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Nederlog

Sunday, Mar 12, 2017

Crisis: On The Constitution, State Secret Privileges, America's Poor, Goldwater Rule


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Right-Wing Billionaires Have a Project Going to Rewrite Our
     Constitution

2. State Secret Privilege Aims to Prevent CIA Testimony in
     Torture Lawsuit

3.
Trump's Plan to Gut HUD Threatens the Very Survival of
     America's Poor

4. From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, March 12, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four dotted links: Item 1 is about a quite threatening possibility: The rich may soon be abled to completely rewrite the American Constitution; item 2 is about a ridiculous and very dangerous proposal pf Trump's government: To declare the amount of violence used against prisoners "a state secret"; item 3 is about another serious threat: Soon Americans may be dying in the streets without housing and without money, because the poor have to pay for the wars
the rich conduct in their names; and item 4 is about an - anyway rather crazy - rule by which the American Psychiatric Association seeks to deny the rights of psychiatrists to speak from their professional expertise on the mental health of extremely prominent people.
March 12: As to the updating problem: The Danish site is stuck on yesterday; and the Dutch site now moved back (!!!!) to March 8 for me. Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. They have been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Right-Wing Billionaires Have a Project Going to Rewrite Our Constitution

The first item today is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet (with a title that is a bit too long that was shortened here):
This starts as follows:

Imagine if the U.S. Constitution barred the EPA and Department of Education from existing. All union protections are dead, there are no more federal workplace safety standards, and even child-labor laws are struck down, along with a national minimum wage.

Imagine that the Constitution makes it illegal for the federal government to protect you from big polluters, big banks and even big food and pharma—all are free to rip you off or poison you all they want, and your only remedy is in state courts and legislatures, because the Constitution prevents Congress from doing anything about any of it. The federal government can't even enforce voting or civil rights laws.

To add injury to insult, the federal government has to shut down Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because all of these programs (along with food stamps, housing supports and any programs that help the middle class, the less fortunate or disabled) are “beyond the reach” of what the federal government can do.

But this is not just imagination, for it may soon be reality:

A few years ago, it would have been a thought experiment; now it's nearly reality. Billionaires and the groups they fund are working to rewrite our Constitution to provide corprations and the rich with more and more protections and benefits, and chop away at anything smelling of “socialism” like Social Security or child labor laws. 

The fact is that they're just a few states away from meeting their goal, and have already held dress rehearsals in Washington D.C.—with representatives from all 50 states—for a Constitional Convention that would change America forever.

There is more in the original, that distinguishes three ways to amend the Constitution. This is the third way:

The third—and incredibly dangerous—strategy to amend the Constitution is to simply call a “Convention of the States,” again using Article 5, and open the entire document itself up to rewriting and tinkering through the brute-force method of multiple amendments that can effectively rewrite any part of the Constitution.

This third strategy is the one being used right now, as you're reading these words, in a very well-funded effort by right-wing oligarchs. If they can pull it off in the states (where it's cheaper to buy politicians), then Congress, the president and even the courts would have no say over it.

And this is what this strategy means to achieve:

Their goal appears to be to put into the Constitution specific prohibitions against any programs (from Social Security to Medicare to food stamps) that they've always viewed as “unconstitutional socialism,” and to permanently enshrine in the Constitution the “right” of corporations and billionaires to own politicians and spend unlimited monies to influence elections and ballot measures. It would effectively turn America into a feudal state owned by the people FDR called the "economic royalists."

Yes, indeed. For it would effectively give all powers to the very few rich. This is from the ending of this article:

We stand at the same crossroads Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II, only this time the Supreme Court (in 1976 with Buckley, 1978 in Bellotti and in 2010 with Citizens United) has given American billionaires the power to spend virtually unlimited amounts of money to own politicians and demand behavior from them so outrageous that they'd even lie on live TV and deny science itself.

The billionaire right's behavior today eerily parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

This is here because I consider this rather realistic. And this is a recommended article.

2. State Secret Privilege Aims to Prevent CIA Testimony in Torture Lawsuit

The second item is by Emma Niles on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The Trump administration is invoking a rarely used legal rule called the state secret privilege to keep Central Intelligence Agency officials from testifying in a federal lawsuit about the CIA’s interrogation methods.

The state secret privilege allows the government to withhold evidence from legal proceedings on the basis that the sensitive evidence would put national security at risk.

This seems a thoroughly insane "secret privilege", for the simple reason that - if allowed - it would free CIA officers of any restraint in any "interrogation" (i.e. torture) they started, and not because the officers were speaking of any state secrets, but because they would be speaking about the amounts of violence
they are permitted to used against their prisoners.

Here is some more:

One of the CIA officials involved in the lawsuit is Gina Haspel, the agency’s new deputy director. Haspel, who has worked for the CIA for decades, previously oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects and worked to destroy evidence of those interrogations.

Haspel was issued a subpoena last December. “After the C.I.A. announced on Feb. 2 that Ms. Haspel was President Trump’s choice as the agency’s deputy director, a lawyer for Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen reminded the government of the subpoenas,” the Times continues. “The defendants said in their filings that Ms. Haspel, who ran one of the C.I.A.’s secret detention sites, was ‘centrally involved in the events alleged’ by the plaintiffs.”

The Federal District Court judge in the case must now decide “whether the state secrets privilege and other privileges claimed by the government were properly invoked to block that testimony and, if so, whether the case can go forward despite those restrictions,” the Times concludes.

Read the full report here.

As I said, these are not state secrets: These are about the amounts of violence that are used on state prisoners, to make them talk. If this amount of violence is a state secret, it means the state turns fascist - quite deliberately - in its techniques of "interrogation".

This is a recommended article.

3. Trump's Plan to Gut HUD Threatens the Very Survival of America's Poor

The third item is by Sarah Lazare on AlterNet:

This has a subtitle:

A budget cut of up to $7.7 billion guarantees mass homelessness and premature death.

Note this is about Trump's USA, not about Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Then again, for the moment it is a serious threat rather than a fact:

Rosemary Holmes has lived in Newark's Terrell Holmes for the better part of six decades. She, like many others in the building, has raised children in its courtyards and hallways, and forged a tight-knit community of friends and neighbors. At the age of 68, she has been forced to band with other tenants to fight local efforts to shutter the facility. Now, as the Trump administration weighs plans to gut the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she has a new battle on her hands.

This is what the "new battle" will be about:

Horsley is one of countless public housing residents across the country directly impacted by news that the Trump administration is mulling whether to slash HUD’s budget by at least $6 billion, or 14 percent, in the 2018 fiscal year. The proposed cuts were revealed Wednesday by Washington Post reporter Jose A. DelReal, who cited “preliminary budget documents” that he had obtained.

So indeed these budget cuts are planned, but not real yet. Here is what is behind these cuts:

The proposed reductions are in line with Trump’s recent claim that he will pay for a $54 billion increase to the war budget in large part by cutting domestic programs.

You see: Many poor Americans have to die in the streets without homes and without any money, in order to pay for billions in weapons by which the few American rich are defending their rights to die in the street without homes and without money.

American freedoms! American rights! American honesty! American democracy!

4. From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump

The fourth and last item today is by CÚsar Chelala and Orlando Garcia on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Increasingly, members of the psychiatric profession are expressing their concern about President Donald Trump mental health status. In a recent letter to the New York Times, two prestigious psychiatrists, Judith L. Herman and Robert Jay Lifton seriously question his grasp of reality and say, “Soon after the election, one of us raised concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness for office, based on the alarming symptoms of mental instability he had shown during his campaign. Since then, this concern has grown. Even within the space of a few weeks, the demands of the presidency have magnified his erratic patterns of behavior.” 

They are clear that they are not making a diagnosis but just expressing their concern, saying, “We are in no way offering a psychiatric diagnosis, which would be unwise to attempt from a distance. Nevertheless, as psychiatrists we feel obliged to express our alarm. We fear that when faced with a crisis, President Trump will lack the judgment to respond rationally.”

Yes indeed. And since I am a psychologist, let me add that there are a considerable (and probably greater) number of psychologists who argued similarly. That is, they
think Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States because he is not
mentally healthy
.

I agree, and here is a brief video of one of the psychologists who earlier (in November 2016) collaborated with professor Herman, dr. Lynne Meyer:

Incidentally, I don't need (and also don't believe) the - quite ordinary! - assurances that such and such a psychologist or psychiatrist must be "brilliant", apparently already simply because they did stand up and spoke.

What dr. Meyer is saying seems to me plain good sense for the most part, and indeed also something psychiatrists and psychologists should be allowed to do.

The American Psychiatric Association (which seems to be a professional association of dishonest frauds - and in case you doubt this, see here and here) thinks psychiatrists should be forbidden to use their professional expertise. This is what led up to that strange decision:

As a base for these carefully stated considerations is the Goldwater Rule. In 1964, the magazine Fact published the article “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater.” The article included the results of a poll among psychiatrists questioning them if then Senator Barry Goldwater was fit to be president. Of the 2,147 who responded, 657 said that he was fit and 1,189 said that he was not.

This means that around 2 out of 3 psychiatrists who were asked, believed - in 1964 - that Goldwater was not fit to be president.

The APA apparently thought that this exercise of professional expertise might harm their chances of making as much profits as possible by psychiatry (I am sorry, but psychiatrists are in it for the money, and they do make enormous amounts of it) and so they arrived at this - so called - Goldwater Rule:

“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

In fact, this is ambivalent baloney. If psychiatrists have any expertise whatsoever, I'd say the First Amendment to the Constitution allows them to exercise that expertise. And while I more or less agree that psychiatrists should not speak as if they made a diagnosis if they were not abled, for whatever reasons, to make one, I'd also say that
if their "professional opinions" do entail that they think such-and-such would be dangrous to others because he or she is not healthy, I think they should be quite allowed to say so, just as physicists should be allowed to speak about physics, and lawyers about the law.

Indeed Chelala and Garcia (and the last is a psychiatrist) agree with me:

The rule should allow, however, for psychiatrists and other health-related professionals to voice their concerns regarding the mental stability of high office holders.

In our culture we need a psychological clearance for people working in intelligence, in the FBI, in the police. Should not we demand a clean bill of mental health for the person who is going to literally control our lives?

Yes, evidently so. This is what it comes to:

In a letter to the New York Times, 37 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers alerted on the dangers imposed by President Donald Trump’s mental health status. According to these professionals, the silence imposed by the Goldwater Rule “…has resulted in a failure to lend our expertise to worried journalists and members of Congress at this critical time.” And they conclude, “We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and action makes him incapable of serving safely as President.”

I did not see that letter yet, but I think I quite agree.

But the APA still might not be: They apparently think it is better if everyone gets blown up by a nuclear arms race started by Trump, than that psychiatrists should be allowed to publicly warn about the mental health of one of the few who can start a nuclear war.

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