Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Crisis: McConnell vs Trump, Resignation, Mythology, Steve Bannon, Trump's Sanity

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 23, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from August 23, 2017

The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

This article is by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

I say. I much dislike both, but McConnell does not seem insane to me, while Trump definitely does (and I am a psychologist). Also I did not know this, though I was aware of little sympathy between the president and the majority leader.

Here is a bit more:

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly.

I don't think Trump is "unwilling to learn the basics of governing", I think he is not capable of doing so, and the reason is not his stupidity or his ignorance, but his personal character, which is deeply flawed, quite unstable, and addicted to the grossest forms of praise and flattery.

There is considerably more in the article, but the main point is that by now Donald Trump does not have many friends, and he doesn't - it seems to me and other psycho-
logists - because he is a megalomaniac.

The lack of friends also plays an important role in the next item:

2. PREDICTION: Trump Will Resign In Disgrace...Soon

This is not an article but a video by The Young Turks (<-Wikipedia). The prediction is by Cenk Uygur (<-Wikipedia), who is a smart man and who regularly has things right that many other commentators miss or are wrong about.

Uygur predicted in June of 2015 that Trump would win the presidential elections (and was right). He now - well, five days ago: sometimes I am a bit slow - predicts Donald Trump will leave the presidency before the end of his first term.

This is well worth seeing and takes around 10 minutes (and this is from before Steve Bannon's dismissal).

3. The One Percent Plans to Ride out the End of the World in Style

This is by Jim Conn on AlterNet and originally on Capital and Main. This starts as follows:
Maybe they’ve been watching too many dystopian movies about the end of civilization as we know it. Or perhaps they feel the anxiety other people feel about social instability in the country. They may think nuclear war a high probability or that climate change disasters are inevitable. But while you and I fret over these apocalyptic scenarios, the super-rich are planning their survival. Even as the nation suffers a coast-to-coast housing crisis, they are investing in “safe” places to live.
Civilians explored their own options, beginning with the 1950s fad of backyard bomb shelters. But now the really rich – from New York to Silicon Valley to Florida – are spending millions of dollars preparing for the worst. One developer offers $3 million condos in Kansas built inside a decommissioned missile silo. The units come equipped with “state-of-the-art technologies,” walls covered with the outdoor scenes of your choice, a five-year perpetual food system and a self-contained source of electricity and water. The whole thing is guarded by a 24-hour crew of guys with automatic weapons.
I say. And while I am not very amazed (I got somewhat similar instructions in the 1950ies: by covering my head and diving under the school desk, I would save myself from nuclear explosions) but I agree with the end of the article:
Maybe the difference now is that too many of the super-rich – maybe too many of all of us – believe a myth of the movies: that one guy with a gun and enough money can survive anything.
And indeed it is a pure myth.  

4. Steve Bannon, Destruction Machine: He's Back to Trying to Rebuild a Right-Wing Media Empire

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This starts as follows:

One thing you can say for Steve Bannon, the former presidential adviser and newly returned Breitbart News executive editor, is that he knows how to make an exit.
Rumors had been out there since the spring that Bannon was on thin ice. And the reason given, then and now, that makes the most sense is that Donald Trump didn’t like his minion receiving so much attention. He was angry last spring when Bannon made the cover of Time, which Trump considers to be such a tremendous honor that he constantly boasts about his own covers, even going so far as to mock up fake ones for Trump properties. The headline for Bannon’s Time cover was even worse: “The Great Manipulator.”

Yes indeed: Trump's main concern seems to be his GIGANTIC self-image, which is very much larger than of other (healthier) men, including other rich men: See here. It seems Trump's self-image was hurt by some of the publicity Bannon did get, and therefore - or so it seems - Bannon was dismissed.

Here is some more on Bannon and Trump:

Bannon is, however, highly influential among Trump supporters,  although not as much as when he was building the Trump mystique. As conservative talk show host and Never-Trumper Charlie Sykes has been pointing out for some time, Trumpism is not a movement — it is now a full-fledged cult of personality in which the president’s followers believe themselves to be under siege from the same forces Donald Trump rails against: the media, political correctness, elites of both parties, liberals, racial and ethnic minorities. The more they see Trump being attacked the more they identify with him.

It remains to be seen what Bannon + Breitbart can do. As to Trump: I do not see the crucial difference between "a movement" and "a cult" (especially not as a cult seems to me to be a movement), but OK.

The main two things I hold on to are: Bannon is not any more in the White House, which is good (as I use that term), and what he can do with Breitbart remains to be seen.

5. It’s Time to Talk About Trump’s Mental Health

This article is by Eugene Robinson on Common Dreams and originally on The Washington Post.

I do like to say immediately and with regards to the title of this article that Robinson is some two years too late with his claim (at least) that now it is "time to talk about Trump's mental health":

It has been clear a long time (to psychologists and psychiatrists) that Trump is a megalomaniac, which ought to have been a fundamental reason why he should never have been elected and indeed should never have been given the chance to be elected: Mad persons should not become presidents.

But this article starts as follows:

How unstable and divorced from reality is President Trump? We’ve reached the point where the nation has the right and the need to know.

We’re not accustomed to asking such questions about our presidents. We don’t know how to even begin inquiring into a president’s mental health, so we rationalize aberrant behavior as being part of some subtle strategy. We say that Trump is cleverly playing to his base, or employing the “madman theory” of foreign relations, or simply being unpredictable to gain an advantage by keeping everyone off balance.

No, "we" have not now "reached the point" where we should be "inquiring into a president’s mental health": I am a psychologist, and this should have been done
LONG before, during the primaries or before that. For there were plenty of reasons.

Anyone can have a bad day. But according to many published reports, Trump often erupts into rage — especially when he sees something he doesn’t like on the cable news shows he is said to watch compulsively.
I have spoken with people who have known Trump for decades and who say he has changed. He exhibits less self-awareness, these longtime acquaintances say, and less capacity for sustained focus. Indeed, it is instructive to compare television interviews of Trump recorded years ago with those conducted now. To this layman’s eyes and ears, there seems to have been deterioration.I am not professionally qualified to assess the president’s mental health; psychiatrists and psychologists who have the proper credentials and experience to do so are silenced by ethical rules.

And again, Robinson is something like two years to late (at least) - and it is no excuse that he says that he is "not professionally qualified to assess the president’s mental health": Quite a few of those who were have been saying the president's mental health is bad.

Besides, the "ethical rules" Robinson refers to are in fact financial rules (imposed during Goldwater's time) that prevented psychiatrists (not: psychologists) from speaking up if speaking up based on professional knowledge would be important for the nation.

There is no scientific reason whatsoever for these rules (that do protect the earning potentials of any psychiatrist), and in so far as ethics is concerned, it surely is ethical to try to warn the nation if you have professional expertise that says that the would-be president is not sane. (But psychiatrists have forbidden themselves of saying so, because this might hurt the financial benefits of other psychiatrists.)

So if this article is worthwile reading, it is because it shows that Robinson is too late by something like two years (at least).

Oh well, he's from The Washington Post...


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

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