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Nederlog

Friday, October 20, 2017

Crisis: Deranged USA(?), On The Internet, The Climate, Mad Trump, On The GOP

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Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 20, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, October 20, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from October 20, 2017
1. How the Deranged Took Over America
2. The conspiracy to censor the Internet
3. Corporate TV Drops the Ball on Climate Change
4. Is Trump Playing the Madman, or Is He Really This
     Nuts?

5. 51 GOP Senators Just Voted To Cut $1.5 Trillion
     from Medicare and Medicaid
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. How the Deranged Took Over America

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

It’s not news to most people that the US in no longer a true Democracy.
(...)
It’s one thing to lose our freedoms; it’s quite another to lose them to a collection of anti-science whack jobs straight out of the middle ages.

And of course, with Herr Trump doing his best to neutralize the already eviscerated press, scare the hell out of us, keep us distracted from real issues, and govern by tweets, things have only gotten worse.

What’s not as well understood is precisely how a right wing de facto coup caused the US to move from a democracy to an oligarchy, and how the inmates took over the revolt.

Trump, of course, has added a whole new dimension to the coup.  No longer are we simply living in an oligarchy, we’ve become a nation suffering from full on psychosis, and Trump is the logical endpoint of the coup’s reliance on fear, distraction, hate, anger and xenophobia. What makes it possible for an abomination like Trump to gain power is that the institutions we used to rely upon to confront the oligarchy have been taken over by it in the last four decades.  Two in particular have contributed to the tragedy that is Trump.

Well... I´d say yes and no:

I agree - for the most part - that the USA at present is more of an oligarchy than a democracy, and that there has been something like a coup that developed over the last nearly fifty years, and specifically since Lewis F. Powell Jr. attended the rich to the fact that they could take over democracy by investing some of their money, since when they have been trying to do so, and have largely succeeded.

But I quite disagree that the USA has "become a nation suffering from full on psychosis":

Since I am a psychologist I do know what a psychosis is, and that concept is not at all applicable to the "nation" or the majority, while my own explanation, namely that there are far too many persons who are stupid or ignorant is far more adequate, but seems rarely or never mentioned by journalists.

My explanation of that fact is that it is not flattering to considerable parts of their audiences.

I do not know whether that is correct, but I do know since over 50 years that most people I've met or that I've read (and indeed especially in journalism) are not as intelligent or as informed as the academics that I do admire, and I have also seen in the last 50 years the systematic destruction of all education: The present "intellectuals" - for the most part - know at most half of what the intellectuals between 1865 and 1965 knew, and while there are many more nominal "intellectuals" their level of intelligence is considerably less than 50 and more years ago.

There are two main reasons that Atcheson sees for the present oligarchy that rules the USA. The first is this:

A press that fails to hold anyone accountable

Day-after-day, complete insanity is passed off as an “alternative viewpoint” by the mainstream media.  Case in point: the Republican’s claim that their tax “reform” is good for the middle class.  In reality, it’s simply another reincarnation of the same old tax-cuts-for-the-rich scheme they’ve been pushing since Reagan.
(...)
And now Trump. Sure, the entire Party has been lying for decades, but at least it followed a plan (laid out by James Powell in 1971) with a purpose—to serve the oligarchy that provides campaign funds.  But now, their leader —our President—is a pathological liar, who lies randomly and with no purpose.  Yet still, the press treats his inchoate ramblings as if they were  “another perspective.”  Not only are his rants not “another perspective” they are idiotic and dangerous and so obviously unhinged that his own people refer to him as a “fucking moron” and try to contain his tsunami of idiocy as the nation drifts into disaster on all fronts.
Again I say yes and no:

First, I agree the present ¨tax-reform¨ is ¨
the same old tax-cuts-for- the-rich scheme¨ that the Republicans have ¨been pushing since Reagan¨.

But this again precludes this plan is ¨complete insanity¨. It is very dishonest and quite manipulative, but that is not at all the same as ¨complete insanity¨.

Second, it is not ¨James Powell¨ but Lewis F. Powell Jr. who laid out the plan for an oligarchical takeover of the rich. Also, while I do agree - as a psychologist, it seems presently with 62,000 other psychologists and psychiatrists - that Trump is insane, I wish journalists would read the reasons of these psychologists - and to say that the president behaves as a “fucking moron” is to say he acted quite stupidly, but it is not to say that he is (also) not sane.

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

Democrats – partners in crime

The fact that a mere 26.1 percent of the eligible voters could put this ignoramus in office is directly a result of Democratic malfeasance. How?  Well, if you read Clinton’s latest book, or the misguided ramblings of neoliberals like Doug Schoen the neoliberal mafia that controls the Democratic Party still seems to have no clue that they enabled his victory by refusing to stand for the vast majority of Americans who are – and have been for some time now – getting screwed by decades long allegiance to the uber wealthy and elitist interests in lieu of the people’s interests.

And again I say yes and no:

I agree that the Democrats are partners in crime with the Republicans.

But the ¨mere 26.1 percent of the eligible voters¨ is mostly not due to the Democrats, but to the fact that about half of the American population did not vote in the presidential elections.

And I think that the presently leading Democrats (leading in the party) do have a clue, and that clue is money: By siding with the rich, they get money from the rich (rather like the Clintons made more than $100 millions from the rich bankers): They chose for being corrupted and for getting rich or richer themselves.

This is a recommended paper, but both because I agree and disagree, for by now I am getting also rather sick of journalists who simply seem to refuse (or not understand) the reasons of psychologists to call Trump insane, but not most of his (also corrupt, also bad) fellow Republicans.

And I also do think that most journalists do not like to speak the truth to the majority of their audiences: At least half of the American people is stupid and ignorant, for at least half of the American population has an IQ of maximally 100.


2. The conspiracy to censor the Internet

This article is by Andre Damon and Joseph Kishore on the World Socialist Web Site. [2] It starts as follows:

The political representatives of the American ruling class are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress free speech. Under the guise of combating “trolls” and “fake news” supposedly controlled by Russia, the most basic constitutional rights enumerated in the First Amendment are under direct attack.

The leading political force in this campaign is the Democratic Party, working in collaboration with sections of the Republican Party, the mass media and the military-intelligence establishment.

The Trump administration is threatening nuclear war against North Korea, escalating the assault on health care, demanding new tax cuts for the rich, waging war on immigrant workers, and eviscerating corporate and environmental regulations. This reactionary agenda is not, however, the focus of the Democratic Party. It is concentrating instead on increasingly hysterical claims that Russia is “sowing divisions” within the United States
I agree with most of this but I do not believe in ¨the working class¨, as I explained in my note [2], which means that I have to skip considerable parts of this article.

Then again, this is mostly correct (in my view [3]):

The drive toward Internet censorship in the United States is already far advanced. Since Google announced plans to bury “alternative viewpoints” in search results earlier this year, leading left-wing sites have seen their search traffic plunge by more than 50 percent. The World Socialist Web Site’s search traffic from Google has fallen by 75 percent.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have introduced similar measures. The campaign being whipped up over Russian online activity will be used to justify even more far-reaching measures.

As I said, I agree mostly with the above and also with the following bit:

This is taking place as universities implement policies to give police the authority to vet campus events. There are ongoing efforts to abolish “net neutrality” so as to give giant corporations the ability to regulate Internet traffic. The intelligence agencies have demanded the ability to circumvent encryption after having been exposed for illegally monitoring the phone communications and Internet activity of the entire population.

In one “democratic” country after another governments are turning to police-state forms of rule, from France, with its permanent state of emergency, to Germany, which last month shut down a subsidiary of the left-wing political site Indymedia, to Spain, with its violent crackdown on the separatist referendum in Catalonia and arrest of separatist leaders.

In fact, democracy in Europe started to die especially since the introduction of the euro in 2002 and the continuing unification of Europe: This gave far too much power to a tiny clique, that is also mostly not elected.

This is also a recommended article, but I have skipped considerable parts that I do not agree with.


3. Corporate TV Drops the Ball on Climate Change

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. I suppose it was first published on Democracy Now! but this is not mentioned in the article that starts as follows:

Legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone often cautioned, “All governments lie.” But even Izzy would have been dizzy with the deluge of lies pouring out of the Trump administration, including President Donald Trump’s claim that human-induced climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy. Global warming has exacerbated recent catastrophic events from Houston to Miami to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and, now, to raging fires sweeping across California. The corporate TV weather reporting aids and abets Trump’s misinformation by consistently ignoring the role of climate change in this string of disasters.

Yes indeed, for this seems all true to me. Next, there is this - and Williams is a bioclimatologist who works for the Columbia University:

When asked about the failure of network TV meteorologists to make the connection between extreme weather and climate change, Williams said: “The terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ have been politicized. But in the circles that I work with, with real climatologists who are working on these issues every day, there is no hesitation to use those terms. As you put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the globe warms, whether it’s the Earth or another planet. It’s just the law of physics. And so, it is surprising to see trained meteorologists on TV steer away from those terms.”

I agree, although I´d say that ¨it is surprising to see trained meteorologists on TV steer away from those terms¨ only if you believe that the present role of the media is to tell the truth to their audiences:
Clearly it is not, and it has not been so for quite a while. The mainstream media mostly propagandize.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, from near the end:

It is not only surprising. This massive omission reinforces the efforts of climate change deniers to confuse the American public and stall climate action. You have to ask, if we had state media in this country, how would it be any different?

I take it that by ¨state media¨ a similar situation is meant as was the case in the Soviet Union. If so, the I´d say that the situation with the media in the USA is quite bad, but not as bad as the Soviet Union, for there all opposition was kept from speaking in public.

And this is a recommended article.


4. Is Trump Playing the Madman, or Is He Really This Nuts?

This article is by Chauncy DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:

Trump has threatened countries such as North Korea and Iran with nuclear annihilation. In a speech before the United Nations, Trump engage in juvenile name-calling. He apparently finds it amusing to call North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man" while threatening to destroy his country. Trump's nickname for himself remains unknown.

While this nuclear theater of the absurd continues, the national security establishment looks on, its leaders and spokespeople often publicly appear dumbfounded, confused and outright flummoxed by Trump's behavior. Matters are made only more dire by the very real concerns about the  president's mental health.

Well... once again: I am a psychologist, who thinks now since more than one and half years that Trump is insane, and I do wish that journalists would read (or understand) the psychologists´ reasons to say so - and see here for a fairly clear indication of what moved psychologists and psychiatrists to speak up.

Also - since I do think that Trump is mad - my guess for Trump´s own nickname for himself is The Greatest Genius There Ever Was (but I don´t know).

Then there is this - and the person interviewed is (once again) not a psychologist or psychiatrist but a ¨professor of national security¨ (which is not a real science):

Given Trump's unpredictability in respect to foreign policy, the concept of the "madman theory" has been used by journalists and others to describe his supposed strategy. Can you provide some context for the madman theory? What are its origins?

The madman theory is a notion of deterrence in which you want to convince your opponent that you're more reckless than he is. Deterrence in its simpler version is like a game of chicken. So if that's the paradigm, the madman theory is like downing a bottle of vodka in front of your opponent and saying, "You know what, dude, I don't care if I live or die. I'm crazy. I'm nuts." On that concept, the other guy is going to swerve first, because he is going to say, "My opponent just isn't rational."

Once again: If you consider whether or not Trump is a madman, you should not ask a ¨professor of national security¨ nor ¨journalists¨ but psychologists or psychiatrists: It is their specialism, just as the climate is the specialism of climate scientists, and not of politicians.

Also, I think the example this ¨professor of national security¨ gives sounds extremely childish to me.

Then again, he does have one reasonable idea:

The United States still has nuclear forces on a "ready to launch in 15 minutes" status as though it were 1961. I don't actually think that's a good idea. I think that in the day-to-day operations of the government, there should be a second set of codes.

I wrote a piece in USA Today where I suggested there should be a second person -- maybe the Senate Majority Leader -- who would hold a kind of veto code.

Incidentally, one reason why it is fairly ridiculous (and extremely dangerous) to have ¨nuclear forces on a "ready to launch in 15 minutes" status as though it were 1961¨ is that the Soviet Union is thoroughly dead since 1991, and the present Russia is quite capitalist.


5. 51 GOP Senators Just Voted To Cut $1.5 Trillion from Medicare and Medicaid

This article is by John Qually on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Along strict party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday night voted to pass a sweeping budget measure—one criticized as both "despicable" and "horrific" for providing massive giveaways to corporations and the super-rich while eviscerating funding for social programs, healthcare, education, and affordable housing.

The measure passed by 51-49 vote, with only one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, joining every Democrat and the chamber's two Independents who voted against it. Its approval now paves that way for massive tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations envisioned by President Donald Trump and the GOP in both the House and the Senate.

"51 Republican Senators just voted to cut Medicaid by $1 trillion and Medicare by $500 billion so that millionaires and corporations can get a tax cut. It's immoral and despicable," said TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for Americans for Tax Fairness, in a statement immediately following the vote.

I completely agree. There is also this in the article:

Though the budget resolution itself is nonbinding, MoveOn.org's Ben Wikler notes how the Senate passage on Thursday represents the "starting gun for what might be the most consequential legislative fight of the Trump era: the looting of the U.S. treasury to reward billionaire GOP donors and mega-corporations, at the expense of the rest of us." And with the Senate resolution now in place, a reconciliation process can begin with Republicans in the House, meaning the GOP can "shoot for a tax bill without a single Democratic vote."

Again I completely agree. This is a recommended article (but I wish Common Dreams quoted fewer or no Tweets).

------------------------------
Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

[2] This is the first or one of the first times (I reviewed over 1500 articles in the last four years) that I review an article of the World Socialist Web Site (which replaced the thoroughly awful Huff Post in the list of sites I look at every morning) and I do want to make three points:

The WSWS site is based on a socialist point of view (which I agree with, albeit it that ¨socialism¨ is a quite pluriform idea), but it seems to be mostly Marxist, which I disagree with.

And I disagree with Marxism in another way than almost everyone else:

My parents were communists/Marxists all their adult lives, as was a grandfather of mine, and I did read a lot more of Marx and Lenin in my teens than most Marxists.

This also allows me to refute Marxism by the time I was 20, indeed for quite theoretical (including mathematical) reasons that escape almost all Marxists (that I know of or have read). (See e.g. Steedman´s ¨Marx after Sraffa¨.)

That was the first point I wanted to make.

The second is that I believe in human groups (which are local and limited) but not in ¨the working class¨ that - presumably - covers everyone who is not rich, living anywhere: It seems a useless or a false abstraction to me.

And the third is that I also am a philosopher, who read over 50 years of philosophy, and I just am too arrogant (I presume) to discuss Marxism with most (and with every anonymous person). I am sorry: Nearly all Marxists I know, including quite a few academic ones, hardly know Marx at all.

[3] I suppose I also have to explain that my fundamental reasons are scientific, mathematical or logical and not political, moral or ethical.

I do have political, moral and ethical values, but they are secondary. I know (i.a. from studying philosopy, in a university, that illegally denied my right of taking the M.A. in it) that this is different from most people, including most academics.
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