This is a Nederlog of Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Summary: This is an
ordinary crisis log with five items and
five dotted links: Item 1 is about an editorial in AlterNet that I like; item 2
is about the crisis in governance that Robert Reich says is real, which
I agree with, although I don't see much in his proposals
to overcome them; item 3 is about an article from which I only learned that its writer doesn't know anything about psychology; item 4 is about an article about "what Russia wants", but it doesn't get far beyond slogans; and item 5 is a fine article on Common Dreams about how everyone's private information will be totally free for internet providers to obtain and sell (which I think will make everyone who is not exceedingly rich into an effective sub-human, with less privacy than even slaves had).
March 23: As to the
The Danish site was again
on time today; but the Dutch site again stuck on Sunday last (March 19).
If over a year of signs are correct, this means it will NOT be
updated for at least another week.
1. Editorial: How We Can Fight Donald Trump and Authoritarianism
Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others
I have NO idea AT ALL: It
2015. (They do want immediate
payment if you are a
week behind. Xs4all.nl has 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.)
first article is by Don Hazen, who is the editor of AlterNet, and who
did something that other non-mainstream media might also do (for it
seems a good idea):
This starts as follows:
We at AlterNet are very concerned that authoritarianism is taking root
in the U.S. Aggressive people with destructive agendas are in charge,
defunding government and eroding our rights, while trying to stamp out
I don't think myself that "authoritarianism" is quite the right name, but the name I prefer - neofascism - is not, as yet at least, popular enough. And the rest is correct.
Here is more:
Yes indeed. Here are AlterNet's priorities:
We also worry that many are not taking the threat seriously enough,
and that those who are aware don’t know exactly how to effectively
resist. We are laser-focused on educating the public about the threat
and the best possible ways to prevent the worst from happening.
To be sure, we don’t have all the answers. But we are clear that what lies ahead is incredibly dangerous.
Fighting creeping fascism is our top priority. We have to be prepared
for the worst, such as a terrorist act that would set the stage for
serious repression by a president who is a compulsive liar.
Again I prefer my neofascism over fascism, but see above.
And in fact, on the internet in so far as it is known to me (which is
rather well, but of course very incomplete), there are no less than 22 different definitions of fascism (which are being discussed by me here: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions) while I did not find any decent definition of either neofascism or neo-fascism, which motivated my own, here.
Then there is this:
It is essential that we challenge the corporate media's complicity in
the president’s attack on truth. "Post-truth is pre-fascism," as Yale
historian Tim Snyder explains.
expert in European fascism, Snyder has become a critical voice and
go-to scholar, and we at AlterNet have been paying attention to his
work. He is worried, too. In our recent interview, he said, “We have at
most a year to defend American democracy."
Yes, and I have discussed Timothy Snyder's ideas here, here, here, here and here (no less).
Here is what AlterNet will try to do:
In summary, we are going to do all of this and more: Fight creeping
fascism, hold the media accountable, highlight the best organizing
efforts, and support the emotional well-being of our readers with the
highest-quality information. With more than 6 million unique visitors a
month, AlterNet ranks 420 out of all websites in the U.S. Such a large
number of readers goes beyond preaching to the choir, representing a
broad cross-section of people in America who form the bedrock of change
and challenging Trump & Co. We intend to deliver the absolute best
insights, investigations and information imaginable.
This is a good idea. Incidentally - and this is less pleasant but not at all AlterNet's fault - while I like it that AlterNet ranks 420th of all websites in the USA, it also is a fact
that the "6 million unique visitors each month" are less than 2% of the U.S. population.
And this suggests - correctly also - that all social change starts in small minorities.
2. The Crisis of Governance
This starts as follows:
The second article is by Robert Reich on his site (and elsewhere, often under different titles):
America is in a crisis of governance. There is no adult in charge.
we have as president an unhinged narcissistic child who tweets absurd
lies and holds rallies to prop up his fragile ego, whose conflicts of
financial interest are ubiquitous, and whose presidency is under a “gray
cloud” of suspicion (according to the Republican chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee) for colluding with Russian agents to obtain
office in the 2016 election.
While I mostly agree, I also have some critical remarks.
First about Trump's being "no adult" and being "an unhinged narcissistic child who tweets absurd
lies and holds rallies to prop up his fragile ego" (etc): If these judgements are correct (and I think they are), it seems to me quite a lot better
to say that a person who is like that and is president of the USA (i) is totally unfit
for his job, because (ii) his words and actions can only be adequately described as
And I think that is quite correct, and indeed should be what psychiatrists and psychologists have said about him. 
Second, about Trump's supposed "colluding with Russian agents to obtain
office in the 2016 election":
While I would like it if this were
correct, my own guess is that it is incorrect, for which there also are
two good reasons: (i) William Binney and Ray McGovern - who know the NSA and the CIA extremely well - have both said that with the levels of spying the NSA and the CIA do, it is quite incredible that therehas been no evidence produced for these claims, indeed since the end of 2016, while (ii) the collusion "with Russian agents" definitely was a part of the Democrat's attempts to shift the blame of loosing the presidency from Hillary Clinton to the Russians.
And while I agree that both points are probabilistic only, I think both points are good.
Then there is this:
He’s advised by his daughter, his son-in-law, and an oddball who once ran a white supremacist fake-news outlet.
cabinet is an assortment of billionaires, CEOs, veterans of Wall
Street, and ideologues, none of whom has any idea about how to govern
and most of whom don’t believe in the laws their departments are in
charge of implementing anyway.
He has downgraded or eviscerated groups responsible for giving
presidents professional advice on foreign policy, foreign intelligence,
economics, science, and domestic policy. He gets most of what he learns
I agree with all of this, though I
like to extend this by the remark that Trump is the outcome of the
level of "democracy" that is practised in the USA, that means - among
other things - that the great majority is very badly educated, but is allowed to
The following is more serious, because this makes it far more probable that Trump will last:
Meanwhile, Congress is in the hands of Republicans who for years have
only said “no,” who have become expert at stopping whatever a president
wants to do but don’t have a clue how to initiate policy, most of whom
have never passed a budget into law, and, more generally, don’t much
like government and have not shared responsibility for governing the
In fact, while I agree that most of the Republicans "don’t much
like government", which I think is important, I think there are two other things that are more seriously wrong with Republican members of the House or Congress than the things Reich mentions: First, most of them are rich, and second all of them have to speak with many lobbyists, who all try to move them to help the corporations the lobbyists lobby for.
The article ends as follows:
Where we need thoughtful resolve we have thoughtless name-calling.
Where we need democratic deliberation we have authoritarian rants and
rallies. Where we need vision we have myopia.
The only way out of
this crisis of governance is for us – the vast majority of Americans who
deserve and know better – to take charge. Your country needs you
Hm. While I agree there is very little to be expected from the present House and Congress, I don't think it is a good idea to try to get "the vast majority of Americans"
"to take charge", and that for two general reasons:
The first is that there is no way (at least not before the successful arrival of libertarian anarchism, or something like that) in which "the vast majority of Americans" can "take charge". And the second is that I do not have any trust in "the vast majority of Americans", since they live in a country in which 2 out of 3 cannot answer the most simple questions about politics or the law.
Does this mean you should not be active? Of course not. But you should be active for realistic plans, and not for irrealistic ones.
The Insidious Effect on the Psyche of Trump's Torrent of Lies
The third article is by Neil Baron on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
There’s a problem with the media’s repetitive refutation of Donald
Trump’s lies: It makes them more credible. Research finds that repeating
a lie, even to refute it, imprints it on our brains, and they become
more memorable than the refutations.
Most presidents lie. Nixon
said he was not a crook. Reagan said he wasn’t aware of the Iran-Contra
deal. Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman.
Trump’s lies are different. They are more frequent and glaringly
contradict the facts: Obama wiretapped the phones at Trump Tower; there
was record turnout at Trump’s inauguration; Trump knows no one who has
anything to do with Russia; he knows more about ISIS than our generals.
I am sorry, but I am a psychologist, and this is the first time - in my 67 years - that I hear that "the media’s repetitive refutation of Donald
Trump’s lies (...) makes them more credible" - which is for me a sound reason to completely disbelieve this.
Also, while I agree that all politicians lie, and I also agree that "Trump’s lies are different", I do have a psychological explanation for this fact: Trump is not sane.
(And indeed the examples of Trump's lies that are given by Baron support that - and check out the last link if you disagree with me.)
But then we get more baloney:
Why do such lies persist in our memories, while repeated proof of their
falsity fades; and why do we still believe the lie, or not change our
opinions of the liar? Two theories can explain this.
is called “confirmation bias.” It describes the tendency to search for
or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions.”
Some psychologists describe it as the “prevalence of directional
reasoning that aims not at truth, but at the vindication of prior
opinions.” Even the most well-educated and smartest among us succumb to
Again I am sorry, but I am a psychologist, and I never heard what is being said in the first statement, which I also regard as a total falsehood: If this were true, education would be far better if it were based on lies instead of truths (for the lies - Baron tells us - are better retained than (bolding added) "proofs of their falsity"). Which is absurd.
Indeed, here is a rather systematic remark about lying:
I do believe ordinary men
lie a whole lot, and considerably more than they think they do or than
they are aware of. The last fact is explained by the fact that most lying is done to appear more conformistic than one feels one is, and also by the fact that a considerable amount of the effective lying that people do is to say nothing when it is their - legal or moral - duty to speak up.
But every man has been educated on the basis of the belief that there are evident - visible, hearable - empirical truths everybody can experience and talk about (including denying them), and I do not know of any other basis to be rapidly educated. (It is very much more difficult to educate anyone if you tell them that the things they see and hear happening in front of their noses are all not so. Indeed I do not think this has ever been systematically tried, indeed because most would say this would be cruel.)
There is more to say, but I read more about psychology that is completely new to me:
Psychological studies find that to conclude that a statement is a lie,
our brain must first record the statement for an instant as true. We
must accept something to understand it. Only then, can we engage it to
process the refutation.
Really now? So Baron maintains that "[p]sychological studies" have found that you first must believe
that "it rains and it does not rain" or "this is black allover and this
is also not black allover" and only then realize it is false? While no one knows how one ever can believe a plain contradiction?
It is pure baloney. Indeed, if statements represent imagined facts (which they do, apart from contradictions), that may be true or not in reality, all we need to know is what the real facts are to conclude that a statement that denies them is false.
(And in this again we may also be mistaken, but what I said seems to be
the ordinary case: If you know that you see a big man with a red nose,
you do not need to believe the statement "you see a small cat with a white nose" before rejecting it.)
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Joseph Goebbels wrote, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating
it, people will eventually come to believe it … The lie can be
maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from
the … consequences of the lie.”
Yes, but (1) Goebbels was a big liar; (2) there are lies that no one believes: the big lies must be of a certain - usually political or religious - type to be believed; and (3)
he also said that lies will be seen through if the consequences of the lie are seen clearly.
In any case, this article is based on crude falsehoods about psychology.
4. What Russia Wants — and Expects
The fourth article is by Gilbert Doctorow on Consortiumnews: