Sunday, May 7, 2017

Crisis: Oklahoma & Fascism, Facebook's Sickness, Trump Doctrine (?), Republicans

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Oklahoma Governor Signs Anti-Protest Law Imposing Huge
     Fines on “Conspirator” Organizations

2. Former Facebook Exec Claims the Tech Giant Can Influence
     Minds, Moods—and Elections

What Is the ‘Trump Doctrine’ of Foreign Policy?
4. The Republican Party Is Sociopathic: If You Didn’t Know that
     Already, the Health Care Bill Should Make It Clear

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, May 7, 2017.

Summary: This is a
crisis log with four items and four links: Item 1 is about how Oklahoma seems to be turning fascistic (by laws that promise punishments for tampering that exceed European punishments for murder); item 2 is about Facebook
which I very strongly dislike; item 3 is about Reich's version of the Trump Doctrine (I dislike Trump but don't agree with Reich); and item 4 is about whether the Republicans are "sociopaths": I think not, for several reasons (one of which is my being a psycho- logist).

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for no less than 1 1/2 years, now only at one of my sites:
May 7: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site is off again and still sticks on May 4. They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most. I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And what changed is that you have to refresh (and refresh and refresh and refresh) to get the latest, which is again NOT as it was before, from 1996 till 2015, and which for me this only serves to make it extremely difficult for naive users to get the latest from my site - that for them may seem to have stuck somewhere in 2016 or 2015.

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Oklahoma Governor Signs Anti-Protest Law Imposing Huge Fines on “Conspirator” Organizations

The first article today is by Alleen Brown on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

A statute aimed at suppressing protests against oil and gas pipelines has been signed into law in Oklahoma, as a related bill advances through the state legislature. The two bills are part of a nationwide trend in anti-protest laws meant to significantly increase legal penalties for civil disobedience. The Oklahoma law signed this week is unique, however, in its broad targeting of groups “conspiring” with protesters accused of trespassing. It takes aim at environmental organizations Republicans have blamed for anti-pipeline protests that have become costly for local governments.

The statute Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin approved Wednesday was rushed into immediate effect under a provision that declared the situation “an emergency.” It will dramatically increase penalties against protesters who trespass on property containing a “critical infrastructure facility.”

Under the newly signed trespassing law individuals will face a felony and a minimum $10,000 fine if a court determines they entered property intending to damage, vandalize, deface, “impede or inhibit operations of the facility.” Should the trespasser actually succeed in “tampering” with the infrastructure, they face a $100,000 fine or ten years of imprisonment.

Significantly, the statute also implicates any organization “found to be a conspirator” with the trespasser, threatening collaborator groups with a fine “ten times” that imposed on the intruder — as much as $1 million in cases involving damage.

These are fascistic laws in my eyes: In Holland you may get 8 years for murder, so "ten years of imprisonment" for "tampering" seems wholly insane to me - or indeed alternatively fascistic.

The same applies to the following:

A second bill, passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Thursday, would permit “vicarious liability” for groups that “compensate” protesters accused of trespassing.

This is also insane or fascistic. The same holds for the following (and Parr is a lawyer):

Parr noted that under the new trespassing law a violation as minor as spray-painting a message on an oil facility could plausibly lead to $100,000 dollars in fines if a court determined it was “defacing equipment.”

For me this is all insane or fascistic, and it merely serves to protect the interests of the very rich.

2. Former Facebook Exec Claims the Tech Giant Can Influence Minds, Moods—and Elections

The second article is by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Ex-Facebook executive Antonio Garcia-Martinez revealed this week the true extent of the technology giant’s data and influence over its users.

Martinez, a project manager for the company in 2012, helped create Facebook’s first mechanisms that enabled targeted data ads. The ongoing practice involves Facebook handing over its users’ internet browsing histories and information about purchases they’ve made in “brick-and-mortar” stores for selective targeting.

This customized approach has grown over the years into a much more complex and powerful tool. Martinez said Facebook can now offer any agency the ability to target individuals “based on their emotional state” and declared that any statement from Facebook to the contrary would be an unequivocal lie.

His article was posted as commentary after leaked documents to The Australian exposed an internal report by Facebook executives demonstrating to advertisers its capacity to identify teenagers who felt “insecure” and “worthless.”

I despise Facebook and its 2 billion users. Facebook simply is extra-ordinarily degenerate, and I blame its users because they "sell" their privacy to this horrible corporation for getting advertisements, which sounds either insane or extremely stupid to me.

As to identifying people's emotional states: I don't know, but I would like to know what the - utterly corrupt, very fraudulent - American Psychiatric Association thinks of this:

They forbid the psychiatrists who are their members to diagnose anyone they have not met and who did not give pernission to do so. What about the anonymous programs that diagnose people? (As I said, for me the whole notion on which Facebook is based is utterly obscene and extremely degenerate. And no, I do not expect the APA to agree with me.)

Here is some more:

Sam Levine from The Guardian reported:

The internal report produced by Facebook executives, and obtained by the Australian, states that the company can monitor posts and photos in real time to determine when young people feel “stressed”, “defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”, “useless” and a “failure”.

The Australian reported that the document was prepared by two top Australian executives, David Fernandez and Andy Sinn. It was said to describe how the social network gathers psychological insights on high schoolers, college students and young working Australians and New Zealanders. Sinn is an agency relationship manager for the company.

The presentation, which the Australian has not published, was reportedly written for one of Australia’s top banks and stated that the company has a database of its young users – 1.9 million high schoolers, 1.5 million tertiary students and 3 million young workers.

Facebook has detailed information on mood shifts of its young users based on “internal Facebook data” that is not available to the public, the document stated.

I say. Well, to me it sounds again like applied fascism. As does this:

In 2014, The Guardian reported that Facebook conducted a secret test engaging the emotions of 689,000 of its users. In the study, researchers found that when they manipulated news feeds on users’ home pages, they were able to influence the users’ emotional states.

According to the study, what the researchers did was “consistent with Facebook’s data use policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research”—and therefore legal.

If you want to be abused as a sub-human and be rewarded with advertisements, by all means become a Facebook member! I will never, and much sooner will give up my computer than allow it to be connected with Facebook. What utter degeneracy is that!

3. What Is the ‘Trump Doctrine’ of Foreign Policy?

The third article is by Robert Reich on Truthdig and originally on his site:

This starts as follows:

What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary, and devoid of principle.

A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. “There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared.

I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it.

Well... I have been saying now for half a year that Trump is a neofascist, which I defined (see my On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions) as follows:

Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

And I still think that this is adequate for Trump, who has been also called, by Robert Reich, a fascist and an authoritarian. But this is not what Reich has in mind in this article:

So under what might be called the First Principle of the Trump Doctrine, people living in a predominantly Muslim country have a chance of entering the United States only if their country contains an edifice with Trump’s name on it.

The Second Principle follows logically from the first. Countries that are potential markets for Trump’s business – nominally run by his two sons, but still filling his pockets – may be eligible for special favors if they allow Trump to make money there. 

Possibly so, but do these principles compare well with my definition of neofascism, that I think is a good explanation of at least Trump's ideology? I think not.

One potential obstacle for the Second Principle is the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause, which bars U.S. government officials from receiving gifts from foreign powers.

No matter. Apparently the Trump Doctrine, well, trumps the Constitution.

A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) joined by several prominent law professors, is suing Trump over this. 

I agree with CREW, I think. Here is The Third Principle Reich saw manifested by Trump:

The Third Principle comes down hard on countries that kill their own children with poison gas. They will be bombed.

So far this happened once. It may happen again (I agree) but for a "Principle" this does not seem well confirmed. And here is the Fourth Principle:

So under the Fourth Principle of the Trump Doctrine, the United States reserves the right to drop a mother of a bomb on any group seemingly connected with ISIS.

This applies even if the group is not fighting to gain or hold territory claimed by the Islamic State. The group could be thousands of miles away from the Islamic State, anywhere around the world.

Hm. In brief, I do not take these Four Principles seriously. I agree Trump is unreasonable, but I still think his actions are better explained by my diagnosis of neofascism than by fairly arbitrary Principles. 

4. The Republican Party Is Sociopathic: If You Didn’t Know that Already, the Health Care Bill Should Make It Clear

The fourth and last article today is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

On Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in order to give the richest Americans and corporations billions of dollars. To accomplish this, Republicans will deny tens of millions of Americans who have chronic and preexisting health problems access to affordable medical care. The Republican Party’s plan to punish the sick and to kill the “useless eaters” has expanded its targets to include women who have been victims of sexual assault or domestic violence or suffered from post-partum depression. The Republican plan will also hurt disabled people, senior citizens, new mothers, pregnant women, children in special education programs and babies. It is estimated that at least 43,000 Americans a year will die if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

This is quite literally the politics of life and death. Republicans in Congress have chosen to place their fingers on the scale in favor of the latter.

I agree with this. Here is more:

Conservatives lack empathy for their fellow human beings. The Republican Party’s hostility to the poor, the working class, the elderly, immigrants, Muslims, refugees, the homeless, the vulnerable, gays and lesbians, children, people of color — and yes, the sick — is not an aberration or deviation from their voters’ basic desires. For those not of the right-wing tribe, a decision to strip away health care from millions of people does not make rational political sense. But for those inside the right-wing echo chamber, such a decision speaks to basic psychological and social impulses: It reinforces the demarcations separating “us” and “them,” the deserving and the undeserving, the righteous and the sinful.

And I also agree with that. What I do not agree with is the following, and one important reason I don't agree with this is the point I quote:

The Republican Party is sociopathic.

  • Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms and obligations

I have since 50 years at least had a "disregard for social norms and obligations"; so did my parents; and so did 3 out of 4 of my grandparents (for these were all anarchists or communists, indeed with two of the six condemned by the Nazis to concentration camp imprisonment because they were "political terrorists").

That is also why I completely disagree with "sociopathy" and think it was a false and ideological replacement of psychopathy, which has a different definition, and has disappeared from the DSMs (but see dr. Robert Hare (<-Wikipedia)):

On the definition of "sociopathy" nearly everybody arrested in the Soviet Union deserved to be arrested because they also had a "disregard for social norms and obligations", as indeed my father and his father probably also would have been supposed to be arrested deservedly as "sociopaths" by the then ruling Nazis in Holland.

And indeed I completely disagree with the DSM. I also am a psychologist and wrote a long essay about it (See: DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"), and one major reason I disagree with it is that around 1950 there were between 40 and 50 "mental diseases" "recognized" by psychiatrists, whereas a mere 50 years later there were more than 440 different forms of "insanity" that were"recognized" by the alas still completely unscientifc psychiatry.

Therefore, while I agree the Republicans lack empathy, solidarity, concern, or indeed interest in anyone who is poor, I do not want to call them sociopaths, simply because I think that is one of the many psychiatric judgments I disagree with.

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

The pundit and chattering classes want to believe that the “adults” in the U.S. Senate will stop Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s latest effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act. They also think that Trump’s voters will turn on him once his policies begin to negatively impact them in material and tangible ways.

These so-called experts have little to no credibility: They are the same people who believed that Trump would never be elected president. These supposedly astute observers of the American scene misunderstand this cultural moment because they presume reason and human decency where there is only madness, greed, bigotry, rage, racism, sexism and nihilism.
Hm. I also don't quite agree with this, and basically for two reasons.

The first is that the difference between Trump and Clinton was a few percentage points (and Clinton got more voters than Trump). You cannot build strong conclusions like the above one on such small differences.

And the second is that there is a considerable difference between the leaders of the Republicans, that comprise the members of Congress and the Senate, and other Republicans: I think the other Republicans may be mostly and fairly be supposed to be not intelligent and not knowledgeable about politics, but I don't think all or most Republicans belong to those who suffer from "
madness, greed, bigotry, rage, racism, sexism and nihilism".


       home - index - summaries - mail