. As with a toddler, giving into tantrums
only reinforces the idea that tantrums work, which only means the
toddler will ramp it up the next time. Same story with Trump: If he
gets his symbolic border wall money, that will just encourage him to
keep shutting down the government. The only thing that will scare him
off this tactic in the future is a major defeat
And yet again mostly
no: Who should treat Trump as "a toddler throwing tantrums"?! Not Marcotte's readers, for
none or almost none can
deal with Trump on a personal level - and besides, as a psychologist I agree
that Trump is insane,
but this does not mean that he is (like) "a toddler throwing tantrums".
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
so. But I do not think this is a recommended article, for if I
psychological or psychiatric treatments of Trump, I think it is reasonable
to require that these are written by people
who are knowledgeable about psychology or psychiatry, rather
than justifying any sort personal judgement by a journalist of
or she thinks
his madness is.
[T]he plan seems to be
the House will pass a funding bill, without wall money, as soon as
Nancy Pelosi takes the speaker's gavel in January. Democrats are
betting that Trump will be tired of seeing his approval ratings fall
and will just give in. He already has a long history of trying to save
face by falsely claiming that the wall is already being built, so
there's little doubt he'll revert to that once he's bored with this
10 Best Chris Hedges Columns of 2018
is by Anonynous (no name given) on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
And that is all you get from
this article, unless you click on the above link to it, where you will
find 10 fine articles by Chris Hedges, which I can all strongly
If only Chris Hedges
weren’t so right all the time. The Truthdig columnist’s frequent
displays of prescience have bordered on out-and-out clairvoyance at
times, as he has spotted developments such as the rise of hard-right
populism (to name just one example) so far in advance.
While that capacity makes
him an especially capable and vital writer, one who not only registers
shifts but also shapes the cultural conversations around them, it
frequently means that readers had better strap in before taking in his
Clearly, Truthdig readers
were there for it all over the last year, tuning in weekly for the
reality checks Hedges was uniquely able to provide in his pieces. He
fixed his sights on what many others in the media treated as the most
glaring problem with which the U.S., if not the international
community, was faced: President Donald Trump. But for Hedges, the
current occupant of the Oval Office didn’t serve as a catch-all for the
country’s political woes, nor did Trump’s considerable presence
obstruct Hedges’ view of many other critical issues calling out for
Below is an incomplete list
of what we consider to be Hedges’ most exemplary work in 2018.
Slam Pelosi for Pushing 'Weak' Climate Panel
is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Yes, I think all of that
is quite correct - and as I said or implied quite a few times before, I
am one of those who distrusts all Democrats who rely on fundings of the
rich, for the simple reason that funding of politicians by the rich
so little different from corruption
that I do not see the difference.
(And the same applies to the Republicans.)
Following presumptive House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) official
announcement on Friday that Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) will chair
Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, progressives accused the
Democratic leadership of moving ahead with a "weak" congressional panel
instead of listening to grassroots demands for a more bold and
visionary Green New Deal Select Committee.
advocacy group that helped organize recent mobilizations
in support of a Green New Deal—declared in a statement that the
Democratic leadership appears dead-set on taking the "path of least
resistance" when it comes to tackling the climate crisis.
"Nancy Pelosi and the
Democratic Party leadership seem to be pushing forward a weak Select
Committee that has no subpoena power, that allows participation from
members of Congress who take donations from the fossil fuel industry,
and that has no explicit goals regarding the mass economic mobilization
needed to match the [United Nations'] recommendations on scale and
timeline," Justice Democrats spokesman Waleed Shahid said in a
Here is more:
Precisely - and this is one of
my (many) reasons why I think Pelosi should go. Here is the
that I quote from this article:
As Common Dreams reported
last week, green groups and youth climate leaders warned that the
Democratic leadership is working to undermine the surging demand for a
Green New Deal Select Committee by reviving an old climate panel that
even less authority than its previous iteration, which had subpoena
Without this power, critics
argue, the committee will be unable to compel fossil fuel
executives to testify and turn over key documents.
disappointing that the current proposal may be even weaker than
Pelosi's previous Select Committee on climate in 2007," Shahid said on
Friday. "Democratic leadership still has time to create a Select
Committee on a Green New Deal and support a serious proposal that holds
fossil fuel billionaires accountable and is based on what science
Well... 40 Democrats seems to be
still 1 in 6. (I am not exact because it is now difficult to
correct number on the Wikipedia, amidst scores and scores and scores of
Democrats' photographs, which soon sickened me: I don't think an
encyclopedia exists to propagandize people.)
Thanks to a groundswell of
organizing and protests at the offices of key congressional leaders
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), nearly 40 House Democrats
have expressed support for a Green New Deal Select Committee.
"By developing a plan for a
Green New Deal, we have an opportunity to create millions of
good-paying jobs, virtually eliminate poverty in the United States, and
invest in a just transition for communities that have been left behind
by racism and corporate greed," Prakash said.
But in an interview with E&E
News last week, Castor said that while Green New Deal proponents
"have some terrific ideas," the bold proposal supported
by 81 percent of Americans will not be the "sole focus" of the new
Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
In response, Justice
"Your sole focus won't be to propose solutions that match the urgency
and scale recommended by the U.N.'s IPCC climate report?"
Also, I suppose the true answer to the question in the last
paragraph is that your sole focus will be on how you keep being
the few rich so as not to do your job for the many poor, but I
that is my interpretation. And this is a recommended article.
is by Rainer Mausfeld on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
freedom. Two words that are charged with unheard-of social promises and
that can release tremendous energies of change to achieve them. Today,
hardly more than a shadow remains of the hopes originally associated
with them. What happened? Never before have two words, to which such
passionate hopes were attached, been emptied of their original meaning
in such a socially far-reaching way. They have been falsified, abused,
and turned against those whose thoughts and actions are inspired by
Democracy today really
means an elected oligarchy of economic and political elites, in which
central areas of society, especially the economy, are fundamentally
removed from any democratic control and accountability; at the same
time, large parts of the social organization of our own life lie
outside the democratic sphere. And freedom today means above all the
freedom of the economically powerful.
Well... yes and no. I agree
more or less with Mausfeld - who is a German psychologist of my age -
on what "democracy" and "freedom" may mean today in fact, but I
also think that the larger part of the adults in our present
societies still tend to think of them more or less as they did
50 years ago (which I can recall very well, for I was 18 at
Here is more on
Democracy, which was
originally associated with great hopes for political self-determination
and a safeguarding of internal and external peace, is left only as a
formal shell in the real structure of society. Democracy has been
reduced to a staged spectacle of periodical elections, where the
population can choose from a given «elite spectrum». Real democracy has
been replaced by the illusion of democracy; free public debate has been
replaced by opinion- and outrage- management. The guiding principle of
the responsible citizen has been replaced by the neoliberal ideal of
the politically apathetic consumer.
Yes and no, but mostly no,
for I think this was also the case - in Holland and elsewhere
in Western Europe - 50 years ago,
indeed apart from
"the neoliberal ideal". In fact, this is what moved me 50 years
ago to the decision to never vote, which I almost wholly kept,
namely except from 1971 or 1972, when I was legally forced to, but not
since. (I don't think I have ever lived in a real and
functional democracy, but only in partial democracies at best.)
Here is more by Mausfeld:
International law has
today largely developed into an instrument of undisguised power
politics. The self-declared ‘Western community of values’ has openly
reverted to its almost religious belief in the effectiveness of
violence, the wholesomeness of bombs and destruction, drone killings
and torture, support for terrorist groups, economic strangulation, and
other forms of violence that serve their purposes. This is a political
fetishization of violence, whose effects can be seen all over the globe.
Well... I would have
preferred examples instead of
words, and indeed one good
example would have been the European
Convention of Human Rights, which is a
of the original 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which you also find here.
I do not have the
time to review the European Convention, but I will illustrate its
utter rottenness by quoting first Article 12 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights which is about privacy:
That is the original article of 1948, that forbids
interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence".
- No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon
his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of
the law against such interference or attacks.
is Article 8 of the European Convention that replaces it:
Article 8 – Right to
respect for private and family life
1. Everyone has the right
to respect for his private and family life, his home and his
2. There shall be no
interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right
except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a
democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety
or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of
disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
That is to say: "No one shall be
subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or
correspondence" has been replaced
by mere respect (which is legal bullshit): "Everyone has the right to respect for his
private and family life, his home and his correspondence", and instead of article 12 that forbids
interference, in Europe now all interference
is justified "in
the interests of national security, public safety or the economic
well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for
the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights
and freedoms of others" which
means effectively that no European has any
right of any privacy if that happens to
be inconvenient to the secret services,
the military, the police, or the rest of the government.
That is the new LAW
on privacy - which is utterly opposed
to the Universal Declaration; completely undemocratic, and extremely dangerous. But it
is the LAW in Europe.
Back to Mausfeld:
The social transformation
process associated with these things is similar to the effects of a
«revolution from above», i.e. a revolution that represents a project of
the economic elites and serves to expand and consolidate their
interests. The transformation process that accompanies this revolution
essentially rests on two pillars.
The first pillar of
this transformation process is that the organizational forms of power
are designed more abstractly and with a purposeful diffusion of social
responsibility, so that the unease, indignation or anger of those ruled
can find no concrete, i.e. politically effective, targets.
Thus a will for change in the population can no longer find expression
among the actual decision-makers.
I am sorry, but I find
little sense in these two paragraphs. Here is more by Mausfeld:
The second pillar
is the development of sophisticated and highly effective techniques
that can in a targeted way manipulate the consciousness of the ruled.
Ideally, those who are ruled should not even know that there are
centers of power behind the political surface, presented by the media,
of seemingly democratically controlled power. The most important goal is to neutralize any
social will to change in the population or divert their attention to
politically insignificant goals.
To achieve this in the most
robust and consistent way possible, manipulation techniques aim for
much more than just political opinions. They aim at a purposeful
shaping of all aspects that affect our political, social and cultural
life as well as our individual ways of life. They aim, as it were, at
the creation of a «new human being» whose social life is absorbed in
the role of the politically apathetic consumer.
Again I find little sense in
these two paragraphs. Here is the last bit that I quote from this
In this sense, they are
totalitarian, so that the great democracy theorist Sheldon Wolin
rightly speaks of an «inverted totalitarianism», a new form of
totalitarianism, which is not perceived by the population as
totalitarianism. The techniques for this have been and are being
developed for about a hundred years, at great expense and with
substantial involvement from the social sciences, whose importance in
society is closely linked to the provision of methods of social control.
Well... I agree that "the social sciences, [have an] importance in
society [that] is closely linked to the provision of methods of social
control" but I did not
Mausfeld's article much good: To me, it are mostly only words, without any
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 (!!).