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Nederlog

Oct 14, 2016

Crisis: Fo & Dylan, Trump "Nazi-Like", "Neoliberalism" Failed, Wikileaks & Principles
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Literature: Dario Fo and Bob Dylan
2. Trump Turns Nazi-Like
3. "Neoliberalism" Has Failed
4. On WikiLeaks, Journalism, and Privacy: Reporting on
     the Podesta Archive is an Easy Call

Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 14, 2016.

A.This is a partial crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about several articles commemorating Dario Fo (died at 90) and praising Bob Dylan (Nobel Prize of Literature at 75); item 2 is about two articles that explain Trump's latest speeches as "Nazi-Like"; item 3 is about two articles that explain "Neoliberalism" has failed (hm, hm: even the name was propaganda, and it doesn't seem to have failed its real aim: Help the rich get richer, but the articles are mostly OK); and item 4 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald who explains some journalistic principles.

Also, this Nederlog is a bit experimental in that the first three items are all based on several articles. This happened mostly by accident, following the first item (that also is not really a part of the
crisis).


-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. (But not on October 13.) The Dutch site still is a mess.

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

---

1. Literature: Dario Fo and Bob Dylan

The first item today is in fact about two people and several articles, but the two persons have something in common: Both won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Dario Fo, who was an Italian anarchist and writer, won it in 1997, and died a couple of days ago at 90, and Bob Dylan, who is an American singer and poet of 75 won it a couple of days ago.
I start with Dario Fo, who was a real man: intelligent, brave and not an egoist (and most men are neither, I am very sorry to say [2]). This is from the opening of the above listed article, which is by Jonathan Kandel in the New York Times:

Dario Fo, the Italian playwright, director and performer whose scathingly satirical work earned him both praise and condemnation, as well as the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, died on Thursday in Milan. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by his Italian publisher, Chiarelettere.

Mr. Fo wrote more than 80 plays, many of them in collaboration with his wife, Franca Rame, who died in 2013, and his work was translated into dozens of languages.

He was best known for two works: “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” (1970), a play based on the case of an Italian railroad worker who was either thrown or fell from the upper story of a Milan police station while being questioned on suspicion of terrorism; and his one-man show “Mistero Buffo” (“Comic Mystery”), written in 1969 and frequently revised and updated in the decades that followed, taking wild comic aim at politics and especially religion.

After a 1977 version of “Mistero Buffo” was broadcast in Italy, the Vatican denounced it as “the most blasphemous show in the history of television.”

The church’s attitude toward Mr. Fo had not mellowed a generation later, when he was awarded the Nobel. “Giving the prize to someone who is also the author of questionable works is beyond imagination,” the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said.

Many critics felt differently. “Imagine a cross between Bertolt Brecht and Lenny Bruce and you may begin to have an idea of the scope of Fo’s anarchic art,” Mel Gussow wrote in The New York Times in 1983.

I liked him a lot, ever since I first saw "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" in 1972 or 1973 in England (with my then girlfriend Stephanie Faulkner). The above article is adequate, but I think the Wikipedia article:
is better. He also had an interesting and courageous wife, Franca Rame (<-Wikipedia).

As I said, Dario Fo won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997, and Bob Dylan won it in 2016.

I have linked above an article on Democracy Now! of five years ago on Bob Dylan, in part because there is a whole lot on Bob Dylan in the press that I leave to you, while this article is both less prominent and oriented to the time I liked Dylan, which was from 1962-1967, and especially to the very early years (that I did not immediately hear: this started for me in 1965).

And I admit I mostly lost interest in Dylan from his LP "John Wesley Harding" onwards (from 1967), just as I am not interested in Christianity (to which he converted). The Wikipedia article on him
is again quite good. As to Dylan's winning the Nobel Prize: I think it is deserved, mostly because of his wide influence on many others, and because his texts simply were better than those of most.

And while I don't think he was A Great Poet, he did write quite a few fine songs with fine texts, and he also was quite influential, especially among musicians.

2. Trump Turns Nazi-Like

The second item is about two articles about Donald Trump, who is a mad neofascist who loves grabbing women by the pussy, which he can do, in his own opinion, because he "is famous", and who also won the Republican candidacy for president of the USA.

I am a psychologist, and have been saying for seven months now that Donald Trump is not sane. So perhaps I am also less shocked about Trump's insane behavior and a bit more shocked that so very few know something about psychology say so, in pubic (for he is really nuts, but I also know since 40 years, at least, that most academics are far more interested in their own status and incomes than in their political pretensions [3]):
Here is some from the first of the two above articles. This is by Adele M. Stan on Alternet, and she starts as follows:

It would be tempting to label as “unhinged” the speech Donald Trump delivered in West Palm Beach on Thursday—a speech in which he dog-whistled a worldwide conspiracy against him (without actually uttering the word “Jews”) and disparaged the appearance of women who have accused him of sexual assault and transgressions.

But it was not unhinged. The speech was hinged to the original purpose of his campaign: to trade on the resentments of a restive remnant of white America—angry white men and the women who love them—and set the stage for mayhem in the wake of his likely electoral defeat.

This was not your standard, off-the-cuff Trump rant. This was a scripted speech, delivered with a teleprompter. It was crafted. It featured the key words of right-wing complaints: “sovereign,” “global bankers” and “slander.” Really, it came right out of a Nazi propaganda playbook. And when one considers the themes common between Nazi propaganda films and the films made by top Trump campaign staffers Stephen K. Bannon and David Bossie (as analyzed by AlterNet), we should hardly be surprised.

Here is some more:

“Anyone who challenges their control,” Trump continued, “is deemed a sexist, rapist, xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that. They will do whatever is necessary. The Clintons are criminals. Remember that, they're criminals.”

When the crowd began chanting, “Lock her up!” Trump chimed in, “So true. Honestly, she should be locked up. She should be. Should be locked up.”

And this is from the second article, by Tim Murphy on Mother Jones:

Facing allegations that he sexually assaulted several women, Donald Trump gave the most extreme and angry speech of his campaign on Thursday, during a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida. The GOP nominee, who tweeted on Tuesday that the "shackles have been taken off me," lashed out at the "corporate" media, the women who have accused him of kissing and touching them without consent, and a "globalist" criminal conspiracy involving Hillary Clinton, her husband, and international bankers.

After a string of warm-up speakers who only indirectly referred to the sexual assault allegations, Trump cut straight to the chase. "These claims are fabricated," he declared angrily. "They are lies. These events never happened—and the people who brought them—you take a look at these people, you study these people, and you'll understand that also."
You can check out yesterday's Nederlog to check out Trump's lies about these "lies". And here is Trump's insane conviction about the presidential election: If he doesn't win it, the elections were fixed, and presumably there should be a revolution (by Trump supporters):
Trump charged that journalists "collaborate and conspire directly with the Clinton campaign on helping her win the election." He proclaimed, "This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let it happen." It was a plot, he said, to promote "radical globalization" and to protect a "corrupt establishment." The only way to thwart the evil cabal, he insisted, was to elect Trump president. But, he warned, the schemers had rigged the system to elect Clinton and keep Trump out. It was a clear message: if Clinton wins, she will be an illegitimate and criminal president representing sinister forces intent on screwing Americans. A Clinton victory, he signaled, would mean the election was fixed—a betrayal that no patriotic American should accept.
I say. And I will not say much more, because I think Donald Trump is insane (and I am a psychologist).

3. "Neoliberalism" Has Failed

The third item is also about two articles, this time about "neoliberalism" aka "Greed Is Good". I think both articles make sense, but they also both miss that (i) even the name "neoliberalism" is propaganda and that (ii) "neoliberalism" has had very great successes since 1980, namely in providing the few rich with more and more at the costs of the many non-rich:

To start with, this is from the second of the above two dotted articles, which is by Thom Hartmann on Truthdig, and - I think - this explanation is correct:

There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money, but when President Ronald Reagan and his free-market cronies came to town in the 1980s, something changed in US corporate culture. Businesses were no longer just encouraged to make money -- they were encouraged to make as much money by any means possible, no matter what the cost.

This new way of thinking was captured brilliantly in Oliver Stone's film Wall Street when Michael Douglas' character, Gordon Gekko, tells an audience of stockholders that "greed is good."

This point of view was shared by President Reagan, which is why he and the Republican Party did everything they could to reward greed in our economy.

It's why Reagan functionally stopped enforcing the Sherman Act -- so that big companies could merge with other big companies to create giant monopolies, kicking off the "merger mania."

It's why he dropped the top marginal tax rate for the super-rich from 70 percent down to 28 percent over the course of his administration.

It's also why he changed the tax code, so that CEOs were purely incentivized by greed to increase share prices and dividends.

Tax and accounting rules were both changed in the 1980s to turn CEOs into shareholders more than employees. This was done by converting huge chunks of their compensation from payroll into stocks and stock options.

The idea here was to connect CEO pay with the company's performance and therefore encourage efficiency in business practices and create a lot of money for everyone involved.

What it actually did, though, was give corporate executives an incentive to cut as many corners as possible to make as much money as possible, everything and everyone else be damned.

And that is precisely what happened since the 1980ies, with the following overall effect (and yes, I've used the graphic before):


The few rich got an enormous amount richer; the many non-rich lost money or stayed (at best) equal for the last 35 years.

And this is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews (which is from the first of the above dotted articles). This starts as follows:

Oct .13 marked the birthday of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – so perhaps it would be  fitting to take a moment to consider how Thatcherism still rules the global capitalist landscape.

During her political prime in the 1980s, Thatcher said she was out to change the soul, to change the conceptual universe in which people live, and her idea that “there is no alternative” (TINA) became so deeply embedded in our psyches and in our consciousness that it seems we could no longer imagine that there is an alternative to capitalism.

The neoliberalism of Thatcher was characterized by deregulation (especially in the financial sector), the suppression of labor, attacks on trade unions, and the privatization of state-owned corporations. Both Thatcher and Ronald Reagan oversaw the shift toward a more laissez-faire version of capitalism, which in effect reversed the post-1929 movement towards increased state-intervention and social-democratic capitalism.

It is long overdue that we lay this TINA concept to rest. Consider this: in the 1930s there was a clear sense that there was an alternative. After World War II, an alternative emerged in which the state was heavily involved; and taxation rates in the U.S. were very high. One of the persistent lies that we hear from Republicans is that high taxation rates destroy growth.

Donald Trump repeated this fallacy in the second presidential debate, but the record speaks differently. In 1945, that taxation rate on the top income brackets was 92 percent; it never fell below 70 percent until Ronald Reagan brought it down to 30 percent.

In 1981, Reagan significantly reduced the maximum tax rate, which affected the highest income earners, and lowered the top marginal tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent; in 1986 he further reduced the rate to 28 percent. Between 1945 and Reagan, the average rate of growth in the U.S. was around 4 to 5 percent per year: one of the most successful boom periods of American history, when the top tax rate was always at 70-odd percent.

Since Ronald Reagan, the top tax rate has hovered around 35-39 percent and the average rate of growth since the 1970s has been 2 percent.

And you see above how this enormous theft unpacked: The few rich got very much richer; the many non-rich lost what the rich gained, and stayed at best equal in income for 35 years.

Finally, to return to the beginning of this review:

I do think "neoliberalism" is itself a propaganda term. The "liberalism" the "neoliberalists" were for was only the liberty of the rich to exploit the non-rich as much as they could, unrestrained by any regulation, any law, and any other norm than the greedy insane moral (!) norm of Milton Friedman: CEOs have only one moral norm they must satisfy, and that is to return with as many profits as they can make (by any means, including torture and military force, as happened in Chili in the 1970ies, which was supported by Friedman).

And I do not think that economical mass-murder is "liberal": At best it is conservative, and it is more like neofascism than any other system I know of: Everything for the rich, without any moral restraints whatsoever.

Also, the very frightening fact about this baloney for the rich and the very rich is that it took in enormous amounts of people who were tricked by "liberalism" and "freedom":

In fact the few very rich changed and deregulated and destroyed all legal norms, all laws, and all sanctions on their enormous greed, and succeeded in getting richer and richer for 35 years, while everyone who was not rich grew poorer or remained the same all those years.

It was an enormous, extremely enriching fraud (<-Wikipedia), that defines "fraud" as: "deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right", which is precisely what happened, by the very rich and the rich, of everybody else, and so far their propaganda and their lies mostly succeeded.

4. On WikiLeaks, Journalism, and Privacy: Reporting on
the Podesta Archive is an Easy Call


The fourth and last item today is a single article by a single writer: Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept on journalistic principles:

This starts as follows:

For years, WikiLeaks has been publishing massive troves of documents online – usually taken without authorization from powerful institutions and then given to the group to publish – while news outlets report on their relevant content. In some instances, these news outlets work in direct partnership with WikiLeaks – as the New York Times and the Guardian, among others, did when jointly publishing the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and U.S. diplomatic cables – while other times media outlets simply review the archives published by WikiLeaks and then report on what they deem newsworthy.

WikiLeaks has always been somewhat controversial but reaction has greatly intensified this year because many of their most significant leaks have had an impact on the U.S. presidential election and, in particular, have focused on Democrats. As a result, Republicans who long vilified them as a grave national security threat have become their biggest fans (“I love WikiLeaks,” Donald Trump gushed last night, even though he previously called for Edward Snowden to be executed), while Democrats who cheered them for their mass leaks about Bush-era war crimes now scorn them as an evil espionage tool of the Kremlin.

Yes, indeed: This simply is what happened. It also shows that very many politically interested folks make their opinions on what is good and bad depend on whether what they judge serves their current political interests ("Good!") or opposes their current political interests ("Bad!") - which incidentally is a complete inversion of what rational and reasonable judgements would be like.

So here is a list of five principles that Glenn Greenwald articulates - and I give only a brief introduction plus the principles, but I deleted their explanatory texts:

When it comes to the question of whether and how the Podesta email archive should be reported, there are, in my view, five principles that ought to guide the decision-making process:

1. A source’s motives are irrelevant in deciding whether to
     publish
.
2. Journalists constantly publish material that is stolen or
     illegally obtained.
 3. The more public power someone has, the less privacy they
      are entitled to claim.
4. Whether something is “shocking” or “earth-shattering” is
      an irrelevant standard.
5. All journalists are arbiters of privacy and gatekeepers of
     information.

I agree with all of them, and in case you do not, or are interested in Glenn Greenwald's reasons, you should check out the last dotted link and read everything.

And in case you disagree with item 5 (which speakers for governments tend to do: They want to be the unique deciders of what the inhabitants in their nations should and should not read, much rather than their inhabitants or their journalists), here is Greenwald's eminently sensible argument:

The often-heard objection that journalists should not act as arbiters of privacy or gatekeepers of information is just absurd. All journalism entails exactly those judgments: about what should or should not be published, and about what invasions of privacy are or are not justified in the public interest.

When the New York Times publishes state secrets, it acts as “arbiters” of what should and should not be disclosed. When the Guardian and the Intercept and the Washington Post chose to publish some material from the Snowden archive but not all – on the ground that some of the material would destroy innocent people’s lives or reputations – they acted as “gatekeepers” of information. Literally every act of journalism entails this process. A core purpose of the First Amendment’s free press guarantee was to add an additional safeguard against excess government secrecy by ensuring that others beyond government officials made decisions about what the public knows. If you find it objectionable that journalists act as “arbiters” or “gatekeepers,” then you simply don’t believe in journalism, since all journalism entails that.

Quit so. The rest is equally good and recommended.
---------------
Notes
[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" destroy (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] I am, and I am certainly not a believer in "the equality of all": Everybody who is somewhat intelligent and honest knows that
this not true - and I am one of the very few who argued that this is
a reason why all should have equal rights.

[3] Yes, indeed. And if you don't believe this (as many don't) I can only suggest that you are not intelligent, or did not have revolutionary parents and grandparents, like I had, or have not been excluded illegally from the right to take an M.A. in philosophy, or just believe in pretensions of academic intellectuals because they sound so good.

In any case, by now I think the reason that I heard few psychologists and hardly any psychiatrist who said - publicly! - what I say is that they nearly all like their own incomes and statuses much more than the tales they tell their students about their "values" and "principles". (And it is true they may risk something if Trump becomes president: He HATES criticism of himself.)


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