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Nederlog

Friday, August 25, 2017

Crisis: Human Rights, Racist Lunacy, US´s Infrastructure, Progressivism, Trump Insane



Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 25, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, August 25, 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 25, 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 Alex Emmons on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Defying First Amendment concerns, a judge in a Washington, D.C., trial court has upheld a controversial search warrant that would allow the government to sift through data from a major protest website.

Prosecutors allege that the website, DisruptJ20.org, was used to coordinate a riot on Inauguration Day, which led to property damage at multiple businesses in downtown Washington. But the vast majority of the actions and protests the site coordinated were peaceful. It’s unclear what connection, if any, the site had to the violence.

Actually, I think this was already implicit in Bush Jr.'s - so-called - ¨Patriot Act¨ from 2001, precisely because this denied the Fourth Amendment and the First Amendment. And I also think much more of the above is likely in the near future: Democracy is dead in Trump´s USA.

Here is some more:

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice received pushback from privacy and free-speech organizations after it obtained a search warrant against the website-hosting company, DreamHost. The original warrant order was incredibly broad, requiring the company to produce all of its data on the website – including visitor logs from all 1.3 million people who viewed it.

DreamHost challenged the warrant, saying that the information could be used to identify people’s political preferences, and that the request for so much data couldn’t possibly be legal under the First Amendment.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice dropped its request for visitor logs, but still demanded communications and group email lists from the organizers — information that DreamHost says could still be used to identify the political beliefs of innocent people.

Again, under the Fourth and the First Amendment, no American court has the right to demand ¨group email lists¨. I do not know how this was legally altered by the Patriot Act and other legal (or ¨legal¨) acts, but I do know that these two amendments should never have been broken by the Patriot Act (etc.), precisely because they belong to the - inalienable - Bill of Rights.

This article ends as follows:

Chip Gibbons, legislative counsel for free-speech group Defending Rights and Dissent, told The Intercept that the ruling could set a precedent for searching other protest sites.

“Regardless of what minimization procedures are put in place, or if the bulk of the information is placed under court seal, turning over membership lists, information about political views, or associations to the government is by its very nature chilling,” Gibbons said.

It´s not only ¨very chilling¨: It is completely anti-democratic, and it is the effective ¨legal¨ use of actual neofascistic or fascistic ideals of law. And this shows how in the current USA, human rights are both willfully and - it seems - legally destroyed.

This is a recommended article.


2. How Conservatives Played the Media Like a Fiddle to Elect a Racist Lunatic President

This article is by Eric Alterman on AlterNet and originally on BillMoyers.com. It starts as follows:

Two rules journalists live by: Keep things simple and straightforward and be fair to “both sides.”

The first rule has always been with us, and it has many salutary aspects, but as journalism has evolved it has come to serve different purposes. Today, as truth itself is under attack and our most important institutions suffer harassment merely for trying to do a good job, the “keep it simple” decree is, as much as anything, understood to be a shield: Its purpose now is to ensure that everyone who reads or hears a given news report can understand it and is not put off by the snooty or, worse, “elitist” attitude of the highly educated, big-city, cabernet-sipping journalist who looks down his nose at God-fearing, hardworking, patriotic Americans. The second rule serves a similar, albeit parallel, purpose: If “both sides” are quoted equally, then the journalist cannot easily be accused of favoring one over the other. It does not matter if one of the sides happens to be crazy, or lying or racist or whatever. That’s up to the reader to decide.

Yes indeed, but both rules have been very much changed in meaning and use - and because I heard the neofascistic phrase that

¨Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist¨

for the first time in August of 1978 in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam, which is a full 39 years ago this year, and because I tried to stop this neofascistic, ¨neoliberal¨ utter baloney for eleven years with support of something like 1 in 20 students (because the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam was in fact ruled by the Communist Party in the early 1980ies, as was only revealed in the early 1990ies [2]), in fact I only succeeded in getting myself - completely illegally - removed from the right of taking my M.A. degree in philosophy because I was, according to the vast majority of the students and the staff, ¨a dirty fascist¨ and ¨a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist¨ (both of which were total lies [3]) because I was not a Marxist and was for rationality and real science, I am rather to very doubtful that these now thoroughly falsified rules (simplicity and fairness) will be used in a fair way in the future in the USA.

And indeed the first rule now is abused to justify stupefying the news and its comments to the level were even the stupid ignoramuses with IQs of 85 can follow it, while the second rule now is abused to justify the fact that journalists take no position whatsoever and plead they are being ¨objective¨ by letting ¨both sides¨ be quoted equally.

I do not think this will change much under president Trump, who - I agree - is both a racist and a lunatic, indeed not so much because individual journalistst would not be capable of witing truthfully for more or less well-informed intelligent readers, but because most independent newspapers and media have been bought up by the rich.

And the present article is recommended.


3. Even Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is a Thinly Veiled Neo-Fascist Scheme

This article is by Gerard Epstein on AlterNet and originally on Dollars and Sense. This is from somewhere in the middle of the article (which - I think - is not written well):
In an article in Challenge Magazine, “Trumponomics: Should We Just Say No?” I argued that not only is the so-called “infrastructure” program mostly a thinly disguised privatization scam; it was also a sinister gambit to broaden the political support and therefore the power of Trump and Trumpism, a proto-fascist regime and movement, whose goal is to undermine democracy, enrich those wealthy capitalists willing to play along, and divide and conquer the domestic population by sowing racial, gender, religious and national hatred and intolerance.

On August 15, this “infrastructure of fascism” came into clear focus in a bizarre and tragic way. Donald Trump marched into a conference room in Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan to hold a hastily arranged press briefing on the first formal unveiling of his “Infrastructure” plan. He had key members of his economic team in tow—most notably, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council—both former Goldman Sachs bankers—and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, former Bank of America and Citicorp banker. This announcement of Trump’s “infrastructure plan,” which took only a few minutes, presented even less of a true infrastructure plan than he had floated during the election campaign.

This was simply yet another de-regulation plan dressed up as a plan for infrastructure investment. Effectively, this “executive order” served-up a wish list that would have been compiled by any real estate mogul who doesn’t want any government agency or public group to come between him, his building, and his bottom line. In the name of building more useful infrastructure and generating more jobs, Trump’s executive order is designed to let developers skirt environmental regulations, and most likely, labor, health, and safety regulations as well. The Executive Order will make it a lot easier to build more Trump towers in flood plains, but do little or nothing for the country’s true infrastructure needs.

But this does seem to be quite correct to me.

4. The Long Game For Progressives

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

Conservatives navigate using a polestar; Democrats steer by their hood ornament.  As a result, conservatives set the agenda, while Democrats respond to it.  Worse, conservatives shape polls, and Democrats are shaped by polls. Conservatives have been strategic.  Democrats have—at best—been tactical.  That’s been the story since Reagan.

This explains why our country has drifted to the right; it explains why Democrats have gone from majorities in government at all levels in the 70’s, to barely holding onto a shrinking minority at any level. It explains why today’s Democrat is more conservative than yesterday’s Republican, and why a corporate friendly brand of neoliberalism has taken over what used to be the Party of the people.

Even now, with Trump—who’s about as strategic as a six-year old on speed—the daily headlines are defined by what he’s doing, and how we’re responding to it. 

Resistance, while necessary, is merely reactive.  Progressives need to start being proactive.

In fact, I do not think that the rule of - let´s say - anti-democratic ideals is well explained by the Republicans having a strategy while the Democrats have no strategy.

The real facts are considerably more complicated (and have a lot to do with Bill Clinton´s - a Democrat - deregulations and his destruction of welfare in the USA).

Then again, the following does seem correct to me, and explains Lewis Powell´s memo from 1971, that did wake up the rich quite well:

The broad elements of the conservatives’ strategy can be found in a 34 page memo by Lewis Powell to the Chamber of Commerce, dated August 23, 1971. The Powell Memo was not exactly a blueprint; rather it was a think piece about how to “strike back” against “un-American” influences coming from “…the college campuses, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians.”

He repeatedly called for “balance” and “fairness” in these institutions.  Sound familiar?

To Powell, anything that constrained the free enterprise system was un-American, socialist, or—gasp!—Marxist, even if it was done to protect the environment, human health, or social welfare.

If “culture” is the collective beliefs, values, and practices that comprise a society, then Powell was taking direct aim at the institutions that defined culture from the 1930 to the late 1970’s. 

A few rich families, operating behind the scenes and largely ignored by the press (particularly after corporations purchased most of it) took aim at the existing—and predominantly liberal culture—by doing essentially what Powell recommended and investing in the following six areas:

  1. creating a conservative infrastructure composed of foundations, think tanks, endowed university chairs, media outlets and media savvy spokespeople to give far right extremism an intellectual basis beyond greed and self-interest, with the purpose of influencing the public and politicians to adopt more conservative positions;
  2. weakening the FCC and ultimately taking over the press;
  3. glorifying the free market as the source of all things good—investing in the Myth of the Magic Markets;
  4. discrediting government as a source of anything good—investing in the Myth of the Bumbling Bureaucrat;
  5. perfecting propaganda and messaging—distracting, deceiving, dissembling, and lying to obscure the takeover; and
  6. making it safe to buy politicians and elections.

And this indeed is what has happened since 1980 in the USA, indeed also with big help from both Bill Clinton, who seems to have earned over 100 million dollars helping the rich, and from Barack Obama, who seems to be going to earn the same. (Corruption pays.)

This is a recommended article, although I do not think that the Democrats will even start to reform before the Clintons and Pelosi have been thrown out.


5. What Donald Trump’s tweets reveal about his mental health

This article is in fact excerpted from "All I Ever Wanted to Know about Donald Trump I Learned From His Tweets" by John Gartner, PhD, and Rachel Montgomery, and it was found on Salon.

It starts as follows - and because I am a psychologist, who does think Trump is insane since the beginning of 2016, and who has been saying so since that time, I will pay a bit more attention to the present article than I would have done otherwise (and it is a good article):

One of the most notable things about the 34,000 tweets that Rachel Montgomery culled through for this new book is their sheer quantity. It’s like looking at your phone in the morning, the night after a brief dinner date, and finding thirty-seven nasty texts from your date. The quantity alone warns that this person may not be mentally stable, and then the gratuitous nastiness confirms it. Donald Trump’s manic dark energy drives him to vaunt himself and denigrate his fellow human beings relentlessly: all day, all night, every day, and every night.

To make sense of his aberrant behavior, you need to understand, specifically, what is psychologically wrong with Donald Trump. His diagnosis is the Rosetta Stone to cracking the Trump Twitter code, revealing its underlying structure, and unfortunately, how much ­danger all the rest of us are in as a result. He is a malignant narcissist who is also on the bipolar spectrum. From a psychiatric perspective, the prognosis could not be more dire—for us.

Much has been written about Trump having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For example, Trump embodies the diagnostic criteria of believing himself to be “uniquely superior,” (“Only I can fix it”) to a degree that would be comical if it weren’t so frightening. He appears to literally believe that he knows more about everything than everybody, despite his lack of experience, study, intellectual curiosity, or even normal attention span. An amusing video montage made its way through social media, where through the miracle of editing, in the course of three minutes Trump brags about being the world’s greatest expert in twenty different subject areas, literally using the exact same sentence—just fill in the blank. “No one knows more about (fill in the blank) than me,” he repeats over and over, while it becomes more absurd, as his imagined portfolio of expertise expands with each improbable bombastic claim.

This is a long article, but this psychologist is pleased to tell you that Gartner and Montgomery are (also) psychologists, and that they use their psychological expertise well. And they are right that absolutely no one knows more than anybody else about (bolding added)¨twenty different subject areas¨, including Donald Trump, who does think and say so, and merely for that reason must be regarded as not sane.

But that is not all, not by far. Here is some more on the diagnosis of being ¨a narcissist¨:

But as critics have pointed out, merely saying a leader is narcissistic is hardly disqualifying. Most are. But malignant narcissism is to garden variety Narcissistic Personality Disorder what a malignant tumor is to a benign one. Both are bad, but only one will kill you.

That is: Most political leaders (including those who - as yet - are mere wannabes) are more narcissistic than most other people, but they are not (quite or at all) ¨malignant¨ or ¨grandiose¨ narcissists [4] as are covered by by psychologists´ and psychiatrists' diagnoses for mad persons.

Donald Trump is such a mad person, according to myself and quite a few psychologists, and here is Erich Fromm (<-Wikipedia):

“The quintessence of evil,” was how Erich Fromm described malignant narcissism, a term he introduced in 1964. Fromm, a refugee from Nazi Germany, developed the diagnosis to explain Adolf Hitler. While Fromm is most well-known as one of the founders of Humanistic Psychology—the basic premise of which is, ironically, that man’s basic nature is good—the Holocaust survivor had a lifelong obsession with the psychology of evil. Malignant narcissism was, according to Fromm, “the most severe pathology. The root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity.” Erich Fromm saw evil up close and applied his genius to boil it down to its psychological essence. A malignant narcissist is a human monster. He may not be as bad as Hitler, but according to Fromm he is cut from the same cloth: “The Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman Caesars, the Borgias, Hitler, Stalin, Trujillo—they all show certain similar features.”

In fact - I am a psychologist - in terms of personal human psychology (which is not the same as: in terms of social consequences) ¨malignant¨ or ¨grandiose¨ narcissism is not ¨the most severe pathology¨, but malignant narcissists may and often do keep functioning a very long time as if they were ordinary persons, indeed especially if they
are leaders of some kind.

Here is more on diverse forms of (malignant) narcissism:

My former teacher Otto Kernberg is the modern figure most associated with the study of malignant narcissism. He defined the syndrome as having four components: 1) Narcissistic Personality Disorder, 2) antisocial behavior, 3) paranoid traits, and 4) sadism. Kernberg told the New York Times that malignantly narcissistic leaders like Hitler or Stalin are “able to take control because their inordinate narcissism is expressed in grandiosity, a confidence in themselves and the assurance that they know what the world needs.’’ At the same time, “they express their aggression in cruel and sadistic behavior against their enemies: whoever does not submit to them or love them.’’

As G. H. Pollock wrote, “the malignant narcissist is pathologically grandiose, lacking in conscience and behavioral regulation with characteristic demonstrations of joyful cruelty and sadism.”

When you combine these four ingredients—narcissism, antisocial traits, paranoia, and sadism—you have a leader who feels omnipotent, omniscient, and entitled to total power, who rages at being persecuted by imaginary enemies, which includes anyone who disagrees with him, as well as vulnerable minority groups who represent no threat whatsoever. All who are not part of the in-group or those who do not kiss his ring must be destroyed. And destroying them in the most humiliating and painful way will be an exquisite pleasure. Once you understand the logic of malignant narcissism, all of Trump’s tweets make perfect sense.

This seems pretty clear, indeed. There is a whole lot more in the article, including quite a few of Trump´s tweets. The article ends as follows:

The organization that I founded, Duty To Warn, is comprised of mental health professionals who believe it is their ethical duty to warn the public about Donald Trump’s dangerous mental illness. Fifty-two thousand of us have signed a petition requesting Trump be removed under the twenty-fifth amendment for his severe and dangerous mental illness. At a meeting about Duty to Warn at Yale Medical School, a keynote speaker, Robert J. Lifton, warned that malignantly narcissistic leaders can shift and distort reality for an entire society, a process he called “malignant normality.” The abnormal becomes normalized and alternate facts, conspiracy theories, racism, denial of science, and delegitimization of the free press become not only acceptable, but the new normal. Trump has the power to impose his madness on the populace, a kind of mass folie ā deux. Perhaps we should call it a folie des millions?

To drink the Kool-Aid, just open your Twitter feed.

I agree with Duty To Warn, indeed for the simple reason that I cannot see how one can be a decent health professional while denying oneself the right to discuss the madness of world leaders, and I am pleased to know that there are - at least - fifty two thousand psychologists (it seems [5]) who

¨have signed a petition requesting Trump be removed under the twenty-fifth amendment for his severe and dangerous mental illness.¨
I don´t think that I quite agree with Lifton, but I do agree completely that Trump is insane and should be (somehow) removed from the position of being president of the USA as soon as possible - and see yesterday for the enormous risks Trump poses with nuclear arms.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

------------
Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 (!!).

[2] (This note is a repeat from July 17, with this introduction): The Dutch universities were rules by a kind of "parliamentary democracy", that was totally unique in the whole world, from 1971 till 1995, and that implied that everyone who worked for any Dutch university - professors, students, secretaries, toilet cleaners - got 1 vote to vote for the University Parliament and 1 vote to vote for the Faculty Parliament, that in fact implied that (i) the students always had the absolute majority, while (ii) the students were strongly pro communism until 1983/4 and strongly postmodernistic from 1984 till 1995 (whhen the whole parliamentary structure was discarded and replaced by totally authoritarian government).


And all "communists" and all "socialists" that effectively ruled the Dutch "universities" between 1971 and 1995 were quasi-communists and quasi-socialists (who got their way by accusing this real socialist that I am "a fascist terrorist", which was also their ground for letting me be terrorized by a madman for three years, and then for denying my right of taking my M.A. in philosophy in 1988: I was not a Marxist and I was pro - real - science, and both of these opinions were quite dangerous to hold (publicly) in the "University" of Amsterdam between 1977 and 1995, when the "University" was led by an utterly insane "parliamentary" system, that was unique in the world).

All of them acted as neofascist neoliberals, and all of the leaders of the ("communist") ASVA and of the ("socialist") Board of Directors knew this quite well (and all of the leaders of the "communist" ASVA explicitly or implicitly declared themselves "neo-conservatives" or "neo-liberals" by 1991, briefly after the collapse of the Communist Party, and briefly after the collapse of Soviet "socialism". Oh they were so honorable, so honest, so ethical!)

If you believe that the present "University" of Amsterdam is a real university you must be "a social democrat" or have an IQ that is 115 at most (which does cover the vast majority of the Dutch).


[3] (This note is a repeat from August 14):
I was first deemed to be "a fascist" in late August of 1977, by philosophy students who probably had just become members of the Dutch Communist Party. I have since been claimed to be a - dirty etc. - "fascist" and a "terrorist, terrorist, terrorist" in 1988, when I was denied the right to take my M.A. in philosophy in the University pf Amsterdam.

Being called "a dirty fascist" and "a terrorist" merely lasted from 1977 till 1989...

In fact, both of my parents were - real - communists for 45 years; both of my parents were in the resistance against the Nazis, as was my grandfather; both my father and my grandfather were arrested by the Nazis in 1941, and both were convicted to concentration camp imprisonment as "political terrorists", where my grandfather was murdered; and even I was a member of the Dutch communist party from 1968-1970, when I gave up Marxism.

So I think I was offended - tens of times, possibly several hundreds of times - as "a dirty fascist" by sick, morally degenerate, Stalinist terrorists from the ASVA, who all made careers through their membership of the Dutch communist party, while very many earned hundreds of thousands or more of euros
.

[4] This is a note on the English language and psychiatrese (the jargon of psychiatrists) and the Wikipedia:

There is a decent English term (not originally, but part of English for a long time) for the kind of madness Trump has, namely megalomania. But while this was until quite recently a term in the Wikipedia, the Wikipedia does now not believe in English terms anymore, it seems: It wants psychiatrese terms, and indeed totally discarded ¨megalomania¨, and replaced it by the psychiatrese term ¨narcissism¨ for no good reason I can see. Also, having done that, it doesn´t anymore distinguish between kinds of
¨narcissism¨, or does so only in psychiatrese terms (namely by prefixing ¨malignant¨ or ¨grandiose¨ to ¨narcissism¨).

Well... I am a psychologist, who likes English, and who doesn´t believe in American psychiatry, so I disagree with the replacement of English by psychiatrese.

But this is mainly a shortcoming in Wikipedia.

[5] I believe these are mostly psychologists, but I do not know. I believe so for (at least) three reasons: First, psychologists are less unscientific than psychiatrists; second, psychologists have not chosen to keep their mouths shut about the insanity of their leaders, and psychiatrists have; and third, there are considerably more psychologists than there are psychiatrists.

In any case, 52,000 psychologists (and psychiatrists) who agree with Gardner and Montgomery (and myself) is quite good, and I did not know this.
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