Sanders: The Democracy Now! Interview
2. Just Before Christmas, Obama Establishes
3. Economists versus the Economy
4. Take @realDonaldTrump seriously: Don’t dismiss
Trump’s Twitter madness as
is a Nederlog of Tuesday, December 27, 2016.
is a crisis
log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is
about a long interview
that Bernie Sanders had with Amy Goodman; item 2 is
about an American
governmental "anti-propaganda agency" (that will almost certainly in
fact serve as a censorship agency); item 3
is about "the economy" by a
well- known political economist who is (like I am) far from
by most economists; and item 4 is about Trump's
tweets (but misses analyzing the "madness" attributed to Trump).
part, for the moment --
In case you visit my
Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in
But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. Since then it mostly wasn't
(until and including 25.xii).
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
last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. 
In case you visit my
Danish site: This was so-so till 18.xi
and was correct since then (most or all days), but not on 25.xii: Then
it moved back to 2015 (!!).
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.
keep this introduction until I get three successive days
in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen
for many months now.
Sanders: The Democracy Now! Interview
The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!
This starts with the following
In a Democracy Now! special, Vermont
Senator Bernie Sanders sat down with Amy Goodman at the Free Library of
Philadelphia in late November in his most extensive broadcast interview
since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton just weeks earlier.
It is correct that this interview was
published on December 26, nearly a month later. I don't mind, but this
is the case. Also, I will pick a few quotes I like and comment on
these. There is a lot more in the original and the speaker is always
Sanders, except once, and that is indicated.
Here is the present political scene in the
USA as seen by Bernie Sanders:
Right now in the United States, as you
know, Mr. Trump will be inaugurated. Right now, the Republicans control
the U.S. Senate. Democrats, I had hoped—we thought we had a better than
even chance of gaining control. We did not. We’ll end up with 49 seats.
Democrats picked up a few seats in the House, but the Republicans will
continue to control the House. Not only that, in about two-thirds of
the states in this country, there are Republican governors. And in the
last eight or so years, Democrats have lost some 900 legislative seats
in state capitols all over this country. So I think any independent
assessment, without casting any blame, says the current approach has
Yes indeed - and not only has "the current
approach", which was fundamentally Hillary Clinton's approach,
"failed": By the above statement it has failed extremely
miserably. And I think that is quite correct.
Next, here is Sanders on the people who
voted for Donald Trump:
There are some people who think that
everybody who voted for Donald Trump is a racist, a sexist or a
homophobe or a xenophobe. I don’t believe that. Are those people in his
camp? Absolutely. But it would be a tragic mistake to believe that
everybody who voted for Donald Trump is a "deplorable." They’re not.
These are people who are disgusted, and they are angry at the
No, I am sorry but I think this is
I never thought "everybody who
voted for Trump" is "a racist, a sexist or a
homophobe or a xenophobe", and I never thought "everybody who voted for Trump" is a "deplorable", and I know that many
of them are "disgusted" and "angry", but it does
seem to me that many of the 60 millions or so who voted for Trump are
characterized by three other characteristics that almost everybody who
talks about politics (for money) very carefully systematically
avoids mentioning at all: Stupidity and ignorance,
coupled to a great and quite sick arrogance,
that takes pride in being stupid and ignorant.
And while I can understand why an elected
politician like Sanders avoids this theme, I fail to understand why
extremely many journalists systematically fail to mention it, or only
refer to it in terms like "people who watch Fox News live in an
artificial bubble". Yes they do - but you fail to discuss the reasons
why so many watch Fox News.
Here is Amy Goodman, who makes a very good
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, who heard you were the
people in that room, in each place. You were having the largest rallies
of anyone, including Donald Trump, certainly far surpassing Hillary
Clinton. But what Donald Trump had that you didn’t was the media. And,
you know, that was repeated over and over by those that owned the
media. You know, "He is good for us." So, it wasn’t just Fox. It was
all of the networks that were Trump TV.
so. And especially now that I've seen a lot of lies and propaganda in
the mainstream media that these days lie that they were against Trump,
that is - if true at all - only true of some of
them, and that mostly only in the last few months.
Before that most of the mainstream media supported Trump, and
did so very actively, by giving him extremely much free time on TV.
And this was defended by Les Moonves, the head of CBS, on the ground
that (and I quote Moonves) "It may not be good for America, but it’s
good for us." And Moonves meant: financially
good. So what he said is that he sold the American
people a liar and a fraud because his "news" organization made many
millions doing so.
And here is Sanders on the amount of TV-attention he got during his
rallies as a presidential candidate:
Turns out that from January 1st,
2015, I think, through November 2015, ABC
Evening News had us on for 20 seconds.
I say. And while this may be - I don't
know - an underestimate, Bernie Sanders did get extremely
little time from all the mainstream media.
Here is Bernie Sanders on Hillary Clinton's email problems:
What I said—and sometimes it got
taken out of context—is that there was an investigation going on and
that I wanted to spend—that history, 10 years from now, trust me, no
one will remember these damn emails. What they will worry about is
people not having healthcare. They’ll worry about climate change.
They’ll worry about poverty. They’ll worry about infrastructure. And my
point was—and the media often doesn’t play that whole statement—I said,
you know, "I’m sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,
because that’s what the whole campaign is about. Why don’t we talk
about, A, the collapse of the middle class, income and wealth
inequality, healthcare, education, how we move the country forward?"
And that was the thrust of my point
Yes and no, though mostly yes: Sanders is
quite right that Hillary's email problems were not a real
political issue and were used (intentionally, I am quite sure) not
to talk about the real political issues Sanders stood for. Then again,
this also was a dirty trick that mostly worked, and such tricks are
Here is Sanders on the Carrier corporation:
And we’re going to go to the
Carrier plant, where you have a situation where Carrier is—you all
remember air-conditioners—they make furnaces in Indiana, actually. And
they decided—they announced last year they’re going to shut down two
plants in Indiana, throw 2,100 workers out on the street. This is a
company that pays top dollar to its CEOs, head guy makes $14 million.
Couple of years ago they had a severance package for a former CEO. You know what the guy got as a golden
parachute? $171 million. And now what they want to do is shut the
plants down and move to Mexico and hire people in Monterrey for three
bucks an hour. So it becomes symbolic of a disastrous trade policy.
I agree these are very obscene
amounts of money, that incidentally also show how much the rich
have gained since Reagan: obscenely much.
Here is the last statement by Sanders that I am going to quote. I think
it is quite interesting, and for background see my Nederlog of December
25: Crisis: Donald Trump is a megalomaniac neofascist (I think):
No, but I did mention in my
remarks that that was a—you know, this is—we can go back and look at
all of the totally absurd and nonfactual statements that Trump made.
You know, and I am not a guy in politics who really likes to attack
viciously my opponents. It’s not my style. But I felt obliged during
the campaign to say something that was just patently true, and that is
that Trump is a pathological liar. And, you know, I mean, he was
saying—and the danger is, it may be—you know, everybody lies. You know
you’re lying. But I fear very much that he may be not even knowing that
he lies, that he believes that he saw—the only person in the world who
saw in New Jersey Muslims on a rooftop celebrating the destruction of
the twin towers, the only person in America who saw it, and he’s
utterly convinced that he saw it. And he may well be convinced of that.
It may not be a lie; he may believe that he saw that.
I mostly agree, in the sense that I both
believe that Trump is "a pathological liar" and also that he very often "may
be not even knowing that he lies".
And while I agree that is hardly a consistent set of statements, I am a
psychologist who thinks Trump is a megalomaniac, and that his
megalomania explains many of his tweets and his opinions: Trump lies, but
because many of his lies are based on his mad assumption that He Is The
Greatest, for him his - fantastical and false - assumptions far outshine the falsity of
his sayings. (He must be right "because He Is The Greatest".)
And as you can see here I am not
- and not by far - the only one who thinks so: many
psychologists and psychiatrists think the same.
This is a recommended article.
Just Before Christmas,
Obama Establishes Anti-Propaganda Agency
The second item is by Lauren McCauley on Truthdig and originally on
This starts as follows:
In the final hours before the Christmas
holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget
(pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national
anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press
The Countering Disinformation and
Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of
Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State
Department which coordinates efforts to “recognize, understand, expose,
and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation
efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests.”
Further, the law authorizes grants to
non-governmental agencies to help “collect and store examples in print,
online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and
propaganda” directed at the U.S. and its allies, as well as “counter
efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and
propaganda to influence the policies and social and political
stability” of the U.S. and allied nations.
I think the "critics" are quite right that
this "could be dangerous for press freedoms" for the two simple reasons that (i) nearly everything that
issues from the US government is propaganda, so that (ii)
setting up a governmental "national
seems to entail directly that the US government does not propagandize,
and probably also that anybody who denies anything that the US government says
is doing propaganda against it.
And that is very dangerous, for this seems
to be a totalitarian attempt to provide the government with a means of
censoring as propaganda everything that goes against the governments'
The head of the center will be appointed
by the president, which likely means the first director will be chosen
by President-elect Donald Trump.
The new law comes weeks before the New
York billionaire assumes the presidency, amid national outrage over the
spread of fake news and what many say is foreign
interference in the election, both which are accused of enabling
Those combined forces have already
contributed to the overt policing of media critical of U.S. foreign
policy, such as the problematic “fake news blacklist” recently disseminated by The Washington Post.
This may all be true, but I think it is
less important. What is important is that the US government is now
setting up its own governmental anti-propaganda institution, that will
almost certainly work by stigmatizing most honest criticisms of the US
government as propaganda.
That is very dangerous, especially
because governmental institutions have the full force of the law.
This is a recommended article.
3. Economists versus the Economy
The third item is by Robert Skidelsky
(<-Wikipedia) on Project-Syndicate:
This is here mostly because of its
author, who is an emeritus professor of political economy and who wrote
the biography of Keynes in three volumes, which I happen to have read
most of. 
Given that Skidelsky knows a great amount
about Keynes and is an economist and a historian himself, and also used
to be an English Conservative, I think the following judgement is quite
Let’s be honest: no one knows what is
happening in the world economy today. Recovery from the collapse of
2008 has been unexpectedly slow. Are we on the road to full health or
mired in “secular stagnation”? Is globalization coming or going?
Policymakers don’t know what to do. They press the usual
(and unusual) levers and nothing happens. Quantitative easing was
supposed to bring inflation “back to target.” It didn’t. Fiscal
contraction was supposed to restore confidence. It didn’t. Earlier this
month, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, delivered a speech
Specter of Monetarism.” Of course, monetarism was supposed to save
us from the specter of Keynesianism!
indeed. And apart from these failures, the (non-economical) reader
should know that there are quite a few schools of thought in economy.
How many there are depends on your definitions, but in the Wikipedia
article Schools of economics no less than 19 different schools are
distinguished (all with professors of economy, either at various
universities, or across universities), that in turn may be divided into 5 or 6 major schools of economical thought.
Here is Skidelsky's basic explanation for the failures of
economical science (or "science" ):
Before 2008, the experts thought they had things under
control. Yes, there was a bubble in the housing market, but it was no
worse, current Fed Chair Janet Yellen said
in 2005, than a “good-sized bump in the road.”
So why did they miss the storm? This was exactly the
question Queen Elizabeth of Britain asked a group of economists in
2008. Most of them wrung their hands. It was “a failure of the
collective imagination of many bright people,” they explained.
economists supported a dissenting – and much more damning –
verdict, one that focused on the failure of economics education. Most
economics students are not required to study psychology, philosophy,
history, or politics. They are spoon-fed models of the economy, based
on unreal assumptions, and tested on their competence in solving
mathematical equations. They are never given the mental tools to grasp
the whole picture.
about Queen Elizabeth's good and fair question: Why did hardly any
economist, of any school also, predict the massive crisis of 2008? That
is indeed a fact, and the "reply" that the economists gave was
bullshit: If hardly any economist (from any school also) did predict
the massive crisis of 2008, the reason is that most economy is false,
because it is based on false premisses.
And second, about Skidelsky's diagnosis: Economists "are spoon-fed models of the economy, based on unreal
assumptions, and tested on their competence in solving mathematical
equations. They are never given the mental tools to grasp the whole
picture." I think that is basically correct.
Here is some more:
What unites the great economists, and many other good ones,
is a broad education and outlook. This gives them access to many
different ways of understanding the economy. The giants of earlier
generations knew a lot of things besides economics. Keynes graduated in
mathematics, but was steeped in the classics (and studied economics for
less than a year before starting to teach it). Schumpeter got his PhD
in law; Hayek’s were in law and political science, and he also studied
philosophy, psychology, and brain anatomy.
Today’s professional economists, by
contrast, have studied almost nothing but economics. They don’t even
read the classics of their own discipline. Economic history comes, if
at all, from data sets. Philosophy, which could teach them about the
limits of the economic method, is a closed book. Mathematics, demanding
and seductive, has monopolized their mental horizons. The economists
are the idiots savants of our time.
These are broad judgements, that do not do justice
economists, but that seem basically correct, at least to this
psychologist and philosopher, who also read a lot of mathematics and of
Then again, I do have three rather important additions:
First, nearly all economists are first and foremost ideologists for
their own particular school of economical thought, and
Skidelsky seems right to me in maintaining these particular
schools of economical thought are at least in part characterized as
being intellectually very limited, namely exclusively to
"economics" - and that mostly of their own school - and to
Second, some of these schools of economical thought are paid a lot
more attention (also in terms of money) than others, and the main
reason is not empirical truth or theoretical plausibility (for
then many more economists would have been able to predict the crisis of
2008) but ideological support for political positions.
And third  most of the terms that appear in economical
graphics and mathematics tend to be far
less well-defined than they are presented; are often difficult to
measure well; tend to have at best vague and quite indirect connections
with the reality they are about, because they often depend on quite a
lot of assumptions (some or many of which tend to be denied by
economists from other schools); and also many of the
equations and graphics that occur in economics are supposed to
be functional (which they often are not, really) and
are between two or three extremely general terms that are
supposed to reflect what millions do and think (with often extremely little real empirical support).
But the brief version of this is what I've said quite a few
times: Economics is mostly not a real
science. This doesn't mean it should be avoided, but it does mean
that one should be rather or quite skeptical about most arguments of
most economists - which is in fact what most economists are,
and namely about the arguments of economists that belong to another
And this is a recommended article.
Take @realDonaldTrump seriously: Don’t dismiss
Trump’s Twitter madness as “just tweets”
The fourth and last item today is by Simon Maloy on Salon:
This starts as follows:
As someone who spends a frankly
unhealthy amount of my day on Twitter, I have to say that it concerns
me how much time President-elect Donald Trump spends on Twitter. That
particular social-media platform is many things, few of them good: a
miserable time suck, a forever-grinding outrage machine, a vehicle for
harassment. It actively encourages you to discard nuance and blast out
your worst, most troll-like thoughts. It’s a great way to follow the
news, and it’s an equally great way to get snookered by fake news. The
fact that it’s a medium of choice for the next president is …
I say. Personally, I spend zero
time on Twitter and never will spend any time on it, simply
because I agreed from the very start that Twitter "actively encourages you to discard nuance and blast out your
worst, most troll-like thoughts", and since I
thought so immediately, I also immediately refused to use such
a stupid and stupifying medium, and still do, and always will.
Also, I do not believe in "social
media": They are completely asocial tools of a couple of
extremely rich guys to spy out everything they can
from their naive users, and sell the results to other rich guys, who
use them to advertise those on the asocial media.
So for me it is both "unsettling"
that Trump tweets a lot, and also to know that Mr Maloy tweets a lot,
but doesn't like it that Trump does - which I think is a bit different
from my position, for I don't do Twitter, indeed in part for
the above reason and also in part because I think that Twitter seems to
be designed for morons to hide their stupidity and ignorance (and
make their names famous: If I read a Tweet in journalist's report, much
of the Tweet goes to mentioning the Tweeters name).
Here is the ending of the article:
The clear intent of Trump’s team is to
muddy up what their boss said to the point that it becomes meaningless.
But they are not the final word on the matter. Trump is. And for as
long as he allows that tweet and its message to remain unaltered, it
stands as his statement on nuclear policy.
We can’t allow ourselves to slip into
the habit of disregarding what Trump says on Twitter because it’s “just
a tweet.” He lost “just a tweet” privileges the moment the networks
called the 2016 election for him. The words of the president always
carry the weight of the office, regardless of how they’re delivered and
irrespective of whether the president tweeting those words understands
that the message outweighs the medium.
I mostly disagree. I think tweets are fit for
stupid and ignorant fools, and if there are 4 billion fools who use it
(I don't know ), then that is too bad, but quite inkeeping with measurements of IQs. I understand why Trump tweets
(he is a fool) and that is the main reason why I don't tweet: I
am neither stupid nor ignorant, and I think one does violence to
oneself - if
one is intelligent or informed - in trying to force everything one says
within 140 characters: That amounts - for intelligent people - to intentional
Finally, while I agree Trump's words are
the words of someone who soon will be president of the USA, and while I
also agree that many of Trump's tweets are accurately described as both
false and as (I quote) "madness", I do have a reason, as a
psychologist, why Trump indulges in this (I quote again) "madness": He is very probably not quite sane, which
makes his presidency extremely dangerous for everyone. (For
more, see here.)
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
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
 Indeed, I have not read all
of Skidelsky's biography, for it is in three quite thick volumes. I did
read about two-thirds of them. (It is interesting, but only if you are
interested in Keynes or in economy: if you are not much interested in
either, the biography is simply too thick and too detailed.)
I have said several time in Nederlog, I am mostly a philosopher, and
specifically a philosopher of science. (I did not take my M.A. because
this was - illegally - denied to me.) And I will be using some of my
knowledge of that in what follows.
 I have academic degrees in philosophy and in psychology, and not
in economics, but I have read quite a bit of economics, and notably of
Marx, Sraffa, Keynes and Samuelson, and quite a few more. (Of Keynes I
also read more than economics, namely his "A Treatise on Probability" and his "The Economical Consequences of the Peace". And I've read most but not all of Keynes' "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money".)
 In this paragraph my being a philosopher of science is relevant.
 I have no adequate ideas about
how many people tweet, and 4 billion is certainly too many, but in
terms of IQs many of those who do tweet may be presumed to have an IQ
of maximally 100. Again, I don't know how correct that is - and no: I do not think everybody who tweets is stupid or ignorant, and indeed there are some clever and knowledgeable people who do. But my basic argument against tweets remains as it was: You cannot decently express any but the briefest of arguments in 140 characters, and there is no human reason why you should, since you have email.