September 30, 2015
Crisis: Snowden, Labour, Trump, Obama, Free Speech, Psycho's Abuses

 "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


Edward Snowden joins Twitter: 'Can you hear me now?'
2. Labour has a membership surge. Now it has to build a
     mass movement

3. Donald Trump Proves What’s Wrong with Bankruptcy
     Laws in America

4. Obama’s Self-Deceit
Free Speech Gets the Death Penalty
10 of the Worst Abuses of the Psychiatric and
     Psychological Professions in American History

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is there because Edward Snowden is on Twitter, as @Snowden also (but I will not read his twittered messages unless these are relayed in the press); item 2 is by Owen Jones and is about what the British Labour Party now should do, given that it has a new leader; item 3 is about an article by Robert Reich that explains how the bankruptcy laws have been deregulated to support the few rich but not the many poor; item 4 is about Obama's speech to the UN, which indeed was pretty irrealistic, at least morally, intellectually and factually; item 5 is about a fine article about the new and quite sickening and rather dangerous Pentagon's new "Law of War Manual", that seeks to terminate all independent war journalism as regards the US; and item 6 is about 10 major abuses by American psychologists and psychiatrists, with a brief aside by me - a psychologist - on their "sciences" not being real sciences).

1. Edward Snowden joins Twitter: 'Can you hear me now?'

The first item today is an article by Ed Pilkington on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Since the first story of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of Verizon phone records broke in June 2013, the source of the information, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has rarely been out of the public eye for long. He has been interviewed around the world and spoken via video link at numerous conferences.

Never though has he had a direct link with the public. Until now, that is, with Snowden’s thumping arrival on Twitter.

Within half an hour of the launch of his verified feed on Tuesday morning from his exile in Russia, Snowden had attracted more than 70,000 followers and counting. That effortlessly surpassed the 72,000 followers enjoyed by the only Twitter feed that Snowden himself is following so far – that of the NSA itself.

I say - and meanwhile, a day later, Snowden has half a million followers. And yes, Snowden now has something like "a direct link" to his public, although that
is limited to 140 characters at the time. (Also, in case you were to ask: No, I will not follow Twitter, not for Snowden and not for anyone else.)

Here is some more:

In addition to his burning passion about the perils of mass surveillance in the digital age, there is also a mischievous quality to Snowden’s Twitter feed. . In his profile, his says: “I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.”

His first two tweets also showed that cheeky side of him:

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015

Can you hear me now?out

The first is perhaps a quizzical entry, until you realize that “Can you hear me now?” is a jingle used frequently by Verizon in its TV adverts.

And Verizon was a great helper of the NSA. Finally here is the end of the article:

Trevor Timm, executive director of the foundation [Freedom of the Press Foundation, of whom Snowden is the director - MM] and a Guardian columnist, said the Twitter account would “really give him a direct line to the public where he can talk about issues of the day and reach what looks like being hundreds of thousands of people instantly”.

True. But I will rely on The Guardian, Truthdig, Common Dreams, and others to sort them out and relay the important ones.

2. Labour has a membership surge. Now it has to build a mass movement

The next article today is by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This is from the beginning:
Democracy across the western world is in decline, or so we are told. Party membership will dwindle, they say; political disengagement is the future. Rampant individualism means we have become a society of consumers, not voters. We no longer believe in collective solutions to our problems. As governments surrender their power to the markets, the realm of policy is shrinking anyway.
Yes, but we are told so mainly by the rather corrupt press and the very corrupt public relations corporations, though I admit that - especially - their advertise- ments, which are everywhere, have influenced many to become "individualistic consumers" much rather than real, intellingent, informed, responsibile citizens.

And indeed, one of my personal fears is that only the few with high intelligence are capable of seeing on their own through the propaganda that misleads the many - and this is a real fear because the many are "the democratic majority", and may be misled to vote for all manner of measures that are in fact against their own best interests, against individual freedoms, against human rights and indeed in the end also against (real) democracy, which is not based on the manipulared consent of the misled many, but on real public debates between iintelligent and informed proponents and opponents of proposed laws and other measures.

But enough about me, and onto the British Labour Party:
The Labour party conference reveals a party in transition, from a technocratic organisation into something else: what, exactly, is still unclear.
That is true, but then again it is - properly considered - very briefly after Jeremy Corbyn, very surprisingly for almost everyone, won the leadership of the Labour Party. Also, there is this new trend in that party:
In an insightful piece last month, Michael Harris, a Blairite former Labour councillor, wrote that there was a new leftwing political party in Britain which was, “for now”, called the Labour party. When he was selected as a Labour candidate in Lewisham, his “local party had 80 (mostly quite old) members”. That number had surged to 250. The new members were “young” and “diverse”, he noted. The party was becoming something else, organically, from the bottom up.
That is all true, but the problem is whether the enthusiasm and the many young members will last.

Here is Owen Jones:

Labour faces months of being bloodied by virtually the entire media, and it would be easy to end up feeling impotent in the face of such an onslaught. If Labour has a chance of surviving the merciless attacks that are headed its way, it needs a sophisticated media strategy.

But survival also depends on the grassroots movement that gave Corbyn the greatest democratic mandate of any British party leader in history.
I think both points are true. As to the second point:
Labour has a similar kind of army – engaged people who are brimming with enthusiasm, rather than simply grumpily opposed to the Tories – and it needs to use them to build a genuine social movement.
I suppose so, and Owen Jones comes with several proposals. You can read them by clicking the last dotted link.

And I bow out for two reasons: First, the last time I was in England was in 1983, which is 32 years ago (and since then I did not have the health), and second, I know I am not one for "mass movements", even if and when I agree to their desirability.

But Owen Jones is right that the Labour Party must change, and quite radically,
if it is to live up to the promises that Corbyn's new leadership evoked, and indeed the chances this created for a really leftist Labour.

3. Donald Trump Proves What’s Wrong with Bankruptcy Laws in America

The next article today is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

On the opening day of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City in 1984, Donald Trump stood in a dark topcoat on the casino floor celebrating his new investment as the “finest building in the city and possibly the nation.” 

Thirty years later, the Trump Plaza folded, leaving some 1,000 employees without jobs. Trump, meanwhile, was on Twitter claiming he had “nothing to do with Atlantic City,” and praising himself for his “great timing” in getting out of the investment.

As I show in my new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few,” people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble. Bankruptcy laws protect them. But workers who move to a place like Atlantic City for a job, invest in a home there, and build their skills have no such protection. Jobs vanish, skills are suddenly irrelevant and home values plummet. They’re stuck with the mess.

Yes, indeed. And in fact the current article is taken from Reich's latest book: Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few” - which has an interesting title.

This is interesting because Reich does not advocate socialism (in some sense, and there are quite a few) but seems to advocate something like social democracy, that distinguishes - in my terms - between two kinds of capitalism:

Capitalism-with-a-human-face, which also might be called Keynesian capitalism, where the many also share in the profits the rich make through progressive taxations, and capitalism-without-a-human-face, where this is not the case.

And what we have seen in the last 70 years were first 35 years of the former, from 1945 till 1980, followed by 35 years of the latter, also much helped by
propaganda, advertisements, lies and deceptions, for in a (nominal) democracy
you can only sell
capitalism-without-a-human-face to the many, whose real interests are quite incompatible with it, by extensive lying, deceiving and misleading.

Indeed here is one such major fruit of lies and deceptions:

One of the most basic of all economic issues is what to do when someone can’t pay what they owe. The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 4) authorizes Congress to enact “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States,” and Congress has done so repeatedly.

In the last few decades, these changes have reflected the dema"unprivileged belligerents,"nds of giant corporations, Wall Street banks, big developers and major credit card companies who wanted to make it harder for average people to declare bankruptcy but easier for themselves to do the same.

The granddaddy of all failures to repay what was owed occurred in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers went into the largest bankruptcy in history, with more than $691 billion of assets and far more in liabilities.

In brief, they succeeded - and (as an aside) here is a reference to a review
I wrote about Dick Fuld in 2012, who still owes around a thousand part of the '
$691 billion of assets', namely 500 million dollars (maybe a bit less now). The video in the link is brief, still working and well worth seeing: These are the few who profit from the many, and who are proud of it.

And here is part of the story behind the banks' gigantic failures: The losses were shifted to the many, through the taxes and the deregulated laws:

The real burden of Wall Street’s near meltdown fell on homeowners. As home prices plummeted, many found themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth, and unable to refinance. Yet chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code (whose drafting was largely the work of the financial industry) prevents homeowners from declaring bankruptcy on mortgage loans for their primary residence.

And there you are, with the following - easily foreseeable - result:

As a result, distressed homeowners had no bargaining power. Subsequently, more than 5 million lost their homes.

Here is Robert Reich's lesson:

The prevailing myth that America has a “free market” existing outside and apart from government prevents us from understanding that the very rules by which the market runs—from the federal bankruptcy code to state usury laws to local tax abatements—are made by lawmakers.

And the real issue is whose interests those lawmakers are pursuing. Are they working for the vast majority of Americans, who are getting nowhere economically and whose political voices are barely even heard these days? Or are they beholden to those at the top—CEOs of the biggest corporations and Wall Street banks, hedge-fund and private-equity moguls and billionaires—who now own more of the nation’s wealth than the robber barons of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and are using some of that wealth to further rig the rules to their benefit?

I agree - but the rich and their public relations propagandists have had 35 years,
and they have largely won. Through lies, deceptions, advertisements and propaganda, but they convinced many poor wage-slaves that they are "individual consumers" who all stand on the brink of being mega-rich themselves - which is wholly impossible, but try to explain that to the many deceived none-too-brights.

And further see my personal fear above.

4. Obama’s Self-Deceit

The next article is by Joe Lauria on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a “return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.”

These ancient rules included the “belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.”

The silence in the chamber came because everything Obama ascribed to others perfectly describes U.S. behavior from the end of the Second World War until today.

Yes, indeed. But then to know that well requires being quite well informed about the history of the last 70 years, and many are not.

As to the present conflict around the Ukraine, there is this:

Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has “few economic interests” in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.

And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country?

In brief, vice president Biden's son, minister Kerry's family friend, and Ukraine's American minister of finance all are involved in the Ukraine because it will be very profitable (they think) for those who support the Americans.

Here is some more vintage Obama:

Though Obama told the U.N. that he could essentially blow up the whole world if he wanted to, he’s decided to be a nice guy and seek diplomacy over confrontation with Russia and China. “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known,” he boasted to the quiet hall, “and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

“I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion,” Obama said. “We cannot look backwards.” Obama might try looking into a mirror instead.

Perhaps. But the face he will see is the face of someone who very soon will be a millionaire, so he knows he will be very well rewarded.
5. Free Speech Gets the Death Penalty

The next article is by Dahr Jamail on Truthout:

This starts as follows:

In June, the US Department of Defense released its "Law of War Manual," within which the Pentagon states clearly that journalists may be "unprivileged belligerents," which leaves those reporting on the military in any capacity open to be treated the same as spies - or even terrorists.

"Unprivileged belligerent" is a legal term that can be applied to combatants (people who are not soldiers in a state-sanctioned military) in a conflict, who are given even fewer protections than combatants openly participating in war.

Simply by reporting on the US military in a way the Pentagon interprets as "dangerous," journalists could be left open to censorship, incarceration or even the death penalty.

The manual says journalists can be captured and held by the military for "engaging in hostilities," "spying" or "sabotage and similar acts behind enemy lines."

"Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying," the Pentagon's manual states. Thus, by its newly crafted logic, the Pentagon is officially requesting that journalists "act openly and with the permission of relevant authorities."

The manual adds, "A journalist who acts as a spy may be subject to security measures and punished if captured." It is unclear what differentiates "spying" from investigative reporting.

In brief, according to the latest "Law of War Manual" of the Pentagon, every journalists who dares to report on wars the USA is engaged in who does not
tell the official story of the US government and the Pentagon seriously risks
being arrested, abused, or simply droned by the US military.

And there is no special status for journalists anymore, as given by the First Amendment(<- Wikipedia): Only collaborating journalists are permitted, all of the rest are
"unprivileged belligerents".

This is a good article that merits full reading (though it will not make you happy, unless you are in the Pentagon).

6. 10 of the Worst Abuses of the Psychiatric and Psychological Professions in American History

The last item today is by Bruce E. Levine (who is a clinical psychologist) on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

Psychiatrists and psychologists have been used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to facilitate mind control and torture in Project MKUltra and in the American Psychological Association-bolstered CIA torture program. Psychiatric political abuses in nations that are U.S. enemies have been routinely denounced by U.S. establishment psychiatry and the U.S. government, especially during the Cold War within the Soviet Union (where political dissidents were diagnosed with “sluggish schizophrenia” and psychiatrically hospitalized and drugged). However, the abuse of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment to subvert human rights has occurred not only in totalitarian U.S. enemies but in the United States as well.

While the following list of political abuses of U.S. psychiatry and psychology begins with the infamous Project MKUltra and recent American Psychological Association torture scandal, this should not be taken to imply that these more sensational abuses are the most important ones.
Incidentally, those who read my site longer know that I have an excellent M.A. in psychology, from which I never earned a single cent, and that also moved me to
explain why psychology is not a real science in my opinion, apart from a few branches like statistics and methodology (if these are or rather: were given properly).

These arguments of mine are mostly independent of the abuses listed in this article, though it is probably also true that if psychology and psychiatry had been conducted in a more scientific fashion (which they were not), then some of them might not have occured.

Bruce Levine lists ten abuses of psychology and psychiatry (which to this day cannot tell you what a mind is, what consciousness is and why we have it, how the brain transforms inputs to experiences, or how madness should be properly defined, etc.) which I list below, but without Levine's text, that you can get by clicking on the last dotted link:

1. Project MKUltra
2. American Psychological Association Assistance in

3. Pathologizing Homosexuality and Disempowering Gay

4. Enabling Genocide of Indigenous Americans
5. Enabling Racism and Subjugation of African American
6. Subverting U.S. Soldiers’ Resistance to the
    Military-Industrial Complex

7. Enabling Authoritarian Standard Schooling
8. Depoliticizing Normal Reactions to Dehumanizing

9. Medicating Noncompliance and Marginalizing

10. Controlling Uncared about and Discarded Populations
This is a decent article (though Devine probably thinks rather differently about the scientific status of psychology and psychiatry than I do, but then his chances of
getting real medical help with a serious disease have not been destroyed willingly
by lying psychiatrists since 1988 either).


       home - index - summaries - mail