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Nederlog

July 5, 2019

Crisis: Independence of Leaders, Beautiful USA, Frederick Douglass on the USA, American Tanks


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.






Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 5, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 5, 2019.

I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing Crisis files for six years now, since I started to do so after June 10, 2013, which taught me about Snowden.

I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time. (This still continues: I have ME/CFS since 40+ years.)

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

1. Summary

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.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 5, 2019:
1. We Should Be Independent Of The Terrible World Leaders
2. America the Beautiful
3. Frederick Douglass: “What to the Slave Is 4th of July?”
4. Jingoistic Military Fetishization Is as American as Bald Eagle
     McNuggets
The items 1 - 4 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:

1. We Should Be Independent Of The Terrible World Leaders

This article is by Jon Schwarz and Michael Gerber on The Intercept. It starts as follows - and while I do not know the purpose of this article, I regard it as utterly ridiculous. I reproduce some parts of it because it so turns out (accidentally) that this edition of Nederlog is about the 4th of July in the USA:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for the Sane People of this Planet to dissolve the political bands that have connected them with their Leaders, and to give getting along without Leaders a real Shot, courtesy requires that we should declare the causes of this long-overdue separation, just so we’re all on the same page.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that Leaders are a pretty dodgy proposition — that even the best ones are Self-Absorbed Prima Donnas, and the rest are seriously Craze-o Lunatics. That Sane People have the right to tell their Leaders, “See Ya — wouldn’t want to be Ya.” That to secure this right of being left alone, we should set up a special Island to where all Leaders can be sent, so that they can bicker, and posture, and pursue the Phantom of Eternal Fame among themselves without Injuring all the rest of us.

Well... as to the leaders, here is Lord Acton (once again):

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men..."

I agree with Acton, but then there are - at least - two relevant questions, namely (1) who made and/or allowed the leaders mankind has had since the beginning, and (2) especially in an age - that may be as brief as 100 years, for women got the vote around 1920 - that is supposed to be democratic?

My answer is for the present supposedly democratic age: Leaders are made and/or tolerated by the people, or at least by their majorities.

And for me, while I agree most leaders are bad men, the main responsibility, certainly in  a supposedly democratic age with many personal freedoms, are the qualities of the majority of the people.

Anyway. Here is some more:

Prudence indeed will dictate that the long-established Idea of having Leaders should not be changed for light or transient Causes, but come on. We’ve given this concept plenty of Time — at least 8,000 years — and it is for the birds. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

The world’s Leaders have somehow convinced us that we are all on different Teams, sort of, and that they are the rightful captains of these Teams.

They have tried to weld us together by constantly harping on our Team’s Great and Glorious Destiny, assuming that we, like them, give a shit. In lower voices, they assure us that we will be in Big Trouble if we don’t do exactly as they Say.

They have persuaded us to try to kill members of the other Teams, instead of following our natural instinct, which is to investigate whether people from other places have discovered any new Sex Tricks, or have Better Food.

No, of course not. Leaders may try to convince people of whatever they want, and many may be convinced, for example out of ignorance or stupidity, but especially in a supposed democratic age with many personal freedoms, each and everyone, leaders and non-leaders, have their personal responsibilities to be rational and reasonable.

Here is some more:

They have started innumerable, catastrophic conflicts to, for example, impress somebody that rejected them in High School, or to prove to their Mother that they’re just as successful as their Older Brother. Read their Biographies if you don’t believe Us.

They have made our laws so complicated that, while we know we’re being Screwed, we can never figure out Exactly How.

They’ve informed us that they’ve talked to God, and that He agrees with them Completely.

I can repeat the argument I gave under the previous quotation. Instead I refer you to it, and add that if it is not possible for someone to be rational and reasonable, he or she should clearly say so, and abstain from contributing to decisions that effect the chances of many or all.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

We, therefore, the Sane People of this Planet, who don’t think that anybody will (or should) remember any of us in 500 years, do solemnly publish and declare that all the world’s Leaders are hereby relieved of their positions; that our feeling is, enough already with the Jihads and Crusades and Glorious Struggles and Finest Hours; that we believe we will be much better off without Leaders, relying for our safety instead on our mutual inability to organize a three-person trip to 7-Eleven, much less sustained armed conflict (...)

Well... if you somehow succeed in banning, locking up or otherwise get rid of some leader(s), there will arise others, as has been shown throughout history.

In conclusion, I think the present article is contrived intentional nonsense, but I do not understand its purpose.


2. America the Beautiful

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

America in 2019 is a nation that locks up migrant children after separating them from their families. And yet it is also a nation that gives sanctuary and charity to tired, poor people as they seek to join this community, built by immigrants.

It’s a nation that walked out on its commitment to help preserve a livable planet for future generations. And a nation whose engines of ingenuity are working to make the planet healthier and safer.

Its underpaid women’s World Cup soccer team competes wearing the national colors, even as the nation’s symbols and traditions are fiercely contested back home.

O Lord! This is the typical New York Times (and others) style of remaining in the middle, come what may: "On the one hand ... but on the other hand ...", which is always, as it is here, stated without any precise considerations of the alternatives mentioned, nor of their real popularity.

Here is more (and the context are refugees):

Adults are faring little better. “At one facility, some single adults were held in standing-room-only conditions for a week and at another, some single adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells,” the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog wrote in a report released this week.

Ordered to administer this harsh system, an alarming number of the men and women who patrol the nation’s international frontier, it was learned this week, belonged to a closed Facebook group that guffawed over anti-immigrant, misogynistic and racist filth. While the group discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting the detainment centers, the offline civilian hecklers of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the delegation instead hurled curses and racial slurs.

I suppose this is a somewhat more specific instance of "On the one hand ... but on the other hand ...".

Here is more of the same:
The Supreme Court last month made democracy of the people, for the people, harder for the people to repair, ruling in a 5-to-4 decision that political gerrymanders — fueled by big data and designed by partisan operatives — are allowable under the Constitution.

Along with the court’s decision, the country’s long-term political and demographic trends forecast continued worsening of the problem of entrenched minority rule.

But even as its decision made the country’s democracy less fair, the court did rise to the demands of justice, and it showed due concern for the rights of the least powerful.
I take it that the above quotation is supposed to mean or at least to suggest that while the present Supreme Court is destroying democracy, nevertheless - somehow - "due concern for the rights of the least powerful" is getting practised.

I don't think The Editorial Board consists of "the least powerful" and I suppose in fact they do not understand what it really is to belong to
"the least powerful", but OK.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
It may seem odd that a country so prosperous, so powerful and so free would at the same time be so anxious and angry, so riven by factionalism. It’s even more puzzling — and not unrelated — that this same country, with such resources to draw upon, would nevertheless tolerate such high levels of poverty and homelessness, of addiction to pharmaceutical drugs, of inequality in wealth and application of justice and quality of education.

Versions of these American contradictions have persisted for a very long time, but they seem particularly acute on this national birthday. The question to Americans, as ever, is whether they can summon the spirit to address them. So far, eventually, they’ve found a way.
More examples of "On the one hand ... but on the other hand ...", which generally is a pattern of argument that supports doing nothing, mostly by taking examples which are or sound extreme.

But let me consider the Editorial Board's conclusion (for that is what it is) that "
It’s even more puzzling (..) that this same country, with such resources to draw upon, would nevertheless tolerate such high levels of poverty and homelessness, of addiction to pharmaceutical drugs, of inequality in wealth and application of justice and quality of education."

In fact, I do not think that is "puzzling", indeed because the "
inequality in wealth" has been made several hundreds of times more extreme in the last 40 years, with CEOs that earned around 20 times as much as their inferiors in the 1970ies, but earn several hundreds of times as much now.

But The Editorial Board of the New York Times, that also - supposedly - knows that over 50% of the present American population does not have $500 to weather extremities - still is very "puzzled".

Finally, I think all these examples of
"On the one hand ... but on the other hand ..." do serve one purpose: Do not worry, o vast majority of poor and non-rich Americans! There will be A Solution!

Well... I do not recommend this article, though it presumably gives a fair insight into The Editorial Board of The New York Times.


3. Frederick Douglass: “What to the Slave Is 4th of July?”

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:

In a Fourth of July holiday special, we hear the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” He was addressing the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn’s acclaimed book, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States.” He was introduced by Zinn.

I like and admire Frederick Douglass since a long time because he was very intelligent and very brave, and I think it is an excellent idea to repeat a speech he gave over 150 years ago. And incidentally, here is some information on Howard Zinn.

HOWARD ZINN: Frederick Douglass, once a slave, became a brilliant and powerful leader of the anti-slavery movement. In 1852, he was asked to speak in celebration of the Fourth of July.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: [read by James Earl Jones] Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.

Yes indeed - and in 1852 there were - see Slavery in the United States  - over 4 million slaves in the USA, in which there were some 27 million white men and women.

Here is more by Frederick Douglass:

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages.

Quite so! And here is the last bit that I quote from this speech:

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour forth a stream, a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and the crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

Again, quite so. And while the blacks are nominally free since 1865 (and a war), the blacks still earn (on average) around 40% less than the whites in the USA. See here. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Jingoistic Military Fetishization Is as American as Bald Eagle McNuggets

This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
“Putin’s America,” tweeted Anand Giridharadas, a pundit who was genetically engineered in a Monsanto laboratory to appeal to NPR listeners on every possible level.

Giridharadas used these words to caption a short video clip of two tanks being carted through the streets of D.C. in preparation for their appearance in a parade for Independence Day, a holiday in which Americans gather to eat hot dogs and drink Mountain Dew in celebration of the anniversary of their lateral transfer from monarchy to corporatist oligarchy.
Yes, and in fact I selected this article because it does make clear that Trump's parade of military might yesterday is far from exceptional.

Here is some more:
The military hardware parade is taking place at the behest of President Bolton’s social media assistant Donald Trump, and critics have been vocally decrying it as alien and un-American. Pundits like Giridharadas and Steve Silberman have been saying it’s something Russia would do. The Independent said it’s a spectacle you’d see in “authoritarian regimes such as North Korea, Iran and China.” Adam Best and Charles Pierce both likened it to something that would be done in a “banana republic,” an interesting choice of phrase for a gratuitous display of American military bravado given that term’s blood-soaked origins in U.S. corporate colonialism.

All of these people are of course being ridiculous. There’s nothing alien or un-American about Trump’s parade at all. Jingoistic fetishization of the military is as American as a deep-fried trademark symbol.
Yes, I mostly agree. Here is some more:
This is the same country where every second house and every single McDonald’s has its flag flying over it, a cult of idolatry that’s become so ubiquitous that a football player choosing to kneel instead of stand before that stupid piece of cloth generates national outrage. The same country where simply bleating “Support the troops!” or “Freedom isn’t free!” was in and of itself seen as a be-all, end-all debate-winning argument for the rape of Iraq.
In fact, I think these and similar other examples are a mark that totalitarianism is rising in the USA, which - incidentally - is a conclusion you cannot draw on the present sick and false "definition" of "totalitarianism" on the Wikipedia (that may have been engineered or written by Brzezinski), but which does follow from my definition of the same term.

Anyway. Here is photographic evidence provided by Johnstone that I do not reproduce here, though I summarize it. You can see it by going to the original article:
Check out this photo from JFK’s inaugural parade:
 
and Eisenhower's

and FDR's
Yes indeed - and in case you did not look at these photos: They consist in each and every case of tanks, tanks and more tanks.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Americans are the most aggressively propagandized people in the world, and U.S. service personnel are the most aggressively propagandized people in America. That’s the group that all this special reverence and fetishization has been attached to: a bunch of kids who’ve been manipulated into killing and dying for plutocratic investments and the mommy-shaped hole in John Bolton’s heart. That’s what this parade is meant to manufacture even more support for in a culture that is saturated past the brim in a relentless barrage of war propaganda.

Face it, America. Trump’s tank parade isn’t in any way alien to anything you’ve ever stood for.
Well... I agree with the concluding paragraph and this is a recommended article.

Note

[1] I have now been saying since the 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they 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 will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).
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