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Nederlog

 Dec 16, 2016

Crisis: Trump's Right Wing, Clapper, Ayn Rand, Russia, Pending Tyranny
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Trump Receives Right-Wing Wish List to Gut Rules on
     Climate, Nutrition, Wages

2. James Clapper Has a Classified Blog. It’s Called
     “Intercept.”

3. Fountainhead of Bad Ideas: Ayn Rand's Fanboys Take
     the Reins of Power

4. Making Russia ‘The Enemy’
5.
The 4 Syndromes of Passivity in the Face of Pending
     Tyranny
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, December 16, 2016.

A.
This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a right-wing wish list for Trump; item 2 is about Clapper, who has a blog (that is only accessible to "the intelligence community"); item 3 is about Ayn Rand, whose values and philosophy - Greed Is Good - are shared by many members of Trump's cabinet; item 4 is about Russia as "The Enemy", which is currently mostly a Democratic project; and item 5 is about an article by Reich (that uses a mistaken medical term).

-- 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. Since then it mostly wasn't (until and
including 15.xii).

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. [0]

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.
--- 

1. Trump Receives Right-Wing Wish List to Gut Rules on Climate, Nutrition, Wages

The first item today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, after a subtitle that reads "...and more!" and under a photo from the Depression-era of men standing in line for free soup:

A wish list from the conservative House Freedom Caucus delivered to President-elect Donald Trump recommends dismantling a whopping 232 Obama administration rules and regulations that govern everything from school lunches and ceiling fans to net neutrality and the minimum wage for federal contract workers.

It would overturn restrictions on oil exploration and coal extraction on federally owned land, repeal the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate, and end executive actions protecting undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children. It would "cancel U.S. commitments to the Paris Agreement," move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and ax recent guidelines from the Office of Civil Rights related to transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

I say. In fact, the photo with which this article starts - men waiting in line in the Depression-era to get some free soup - is the front cover of the wish list of the House Freedom Caucus, and I think myself that this is a fair indication of what the House Freedom Cause wants: The freedoms for the rich to utterly destroy the poor.

You may doubt this, and I both agree that this is my guess and that this is (as yet) a wish list and not (yet, at least) a Trumpian government plan. But here is some more from "the wish list":

It also proposes eliminating the Office of Global Climate Change; the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights; and the Special Envoy for Climate Change, all within the State Department—which is set to be headed by ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

The 21-page list, posted Wednesday by caucus chair and Trump supporter Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), seeks to "undo Obama's harmful regulatory regime," according to a tweet from the caucus. This is in keeping with Trump's campaign promises.

And this is again because neoliberals and neofascists love deregulating all laws that protect the poor from exploitation and abuse by the rich, indeed ever since Reagan and Bill Clinton, both of who were enthusiastic deregulators (which made Bill a multi-millionaire).

Here is yet more:

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports, caucus members "advise several measures for allowing lower wages, including waiving the Davis-Bacon Act, ending the Obama administration's overtime rule (currently tied up in court), and ending tougher classification of contractors in part because it 'disproportionately hurts independent contractors like Uber and Lyft.' Republicans also suggest ending paid sick leave for federal contractors."

And according to Bloomberg, "a spate of regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, ranging from pollution standards for power plants to ozone reduction requirements," are also up for gutting.

As I said, for the moment this is just a conservative wish list. But together with the cabinet Trump has put together, which consists of billionaires and generals, Trump's presidency promises to be what I have been warning against for a long time now: A real neofascistic American government that will do everything it
can do to help the rich and destroy very many of the poor by driving them to suicide (namely: by denying them any money).

2. James Clapper Has a Classified Blog. It’s Called “Intercept.”

The second item is by Jeremy Scahill on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
During his tenure as the director of national intelligence, James Clapper has maintained a classified blog. It’s called “Intercept,” and is only accessible to people within the intelligence community with clearance to access the government inte[r]link site. It even offers a secret RSS feed so analysts will never miss a post. Clapper’s Intercept blog has no relationship to The Intercept, except that he hates pretty much everything we stand for. In one of his posts, written in May 2013 and obtained by The Intercept, Clapper posted a handwritten letter he says he received from “a constituent in Nevada.”
I say, for I didn't know that Clapper has a classified blog he calls "Intercept" (but in fact he did so before Jeremy Scahill's "The Intercept" was launched, which happened in February 2014).

Here is part of the "
handwritten letter" that Clapper posted:
“If the american [sic] people are not willing to release some freedoms, they cannot blame the IC when they can’t stop” domestic terror attacks because of the intelligence agencies “having their hands tied by Law [sic] & policy,” the “constituent” wrote. He adds that Americans “cannot have your cake and eat it too,” and then offers what has become a dangerous cliche in the post-Snowden mentality of the intelligence community: “So if one has nothing to hide why would a little government watching for mass protection be such a big question.”
Incidentally: If the first argument were correct, why not restate it as "If the American people are not willing to release all freedoms and all rights in the
battle against terrorism, then they cannot blame the Intelligence Community"?

Second, the not very literate writer also seems to confuse "your cake" and "their cake".

And third, only extremely stupid and extremely ignorant people believe that they "have nothing to hide" (from totally anonymous assholes in one of the secret servives?!) - but a man like Clapper is wildly enthusiastic about receiving this mail, which is probably why he published it.

Then again, there was some opposition to Clapper from inside the intellligence "community" [1], which was also on Clapper's blog (!):

Among the points Wormy made:

  • “Ridding ourselves of certain rights, such as those outlined by the 4th amendment, will absolutely not guarantee our security or freedom from attack.”
  • “Always be careful about surrendering rights. History shows that governments don’t have a great track record of giving them back once they’ve taken them. You may think your government is different, but that’s just a perception created by the fact that the American people have fought tooth and nail to see their rights are protected.”
That is all correct, though far from sensational. But it is - it seems - by someone who works inside the intelligence "community" [1], which makes it a little interesting.

Here is the end of Wormy's contribution to Clapper's blog:

“The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have survived for centuries, defended by courageous man and women both in the armed forces, in various civil rights movements, and just individual citizens standing up for themselves and others. They have made incredible sacrifices and endured tremendous hardships to pass these sacred rights down to you. Do you want to be part of the generation that threw it all out because a group of Islamic radicals is posing a threat to you that statistically doesn’t even come close to the threat posed to you by lightening [sic]?”

It seems to me that Wormy is probably fairly young (in his twenties), which I infer from "incredible sacrifices", "tremendous hardships" and "sacred rights", but I may be mistaken.

Wormy seems mistaken to me to attribute the wishes of James Clapper and a sizeable part of his own intelligence "community" to "the generation", but is right in quoting the very small chances that Americans will get hit by "terrorists": Indeed these are smaller than the chance that the same are hit by lightning.

What does this prove? Not much, according to me, for I never doubted that most of the mathematicians that are hired by the NSA are capable of thinking. Then again, I also thought and think Edward Snowden is an extra-ordinary man, and indeed so far I have seen no evidence others who work for the NSA followed his
example.

Perhaps there may be some more if Trump turns out to be a tyrant, as Robert Reich seems to think - and see item 5.

3. Fountainhead of Bad Ideas: Ayn Rand's Fanboys Take the Reins of Power

The third item is b
y Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:
For a man who ran for president on a supposedly populist platform, Donald Trump sure has appointed a lot of extremely wealthy businesspeople to his administration.
(..)
The truth is that nobody really understands why Trump is choosing the people he’s choosing, not even him. Reports indicate that it’s a capricious process, and no one is sure if there’s even a cursory vetting of the choices. Because so many of these people have no government experience there is little sense of the worldviews and philosophies that guide them.
I must say that I doubt the second paragraph, for I believe Trump has an ideology: he is a neofascist in the following sense (and this is my definition, about which you can read more here):
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.
I think Donald Trump qualifies as one in nearly every aspect, except that right now he is not yet president, and is not yet suppressing opposition to him. Otherwise, it all checks.

Also, the worldviews and "philosophies" of those he selected seems fairly clear from the fact that many are billionaires or generals: It is similar to his own.

Then again, there is also this:
On Tuesday, however, James Hohmann of The Washington Post identified a common thread among the businessmen, including Trump, which should have been obvious from the beginning. They are fanboys of Ayn Rand, the patron saint of selfish adolescents and titans of industry.
I agree, but I must add others did the same: Yesterday I reviewed an article by Kali Holloway from AlterNet who said the same. I'll return to that, but first there is Trump Himself (written with a capital "H" because Trump is - he thinks - The Greatest Of The Great):

Finally, Trump himself has claimed to be a Rand follower, as he discussed with Kirsten Powers in a USA Today interview:

Trump described himself as an Ayn Rand fan. He said of her novel “The Fountainhead,” “It relates to business (and) beauty (and) life and inner emotions. That book relates to . . . everything.” He identified with Howard Roark, the novel’s idealistic protagonist who designs skyscrapers and rages against the establishment.

The macho architect-builder and anti-Establishment hero also rapes the female protagonist. So you can see why Trump would relate to him.

In fact, it seems that Trump has no books and reads no books (which leaves him a lot of time to tweet), but this doesn't mean that he can't have picked up Ayn Rand's main ideas (Greed Is Good, as Oliver Stone phrased it, and she herself said Altruism Is Bad). And he is not the only one. Here is one example of a dedicated follower of Rand:

Of course, Ayn Rand aficionados are hardly unknown in the high reaches of government. The most powerful one of all was the  man who bears much of the responsibility for the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed, former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan.

This ends as follows, which I don't quite agree with:

As I said earlier, I seriously doubt that Donald Trump is really a fan of Ayn Rand. Her books may be juvenile and shallow, but they’re way too deep for him. Still, Trump is definitely narcissistic and almost pathologically self-confident — he’s like John Galt’s id, without knowing it. He certainly subscribes to Ayn Rand’s personal credo: “What is good for me is Good!” It appears he’s found a group of like minds to help him ruin the country.

No, I don't quite think so:

First, Ayn Rand's books very probably have not been read by Trump, but this does not mean that he doesn't know her main ideas, nor does it mean he does not agree with them. (Also, while I agree Trump is not at all the big intellect he thinks he is, he is smart enough to understand Rand.)

Second, if he is "definitely narcissistic" (which I agree he is), this implies he has a psychopathology, and part of it is that he is grandiosely self-confident.

And since I wrote this yesterday and it seems quite true to me, I repeat a remark I made then here:

If you are a rich man who subscribes to Ayn Rand's doctrines of egoism, greed, and despising the poor because they are poor, what you subscribe to is - in my personal experience [2] - the precise equivalent of the norms of criminals, who also are greedy, also are egoistic, also despise anyone who is poor, and also project themselves as a special class of people who are entitled to steal from the stupid rest.

4. Making Russia ‘The Enemy’

The fourth item is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

The rising hysteria about Russia is best understood as fulfilling two needs for Official Washington: the Military Industrial Complex’s transitioning from the “war on terror” to a more lucrative “new cold war” – and blunting the threat that a President Trump poses to the neoconservative/liberal -interventionist foreign-policy establishment.

By hyping the Russian “threat,” the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, who include much of the mainstream U.S. news media, can guarantee bigger military budgets from Congress. The hype also sets in motion a blocking maneuver to impinge on any significant change in direction for U.S. foreign policy under Trump.

Hm. I believe that what Robert Parry is sketching here is the "Official Washington" of Obama and the present elite of the Democratic Party.
He may well be right, but then again Obama has only four weeks to go as President of the USA, while it seems less probable to me that Hillary Clinton
will last as a leader the Democratic Party.

Then again, he is right about "much of the mainstream U.S. news media":
They do insist, without evidence, that Russians are a major threat to the USA.

Here is some evidence (?) that the Russians did not hack the Democratic email accounts, nor that the Russians gave the information to Wikileaks:

And, even though The New York Times and other big news outlets are reporting as flat fact that Russia hacked the Democratic email accounts and gave the information to WikiLeaks, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, told the London Daily Mail that he personally received the email data from a “disgusted” Democrat.

Murray said he flew from London to Washington for a clandestine handoff from one of the email sources in September, receiving the package in a wooded area near American University.

I say. I merely report this, and don't know what to think about it, although I tend to trust Julian Assange more than not.

There is this on Hillary Clinton's refusal to accept that she and the leading Democrats failed against Trump:

Rather than national party leaders taking the blame for pre-selecting a very flawed candidate and ignoring all the warning signs about the public’s resistance to this establishment choice, Democrats have pointed fingers at almost everyone else – from FBI Director James Comey for briefly reviving Clinton’s email investigation, to third-party candidates who siphoned off votes, to the archaic Electoral College which negates the fact that Clinton did win the national popular vote – and now to the Russians.

I think that is mostly correct. This is from the ending of the article:

In other words, “perception management” remains the guiding principle of how the U.S. government deals with the American people, scaring us with exaggerated tales of foreign threats and then manipulating our fears and our misperceptions.

As dangerous as that can be when we’re talking about Nicaragua or Iraq or Libya, the risks are exponentially higher regarding Russia. If the American people are stampeded into a New Cold War based more on myths than reality, the minimal cost could be the trillions of dollars diverted from domestic needs into the Military Industrial Complex. The far-greater cost could be some miscalculation by either side that could end life on the planet.

And this also seems mostly correct, and indeed also is quite radical:

The American government these days, and since 15 years at least, does not honestly say what they think is the case: they try to manipulate the Americans by propaganda and deceptions and are helped by considerable parts of the mainstream media, and this may lead to a new Cold War that may "end life on the planet".

I agree and this is a recommended article.

5. The 4 Syndromes of Passivity in the Face of Pending Tyranny

The fifth and last item today is by Robert Reich on his site

This starts as follows:

As the era of Trump approaches, some of you are succumbing to the follow four syndromes:

1. Normalizer Syndrome. You want to believe Trump will be just another president – more conservative and pompous than most, but one who will make rational decisions once in office.

You are under a grave delusion. Trump has a serious personality disorder and will pose a clear and present danger to America and the world.

I don't quite agree.

First, Reich uses the term "syndrome" to describe the reactions of ordinary people (he probably thinks sympathize with him). I think that is a mistake,
and I do so as a psychologist. Here is the meaning of "syndrome" according
to Wikipedia (quoted minus a note number), which indeed is my own understanding of the term:

A syndrome is a set of medical signs and symptoms that are correlated with each other. The word derives from the Greek σύνδρομον, meaning "concurrence". In some instances a syndrome is so closely correlated with a pathogenesis or etiology that the words syndrome, disease, and disorder end up being used interchangeably for them.

And I don't think that is the correct term in the present context, for these are not "medical signs and symptoms" (and indeed also are not signs of any psychopathology).

And second, while I agree that "Trump has a serious personality disorder", why not name it? It is megalomania aka grandiose narcissism (this last link is to  March 14, last) and Trump obviously has it (for someone with psychological or psychiatric training, at least [3]).

I agree with the rest, but I think these are two mistakes that should have been avoided. It is the same with the other three "syndromes" Reich mentions (which I repeat without the texts that accompany them, which is not much):

2. Outrage Numbness Syndrome.
3. Cynical Syndrome.
4. Helpless Syndrome.

This is from the ending of the article:

Millions of others feel equally powerless. But taking action – demonstrating, resisting, objecting, demanding, speaking truth, joining with others, making a ruckus, and never ceasing to fight Trump’s pending tyranny – will empower you.

But why? I think demonstrating etc. may help, but it depends. And just "taking action" is not sufficient to "empower you". Also - and this is my main skept- icism - if Trump is going to lead "a tyranny", which may be a correct diagnosis, but is one which is on the moment uncertain, acting in public against Trump the tyrant may cause you great problems.

And while I agree with Reich that Trump must be opposed, I don't know which would be the best way. And anyway "syndrome" is the wrong - medical - term to describe those who may oppose him, but as yet are uncertain how.

--------------------------
Notes
[0] 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).

[1] I believe "community" these days is mostly used as a propaganda term because it suggests a closeness and a shared set of values and ideas. Here is the Wikipedia's beginning for the term:
A community is commonly considered a social unit (a group of people) who have something in common, such as norms, values, identity, and often a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a village, town, or neighborhood).
It is a propaganda term because virtually any class of persons that one wants to propagandize positively these days is called "a community", not because it is, in the above sense, but because one wants to give the impression it is.

And I think this holds for the "intelligence community": It seems bullshit to me.


[2]
In the second half of 1985, when I had gotten quite a lot better because of vitamins, I got acquainted with a considerable number of people who made a lot of money dealing in illegal drugs (nominally marijuana and hashish, but in most cases also in cocaine - and no, I don't use cocaine or any hard drug).

They liked me because I was clever and could converse really well and what I found out talking with them is what I said: Each of them
was greedy, each of them was egoistic, each of them despised anyone who is poor, and each of them projected themselves as belonging to a special class of people who are entitled to steal from the stupid rest.

I am not like that and had given them all up by the end of 1985, but this was a real lesson to me, for I had not reckoned with this, and especially not the last fact.

[3] And since I have the training, let me also say why I think few psychologists and few psychiatrists will honestly say what they think they know about Donald Trump from his many videos: Most psychologists and most psychiatrists are more interested in the money they earn and the status they have than in speaking the truth about powerful persons. (That is, they are just like the majority of people.)

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