Friday, Feb 10, 2017

Crisis: Democratic Failures, Advertising, Trump & Truth, Ban Illegal, The Trump Era

Sections                                                                     crisis index

Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why
     Democrats’ Flaws Urgently Need Attention

2. Ethics Experts: Top Presidential Aide Broke Law by Promoting
     Ivanka Trump Brand

Fake News and Donald Trump’s War on Truth
4. Appeals Court Rules Against Trump, Keeping Ban on Hold For

5. Crimes of the Trump Era (a Preview)

This is a Nederlog of Fri
day, February 10, 2017.

I should start this English Nederlog by saying that I also published a large - over 175 Kb - Dutch Nederlog today that is in fact the last and fourth part of three earlier Dutch files that were published in 2013 and 2014. All four files were written around thirty years ago, in 1986 and 1987, and state my own - non-standard, trauma model - of psychiatry that I used to help my schizophrenic girlfried, who did make a Ph.D. in psychology in the end, but left me after 6 years because I could not be of further service to her. [1]

There is an English introduction to the Dutch file in which I explain that I will try to publish all four files as one file and in a somewhat updated format, but that hasn't happened yet. And as I just said, the text of the files are all in Dutch and they are published now because I - still - think they are sensible, although they are 30 years old.

Summary: This file is a crisis log with 5 files and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a Glenn Greenwald article about the failures of the Democrats; item 2 is about a - quite possibly quite intentional - abuse by Kellyanne Conway of the laws that forbid her to do any advertising; item 3 is about "fake news" but makes the mistake of not saying clearly enough that "fake news" and "alternative facts" are both plain lies; item 4 is about the fact that the appeals court sided with a lower court and was unanimously against Trump's ban; and item 5 is about an article by Tom Engelhardt that is correct about Trump (we have only seen three weeks of Trump's presidency) but that I found a bit misleading in not mentioning the media plus the dumbness of many of the American voters as important factors in Trump's rise.
As for today (February 10, 2017): I have changed my site on February 1, 2017 to make it easier that it might be read, because it now happened for most of last year that both of my sites are not uploaded properly:

On it may be days, weeks or months behind to show the proper last date and the proper last files (in the last 4 years always on the date it was that day) and it is today 3 days off again; on it may be shown as December 31, 2015 (and often was!!!) but was correct this morning; and indeed I am sick of being system- atically made unreadable and therefore changed the site to allow most readers to find it more easily.

For more explanations, see
here - and no: with two different sites in two different countries with two different providers, where this has been happening for a year (and not for over 20 and over 12 years before) now I'm absolutely certain that this happens and that it's not due to me.
1. Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why Democrats’ Flaws Urgently Need Attention

The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
The more alarmed one is by the Trump administration, the more one should focus on how to fix the systemic, fundamental sickness of the Democratic Party. That Hillary Clinton won the meaningless popular vote on her way to losing to Donald Trump, and that the singular charisma of Barack Obama kept him popular, have enabled many to ignore just how broken and failed the Democrats are as a national political force.
Yes indeed, although I should add immediately that the corruption (<- Wikipedia) of the Democratic Party started (in a major way) with Bill Clinton, in the early Nineties of the previous century, and that Bill Clinton was the man who denied socialism of any kind; who insisted that he had a Third Way (which in fact was a fraud (<- Wikipedia) from the start); who reformed the Democratic Party into faithful servants of the rich bankers, and who introduced many of the deregulations that very much helped the rich bankers (and no one else).

Back to Glenn Greenwald, who adds the following explanation to the above quotation:
A failed, collapsed party cannot form an effective resistance. Trump did not become president and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: This all happened because the Democrats are perceived — with good reason — to be out of touch, artificial, talking points-spouting automatons who  serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led by millionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.
I agree, and explain it myself as I did in my first comment: Bill Clinton sold out both the Democrats and the Democratic ideology to the rich bankers, who also rewarded him and his wife by something like $150 million dollars for their services. [2]

And there is also this, still from the beginning of the article:
In sum, demanding that one refrain from critiquing the Democratic Party in order to exclusively denounce Trump over and over is akin to demanding that one single-mindedly denounce cancer without worrying about who the treating doctor is or what type of research is being conducted to cure it. Trump happened because the Democrats failed. And he and similar (or worse) phenomena will continue to happen until they are fixed.
I agree with most of this, although I very much doubt that the Democratic Party can be fixed from the inside, simply because it seems as if the whole leadership of the Democrats is corrupted by big money and has been so for 25 years at least.

There is considerably more, in part about the Democrat Tom Perez, but I skip it all and merely quote one bit from near the end of the article:

So in Tom Perez’s conduct, one sees the mentality and posture that has shaped the Democratic Party: a defense of jobs-killing free trade agreements that big corporate funders love; an inability to speak plainly, without desperately clinging to focus-group, talking-points scripts; a petrified fear of addressing controversial issues even (especially) when they involve severe human rights violations by allies; a religious-like commitment never to offend rich donors; and a limitless willingness to publicly abase oneself in pursuit of power by submitting to an apology ritual for having told the truth.
Yes indeed - and this also sketches most of my reasons why I don't think the Democratic Party can be reformed from the inside: The "rich donors" have corrupted the leadership and have done so for almost thirty years now.

This is a recommended article.

2. Ethics Experts: Top Presidential Aide Broke Law by Promoting Ivanka Trump Brand

The second item is by Lauren McCauley on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, it seems, “crossed a very bright line” when she openly encouraged people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” after President Donald Trump slammed Nordstrom department store for dropping his daughter’s fashion line.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday, Conway told viewers, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff. I hate shopping, I will go get some myself today,” before adding, “I’m going to give a free commercial here.”

First, here is why Conway should not have done so:

Observers were immediately dumbstruck, especially because—as some pointed out—federal law explicitly states:

§ 2635.702 Use of public office for private gain.

An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations.

“This is jaw-dropping to me,” exclaimed Don W. Fox, former general counsel and former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, to The Washington Post. “This rule has been promulgated by the federal Office of Government Ethics as part of the Standards of Conduct for all executive branch employees and it applies to all members of the armed forces as well.”

The quoted law seems quite clear to me, and indeed this law evidently forbids what Conway did. Then again, I am far less shocked than Don Fox seems to be, and think more like Robert Weissman:

And Robert Weissman, president of the government watchdog Public Citizen, declared in a statement, “Anyone harboring illusions that there was some separation between the Trump administration and the Trump family businesses has had their fantasy shattered.  Kellyanne Conway’s self-proclaimed advertisement for the Ivanka Trump fashion line demonstrates again what anyone with common sense already knew: President Trump and the Trump administration will use the government apparatus to advance the interests of the family businesses.”

In fact, I would not be amazed at all if Conway's advertisement was done on purpose to both illustrate and further the fact that Trump and his government already have taken enormous liberties with the American laws (Trump did not give up his business, Trump did not state his riches, etc. etc.), and intended to do so from the start and continue with this as much as they can.

For this is how it seems to me. And this is a recommended article.

3. Fake News and Donald Trump’s War on Truth

The third 
item is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truthdig:

This begins as follows:

The term “fake news” entered into popular usage soon after the 2016 general election, when Donald Trump beat most poll predictions and won just enough Electoral College votes in swing states to tilt the results in his favor. Many shocked Americans looked for explanations for how the unthinkable had happened.

One idea that jumped out was that some voters, particularly those who favored Trump, had been duped by fabricated reports sporting sensationalist headlines, specifically designed to be click-bait. Thus the idea of “fake news,” as an insidious and deeply out-of-control phenomenon with the power to sway elections, took hold.

No sooner had this theory been established than Trump and his surrogates deployed the idea themselves as an offensive tactic. In a recent tweet, Trump explained to Americans how he makes presidential decisions, saying, “I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!” He has also dismissed surveys demonstrating the unpopularity of some of his policies in this tweet: “Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election.”

Hm. I don't think I quite agree with this.

In the first place, "fake news" is itself a lie and a propaganda term that masks the fact that "fake news" simply are quite conscious lies. In the second place, "fake news" is "an insidious and deeply out-of-control phenomenon with the power to sway elections" only in a media-climate were most journalists and editors simply cannot bring themselves to write that Trump lied, even though it has been clear for over a year that something like 70% of Trump's statements are lies.

And in the third place, because "this theory" about "fake news" is itself a plain lie, the term "fake news" can again be abused by Trump to lie about fake news, and indeed to
generalize his presidential power of lying by painting complete media as if they are lying about him and his lies, and that they do so by simply disagreeing with him.

Finally, as long as the term "fake news" is retained to avoid the use of the plain truth that "fake news" are lies, this problem will continue.

In fact, I don't think Sonali Kolhatkar really misunderstands the issue, for she also writes:

Facts are the enemy of charlatans and con artists, hence Trump’s adviser and campaign chair Kellyanne Conway’s offer of “alternative facts” in the face of real ones on the size of Inauguration Day crowds in Washington, D.C.

In Trump’s milieu, bona fide news reports are considered “fake news,” while Conway’s lies (and those of the president) are simply “alternative facts.” In effect, Trump has skillfully turned the notion of fake news on its head and weaponized it against the media. All he has to do is dismiss any inconvenient media claim, no matter how well-documented and verifiable, as fake news and stand his ground. Most frightening—and dangerous—is the possibility that many of his supporters will believe him over The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Then again, I admit I don't understand why she does not simply write lies instead of the lies "fake new" and "alternative facts".

In fact, this is the more so given the end (after skipping a fair amount):

One thing we can count on is that lies and propaganda are what power-grabbers, elites and oppressors have always relied on to whip up support for ideas that would be highly unpopular if the truth about them were known.

Yes - but if it is true (as indeed it is) that "lies and propaganda are what power-grabbers, elites and oppressors have always relied on" (and I agree) then why now substitute "fake news" or "alternative facts" for obvious lies?

4. Appeals Court Rules Against Trump, Keeping Ban on Hold For Now

The fourth
item is by Common Dreams Staff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In the latest legal blow to President Donald Trump's attempt to institute a controversial immigration and travel ban targeting seven predominantly Muslim nations, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously sided with a lower court which earlier this week imposed an injunction against Trump's executive order.

Reuters reports:

The ruling from the 9th Circuit, which followed a hearing on the case on Tuesday, does not resolve the lawsuit, but relates instead to whether Trump's order should be suspended while litigation proceeds.

Two members of the three-judge panel were appointed by former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and one was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush.

The government could ask the entire 9th Circuit court to review the decision "en banc" or appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three judges said the states had shown that even temporary reinstatement of the ban would cause harm.

Read the full Ninth Circuit decision here (pdf).

There is a lot more on this in the news. As to Trump, here is his reaction:

And whereas President Trump himself responded to the ruling by tweeting, "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!"" -- it was ACLU attorneys who said they look forward to the opportunity (...)

That is: Because Trump thinks his ideas about security are true, down with the independence of the courts. At least, thus it seems, and indeed this may end
up in the Supreme Court.

5. Crimes of the Trump Era (a Preview)

The fifth and last
item today is by Tom Engelhardt on TomDispatch:
This is from near the beginning:

Think of it as the 25/8 news cycle.  From that distant June to now, though it’s never stopped, somehow we have yet to truly come to grips with it.  Never in the history of the media has a single figure -- one human being -- been able to focus the “news” in this way, making himself the essence of all reporting. He’s only been banished from the headlines and the screen for relatively brief periods, usually when Islamic terrorist groups or domestic “lone wolves” struck, as in San Bernardino, Paris, or Orlando, and, given his campaign, that worked no less well for his purposes than being the center of attention, as it will for his presidency.

The Never-Ending Presidency of Donald Trump (Has Barely Begun)

Nineteen months later, Trump's personality, statements, tweets, speeches, random thoughts, passing comments, complaints, gripes, and of course, actions are the center of everything.  One man’s narcissism gains new meaning when inflated to a societal level.
Hm. I agree with the bold bit - Trump's presidency has barely begun - but I think most of the rest of this first bit is somewhat misleading because - it seems to me, at least - that it is not so much Trump himself who made himself "the center of everything", as it were the media that - I agree - made him the center of everything simply because this made them a lot of money.

Also, there is in fact a third factor that played a major rule besides Trump himself and the media that systematically propagandized him: The fact that a large number of those who voted for Trump (and indeed also a considerable number of those who voted for Clinton) were stupid and ignorant enough to fall for the propaganda of Trump and the media. [3]

I think both factors - the media and the stupidity and ignorance of large portions those they address - should have been mentioned. Here is the main message of Engelhardt's
article, that seems correct to me:

This means that what Bill Moyers has already termed the “demolition derby” of the Trump era hasn’t yet really begun, despite a hiring freeze on the non-national-security-state part of the government.  Or put another way, if you think the last two weeks were news, just wait for the wealthiest cabinet in our history to settle in, a true crew of predatory capitalists, including a commerce secretary nicknamed “the king of bankruptcy” for his skills in buying up wrecked companies at staggering profits; a Treasury secretary dubbed the “foreclosure king” of California for evicting thousands of homeowners (including active-duty military families) from distressed properties he and his partners picked up in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown; and the head of the State Department who only recently led ExxonMobil in its global depredations.  As a crew, they and their compatriots are primed to either dismantle the agencies they'll run or shred their missions.
Yes indeed - and it's quite true that as yet we have only seen three weeks of Trump. Here is one bit of Trump's presidency that probably will remain:
As patriarch, Donald J. will, of course, rule the Oval Office; his son-in-law will be down the hall somewhere, with constant access to him; and his daughter Ivanka is to have an as-yet-unannounced (possibly still undecided) role in her father’s administration.  If we lived in the Arab world right now, this would all seem as familiar as apple pie, or perhaps I mean hummus: a family-oriented government ruled by a man with an authoritarian turn of mind around whom are gathered the crème de la crème of the country’s predatory capitalists, many of them with their own severe conflicts of interest.
Yes, indeed. This is from Engelhardt's last bit:
From health care and tax policy to environmental protections, this will undoubtedly be a government of the looters, by the looters, and for the looters, and a Congress of the same.  As of yet, however, we’ve seen only the smallest hints of what is to come.
I agree.

[1] I think this is the correct description of my relation: I loved her and helped her very much, all against my own interests (for I was ill and am still ill); she never loved me but consented to my helping her because I clearly did help her; she gave me up within a year of her getting a job in the University of Amsterdam.

And I could be tricked as much as I have been, because I did love her and had to accept that after I knew that she was schizophrenic - by the beginning of February 1986 - that I had to help her before I could be certain that she really loved me.

It was a serious mistake of mine, and one for which I have paid a lot.

[2] In fact, I do not really know how much the bank managers paid Bill and Hillary Clinton for speeches, but I do know that Clinton ended his presidency with little money; that Bill and Hillary made many speeches to very rich bankers that were all paid around $250,000 per speech (!!); and that they ended up owning between $80 million and $160 million. Precisely how much of these riches were paid for by the rich bankers for their speeches seems unknown.

[3] I am sorry, but I think that my explanation of the importance of stupidity and ignorance in explaining politics is quite true (and indeed I belong to the minority of those who are neither stupid nor ignorant - which very unfortunately is a minority).

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