from January 6, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Sunday,
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 January 6, 2019:
1. Exposing the Corporate Bribery
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. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Proposes
Perfectly American Tax on
3. Yale psychiatrist explains Trump’s pathology
4. Legal Scholars to Trump: No, You Cannot Declare Emergency
5. The EU: From Social-Democratic Dream to Neoliberal Nightmare
the Corporate Bribery Network
This article is by
Robert Scheer on Truthout. It starts as follows:
Here’s a pop quiz: How long
has corporate corruption existed? Answer: As long as corporations as we
know them have been in business. Thanks to journalist David Montero’s
meticulously sourced survey, “Kickback:
Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network,” the consumer public
now has access to a wealth of details about the astonishingly shady
antics in which multinationals have been engaging since the
retro-imperialist heyday of the British East India Company.
And this malignant strain
of corporatism is only getting worse. As Robert Scheer remarks to
Montero in this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” it amounts to
nothing short of a “virulent, corrosive, murderous arrangement that has
only accelerated in recent years.” Some potential reasons why this
global scourge hasn’t been more aggressively treated include: greed;
willful ignorance; the widely supported myth that the phenomenon is
“just” about white-collar crime; a false sense that corporate
malfeasance ranges outside of various states’ jurisdictions; and
powerful companies engaging in a race to the bottom because, well,
everyone else is doing it.
Yes, I agree, but with
a few remarks.
First, bribery has undoubtedly existed for thousands of
years, and may be as old as modern man. And while it probably will
not disappear, it can be tamed to a considerable extent by the law
(which forbids it).
But second, corporate bribery is a bit different from
simple bribery, because corporations allow all sorts of denials (honest
and dishonest) that so-and-so bribed or was bribed; second, because
much larger sums are involved; and third because bribing high officials
in other countries has to be dressed up in various ways so that
bribe does not look like a bribe.
And third, corporate bribery exists as long as corporations exist,
which is now about 400 years.
Back to the article:
Robert Scheer: Hi,
this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence,
where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, from David
Montero, who’s a highly regarded journalist of considerable experience.
And he’s written what I think is kind of a classic book:
“Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network.” And
what the book asserts, in great detail with wonderful case studies, is
that this is a historic problem of modern capitalism. And it goes back
in this book to the British East India Company, the very company that
the American Revolution was fought to challenge, with the Boston Tea
Party and other things. And traces this virulent, corrosive, murderous
arrangement that has only accelerated in recent years.
I did not read
Montero's book, but am willing to assume it is quite good. Also, I need
to make a little correction to the above: Being Dutch, I know that the
first real corporations go back to Dutch initiatives around 1619,
is 400 years ago. And since bribery is human, it can be safely assumed
corporate bribery is also 400 years old.
Back to the article:
David Montero: Yeah,
and I think the reason it’s more important than ever now is because,
one, we’ve laxly enforced a law that we had on the books since
1977—we’ve only laxly enforced it—that law was supposed to prohibit
corporations from paying bribes abroad. We now have a president in the
White House who’s vocally opposed to this law. His administration has
done things to roll back that law. But more importantly, in the person
of the president himself, we have someone whose business interests seem
to be tainted by this crime itself, and himself.
Yes, I think this is
quite true. Here is more:
RS: Is it
more disturbing, or is it just more obvious that, ah—? It’s sort of the
ugly face of a kind of international capitalism, that the people who
practice this would rather it not be noticed. And you have Fortune 500
companies like Alcoa, Chevron, Shell, Simmons, Novartis, Bristol-Myers
Squibb; you can go down the list, it’s just about every multinational
corporation has engaged in this practice of going along with bribes,
kickbacks, and everything. And their defense is, it’s the only way you
could do business. And they’re accepting the normalcy of corrupting,
basically, the international business community. That’s the inescapable
conclusion, I think, from your book.
and why that’s disturbing is, again, you know, these are cutting-edge
companies; these are world-class companies, as you mentioned the names;
these are household names. It’s really kind of shocking and disturbing
that the only way that a lot of them seem to think they can compete
abroad is to pay bribes to government officials. And the reason they
think that is why? Because that’s what their competitors are doing.
Yes, I think this is
also quite true - and please note this involves all or most of the
richest corporations there are. And incidentally, here are one or
other reasons why so many rich corporations use bribery: Because
it gives them extra possibilities and extra profits
they would not have without - illegal - bribes.
Back to the article:
always been thus, and again, I think the crime has been looked at the
wrong way, and as a result, the prosecution has been pretty weak. And
that’s what I was trying to argue in the book, that this is a crime
that has existed for 400 years, since there were corporations. And the
impact, as we saw with the British East India Company in India, has
been devastating. But the companies have never been held to account for
the devastation; they’ve just been held to account because our laws say
that they violated the mandate to keep accurate books and records. In
other words, we prosecuted as if it were just a white-collar crime. So
that’s what I’m saying, is that it’s not just a white-collar crime; I
agree with you, it’s a human rights issue, it’s something that affects
poverty and political civility.
Yes, I agree -
and the difference between "a
white-collar crime" and "a human rights issue" is - I take it - that the white-collar crimes
involve financial manipulations, while human rights issues
involve that financial manipulation on the side of the bribers, and whatever
is being bought by these bribes from the bribees, which may be very
much if the bribee is a minister or president (such as lower wages
and lack of human rights).
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
RS: It was a warning
that there’s another kind of capitalism—of the cartels, monopoly
capitalism, restrictive trade—that would threaten the virtues of a free
market. That’s why Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations talked
about, you know, the invisible hand; that no one should be able to
control the action. But the multinational corporations, and they are
dominant now—they want a hand. They want it controlled.
have an invisible hand through bribes. There isn’t a free market that
we think, there isn’t free and fair competition. In fact, it’s all—I
don’t want to say it’s all rigged, but it’s greatly rigged through
I think this is also
quite true, and this is a quite interesting article that
contains a lot more than I quoted and is strongly recommended.
Ocasio-Cortez Proposes Perfectly American Tax on Ultra-Rich
This article is by
Naomi LaChance on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
In an effort to fund
policies that would reduce fossil fuel and carbon emissions within the
next 12 years, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has
a tax rate on the super-rich that is more moderate than U.S.
tax policy during parts of the 20th century. In a video clip released
Friday, she tells journalist Anderson Cooper of “60 Minutes” that
taxing incomes above $10 million at a 60 percent to 70 percent rate
could be a good step.
“There’s an element where,
yeah, people are going to have to start paying their fair share in
taxes,” she said, echoing
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to remind skeptics that
historically, income rates in the U.S. have been much higher.
Yes, I quite agree
with Ocasio-Cortez on this issue. Here are some of my reasons:
The approximately 16,000
Americans earning more than $10 million are at the very top of the top 1
percent of earners. Such a tax could bring in approximately
$720 billion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center’s Mark
From 1918 to 1921, during
World War I, and then again from 1936 to 1980, the highest marginal
rates were at or above 70 percent, according to the Tax Policy
Center. Rates have reached as high as 94 percent.
“Her tax policy is more
generous to the rich than Jimmy Carter’s was, and the 1 percent wasn’t
nearly as well-off in the 1970s as it is now,” Eric Levitz wrote
in New York Magazine.
Ocasio-Cortez's proposed taxes for the very rich are not as
high as the
taxes of the Republican Eisenhower during the 1950ies, which was,
least according to some, the greatest time in the USA.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Yes indeed. And all of the above
supports my thesis that Ocasio-Cortez's idea is both quite sensible
and not radical at all. And this is a strongly
“Until the 1970s,
policy-makers and public opinion probably considered—rightly or
wrongly—that at the very top of the income ladder, pay increases
reflected mostly greed rather than productive work effort,” Saez and
in 2013, arguing that a top tax rate could be set as high as 83
percent. Since the 1970s, they wrote, countries that made large tax
cuts for top earners did not grow faster than countries that continued
large taxes for the very rich.
When Sanders proposed a 90
percent tax on the rich in 2015, Josh Bivens, of the Economic
Policy Institute, said: “It’s not that radical, unless you’re
calling Eisenhower’s America a radical place, and given that no one
would propose a high rate like that on anything like an ordinary
income, it would basically be irrelevant to the tax burden of the vast
majority of Americans.”
psychiatrist explains Trump’s pathology
is by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. I
abbreviated the title.
It starts as follows:
Well... I am a psychologist who
read in March 2016 - when I had heard of Trump, but did know very
little about him - that several psychologists and psychiatrists had
proposed that, in their view, Trump
is insane (and the last link is to a Nederlog of December 2016).
Yale Psychiatry Professor
Bandy X. Lee has long argued that Trump’s behavior is pathological—and
that the more that he feels his power threatened, the more likely he is
to lash out in ways harmful to himself, the country and the world (her
views do not reflect Yale policy).
Raw Story spoke with Lee
about how Trump is likely to react to pressure from Democrats, the
Mueller probe and other investigations into the Trump campaign and
I agreed with them for two reasons: First, their assessment was based -
explicitly - on behavorial criterions, which I
could check as well as anybody else (and better as a psychologist), for
there are plenty of videos and
interviews with Trump. And second (also being a psychologist), I found
- easily enough, indeed - that Trump satisfies 9 out of 9
behavorial criterions for a narcissistic
personality disorder, where 5 out of 9 is sufficient for
diagnosing him as such, on these behavorial criterions.
Of course, this is far from perfect, but then again this is
also the best we have, because Trump will not admit to
a careful test of his psychology by psychologists and psychiatrists.
There is also one other difficulty: I am also a philosopher (also with
a degree) and both my ex, who has the same disease as I have,
and myself have been declared mad (usually in the form: "it is
psychosomatic", which is incidentally not a medical reason) by 27
of the 30 Dutch medical doctors we turned to in order to get
We did not get any help whatsoever, except from 3 out
of 30 Dutch medical persons. And in March 2018 we learned that now
the main Dutch medical-legal organization agrees with us: At long last,
and after almost 40 years of continuous medical discrimination
paired with no research whatsoever, we suddenly have "a serious chronic
disease" (namely ME/CFS).
I do not say no, but I have lost my respect for the majority of Dutch
medical doctors, while my thoughts about psychiatry - it is a pseudoscience -
were much strengthened.
So while I agree with Bandy Lee about her diagnosis of Trump,
I certainly disagree with her about the scientific status of
psychiatry - which, incidentally, is something I do have in common
with most psychologist who got their education around my time,
Holland (at least then) most psychologists thought that psychiatry is
either not wellfounded or else a pseudoscience, and indeed in my
the majority of psychologists did not get any
psychiatry apart from one book of Freud.
Back to the article:
Tana Ganeva: A
Democratic majority was just sworn into Congress and they have made it
clear they aim to investigate the many scandals, ethics breaches and
possible crimes plaguing the Trump administration. Are you concerned
about how he’ll react?
Bandy X. Lee: Yes, very. We
know from Donald Trump’s past actions when he has come under criticism
that there is great reason to be concerned about how he will react to
an incoming Democratic House ready to put checks on him. We know from
his frequent tweets that reference his own inflated self-image and
retaliate against those who challenge it that this will be the pattern
of his response.
Yes, I probably
agree with Lee, but I have to add that once you elect a madman as your
president, you will be probably damned by him whatever you do (aside
constant wild praise).
Here is more:
Tana Ganeva: What
is the best way for Democrats to perform their oversight duties without
triggering a dangerous meltdown?
Bandy X. Lee: The severity
of Mr. Trump’s impairment warrants an evaluation—I do not believe there
is any way around it, unless we wish to gamble with the nation’s
security and, realistically, the future of humankind itself. The
evaluation would offer precision around the level of dangerousness we
are dealing with, the least restrictive means of managing him, and his
likely future course—and of course what everyone wants, which is a
At the bare minimum, we
should do a capacity evaluation by appropriate, independent
specialists, which would determine his ability to function or not in
his office, and this evaluation does not require consent. This is of
course a very uncomfortable situation, but even the president has the
right to treatment by law, and the nature of mental pathology is that
the sicker one is, the less likely one is to recognize that anything is
wrong and will avoid testing and treatment at all cost.
I think there is a diagnosis of Trump, and that diagnosis has
happened on the behavorial grounds and criterions that are
according to the DSMs
from 1980 onwards.
Second, I agree Trump has the right do be evaluated "by appropriate, independent specialists" but (i) he will almost certainly
refuse (I mean: Who could possibly think that as very great a
Trump is - in his own opinion - could possibly be mad?!), and (ii) I
do not think that psychiatry (or indeed the existing psychology) is
adequate to do that task in a scientific way.
So here I disagree with Lee. Here is more:
Again yes and no: Yes, I
think Trump is insane
and dangerous because he is insane (and the more
dangerous the more power he has), but no I do not think that
psychology are able to say a lot more, in a rational fashion -
and besides, Trump will refuse
to be evaluated and judged by psychologists or psychiatrists.
The past month has seen the administration roiled in controversy,
from a government shutdown to the resignation of James Mattis. In what
ways have Trump’s unique pathologies played into the chaos?
Bandy X. Lee: It was all
psychopathology, regardless of where it was occurring. Internal chaos
eventually manifests outwardly, and psychological dangerousness
inevitably turns into geopolitical dangerousness in the office of the
His dangers are no longer
probable but demonstrable: his attraction to cruel and violent
policies; his effectiveness in inciting violence; his stripping of
moderating forces; his pursuit of a position of power without
appropriate qualifications; and his shaping of the national and
international culture after his own mental state—all fit the pattern of
well-known, dangerous personality structures.
Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 27 psychiatrists and mental
health experts have warned that his condition was more serious than
people assumed, that it would grow worse with actual power, and that he
would eventually become uncontainable.
The situation is very
serious now, and there is a risk of everything from a nuclear war to a
civil insurrection to his accidentally triggering something
catastrophic—be it in Syria, North Korea, China, or Russia. As
difficult as it may be to intervene now, it will only grow more
difficult with time, and there is no other proper management than
containment, removal from access to weapons and power, and an urgent
evaluation, as we have been saying for almost two years.
So in fact I agree with Lee's diagnosis, but think she can't get much
further than that, basically because Trump will refuse to be examined
and besides the "sciences" of psychology and psychiatry are - in my
opinion - not capable of doing much more.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I more or less agree with
the last paragraph and do not know whether I believe that Lee
on average one person with a narcissistic personality disorder each
week. (It seems rather a lot to me, but indeed I do not know.)
is a recommended article.
Tana Ganeva: Your
experience leads you to believe that Trump exhibits thoughts and
behaviors that suggest he’s mentally impaired. What initially led you
to that conclusion? What are the recent events that have confirmed your
Bandy X. Lee: It is
difficult to communicate everything, but let me just say, over my
20-year career devoted to studying, predicting, and preventing
violence, I have seen close to 1000 individuals with Mr. Trump
personality profile. Some of these signs include behavior that is
consistent with paranoia, a lack of empathy, impulsivity, an inability
to consider consequences, and an attraction to violence and cruelty.
Indeed, he will become
increasingly self-destructive, as well as damaging to the country, the
more his condition worsens. To be clear, I am not making a diagnosis,
which usually requires a personal interview as well as a whole host of
other information, but am assessing dangerousness, for which a personal
interview is not always necessary or helpful (since dangerous
individuals will try to hide the very things you need to know).
Scholars to Trump: No, You Cannot Declare Emergency to Build Wall
is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts
After President Donald
on Friday claimed
he could declare a national emergency in order to assert total control
over the border and use existing taxpayer money to build a wall he has
repeatedly told the American public that Mexico would pay for, legal
experts are pointing out that Trump has no authority under the
Constitution to do any such thing.
"I can do it if I want,"
Trump declared Friday. "We can call a national emergency because of the
security of our country. We can do it. I haven't done it. I may do it."
Calling Trump's demand for
the wall "constitutionally illegitimate" in an
op-ed for the Guardian in the wake of the
press conference outside the White House, Harvard law professor
Lawrence Lessig argued that no reading of the nation's governing
document "would ever uphold the view that a president can stop the
functioning of government, to insist upon a program unsupported by the
public or unrequired by the constitution."
I think Lessig is
correct about that. Here is some more:
"This just another one of
his hair-brained schemes," Holtzman said. "And we know, time after
time, his cruel, unnecessary, horrifying policies on the border—whether
its separation of children from their parents or whether it's stopping
people from coming in under the asylum laws or whether its his original
total ban on Muslim immigration—all of those were shut down by the
courts. So I think the reason he's doing this now, in this way, is he's
very worried about whether he has authority and he's trying to threaten
Congress. It's not going to work. The Democrats are not going to
support a wall."
As a result, Holtzmann
said, it is the 800,000 federal workers and their families who are
being held hostage by Trump's cruelty. "Are they going have enough
money to put food on the table? Is their house going to be taken away?
Is their mortgage going to be forclosed on? I mean, what is he doing to
this country? For his image? That's an outrage."
Yes, I agree and this
is a recommended article.
EU: From Social-Democratic Dream to Neoliberal Nightmare
is by Frank Lee on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
Britain, in the shape of
Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, initially joined the EEC in
1973, after Charles de Gaulle’s resignation in 1969. De Gaulle had
always been opposed to the Anglo-Saxon axis, regarding the UK as a
‘Trojan Horse’ for US geopolitical objectives, and consistently blocked
the UK’s attempted entry into continental Europe. According to DG
Britain ‘was not European enough’. With the General out of the way the
path was clear for British entry.
However, this was not an
altogether popular move with much of the electorate and some quite
solid opposition from elements in both main political parties. This
being the case the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, opted for
a referendum on continued membership in 1975 to settle the issue. The
electorate voted ‘Yes’ by 67.2% to 32.8% to stay in Europe.
I do not like
arbitrary and uncommon abbreviations like "DG" for "De Gaulle", but
apart from that the above is correct.
Here is the other bit I quote from this article:
I more or less agree, and
indeed dislike the EU ("European Union") and the EEC ever since
from them, mostly because I cannot believe in the creation of states
with many languages and hardly a shared past by a handful of
bureacrats. Also, none of what I have learned since first learning of
them increased my liking, my belief or my trust.
However, I was then
blissfully unaware that the project which I had in mind bore little
resemblance to the real strategy of the EU architects. At that time the
neo-liberal counter-revolution was still in its infancy and did not
really get into its stride until the 1980s. Prior to this there was an
interregnum between the ending of the post-war settlement in 1975 and
the emergence of the new world order. During this interlude it was
still possible to believe in the independence of Europe, national
sovereignty, the welfare state and a settlement where an independent
social-democratic Europe stood as a bridge between the harsh realities
of both American capitalism/imperialism and Soviet Communism.
Alas today the
social-democratic, welfare-capitalism consensus is gone, probably
forever, to be replaced by the brutal reality of an off-the-leash
juggernaut which gives no quarter. Europe is now essentially an
occupied zone. An American controlled political/economic/military bloc
effectively corralled by NATO as well as other US puppet-facade
institutions such as the IMF, WTO and World Bank. And the irony of all
this is that the Europeans are not even aware of it.
There is a whole lot more in this article that is recommended
properly reviewed here, basically because I have already more than 45
Kb. (It is worth reading if you are interested in the EU.)
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 (!!).