Aug 25, 2016

Crisis: Bikinis vs Burkinis, Alt-Right, Trump Is Anti-Media, Stiglitz on TPP
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French Police Create Propaganda for ISIS by Ticketing
     Muslim Women on Beaches

2. Embracing the Alt-Right: New Trump Campaign Chief
     "Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists"

3. Some Reporters Covering Trump Rallies Worry as
     Anti-Media Atmosphere Thickens

4. Stiglitz Blasts 'Outrageous' TPP as Obama Campaigns
     for Corporate-Friendly Deal


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 25, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about the crazy (and totalitarian) new dress code for politically correct French women (on sunny beaches): Thou shalt wear a bikini and no burkini; item 2 is about how Trump is getting more and more racist (I dislike racism, but I like it Trump is a racist because this lessens his presidential chances), and I repeat some about Trump's grandiose narcissism (in a footnote); item 3 is also about Trump, but this time about his turning anti-media, which I think Trump owes to himself, and again lessens his chances of being elected; and item 4 is about Joseph Stiglitz and his opposition to the TPP, with which I agree, though I also think Obama might succeed in pushing it through (if only because he will very probably be well rewarded for doing that).

There also was earlier today a brief file about my usage of vitamins to battle ME: I started a new experiment (that is so far inconclusive). More next month, on this subject.

1. French Police Create Propaganda for ISIS by Ticketing Muslim Women on Beaches

The first item today is by Robert Mackey on The Intercept:

This starts as follows (and I think the title of this article is quite good):

Photographs and video of French police officers issuing tickets to Muslim women — for violating new local ordinances that ban modest beachwear as an offense against “good morals and secularism” in more than a dozen towns along the Riviera — spread widely on social networks on Wednesday, prompting waves of outrage and mockery by opponents of the laws.
Yes indeed, although I also found it offensive that these bathing Muslim women were surrounded by four police-officers, all clad in - I am sorry, but it is a fact - fascist black clothes with black body-armor, who forced her to partially undress in public. (These photographs are not part of this article. I saw them elsewhere, on the same topic. And I call it "fascist" because the fascist cops dressed the same. And please note that I am talking about their outfits, and not about their persons, about which I know nothing.)

First, a small exposition of my own ideas about religion:

I think all religion is harmful nonsense. There may be some religions that are not offensive, but even so their metaphysics are bound to be mostly nonsensical, simply because they affirm assumptions that are totally unscientific and usually also anti-scientific.

This does not mean I oppose religion (other than intellectually), for I recall that the Jesuits said "Give me your child until he is seven, and we will deliver the man to you" (i.e. a good Jesuit catholic), and I think that is broadly speaking correct, and again holds for most religions: If these are allowed to
influence young children towards some religion, they will generally succeed, because children have no rational defenses against irrational ideas, and no
knowledge of the world.

Then again, I did have atheist parents and grandparents; I had absolutely no religion whatsoever in my education; and I also absolutely never had any impulse to become religious in any sense. [1]

This also implies I have no sympathy for the faith of Muslims, and indeed also not for the faiths of Catholics or Protestants, even though I might like their persons (for I do or did know some Muslims, some Catholics, some Jews and some Protestants I like(d), although I thought their faiths nonsense).

In fact, I don't think this crazy dresscode should be forbidden at all, for the same kinds of reasons as I don't think the crazy dresscodes of catholic priests and nuns should be forbidden: It is a matter of personal freedom - in a real
state of law - how you want to dress yourself (apart from nakedness), also if
this appears quite crazy for those who don't share your faith.

Then again, the right does not agree with me:

But the same images were greeted with undisguised glee by extremists eager to make the case that observant Muslims have no place in European countries. A series of photographs published by The Daily Mail — showing armed officers confronting a woman wearing a headscarf, leggings and a long-sleeved shirt on a beach in Nice on Tuesday — was hailed by the anti-Muslim, Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
This was preceded by no less than eight Tweets, including five French ones (?!) which I have all skipped. (If you want to test your French, you can read them
by clicking the last dotted link above.)

But this is quite correct, and how I think this will be interpreted by many Muslims, indeed including quite a few who are not terrorists in any sense:
David Thomson, a French journalist who tracks jihadist activity online, told Radio France that Islamic State sympathizers on social networks seemed surprised to find police officers in Nice “creating propaganda on their behalf,” by providing the perfect illustration of their case that France humiliates Muslims.

“For them, this is a godsend,” Thomson said. “The jihadist narrative has insisted for years that it is impossible for a Muslim to practice their religion with dignity in France.” Within minutes of publication, he said, these photographs became one of the most discussed topics in the online “jihadosphere.”

“These shots of Nice,” he added, “will fuel years of jihadist propaganda.”

The irony, Thomson noted last week, is that the specific swimming costume the bans have targeted, the full-body swimsuit known as the “burkini,” is rejected as
by Islamist ideologues.

Yes, indeed - and it is also at least a bit ironic that now a bikini seems to be the politically correct dress on sunny beaches for catholic French women, while the bikini was rejected as such till well into the Sixties by most catholics.

2. Embracing the Alt-Right: New Trump Campaign Chief "Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists"

The second item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
Last week, Donald Trump once again upended his campaign team and named Stephen Bannon, the head of Breitbart Media, to be his campaign chief. Breitbart regularly sparks controversy with headlines such as "Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy," "Trannies Whine About Hilarious Bruce Jenner Billboard" and "Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew." In a new article published by Mother Jones, investigative journalist Sarah Posner writes, "By bringing on Stephen Bannon, Trump was signaling a wholehearted embrace of the 'alt-right,' a once-motley assemblage of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, ethno-nationalistic provocateurs who have coalesced behind Trump and curried the GOP nominee’s favor on social media." For more, we speak to Sarah Posner and Heather McGhee of Demos.
Yes, I think that is correct: Trump is swerving further and further towards the right, alt-right, and racism, which also doesn't amaze me at all, firstly because he has had rightist and racist ideas for a very long time, and secondly because I think he is - obviously, for this psychologist [2] - a mad grandiose narcissist, who for that reason alone should not be elected president. (And check note [2] in case you disagree.)

There is this by Sarah Posner:

SARAH POSNER: Well, as much as Bannon wanted to claim Breitbart as the platform for the alt-right, the alt-right existed before Bannon took over Breitbart, when Andrew Breitbart, the site’s founder, died suddenly in 2012. The alt-right has been around before that. The "alt-right" term was coined by Richard Spencer, who is a white nationalist writer and activist who positions the alt-right as a dissident movement that’s dissatisfied with conservatism, which they portray—a term that you’ll often see people on the alt-right using for a conservative, for a movement conservative, is "cuckservative." It’s a disparaging term combining the word "cuckold" and the word "conservative." And that is how they portray movement conservatives.

And this is why they’ve been cheered by Trump’s candidacy, because they see him as a candidate who’s abandoned the traditional GOP, who scoffs at movement conservatism and, in fact, embraces their issues, is willing to talk about building a wall, who’s willing to talk about race in the way that Trump talks about race, who’s willing to break with GOP orthodoxy on trade deals. These are all things that have led the alt-right into the Trump camp. And a lot of it has to do with the ways in which he has rejected GOP and movement conservatism orthodoxy.

And I think that is correct as well.

There is more in the article, that is recommended, but I want to ask one relevant question and answer it: What do I think about this latest racist move by Trump?

In fact, I welcome it, not because I am a racist in any sense, but because Trump is a racist who now openly embraces racism, which will make him a
lot less attractive to ordinary conservatives, and completely unattractive for
any non-conservative.

And I think he must be defeated, and this brings his defeat rather a lot closer, in my opinion.

3. Some Reporters Covering Trump Rallies Worry as Anti-Media Atmosphere Thickens

The third item is by Emma Niles on Truthdig:
This starts as follows and is also about Trump, but is not about his racism but about Trump's getting more and more anti-media:

Since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign took off, there have been numerous reports of the sometimes violent nature of the crowds attending his massive rallies, including tales of pushing, shoving and other physical altercations instigated by attendees pumped up by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. “I can’t vote for Trump after that way I was treated,” said one student who was kicked out of a rally.

Trump’s angry speeches at these rallies are nothing new, but the targets of his vitriol keep changing. In recent weeks, Trump has narrowed his focus to one enemy: the mainstream media.

His wife, Melania Trump, has threatened to sue at least 10 news outlets for “false and defamatory statements.” And earlier this week, Trump tweeted:

I say. Here are three remarks on this:

First, about Trump as opponent of the mainstream media: I think this is quite ironic, because Trump has in fact been very much supported by the mainstream media. So if he is now attacking his main allies, I think he is strongly undermining his own chances of winning the election, which I think is good.

Second, Melania Trump may well get Donald's support in prosecutions of the media for "
false and defamatory statements", for Donald prosecuted very many for similar reasons, but even if she can prove some of these statements
are "
false and defamatory", this still doesn't mean newsmedia may not make them e.g. under cover of the First Amendment (<- Wikipedia).

Third, Donald's quoted Tweet is completely false, but that can be expected from him.

And here is some more on Trump's opinions about "the media":

At a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this month, Trump used similar rhetoric to blame the media for “rigging” the election. “The media is rigged. It’s crooked as hell,” he told his supporters. “The media is unbelievably dishonest. I would actually say the media is almost as crooked as ‘Crooked’ Hillary Clinton.”

He offered a solution to “rigged” media in an email sent to supporters, asking them to become “election observers” to ensure against voter or election fraud.

For many reporters in the press pen at Trump’s rallies, the harsh language sometimes turns personal. He often calls out specific reporters, and his supporters openly express their hatred of the media.

I would say that the American media were rigged for something like half a year at least (i) against Bernie Sanders (who otherwise might have won the candidacy) and (ii) for Donald Trump, who got enormous amounts of free and mostly uncritical publicity for himself and his candidacy from the main- stream media.

It seems part of the
free and mostly uncritical publicity now has stopped, for Trump does get considerably more criticism in the mainstream media, which I think he mostly owes to himself, for opposing them for not sufficiently admiring him (as the grandiose narcissist he is, for that seems to me to be the main reason for his criticism: he wasn't admired as much as he admires himself, and - even - that is offensive to grandiose narcissists).

As far as I am concerned, this is all good, for Trump must not become president, even if the price for that is the presidency of Hillary Clinton, whom
I much dislike and don't trust at all, but who has one enormous advantage over Trump: She is not mad.

4. Stiglitz Blasts 'Outrageous' TPP as Obama Campaigns for Corporate-Friendly Deal

The fourth and last item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has reiterated his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's push to get the trade deal passed during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress is "outrageous" and "absolutely wrong."

Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University and chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute, made the comments on CNN's "Quest Means Business."

His criticism comes as Obama aggressively campaigns to get lawmakers to pass the TPP in the Nov. 9 to Jan. 3 window—even as resistance mounts against the 12-nation deal.

Echoing an argument made by Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot, Stiglitz said, "At the lame-duck session you have congressmen voting who know that they're not accountable anymore."

I agree with Joseph Stiglitz, although he may fail. And indeed I am myself more critical of the TPP than Stiglitz is, for I consider the TPP (and the TTIP and the TiSA) a very conscious attempt to take almost all powers from national governments, national parliaments, national decisions, and real democracy, and give all these powers to the CEOs of multi-national corporations, which for me is classical fascism (which was defined as the rule of the corporations in government), although I agree it also differs from classical fascism in being explicitly anti-statist, anti-government
and pro multi-national corporations, which is why I style it neofascism.

Then again, I have little doubt that Stiglitz doesn't agree with me, were it only because he is a much respected academic (with a Nobel Prize) who neither had my awful experiences in Amsterdam, nor my communist parents and grand-parents, who also were in the real resistance, and were much punished for that (for my father and grandfather were locked up in concentration-camps as "political terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive).

Besides, I don't think Stiglitz shares my position on Obama, who is for me a second Bill Clinton, though without Clinton's sex scandals, and also (in my opinion as least) not as good a speaker as Bill. But both are pro rich, while pretending to be pro non-rich for election purposes.

Then again, Stiglitz is quite good on the TPP:

Expressing his overall objections to the TPP, Stiglitz said "corporate interests... were at the table" when it was being crafted. He also condemned "the provisions on intellectual property that will drive up drug prices" and "the 'investment provisions' which will make it more difficult to regulate and actually harm trade."

"The advocates of trade said it was going to benefit everyone," he added. "The evidence is it's benefited a few and left a lot behind."

Stiglitz has previously spoken out against the TPP before, arguing that it "may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades;" that it would mean "if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars;" and previously said that the president's TPP push "is one of Obama's biggest mistakes."

But Stiglitz is mistaken the TPP is a mistake of Obama: Obama really wants the TPP (and the TTIP and TiSA), just as Bill Clinton really wanted NAFTA (and got it) simply because both are in fact neoliberal neoconservatives, if indeed less rightist than rightists, who sided with the rich because the rich pay them much better (for they made Clinton a multi-millionaire, which is what Obama also expects to become, and probably correctly), while pretending they were presidents of the poor and the many non-rich: If they really had been, the rich might have lost. Instead, the rich won almost everything, indeed also with the help of Clinton and Obama.

Finally, here are some voices of opposition to the TPP:

Opposition to the TPP also appeared Tuesday in Michigan and Florida, where union members and lawmakers criticized what they foresee as the deal's impacts on working families.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said, "We have to make sure that bill never sees the light of day after this election," while Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said at the American Postal Workers Union convention in Walt Disney World, "If this goes through, it's curtains for the middle class in this country."

I agree, but I am afraid it may go through, for Obama has been pushing it like mad, while there still is far too little knowledge among many voters about what these awful plans imply for anyone who is not rich.

Grayson is right: "it's curtains for the middle class in this country". And this is a recommended article.


[1] In fact I was first faced by a real religious believer when I was nine, and he was a catholic boy of thirteen or fourteen, who lived in the same street as I did, and who was quite religious, quite sincerely also, and who tried to argue me into it, which he totally lost, because I did have no patience with him assuming a God of any kind, and certainly also not of a catholic kind.

But we did have at least two quite long conversations, which were mostly friendly (he tried to save me, while I told him I didn't need any saving and did not believe in his special kind of saving), and I do recall that I was especially amazed by the oddness and the arbitrariness of his religious beliefs, and the fact that he did indeed sincerely believe them. (But he was brought up in it, as his whole family was catholic.)

[2] This is quoted from the Nederlog of March 14, 2016:

My point is mainly that on a personal level - and now I am speaking as a psychologist - Trump also doesn't seem kosher, so to speak, because he is far too much concerned with and interested in insisting on his personal greatness, his personal excellence, his personal superiority, his personal riches, etc. etc. indeed ad nauseam.

Next, if you go to narcissistic personality disorder you find this definition in Wikipedia:

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and often others.

Finally, when you check out the references given there, you'll find a link to this Wikipedia item:

Grandiosity refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority—a sustained view of oneself as better than others that causes the narcissist to view others with disdain or as inferior—as well as to a sense of uniqueness: the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people.

I think this is the best description, and I refer you to a list of points in this item:

Pathological grandiosity has been associated with one of the two subtypes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (Gabbard, 1989) Characteristics of the narcissist-grandiose subtype (as opposed to the narcissist-vulnerable subtype) include:

  • Being labeled the “oblivious narcissists”
  • Observed lack of insight into the impact they have on others
  • More likely to regulate self-esteem through overt self-enhancement
  • Denial of weaknesses
  • Intimidating demands of entitlement
  • Consistent anger in unmet expectations
  • Devaluation of people that threaten self-esteem
  • Diminished awareness of the dissonance between their expectations and reality, along with the impact this has on relationships
  • Overt presentation of grandiose fantasies
  • Conflict within the environment is generally experienced as external to these individuals and not a measure of their own unrealistic expectations
I think each of these points - apart from the first - corresponds to sayings by Trump that I have seen.

Therefore, if I were to judge Trump as a psychologist - admittedly based on his political videos - I would say he seems quite clearly to be a grandiose narcissist - and for those who do not know psychology, I add that this is a personality disorder, which also is difficult to treat.

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