Dec 20, 2016

Crisis: Psychiatry & Trump, Energy, Russia-Hack, UK Police State, Bullshit
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Three Professors of Psychiatry Call for 'Neuropsychiatric
     Evaluation' of Trump out of Fears He's Mentally Ill

2. Donald Trump’s Energy Nostalgia and the Path to Hell
3. Russia-Hack Story, Another Media Failure
4. The UK's ‘National Security’ Plan? It's a Blueprint for a
     Police State

5. The Bullshit Era

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, December 20, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a letter that - very correctly and responsibly in my view - some prominent psychiatrists  wrote about Trump's megalomania to President Obama; item 2 is about an article that sets out that Trump's campaign promises about energy are inconsistent; item 3 is about an article that outlines the very radical collapse in respect for the truth in the mainstream media; item 4 is about the recent changes in the law that makes Great Britain a neofascist police state (and I am very sorry, but this seems to be the case); and item 5 is about the prevalence of bullshit in the mainstream media, and also about its definition: I define it - simply, but well - as lying or deceiving.

-- 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 19.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. Three Professors of Psychiatry Call for 'Neuropsychiatric Evaluation' of Trump out of Fears He's Mentally Ill

The first item today is by Tom Boggioni on AlterNet and originally on The Raw Story:

This starts as follows:

In a letter addressed to President Barack Obama, three professors of psychiatry — including one from Harvard Medical School — expressed fears that President-elect Donald Trump’s exhibits signs he may not be mentally fit to assume the presidency.

I should start by saying that I am a psychologist (not a clinical one, though) who thoroughly agrees with these professors of psychiatry, and who does so since over 9 months.

In fact, here is a link to the article in which I said so, more than 9 monts ago, from which I also quote the nine psychiatric points that convinced me (as a psychologist, who had a lot more to do with disturbed people than most psychologists did [2]) that Donald Trump is very probably a megalomaniac aka grandiose narcissist [3]:

  • Observed lack of insight into the impact they have on others
  • More likely to regulate self-esteem through overt self-enhancement
  • Denial of weaknesses
  • Intimidating demands of entitlement
  • Consistent anger in unmet expectations
  • Devaluation of people that threaten self-esteem
  • Diminished awareness of the dissonance between their expectations and reality, along with the impact this has on relationships
  • Overt presentation of grandiose fantasies
  • Conflict within the environment is generally experienced as external to these individuals and not a measure of their own unrealistic expectations

The videos I had then seen about Trump evidently showed that he manifests each and every of these points. Indeed, I add that everybody who reads these points (that define megalomaniacs [3] for psychiatrists) who is not quite stupid nor quite prejudiced should make the same inference: If psychiatry is a science and if its lists of symptoms define people's specific kinds of madness, both of which are strongly maintained by the APA, then anybody with a decent mind should be able to make the same inference as I made.

Indeed, here is more:

In the letter, which can be found at The Huffington Post, Judith Herman, M.D. a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School — along with two professors who taught at the University of California, San Francisco — made the appeal to Obama based upon their “grave concern” after watching Trump’s antics.

Yes, of course: Anybody who saw the litany of lies and degeneracies Trump engaged in as a presidential candidate should have "grave concern" - and especially psychiatrists and psychologists who are trained to diagnose the mental properties of people. And the letter - see The Huffington Post - is quite good, quite clear, and uses the same 9 points as I used.

Here is more:

“We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the mental stability of our President-Elect,” the letter reads. “Professional standards do not permit us to venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally.”

I agree there are such "professional standards", but these are completely inapplicable to the election of the most powerful person on earth, who very probably will not wish to see any psychiatrist or psychologist.

As to "diagnosis" and "professional": Both terms are in fact used in a specific sense that mostly serve the psychiatrists' claims to be the only ones capable of diagnosing persons, but in fact are quite misleading here.

In case of the mental health of the most powerful person on earth, people whose specialism is pronouncing on the mental health of persons, who believe they do know something relevant based on their special knowledge, should say
so, simply to say clearly what they think as specialists on mental health - and if they don't want to call this "a diagnosis" because this might conflict with their "professional standards" - vis-à-vis a person who will get the power to blow up everyone with nuclear arms and completely destroy human civilization - then don't call it "a diagnosis", but insist that you are qualified. And so they do:

“His widely reported symptoms of mental instability — including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office,” it continues. “We strongly recommend that, in preparation for assuming these responsibilities, he receive a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation by an impartial team of investigators.”

But of course there also is the unethical and irresponsible APA President Maria A. Oquendo, who wrote these lines:

“This year, the election seems like anything but a normal contest, that has at times devolved into outright vitriol. The unique atmosphere of this year’s election cycle may lead some to want to psychoanalyze the candidates, but to do so would not only be unethical, it would be irresponsible.”

I should add that I dislike the APA for quite a few reasons, that may be summarized by these two points: (1) I maintain - as a psychologist, whose longest and clearest article about psychiatry and psychiatrist is here - that psychiatry is far less of a real science than the vast plurality of psychiatrists claim, and (2) I also maintain that the APA deeply collaborates with the pharmaceutical corporations who excel in frauds and deceptions, which it does do because pharmaceutical corporations earn enormous amounts of money, that in part may be used, and are being used, to make leading psychiatrists multi-millionaires, essentially by fraud and corruption (see here for more than a hundred articles about this).

But as I explained, none of the last three paragraphs seem very material as long as psychiatrists do not claim the term "diagnosis" but simply say - as they have both the right and the moral duty to do - that in the light of their own professional knowledge an extremely powerful politician does not seem sane, and that they have the duty to say so as responsible persons, if only because that person will very soon be able to blow up everyone.

Which is what they did, and which I agree to. And this is a recommended article.

2. Donald Trump’s Energy Nostalgia and the Path to Hell

The second item is by Michael T. Klare on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows:

Scroll through Donald Trump’s campaign promises or listen to his speeches and you could easily conclude that his energy policy consists of little more than a wish list drawn up by the major fossil fuel companies: lift environmental restrictions on oil and natural gas extraction, build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, open more federal lands to drilling, withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, revive the coal mining industry, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.  In fact, many of his proposals have simply been lifted straight from the talking points of top energy industry officials and their lavishly financed allies in Congress.

If, however, you take a closer look at this morass of pro-carbon proposals, an obvious, if as yet unnoted, contradiction quickly becomes apparent. Were all Trump’s policies to be enacted—and the appointment of the climate-change denier and industry- friendly attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the attempt will be made—not all segments of the energy industry will flourish.  Instead, many fossil fuel companies will be annihilated, thanks to the rock-bottom fuel prices produced by a colossal oversupply of oil, coal, and natural gas.

Yes indeed: This seems quite true. And one possible reason Trump's "campaign promises" are inconsistent is that over 70% over Trump's pronouncements were lies anyway. Here is some more (from four pages of texts, that are too long to properly extract):

If all of Trump’s proposals are enacted, U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will soar, wiping out the declines of recent years and significantly increasing the pace of global warming.  Given that other major GHG emitters, especially India and China, will feel less obliged to abide by their Paris commitments if the U.S. heads down that path, it’s almost certain that atmospheric warming will soar beyond the 2 degree Celsius rise over pre-industrial levels that scientists consider the maximum the planet can absorb without suffering catastrophic repercussions.  And if, as promised, Trump also repeals a whole raft of environmental regulations and essentially dismantles the Environmental Protection Agency, much of the progress made over recent years in improving our air and water quality will simply be wiped away, and the skies over our cities and suburbs will once again turn gray with smog and toxic pollutants of all sorts.

Quite possibly so. There is also this:

With more petroleum entering the market all the time and insufficient world demand to soak it up, prices have remained at depressed levels for more than two years, severely affecting fracking operations as well.  Many U.S. frackers, including some in the Bakken formation, have found themselves forced to suspend operations or declare bankruptcy because each new barrel of fracked oil costs more to produce than it can be sold for. Trump’s approach to this predicament—pump out as much oil as possible here and in Canada—is potentially disastrous, even in energy industry terms.

That is, unless Trump knows a way in which the oil price will get up (which seems quite improbable, given the successes of solar and wind power).

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

In other words, Trump’s plan will undoubtedly prove to be an enigma wrapped in a conundrum inside a roiling set of contradictions.  Although it appears to offer boom times for every segment of the fossil fuel industry, only carbon as a whole will benefit, while many individual companies and sectors of the market will suffer.  What could possibly be the motivation for such a bizarre and planet-enflaming outcome?

My own answers to the last question are in fact two: First, Donald Trump is a bizarre and very probably crazy - see item 1 - man, who in fact doesn't seem to know much but who pretends He Is The Greatest Of The Great. And second, more than 7 out of 10 of his sayings that were checked were lies or fantasies
or deceptions.

The second fact also means that none of Trump's campaign promises can be taken seriously, but I agree that Trump is a very frightening man to become president of the USA.

3. Russia-Hack Story, Another Media Failure

The third item is b
y Joe Lauria on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

President Obama admitted in his press conference on Friday that his government hasn’t released any evidence yet of Russian interference in the election, but he said some would be coming.

That’s proof that an uncritical press has already printed stories as if true without any evidence just on the say-so of the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization long dedicated to deception, disinformation and meddling in other countries’ elections, not to mention arranging coups to overthrow elected governments.

Forty years ago, the established press would have been skeptical to buy anything the CIA was selling after a series of Congressional committees exposed a raft of criminal acts and abuses of power by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Today’s journalists work for newspapers that fraudulently still bear the names New York Times and Washington Post, but they are no longer the same papers.

I agree with most of this, though I do not think it was or is a fraud that the New York Times and Washington Post still bear the names they had for a very long time and that also changed a lot at earlier times as well.

Then again, I agree that journalism (not only in the USA, also) has changed a great lot during the last 35 years. Here is Joe Lauria's personal experience with these changes:

Neither the Times nor the Post suffered any consequences and have picked up where they left off, still uncritically reporting anonymous U.S. officials without demanding proof.

On the contrary, any reporter who did demand evidence was in danger of career consequences. An editor for a newspaper chain that I was reporting for called me to chew me out because he said my stories were not in support of the Iraq war effort. He told me his son was a Marine. I told him I was sure he was proud but that my job was to report the news based on the evidence. On the very day when the invasion began, I was fired.

I say. This editor clearly believed it was not his duty to report the facts, but it was his duty to do propaganda. In fact, that seems to be the opinion of most "journalists" who these days write as propagandists in the mainstream media.

Here is Joe Lauria's estimate of how common this is, in the United States at least:

There have been a few periods in American journalism when demanding proof from government was expected. The muckraking period led by Lincoln Steffens of the Progressive Era was one. The 1970s was another. But mostly it has been a business filled with careerists who live vicariously through the powerful people they cover, disregarding the even greater power the press has to cut the powerful down to size.

I say, for this is worse than I thought it is: This means that there were two periods of ca. 10 years in which there was decent - fact based, evidence based - journalism during the last 125 years, and the first of these was around 1900 and the second around 1970.

I certainly do not know the American press as well as Joe Lauria does, but I am a bit less negative about earlier journalism, were it only because at earlier times
the press had much more money (from advertisements) and there also was much more variety in ownership and in policies.

And this is a recommended article: Maybe Lauria exaggerates a bit, but he is right that the present mainstream media seem to lie, to propagandize and to deceive much more than they did in the Seventies, and that this is a major
danger for any real democracy.

4. The UK's ‘National Security’ Plan? It's a Blueprint for a Police State

The fourth item today is by Nafeez Ahmed on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In early December, the British government released its first annual report on the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Despite the total media blackout, the document reveals in stark detail the Conservative government’s plans to expand Britain’s military activities around the world.

In the name of defending "national security", Britain is building a “permanent” military presence in the Gulf to defend Britain’s access to regional energy resources; deploying more troops into Eastern Europe, near Russia’s border; and drumming up support for rampant arms sales to despots in search of better tools to repress their own populations. This is all happening as it promotes economic aid as a mechanism to open up poorer economies to “UK businesses”.

Yes indeed, and the last paragraph makes it quite clear that Great Britain is doing the same as the USA, that is, it defines as "British interests" to have a permanent military presence in many areas that are very far from Great Britain, and it does so not to help the average Englishman, but to help the English very rich (and only them).

Here is more:

Defending "national security" also means making sure the British public don’t get too uppity about all this. That means keeping an eye on what they're saying, emailing, posting on social media and talking about in schools and universities.

And this is neofascist intrusion into the personal, individual rights of 60 million Brits, it seems by a bunch of deeply protected neofascist secret spies. (In case you object against my use of "neofascism": it is clearly defined in note [1].)

Here is some more:

The justification, of course, is preventing and countering the extremism that leads to terrorism. But the word "extremism" is so ill-defined it has already been deployed to great effect under the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (Prevent) programme. The new national security strategy report celebrates the massive expansion of Prevent, as well as the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

Police forces, local councils and schools have been caught
identifying anti-fracking and environmental protesters as posing “key risks” under Prevent.
Actually both "extremism" and "terrorism" are quite ill defined in decent legal terms, and especially if used by the state's terrorists to justify their own secret terrorism and secret spying on 60 million Brits who in great majority are not guilty of anything whatsoever.

Also, I repeat that state terrorists - in Hitler's Germany, in Stalin's Russia, in Mao's China, in Pol Pot's Cambodia - have been far more dangerous, in terms of people killed, tortured and abused, than non-state terrorists.
This article ends as follows:

The Investigatory Powers Act will enhance police powers to a vast extent: as the report says, it “brings together the powers available to law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies to acquire communications and communications data”.

No wonder it has been described as the “most extreme
surveillance law ever passed in a democracy”, according to the Open Rights Group.

The new annual report makes one thing very clear. Britain is now not only a fully-fledged police state, it is also an unashamed empire of predatory neo-liberal capitalism, which has no qualms about abusing its military power to expand its reach.

I agree: Great Britain now is "a fully-fledged police state" and it has adopted neofascism as its dominant political policy (and no, this doesn't please me at all: it frightens me, for I liked the Great Britain I learned to know in the early 70ies).

5. The Bullshit Era

The fifth and last item today is by Ezra Rosser on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
In the middle of the Bush II Presidency, a literary classic was published: Harry G. Frankfurt’s On Bullshit.  Printed as an abnormally small hardback that was perfect for tucking into a pocket or for pulling out surreptitiously, the not-so-serious book adopted a serious approach to the topic of bullshit.  We are now at the start of an era that sadly might be remembered by future generations, assuming of course that independent free thought survives, as the era of bullshit.
I do like the popularization of the concept of bullshit, in part because bullshit is quite important itself, and also in part because this was done by a philosopher.

Then again, Frankfurt's book clearly was not "
a literary classic" when it was published, and whether it will become one seems to me to be a future judgement and not a present one ("assuming of course that independent free thought survives", which is not very likely, given the amounts of bullshit that are being published now, and the very strong financial reasons to do so: it helps the very rich to lie and deceive, and the very rich have a whole lot of money to support their falsities, and they do).

There is also this:
Philosopher Frankfurt distinguishes bullshit from lying, explains that “the essence of bullshit is not that it is fake but that it is phony,” and goes on to argue that the bullshitter’s “only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.”  It is not an exaggeration to say that bullshit is everywhere.  It can be seen when every five year old on a soccer team is given an end-of-the-season medal and when people agree to meet at seven for dinner, knowing full well they will not make it on time.
I don't agree.

First, if you check the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which I did, because it is American, you'll find that there is little difference between what is fake (
"imposture, fraud, sham, fake, humbug, counterfeit mean a thing made to seem other than it is") and what's phony ("not true, real, or genuine : intended to make someone think something that is not true"), and indeed both also do not differ much from what is bullshit ("to talk nonsense especially with the intention of deceiving or misleading").

Second, I disagree with Frankfurt's analysis of
bullshit, for the simple reason that bullshitters do have "the intention of deceiving or misleading" (and that their eyes "are not on the facts at all" is hardly relevant, and indeed makes it very probable that they are lying or deceiving or misleading).

So my own analysis of bullshit is along the lines of Merriam-Webster: It is language that is designed to deceive or mislead, and if there is a difference between bullshit on the one hand, and fake or phony messages on the other hand, it is in the scale: The typical bullshitter lies on a larger scale than many others, mostly because the
typical bullshitter often engages in propaganda for a political or religious group, and not for a specific product.
Then again, Rosser is quite right that there are enormous amounts of bullshit these days, indeed specifically in politics (and religion):
Bullshit also enjoys a privileged place in politics.  The public should be forgiven for not knowing that the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act is in fact much better known for its bullshit name: U.S.A. Patriot Act.  Or that “Right to Work” laws actually are ways of further crushing unions—as if that was needed. Both are examples of quality bullshit.  But we are entering into an era of unparalleled bullshit.
Yes, though both are examples of just one kind of bullshit: Choosing acronyms for laws that suggest something contradictory to their real meanings. Finally, the article ends like this:
But introspection and gloom only go so far, it can be quite refreshing to acknowledge the bullshit.  Try it yourself.  Say the word aloud.  After all, Trump’s bullshit doesn’t end at the nominees.  Denying climate change: bullshit!  Using the Presidency to advance the Trump brand: bullshit!  Nor is Trump the only bullshitter.  The Democratic National Committee replacing Debbie Wasserman Schultz with Donna Brazile: bullshit!  Paul Ryan vowing to solve poverty by replacing all entitlement programs with a single block grant: bullshit! Everywhere you look, there is bullshit and more bullshit.
I suppose this is connected to the fact that the term "bullshit" (<-Wikipedia) is taken to be a profane expletive. As I explained, in case you are upset by its profanity or by its being an expletive, you may just as well or better replace it by "lie" or "deception".

After all, this is what it is about and what makes it very objectionable, and there are these days enormous amounts of lies and deceptions, indeed mostly because the mainstream media have engaged to reproduce the lies and deceptions that the government and the rich want to see spread widely.

And this is quite different from what the mainstream media tried to be in the 1970ies.

[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 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.)

[2] The reason has in fact not much to do with my study of psychology, but with my love for a woman who, briefly after I fell in love with her, got cocaine + speed from "a friend", which made her - quite classically also: here my study of psychology helped me - a schizophrenic (<-Wikipedia). After that it turned out that we could not find any psychologist or psychiatrist we both trusted, and that is how the whole job of trying to cure her fell on my shoulders (and on that of our - very good - G.P.)

Also, when I knew her as schizophrenic (from February 1986 onwards) she had no house, no income and had been kicked out from her school. After two years, I had it arranged she could study psychology, had a house, and she also soon got a job at the university, and indeed in the end got a Ph.D. in psychology, none of which she would ever have succeeded in doing without knowing me.

This is the main reason why I know a lot more about mad people than most psychologists, for she was quite mad the first 1 1/2 years, and I was responsible for her 24 hours a day - which is rather different from the - very well-paid - three quarters of an hour most clinical psychologists spend on their clients, once a week or so.

Also, I got nothing for my troubles, and in the end concluded that the woman I had fallen in love with never loved me and deceived me about her love for me.

[3] Originally - on March 14, 2016 - I chose to go by the psychiatric term "grandiose narcissism", but I have revised my opinion: "Megalomania" is much
clearer for nearly everyone than
"grandiose narcissism", for it is a fairly common English term and not a piece of made-up psychiatric jargon.

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