Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Crisis: Trump Impeachable?, Trump's Madness, Trump's Family, Corporate Media

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. An Impeachable Offense? Questions Swirl as Trump Accused of
     Sharing Top Secret Intel with Russians

2. Beyond the Madness of King Donald
Dutch Documentary Part II: Blood on Trump and Kushner's

If You Think Corporate Media Is Bad Now, Wait Until This
     Monster Merger Goes Through

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

Summary: This is a crisis log with four items and six dotted links: Item 1 is about an interview on Democracy Now! on the possibility of impeaching Trump; item 2 is about an article by Paul Street on Donald Trump's madness; item 3 is about a brief article about Part II of a series about the Trump family; and item 4 is about corporate media, that soon may lie systematically in 3 out of 4 American homes.

And in case you missed it, which is probable: Today - the 17th of May - is Norway's National Day. I remember it because I lived nearly three years in Norway in the 1970ies, and it still is - by far, also - the best country I've lived in. [1]


And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for more than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 17: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site was not on time today, probably because it is not Sunday, for that is the only time my site has a half-decent chance of beinh properly updated: It's still stuck on Sunday last.

They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most and without any problem, as indeed is the work of ISPs.

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. An Impeachable Offense? Questions Swirl as Trump Accused of Sharing Top Secret Intel with Russians

The first article today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
Senior White House officials were apparently so alarmed by President Trump’s disclosures of classified intelligence to Russia that they called the CIA and National Security Agency afterward to warn them of what had happened. Officials said they were concerned Trump’s comments would jeopardize a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. We speak to Columbia Law School lecturer Scott Horton and Stanford professor Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution. Diamond served as senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
This was just for background. Here is what is involved with regards to "classified intelligence":

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Stanford University in Northern California, as we continue to talk about The Washington Post exposé revealing how President Trump disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russian officials last week. I want to go to Donald Trump when he was campaigning for president. Here he is last September.

DONALD TRUMP: We also need the best protection of classified information. That is the worst situation. Hillary’s private email scandal, which put our classified information in the reach of our enemies, disqualifies her from the presidency.

And indeed I would say that it does seems to follow (merely in logic, which does not by far have the illusory "validity" of believing what you please) that if (according to Trump) Hillary Clinton is unqualified for the presidency because she leaked classified information (which in fact I do not know, but suppose), then also (according to Trump) Donald Trump is unqualified for the presidency, namely for the same reason.

Then again, it is a little more complicated, as Scott Hortion explains:

SCOTT HORTON: Well, on one level, it’s just a remarkable display of hypocrisy, of course. I mean, we have him pledging to be very cautious in the management of national security information and criticizing his rival ruthlessly over this, and, on the other hand, behaving in a very cavalier fashion with the most serious sorts of secrets.

But I’d say both of these incidents—that is, the investigation into the Clinton emails and the controversy now surrounding this meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov in the Oval Office—also serve to demonstrate an important feature of the way the classification system operates. That is, it exists to bind and tie those well down the list of authority. But as we approach the apex of the system, involving Cabinet officers and the president and the vice president, there’s actually much less constraint. The president has an absolute right to declassify anything. If he shares information, you could say it would be deemed declassified. So we can get out of the way immediately the question of illegality. So there’s no illegality in what he’s done. Yet it may be a breathtaking betrayal.

And going back to the things that Larry Diamond said, I think very correctly, earlier, it does raise very fundamental questions about his judgment, and it does raise some legal issues. But they’re at the highest level. They’re at the level of legality that goes to his oath of office, his pledge to uphold the Constitution and laws, and preserve, protect and defend the United States. And that is impeachment territory.

I have three remarks on this.

First, I am not much impressed by "the classification system" Horton appeals to, were it only because the most powerful generally are a lot more free from the restraints that bind the less powerful (in fact, if not in law).

Second, it sounds fairly odd to me that "[t]he president has an absolute right to declassify anything", also in combination with the possible fact that, even so, "it may be a breathtaking betrayal".

Third, supposing Trump did not do anything illegal, then (i) he still may have broken his oath of office, while (ii) the presidents that were impeached - Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton - were both impeached on the ground that they broke their oaths of office.

And there is this on the possibility of impeachment:

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about impeachment territory. What exactly do you mean? And how do you see this possibly happening? Do you see this as the beginning of the end, Scott Horton, for the Trump presidency?

SCOTT HORTON: I think so. I talked about the oath a little bit earlier. So, impeachment proceedings that have occurred historically have—when they involve the president, they do—they always involve whether the president has satisfied or fulfilled his oath.
But then one of the main problems (at present) with the possibility of impeachment is the fact that the Republics hold both the House and the Senate:

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Diamond, do you really see this happening in Washington with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate?

LARRY DIAMOND: No, I see almost no prospect of it. I think either Trump would have to do something so massively criminal or dangerous that even the shockingly loyal Republican leadership, shocking in its loyalty to Trump, would defect, probably to save their own necks in advance of the midterm election, or, more likely—and keep in mind this was certainly the pattern during Watergate, as you well know, Amy—it will only be when and if there is a Democratic Congress that the Congress is able to act to defend the Constitution.

This seems all realistic. And this is a recommended article.

2. Beyond the Madness of King Donald

The second article is by Paul Street on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
President Frankenstein, Donald Trump, has been pretty much the bizarre “insane clown president” (Matt Taibbi’s phrase) that I and many others expected. He’s only shocked me twice: his weird Twitter meltdown alleging that Barack Obama wiretapped his phones and his appallingly timed firing of FBI Director James Comey on grounds that seemed to take us all for complete idiots.
This is clearly Paul Street speaking for himself. And while I probably agree more with him than not (although I would express myself differently), my own personal reactions to Trump were a bit different: He appalled me from the start, but I was not especially shocked.

But OK. This is Paul Street on Comey's dismissal:

Lack of outward devotion to the new commander in chief is what got Comey canned. His sin was insufficient fealty to Herr Donald.
Quite possibly so, although I don't know. And this is from Evan Oznos, who got quoted by Street, on some of Trump's characteristics:
Rarely venturing beyond the White House and Mar-a-Lago, he measures his fortunes through reports from friends, staff, and a feast of television coverage of himself. Media is Trump’s “drug of choice,” Sam Nunberg, an adviser on his campaign, told me recently. “He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. His drug is himself.”
“There is no one around him who has the ability to restrain any of his impulses, on any issue ever, for any reason,” Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican consultant [said] (..)
Again possibly so, but what moved me - an M.A. in psychology - to believe that Trump is a narcissist, on March 14, 2016, when I (who is not American and who lives in Europe and who until then had not heard much about Trump, but who had seen some videos of him as presidential candidate) read a good description both of him and of what psychiatrists mean by saying someone is a narcissist, and noted immediately that he met all nine of the nine citerions obviously (and as I said, I am a psychologist).

So I agree since then with the following:

It is the on-record opinion of many mental health professionals that Trump exhibits hallmark characteristics of the psychological condition known as “malignant narcissism … characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, sadism, and a tendency toward unrealistic fantasies,” Osnos reported.

Malignant narcissists live in bizarre defiance of reality and of anything that doesn’t fit their lavish sense of their own superiority and excellence. They delight in the humiliation and even the crippling and killing of others.

Yes, although I should add that in fact I prefer the term megalomania for Trump's psychological problems, which certainly is better English than "grandiose" or "malignant narcissism", which is psychiatrese rather than English, and is not much liked by me. (But the Wikipedia - rather oddly - has since deleted the term "megalomania" and now links you directly to "narcissism" if you key in this term.)

There is also this:

I would add another psychological dimension here: the “Dunning-Kruger effect.” As Wikipedia explains: This is “a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately.”
On this last characteristic, recall Trump’s “locker room” comment: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” Remember also his campaign statement that he could stand on New York’s Fifth Avenue “and shoot somebody” and still not lose voters.

But I would not, if only because (i) illusory superiority is a characteristic of megalomania (aka narcissism), and (ii) Dunning and Kruger is just one report, whereas people with megalomania or narcissism have been studied for a far longer time, and (iii) having one adequate explanation for a person who obviously displays an ilusory superiority (namely: he is a megalomaniac) is sufficient, at least for me.

Then there is this:

How excited should we on the left be at the possibility of Trump being removed prior to the next presidential election? It is certainly desirable that we not have a wicked moron and malicious narcissist with his fingers on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. From that perspective, Trump cannot be defenestrated from the Oval Office soon enough.
Yes, I entirely agree, and indeed especially because I am a psychologist who agrees Trump is a megalomanica aka narcissist, which is for me more than enough to infer that he is totally unfit to be president of the USA, simply because he is a narcissist. (And indeed the same argument would have held if he was a Democrat: I want someone who is - at least - responsible and sane while having the power to blow up everyone, indeed regardless of his political opinions.)

Then there is this:
You don’t have to be a Marxist to understand that U.S. politics and policy have been subject to an “unelected dictatorship of money” over the past three-plus decades. Six years into Obama’s presidency, the liberal political scientists Martin Gilens (Princeton) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern) reported the U.S. political system has become “an oligarchy,” where wealthy elites and their corporations “rule.” Examining data from more than 1,800 different policy initiatives in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Gilens and Page found that wealthy and well-connected elites consistently steer the direction of the country, regardless of (or even against) the will of the U.S. majority, and regardless of which party holds the White House or Congress.
Hm. I am not a Marxist, but I do recognize the power of money in the USA, where the few with very much money generally have very much power, and the many with little money have virtually no power.

Then again, while I also agree that the powers of the rich have increased a lot - all very intentionally and usually also furthered quite dishonestly - since Reagan was elected, in fact the rich have always held disproportionally much power in the USA, and also  elsewhere, although indeed the extent of their power varied considerably.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Given capitalism’s systemically inherent war on livable ecology —emerging now as the biggest issue of our or any time—the formation of such a new and united left-wing popular and institutional presence has become a matter of life and death for the species. “The uncomfortable truth,” the Hungarian Marxist philosopher István Mészáros rightly argued 16 years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.”
I agree that ecology is one of the two major threats at present (the other is nuclear arms), and I also agree that the capitalist mode of production is the main cause of ecological problems (together with the sheer number of human beings).

But I do not see much of a Real Leftist opposition, for most of the present left is not Leftist in the classical sense [2], but only "leftist" (pro political correctness, pro abortion, pro equality but with hardly a position on exploitation and the changing on the laws and the ethical premisses of capitalism).

This may change, but it so far hasn't happened. And this is a recommended article.

3. Dutch Documentary Part II: Blood on Trump and Kushner's Hands

The third article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

The Trump family’s business partners have blood on their hands owing to deals with notorious diamond brokers who operate mines in wartorn Africa and own jewelry stores in London, Moscow and Amsterdam.

That's the premise in Part Two of a documentary series by the Dutch TV network Zembla, The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: King of Diamonds.
I reviewed Part One here and this is Part Two. There is this on the first and the second part:
The first part of the documentary series focused on Trump’s ties to Russian mobsters and oligarchs. That eye-opening report showed how Trump nurtured deals with oligarchs seeking to get their riches out of Russia and revealed how Trump signed off on international money-laundering schemes, including one set up by the law firm of ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. In the second part, we see how Trump is willing to make deals with anyone who can offer him a return, regardless of the suffering involved. The documentary also shines a light on Kushner’s relationships, which blend business, politics and religion.
And there also is a video link (and "first part" is a video link to the first part):
The article ends as follows:
The Dutch documentary series raises questions one can only hope congressional investigators and the FBI will take up and provide answers to. Viewing these programs makes it clear that Trump’s business empire and family fortune is based on deals with extremely unsavory characters, some of which could violate U.S. laws if fully scrutinized. In the meantime, one can only wonder how Trump’s sordid past will shape White House policies today and tomorrow.
Two general questions "congressional investigators" should take up are Trump's still undeclared taxes, and the nomination of unqualified family members to positions of high presidential trust, both of which are normal for authoritarian presidents but not normal for democratic presidents.

And this is a recommended article.

4. If You Think Corporate Media Is Bad Now, Wait Until This Monster Merger Goes Through

The fourth and last article today is by Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Sinclair's proposed acquisition of Tribune Media for $3.9 billion would allow the right-leaning broadcast group to reach nearly three-quarters of American homes.

For Democrats and progressives, the consequences could prove disastrous.

As to the first paragraph: Yes, indeed. And this would the greatest or one of the greatest mergers in broadcasting.

As to the second paragraph: Possibly so, but if so, the main reason for these supposed "disastrous" "consequences" is that it is presupposed (correctly, it seems to me) that "the American people" are in majority rather stupid and rather ignorant, and that these
are the main reasons that so many Americans can be propagandized and deceived so very successfully.

And in fact I agree - except that hardly anyone except Bill Maher does mention the - in my (highly educated) eyes - frightening stupidity and the shocking ignorance so many Americans do display.

But OK. Here is a little more on how the propaganda is going to be served onto three- quarters of the American homes:

"There are some ramifications [of the deal], especially when you consider the fact that they force the networks they work with to run these (very obviously right-leaning) must-run ads," explained "Young Turks" co-host Ana Kasparian on Monday. 

"Must runs," as the New York Times calls them, are "short video segments that are centrally produced by the company [worked] into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours." One of Sinclair's most propagandist ads in the past year included a package urging voters not to support Hillary Clinton and the historically "pro-slavery" Democratic Party.

"I know there are a lot of democrats who did not like Hillary, but they felt that way due to justifiable reasons," noted Kasparian. "The Democratic Party being historically in favor of slavery is not one of the reasons why people did not want to vote in favor of Hillary." 

"That is a classic propaganda lie that people who are right-wing put out there for the purpose of deceiving you," added Cenk Uygur, followed by a brief overview of major party switches in political history.

Yes, but why do so many Americans fall for totally obvious historical lies, that anyone with just a little historical knowledge can see through as false balderdash? Because the great majority of Americans have little historical knowledge and very few of them see any reasons to repair that in themselves.

[1] I am - alas - Dutch. I do not like Holland for several reasons, but especially because the Dutch Social Democrats have introduced in 1987/1988 a totally corrupt drugssystem that allowed them to turn over at least 25 billions of euros in diverse kinds of illegal drugs each and every year since then, and sells them all over Europe, and pretends to sell them legally in Holland, from "coffeeshops" with special "personal permission" by the mayor, to fuck the Dutch laws.

But hardly any Dutchman seems to care, as long as they are not themselves gassed or threatened with murder, as I was, over a course of 3 1/2 years, all of which was allowed by the mayor, the police and the bureaucrats of Amsterdam.

So I have given up on the Dutch. (And by the way: I also have lived in England.)

[2] I am sorry, but I know: Two of my grandparents were lifelong anarchists; one grandfather was a communist, and murdered by the Nazis; my father was a communist since 1935; my mother was a communist since 1940 or 1941; and while I lost that belief when I was 20, for very sound intellectual reasons, I also studied philosophy and still am a radical. You may not know, but it is very probable that you know a lot less about the Real Left than I do.

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