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Nederlog

 Nov 20, 2016

Crisis: Davis, McLennan, McGovern, Reich, Simic
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
17 Reasons the Opportunity for Transformational
     Change Doesn't Belong to Trump

2. Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Be Like the George W.
     Bush Disaster—Only Worse

3.
Installing a Torture Fan at CIA
4. The First 100 Day Resistance Agenda
5. Expendable America
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 20, 2016.

A.
This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links and it consists (mostly) of some further deliberations on the meanings of Trump's election as president of the USA:

Item 1 is about one of the first decent analyses of the outcomes of the presidental elections that I have read (other than - fake or genuine - hysteria from journalist); item 2 is a warning that Trump will be like Bush Jr. but worse (which I think is a correct estimate); item 3 is about the fact that the nominated new head of the CIA is for torture (and murder, and this is a good article, though it probably will not make you happy); item 4 is about an article by Reich, which doesn't seem very sensible, because he presumes too much that Trump will be like Obama (he may be right, but let's wait and see instead of simply assume it and base plans on that assumption); and item 5 is about a quite good article by Charles Simic, that I strongly recommend.

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days. And it still does (on 11 - 17.xi.2016). 18.xi. was correct as
was 19.xi.


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: This worked correctly on 11 and 12 xi.2016, but not the day before nor on 13.xi.2016. It was OK on 14.xi.2016 and on 15.xi.2016. But not on 16 and 17 xi.
18.xi. was correct as was 19.xi. (I say!)

And I think now this happens intentionally on both my sites, for this did not happen for 20 years on the one, nor for 12 years on the other. (And this is not "automatic": it changes from day to day.)

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. 17 Reasons the Opportunity for Transformational Change Doesn't Belong to Trump

The first item today is by Mike Davis on AlterNet and originally on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
We should resist the temptation to over-interpret Trump’s election as an American Eighteenth Brumaire or 1933. Progressives who think they’ve woken up in another country should calm down, take a stiff draught, and reflect on the actual election results from the swing states.
In fact, I think this article is a decent analysis of the results of the presidential election, and also one of the first of that kind that I've read (a mere eleven days after the election(!)), but I'll stop for a moment and consider the Eighteenth Brumaire (<-Wikipedia), and do so because I know what it refers to (but I had parents who were - intelligent, honest, anti-Nazi - communists for 45 years), while I strongly doubt most Americans can identify the reference.

As indicated by the link, the
Eighteenth Brumaire refers to France in 1799, when the months had been changed to suit the revolution of a few years before, and to the fact that on that date (November 9, 1799, in more familiar terms) Napoleon Bonaparte committed a coup d'état, and seized all power in France.

Again, I know the term mostly because Karl Marx published in 1852 an essay in which he satirized the coup d'état by Napoleon's nephew Louis Napoleon in 1851, who in fact ruled France as Napoleon III from 1852 till 1870. And I much doubt
most present-day Americans know this.

But this was merely an aside, and the article is a decent analysis of the outcomes of the election (which - incidentally - are not completed yet, in precise counts).

Here are the first two of seventeen numbered remarks:

1. Turnout was initially reported to be significantly lower than 2012, but late returns indicate the same percentage of voters (approximately 58 percent) although with a smaller major party share. The minority parties, led by the Libertarians, increased their vote from 2 to 5 percent of the total.

2. With the exceptions of Iowa and Ohio, there were no Trump landslides in key states. He polled roughly the same as Romney, making up smaller votes in the suburbs with larger votes in rural areas to achieve the same overall result. His combined margin of victory in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania combined was razor thin, about 107,000 votes.

I merely note here that the first point might be used to blame the minority parties for Trump's winning, while the second point might be used to blame some kind of rigging (by fraud, or by closing many places were people could vote).

In fact, I think both are difficult or impossible to prove, even if true.

The third point is rather important, especially because the press has made it look otherwise (for they blamed the white working-class):

3. The great surprise of the election was not a huge white working-class shift to Trump but rather his success in retaining the loyalty of Romney voters, and indeed even slightly improving on the latter’s performance among evangelicals for whom the election was viewed a last stand. Thus economic populism and nativism potently combined with, but did not displace, the traditional social conservative agenda.

Put otherwise, one of the reasons for Trump's winning is not the massive support of the white working-class, but his getting the vote from most social conservatives of any income.

And there is also another important factor: the evangelicals:

4. The key factor in carrying the Republicans was Trump’s cynical covenant with religious conservatives following the primary defeat of Ted Cruz. He gave them a free hand to draft the party platform at the Convention and then teamed with one of their popular heroes, Mike Pence of Indiana, a nominal Catholic who attends an evangelical megachurch. At stake for right-to-lifers, of course, was control of the Supreme Court and a final chance to reverse Roe v Wade. This may explain why Clinton, who unlike Obama allowed herself to be identified with late-term abortions, underperformed him by 8 points among Latino Catholics.

Yes, quite possibly so. And there are 13 more points, and this is a recommended article.

2. Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Be Like the George W. Bush Disaster—Only Worse

The second item is
by Sophia McLennan on AlterNet and originally on Salon (and I shortened the short story that is the title a bit [2]):

This starts as follows:
In yet another post-election example of wish fulfillment, there are rumors circulating that president-elect Donald Trump won’t actually stay in office all four years because he won’t want to do the job. After Trump met with President Obama, we heard reports that he “seemed surprised” by the scope of the job. We have also heard that Trump won’t want to sleep much in the White House and that he is likely to spend more time at Trump Tower. Then there is the idea that all Trump wanted to do was win, not actually lead. The New York Times reported back in July that Trump stated that he wouldn’t rule out quitting after he had won.
I don't take any of this seriously, and indeed consider it more likely these are examples of wish fulfillments. But there may be something to it, namely this:
But before you get too excited by that prospect, we need to remember the presidency of George W. Bush, because all signs suggest that Trump will be a lot like George W. — only worse. Trump may not do the job, but that won’t mean he’ll step down, and it won’t mean that his tenure as president won’t screw everything up.
The reason I take this more seriously is that Trump is clearly incompetent to be a real president: he simply lacks the knowledge (and he also lacks the talent and probably also the wish to rapidly acquire most of what he so clearly lacks).

But this doesn't mean at all that Trump's government may not do major harm
to the USA or indeed destroy it:

And before you celebrate the idea of the orange-faced goon staying away from Washington, remember who Bush left behind to do the work. As Trump assembles his transition team and floats ideas for cabinet members, there is an uncanny resemblance to the Bush administration. Many think that it was the absolutely horrific team that Bush assembled that fueled the disaster of his presidency. Trump shows sign of doing him one better.

From Mike Pence (our new Dick Cheney) to Michael Flynn (our new Donald Rumsfeld, even if he is sitting in Condoleezza Rice’s old office as National Security Advisor), there is simply no reason to think that the advisors to Trump will be anything but worse, more extreme versions of the team that ran things under Bush.
Yes, indeed. Here is another similarity between Bush Jr. and Trump, although I tend to regard this again as less significant:
The fact that both Trump and Bush lost the popular vote is only one of the many pattern matches to their campaigns. From election fraud to election rigging, the campaigns had much in common. Both candidates had highly elite upbringings and yet somehow managed to fashion themselves as folksy, regular guys who would stand up for average America and represent the “silent majority.”
It is true that both Bush Jr. and Trump succeeded in deceiving tens of millions of voters (it seems) by pretending to be "regular guys who would stand up for average America and represent the “silent majority.”"

And I wonder how long it will take for many to see through this. (In fact, I have no idea, in considerable part because Republican voters seem to live in their own counterfactual bubble anyway.)

3. Installing a Torture Fan at CIA

The third item is by Ray McGovern (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews
This starts as follows:                        
President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, an open aficionado of torture practices used in the “war on terror,” to be CIA director shows that Trump was serious when he said he would support “waterboarding and much worse.”
(...)

But such advice is not likely from Pompeo, who has spoken out against the closing of CIA’s “black sites” used for torture and has criticized the requirement that interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws. He has also opposed closing the prison at Guantanamo, which has become infamous for torture and even murder.

After visiting Guantanamo three years ago, where many prisoners were on a hunger strike, Pompeo commented, “It looked to me like a lot of them had put on weight.”

This appointment promises great difficulties, in part because Pompeo is for torture (which is forbidden by international agreements) and in part because
he seems to be an intentionally blind guy who chooses to see only what his ideology says should be there - such as starving prisoners who are, according to Pompeo, not starving but putting on weight. (In fact, this blindness seems to apply to most of Trump's appointments.)

There is this from Lindsey Graham who is for torturing people:

Torture also has its supporters in the Senate, which will be called on to confirm Pompeo as CIA director. At a Senate hearing on May 13, 2009, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, gave a tip of the cap to the Spanish Inquisition, which he cited as proof that torture could elicit some useful confessions (as it was used in the Fifteenth Century to detect “crypto Jews” and to burn several thousand heretics at the stake).

During a hearing on detainee interrogations, Sen. Graham said: “Let’s have both sides of the story here,” pointing out that there could be evidence that torture produced “good information.” Graham added, “I mean, one of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work.”

Well... Ray McGovern provides evidence that they are - at least - a lot less certain to provide reliable information than most torturers would like to. I leave that to your interests, and merely observe here that it is quite possible to break most people [3] by exceedingly cruel tortures, and that - it seems to me - is the most important reason why they are claimed to "work": Breaking your opponents in the most cruel ways that can be imagined.

Here is more on torturing by American vice-presidents:

The selection of Pompeo came a few days after Vice President-elect Mike Pence told ABC that he would model his handling of the job after former Vice President Dick Cheney under President George W. Bush.

Though Pence may have meant Cheney’s assertive role and interaction with Congress, there was also Cheney’s advocacy for “regime change” wars and what the Bush administration called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which earned Cheney the label from The Washington Post, “Vice President for Torture.”

Then there is this:

On a moral level, I also cannot quite fathom the attitude of Pence – who says, “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order” – tolerating torture and torture advocates. If memory serves, Jesus Christ was tortured to death.

I don't know. I agree in a sense with Ray McGovern, but (having confronted myself a whole university, the University of Amsterdam, where it was officially anounced in 1978, and supported by its Board of Directors, that "Everybody knows that truth does not exist", which was kept up at least till 1995 (!!)). I also know that the denial that truth exists gives on in fact extreme liberties in accomodating one's fantasies: Anything one says is "true", simply because one says it is.

The article ends as follows:

Many years ago when I studied ethics at Fordham, New York City’s Jesuit university, I was taught that there was one immutable category called “intrinsic evil,” which included slavery, rape and torture.
(...)

(A group that I helped found, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, has written a number of Memoranda on torture and most recently on the CIA’s cover-up of torture, an issue completely neglected in the corporate media.)

I do not know to what extent one can rely on the teachings in a university that is still described as having "academic ideals" that "are drawn from its Jesuit influences" - but then indeed I am a lifelong atheist (and know that the Jesuits
have defended very many opposing things during the over 500 years of their existence).

But the last paragraph is quite good, with good links. This is a recommended article.

4. The First 100 Day Resistance Agenda

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Trump’s First 100 Day agenda includes repealing environmental regulations, Obamacare, and the Dodd-Frank Act, giving the rich a huge tax cut, and much worse. Here’s the First 100 Day resistance agenda [with thanks to Alan Webber]:

In fact, I haven't seen Trump's first 100 day agenda and (so far as I know) it may not exist. Then again, it may. This is Reich's resistance agenda (his term) that starts with these three points (a bit abbreviated):

1.  Get Democrats in the Congress and across the country to pledge to oppose Trump’s agenda. Prolong the process of approving choices, draw out hearings, stand up as sanctuary cities and states. Take a stand.
(...)
2.   March and demonstrate—in a coordinated, well-managed way.
(...)
3.   Boycott all Trump products, real estate, hotels, resorts, everything. And then boycott all stores (like Nordstrom) that carry merchandise from Trump family brands.

I much doubt points 2 and 3: There is not much sense in merely protesting Trump, while boycotting Trump products seems mostly dictated by envy.

Besides, and more importantly: There is no certainty that protests will be allowed by Trump's government, which seems to be willing - see this, which starts as follows:

A Trump-supporting Republican lawmaker is trying to legally define protests, like some of those erupting across the country against his candidate of choice, labeled a form of “terrorism.”

- to say everyone who protests against the decisions of the Great Leader Trump is guilty of "terrorism" (and I do distinguish between two forms of terrorism: the relatively minor political or religious terrorists, and the extremely dangerous state terrorists, of which the above quoted bit is a very early example in Trump's government, indeed before it started).

What may happen to such "terrorists" (who may have been simply stating their opinions) is unknown at present, but I presume they may be arrested and, since they are "terrorists", also be questioned physically (e.g. simply for boycotting Trump products).

As I said, I don't know what will happen once Trump has been crowned as president, but indeed I do not expect much that is good by my lights.

Here are three more of Reich's proposals:

6. Social media: What about a new YouTube channel devoted to video testimonials about resisting Trump’s First 100 Day Agenda? Crowd-sourced ideas, themes and memes. Who wants to start it?

7. Website containing up-to-date daily bulletins on what actions people are planning around the country, and where, so others can join in. Techies, get organized.

8. Investigative journalism: We need investigative journalists to dig into the backgrounds of all of Trump’s appointees, in the White House, the Cabinet, Ambassadors and judges.

Really now?

I hate social media, and recommend everybody who wants to become totally known to the secret services of the USA to act against Our Great Leader Who Now Is President by means of "social media" (which are in fact a-social media, that spread lies and advertisements and steal all privacy).

And while I have a large website (of over 500 MB) since over 20 years now,
I also think - as a lone individual, who is the only one responsible for his site -
that "websites" by individuals that are not part of the a-social media seem to have become considerably more rare over the last 5 to 10 years.

As to investigative journalists: Where do you find them these days? And how do you know they will be allowed to publish critical articles about Our Great Leader Who Now Is President?

I am merely asking. I do not know what will happen when Trump is the President of the United States. And it seems to me that Robert Reich is presuming that the USA will continue more or less as it did under Obama,
which seems less likely to me.

And in any case, I am not enthusiastic for Reich's proposals.

5. Expendable America

The fifth item today is by Charles Simic (<- Wikipedia) on The New York Review of Books:

This starts as follows (and is here because I like Simic, who is quoted on Wikipedia as having said - and he is a displaced person, who was born in Serbia: "I'm still amazed by all the vileness and stupidity I witnessed in my life." It's the same for me.):

Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.”
—Les Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS 

The Ship of State is sinking and a rooster is chasing a hen in a neighbor’s yard. How can that be?
(..)
The president-elect with a spyglass and his orange pompadour shouts from the crow’s nest that he can see thousands of Muslims on rooftops in New Jersey still celebrating the collapse of the Twin Towers—unless I’m hallucinating, but who nowadays can be sure their eyes and ears work? If he is bonkers, as he surely is, many of us are too (..)

Yes, indeed: I agree that Donald Trump is "bonkers", and I am a psychologist. My reasons for thinking so are straight psychology, and were summarized on March 14, 2016, and given Trump's lie-filled campaign, I find it very difficult to doubt I am right, although I am not amazed that at present the mainstream media do their best to normalize him (because in fact most people are collaborators [4]).

Then there is this, which seems to me an adequate portrayal of Trump and also
of the chances of the many poor he deceived:

All of us who are familiar with rural areas and former industrial towns in this country know the impoverishment and hopelessness of many men and women who live there. Barely surviving by holding part-time jobs, since businesses now rarely hire full-time workers in order to avoid paying benefits, they are not just underpaid and constantly in debt, but know in their hearts that they and their children are expendable. Understandably, they are angry. When Democrats proclaimed that the economy was doing well and that we were still the greatest country in the world, they started listening to Trump, who told them what they could already plainly see, that we are in decline. These unfortunates, who’ve been cheated and swindled by bosses, mortgage banks, loan sharks, health insurance companies, and both political parties, have put all their hopes in a billionaire who has a long record of not paying taxes, cheating his workers and contractors out of their pay, and seemingly using his own “charitable” foundation as a slush fund. They voted for a buffoon who doesn’t care whether they live or die.

In fact, quite a few members of Trump's team may be for forcing the poor to die, probably not by using real force, but by finishing all financial help to the poor (and giving what they got to the rich, who - according to the Trumpians - must deserve it because they are rich and therefore - according to the Trumpians - morally, intellectually and financially superior people).

Then there is this on the latest presidential elections:

It took years of deliberate effort by vested interests to create this “proudly ignorant populism,” as someone called it, know-nothing voters who are easily led by the nose, incapable of distinguishing lies from truth, or an honest person from a crook. Easily duped, they can be depended on to act against their own self-interest again and again. Throw into the mix racism, misogyny, hatred of immigrants, gays, and other minorities, the dumbing down of the population by inadequate education, suspicion of learning, rejection of science and history, and dozens of other things like guns and violence, and you have the kind of environment in which people chose their next president.

I more or less agree, although I do add that from my - heavily intellectual, European - point of view most Americans seem stupid and ignorant. I am sorry but that is the basic reason for electing a cruel fraud and a madman like Trump president of the USA.

And yes, I also agree part of the stupidity and ignorance are native (half of any unsorted population has an IQ not higher than 100), and part of the stupidity and ignorance have been intentionally produced, but even so: I think it is a great shame that so many Americans know so little and do not seem capable
of rational thinking, and certainly not if their emotions are appealed to.

There is this on propaganda, lies and liars:
“Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will,” Goebbels said. Everywhere one turns one hears people parroting lies as if they were their own carefully considered personal opinions. The upshot is that an alternate reality has been constructed for millions in this country over the last couple of decades thanks to TV, talk radio, and the Internet. Spreading falsehoods, of course, is very profitable, as con artists of every type from mealy-mouthed preachers addressing their mega churches to those touting loans that require no background check can tell you. Lies sell everything from fattening foods to “your computer is damaged and we’ll help you fix it” scams.
Yes, indeed. And this also needs two additions:

One. The systematic abuse of propaganda and lies is very old in politics (see complaints by Plato and Aristotle, for example),  but I also think that the money, the concerted interest, and the planning to defraud large parts of the American population date back to Lewis Powell Jr., who in fact advised the rich to start doing so in the beginning of the 1970ies.

Two. And the result, in the end, was Fox News and also the almost totally neutralized other mainstream media, that generated tens of millions of people
who know very little, who are not clever, and who can be deceived about most
things - that includes electing a madman for president because he is (supposed to be) a billionaire who lies three quarters of the time he says something (in public).

There is this on democratic government:
The basic requirement for democratic governance—that the majority of the population agrees on the parameters of what is true and what is false—has been deliberately obfuscated in this country. The absence of accountability for repeated fraud by those in power, both in government and in the private sector, the proliferation of fake grass-root organizations, think tanks, and lobbyist firms funded by the wealthy to deceive their fellow citizens and turn them against one another, has become the most characteristic feature of our political life.
Again I have two additional remarks:

It is not so much agreement "
on the parameters of what is true and what is false" that is required for democratic government (for to do that rationally, one has to study philosophy and logic), but - far more simply - the conviction that
(i) there are truths and facts, and that (ii) it needs discussions and disagree- ments to settle what these are.

Put otherwise: A real democracy requires a majority of people who know that
their own fantasies and desires are not the right measure for what is factually true, and who are capable of listening to arguments that aim at settling what is the (probable [5]) truth.

Also it is not so much "[t]he absence of accountability for repeated fraud" that matters (the rich and the powerful have rarely been accountable and responsible as the non-rich and non-powerful), but the deliberate reorgani- zation of the legal norms, principles and punishments for repeated fraud: Rich bankers and rich pharmacists simply need to return a small part of the profits they made to be declared free from all crimes and all bad intentions, after which they can continue to grow rich as before, by frauding again and again.

But Simic is quite right in his suggestion that (mostly thanks to the Supreme Court's decisions that amounted to the bullshit theses that money = votes and corporations = people) very rich persons and very rich corporations now manipulate everywhere with bullshit, fake organizations, lies and deceptions.

Here is his ending:
The world seems to be divided today between those horrified to see history repeat itself and those who eagerly await its horrors.

Indeed. And I am in the first class, and this is a strongly recommended article.
--------------------------
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]
I am sorry I abbreviated it, but I both dislike big letters and very long titles, and I have normally more than enough space to accomodate the titles I wish to review. This time the title was too long, and I made this note, but I may not make it the next time.

[3] Definitely, though indeed not all:
Jean Moulin was one of them. Here is the Wikipedia on him (quoted minus a note number)
"Moulin never revealed anything to his captors and died near Metz on a train headed for Germany from injuries sustained either during torture or in a suicide attempt. Moulin's ability not to provide information to the Gestapo was extraordinary given the ferocity of the torture he was subjected to, which reportedly included hot needles being put under his fingernails, doors being closed on his hands until his knuckles broke, the use of screw-levered handcuffs to cut into his wrists and whipping and beatings."
Another was the Dutch communist leader Jan Postma (<- Dutch link) who refused to name any names, and who persisted, in spite of serious tortures.

[4] A "collaborator" is someone who works with others, in a minimal sense.
I do not know the numbers or percentages for non-Dutch people, but in Holland, during the Nazi-poccupation of WW II, at most 2% of the population did something brave to resist the Nazis. I think this is a fairly typical number for the amount of persons who are willing to risk their life and their health for their ideals, if these ideals are much threatened or totally destroyed. (Both of my parents and 3 out of 4 grandparents did resist the Nazis, and indeed my father and his father were arrested and locked up in German concentration camps.)


[5] The "probable" is inserted because - as a rational fact - it is true that many empirical questions can only be solved with probability: One does not know the truth, with absolute certainty, one only knows the probable truth (and that also may vary, from not much above 50% to 99% or so, and these estimates may themselves be false).

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