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Nederlog

Oct 26, 2016

Crisis: Narcissistic Trump, AT&T Spies, Google Spies, Norman Lear
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Introduction

1.
Donald Trump’s Empty Bluster Reveals a Narcissist
     Who Can’t Fathom Defeat

2. 'Terrifying': AT&T Spying on Americans for Profit, New
     Documents
Reveal

3. Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally
     Identifiable Web-Tracking

4. Democracy Now on Norman Lear
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about Trump as a narcissist (which I think is correct); item 2 is about AT&T's systematic spying on Americans; item 3 is about Google giving up its ban on personally identifiable web-tracking; and item 4 is not a crisis item and is about Norman Lear, who designed All in the Family, and whom I like but don't quite agree with.


-- 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. Donald Trump’s Empty Bluster Reveals a Narcissist Who Can’t Fathom Defeat

The first item today is by Bill Blum on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The highlight of the third and, thankfully, final presidential debate last Wednesday came roughly at the midway point, when Donald Trump refused to say that he would accept the results of November’s election.

Since then, Trump has doubled down on his position, declaring he would accept the outcome only if he wins and invoking the example of the contested presidential vote in 2000 to reinforce his right not to concede. His rationale—articulated with increasing vigor as his poll numbers have plummeted—is that the vote is “rigged” as a result of electoral irregularities.

Like most of the loathsome rhetoric he’s spewed since announcing his candidacy back in June 2015, Trump’s pre-emptive refusal to recognize the election’s outcome is an incendiary mix of personal pathology and magical thinking, racism and xenophobia, facts and legal distortion.

Yes, indeed. In fact, I have been saying that Trump is not sane since March 14 of this year, but perhaps I shouild add that I am a psychologist.

In fact, I can add a little more now: I don't think Trump was mad in 1992 (when he was interviewed by Charlie Rose). I don't like him, but at that time he seemed mostly sane.

Here is Bill Blum's realization that Trump shows considerable "personal pathology":

In a column published in July, I discussed the Republican standard-bearer’s personality, as analyzed by several leading mental-health experts who have followed his career closely. Their view is that Trump is a malignant narcissist—that he suffers from a well-defined psychological disorder marked by an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement, an overinflated belief in the quality of his achievements and talent, a preoccupation with fantasies about success and power, and a lack of empathy for others.

Yes indeed, I think that is correct, except for the "malignant": The psycho- pathology Trump suffers from is grandiose narcissism. (It's explained under the last link.)

Here is some more on Trump's narcissism:

As a narcissist, Trump cannot countenance actual defeat or even the possibility of losing in an election that hasn’t happened yet. His signature axiom is that he’s a “winner.” Hence, if he fails, it must be the fault of a rigged system—and the deceit and/or stupidity of those responsible for his undoing.

No, I don't think Trump's "signature axiom is that he’s a “winner”": I think his signature axiom (I'll adopt the phrase for the moment) is that Donald Trump Is The Very Best in everything that counts (for Trump).

This is somewhat different from being a “winner”, and one relevant difference is that one may realistically be a winner in something - say: Kasparov in chess, Cruyff in soccer - without being insane in any sense, while it simply is humanly impossible to be The Very Best in everything or in most things.

In fact, for almost any of the many desirable properties you have as a human being, there is almost certain to be one (in many cases: many) who is better at that property than you.

But Trump denies this: He is The Very Best - and he publicly declared himself to be so - in many things. And it is this that struck me on March 14, indeed after having been primed by someone else.

The above bits were all quoted from the beginning of the article, in which it is also clearly explained why Trump is raving about the elections being rigged.
I skip this, and only quote the end:

Unless lightning strikes and the ground shakes, Trump’s political career is drawing to an embarrassing close. Progressives should bid him a fond farewell, even as they gear up to face off against the Clinton administration and whatever new demagogue comes along to fill Trump’s shoes on the right.

Yes - that is, if he goes calmly, which isn't certain. But I agree there will be a new Republican demagogue, and this article is recommended.

2.
'Terrifying': AT&T Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal

The second item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle, which I quote:
'If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future'
Yes, indeed. And we'll get some more on this below. The article opens as follows:

Telecommunications giant AT&T is spying on Americans for profit and helped law enforcement agencies investigate everything from the so-called war on drugs to Medicaid fraud—all at taxpayers' expense, according to new reporting by The Daily Beast.

The program, known as Project Hemisphere, allowed state and local agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trillions of call records and other cellular data—such as "where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why"—for a massive range of investigations, the Beast's Kenneth Lipp reports.
I am not at all amazed. What may be used, may be abused, while searches of everyone's computers, everyone's cellphones, and everyone's ideas, values, interests and convictions are an extremely dangerous form of radical abuse from the start.

But it is possible; it gives much more knowledge of and as much more power over the many by the few; and so, since our corrupt politicians have systematically helped the few rich, this will continue - I fear - until the whole economical system collapses.

Here is some more on Hemisphere:

Hemisphere was first revealed by the New York Times in 2013, but was described at the time as a "partnership" between AT&T and drug enforcement agencies used in counter-narcotics operations.

Neither, it turns out, is entirely true.

Lipp writes:

AT&T's own documentation—reported here by The Daily Beast for the first time—shows Hemisphere was used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud.

Hemisphere isn’t a "partnership" but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company's massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.

So to put this rather precisely: The CEO of AT&T has decided to give the keys to the houses of hundreds of millions of people to whoever uses Hemisphere, on one condition: Those who got the keys to hundreds of millions of houses, lives, persons, backgrounds etc. etc. should not say they got the keys from Hemisphere.

Here is someone who speaks for Fight for the Future:
Evan Greer, campaign director at the digital rights group Fight for the Future, said Tuesday, "The for-profit spying program that these documents detail is more terrifying than the illegal [National Security Agency] surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed. Far beyond the NSA and FBI, these tools are accessible to a wide range of law enforcement officers including local police, without a warrant, as long as they pay up."
I do not know whether Hemisphere is "more terrifying than the illegal [National Security Agency] surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed". Two reasons to doubt it are (i) AT&T is not the state nor the government, while the NSA is part of the secret services of the government, and (ii) while this may help the police (all in totally unwarranted and secret ways) the police still has to secure a conviction in a court of law.

Then there is this on the law and how the police can secure a conviction when they have data that they cannot declare the source of:

And because the contract between the telecom company and the U.S. government stipulates only that agents not speak about Hemisphere if a probe using it becomes public, investigators may be left with no choice but to create a false narrative to explain how they obtained certain evidence, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) attorney Adam Schwartz.

"This document here is striking,” Schwartz told Beast. "I've seen documents produced by the government regarding Hemisphere, but this is the first time I've seen an AT&T document which requires parallel construction in a service to government. It's very troubling and not the way law enforcement should work in this country."

"At a minimum there is a very serious question whether they should be doing it without a warrant. A benefit to the parallel construction is they never have to face that crucible. Then the judge, the defendant, the general public, the media, and elected officials never know that AT&T and police across America funded by the White House are using the world's largest metadata database to surveil people," he said.

Yes, Schwartz is quite right. But there are two solutions, and I think the second will soon be tried somehow:

First, AT&T's CEO may decide that the police etc. who bought and used Hemisphere may speak of it. And second, it seems quite likely that the Fourth Amendment will be made "legally" utterly pointless, so that it absolutely does not protect anyone. Your paper letters - possibly - still are "protected" by it, but your electronically sent letters are not protected by it "because it is electronic".

The last indeed seems to have been the - utter bullshit - "reason" that is in the Patriot Act. In any case, since then the NSA has collected everything anyone sent by mail, it seems.

Here is the final bit that I'll quote:

Greer added: "Customers trusted AT&T with some of their most private information, and the company turned around and literally built a product to sell that information to as many government agencies and police departments as they could. Not only did they fail to have any safeguards to prevent unauthorized use of the data, they actually required law enforcement to keep the program secret and dig up or fabricate other evidence, to hide the fact that they'd received information from AT&T."
(...)
"If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future," Greer said.

Yes, indeed. And that seems for many in government and in the tops of the big corporations the point: They want all the power, and this is the way to get it.

This is a recommended article. Here is more of the same:


3. Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web-Tracking

The third item is by Julia Angwin on Truthdig and originally on ProPublica:

This starts as follows:

When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.

But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use of Gmail and other tools.

The change is enabled by default for new Google accounts. Existing users were prompted to opt-in to the change this summer.

Since 2007 Sergey Brin may have added a few billions of dollars to his personal account, and such major differences between the extremely rich and the rest are bound to show in quite a few cases.

One of these is his honesty and integrity: Google had - in 2007, which is nine years ago - the norm that "privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”" And now that it seems privacy is worth a lot of money if it can be wholly destroyed for everyone who is not very rich, he seems to have reconsidered, and seems to have been "literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default".

So here is how it stands now with Google:

The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them based on your name and other information Google knows about you. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.

The move is a sea change for Google and a further blow to the online ad industry’s longstanding contention that web tracking is mostly anonymous. In recent years, Facebook, offline data brokers and others have increasingly sought to combine their troves of web tracking data with people’s real names. But until this summer, Google held the line.

Well, I hate Fuckbook and I don't think Google is any better. Clearly, what both the NSA and GCHQ (etc.) and dataminers like Google and Fuckbook want is to know absolutely everything about absolutely everyone, and computers and cellphones are THE means by which they are going to know everything about anyone (who isn't extremely rich), indeed by hook or by crook, also with a total irrelevance of all earlier promises and all earlier sayings: Profit is the norm, and profit is the only norm. And you and your privacy are totally irrelevant on the scales of Google or Fuckbook.

But the era of social networking has ushered in a new wave of identifiable tracking, in which services such as Facebook and Twitter have been able to track logged-in users when they shared an item from another website.

Two years ago, Facebook announced that it would track its users by name across the Internet when they visit websites containing Facebook buttons such as “Share” and “Like” – even when users don’t click on the button.

Again I am very glad that I hate and despise Fuckbook and Twitter and never was nor ever will be "a member" of these thieving organizations. What about the others?

I am afraid the vast majority doesn't understand computers well enough to understand the amounts of abuse that these enable.

4. Democracy Now on Norman Lear

The fourth and last item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! and is here because I like Norman Lear (<-Wikipedia), who designed "All in the Family" (<-Wikipedia), which I happen to like a lot.

This is not a crisis item, and in fact there are two interviews with Norman Lear on Democracy Now:

The first of the above two links has the following introduction:

Ninety-four-year-old legendary TV producer and longtime political activist Norman Lear has led a remarkable life. He helped revolutionize sitcom television with a string of hit shows including "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son," "The Jeffersons," "Good Times" and "Maude." In 1999, President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts, saying, "Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it." Norman Lear is also a longtime activist, earning him a place on Richard Nixon’s enemies list and the scorn of the Christian right. His life, art and social activism is the subject of the new "American Masters" documentary, "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You," which premieres tonight on PBS. We spoke with Norman Lear in studio last week.

Yes, and this is a good introduction. This is from the trailer for "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You":

PHIL ROSENTHAL: Television can be broken into two parts: before Norman and after Norman.

GEORGE CLOONEY: This is a period of time where we were at our—probably our greatest change socially. Mainstream television was one of the last things to jump, and the first person to force it over that hill was Norman.

JON STEWART: All in the Family was the greatest.

DICK CAVETT: Do you have a quick answer for the people who say the show reinforces bigotry?

NORMAN LEAR: Yes. My quick answer is no.

I agree with Jon Stewart, but I disagree somewhat with Norman Lear.

My reason is that (i) I believe All in the Family did reinforce bigotry, and part of my reason are some of the comments one finds under versions of All in the Family on Youtube, but (ii) this bigotry is strongly correlated with ignorance and stupidity: intelligent people see Archie Bunker is human, a fool and a bigot, but with sympathetic sides, but unintelligent people insist that what he says is true.

That is so now, and I think it also was the case in the 1970ies, when the program was originally aired (but then there was no Youtube).

Again, my disagreement also goes a bit further:

AMY GOODMAN: (...) I began by asking him what the title Just Another Version of You means to him.

NORMAN LEAR: Well, that’s been my bumper sticker for a number of years. And when Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who produced and directed the film—and, I think, did a brilliant job—they happened to see my bumper sticker one day, and they were studying my life and so forth, and they said, "That’s going to be the title, if you don’t mind, of the documentary." And that’s the way I feel about it, you know? We are versions of one another in our common humanity, whatever our color, whatever our ethnicity, whatever, you know, on the surface makes us individuals. In terms of our common humanity, we are copies of one another.

No, I am sorry: I don't believe that and my main reasons are my own history and that of my family. I'll come to that in a moment. First a little more about Norman Lear, whom I like but don't agree with:

If you look in the Wikipedia item for
Norman Lear you'll find that he is fairly special in two respects (at least):

First, all his successes on TV were in the 1970ies (as can be seen from the schema at the end of the
Norman Lear item), which seems to me to be a bit special. I don't think this has very much to do with Norman Lear, and a lot with the special time that the 1970ies were (which Lear played extremely well).

And second, Lear divorced in 1986 from his second wife, and gave her $112 million dollars, which - I take it - was about half of his wealth. Few people get as wealthy as that, and it seems that already only for that reason, a man who makes over $200 million can't be "
Just Another Version of You".

Then again, my own history and that of my family is considerably more important and disposes me to believe that "our common humanity,
whatever our color, whatever our ethnicity, whatever, you know" isn't very special, and indeed produces many more real Archie Bunkers than - say - Albert Einsteins.

As to the story of myself and my family:

My mother's parents were quite intelligent people who were anarchists, but who had very little money and no education beyond 14; my father's father turned communist in the 1930ies, as did my father, who had an IQ over 135, like my mother; both of my parents and my grandfather went into the resistance in WW II (which was rare, in Holland, where there were 6 times more SS'ers than members of the Resistance, and where over 100,000 people were arrested and murdered for being "of the wrong race"); both my father and his father were arrested in 1941 and condemned as "political terrorists" to concentration camp imprisonment, which my grandfather did not survive; after the end of WW II both my parents remained communists and also remained very poor, while being discriminated by quite a few Dutchmen - very falsely - as "traitors" because they were communists.

The explanation I have for my parents' and grandparents' quite individual and quite rare choices is that they certainly were more intelligent than most, and that they also, besides, were ethically good in ways most Dutchmen (many of whom collaborated in WW II) were not willing or not capable to be.

As for me: I was called "a fascist" for more than ten years by many students because I believed in truth and in science, and they did not, and also because I was not a Marxist, while many leading students at the time I studied were (pseudo-)communists, for all Dutch universities were from 1971-1995 in the hands of the students. Also, I was denied the right to take an M.A. in philosophy because I had said - completely truly - that hardly anyone of those who taught me were competent and
- completely truly - all were much more interested in their incomes and their status than in doing philosophy (which hardly anyone did: They did not publish, for example, as academically employed very well paid "philosophers" "because we are not vain").

Also I have a very high intelligence, so no: I do not believe "we are all equal" or "we are all equivalent": If we were, then (i) many more Jews would have been saved in WW II (but more than 1% of the total Dutch population - all supposed to be "of the Jewish race" - were murdered in WW II) and (ii) many more students would have protested against the worthless education they were offered by the University of Amsterdam if they had been more intelligent or more courageous.

They did not, and therefore I believe there are genuine and deep intellectual and ethical differences between people, which one should not attempt to deny (as a very intelligent multi-millionaire also).

Here is a double quotation:

AMY GOODMAN: American Masters, yes. This is Rob Reiner, who played Mike Stivic, Archie Bunker’s son-in-law, on the iconic show All in the Family, talking about the reaction to this series. And it’s followed by a clip of All in the Family.

ROB REINER: The headline is "All in the Family Introduces the World to Foul-Mouthed Archie Bunker." "CBS rolled the dice last night with a new situation comedy, All in the Family which will either be the biggest hit of the season or the biggest bomb." So, there you go. That’s what it says. Eight. We did eight seasons.

MICHAEL STIVIC: [played by Rob Reiner] You know, you’re right, Archie? You’re right: The British are a bunch of pansies—pansies, fairies and sissies. And the Japanese are a race of midgets. The Irish are boozers. The Mexicans are bandits.

ARCHIE BUNKER: And you Pollocks are meatheads.

Yes - but this dimwitted ethnical baloney still is popular among the dimwitted  - and I am sorry, but the main reason is that they are dimwitted.

Here is a last question:

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Archie Bunker would have voted for Donald Trump?

NORMAN LEAR: I think of Donald Trump as the middle finger of the American right hand. The American people, you know, we are—in a democracy, the democracy depends on an informed citizenry, which would be a well-led and informed citizenry. I don’t think we have a media, generally, that informs. It yells. It screams. It does bumper sticker. It doesn’t do anything in context. We don’t get the news in context. And the American people, aching for leadership, are tossed a Donald Trump, and I think they say, "OK, take this." And they’re saying, with that middle finger, "Take this," to the rest of us.

Yes indeed, but Norman Lear did not answer Amy Goodman's question.
My own answer is: Yes, Archie Bunker would vote for Donald Trump, as do millions who are intellectually like Bunker.

But I like Norman Lear, and I have not quoted anything from the second interview above. Both interviews are recommended.

---------------
Note
[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).

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