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Nederlog

 Nov 24, 2016

Crisis: Greenwald, Hoofnagle, Wilansky, Net Neutrality, Gessen
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Media Stars Agree to Off-the-Record Meeting With
     Trump

2. Being Led by an Outright Conspiracy Theorist Like
     Donald Trump Puts Us All in Danger

3.
'People Are Going to Die': Father of Wounded DAPL
     Activist Sophia Wilansky Speaks Out

4. Trump Just Put Net Neutrality on Death Row
5. How Journalists Need to Begin Imagining the
     Unimaginable
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, November 24, 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 an article by Glenn Greenwald on Trump and the American press; item 2 is about some ideas by dr. Mark Hoofnagle about Trump; item 3 is about the seriously wounded Sophia Wilansky, and may be seen as a promise of how the police will react to protesters under president Trump; item 4 is about the fact that Trump doesn't like net neutrality and nominated two underlings who don't either; and item 5 is about some further ideas of Gessen.

-- 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. 20.xi again was a stinking mess, as was 21.xi and 22.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 were 19, 20, 21 and 22.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. Media Stars Agree to Off-the-Record Meeting With Trump

The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept (and I abbreviated the title a bit):

This starts as follows:

A glittering array of media stars and network executives made pilgrimage on Monday to the 25th floor of Trump Tower to meet with the president-elect. They all agreed that the discussions would be “off the record”: meaning they would conceal from their viewers what they discussed. Shortly after the meeting ended, several of the stars violated the agreement they made, running to the New York Post and David Remnick of the New Yorker to whine about Trump’s mean behavior. “The participants all shook Trump’s hand at the start of the session and congratulated him,” Remnick reported, “but things went south from there.” It’s difficult to identify the shabbiest and sorriest aspect of this spectacle, but let’s nonetheless try, as it sheds important light on our nation’s beloved media corps and their posture heading into a Trump presidency.

I think this refers to the following from The New York Times Donald Trump’s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript that was in yesterday's NYT. I have read all of that yesterday. It is supposed to be a "full transcript", but in fact it isn't because - as the transcript does document - at one point Trump desired to speak off the record, and then was allowed to do do. What he said and how long it took are not documented. (I must add I am not quite certain it was this interview that Greenwald addresses in this article.)

As to the content of the interview: I found it mostly quite obsequious and complimentary to Trump, but then I must add that I do not expect much of the present NYT or indeed of the present The Guardian: Both are now good examples of the mainstream media, and the mainstream media are dishonest, though indeed it varies also with the subject and with the journalist.

Here is Glenn Greenwald on suppressing evidence:

To begin with, why would journalistic organizations agree to keep their meeting with Donald Trump off the record? If you’re a journalist, what is the point of speaking with a powerful politician if you agree in advance that it’s all going to be kept secret? Do they not care what appearance this creates: the most powerful media organizations meeting high atop Trump Tower with the country’s most powerful political official, with everyone agreeing to keep it all a big secret from the public? Whether or not it actually is collusion, whether or not it actually is subservient ring-kissing in exchange for access, it certainly appears to be that. As the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone put it: “By agreeing to such conditions, journalists expected to deliver the news to the public must withhold details of a newsworthy meeting with the president-elect.”

I quite agree. There is some more on this topic, which I don't quite agree with, but I leave that to your interests.

Here is Greenwald - a bit sarcastically - on "the U.S. media":

(..) I’m really sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes: Donald Trump hates the U.S. media, as do the overwhelming majority of Americans. Even though every pampered star in that room is paid many millions of dollars a year and is flattered on a daily basis by teams of underlings, they are not actually entitled to respect and admiration, especially not from the powerful politicians they cover.

As I have said quite a few times in Nederlog, I don't have a TV since 1970 and I don't live in the USA, so my experience of "the U.S. media" is mostly limited to internet. (But I do read around 35 internet magazines, papers etc. daily, and most of these are from the USA.)

And I do make a distinction in "the U.S. media" which isn't covered in Greenwald's article, namely between the mainstream media (the NYT, CNN, MSNBC etc. etc.) and the non-mainstrean media (Truthdig, Common Dreams, Mother Jones, The Young Turks etc. etc.)

And while I usually don't like much of what I see in the mainstream media, I usually like (more or less) what I see in non-mainstream media. Both are broad judgements, but speaking broadly that is what it comes down to, for me at least, and I also expect from other intelligent and educated (!) non- Americans who are interested in the USA and follow the news about it critically on internet.

Here is - probably - the thing that upset Greenwald most of all, and I think he is right in this:

Finally, after everything Trump has said — about immigrants, Muslims, women, etc. — this is what upsets these journalists: that he criticized them to their faces using a mean tone.

Yes, indeed, and this is also specifically about (bolding added) "these journalists": Most of them are themselves rich men and women, who mostly made their money from journalism, and who all belong to the top of the top of American mainstream journalists.

And I agree with Greenwald that they seemed to care most about being criticized themselves in a mean tone by the presidential elect.

Here is Glenn Greenwald's conclusion about these journalists and their mainstream media:

All presidents have the temptation and potential to abuse their power. That’s why the American founders were preoccupied with creating safeguards against that, and one of those was a free press. The homage these TV stars and executives were prepared to make inside Trump Tower, followed by their self-absorbed whimpering afterward, suggests that one should look elsewhere for the vital checks that an aggressive press must provide.

Yes indeed - and as I said, I do get most of the news I review from the non- mainstream media.

Then again, there is an important question that I will only pose and not answer right now: Will Donald Trump try to break the non-mainstream media that presently function in the USA?

It is an important question, in part because the non-mainstream media are not rich, and Trump is supposed to be very rich, and will be the most powerful man on earth from January 20, 2017.

2. Being Led by an Outright Conspiracy Theorist Like Donald Trump Puts Us All in Danger

The second item is
b
y Amanda Marcotte on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:
Our new president-elect, Donald Trump, is a thin-skinned bully, a liar, a grifter, a crappy businessman and a misogynist. He mainstreams white supremacist ideas and his initial White House hires suggest that white nationalism will be his administration’s guiding ideology. He’s far too ill-tempered and narcissistic to be in charge of the nuclear codes and he’s openly hostile to the free press protections necessary to keep our government accountable.
I think that is a fair summary, though I probably would have added - being a psychologist - that narcissism, as Trump has it, is a rather serious personality disorder.

There is more on Trump that I leave to your interests. Amanda Marcotte talked with (it seems) a medical doctor who is claimed to be "a conspiracy expert" (he runs the Denialism Blog) and is making the following point, to start with:

The first problem, he explained, is that conspiracy theorists who are as deep in the muck as Trump have no real interest in making decisions or forming beliefs based on evidence. “This is the way the conspiracist thinks: The desire for a fact to be true precedes the research or the evidentiary basis,” Hoofnagle said. “They think in reverse. They start with the conclusion and assemble the facts to fit that conclusion and reject everything that doesn’t. It’s the opposite of logical reasoning.”
Yes, but that is not "the opposite of logical reasoning": in fact, that is abduction and every real scientist uses it to find a hypothesis (or several) that could explain the fact he wants to explain.

What makes Trump and other conspiracy theories special is that he and they stop there, and believe they have explained the fact they want to explain. If they were rational, they would know that they must proceed by testing the
hypothesis or hypotheses they found, by logically deriving predicted other facts from their hypotheses, and by seeing whether these new derived possible facts in do occur experimentally. If they do, they confirmed their hypothesis; if they don't they disconfirm their hypothesis.

And Trump and other conspiracy theorists simply do not do this, and therefore
all they do is set up totally untested hypotheses (which may be any fantasy, realistic or not) which they also - usually at least - strongly believe to be true ("for don't they entail the facts they wanted to explain?!").

It is utter nonsense, but not quite for the reason dr. Hoofnagle and Amanda Marcotte seem to think.

There is considerably more in the article, but at this point part of the text got repeated on AlterNet. Here is Hoofnagle as explained by Marcotte on Trump's strong inclination to surrect untested hypotheses as facts:

The president-elect is so guided by wishful thinking that he coughs up fully formed conspiracy theories at the drop of a hat. The protesters outside of Trump Tower after the election irritated the real estate magnate, and so he produced a conspiracy theory that claimed they were being paid to protest him. Every time he slipped in the polls during the campaign or it looked like he wouldn’t win the election, he shot off accusations that a shadowy conspiracy between the mainstream media and the Democratic Party was somehow “rigging” the election against him.
Yes indeed, and Hoofnagle and Marcotte are correct Trump in fact engages in wishful thinking, which I defined as follows in my Philosophical Dictionary:
Wishful thinking: The inference of conclusions that conform to one's desires because they conform to one's desires: "It is so, because I desire it to be so; it is not so, because I desire it not to be so."

Inference Scheme of Wishful Thinking: I desire it were true, therefore it is true.

This is the fundamental principle of invalid reasoning, and it should be clear why this is so and why no human being spends a day or an hour without some wishful thinking: Because wishful thinking yields what human beings wish, and gives them satisfaction and pleasure, even if this is merely fantasy, and because human beings desire so much to get what they please that merely imagining that things are as they desire to believe they are is a sufficiently strong motive to make them believe what they desire, and to act on that belief.

It is the real basis of each political ideology and each religion. Normally, it goes together with the active refusal to seriously consider the reasoned arguments of (supposed) opponents.

That is indeed how Donald Trump and most strongly ideological people think: By imagining what satisfies their desires, by believing their fantasies to be true because they entail (or suggest) the facts they desired to explain, and by systematically never testing the truth of their fantasies.

Here is more on how nearly all wishful thinking is driven by an ideology:

As Hoofnagle explained, most conspiracy theorists organize themselves around an ideology, and they tend to be forgiving of any crank idea so long as it justifies that ideology.
Yes, indeed - and I also have a clear definition of what ideologies are in my Philosophical Dictionary:
Ideology: System of ideas that normally is a simplification of some political philosophy or some religion, that consists of ideas about what reality is (metaphysics) and ideals about what reality and human beings should be like (ethics).

Ideologies - if perhaps very simple and partial, as those that are meant to keep together the employees of a firm - are the basis of almost any human group, since these only can come to be and continue to exist in a coordinated fashion if the members of the group share assumptions, values and ends about what is and should be, and what the group is for or against.

Most ideologies are either plainly totalitarian or are at least experienced and practiced as if they are - as anybody can see by observing party conferences, soccer hooligans, and public statements of priests, politicians and clergy.

Then again, Donald Trump's person is not that of just any ideologist or wishful thinker, for he comes with an extra complication: He is a megalomaniac [3] aka a grandiose narcissist.

This is a personality disorder, which in Trump's case seems to entail that he is strongly inclined to consider himself The Greatest in most everything (which is an absolutely false idea [4]).

Here is Hoofnagle on two of its consequences:

With Trump, however, the organizing ideology seems to be “a kind of self-aggrandizement,” Hoofnagle mused. 

“He’s clearly very vindictive. I don’t think the central ideology here is political,” Hoofnagle said. “His central ideology is that he’s great. If you tell him that, he’ll believe anything else you say.”

Yes, it is my own guess that Hoofnagle is right that the central ideology that Donald Trump is committed to is that Donald Trump is The Greatest, which also entails for him (because he is a megalomaniac) that anybody who doubts this must be a bad person, who needs correction. [5]

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

“Power generally aggravates people’s personality flaws,” Hoofnagle said. “When you have fewer people to say no to you, your worst traits come out.”

Many presidents try to check their own tendencies by hiring people willing to criticize them. But it’s safe to say that this won’t be the case with Trump. On the contrary, his habit of  surrounding himself with sycophants and yes-men means that there will be even fewer checks on his conspiracist tendencies.
Yes, that seems a very plausible guess to me. And this is a recommended article (though you should be aware that it repeats 3 paragraphs in the middle of the article).

3. 'People Are Going to Die': Father of Wounded DAPL Activist Sophia Wilansky Speaks Out

The third item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and is here mostly because I guess that this is going to be very common under President Trump):

Sunday's brutal police assault against peaceful Dakota Access Pipeline activists left one water protector, Sophia Wilansky, at risk of losing an arm, and her distraught father spoke out Tuesday and Wednesday against the shocking show of force and demanded government action.

Wayne Wilansky, a 61-year-old lawyer and yoga teacher from New York City, spoke to a reporter in a Facebook live feed about his daughter's devastating injury, allegedly caused by a concussion grenade.

"This is the wound of someone who's a warrior, who was sent to fight in a war," Wayne said. "It's not supposed to be a war. She's peacefully trying to get people to not destroy the water supply. And they're trying to kill her."

Most of the muscle tissue between Sophia's left elbow and wrist as well as two major arteries were completely destroyed, Wayne said, and doctors pulled shrapnel out of the wound.

I say. Here is some more:

And Sophia's injury was no accident, Wayne said.

"The police did not do this by—it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her," he said in a statement released by the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council. "Additionally police were shooting people in face and groin intending to do the most possible damage."

I fear this is also correct. Here is the implication that I started the review of this article with:
(..) Obama is swiftly running out of time to act, and observers fear that the brutality of the Morton County Sheriff's Department in North Dakota may be a harbinger of what's to come under the looming Donald Trump administration.

"Standing Rock has for months been a frontline in the fights for indigenous sovereignty and against reckless extraction," argued journalist Kate Aronoff. "It may also now be the frontline of Trump's America."

Forget about Obama: He will very probably do nothing, and if he does something, he ceases to be president in less than two months time.

I think this may well be an indication of how the police under Trump as president is going to react to protesters: As if they are terrorists - in spite of the fact that they are peaceful and carry no arms.

4. Trump Just Put Net Neutrality on Death Row

The fourth item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Open internet advocates this week expressed concern that Present-elect Donald Trump's two appointments to his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) transition team spell doom for net neutrality.

That policy, approved in a 2015 FCC ruling, ensures a level playing field on the internet by preventing internet service providers (ISP) from creating "fast lanes" that give special treatment for content creators or web companies that pay extra fees. The ruling was hailed as "the biggest win for the public interest in the FCC's history."

The Trump transition site announced the appointments of former Verizon consultant Jeff Eisenach and former Sprint lobbyist Mark Jamison Monday. Like Trump, the two are critics of net neutrality.

My own guess is that this heralds the end of the neutral internet and it does so mostly because the rich will become even richer if they have fast access and everyone who is not rich does not have fast access.

This ends as follows:

Anne Jellema, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation, also expressed concern, telling the Guardian that the "appointments certainly don't look like good news for net neutrality."

"But President-elect Trump has promised to be a 'president for all Americans,'" she added. "If he's serious about this promise, we trust the transition team will pay heed to the over three million comments submitted just last year by Americans of all political stripes calling for strong net neutrality, and will respect the recent decision by a federal appeals court to uphold the FCC's Open Internet order."

According to Chris Lewis, vice president at Public Knowledge, "if folks want to eliminate these very important consumer protections that are wildly popular across ideological lines, the question is how are they going to protect an open internet if they eliminate these rules?"

Ms Jellema sounds extremely naive to me: First, because she trusts Trump's promises, and second because she thinks any transition team will pay heed to three million tweets.

As to Chris Lewis's comments: I fear "an open internet" is lost under Trump as president.

O, and of course, everyone will keep internet, but not to help them, but to allow the secret services to know everything about them. Again, this will not hurt the vast majority, because the vast majority is not intelligent, not courageous, and quite willing to conform as long as they are left alone.

5. How Journalists Need to Begin Imagining the Unimaginable

The fifth and last item today is by Eric Umansky on ProPublica:

This is from near the beginning:
A few days after Trump’s win, Gessen wrote about what citizens should be on the watch for with the incoming administration. ProPublica’s Eric Umansky and Jesse Eisinger sat down with Gessen to talk about how exactly journalists should be covering Trump.
I did review Gessen's article, and it is here: Crisis: Greenwald, Reich, Sanders, Gessen, My P.S. I also think this was a very good article (and you should read it or my review if you didn't).

And this article consists of 4 points that I will repeat with a few bits of text, but
I guess the interview with Gessen went less well (but this is my guess - see below, and look at the nonsensical title: no one can "imagine the unimaginable").

In any case, here is the first point:
Journalists needed to realize Trump wasn’t playing chess…
(...)
I think that it would have been a story about how Donald Trump was running for autocrat. I think at that point there should have been a big journalistic break with American exceptionalism and that's where we would have gone to other countries to look at what has happened to other countries when politicians have run in democratic elections for autocrat. It's happened many times and it's succeeded many times.
Yes, Trump is an autocrat (which entails he is an anti-democrat) and Gessen is right that the way to deal with a presidential candidate who is an evident autocrat is "to look at what has happened to other countries when politicians have run in democratic elections for autocrat". But the American journalists by
and large did not.

There is next this:

There was a collective failure of imagination…
(..)
What happened was an American phenomenon, a home-grown potential autocrat who was elected by Americans.

Gessen's answer is as before, so all I need to say here is that "a collective failure of imagination" seems both unclear and nonsensical to me. (What would have been far more correct is to point at the stupidity and ignorance
of very many voters.)

Something similar is true of the following bit:

Journalists should look at how this has played out in other countries...

I would look at the world and I would look for parallels.

Gessen repeats herself again (it seems), so I can say here that this is why I think the interview with Gessen went less well. But the last point does contain something new:

The job for journalists now is to document changing norms...

We really have to figure out how to tell the truth and not just report the facts.
This is a bit problematical, because - real - facts are true as well, but I think I can reconstrue what Gessen may have had in mind:

First, many of "the facts" that the mainstream media report on are reported on
by quoting a pro source (of those who are for the supposed fact) and an anti source (of those who are against it), which is supposed by most journalists in the mainstream media to support objectivity and truth.

In fact, it does neither (and the supposed fact may also not be a real fact): All it means is that journalists can answer their critics by saying they quoted somebody for and somebody against (while leaving nearly all further relevant questions unasked).

Second, "the truth" indeed is far wider than mere specific facts that amount to so-and-so said or did such-and-such: You need general ideas (about politics, about ideologies, about democracy, about power,
about honesty, and quite a few more) to tease out what specific facts - that so-and-so said or did such-and- such - do mean and imply in the supposed wider context (that comprises politics, ideologies, democracy, power and honesty, at least).

I agree with Gessen (if my reconstruction is correct), and I very probably also agree with what I suppose is her fear about most American journalists:

They are able to report on specific facts, but mostly lack the knowledge, the insights and the understandings that would enable them to report on the truth and/or the wider context and implications of the facts they report.

--------------------------
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 saying this not because I want to offend but because I want to explain, and my own explanatory definition of neofascism is this:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

Also, I am rather certain that most (not: all) of those who style themselved as "neoliberals" in fact are neofascists as defined (even though they probably do not like the term).

And this is fascism as I defined it:
Fascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror, that propounds an ethics founded on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian, rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
See the following if you are interested: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. (This lists 22 definitions of the term "fascism", and critically reflects on them.)

[3] I repeat a note of yesterday:

I have earlier - starting on March 14, last - called Trump by the correct present-day psychiatric/psychological term "grandiose narcissist", but I decided now to call him a megalomaniac, because this is a bit clearer - I think - than the other term, though indeed megalomania in Wikipedia links to "narcissistic personality disorder" and seems meanwhile also to have deleted the item "megalomania" (which still was there in March).

I think that deletion was a mistake, but I do not distinguish between megalomania and grandiose narcissism (for the purpose of diagnosing Trump): I only insist megalomania is a bit clearer, a bit simpler, and very probably better known than grandiose narcissism, and that is my reason for preferring megalomania.


[4] The greatest geniuses - Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are two fair examples - were geniuses in two things. Much more in general:

Even if you are very intelligent, very attractive and very rich (say) it is extremely likely that for any of your good qualities that you take pride in, there is someone (and usually there are many or quite a few) who are better than you are in the specific good quality you take pride in.

This simply is a fact of life, and indeed is also one of the main reasons why Trump's ideas about his very many excellencies are utter nonsense.

[5] This is based on the description of megalomania. If you want to know more, check this out (but remember it is psychiatry, which is mostly not a real science like physics or chemistry).

As to the idea that
anybody who doubts that the megalomaniac is as great as he thinks he is must be a bad person:  This is what Trump seems to think. He hates being criticized. One of the many reasons why this is nonsense is that people may agree on all the relevant facts, yet have quite opposite values.

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