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Nederlog

Oct 23, 2016

Crisis: Trump's Ends, Julian Assange, Trust, Republicans, Noam Chomsky
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Trump No Longer Really Running for President
2. Truthdigger of the Week: Julian Assange, Publisher of
     the Clinton Campaign Emails

3. The Trust Destroyers
4. 'Unprecedented': Poll Shows Half of Republicans Would
     Reject Clinton Win

5. Noam Chomsky on the Perils of Market-Driven
     Education
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, October 23, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a speculation by Peter Dreier: Trump is not trying to be president anymore, but is trying to set up a right-wing media empire; item 2 is about Julian Assange, who was declared Truthdigger of the Week and who also was attacked from several sides; item 3 is about an article by Robert Reich, that is (at least) correct in saying that there is very little (political) trust in the current USA; item 4 is about the fact that half of the Republicans (!) would "reject" a win of Hillary Clinton; and item 5 is about another interview in the series of inter- views with Noam Chomsky that C.J. Polychroniou has made. This is about education in the USA.


-- 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. (It was OK on October 22, but not before.)

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. 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. Trump No Longer Really Running for President

The first item today is by Peter Dreier on AlterNet and originally on The American Prospect:

This starts as follows (and no: the title is not literally true):

If it wasn't clear before Wednesday night's debate, it should be obvious now that Donald Trump is no longer seriously running for president. He is using his campaign to become the leader of what he calls “our movement”—a white supremacist, nativist, and nationalist crusade—to boost his ego, settle scores (including with many Republicans), and make it impossible for Hillary Clinton to govern. He intends to become America's first celebrity demagogue.

I do not know whether this is true. My main reason is that I don't think Donald Trump is sane, as I first explained on March 14, 2016. And I should add that I am a psychologist, who has known quite a number of people who were not sane, though indeed I have met no one who was as evidently as grandiose a narcissist as Donald Trump is (who by his income also has had far more opportunities to indulge in this kind of personal pathology: he 'is famous' and therefore (he said) he can "grab them" - any woman he likes - "by the pussy").

The following is true:

As his poll numbers have dropped, Trump has become increasingly inflammatory. After his campaign advisers realized that they could not control him and that he could not control himself—that he was prone to impulsive and self-destructive behavior—they tried to turn his worst character traits into an asset by claiming that they were encouraging "Trump to be Trump." It was all on display on the debate podium at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Trump's performance offered no surprises. What Americans saw was the same racist, sexist, thin-skinned, nativist bully—dispensing paranoid conspiracy theories, unable to make a coherent argument, going ballistic whenever Clinton criticized him—that we've watched for more than a year on the campaign trail.

But I also have to add that somebody who was busy "dispensing paranoid conspiracy theories, unable to make a coherent argument, going ballistic whenever Clinton criticized him" again also does not appear to be quite sane, to which I add that some 80% of his statements (!!) also were lies.

Peter Dreier thinks this is (or may be) true:

For the past few months, Trump has been using his campaign to set the stage for a new white supremacist right-wing media empire with Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon (his campaign chair) and adviser Roger Ailes (the former Fox News head fired for flagrant sexual assault and harassment). Their goal is to create a media vehicle that will serve as the voice of the right-wing movement Trump intends to lead and to compete with, and outfox, Fox News.

But he ends as follows:

Whether Trump can translate his megalomaniac fantasy into political reality remains to be seen. But as America hits the home stretch of this bizarre election season, it is clear that after the votes have been counted, we won't have seen the last of Donald Trump.

Perhaps. And this is a recommended article.

2. Truthdigger of the Week: Julian Assange, Publisher of the Clinton Campaign Emails

The second item is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Should we condemn Julian Assange for his recent interventions in U.S. politics?

The Australian hacker-turned-journalist became an international hero for free speech and government transparency in 2010 when he published through WikiLeaks, an organization he co-founded, a quartet of award-winning disclosures revealing the U.S. military behaving far worse in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than it had admitted and U.S. State Department officials speaking frankly about their allies and intentions around the globe.

Under threat of exposure, the Obama administration, led by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, leapt into action, opening a criminal investigation into Assange and pursuing him through its international allies to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012, where he remains to this day, functionally imprisoned under asylum. This week, while he was still coordinating his work with others, the Ecuadorean government suspended his internet access.

I do think Julian Assange merits the honor - so to speak - of being made "Truthdigger of the Week". And I will sharpen this a bit by saying something about the beginning and the end of the above quotation.

The initial question clearly should be answered with "No".

One may not agree with everything Assange says and does (I don't), but someone who is publishing many official things that ought to be much more widely known than they are, and which are not as far as well known as they deserve to be because (i) the American government (and other governments) try to keep them secret, while (ii) a considerable amount of the (American) mainstream press mostly prints what the (American) government likes to see published, cannot be properly blamed for "intervening in U.S. politics".

This was one of my reasons to say on October 19 that Assange was censored by the Ecuadorian government:

It seems Ecuador's government likes it if Hillary Clinton is elected president, and dislikes it if Donald Trump were elected; Ecuador's government believes Assange's publications on Wikileak decreases Clinton's chances; therefore Ecuador's government decided to stop Julian Assange's use of internet.

And this was an additional reason I gave:

Why should Assange be prevented from "attempting to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency"?!

If he does - for which I have not seen one iota of proof - I disagree with him, but he does no more than 4/5th or more of the mainstream media have been doing the last seven months.

Then again, there are some who say Assange did not publish as he should have:

Relative newcomers to the critique of Assange are NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, journalist, author and activist Naomi Klein and Harvard Law professor and civil liberties advocate Lawrence Lessig. They take issue with the failure of Assange and his colleagues to strip the leaked documents of information that is not essential to the business of informed democracy and which unnecessarily spotlights the personal lives of the people involved.

I have to say that I neither like Klein nor Lessig and I will not consider their arguments.

And there is Edward Snowden, who tweeted:

To which I say: Perhaps. The writer of the article, in partial answer to this, asks two questions:

Would Assange, who set out to perform the honorable service of exposing government corruption, behave as he does today if he, a single individual with limited resources, had not been relentlessly pursued into the corner of a single room for 5½ years by people atop the most powerful state in civilized history? And can he, under burden of stress and loss of staff, associations and resources, be expected to fulfill the ethical obligations he once honored and still perform the service of making essential, willfully concealed information public?

These are good questions. The article is recommended.

3. The Trust Destroyers

The third item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Donald Trump’s warning that he might not accept the results of the presidential election exemplifies his approach to everything: Do whatever it takes to win, even if that means undermining the integrity of the entire system.

Trump isn’t alone. The same approach underlies Senator John McCain’s recent warning that Senate Republicans will unite against any Supreme Court nominee Hillary Clinton might put up, if she becomes president. 

The Republican Party as a whole has embraced this philosophy for more than two decades. After Newt Gingrich took over as Speaker of the House in 1995, compromise was replaced by brinksmanship, and normal legislative maneuvering was supplanted by threats to close down the government – which occurred at the end of that year.

I suppose this is more or less correct. Then again, it weren't just the Republicans:

In truth, it’s not just Republicans and not just relationships between the two major parties that have suffered from the prevailing ethos. During this year’s Democratic primaries, former Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her staff showed disdain for the integrity of the political process by discussing ways to derail Bernie Sanders’s campaign, according to hacked emails.

The same ethos is taking over the private sector.
This is followed by a number of illustrations which I leave to your interests.

The article ends as follows:

By stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable, all the people I’ve mentioned – and too many others just like them – have undermined prevailing norms and weakened the tacit rules of the game.

The net result has been a vicious cycle of public distrust. Our economic and political systems appear to be rigged, because, to an increasing extent, they are. Which makes the public ever more cynical – and, ironically, more willing to believe half-baked conspiracy theories such as Trump’s bizarre claim that the upcoming election is rigged.
(...)

The cumulative damage of today’s ethos of doing whatever it takes to win, even at the cost of undermining the integrity of our system, is incalculable.

There certainly is a lot less trust than there was, in the USA, indeed for quite a while also. And see the next item for how this might unpack:

4. 'Unprecedented': Poll Shows Half of Republicans Would Reject Clinton Win

The fourth item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Half of Republicans would "reject" a Hillary Clinton presidency, with nearly 70 percent saying a win for the Democratic nominee would be the result of a rigged election, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found.

The survey, released Friday, indicates that Republicans are continuing to take their cues from party nominee Donald Trump, who suggested at the final presidential debate this week that he might contest the election results if he loses—an "unprecedented" break with democratic tradition in America, as many observers pointed out in response.

Conversely, the poll found, seven in 10 Democrats would accept a Trump presidency, and Clinton has said she would not contest the results.

I say. That is more than I thought, though the explanation seems correct. Then again, one problem is what Republicans mean when they say they "would "reject" a Hillary Clinton presidency", and a related problem is what they are willing to do to prevent a Clinton presidency.

In fact, I think do not have adequate ideas to answer these questions.

Here is some more on Trump's false hysterics:

Trump has also called on his supporters to "monitor" polling places around the country on Election Day for voter fraud—raising concerns about intimidation and suppression by the right. The independent policy institute Brennan Center for Justice has consistently reported that this kind of widespread illegitimate voter fraud does not exist.

As Lonna Atkeson, University of New Mexico professor and head of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections, and Democracy, told Reuters, this level of mistrust among Republicans is unprecedented.

"I've never seen an election like this. Not in my lifetime. Certainly not in modern history," she said.

I say. We shall have to find out whether Trump will call for - say - 10 million followers with arms, to prevent Clinton from winning the election. [2]

5. Noam Chomsky on the Perils of Market-Driven Education

The fifth and last item is by C.J. Polychroniou and Lily Sage on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

Throughout most of the modern period, beginning with the era known as the Enlightenment, education was widely regarded as the most important asset for the building of a decent society. However, this value seems to have fallen out of favor in the contemporary period, perhaps as a reflection of the dominance of the neoliberal ideology, creating in the process a context where education has been increasingly reduced to the attainment of professional, specialized skills that cater to the needs of the business world.

What is the actual role of education and its link to democracy, to decent human relations and to a decent society? What defines a cultured and decent society? World-renowned linguist, social critic and activist Noam Chomsky shares his views on education and culture in this exclusive interview for Truthout.

In fact, C.J. Polychroniou has published quite a few good interviews with Noam Chomsky, and I have been covering some of them on Nederlog, and this is another one.

Here is Chomsky on education and the USA:

Noam Chomsky: I don't think there is a simple answer. The actual state of education has both positive and negative elements, in this regard. An educated public is surely a prerequisite for a functioning democracy -- where "educated" means not just informed but enabled to inquire freely and productively, the primary end of education. That goal is sometimes advanced, sometimes impeded, in actual practice, and to shift the balance in the right direction is a major task -- a task of unusual importance in the United States, in part because of its unique power, in part because of ways in which it differs from other developed societies.

It is important to remember that although the richest country in the world for a long time, until World War II, the US was something of a cultural backwater. If one wanted to study advanced science or math, or to become a writer and artist, one would often be attracted to Europe. That changed with World War II for obvious reasons, but only for part of the population.
Yes, I think that is all correct, indeed including "An educated public is surely a prerequisite for a functioning democracy" - which means either that there is not much of "a functioning democracy" left in the USA or else that there is some, but it is mostly limited to a part of the public that is decently educated, which is a minority, and - comparatively, at least - not a large one.

There is this on the markets, "neoliberalism" and education in the USA:
The market-driven education tendencies that you mention are unfortunately very real, and harmful. They should, I think, be regarded as part of the general neoliberal assault on the public. The business model seeks "efficiency," which means imposing "flexibility of labor" and what Alan Greenspan hailed as "growing worker insecurity" when he was praising the great economy he was running (before it crashed). That translates into such measures as undermining longer-term commitments to faculty and relying on cheap and easily exploitable temporary labor (adjuncts, graduate students).The consequences are harmful to the work force, the students, research and inquiry, in fact all the goals that higher education should seek to achieve.
Yes, although it should be realized that Chomsky is speaking about American universities.

There is considerably more in the interview, which is recommended.

To illustrate one - radical - difference with the Dutch situation (which I know best because I am Dutch), which indeed was (and is) quite different from the American one, I quote one bit about truth and the University of Wisconsin:

At one point the state government even wanted to change the traditional mission of the university, deleting the commitment to "seeking truth" -- a waste of time for an institution producing people who will be useful for Wisconsin businesses. That was so outrageous that it hit the newspapers, and they had to claim it was a clerical error and withdraw it.
In the University of Amsterdam the academic year 1978/1979 was officially opened with a speech by the professor of history Brandt, who said literally (in Dutch) that
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist"
which was postmodernism even before the term "postmodernism" was coined (which happened in 1979).

It was extremely popular in the University of Amsterdam [3], and indeed four years later the whole official purpose of the University of Amsterdam was declared to be this:
to further the ends (from 1983-1988) of "the trade union movement, the feminist movement and the environmental movement",
much rather than doing science, educating students, or investigating truth (that to the best of my knowledge was not studied from 1978-1995, at least, though a few physicists, chemists, and biologists might have disagreed, although no one said so in public, to the best of my - considerable - knowledge).

And there was no Dutch paper or newsprogram that paid the slightest attention to the fact that truth was no longer a goal of the university; that
truth was - very widely also, and for many years - denied to exist; and that in effect the whole Dutch university system between 1971 and 1995 (when the system was in the hands of the students) was political much rather than scientific (which indeed also had no reason to exist if "everybody knows that truth does not exist").

But I agree this is personal to me and also happened quite a while ago. [4]

Back to Noam Chomsky and the interview, which ends thus:

I am old enough to remember the atmosphere of the 1930s. A large part of my family came from the unemployed working class. Many had barely gone to school. But they participated in the high culture of the day. They would discuss the latest plays, concerts of the Budapest String Quartet, different varieties of psychoanalysis and every conceivable political movement. There was also a very lively workers' education system with which leading scientists and mathematicians were directly involved. A lot of this has been lost … but it can be recovered and it is not lost forever.

I am not "old enough to remember the atmosphere of the 1930s" (I was born in 1950), but I think this says considerably more about Chomsky's personal background and experiences than it says about the 1930s.

But I may be mistaken, and there is a lot more in the article, that is 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" (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] You might reply "but this would be insane" - and I do not say "No", but as I have argued now quite a few
times and since nearly eight months: I do not think Trump is sane, and for this reason I do not know what he will do.

[3] I have explained this quite a few times now (and also most of it is in Dutch), but I must say that the whole Dutch university system was unique in the world between 1971 and 1995, because it was all that time officially in the hands of the students.

It was so, because the Dutch National Parliament decided in 1971 that all Dutch universities would be ruled by "a government" consisting of a Board of Directors, and two kinds of "parliaments": The University Parliament and many Faculty Parliaments, which were all to be elected on the principle of one man = one vote, regardless of whether the man (or woman) cleaned toilets, was a secretary, was a student, or was a lecturer or a professor.

This system was in force from 1971 till 1995, when the whole system was completely destroyed, and the power in the universities was given to the Board of Directors only.

In the University of Amsterdam, this meant that the students officially had the power for 24 years (simply because there were and are far more students than others) and that the power was always in the hands of the student party ASVA, that was led by members of the Communist Party until 1984, and by postmodernists from 1984 till 1995.

[4] For me this meant the University of Amsterdam in fact was ruined (as a real university) from 1971 onwards, that is for 45 years now. It is true it took some time, but here are some facts that helped a lot and are rather like the USA (although that also was and is quite different):
 
Pre-university education was about halved, since 1965: Until around 1970 one had to do examinations in at least 14 subjects, mostly written as well; since the late 1970ies one could study with just six exams, that were partially taken with oral examinations only;

University education was about halved, from the 90ies or the early 2000s onwards, both in time and in contents; but also:

University education was made 10 to 25 times more expensive (depending on whether you look at the prices for education or at the enormous declines in money to keep students alive).

So in these respects, the Dutch have been following "the U.S. lead".

The "universities" are still called "universities", although by now (or very soon) Tony Blair's ideal that everyone with an IQ of 100 may be able to get a university degree will be realized...


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