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Nederlog

Jan 21, 2017
Crisis: Welcome to the NUSA!
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction   

1.
Welcome to the United States of Emergency
2. President Trump Poised to Implement Extreme Right-Wing
     Agenda on Day One

3.
Donald Trump and the New World Order
4.
Donald Trump Preaches Angry Nationalism, While Practicing
     Goldman Sachs Capitalism

5.
American Fascist
6. Fake Physics 
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of January 21, 2017. (It may be that there will be no Nederlog tomorrow, because I have troubles with my teeth again.)

My title marks my appreciation for the new world that arose with Donald Trump becoming the new president of the USA: The New|Neofascist USA.

I think myself - meanwhile: like quite a few others seem to do, though without my concept and my definition of "neofascism" - that this will be a neofascist presidency, but in case you disagree, you probably will agree the USA now is a new kind of place, with a new kind of president.

The following is a brief selection from very many more articles on Trump's presidency. Of course, there is no complete covering at all here, but I did take several diverse views. My own view is probably closest to item 5, by Peter Dreier.

Summary: This is a crisis log with 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is a decent article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept; item 2 is about a brief article by Deidre Fulton; item 3 is a so-so article by Spiegel International; item 4 is about Trump's promises and Trump's practices (but includes a photograph of a protester who can't spell); item 5 is about a good article by Peter Dreier, who diagnoses Trump mostly as I do (but who doesn't know my definitions of fascism and neofascism); and item 6 is a non-crisis item about physics, though in fact this also gets a crisis interpretation by me (for I know that both science and the universities have been collapsing since the late 1970ies).
As for today (January 21, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today, the Danish site is correct, but the Dutch site still shows it is January 18 while it has been properly uploaded three times in more than 72 hours.

Someone really wants that my sites are not being read.

More about this later.
1. Welcome to the United States of Emergency

The first item is by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

And so it begins.

For those of us who believe in core progressive American values – multiculturalism, civil liberty and civil rights, free speech, a free press, truth in government, economic fairness, environmental protection, inclusiveness, equal justice, a humane society, the list goes on – today marks the first day of a disaster on a scale that until a few months ago was beyond our imagination.

Yes, that is mostly correct (though there were people who have been saying so before "a few months ago", but OK).

Here is the general situation with Trump as president, according to Dan Froomkin:

The White House is now in the hands of a pathological liar and megalomaniac, a mutation spawned of our celebrity culture, a thin-skinned authoritarian whose only real constituent is himself, and whose intentions, to the extent we can discern them, are to destroy a lot of the things that make this country (truly) great.

Plus he has no idea what he’s doing. He’s slowly collecting corrupt and venal misfits who hate government and thrusting them into positions of power, with the sickly acquiescence of a self-serving Republican leadership that until recently saw him as a madman. But even they don’t know what they’re saying yes to.

I again mostly agree, though more with the first than the second paragraph, and my reason to be a bit more skeptical about the second paragraph is that quite a few of Trump's nominated "venal misfits" are billionaires. (They may be corrupt and probably are, but they did make or keep billions of dollars.)

Then there is this:

No matter what you may hear in the coming days from the mainstream press and other elite institutions, this is not normal. This is aberrational. This is crazy.

It’s almost too painful to watch, but we all must watch. To the extent that we care about our core values, we must resist. And we need to figure out how to make things better when it’s over.

If one thing is certain, it is that the solution will not come from the current leaders of either of our political parties. Both groups respond to money and power more than to the public will. Both put winning above values. True deliverance from this disaster will have to be people-powered.

Again I mostly agree: It is "aberrational" and "crazy" to see someone elected as president of the USA and as the most powerful man on earth who is effectively a clear neofascist and also - in my psychologist's mind, and in many others' - quite insane.

However, I also have something I don't quite agree with: I have watched enough of Trump to say I've had enough, and probably will avoid watching him, though I will continue reading about him. Also, while I agree "we must resist", I think it does make sense first to understand and agree to what one resists - and according to me Trump is a mad neofascist, but while my opinions are based on a lot of evidence, most know a
lot less than I do.

And I also think it is mostly useless to try "to figure out how to make things better when it’s over": The list of things Trump is dead against - "multiculturalism, civil liberty and civil rights, free speech, a free press, truth in government, economic fairness, environmental protection, inclusiveness, equal justice, a humane society" - is good enough as a list of aims that one seeks to protect.

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

So on the bright side, perhaps we can use this moment to examine the corrupting influences now so plainly in sight, and reject them, so that whatever comes next, if we make it past this catastrophe, will be fundamentally different.

Yes, though I fear this will have to be done by the minority that is bright enough (!!!) to think for themselves and to find the non-mainstream media and to read them.

But this is a decent article that is recommended.

2.
President Trump Poised to Implement Extreme Right-Wing Agenda on Day One

The second item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and it was written briefly before Trump was made president):

Donald Trump's pen is poised to sign several executive actions as soon as Friday afternoon, following his swearing-in as the 45th president of the United States. 

While it's not clear exactly which executive orders he'll sign on Day One—Reuters reports that his "advisers vetted more than 200 potential executive orders for him to consider signing on healthcare, climate policy, immigration, energy, and numerous other issues"—Trump has indicated that he'd like to begin implementing his right-wing agenda immediately.

Yes indeed - or as I prefer to say: His neofascist agenda. And this is from the end:

Not only did federal agencies rush to publish last-minute rules this week before Trump institutes a regulatory moratorium, but the ACLU filed its first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of the Trump era, seeking documents relating to Trump's "actual or potential conflicts of interest relating to his business and family connections."

"Trump took the oath, but he didn't take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family's business interests comply with the Constitution and other federal statutes," said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. "Freedom of information requests are our democracy's X-ray and they will be vitally important to expose and curb the abuses of a president who believes the rules don't apply to him and his family."

Yes. I think Trump already is an unconstitutional "president", for he should have divested from his business imperium and did not do so at all. Then again, I think this
protest - which certainly should be made, and which may have a long history - will
not work in the beginning of his presidency (and indeed may fail in the Supreme Court, if it ever reaches that).

3. Donald Trump and the New World Order

The third item is by ten journalists (too many to mention here) on Spiegel International:
This is from near the beginning - and I am selecting from two large pages (and am disregarding a considerable amount):

For more than 60 years, the U.S. has promoted European unity. The country introduced the Marshall Plan, it supported the single European market and backed Europe's eastward expansion following the collapse of the Iron Curtain. But now, a man is entering the White House who is counting on the disintegration of the EU. He would rather negotiate with each country individually, believing that will be more beneficial for America.

A real estate magnate is now the most powerful man in the world and it looks as though he plans to run his administration as though the U.S. were a vast real estate conglomerate. He is after lucrative deals, and those who can't keep up in the competition for the most profitable contracts will be left behind.

Yes, that is more or less correct, and indeed I agree with the title of this article, as indeed was expressed in my title for today's Nederlog. There is much more to be said on Trump, such as that he is "a pathological liar and megalomaniac" and "a thin- skinned authoritarian whose only real constituent is himself" (both are quoted from item 1), but OK - this is the Spiegel and not The Intercept.

Here is the German side of things (Spiegel is German):

The situation could hardly be worse for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Soon, the EU will be forced to make do without the United Kingdom, the bloc's second-largest economy; right-wing populists are on the advance in Europe; and now Trump is at the helm in the U.S., a man who said in his interview this week that the German chancellor had "made a catastrophic mistake."

And there is this on Trump:

A new era is beginning, one in which the certainties that have held true for decades are suddenly no longer valued. They are suddenly vulnerable.

For the most part, that is because the 45th president of the United States of America is simply not interested in the world order that has developed since 1945. He is just as disinterested in the trans-Atlantic partnership and the long-cultivated alliances with Western allies.

I mostly agree (though again: This is Spiegel, and not an American non-mainstream magazine).

Then there is this, about crazy and egoistic (and fundamentally greedy) nationalism:

"America first" is his slogan, one which helped him win the election. It is the same promise British Prime Minister Theresa May has made to her voters: "Britain first." And Marine Le Pen, head of the French right-wing populist party Front National, is using a similar slogan in that country's ongoing presidential election campaign: "La France d'abord."

In fact, it is a rightwing slogan, with a longer history than is quoted here.

Here is a pretty fundamental question from Spiegel:

Will the 21st century see the realization of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" or George Orwell's "1984," the most dystopian visions of the 20th century?

It is my own - very bitter - guess that the NUSA and Europe (or Neurope, as it soon may be) most probably will become a lot more neofascistic. Whether that will succeed or only will last a few years is an important question, to which I do not have a real answer now, other than noting that (1) from my own point of view there far more fundamentally stupid and ignorant people [1] concerned with politics than I would like to see (for these elect utter incompetents like Trump), while also (2) I do agree with the thesis that Trump is both mad and ignorant. And it is far too early to say how this may work out.

Next, there is this on the European Union (that I have always been against, but not for rightist reasons but for Real Leftist ones: it was and is a totally anti-democratic centralization of power in the hands of a very few mostly unelected officials):

There are many, though, who believe that the toasts given in Rome this March could be among the last ones for the EU. The number of skeptics has grown even larger since it became clear that Trump would be moving into the White House.

And this is from the end of the article (that contains a lot more than was excerpted here):
Trump is the end of the world as we know it -- that much is clear.

I agree, thought very probably not quite for Spiegel's reasons.

4. Donald Trump Preaches Angry Nationalism, While Practicing Goldman Sachs Capitalism

The fourth item is by Zaid Jilani on The Intercept:

This starts as follows (and is in fact the only bit that I'll quote from this article):

President Donald Trump’s inaugural address was fiery and nationalistic, a considerable departure from the traditional Republican Party embrace of the free market and an activist foreign policy. Trump talked of an “America First” policy and vowed that “January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

But Trump’s words on the steps of the Capitol bore little resemblance to the reality of the administration he is building.

It’s hard to argue with Trump’s assessment that “the establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”

But that establishment will be in full force in the Trump administration. The megabank Goldman Sachs, famously close to Trump’s opponents in the Democratic Party, has six alumni posed for key posts in his administration, including his treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin.
Yes, indeed. As I put it, Trump's government is a neofascist government full of billionaires and generals, and indeed it also contains many members from the extremely corrupt frauds from Goldman Sachs.

This article also contains a picture from a protestor who is unrecognizable, and who carries a sign with a very crude head of Trump with dollars for eyes and a Hitler moustache, under which it says (without quotes):
"illigitamate"

I am sorry, but the correct spelling is "illegitimate". If this is the intellectual level of protestors, I fear little can be expected from them. (But yes, it is but one...)

5. American Fascist

The fifth item is by Peter Dreier (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, and I agree with a lot of it:
I have watched, listened to, and read many commentaries on the inaugural address but so far none of the mainstream pundits have used the one word that best identifies Donald Trump: fascist.
Yes and no: I think myself that my term neofascist is better than fascist for Donald Trump (both are defined by me, indeed on the basis of considerable work that is outlined here, mostly because I found there are many contradictory definitions of "fascism", while I was unable to find any decent definition of "neofascism"), but I do agree that my definitions are not widely known.

And a look at Nederlog's index for 2016 contains quite a few times the term "fascist" or "fascism", so probably some American pundits have used it before (but I do not know whom Dreier would call "pundits").

But mostly I agree with Dreier (though I do say that "fascist" by itself, without any more or less proper definition, is very unclear).

Here is more on some differences between Hitler's Germany and Trump's USA:

The United States is not Weimar Germany. Our economic problems are nowhere as bad as those in Depression-era Germany. Nobody in the Trump administration (not even Steven Bannon) is calling for mass genocide (although saber-rattling with nuclear weapons could lead to global war if we’re not careful).

That said, it is useful for Americans to recognize that we are facing something entirely new and different in American history. Certainly none of us in our lifetimes have confronted an American government led by someone like Trump in terms of his sociopathic, demagogic, impulsive, and vindictive personality (not even Nixon came close).

I agree - and I note that it has been said repeatedly that "Nixon was the last liberal president of the USA", which was not said because he was a liberal (he wasn't, not at all) but because Nixon was the last president of the USA with a fear of the free press - that since 1980 has been growing more and more rare, as the press got more and more propagandistic, basically for financial reasons.

Here is Dreier's appreciation of Donald Trump:

We must adjust our thinking and view with alarm his reactionary and dangerous policy agenda on foreign policy, the economy, the environment, health care, immigration, civil liberties; and poverty. We have to be willing to sweep aside past presidential precedents in order to understand Trump’s willingness to overtly invoke all the worst ethnic, religious, and racial hatreds in order to appeal to the most despicable elements of our society and unleash an upsurge of racism, anti-semitism, sexual assault, and nativism by the KKK and other hate groups. We need to suspend our textbook explanations about the American presidency in order to recognize Trump’s ignorance about our Constitutional principles and the rule of law; and his lack of experience with collaboration and compromise. We’ve never seen a president with so little familiarity with the truth; he is a pathological liar, on matters large and small.

I mostly agree on these values and facts. And there is this on Trump's dominant value:

“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” Trump said. By branding his message “America First,” Trump was echoing and invoking a motto of the isolationist, anti-Semitic crusade in the 1930s that wanted the United States to appease Hitler.

Yes indeed - and there were considerably more fascists in the Thirties whose nationalism moved them to the same statement, but indeed for different nations.

There is this on fascism and on Trump:

Like other fascists, Trump claimed to speak for the “forgotten men and women,” whose voice has been ignored, whose job has been exported, whose neighborhood is unsafe, whose living standard has declined.

Fascists always attack current politicians while claiming the mantle of “the people.”

“We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action,” Trump said today, using the same words he used several days earlier to defame Cong. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who, unlike Trump, put his body on the line countless times to make America a more humane and inclusive society.

Fascists seek to unite the country behind a smokescreen of patriotism while scapegoating the weak and powerless.

As I said, I think it is more correct to call Trump a neofascist than a fascist, but my own understanding of these terms is not widely known (and one of the main reasons for me to compile my definitions is that "fascism" has many different definitions, while "neofascism" had no clear definition that I could find).

There is also this:

Like fascists everywhere, Trump’s speech included a list of troubles he intends to fix, without pointing out that they were caused by the policies, people, and principles he embraces.

Yes, but indeed this is the same for nearly all leading politicians I've known (nearly all of whom excel as liars, but not as anything else, intellectually or morally).

Here is Dreier's ending:

We must view Trump as a real threat to our institutions, to our democracy, and to our future. The Trump presidency and Trumpism is a new phenomenon in our country’s history. Never before has such an authoritarian personality been president. We’ve had demagogues in the House and Senate, but never in the Oval Office.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

6. Fake Physics

The sixth and last item today is not a crisis item and is about physics (but I also give a more general twist to it, and connect it to the crisis). It is by the physicist Peter Woit (<- Wikipedia) on his blog:

This starts as follows:

2016 so far wins my lifetime award for most depressing and disturbing year ever (on the front of the larger world one reads about in the newspaper and elsewhere, personally things are fine, thanks). Perhaps the most disturbing thing has been seeing the way in which people’s access to information about the larger world has become more and more dominated by what has become known as “Fake News”: stuff which is not true, but which someone with an agenda successfully gets others to believe. This is a problem that goes far beyond obvious nonsense fed to rubes on Facebook, to the point of including what a lot of my well-educated colleagues believe because they read it on the front page of the New York Times.

I have no idea what to do about this larger problem and no intention of further discussing it here. I’ve started to come to the conclusion though that the most disturbing trend in theoretical physics of recent years may best be understood as a related phenomenon: “Fake Physics”.
I quite agree, but would extend this myself to fake science, which I define a bit more sharply than Woit: fake science =def supposedly scientific papers that are not true but have been published by people because acceptance of these papers would bring them money, just as I would define fake news =def supposed news that is not true but has been published by people because acceptance of this news would bring them money. (That is, both are produced by corruption or greed for being corrupted.)

Also, I have seen the rise of the new fake science, on a very large scale also, starting in 1978 (!!!) in the University of Amsterdam, when the fake historian (in real terms something like a fascist, because his thesis implies that he does not believe that it is true that 6 million Jews were murdered in WW II, nor can it be true that the Nazis used concentration camps [2]) M. Brandt insisted publicly, as the man chosen by the Board of Directors to open the academic year 1978-1979 that
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist."
I protested then, and protested since, but found that nearly everybody who is formally "a scientist" in Holland agreed with this, as did most students.

For me this implied then and it implies now that real science is mostly dead in Holland, and that the universities are also dead in Holland (and indeed over the past nearly 40 years every standard and every criterion has been halved or more , in terms of academic and intellectual demands
[3], while the prices for studying have increased very much).

I have written quite a few times in Nederlog about this, and move on to more Woit:
Note that the above examples are just ones written by physicists or reporting claims of physicists, there are also philosophers, theologians and others putting out similar articles, although without the claims to scientific authority coming from the physicists.
Yes, and I am also not a physicist, but I am a philosopher of science who knows a fair amount of physics, and who agreed already in the 1980s with Richard Feynman (<-Wikipedia) that string theory is not scientific simply because it is not testable - as Woit has also said, and for a long time.

There is this on one of the recent publications in fake physics:
Fake Physics VII just appeared and is rather bizarre. It essentially argues that the idea of assuming a Multiverse and using it to make statistical predictions doesn’t work. But instead of drawing the obvious conclusion (this was a scientifically worthless idea, as seemed likely to most everyone else), the argument is that we need a “revolution in our understanding of physics” that will make the idea work.
Yes, precisely - and this also goes back to the 1980ies. Here is an analogy for non-physicists:

It is like a new theory in psychology, that insists that the one and only true theory of psychology must include references to all the possible - non-real - universes anyone ever contemplated, while insisting that because these are not factual, one must also revise one's conception of what is a fact to cover non-facts and to insist that non-facts are as real as facts (which is completely contradictory bullshit).

This is Woit's ending:

Unfortunately Fake Physics is not going away, but becoming ever more widespread. While I don’t know what to do about Fake News, I think there still is a chance to successfully fight Fake Physics and hope others will help with this.
I think myself there will be a lot more fake physics and a lot more fake science, and while I think there are quite a few valid partial explanations, the main one is that there is a lot more fake science because there are a great lot more fake scientists, who got to be scientists because all the standards of science, of mathematics, of logic, and of statistics have been systematically downgraded everywhere (by many, though not by all) since the late 1970ies.

And this is a recommended article.

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] In case you object: I am sorry, but (i) stupidity and ignorance have been my very conscious enemies since more than 50 years, and (ii) they also are part of my fundamental code of ethics, that is as follows: "Don't be MAD: don't SIN", where "MAD" abbreviates "meanness, anger, dishonesty" and "SIN" abbreviates "stupidity, ignorance, negligence".

You may disagree, but then we disagree on a fundamental level (and no: while I believe one does get born with a certain level of intelligence, that may differ a lot from that of others, my point is that stupidity and ignorance are mostly self-created and self-willed, indeed through laziness, convenience and negligence).

[2] I am sorry, but now I am getting worried about Wikipedia: They very recently removed "concentration camps" from their encyclopedia, and renamed these as "internment camps" (while the term "concentration camp" exists now since more than 100 years).

If this change is good, why not call the "internment camps" "state supported holiday camps"?

I am sorry, but these are the two fundamental weaknesses of Wikipedia: anonymity plus the fact that anyone can contribute to articles, again - it seems - anonymously.

They have kept "Nazi concentration camps", so I link to these (but I fear I soon must say that my father and grandfather were "interned" by the Nazis, instead of convicted
to concentration camp punishment for resisting the Nazis
).

[3] It is quite possible that a considerable role in destroying the universities was played by the sick Blairite lie that he wants a university where everybody with an IQ of 100 can get an academic degree.

I am sorry, but such an institution is not a university at all, but has a lower level than the extended lower education (called "ULO" in Dutch) given to the more stupid in my society until the late Sixties: That type of education - for the ages 12-15 - at least required an IQ of 115 (which was the average intelligence in the University of Amsterdam in 1984, which entails that it is very probably a lot lower now).


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