in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from May 3, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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 May 3, 2019:
1. The Case for (and Against) Impeaching
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. George Monbiot on U.K. Climate
3. Barr Skips House Hearing; Pelosi Accuses Him of Lying
4. The Pentagon Effectively Owns Trump Now
5. The dangers of digital politics
Case for (and Against) Impeaching Trump
This article is by
Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Special Counsel Robert
Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election didn’t
provide the smoking gun on collusion with Russia that many were
expecting, but it did paint a picture of a President willing to
repeatedly, brazenly, and unashamedly obstruct justice at every
opportunity. It also suggests that Trump was restrained from more
serious criminality only by the timely intervention of underlings and
cabinet officials determined to save him from his own worst impulses.
So where does all this leave the conversation on impeachment? With
Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, calls are
escalating for action to remove Trump for office. While some see a
moral imperative for Congress to act, others point out the unlikelihood
of a Republican-controlled Senate taking such action seriously. On this
week’s Deconstructed, Mehdi Hasan talks with Tom Steyer, the hedge fund
Billionaire who launched the “Need to Impeach” campaign in 2017, and
with Vox.com editor Ezra Klein, who thinks political considerations
make impeachment a bad idea.
Yes indeed. This is a
good introduction, and in fact I am one of the doubters as well. Here
is some more:
MH: So, on today’s
show, the case for, and against impeaching Donald Trump.
The polls show that
Americans don’t want to impeach the president. Even support for
impeachment amongst Democratic voters is down in the wake of the
Mueller report, which Attorney General Bill Barr and the Republicans
have spun as clearing Donald Trump of any crimes.
Donald J. Trump: No
collusion, no obstruction.
MH: First off,
that’s a lie. It’s impossible to read the 448 pages of the Mueller
report and come to any other conclusion than that the president of the
United States repeatedly, brazenly, unashamedly obstructed justice,
which is both a crime and an impeachable offense.
Yes, I agree with
is some more:
MH: Of course,
Democratic Party leaders in Congress don’t like leading, they like
following, they like compromising, they like rolling over. I’m sorry,
they do. They think the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the late 1990s
hurt the Republican Party, even though the Republicans won the White
House the year after they tried and failed to remove Clinton from
On impeachment, remember,
Democratic Party leaders also told us to wait for the Mueller report,
even though, as you’ve all heard me point out on this show before, you
don’t even need Mueller or Russia to make the case for impeachment.
Trump does impeachable
things on a near-weekly basis. You could impeach him for trying to
illegally divert emergency relief funds from Puerto Rico to Texas and
Louisiana, or for making illegal hush money payments to a porn star who
he slept with, or for trying to use the federal government to settle
personal scores with private businesses like Amazon, or for tax fraud,
or for trying making money out of the presidency. You could impeach
just him for bringing the office of the presidency into deep, deep
disrepute. To quote Republican Senator Lindsey Graham during the
Clinton impeachment proceedings.
Lindsey Graham: Impeachment
is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office.
Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.
MH: If you don’t
impeach Trump, how do you hold him to account? What kind of precedent
do you set for future presidents? Or even this president?
This time I somewhat agree
with Hasan and, to put it as simply as possible, my main disagreement
is with "If you don’t impeach
Trump, how do you hold him to account?":
Clearly, those who mostly
agree with Hasan - as I do - do hold Trump "to account", but
are not certain whether impeachment - which is a legal
trying to hold the president to account - will help or hinder Trump
being elected for the second time as president.
And I agree with this
argument, mostly for the simple reason that impeachment, if it
again with big amounts of free time for Trump as in 2016 ("because
pays", to quote - I think - a CBS man), it will give him lots more
time to argue his own case.
Here is Hasan with Tom Steyer:
MH: You launched
Need to Impeach back in October 2017, less than a year into Trump’s
presidency, a full 18 months before Robert Mueller published his report
or had his report published to the public. Why? What made you launch
what some might call a quixotic campaign for impeachment so early on in
TS: Well, Mehdi, we
all could see from public information that this was a president who is
obstructing justice. He’d already fired Mr. Comey. He was already
almost on a daily basis trying to prevent any kind of investigation of
his campaign or his presidency. And he was also a president who in
plain sight was corrupt. He was taking money through his real estate
operations, directly from foreign governments, and from American
companies that were subject to his jurisdiction. And that is absolutely
contrary to his promise to put the American people and our interests
ahead of himself.
I agree with
these points. Here is some more:
First, I agree
that Trump is unstable, mostly because I am a psychologist who
thinks Trump is insane.
(Then again, I also know that few psychologists are
read unless they are a "public figure", and I know that most of their
arguments are not understood by most.)
TS: (..) We have a
rogue president who is deeply corrupt.
MH: And unstable.
TS: And who is a
danger to the system itself and if we in fact do not impeach him and
remove him from office, we’re making a statement that it’s okay. We’ve
now normalized corruption. We have said we don’t believe in the rule of
law being applied equally to the rich and powerful and we’ve basically
changed the whole nature of America. And that is just wrong.
And second, I disagree with Steyer that "if we in fact do not impeach him and remove
him from office, we’re making a statement that it’s okay": No, that is an incorrect argument. I
think I dislike Trump as much as Steyer, but I have difficulties with
impeaching him not because I think Trump is OK, but because
I do not
know how much free time on TV impeaching Trump will give to Trump.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this (much longer) article and
it is by Ezra Klein:
I more or less agree with Klein
here, but my main problem is: How much free TV time will Trump get
result of being impeached - and I do not know anyone
who has asked that
question, nor anyone who gave a (decent) answer to it. But this is a
EK: (..) Leaving
Trump in office, but potentially strengthening his ability to win
re-election, if that is in fact the case of what impeachment would do,
is also a bad option.
MH: Is that what
you believe? You believe that a failed impeachment, if it would help
him be re-elected in 2020.
EK: I lean that way
Monbiot on U.K. Climate Emergency
article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! I
abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:
On Wednesday, the House
Commons became the first parliament in the world to declare a climate
emergency. The resolution came on the heels of the recent Extinction
Rebellion mass uprising that shut down Central London last month in a
series of direct actions. Activists closed bridges, occupied public
landmarks and even superglued themselves to buildings, sidewalks and
trains to demand urgent action to combat climate change. Police
arrested more than 1,000 protesters. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn
told Parliament, “We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate
activism, with groups like Extinction Rebellion forcing the politicians
in this building to listen. For all the dismissive and defensive column
inches the processes have provoked, they are a massive and, I believe,
very necessary wake-up call. Today we have the opportunity to say, 'We
hear you.'” We speak with George Monbiot, British journalist, author
and columnist with The Guardian. His recent piece for The Guardian is
headlined “Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse.”
Monbiot says capitalism “is like a gun pointed at the heart of the
planet. … It will essentially, necessarily destroy our life support
systems. Among those characteristics is the drive for perpetual
economic growth on a finite planet.”
Yes indeed, and I have
three points to make on the above.
The first is that Extinction
Rebellion, that I think I saw first mentioned in a column by
Chris Hedges (here it is), was - so
far, at least - more succesful than I thought in February.
And the second is that
I respect George
Monbiot on ecology aka climate change, but I do not
think much of him with regard to political or economic ideas or values.
The third is that I do not
quote The Guardian anymore (where Monbiot's articles
tend to be
published) because it is made uncopiable, which I can work around, but
with trouble, which I do not do because I think The Guardian has
a lot worse under Katherine Viner, who now is its chief editor.
Anyway. Here is some
GOODMAN: For more, we’re
joined by Guardian columnist and author George Monbiot. His
most recent book, Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age
of Crisis. His recent piece
for The Guardian headlined “Only rebellion will prevent an
George, welcome back to Democracy
Now! Talk about the significance of this vote.
MONBIOT: It is highly
significant, because it provides leverage for people like myself, for
people like Extinction Rebellion, the youth climate strikers, to
actually say, “Well, now you MPs, you members of Parliament, have
declared a climate emergency; you have to act on it.” And, of course,
it’s not clear that they’ve completely thought through the implications
Well... yes and no: I somewhat
agree with Monbiot, but do not think it is very
regards to pushing MPs in the direction one wants.
Here is some more:
MONBIOT: Yes. So, this is
one of several very important ideas which are coming forward at the
moment for really looking at how we can replace our whole political
economy with a new system, because it’s very clear now: Capitalism is
broken. It is like a gun pointed at the heart of the planet. And it’s
got these characteristics which mean that it will essentially,
necessarily destroy our life support systems. Among those
characteristics are the drive for perpetual economic growth on a finite
planet. You just can’t support that ecologically. Things fall apart. It
also says, well, anyone has got a right to buy as much natural wealth
as their money allows, which means that people are just grabbing far
more natural wealth than either the population as a whole or the planet
itself can support. And so we need to start looking at a completely new
basis for running our economies.
Well... in fact Monbiot is not
saying anything I did not realize in 1972,
when I first read "The
Limits to Growth". Then again, I do not think this
highly abstract and non-specific "we
need to start looking at a completely new basis for running our
And who is "we"? Everyone on Twitter? Every economist? Every
philosopher? I have no idea, but a rational selection and
argumentation for a new society is quite difficult and has hardly
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
I agree with the above
is a recommended article.
MONBIOT: (..) Extinction
Rebellion is an extremely well-organized group. They’ve got some great
strategies for bringing these existential issues right front and center
of the public mind, which is where they belong. And they’ve done so
through some very clever and cheeky and disruptive actions, but have
managed to swing a huge amount of public support towards them.
Sometimes civil disobedience alienates more people than it attracts.
But in this case, there has been a very significant move towards a
public awareness of climate breakdown and a public desire to do
something about it.
Skips House Hearing; Pelosi Accuses Him of Lying
This article is by
Mary Clare Jalonick on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press.
It starts as follows:
Attorney General William
Barr skipped a House hearing Thursday on special counsel Robert
Mueller’s Trump-Russia report, escalating an already acrimonious battle
between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s Justice Department.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Barr had already lied to Congress
in other testimony and called that a “crime.”
Barr’s decision to avoid
the hearing, made after a disagreement with the House Judiciary
Committee over questioning, came the day after the department also
missed the committee’s deadline to provide it with a full, unredacted
version of Mueller’s report and its underlying evidence. In all, it’s
likely to prompt a vote on holding Barr in contempt and possibly the
issuance of subpoenas, bringing House Democrats and the Trump
administration closer to a prolonged battle in court.
Yes, I agree
above. Here is some more:
Pelosi also said the
administration’s refusal to respect subpoenas by a House committee is
“very, very serious” and noted that ignoring congressional subpoenas
was one of the articles of impeachment against former President Richard
As Democrats portrayed Barr
as untruthful, they sought to speak to Mueller. Nadler said the panel
hoped the special counsel would appear before the committee on May 15
and the panel was “firming up the date.”
It’s unclear whether Barr
will eventually negotiate an appearance with the House panel. Nadler
said he wouldn’t immediately issue a subpoena for Barr’s appearance but
would first focus on getting the full Mueller report, likely including
a vote holding Barr in contempt of Congress.
I think the above sounds
reasonable. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Democrats have signaled
they won’t back down and will take steps — including in court — to get
the White House to comply.
But advisers to the
president have suggested that any legal fight, even one that ends in
defeat, would likely extend well into the 2020 campaign and allow them
to portray the probes as political.
Yes, and the "advisers to the president" (?) have an argument, which is rather
like mine to doubt the wisdom of an impeachment of Trump: It might
him a lot of free TV-time "to defend himself", which indeed also may
overlap with the 2020 campaign. And this is a recommended article.
Pentagon Effectively Owns Trump Now
This article is by
William Astore on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. It starts as
I more or less agree, and
specifically on three points.
Donald Trump is a con man.
Think of Trump
University or a juicy Trump steak or
can’t-lose casinos (that never
won). But as president, one crew he hasn’t conned is the Pentagon.
Quite the opposite, they’ve conned him because they’ve been at the game
a lot longer and lie (in Trump-speak) in far biglier ways.
People condemn President
Trump for his incessant
lying and his con games — and rightly so. But few Americans
condemn the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state,
even though we’ve been the victims of their long con for decades now.
As it happens, from the beginning of the Cold War to late last night,
they’ve remained remarkably skilled at exaggerating
the threats the U.S. faces and, believe me, that represents the longest
con of all. It’s kept the military-industrial complex humming along,
thanks to countless trillions
of taxpayer dollars, while attempts to focus a spotlight on that scam
have been largely discredited or ignored.
The first is that "few
Americans condemn the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state,
even though we’ve been the victims of their long con for decades now": I think that is true, and in
started around 1960 (!!).
And my second point continues the first, namely by saying that the military-industrial
complex - in "It’s
kept the military-industrial complex humming along, thanks to countless
of taxpayer dollars, while attempts to focus a spotlight on that scam
have been largely discredited or ignored" - was both named and raised by
president Eisenhower in 1961.
My third point continues the second, and quotes a part of what
Eisenhower said in 1961:
I think Eisenhower was quite
correct - and in fact the military-industrial
complex has gained
much more influence, and much more tax money, than Eisenhower could
guess, and this has happened, in good part, because there was
hardly any "alert
(with a few exceptions like Daniel Ellsberg)
to stop or control them.
In the councils of
government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted
influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial
complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power
exists, and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties
or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an
alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the
huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful
methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Here is some more:
In short, the U.S. spends
staggering sums annually, essentially stolen from a domestic economy
and infrastructure that’s
fraying at the seams, on what still passes for “defense.” The result:
botched wars in distant lands that have little, if anything, to do with
true defense, but which the Pentagon uses to justify yet more funding,
often in the name of “rebuilding”
military. Instead of a three-pointed pyramid scheme, you might think of
this as a five-pointed Pentagon scheme, where losing only wins you ever
more, abetted by lies that just grow and grow. When it comes to raising
money based on false claims, this president has nothing on the
Pentagon. And worse yet, like America’s wars, the Pentagon’s long con
shows no sign of ending.
Yes indeed: I think
that is basically correct. And here is the last point that I
In other words, when it
to spending taxpayer dollars, the Washington establishment of both
parties has essentially been assimilated into the Pentagon collective.
The national security state, that (unacknowledged) fourth branch of
government, has in many ways become the most powerful of all, siphoning
than 60% of federal discretionary spending, while failing
to pass a single audit of how
it uses such colossal sums.
Yes, quite so -
there are articles in Nederlog that give some background on the
Pentagon's failing to pass a single audit for more than twenty years.
And this is a strongly recommended article in which there is a
lot more than I quoted.
dangers of digital politics
article is by Brian L. Ott on Salon. This is from near its beginning:
I like this
article, but I disagree with the above quoted first paragraph,
mainly for two
Just as the Age of
Typography gave way to the Age of Television, the Age of Television is
steadily giving way to the Age of Twitter. Nowhere is this shift more
evident than in President Trump’s obsessive use of the platform. But
the president is far from alone, as the popularity of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter feed
suggests. Given Twitter’s growing centrality in our politics, I follow
Postman’s lead by highlighting the defining traits of this
communication platform and the dangers it poses to us all. Research suggests that Twitter
is defined by three main characteristics: simplicity, impulsivity, and
First, thanks to its
280-character limitation, Twitter structurally disallows communication
that is sophisticated and complex. While people can say things that
are smart and witty on Twitter, they cannot convey complex ideas. You
cannot, for instance, explain Kantian philosophy in 280 characters. You
can make a funny joke about it, but you cannot seriously explicate it.
This is significant because the issues and concerns confronting us
today—from climate change and healthcare to terrorism and
immigration—are exceedingly complex, and talking about them 280
characters at a time ensures that we will never develop workable
solutions. You cannot fix a problem that you do not actually understand.
The first is that I do not quite think that "the Age of Television is steadily giving way
to the Age of Twitter". What I think is that both remain,
because (i) both are especially taken by the stupid
and the ignorant,
of which there are least 50% among all of mankind,
while (ii) everyone on Twitter is mostly knewn to Facebook and
and gets indirectly supported by them because they give information
that allows advertisers to advertise them almost personally.
And my second reason is implicit in the first: While I agree to
extent that "simplicity,
impulsivity, and incivility"
are marks of the users of Twitter, I think that the main reasons why
Twitter is so important are that at least half of mankind is stupid or ignorant; that precisely that half loves
Twitter (anonymously, almost
always, it seems); and that precisely that half was given
Twitter and "its
precisely because that half is not
capable of mastering html, and does not
write more than a few sentences
As to the second paragraph, I completely agree, and I never
ever will use an instrument that was expressly designed to keep the
stupid and ignorant from ever growing less stupid or less ignorant,
simply by limiting the length of their messages to the utterly insane
limit of 280 characters.
O, and incidentally as regards my harping on the stupid
and the ignorant:
in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
Anyway. Here is some more:
-- Dr. Martin Luther
Second, Twitter does
not invite serious contemplation and thoughtful consideration.
Generally speaking, people do not spend hours carefully crafting
280-character messages. They just fire them off – often in the “heat”
in the moment. This is due to the structural properties of the
platform, whose simplicity of use, invites impulsivity. People can
tweet from virtually anywhere at any time. Writing a book, by contrast,
requires considerable time, effort, and resources. Books are written,
reviewed, rewritten, and edited. Tweets are, well, tweeted – usually
with no forethought and reflection. As such, Twitter frequently
contributes to misunderstanding and escalates sensitive situations.
Yes, I agree,
although I am
with Dr. King on the underlying causes: Stupidity and/or ignorance.
Here is the third and last
bit that I quote from this article:
Third, while there
are, no doubt, positive and civil messages on Twitter, research
concerning the platform points to three interrelated findings that
privilege incivility. First, Twitter usage is positively correlated to
the personality traits of narcissism,
Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Second, people are more likely
to communicate in uncivil ways when the target of their message is not
immediately present. Third, negatively-toned messages travel both
farther and faster on Twitter. Consequently, while it is certainly
possible to be civil on Twitter, the medium is biased toward incivility. So, is it
any wonder that our politics have become so divisive and mean-spirited?
I don't quite agree.
First, I reject the
thesis that "Twitter usage
is positively correlated to the personality traits of narcissism,
Machiavellianism, and psychopathy" in part because I am a psychologist who knows
traits are fairly rare, and mostly because I get as far or further
simply insisting that the main characteristics of most Twitter users is
that they are - let's say - unintelligent
And second, I do
that the main reason that "people
are more likely to communicate in uncivil ways" is that by far the most people on Twitter
as aliases, which are extremely difficult for ordinary users to find
real names + real addresses for.
But even so, this is a strongly
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 3 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 (!!).