Jul 19, 2016

Crisis: Scheer on Trump, Drones, Warren on Trump, Schwartz on Trump
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Robert Scheer: Donald Trump Is a Symptom;
     Clintonism Is the Disease

2. An Illegal Military Strategy Disguised as Technological

3. 'The Sham Is Over': Elizabeth Warren Has the Last
     Word on 'Thin-Skinned Fraud' Donald Trump

4. Trump’s Co-Author Speaks: Donald Is a Sociopath


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 7 dotted links. It so happens that 3 out of the 4 items are about Donald Trump, but then this also happens during the GOP convention: Item 1 is about Scheer about Trump (I partially agree); item 2 is about drones; item 3 is about Warren about Trump (with too many tweets, but that is my personal taste); and item 4 is about Schwartz - the real writer of "The Art of the Deal" - about Trump.

Robert Scheer: Donald Trump Is a Symptom; Clintonism Is the Disease

The first item today is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
In an hour-long discussion about the presidential race and U.S. politics with Philip Maldari, host of KPFA’s “The Sunday Show,” Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer begs liberals not to let the idea of Donald Trump getting his hands on nuclear weapons scare them out of thinking critically about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
In one way, Scheer is quite correct: You should not stop thinking critically. Period. But I don't think he faces the situation of electing a US president if the following propositions are all true:

(1) both presidential candidates are a choice from evil: Neither is good;
(2) one of the presidential candidates is a neofascist, a racist, a liar and a conman; and
(3) one of the presidential candidates is not sane, but is a narcissist who cannot be trusted with the means to blow up everybody in an atomic conflict.

Now I think the three propositions are all true [1]. It is possible Robert Scheer (<- Wikipedia) disagrees with me on these propositions. From what I've read from him (quite a lot, meanwhile, and I agree he is a reasonable man) I think it is most likely he might disagree with the third proposition. But then (a) I am a psychologist, and Scheer is not, and besides (b) there are intelligent persons (quite a few, indeed) who agree with me - and seen
item 3 and item 4 below.

Here is more by Robert Scheer:

“Donald Trump is a bait-and-switch kind of guy,” Scheer tells Maldari, who is focused on the threat Trump poses to country. “He’s embraced neofascist thinking, scapegoating the most vulnerable, blaming undocumented workers, somehow dragging Muslims into the equation as a group. Yeah, he’s a demagogue of the Mussolini variety, no question of it. I don’t underestimate the danger of Donald Trump.

Yes, I agree, although this doesn't mention Trump's sanity, which I think is quite relevant. Again see item 3 and item 4 (and there are quite a few more on the internet).

Then there are these questions, which are all quite relevant, and that I (and many others) have thought a lot about:

“But then you have to ask yourself the question: Why did reasonable folks who vote Republican, from Maine down to Alabama, vote for the guy? And this is an age-old question. How do we get madness in a society? Why do people turn to irrational, jingoistic, race-baiting solutions? And they do it out of enormous unhappiness. And you can’t ignore those problems. How did the most civilized, well-educated, orderly country in the world—Germany—embrace the scapegoating of Jews, Gypsies and gay people? Where did that come from? And so the issue is not whether Trump represents an extremely negative force. The issue is: How did we get to this place?”

I will not try to answer all questions, but split them into two parts and formulate some general answers (with much detail left unstated).

The first set of questions, dealt as one, that I will answer are these: "How did the most civilized, well-educated, orderly country in the world — Germany — embrace the scapegoating of Jews, Gypsies and gay people? Where did that come from?"

The main answer to this is:

Because of the great miseries of WW I (<-Wikipedia); because of the enormous payments the Germans were forced to make (criticized by Keynes, (<- Wikipedia) and rightly so); and because of the resulting poverty and misery in large parts of Germany.

This surely is correct if incomplete. (For details: Read some good history.)

One part of the incompleteness may be supplied by my answer to the other set of questions, that I again treat as one: "Why did reasonable folks who vote Republican, from Maine down to Alabama, vote for the guy? And this is an age-old question. How do we get madness in a society? Why do people turn to irrational, jingoistic, race-baiting solutions?"

Robert Scheer's answer is: "they do it out of enormous unhappiness".

I say: Yes and no, for while "enormous unhappiness" is a part of the cause, it is surely not the only part, nor the most important, which are the stupidity and the ignorance that supply most of the answers to the question "why am I unhappy?".

Most Americans are not really intelligent. Many are rather stupid (as suggested by Bill Maher's often repeated and never contradicted point that 60% - 6 out of every 10: a majority - of Americans believe in the literal truth of Noah's Ark story. [2]) Few of the not really intelligent read much: most watch TV in their free time. Few of the not really intelligent know much, for they don't read much. And at least half of all Americans is not intelligent: Half has an IQ below 100.

I am explaining this because I think it is obviously true, at least for people who are really intelligent (which is always a minority), and because I think it is a shame that I do not see these points - viz. the great influence that the stupidity and the ignorance of the majority have to mislead the choices of the majority - ever discussed. Political correctness?!

Anyway... Here is Scheer on the Democratic Party:

“We’ve had false leadership on the Democratic side saying, ‘Trust us, and everything’s gonna be wonderful for all workers.’ And it isn’t. …

“Democrats have had a lot of power in this country over the last 24 years. Two-thirds of that time Democrats have been president. Where’s the great progress? Where is the great effort to help ordinary people? So is a Hillary Clinton presidency going to bring about progress in these areas? Or is it going to be more of the same? And then the right-wing, the irrational forces that are scapegoated, will be stronger four years later.”

I agree mostly.

I think the Democrats mostly sold out their voters to the interests of the rich just like the Republicans. I think a majority of the American politicians is corrupt. I think the rich have far too much influence on politicians, political programs and political choices. I think that the majorities of Democrats and Republicans choose more or less consistently for the rich, because the rich pay them. I think politics in the USA is mostly quite corrupt, and was corrupted mostly by political choice (with help from the Supreme Court).

All true [1] as far as I am concerned. But none of this answers what I think is the real question: What to do if the real choice is between two evil candidates, one of whom is sane and one of whom is insane (and see item 3 and item 4 below).

And my answer is like Noam Chomsky's: In states where there is a danger Trump might win, anybody who does not want an insane president should
choose for Clinton, bad as she is. [3]

This is a recommended article, even though I don't quite agree with it, for Robert Scheer is an intelligent man and part of his arguments are quite correct.

2. An Illegal Military Strategy Disguised as Technological Advance

The second item is by Rebecca Gordon on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

Think of it as the Trojan Drone, the ultimate techno-weapon of American warfare in these years, a single remotely operated plane sent to take out a single key figure. It’s a shiny video game for grown ups—a Mortal Kombat or Call of Duty where the animated enemies bleed real blood. Just like the giant wooden horse the Greeks convinced the Trojans to bring inside their gates, however, the drone carries something deadly in its belly: a new and illegal military strategy disguised as an impressive piece of technology.

The technical advances embodied in drone technology distract us from a more fundamental change in military strategy. However it is achieved—whether through conventional air strikes, cruise missiles fired from ships, or by drone—the United States has now embraced extrajudicial executions on foreign soil. Successive administrations have implemented this momentous change with little public discussion. And most of the discussion we’ve had has focused more on the new instrument (drone technology) than on its purpose (assassination). It’s a case of the means justifying the end. The drones work so well that it must be all right to kill people with them.

I don't agree with all of this (and I see some is written in irony), but it is correct enough. This also is the beginning of three pages that I will not review, in part because it is too much, and in part because I did write similar things in Nederlog.

In fact, I will only quote the next two paragraphs:

The Bush administration launched the assassination program in October 2001 in Afghanistan, expanded it in 2002 to Yemen, and went from there. Under Obama, with an actual White House “kill list,” the use of drones has again expanded, this time nine-fold, with growing numbers of attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, as well as in the Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian war zones.

There’s an obvious appeal to a technology that allows pilots for the CIA, Joint Special Operations Command, or the Air Force to sit safely in front of video screens in Nevada or elsewhere in the U.S., while killing people half a world away. This is especially true for a president running a global war with a public that does not easily accept American casualties and a Congress that prefers not to be responsible for war and peace decision-making. Drone assassinations have allowed President Obama to spread the “war on terror” to ever more places (even as he quietly retired that phrase), without U.S. casualties or congressional oversight and approval.

This is all true to the best of my knowledge. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.

3. 'The Sham Is Over': Elizabeth Warren Has the Last Word on 'Thin-Skinned Fraud' Donald Trump

The third item is by Tom Boggioni on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story:
This starts as follows:

Outside of a humiliating defeat in November, Donald Trump’s biggest nightmare has to be the continuing attacks by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who continually leaves him in a stuttering rage, only able to use smears about her heritage that likely cost her former opponent, Scott Brown, his seat in the Senate.

Warren stomped all over Trump’s big day on Saturday when the presumptive GOP presidential announcing his Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his choice of a running mate.

Sunday Morning Trump returned fire, calling Warren a “fraud” and Warren was ready to point out who the real fraud is — and she had the headlines to prove it.

I like Elizabeth Warren because she has guts and because she is quite often right (in my opinion [4]). The rest of this article consists mostly of copies of Tweets, which I think is a stupid way of "conversing" and therefore usually avoid [5], but here are the first three by Elizabeth Warren:

Nasty name-calling & lies about my family aren’t going to shut me up, @realDonaldTrump. Is that really all you’ve got?

— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) July 17, 2016

It might blow your mind that a woman worked hard & earned a good job on her own, @realDonaldTrump, but it’s not the 1800s. It happens.

— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) July 17, 2016

You want to talk about who’s a fraud, @realDonaldTrump? How about this?

— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) July 17, 2016

There are three more Tweets, which I will not reproduce here (click the last dotted link if you want to see them), but I am going to give three out of five of the references Warren gives, and without abbreviations or relinking:

Here they are, starting withn the last link in the last Tweet:

I should add that two out of five failed: In one case, the article has been removed; in the other the link is to the Washington Post that doesn't even allow linking (?!).

Here is the ending of the article (another Tweet):

I think he is more (a mad narcissist, among other things), but this will do.
In case you are not convinced, check out the following item:

4. Trump’s Co-Author Speaks: Donald Is a Sociopath

The fourth and last item today is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet

This starts as follows (and the last paragraph is quoted from the New Yorker):

Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has waved around his book, The Art of the Deal, to bolster his image as a smooth negotiator and skilled leader.

Now, Tony Schwartz—the man who says he actually wrote the book and is listed as its coauthor—is publicly expressing remorse for promoting the image of a man he describes as a “sociopath.”

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he told Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is."

Schwartz continued: “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing "The Art of the Deal" today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, "The Sociopath".

That is: "The Art of the Deal" (Trump's favorite book after the Bible, or so he said) was not written by Trump, who is according to its real writer, who knows Trump quite well, "a sociopath".

Here are some of the reasons why Tony Schwartz knows Trump quite well:

According to Mayer, Schwartz has a unique window into Trump’s life. “Starting in late 1985,” she writes, “Schwartz spent 18 months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate.”

Schwartz attested to Trump’s stunningly short attention span, telling Mayer, “Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood. It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then.”

Schwartz went on to say, “He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.” Since most people are “constrained by the truth,” Trump’s indifference to it “gave him a strange advantage.”

As I have said before (and as quite a few others have said): Trump is a grandiose narcissist, and grandiose narcissists have only one theme, their own superhuman size, superhuman character, superhuman intelligence, superhuman wealth, superhuman looks, superhuman potency etc. etc. for they are really fascinated by their own thoughts about their own superhumanity, and not really by anything else - and indeed why would they, seeing that they excel all in everything (that matters)?

Clearly, I think that Donald Trump is the greatest narcissist I have ever seen, who does not have any greatness apart from that. And I think that is a dominant reason for voting against a madman like he is.

Then again, he may win, for reasons explained in item 1. If so, you can thank the GOP for having fronted a mad narcissist neofascist.

[1] Because I am a philosopher who knows a lot about logic and proba- bility theory and epistemology, here is a small qualification: When I say an empirical proposition is true, what I usually mean is that it is true that it is
far more probable than not.

[2] Perhaps I should add that I am an atheist; my parents were atheists; three out of four of my grandparents were atheists; and that I also do not live in the sickeningly religious USA, but in Holland. And if it were Dutchmen who believed in the literal truth of Noah's Ark Story, I would probably say that either they are religious extremists or else insane, for it is impossible for an intelligent and informed man to believe that kind of utter medieval nonsense.

[3] Incidentally (and as Chomsky also said): If you do not live in a state were both may win (but one will win, almost certainly), you can choose whoever you want (Jill Stein, for example).

Again because I am a philosopher: There is a fundamental difference between values and facts, which amounts to this: (Conscious) values are due to personal choice; facts have nothing to do with how much a person likes or dislikes them: they are so, regardless of what anyone thinks. And rightness (as I used it) is a value, not a fact.

Reason: "Conversations" limited to 140 characters are not conver- sations but are normally mere sloganeering. I dislike that, and I also think it
is stupid, for everyone has e-mail who has a computer.

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