April 27, 2018

Crisis: On The Democrats, On Psychology, The AUMF, Next Big Crash, Humanity Doomed


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from April 27, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, April 27, 2018.

1. Summary

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

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from April 27, 2018
1. Senior Democrat Caught on Tape Pressuring Progressive Congressional
     Candidate to Drop Out of Race
2. Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is
     Deemed a Mental Health Problem
3. The Democratic Party’s War History and the AUMF of 2018
4. Donald Trump and the Next Big Crash
5. Humanity 'Doomed' by Capitalism and Fossil Fuels
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:

1. Senior Democrat Caught on Tape Pressuring Progressive Congressional Candidate to Drop Out of Race

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
A new exposé by The Intercept confirms how powerful Democratic officials have worked to crush competitive progressive candidates in primaries around the country, choosing instead to back moderate, business-friendly candidates. This comes after President Obama used his farewell address to encourage Americans upset about the outcome of the 2016 election to take action by running for office themselves. We speak with Levi Tillemann, a Colorado man who heeded Obama’s call and found himself disappointed by the process, after he was repeatedly pressured by powerful Democrats not to run. In fact, he recorded a conversation in which he was directly told to drop out of the Democratic primary for Colorado’s sixth Congressional district by none other than the second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland. We go to Denver to speak with Levi Tillemann, a candidate in Colorado’s Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District, which includes Denver. He is featured in the new exposé by Lee Fang, investigative journalist at The Intercept, “Secretly Taped Audio Reveals Democratic Official Pressuring Progressive to Bow Out of Election.
I say. I did read a story on The Intercept with the same subject, by Lee Fang who is also interviewed in this article, but I find this presentation a bit better.

In any case: This is about the continuing
corruption - that is (I quote): ¨a form of dishonesty undertaken by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit¨ (according to the present Wikipedia) - of the Democratic Party. In fact, that corruption is systemic, and very much larger than just the present case, but I will open with a bit on the present case (of Tillemann):
AMY GOODMAN: That muffled recording was Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Nancy Pelosi’s number two. You can hear him in that recording saying “That’s correct” when Levi Tillemann asks him if he’d like him to get out of his primary race and that the decision to back his opponent was made early on. For more, we go to Denver to speak with Levi Tillemann (...)
And here is Tillemann about the much bigger question viz. the systemic corruption of the Democratic Party:
LEVI TILLEMANN: (...) [T]he bigger problem doesn’t have to do with me or my Democratic opponent who has embraced this support. It has to do with the fact that this happened not just to my campaign, but to every other Democrat who was running in the district and to dozens of Democrats across the country. And what that means is that Washington insiders are controlling the agenda. They are pumping money towards candidates who are going to fight for corporations and Wall Street and the establishment, and issues that progressives care about—issues like a living wage and Medicare for all and a complete transition to renewable energy by 2035 and finally, impeaching Donald Trump—those aren’t getting the attention they deserve in Washington today.
I fear that is quite correct: Money for representatives is much more important than anything else. In fact this also runs two ways:
LEE FANG: We have talked to a number of candidates who say they’re first-time candidates, they’re trying to learn the process. In Minnesota and Pennsylvania and elsewhere, we’ve heard this anecdote several times. But when they go to the DCCC and say, “We would like to learn how to be a candidate,” DCCC officials say, “Take out your smartphone and show us how you can raise $200,000, $250,000 just from the contacts on your smartphone.” So there is kind of a money barrier to even running for office. That is why the DCCC is gravitating towards corporate lawyers or folks that have a lot of wealth.
There is more in the article, that is recommended.

In fact, I think I also have taken a decision: As long as Hilton, Pellosi, Perez and Kain are heads of the Democratic Party, that party is thoroughly corrupt, and in fact also more interested in corruptions that benefit themselves financially than in doing politics that might interest others.

2. Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem

This article is by Bruce Levine on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti- authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
As I have explained quite a few times in Nederlog, I am also a (Dutch) psychologist, although there are several qualifications in my case:

I never officially worked as a psychologist, simply because I am ill now for nearly 40 years with a disease -
ME/CFS - that almost no Dutch medical person was willing to acknowledge until this year (that is: not for over 40 years) even though there are estimated to be around 40,000 Dutch men and women who have this ¨serious, chronic disease¨ (since March 19, 2018), and I also undoubtedly saw far fewer people than Levine did (at least professionally).

Then again, I did one thing he very probably did not do: I saved a serious schizophrenic by living with her, helping her to get better, and then to study psychology, which she did and she now also is a doctor in.

Also, the situation in Holland for Dutch psychologists no doubt is rather different from the American one, and in fact I don´t think I quite agree with Levine´s diagnosis, which comes to this:
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
In fact, I have two theses that Levine probably does not (quite or at all) agree with:

(1) Psychology is not a real science, outside some bits of mathematics (in statistics), some bits of medicine, and a few more physiological facts; and
(2) What most psychologists diagnose and cure (as if it were medicine, which it definitely is not: everybody knows what a body is, but few have any good description of a mind or psyche) is deviance from various social norms.

As to the first point: The best exposition I wrote about this is
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis". In fact, this is mostly about American psychiatry - which is not the same as psychology - but there is a considerable amount of philosophy of science in it. (This is a long essay of 370 Kb.)

As to the second point: In fact, there are quite a few social norms and quite a few forms of deviance from any of them, and there also are quite a few forms of deviance for which psychologists may (or might) be helpful.

Here is some by Levine about how (American) psychologists make a career, and about what the results are, for them:
Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance with authorities, even those authorities one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.

I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.
I take it Levine is correct about how to make a career in psychology in the USA. And I think he is right in what he says in the second paragraph, except that I would speak about any kind of deviance rather than (just) about anti-authoritarianism.

In fact, Levine gives two examples of what he means:
Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well.
By today’s standards, Saul Alinsky, the legendary organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would have certainly been diagnosed with one or more disruptive disorders.
I have three remarks on the above bit:

First (a bit of an aside, but relevant): please note that "ADHD" and "ODD" are both abbreviations. (I think abbreviations are unavoidable, but they are also quite tricky and are often abused.) Second, I agree Einstein and Alinsky were deviants (in some ways, and indeed Einstein was a major genius, which also is a form of deviance) and may have risked some psychiatric or psychological diagnosis. But third, one major difference between psychiatry at their time and at this time is that there were between 40 and 50 "mental disorders" before 1980, but since then (according to the DSMs of the American Psychiatric Association) there are over 450 "mental disorders" (nine times as much, in less than 50 years).

Incidentally, while it is quite clear in some cases what a "mental disorder" may be (as in serious schizophrenia) it is not at all clear in general, and in fact the term is (ab)used because one of the marks of most (though not: all) forms of supposed madness (i.e. deviance from some norm(s)) is that there is no medical disease of any kind.

There is a lot more that I leave to your interests. The article ends as follows:
In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”
I have indicated why I like this article, although I also disagree with it:

I think - and I am a psychologist - that psychiatrists and psychologists are
in fact mostly concerned about deviances of various kinds from some supposed norm or average; that most of these deviances have no (known) medical explanation; that many are "cured" or rather: repressed by pills of various kinds; and that some of the deviances that psychologists or psychiatrists are supposed to cure are quite useful for society or for those who have them (like various talents including genius).

But I largely would agree with Levine if his argument had been like so: Psychologists and psychiatrists try to marginalize deviants, and do so mostly by criminalizing or psycho- pathologizing them, and by giving them drugs to alter their behavior.

And while I think this is justified in a few cases, I also think the justifiable cases are in a minority.

3. The Democratic Party’s War History and the AUMF of 2018

This article is by Renee Parsons on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
The proposed Authority for the Use of Military Force of 2018 (AUMF) of 2018 would replace AUMF 2001 and repeal AUMF 2002 while it will codify an “uninterrupted authority to use all necessary and appropriate force in armed conflict” against the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS and as yet unidentified “designated associated forces” who might “pose a grave threat to the US” in whatever country they occupy.

Since its adoption in 2001 within days of the 911 attack, the AUMF has served to justify every expansion of the US military’s role in the Middle East with every relevant Congressional oversight committee acting as little more than a syncopation of bobbing heads.

The AUMF 2018 offers  no restriction on military ops and no expiration or sunshine date while it abdicates all Congressional statutory war making authority as defined in the Constitution to the executive branch with no meaningful oversight or accountability.

In other words, the AUMF 2018 represents a complete capitulation  to the MIC in a permanent continuation of almost two decades of “forever war”ostensibly in the Middle East for future generations of American troops  as the country is driven deeper into an indisputable ditch of financial insolvency and a wicked, amoral quagmire at home.
Quite so. In fact, as I said in item 1 above, I took a decision: As long as Hilton, Pellosi, Perez
and Kain are heads of the Democratic Party, that party is thoroughly corrupt, and in fact also more interested in corruptions that benefit themselves financially than in doing politics that might interest others. (And no: the Republicans are not better in any way.)

Here is some more on the Democrats:
It may come as a shock to loyalist Democrats that the majority of every major war in the 20th Century was initiated and/or conducted under a Democratic president. WW I  aficionados can thank Woodrow Wilson, the revered FDR took the US into WWII, the unprepared Truman allowed the use of atomic weapons on the civilian population of Nagasaki and Hiroshima before initiating the Korean War in 1950 and LBJ’s escalation in Vietnam became a metaphor for his Great Society. In the early 1990’s, with NATO acting as its proxy, the Clinton Administration initiated a military effort to break up the non-aligned socialist Yugoslavia ending the decade with ‘humanitarian bombing’ that devastated the civilian population while disintegrating the once-prosperous country.
These are all facts. And here is some more about Obama:
Most recently, is Barack Obama, who campaigned as a Constitutional scholar and whose fraudulent 2009 Noble Peace Prize was awarded prior to a bombing spree on seven Islamic countries.  During his eight years in office, Obama dropped over 26,000 bombs in his last year in office including a multitude of drone strikes, established a Tuesday morning assassination list and began war in four countries living in peace when he took office in 2008.
These are again all facts, except for "fraudulent", which is a judgement of value. I happen to agree with it, but it still is a judgement of value rather than of fact.

And there is considerably more in the article, which is recommended.

4. Donald Trump and the Next Big Crash

This article is by Nomi Prins on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Warning: What you are about to read is not about Russia, the 2016 election, or the latest person to depart from the White House in a storm of tweets. It’s the Beltway story hiding in plain sight with trillions of dollars in play and an economy to commandeer.

While we’ve been bombarded with a litany of scandals from the Oval Office and the Trump family, there’s a crucial institution in Washington that few in the media seem to be paying attention to, even as President Trump quietly makes it his own. More obscure than the chambers of the Supreme Court, it’s a place where he has already made substantial changes. I’m talking about the Federal Reserve.

As the central bank of the United States, the “Fed” sets the financial tone for the global economy by manipulating interest rate levels. This impacts everyone, yet very few grasp the scope of its influence.
Yes indeed. Here is more:
We have entered a landmark moment: no president since Woodrow Wilson (during whose administration the Federal Reserve was established) will have appointed as many board members to the Fed as Donald Trump. His fingerprints will, in other words, not just be on Supreme Court decisions, but no less significantly Fed policy-making for years to come -- even though, like that court, it occupies a mandated position of political independence.
Quite so. Here is an important argument:
Not surprisingly, Wall Street has embraced Trump’s new Fed line-up because its members are so favorably disposed to loosening restrictions on financial institutions of every sort.  Initially, the financial markets reflected concern that Chairman Powell might turn out to be a hawk on interest rates, meaning he’d raise them too quickly, but he’s proved to be anything but.

As Trump stacks the deck in his favor, count on an economic impact that will be felt for years to come and could leave the world devastated. But rest assured, if the Fed can help Trump keep the stock market buoyant for a while by letting money stay cheap for Wall Street speculation and the dollar competitive for a trade war, it will.
I quite agree. There is considerably more, and this is from the ending:
So, today, we stand near -- how near we don’t yet know -- the edge of a dangerous financial precipice. The risks posed by the largest of the private banks still exist, only now they’re even bigger than they were in 2007-2008 and operating in an arena of even more debt. In Donald Trump’s America, what this means is that the same dangerous policies are still being promoted today. The difference now is that the president is appointing members to the Fed who will only increase the danger of those risks for years to come.
When politicians and regulators are asleep at the wheel, it’s the rest of us who will suffer sooner or later. Because of the collusion that’s gone on and continues to go on among the world’s main central banks, that problem is now an international one.
Yes indeed. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. Humanity 'Doomed' by Capitalism and Fossil Fuels

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows (and I shortened the title some because I think titles of three lines are too long):
Dr. Mayer Hillman, the influential social scientist known for producing research that has successfully led to policy changes to improve road safety, has declared humanity "doomed" due to its reliance on the burning of fossil fuels and the capitalist economic system that ensures that dependence will continue.

"We're doomed," Hillman told the Guardian in a recent interview. "The outcome is death, and it's the end of most life on the planet because we're so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so."

While green campaigners and some politicians call for a reduced dependence on fossil fuels and a shift to sustainable energy, like wind or solar power, Hillman warned that such contributions by individual governments are essentially "minute."
In case you want to know more about Dr. Hillman, this is a link. And I fear he may very well be quite correct. Here is some more:
According to the Guardian, the only solution is moving "to zero emissions across agriculture, air travel, shipping, heating homes—every aspect of our economy— and [reducing] our human population too."

But Hillman expressed grave doubts that this hope would be realized, as global leaders are unable or unwilling to lead a movement away from fossil fuels.
    "I don't think they can because society isn't organized to enable them to do so," Hillman said.
Yes indeed. And while I do not know whether Dr. Hillman is correct, I do know that ever since I
picked up the subject of "the environment", which happened for me in 1972/3, I have seen far fewer changes than were necessary to "save the environment".

I hope Dr. Hillman is not correct, but I would not know how to argue that he is not correct, and indeed I tend to be a pessimist as well. This is a recommended article.


[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 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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