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Nederlog

Jul 12, 2016

Crisis: Trump & Police State, Abu Zubadyah, Chilcot, Trump's Sanity
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Introduction

1.
The Republican Convention, Donald Trump and the
     Police State

2. The Terror Suspect Who Had Nothing to Give 
3. Truthdiggers of the Week: Sir John Chilcot and His
     Team for Their Report on the Iraq War

4. Science Proves the Donald Is a Textbook Narcissist
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, July 12, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is a review of an article on the Republic Convention and Trump, that may promise a lot of violence (but we will see); item 2 is about Abu Zubayad, who was waterboard- ed 83 times and tortured in other ways, and didn't know or do anything, but who still is imprisoned, for over 14 years now; item 3 is about the Chilcot Report (I like it Truthdig praised it, though I found them a bit tame in conclusions); and item 4 is a decent introduction to why psychologists and psychiatrists ought to protest against Trump's being allowed the chance to compete for the presidency: He has a well-known psychiatric disorder, namely narcissism.

1
.
The Republican Convention, Donald Trump and the Police State

The first item today is by Thor Benson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Cleveland police are stocking up on military-style gear before the Republican National Convention, seemingly preparing for the possibility of riots, and it looks like we may have another 1968 on our hands. For those who are unaware, the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago was stained with blood when anti-Vietnam War activists and law enforcement clashed in the streets. Heads were dented by swinging batons, and chaos consumed the city. The Republican convention July 18-21 may not reach that level of brutality, but the cops appear to be making sure they’re ready if it does.
I do recall the 1968 fights at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and it was pretty horrible, even though in Amsterdam, Holland, where I lived then and where I live now, there was much less on TV and also considerably less in the papers (but the papers were better then, and produced a lot less amusements and considerably more reliable information).

So the following is not alluring to me:

According to a partial list, the Cleveland Division of Police has ordered 2,000 sets of full riot gear, body armor, a video surveillance system and much more for the Republican convention. Tear gas looks to be in the works. Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that Cleveland police will be using these, police use of the cellphone surveillance tool the Stingray and the acoustic crowd dispersal device called the Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) has become common in these scenarios. LRADs have been known to make people go deaf at close range.

The militarization of the police has been a consistent problem over the past decade. In May, a transparency organization named Open the Books released a report that showed more surplus military gear was transferred to federal, state and local law enforcement in 2014 and 2015 than any years before. Over 1.5 million weapons-related items have gone to law enforcement since 2006. This equipment includes mine-resistant vehicles, M16 and M14 rifles and more.

Incidentally, the cops today will be much higher armed in "full riot gear" and "body armor" than the cops were in 1968, and of course Stingrays and Long Range Acoustical Devices are also new.

The second quoted paragraph is also quite true: The US police has been very much militarized.

There is also this in the article on Trump and law enforcement:

Donald Trump is rather fond of law enforcement. When asked about the problems being addressed by the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump said in an interview last August that we need to “give the power back to the police.” He has called the police the “most mistreated people” in America. He has also stated that anyone who kills a police officer will immediately get the death penalty under his presidency.

I have said quite a few times now that in this psychologist's eyes, Trump is insane. There is more on Trump's sanity in item 4 (that exaggerates the scientificality of psychology, but depicts Trump rather accurately).

This is a recommended article.

2. The Terror Suspect Who Had Nothing to Give

The second item is by Raymond Bonner on Truthdig and originally on ProPublica:

This starts as follows, with a quotation of Abu Zubaydah (who didn't do anything, but was waterboarded 83 times):

“I would be strapped to a board by my arms and legs and by my waist (which was very painful because of my wound.)

Guards with black costumes, masks and black goggles strapped me in. My mouth and nose and eyes were covered by a cloth.

The board — and my body — were placed horizontally. My head was immobilized by a board. Someone poured over the cloth, which entered my mouth and nose. I could hear one water bottle empty out by the gurgling noise it made; I hoped that would end the process, then I heard another bottle start to pour.

Water would enter my lungs. I felt like my whole body was filled with water; even my eyes felt like they were drowning. I experienced the panicked sensation of death and my body convulsed in terror and resistance.

“I thought ‘I will die. I will die.’ I lost control of my functions and urinated on myself. At the last possible moment, I instantly vomited water violently but at the same time was still panicked and desperate for air.”

Here is something about the reasons you and I can now read this testimony:

In 2009, Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers interviewed their client and prepared a handwritten, first-person account of the torture their client suffered at the hands of the U.S. government.

The document, quoted above, recounts the terrifying experience of a man repeatedly waterboarded in the mistaken belief that he was al-Qaida’s No. 3 official. It was filed in federal court as part of his lawsuit seeking release from Guantanamo, and like nearly all the documents in the case, was sealed at the government’s request.

Now, seven years later, Zubaydah’s statement, which he signed under oath, has been released, and it provides the most detailed, personal description yet made public of his “enhanced interrogation” at a Central Intelligence Agency “black site” in Thailand.

Note that in 2009 Abu Zubaydah was already seven years in prison, and it is only now, again seven years later, that we are allowed to read some of his testimony.

Here is a short survey of the tortures Abu Zubaydah survived:

The United States waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times. According to his statement, he was also hung from hooks, “shackled to a chair naked in freezing temperatures,” and bombarded with loud noises that kept him awake for days.

While shackled and being screamed at, he was forced to stand naked in front of a woman. “When I refused to talk with a woman present, [name blacked out] beat my head against the wall repeatedly.”

In between waterboarding sessions, he was placed in what he called a “dog box,” a wooden container that was about 2 ½ feet long, 2 ½ feet wide and 2 ½ feet high.

“The pain in the small box was unbearable,” he said in his declaration. “I was hunched over in a contorted way and my back and knees were in excruciating pain. I began slamming my body and shackled arms against the inside and screaming for help and tried to break the door. The wound in my stomach and leg opened up and I started bleeding; yet I didn’t care: I would do anything to stretch my leg and back for 1 minute.”

At night, he was placed in a slightly larger, coffin-like box.

In fact, Abu Zubaydah did nothing reprehensible and knew nothing:

Years later, the government admitted it had been mistaken about Zubaydah. In a court filing, it said Zubaydah had no involvement or advance knowledge of 9/11, knew nothing about future plots against America, and was not even a member of al-Qaida or the Taliban. He nonetheless remains imprisoned at Guantanamo as an “enemy combatant.”

This is a recommended article.

3. Truthdiggers of the Week: Sir John Chilcot and His Team for Their Report on the Iraq War

The third item is by Natasha Hakimi on Truthdig:

This starts as follows, and is here because I read several reports by some (not: all) "leftish" or leftish journalists who denied the Chilcot Report is important, and who insisted that they knew everything in it.

Here is - what I think is - an adequate summary of the Report and its main findings:

“Tony Blair broke politics,” wrote The Guardian reporter Anne Perkins after the long-awaited Chilcot Report on the Iraq War was released Wednesday.

The report is more than 6,000 pages, contains more than 2.5 million words, cost 10 million pounds ($12.9 million) and took seven years to write and publish. The investigation was led by Sir John Chilcot, who introduced the report Wednesday by saying that he and his team concluded that the U.K. decided to go to war before peaceful options were “exhausted” and that the information surrounding Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction was “presented with a certainty that was not justified.”

The Guardian summarized some of the report’s most important points in the following list:

The UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted; Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein; Blair promised George Bush: ‘I will be with you, whatever’; The decision to invade was made in unsatisfactory circumstances; George Bush largely ignored UK advice on postwar planning; There was no imminent threat from Saddam; Britain’s intelligence agencies produced ‘flawed information’; The UK military were ill-equipped for the task; UK-US relations would not have been harmed if UK stayed out of war; Blair ignored warnings on what would happen in Iraq after invasion; The government had no post-invasion strategy; The UK had no influence on Iraq’s postwar US-run administration; The UK did not achieve its objectives in Iraq; and The government did not try hard enough to keep a tally of Iraqi civilian casualties.

As to the first two quoted paragraphs: I wrote yesterday that "it is still important that it all was written down and published, because it is an official report, because it testifies to many lies and dishonesties by the US and English governments around 2003, and because it shows not all of democracy is dead in Great Britain."

Quite so. And as to the second two paragraphs: I think the summary is adequate - and who can deny, having read it and knowing that the Chilcot committee worked seven years on it, that Blair was a gross liar, an anti- democrat, a war maker, and a political fraud who made a major mess of what anyway was an illegal war?

There is also this in the article:

The thousands of pages of the Chilcot Report revealed information that many who opposed the war, including Corbyn and millions in the U.K. who protested in the country’s largest-ever demonstration in 2003, already knew or suspected. But perhaps the most important question surrounding the legality war was left unanswered. If the war were indeed deemed illegal, there could be grounds to try former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and perhaps even former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as some members of their cabinets, for war crimes.

And while it seems that true justice in that sense cannot yet be served on the basis of the Chilcot Report alone, its importance should not be diminished. The publication of such a report serves many purposes today. At a time when politics are severely broken precisely because elected representatives such as Blair and Bush have been proved to have openly misled the citizens of their nations (as well as the world), it is crucial that governments find ways to rebuild the trust that has been lost.
I agree with most of that, although I would like to point out that by avoiding "the most important question surrounding the legality war" it probably was the case that the Chilcot Report was more at liberty to write a factually correct report. (I am not saying this is so, for I don't know, but my guess is plausible.)

But I find the conclusion - "
it is crucial that governments find ways to rebuild the trust that has been lost" - quite lame.

First, it is bad diction to say something is "crucial" without saying crucial for what, and according to whom.

And second, because I would myself draw a fairly opposite conclusion:

If "the Leaders of The Free World" (as Bush and Blair would very probably advertise themselves) turn out to have lied and deceived for 14 years, and
their successors are still lying and deceiving and continuing their illegal wars,
you simply cannot trust the leading politicians of the West, you cannot trust
their sayings, their honesty, or their publicly pronounced principles, for they
have been shown to lie, lie, lie and lie again.

And before allowing their propagandists "
to rebuild the trust that has been lost" lets first get the main perpetrators in court and in jail. If this doesn't work, I do not see how you can "trust" them or their political successors, for most politicians are honest only if they are punished when they are proved to be dishonest.

4. Science Proves the Donald Is a Textbook Narcissist

The fourth and last item today is by Jeff Carter on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

Many people have pointed out that Donald Trump is a narcissist, but what does that actually mean? The late Theodore Millon, one of the co-developers of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, devised the subtypes of personality disorders and described the attributes of the “unprincipled narcissist” disorder as: deficient conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con artist and charlatan; dominating, contemptuous, vindictive. These personality attributes shape behavior patterns which, in the unprincipled narcissist, tend toward self-absorbed egotism. Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle criticism, and a sense of entitlement.

First I should say that I am a psychologist, and that I agree that Trump is a narcissist, but that I also disagree with the title: I don't think most of psychology is a science (some is: statistics, methodology and some basic facts are, and some isn't, notably psychiatry (see April 28, 2012 for a strong argument)) and I dislike all the DSMs as pure pseudoscience, that cranked
up "psychiatric diagnoses" from around 50 prior to 1980 to over 400 after
2000
, simply to prescribe lots of expensive patented "medicines". [1]

Then again, narcissism is in fact an old diagnosis, and the disorder is fairly well described as consisting in having or being "deficient conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con artist and charlatan; dominating, contemptuous, vindictive". Such a person also tends to have "self-absorbed egotism" and to have "an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle criticism, and a sense of entitlement". [2]

And indeed these are also (mostly) quite clearly visible characteristics of Donald Trump - who is somewhat more clearly described as follows:

Noticing the lies and shifting policy positions misses the point. A Trump speech is just a story starring Trump. To Trump, lies are not bad in the sense that there are negative moral attributes attached to them. Lies are just convenient tools that he uses to stroke his self-indulgent puffery, to incite his followers, or to provide a means of damaging his opponents. There are no moral components in Trump’s considerations about whether to say a particular thing or not, only whether a narrative will advance Trump’s ambitions as he sees them at that time. So Ted Cruz’s dad was in on the Kennedy assassination, Barack Obama was complicit in the Orlando terrorist attack, Hillary Clinton sold uranium to the Russians, the United States is allowing in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Middle East without any background checks at all, and on and on and on. So many lies that teams of fact-checkers can’t keep up any more than Ethel and Lucy could package all the chocolates.

Yes, and the point is that most of the interminable series of plain lies by Trump do get explained by the above diagnosis, that starts with having or being "deficient conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con artist and charlatan; dominating, contemptuous, vindictive".

Truth or morals just don't count, if you have a deficient conscience and are "unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con artist and charlatan", and this is why truth or morals are completely  disregarded by Trump.

There is also this (which is the last bit that I'll quote from the article):

Another key feature of Trump’s particular personality disorder is his pronounced vindictiveness. Some Republicans wonder aloud why Trump keeps attacking other Republicans and doesn’t move on from the primaries mindset to the main-event general election. He cannot. He has been dissed not only by the effrontery of being opposed, but after the vanquishing of his enemies, they still refuse to endorse him. Intolerable! Disqualify them from ever running for office again, ban reporters who ask confrontational questions, blacklist newspapers, vow to change the libel laws so that he can sue more easily. He can’t stop and he can’t control it.

Yes, indeed. (And Trump was excessively vindictive long before his presidential candidacy.) I also think Jeff Carter is quite correct in saying "He can’t stop and he can’t control it": This is how his personality works.

And for me it is quite incredible that the Republicans, whom I don't like at all, but who are mostly not insane in the way Trump is, want or at least support a
presidential candidate with a serious personality disorder
. I'd say he should be totally disqualified from being president of the USA.

The reasons are above, in a popular but good article. Will it stop Trump from being nominated? I hope so, but think not. Will it stop Trump from being elected? I strongly hope so, for neither the USA nor the world is served by being led by a madman with a serious and dangerous personality disorder.

This is a recommended article (minus the title).

---------------
Notes
[1] One of the reasons why I don't think psychology - in which I have an excellent M.A. - is a real science is that I studied a whole lot of philosophy of science and mathematical logic, which are two subjects very few psychologists know a lot about. (Originally I wanted an M.A. in philosophy, but I was denied
the right to take it briefly before taking the M.A., because I had said - in an invited public speech - what I considered and consider to be the truth about my "teachers" of philosophy: all but one were incompetent parasites.)

As to pseudoscience and psychiatry: The present article on the Wikipedia about pseudoscience is worse than the earlier one, indeed in part because it does not concern itself with psychiatry at all (except once in a footnote), indeed rather like psychiatry was dealt with in the study of psychology I passed: Not at all. This was because the great majority of psychologists (then at least) did not consider it was a real science, but also did not want to argue that in public.

Indeed, the only reason I did see a DSM-III (in the 1980ies) was because a professor I had, had bought one privately, and indeed he did not like it at all.
I do not recall psychiatry was ever mentioned in the study of psychology (though I have to grant that I did have to read one book by Freud, which was
baloney, and that I did not study clinical psychology, in which I might have had more psychiatry).

All in all I thought the psychologists who taught me did one thing well: Neglecting psychiatry. As to psychiatry's real use: I think it is
to prescribe lots of expensive patented "medicines", and if you believe that a discipline that
in under 20 years extends its "diagnoses" to eight times as many psychiatric disorders as there were until 1980 is in any way based on real
science rather than on
prescribing lots of expensive patented "medicines" you
are far more naive and far less well-informed about real science than I am.


[2] Also somewhat incidentally: This list of diagnostical criterions is about all psychiatry and psychology, as they exist at present, can plausibly give. To the naive, this may sound like rather a lot, but real psychologists also know
that no one can explain these mostly behavioral criterions in terms of how the
brain works, for no one has the necessary knowledge to do that. (And this also means that many - not: all - of the psychiatric "medicines" are mostly
unexplained, or indeed are "explained" in terms of baloney.)

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