Dec 5, 2016

Crisis: Hedges, Kohn, Trump's Emoluments, Austria, Democratic Party
Sections                                                                     crisis index

The Mafia State
2. Narcissist-in-Chief: The Psychopathology That Explains
     Donald Trump's Depravity
3. Trump Almost Certainly Will Violate the Constitution if
     He Continues to Own His Businesses

4. Austrians Break Far Right’s Winning Streak by Electing
     Independent, Green Party-Backed President

5. No, Dr. Dean, Democrats Do Need to Fight It Out

This is a Nederlog of Monday, December 5, 2016.

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 a fine article by Chris Hedges, who outlines that with Trump the mafia state is empowered; item 2 is an excellent article by Alfie Kohn, who outlines my own theory about Trump's psychopathology (I completely agree, but it is indeed far from optimistic - which is realism, as far as I am concerned, with the madman Trump elected as president); item 3 is about the very probable fact that Trump will massively break the Emoluments Clause (but the Republicans have nearly all powers now and may not care); item 4 is about a brief article with Good News (the right was defeated in Austria, and indeed also
Renzi - a "neoliberal" - was defeated in Italy); and item 5 is about a good article on the corruptions of the Democratic Party, that started - monument- ally also - with Bill Clinton.

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in November 2016. But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. I say!

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 was so-so till 18.xi and was correct since then (most or all days).

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.The Mafia State

1. The Mafia State

The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Systems of governance that are seized by a tiny cabal become mafia states. The early years—Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in the United States—are marked by promises that the pillage will benefit everyone. The later years—George W. Bush and Barack Obama—are marked by declarations that things are getting better even though they are getting worse. The final years—Donald Trump—see the lunatic trolls, hedge fund parasites, con artists, conspiracy theorists and criminals drop all pretense and carry out an orgy of looting and corruption.

Yes indeed: This is more or less as I see it. And I also specifically agree that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were scheming self-enrichers who dealt in lies and deceptions (which I do blame them more for than I blame the Republican thieves, because they pretended to be honest, and weren't, at all).

There is this on the general background:

The rich never have enough. The more they get, the more they want. It is a disease. CEOs demand and receive pay that is 200
times what their workers earn.

Neoliberalism is state-sponsored extortion. It is a vast, nationally orchestrated Ponzi scheme.

I agree with both points.

More specifically - and see my On socialism - I am against anyone earning more than 20 times the minimum income, where the minimum income is good enough to lead a decent life. Almost anybody who wants to earn more than 20 times of that is a greedy egoist who needs to be legally stopped. (I am willing to make a few exceptions, namely for geniuses of science and for actors and some more, though these too should not be allowed to make more than a few millions.)

In case you disagree: Very few today earn more than $300,000 which means that nearly everyone will profit from the rule I just announced, indeed except for the greedy and egoistic rich.

And I have said from the beginning that most "neoliberals" (which itself is a propaganda term) are in fact neoconservatives, and that most neoconser- vatives are in favor of economic policies that sound most like neofascism as I defined it (see [2]: I am quite serious, and this is my definition): They are pro rich, pro corporations, and pro profit as the only moral norm for CEOs.

There is this on mafia capitalism:
Politicians, from Reagan on, were handsomely rewarded by their funders for delivering their credulous supporters to the corporate guillotine. The corporate coup created a mafia capitalism. This mafia capitalism, as economists such as Karl Polanyi and Joseph Stiglitz warned, gave birth to a mafia political system. Financial and political power in the hands of institutions such as Goldman Sachs and the Clinton Foundation becomes solely about personal gain. The Obamas in a few weeks will begin to give us a transparent lesson into how service to the corporate state translates into personal enrichment.
I agree again, though I like to add (indeed also to the first quotation above) that this rather strongly supports my distinctions between capitalism-with-a-
human face
(Keynesianism (<-Wikipedia), that ruled from 1945-1980); capitalism-without-a-human-face ("Neoliberalism"
(<-Wikipedia), that ruled from 1981-2016); and capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face, that starts with Donald Trump, which is neofascism. Indeed, one reason for me to stress this is that most leftists and most "leftists" [3] did not see or did not want to see these distinctions are real and important. (But by now it is too late for these distinctions to apply practically, alas, so this is just theory.)

There is considerably more that is good that I skip and leave to your interests.

Here is the ending to the article:

What comes next, history has shown, will not be pleasant. A cruel and morally bankrupt elite, backed by the organs of state security and law enforcement, will, as the Eupatridae did in sixth-century-B.C. Athens, bankrupt the citizenry through state-sponsored theft, war, austerity and debt peonage. They will reduce workers to the status of serfs or slaves. The most benign dissent will be criminalized and crushed. America’s Snopes-like elites have no external or internal constraints. They are barbarians. We will remove them from power or enter a new dark age.

Yes, indeed: That seems a sound expectation. Will "the USA" survive? If Trump can be stopped from starting a nuclear war, it probably will, but I do not know in what form, for I do not know how much Trump will succeed in destroying.

But since Trump is mad, I mean clinically insane, I put the chances at 50/50 (which may be optimistic).

This is a recommended article.

And here is an excellent article on the reasons why I - who is a psychologist M.A. by degrees, though I also have a B.A. in philosophy - believe Trump is insane  [4]:

2. Narcissist-in-Chief: The Psychopathology That Explains Donald Trump's Depravity

The second item is by Alfie Kohn on AlterNet and on Kohn's blog:

This is an excellent article that explains my reasons for holding that Donald Trump is insane. (And no, I don't know Mr Kohn at all, but he thinks very similarly about Trump.) I strongly advice you to read it all and ponder it seriously.

This is from the beginning (after skipping some):

[Trump's] election—along with Republican control of both Houses of Congress and more than two thirds of state legislatures—will almost certainly precipitate an assault on civil rights, civil liberties, environmental protections (including a reversal of early, tentative steps to deal with global climate change), consumer protections, reproductive rights, gay rights, workers' rights, prisoners' rights, humane immigration policies, aid to the poor, gun control, antimilitarism, support for public education, and on and on. It will be bad enough for an individual deeply committed to any one of these issues; for those interested in all of them, it will be difficult to absorb, let alone summon outrage about and become active in opposing, a tidal wave of reactionary policies likely to continue on a daily basis for many years.

I fear that is entirely correct.

Here is part of the analysis of Donald Trump (and please note that the dotted points are all from diagnostics of megalomania aka grandiose narcissist):

Donald Trump has distinguished himself as someone who is:

  • given to boasting, preening and swaggering to the point of self-parody;
  • not merely thin-skinned and petulant but vindictive when crossed or even criticized;
  • restless, with the attention span of a toddler;
  • desperately competitive, driven to sort the world into winners and losers and to regard other people (or countries) primarily as rivals to be bested;
  • astonishingly lacking not only in knowledge but in curiosity;
  • given to uttering blatant falsehoods on a constant basis and apparently unaware of the extent of his dishonesty, as if the fact that he believes something makes it true; and
  • possessed of a sense of absolute entitlement—so if he wants to kiss an attractive woman, for example, he should be free to do so—along with a lack of shame, humility, empathy, or capacity for reflection and self-scrutiny.
Even if you set out to consider different sorts of deficits, you're pulled back to the psychological issues. It's not just that he's ignorant or even incurious, it's that he seems incapable of acknowledging that there's something he doesn't know.
Yes indeed: Donald Trump Is The Greatest In Everything That Matters, according to Donald Trump. And this does make his character quite important, for he may fire nuclear arms when he is angry. (And then we're all dead.)

There is this on Trump's command of language and his cognitive limitations:
Similarly, while his speech rarely ventures beyond elementary-school vocabulary or grammar, what's more alarming than his cognitive limitations is his egocentrism. One careful analysis found that Trump inclines not only to the monosyllabic but to the megalomaniacal: The single word he uses more than any other is "I"—and his fourth-favorite word is his own name.
I did not know that, but am quite willing to believe it, indeed in considerable
part because I am a psychologist who agrees that Trump is a
megalomaniac aka a grandiose narcissist.

You may disagree, but then you probably are not a psychologist and not a psychiatrist. Here are some references to people who are, and who said the
as I do and as Kohn does:
The fact that Trump is basically, in the words of comic commentator Samantha Bee, "an oddly tinted compilation of psychiatric symptoms," has hardly been a secret. Psychobiographies have been published in The Atlantic and at book length. In Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, clinicians and other observers have specifically focused on the extent to which he likely suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. These pieces are worth reading, but it's possible just to take a quick look at the official criteria for NPD and come away with the uncanny impression that those who defined the pathology were profiling Trump. 
This is someone with a psychiatric disorder in all its flagrant, florid particulars. To grasp its seriousness is to be staggered that someone too disordered and rancid to be a trustee of your condo association will be running our country.
Precisely - and don't miss (at least) the "the official criteria for NPD", which starts as follows (and the list of points is somewhat simplified):

Practice Essentials

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a cluster B personality disorder defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

Signs and symptoms

In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), NPD is defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally exploitive behavior
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
There is a lot more there, but the above should be sufficient: Trump eminently succeeds on all 9 criteria. (And see March 14, 2016 in case you are interested in more.)

There is considerably more in the article that I leave to your interests. It ends as follows:

On his HBO show, John Oliver urged us to keep reminding ourselves, “A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State of the Union address. This is not normal.” Furthermore, we need to remember that what's abnormal here isn't just a set of positions and policies but the psychological state of the person who will be in charge. The clearer our understanding of that, the better our chances for protecting one another—and our democracy.
Yes, indeed - I agree one should try to understand Trump's psychopathology,
but I do not know how to deal with it until he is impeached (and megalomania has little chance of being cured by psychology or psychiatry, though medicines
are supposed to help some).

And this is a strongly recommended article.

3. Trump Almost Certainly Will Violate the Constitution if He Continues to Own His Businesses

The third item is by Richard Tofel on ProPublica:

This starts as follows:

Far from ending with President-elect Trump’s announcement that he will separate himself from the management of his business empire, the constitutional debate about the meaning of the Emoluments Clause — and whether Trump will be violating it — is likely just beginning.

That’s because the Emoluments Clause seems to bar Trump’s ownership of his business. It has little to do with his management of it. Trump’s tweets last Wednesday said he would be “completely out of business operations.”

But unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated. Even if he does sell or give it away, any retained residual interest, or any sale payout based on the company’s results, would still give him a stake in its fortunes, again fairly clearly violating the Constitution.

Yes, I think that is correct. Then again, the Emoluments Clause is rather tricky:

The Emoluments Clause appears in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution. It bars any “person holding any office of profit or trust under” the United States from accepting any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign state” “without the consent of the Congress.”

Clearly, deciding what the Emoluments Clause means in a specific case is a complicated legal question. (The opinion on Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Prize runs to 13 printed pages.) But just as clearly, the judges of its meaning with respect to President Trump will be politicians rather than the Supreme Court.

And at least now most Republican politicians will support Trump, so for the moment this will not be very relevant, though it may be in the future.

Here is the ending of this article:

The controversies that swirled around Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton established a number of key points. Among them are that the sole remedy for a violation of the Constitution by a president in office is impeachment, and that the House of Representatives is the sole judge of what constitutes an impeachable offense, while the Senate is the sole judge of whether such an alleged violation warrants removal from office. (Impeachments are very rare: articles of impeachment have been voted against only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Clinton, both of whom were acquitted by the Senate, while Nixon resigned ahead of likely impeachment. Fifteen federal judges have also been impeached, and eight removed, while four resigned.)

The arguments of scholars and lawyers on the meaning of the Emoluments Clause may influence the public, and their elected representatives. But if Trump decides not to dispose of his business, it will be up to Congress to decide whether to do anything about his apparent violation of the Constitution.

As I said, I do not think the Emoluments Clause will be very relevant in the immediate beginning of Trump's government, but it may be quite important
later on, if and when Trump gets impeached.

4. Austrians Break Far Right’s Winning Streak by Electing Independent, Green Party-Backed President

The fourth item is by Kasia Anderson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows - and is (which is rare in the crisis series) a bit of Good News:

Austrian voters have sent a message that they are unwilling to allow their country to be swept up in the populist wave that has boosted far-right politicians to powerful positions in the U.S. and Europe.

On Sunday, one such politician, 45-year-old Freedom Party presidential nominee Norbert Hofer, was defeated by independent challenger Alexander Van der Bellen in Austria’s national election.

The 72-year-old Van der Bellen was backed by the country’s Green Party, of which he is a former leader. Now he will be Austria’s president. Bloomberg reported that Van der Bellen bested Hofer by 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent.

There is more in the article, but this is all I quote from it.

Incidentally, there was another bit of Good News, at least in my opinion:
The Italian prime minister Renzi was defeated, and will give up governing. 

I liked that news, because I have said from the beginning that I did not like
the "neoliberal" Renzi.

5. No, Dr. Dean, Democrats Do Need to Fight It Out

The fifth and last item today is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and is another fine article that deserves full reading):

While he was bowing out of the contest to head up the Democratic National Party, Howard Dean said the election of the next chair should not become a fight between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters.  

With all due respect to Dr. Dean, the selection of the next chair is all about resolving that fight.

In fact, Democrats’ fortunes have been declining for three decades now, precisely because the Party’s neoliberal elite have done everything they can to stave off the battle.

Yes indeed, and in fact I think it is over three decades now, but precise dating is far less important than correct analysing, and the following is quite correct:

What Neoliberalism has done to the Party. What folks haven’t picked up on yet, is that this commitment to neoliberalism has been eroding the Party’s prospects for more than three decades. For example, back in the 60's, half of all potential voters in the US identified as Democrats. Currently, 29% do.  If one tracks the losses, it appears that the more the Party moved to the center and beyond, the more the people abandoned the Party.   

Republicans now control both Houses of Congress, and the Presidency. In fact, since 1980, the nation has had three conservative Republican Presidents and one middle of the road Democrat, and one who was conservative in deed,  if not in language. And now Trump.

At the state level, the situation is even more skewed. Republicans control both legislatures and the governorship in 25 states, while Democrats control all three institutions in just 6 states. Nebraska, which has a unicameral, non-partisan  legislature, isn’t counted in this total.

Republicans control both legislative bodies in 32 states while Democrats do in just 13.

I think that this is a good analysis - and note that we haven't analysed neoliberalism yet but only traced some of its consequences, which are that the Republicans now control by far the most powerful positions in the USA.

Here is one other feature of "neoliberalism" (and see note [2] on the term):

What Neoliberalism has done to the people. The US now ranks about the same as such luminaries as Cameroon, Uganda and Rwanda in measures of income inequality, and Americans are increasingly trapped in this pathetic state – income mobility in the US lags behind most other developed nations.

My own - radical - solution is stated in item 1, but I agree that is for the moment theoretical only: It is not practical now. (But it is the only way I
can see to break the power of the very few very rich: Forbid legally - and morally and ethically - that anyone can grow more than 20 times as rich as the poorest. And please note that only about 1% of the very richest will loose money and power by this proposal, that benefits the 99% a lot, in principle.)

Here is a brief but good review of what "neoliberalism" amounts to:

How did this happen? Well, there’s a remarkable overlap between the neoliberals’ dogma – tax cuts are always good; privatization is better; deregulation is great; and trade agreements and the free movement of capital are wonderful – and the Republican’s destructive economic myths -- supply side-job creators, t[r]ickle down economics, and deregulation.  The thing is, these ideas have never worked, but they’ve been harder to kill than a zombie vampire black cat in a coal mine at midnight.

Yes indeed, and the positive theses of "neoliberalism" - tax cuts, privatizations, deregulations, "trade agreements" (a propaganda term), and "the free movement of capital" (another propaganda term) - in fact each and all amount to much more powers and much more money for the very few very rich, and amount to great financial losses and great losses in power for everybody else.

But "neoliberalism" - see note [2] - was pushed by both the Republicans and the Democrats, and the main reason is that both parties were effectively led by the rich and very rich.

There is this about Bill Clinton, which is wholly correct:

The fact is, Bill Clinton and his DLC crowd accomplished more for the conservative cause than Reagan did.  

As Thomas Frank noted in an interview with Mark Carlin recently:

Clinton had five major achievements as president: NAFTA, the Crime Bill of 1994, welfare reform, the deregulation of banks and telecoms, and the balanced budget. All of them -- every single one -- were longstanding Republican objectives.

Precisely. He was "a progressive" and "a liberal" in name only. In fact, he worked mostly for the rich bankers, who indeed did reward him very well for his services in the first 10 years of the 2000s (for he made around $120 millions then, "by a few speeches for rich bankers").

Here is the ending of the article (that contains more that is good):

So here’s the bottom line, Dr. Dean. If the Democrats continue to embrace neoliberalism, they will continue to lose.  Worse, Trump would likely be a two-term President with complete control of Congress and the Supreme Court.  Imagine what this would mean for climate change policy; or the cause of science; or the place that reason, tolerance, equity and justice have in our society …
Bottom line: in the end, Trump didn’t win – the Democrats lost, and they lost because they became the Party of the Oligarchy, not the Party of the people.  That has to change.

I think that is a correct expectation. But I do not know whether the Democratic Party can be reformed, for the simple reason that the rich control it, and they have a lot of money.

Then again, I agree one has to try. And this is a recommended article.

[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months verynow. 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).

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 think that there is a great difference between classical leftists like my parents and grandparents, and postmodern "leftists" of whom I have met plenty in the University of Amsterdam: The latter "leftists" are not leftists, and tend to be defined by postmodernism (which denies there is any truth), political correctness (which does not allow you to say bad things about bad people) and identity politics (which denies all individualism and individual attitudes).

I am sorry, but if the "leftists" are "the left" - which I strongly deny - I am not a "leftist" (though I am a leftist).

[4] In fact, I like this term, and I do not like most of the terms that are now adopted by most psychologists and most psychiatrists: Both professional groups are much less scientific than they claim to be, and apart from that most
of their terms are ugly, too long and not well-known by anyone who does not belong to these professional groups. (I also don't, for the simple reason that I have not earned even one cent with my - excellent - degrees.)

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