July 14, 2018

Crisis: Trump vs. May, Martin Luther King, Ray McGovern, Normalizing the Abnormal, Scoldings


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from July 14, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, July 14, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 14, 2018:
1. Trump Insults Theresa May, Praises Far-Right Boris Johnson, Attacks
     London’s Muslim Mayor
2. Was Martin Luther King a Socialist?
3. Ray McGovern: Strzok Hoisted on His Own Petard
4. How Academic and Media Excuse-Making Normalizes the Abnormal
5. The Most Irreverent and Radical Signs From UK's Historic Anti-Trump

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. Trump Insults Theresa May, Praises Far-Right Boris Johnson, Attacks London’s Muslim Mayor

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Trump is meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May today, just hours after warning that a “soft Brexit” will kill Britain’s chances of a future trade deal with the United States. In an explosive interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid The Sun in which Trump claimed that Britain is losing its culture due to immigration, Trump said Theresa May had ignored his advice on Brexit negotiations. We speak with Gary Younge, editor-at-large for The Guardian and a columnist at The Nation.
In case you are interested in Gary Younge (I did not know who he is), this was a link. Here is one of his opinions:

GARY YOUNGE: Well, yeah, I think there are two things that really explain these protests. And the first is domestic, really, which is our utter embarrassment and horror that our government and our prime minister would be the first out of the blocks to run and have invited Trump. She rushed to be the first prime minister, first world leader, to have met him. And his visit is an insult to every right-minded, right-thinking person, but then, particularly, given his Islamophobic comments, his misogynist comments, his racism and so on, to the kind of—the kind of Britain that many of us are engaged in building, to every migrant, to every black person, to every Muslim and so on. And so, domestically, for our own sake, we have to say that this man is not welcome.

You know, Britain has a law that people—for example, Louis Farrakhan, Minister Farrakhan, is not allowed to come to Britain, because it has decided that his presence would not be conducive to the public good. Now, I’m not making a comment on that necessarily, but if you can ban Farrakhan, you can ban Trump. His presence is not conducive to the public good.

Well... no, I disagree. Younge´s first point seems to me to be a matter of taste, and entirely forgets that Great Britain is an important partner to the USA, indeed in part because they speak English, while the second point doesn´t mention that Farrakhan is an American black radical muslim whose political status is incomparably small compared with Trump´s status.

And while I certainly strongly dislike Trump myself, I think better arguments are needed to deny the president of the USA entrance to Great Britain.

Here is one other bit by Younge:

GARY YOUNGE: When it comes to the spinoff from Brexit, there is this thing that is now called—the people are calling “xeno-racism,” which is the racism that is tied with xenophobia. So, much of the Brexit—anti-immigration Brexit conversation was about the number of Polish people, Romanians, Eastern Europeans who have come in with open EU borders and who, some people argue—wrongly, I think—are pushing wages down. Now, that xenophobia has bled, quite easily, quite effortlessly, into attacks on black and brown people, who nobody assumes are coming from Romania or Poland. So, the number of attacks on women wearing hijabs, on black people, spiked and has continued to be high after Brexit.

Now, in terms of who is going to be worst affected, honestly, I think the people who are going to be worst affected are many of the people who actually voted for Brexit—many white people in rundown, working-class northern towns.
I more or less agree with this, although my explanation is probably not Younge´s: I say that white ¨xeno-racists¨ - the term is new for me as well - are mostly stupid, ignorant, conformistc wishful thinkers, simply because I know no better explanation, even if almost all journalists simply refuse to discuss this possibility. 
2. Was Martin Luther King a Socialist?

This article is by Lynn Parramore on AlterNet and originally on the Institute for New Economic Thinking. It starts as follows:

“The Millennial socialists are coming,” declared a June 30 New York Times headline, describing a surprise surge of young female candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America who beat their establishment opponents in primary races in New York and Pennsylvania. No longer is being a socialist considered scary — at least if you came of age after the Fall of the Wall. For many, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Martin Luther King, Jr., if he were around today, would likely be smiling.

I don´t know that ¨being a socialist [is no longer] considered scary¨ in large parts of the USA, and indeed do not believe it. I also do not believe Martin Luther King was a socialist, or a ¨Democratic Socialist¨, although I certainly don´t know most speeches or most letters of King,
but then I was a radical leftist when I was 18 and King was murdered, and it seems to me that those who can remember back 50 years may be a bit better at judging the times of 50 years ago.

Also, the reasons why I don´t consider King a socialist of a Democratic Socialist are mainly two:

First, King was a pragmatist, who knew that coming out as an explicit socialist of some kind in the times in which he lived, was strongly frowned upon by very many. And second, he was a Christian and a minister, and - I think - he always was first a Christian minister, and only after that other things.

Then again, I agree that King certainly was a radical and here is an important part of the reason that most of King´s radicalism was denied in the USA:

The image of the handsome, be-suited King, looking like a middle-class messenger of the American Dream as he mesmerized the masses on the steps of the Lincoln memorial with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, has been embraced by everyone from Coca-Cola executives to Donald Trump. It’s part of America’s cultural memory, our political DNA.

Some may know that there was more to his legacy than the epic fight to end racism, recalling that in the period leading up to his assassination in 1968, King focused on building a multi-racial movement for economic justice with his labor activism and Poor People’s Campaign.

Yes, this is true, and here is more:

But even that view, argues Michael Honey in his new book, To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, does not capture the whole story.

Consider King’s words in a letter to Coretta Scott in 1952: “I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic,” he wrote, adding that capitalism had “out-lived its usefulness” because it had “brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”

King was 23 years old when he wrote that.

The same year, his future spouse sent him a copy of Edward Bellamy’s utopian socialist novel of 1888, Looking Backward. King wrote to her with revolutionary fervor: “Let us continue to hope, work, and pray that in the future we will live to see a warless world, a better distribution of wealth, and a brotherhood that transcends race or color…This is the gospel that I will preach to the world.”

Well... the terms ¨capitalism¨ and ¨socialism¨ have very many different meanings, and it seems mostly nonsense to me to infer King´s political attitudes from his using both terms, and indeed - I grant - in a leftish way.

And also, King spoke explicitly of his (bolding added) ¨economic theory¨, while he ended the above quotation insisting that he was preaching the gospel to the world (which is sympathetic to the poor, at least in Jesus´ words, but not socialistic).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

So was King an actual socialist? When I ask this question, Honey points me to the 1952 letters to Coretta. “Well, it’s pretty clear there, isn’t it? He’s probably a “small ‘d,’ small ‘s’ democratic socialist, but he’s also a pragmatist who wanted to change things for poor people and bring them things like free college education and free health care.”

These are, of course, the very same ideas that many Americans cheered when they came from the lips of Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders in his surprisingly successful 2016 run for president.

Honey emphasizes that King was first and foremost a Christian (...)
I mostly agree, although I do want to repeat that Bernie Sanders is - in the European ways of using words - less of a democratic socialist than of a social democrat (which is different) and something similar may have been true of Martin Luther King.

3. Ray McGovern: Strzok Hoisted on His Own Petard

This article is by Ray McGovern on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows (and ¨Strzok¨ is pronounced ¨Struck¨):
If FBI agent Peter Strzok were not so glib, it would have been easier to feel some sympathy for him during his tough grilling at the House oversight hearing on Thursday, even though his wounds are self-inflicted. The wounds, of course, ooze from the content of his own text message exchange with his lover and alleged co-conspirator, Lisa Page.

Strzok was a top FBI counterintelligence official and Page an attorney working for then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.  The Attorney General fired McCabe in March and DOJ has criminally referred McCabe to federal prosecutors for lying to Justice Department investigators.

On Thursday members of the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees questioned Strzok for eight hours on how he led the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized emails and Donald Trump’s campaign’s ties with Russia, if any.
This article is here mostly because it is about Strzok and by Ray McGovern and I will take it that you know something about each of them.

And here is one quite important point about making sense not only of Strzok but of many of the top members of
the FBI, CIA, NSA and the Department of Justice:
It is always necessary at this point to note that the heads of the FBI, CIA, NSA and even the Department of Justice were operating, as former FBI Director James Comey later put it, in an environment “where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump.”  Most of them expected to be able to stay in their key positions and were confident they would receive plaudits — not indictments — for the liberties that they, the most senior U.S. law enforcement officials, took with the law.  In other words, once the reality that Mrs. Clinton was seen by virtually everyone to be a shoo-in is taken into account, the mind boggles a lot less.
Yes, precisely. And in fact this also explains Strzok´s apparent utter blindness or total ignorance about the fact that the NSA (and most other secret services) collect and store ¨everything that goes over the Internet¨, including his messages and conversations with his lover:
If Strzok was distracted by texting during the standard briefing on “NSA Capabilities:101,” he may have missed the part about NSA collecting and storing everything that goes over the Internet.  That would include, of course, his private text messages with Page on private phones.

There is, admittedly, a very slim chance Strzok is unaware of this.  But, given his naiveté about how well protected the texts on his FBI cellphone were, that possibility cannot be ruled out.  In any case, given the high stakes involved, there seems a chance he might be tempted to follow Mrs. Clinton’s example with her emails and try to delete or destroy texts that provide additional incriminating evidence — or get someone else to do so.
Yes. And while I do not know what motivated Strzok, I think it is fairly likely he underestimated how much ¨everything¨ really was (he may have thought the NSA was overstating their case) and indeed he probably also expected to be completely exonerated by president Hilary Clinton.

4. How Academic and Media Excuse-Making Normalizes the Abnormal

This article is by Mike Lofgren on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Ever since the 2016 election we all know that economic distress and anxiety out in the Great American Heartland caused white working people to vote for Donald Trump. How do we know that? The media have told us so repeatedly, from corporate NBC to the wonkish FiveThirtyEight.

There has been some pushback since then, but now comes a research paper in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy (the full paper here; a summary here). In it, three British economists claim that that the automation of jobs through robotics swung the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump. They assert a very precise correlation, such as in their statement that a with 10 percent lower level of automation in the state, Hillary Clinton would have carried Michigan, and they further calculate the exact national electoral college count by which she would have won the election.

All very impressive, with lots of academic rigor and quantification.

But we should know that correlation is not causation, no matter how many times the rooster’s crowing precedes the sunrise. Economics is justly called the dismal science, but it is not even a science: pretended rigor and bogus quantification are the means by which we are meant to be convinced by an academic guild that is, at best, making hunches about complex human behavior based on selective evidence.

If you do not know who Mike Lofgren is, I provided a link. And I completely agree with Lofgren (indeed as a philosopher of science) that ¨correlation is not causation¨ and indeed also that ¨Economics¨ (..) ¨it is not even a science¨: Quite so.

There are now contrary views to the economic distress thesis: a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that status anxiety, not economic anxiety, was the prime motivator for white working class Trump voters. (Evidently, “status anxiety” is approved academic jargon for resentment of other races.) The author’s conclusions may be more soundly based than inference from levels of automation or other such evidence: the voters told the interviewer what their motivation was.

Well... yes, but it seems ¨status anxiety¨ was invented after it was shown (or seems to have been shown) that there were quite a large number of non-poor whites who voted for Trump, and I agree with Lofgren that the largerst part of economics - that anyway falls apart into two or three strongly opposing schools - simply is not real science.
How would the rational actor thesis explain why more than three-quarters of American farmers voted for a candidate who repeatedly told them he would start a trade war with the country that is their fastest growing market in virtually all US agricultural products, and already their largest market in several of them? Or a candidate who promised to mess with NAFTA, a trade agreement that, whatever its possible disadvantages for domestic manufacturers, has been a boon to farmers?
Well ¨the rational actor thesis¨ is bullshit that in fact was introduced into economics (and related partial or pseudosciences) in the 1950ies, and it never was true. In fact, if I were asked to provide a general theory about what motivates ordinary men to have their ordinary opinions, my own theory is that they are stupid, ignorant, conformistic, wishful thinkers, (and besides you cannot believe what they say in public, because the vast majority are also hypocrites).

And I insist that there is much more factual evidence for my theory than for the baloney of ¨the economists¨.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
Perhaps James M. Buchanan, one of the founders of public choice theory, got it all wrong. Or maybe the presumed rationality of ordinary citizens in his theory was just window dressing for his real message to his true constituency: his patrons, the rich. They were the only group worth bothering about (as Buchanan’s own ideology made clear), and his message to them was to forget all the sob stuff about noblesse oblige or good corporate citizenship, and to ruthlessly press their advantage. In view of the contrasting behavior of the rich during the last several decades, and that of the mass of the American people, Buchanan was certainly onto something.
Again, if you don´t know who James Buchanan was, this was a link.

And I agree again with Mike Lofgren that Buchanan´s real messages weere not Public Choice by Rational Persons, but were to ¨
his true constituency: his patrons, the rich¨ while his actual real message was ¨to forget all the sob stuff about noblesse oblige or good corporate citizenship, and to ruthlessly press their advantage¨.

I think Lofgren is correct and this is a recommended article.
5. The Most Irreverent and Radical Signs From UK's Historic Anti-Trump Protest

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts with a subtitle:
From "Nazi Trump F**k Off" to "Pussy Grabbing Pervert," the U.K. didn't hold back in its massive demonstrations against the American president
Yes indeed, and here is some more:

Despite the American corporate media's efforts to obscure the radical, irreverent, and often obscene signs on display across the United Kingdom on Friday, the disgust hundreds of thousands of Britons feel toward Donald Trump and Trumpism could not be suppressed as they took to the streets en masse to show their opposition to the U.S. president's hate-filled policies.

Below, we present some of the greatest signs from Friday's demonstrations, which "drastically exceeded" the expectations of organizers in both size and spirit.

I say, which I do because I didn´t know this. Then again, here are some of the messages of the demonstrators - which I think are quite fair in the circumstances:

Tyrant Racist Umpa-Lumpa Misogynist Psychopath
Piss Off You Orange Bastard
Trump Camp Shame Babies Do Not Belong in Cages - Trump Does
Nazi Trump Fuck Off
Pussy Grabbing Pervert
Lock Him Up
Ban Guns Not Immigrants
Rapist Racist Child-Snatcher

In case you missed it, here are two references that establish (I think) that Trump is a madman (and I am a psychologist) who also has a neofascist ideology (and if you never read my definition of ¨neofascism¨, you should).

There also is another point to repeating the opinions of hundreds of thousands of Britons, and that goes back 50 years:

In Holland it was 50 years ago legally forbidden for any Dutchmen to publicly say or announce of the American president Johnson that he was a killer: If you said, in Dutch, in public, ¨Johnson moordenaar!¨ you risked arrest and conviction, and for this reason most Dutchmen in demonstations instead screamed ¨Johnson molenaar¨, which abbreviates ¨Johnson miller¨ in Dutch, because of the similarity between the two words. And while Johnson clearly was not a miller, this was then permitted.

For me it was utter nonsense, and happily these days the norms for what ordinary people are allowed to say in public are different, indeed also in Great Britain.

Here is the last bit from this article that I copy:

The vast diversity of visuals on display at Friday's demonstrations was also evident on social media, where users posted photos and videos of signs denouncing Trump's climate denial and demanding justice for the migrants the U.S. president has brutalized with his inhumane immigration policies.

Yes indeed, and 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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