Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog

October 4, 2018

Crisis: The Trump Circus, Kavanaugh *2, On The Rich & Bezos, Propaganda Blitz: The Media


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from October 4, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, October 4, 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 October 4, 2018:
1. The Trump Circus
2. Mental Health Experts Demand Psychological Assessment of Kavanaugh
     for Drinking, Instability

3. One Man Could End World Hunger, but He Won’t
4. 'Intemperate, Inflammatory And Partial': A Stunning 650+ Law
     Professors Urge Senate Not to Confirm Kavanaugh

5. Book Review: Propaganda Blitz – How Corporate Media Distort Reality
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. The Trump Circus

This article is by Charles Blow on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

It is a scene that has become all too common, and dare I say dangerously close to becoming mundane: Donald Trump said something outrageous at one of his political rallies and his supporters, those hopelessly beguiled by the bully, cheered.

This week, Trump trekked to Southaven, Miss., where he took the degenerate step of mocking Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Trump imitated and chided her:

Thirty-six years ago this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer … How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.

It was a repulsively grotesque spectacle, and yet from the assemblage of thousands came applause and roars of approval for Trump.

Yes, I agree: this is gross, offensive and also is a set of staggering lies - and the present example should convince quite a few (of the more intelligent readers) that Trump is not just a liar, a fraud, and a bully, but he also is not sane.

I think the last myself since nearly two years (here is the original in which I first concluded this), but then I am a psychologist - and while many economists are believed because they are economists (which is boloney, especially since there are at least three different fundamentally opposed ¨scientific¨ approaches to the - actual - economy), it seems most psychologists and psychiatrists risk not being heard at all.

Now I also have to grant that (as a psychologist and as a philosopher) I am quite certain that neither psychology nor psychiatry is a real science, but in fact I am not talking about the deep theories of either (which are mostly either false or nonsense), but only about the possibility of sorting out who may be mentallty disturbed on the basis of observational characteristics.

And I think that - at least - is possible. Besides, while I do insist that I would have learned very much more real science if I had studied physics, chemistry or biology instead of psychology (I am sorry), I also insist that I do know a fair amount about psychological theorizing, thinking and fact finding, and while I hold - in fact mostly on methodological grounds - that much psychological theorizing is not much better than nonsense, at least I know it and am therefore somewhat better placed to judge theories about human thinking and feeling and reasoning than those who lack my education: I did spend six years on it.

Back to the article:

It is at moments like these that I try to step back from the particulars, to create some distance, so that I can ask myself the larger, more profound questions. How did we as a country arrive at the point where this is even possible? And how are there so many Americans willing to accept Trump’s corrosion of our culture and our discourse, to gleefully follow him as he plumbs the depths, probing for a bottom of acceptability that, in his world, seems to have been obliterated?

There are multiple explanations, to be sure: racism, xenophobia, ethnic hostility, Islamophobia, nationalism, Fox News, reduced access to privilege, lingering anti-Obama sentiments, a pronounced distrust of media in particular and truth writ large.

Well... I am sorry, but (i) ¨we as a country¨ is utter baloney and (ii) if you do not mention the average stupidity and ignorance of vast amounts of the American electorate, which also both explain each of the points Blow does mention, then I think either you are not honest or you are considerably more stupid and ignorant than I thought you were - and let me remind you: Ignorantia omnis malitiae fons est = Ignorance is the source of all evil.

Not ¨racism, xenophobia, ethnic hostility, Islamophobia, nationalism, Fox News, reduced access to privilege, lingering anti-Obama sentiments, a pronounced distrust of media in particular and truth writ large¨ but the reasons people hold these beliefs, which are basically that they are stupid, ignorant and without any proper knowledge of science.

But Blow (who studied neither psychology nor philosophy but ¨mass communication¨) thinks otherwise:

But I believe there are two other explanations that are much more base: entertainment and ownership.

First, the entire Trump presidency is a show, and many Americans find it quite entertaining, viewing Trump as its antihero.
    (...)
Furthermore, Trump’s supporters see Trump as theirs. He is their creation, their Frankenstein.

I am sorry, but ¨entertainment and ownership¨ are boloney as explanations for Trump´s popularity if you don´t even mention the ignorance and stupidity of their believers.


2. Mental Health Experts Demand Psychological Assessment of Kavanaugh for Drinking, Instability

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Donald Trump openly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a rally Tuesday, casting doubt on her claims that Brett Kavanaugh had tried to rape her in high school, just days after calling her a very credible witness. As the FBI continues its investigation into Dr. Blasey Ford’s claims, a group of mental health experts are calling for Kavanaugh to undergo a full psychological and substance abuse assessment before the Senate votes on his confirmation. We speak with Dr. Bandy Lee of the Yale School of Medicine, the lead author of a letter titled “Mental Health Experts Urge Examination Based on Warning Signs in Kavanaugh Testimony.” The letter reads, “Judge Kavanaugh exhibited behavior that, if engaged in during his possible tenure as a Supreme Court Justice, would yield a dangerous combination of instability and power.”
Yes - and I think (having seen Kavanaugh in action, which I strongly recommend you do if you didn´t already: see here) that Dr. Bandy Lee is quite justified in her demand for an examination of Kavanaugh.

Here is more - and I repeat a bit that I quoted above:

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday night, President Trump openly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychologist who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when she was 15 years old. During a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump cast doubt on her claim.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What he’s going through—36 years ago, this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer. Well, do you think it was—no, it was one beer. Oh, good. How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know! I don’t know! What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where is the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember. And a man’s life is in tatters. A man’s life is shattered. His wife is shattered. His daughters, who are beautiful, incredible young kids—they destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump’s mocking of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came just days after he described her as a very credible witness.

Yes indeed - and once again: This is strong evidence that Trump is insane. Then again, the present article is not about Trump but about Kavanaugh:

We turn now to look at how a group of mental health experts are urging the examination of the Supreme Court nominee and stating he has, quote, “demonstrated a pattern that’s consistent with someone struggling with an alcohol problem.” In a letter, the mental health experts write of Kavanaugh’s emotional and often explosively angry testimony last week, quote, “Judge Kavanaugh exhibited behavior that, if engaged in during his possible tenure as a Supreme Court Justice, would yield a dangerous combination of instability and power. At the hearing, Judge Kavanaugh manipulated and evaded direct and substantive responses, denigrated those who challenged him, and accused many of conspiring against him. All that behavior reflects an underlying belief that he is above norms and laws,” unquote.

I mostly agree - and yes: To fundamentally agree or disagree I think you have to have seen Kavanaugh´s testimony, which is here. It is truly atrocious, but quite convincing - and also see item 4 below, in which no less than over 650 American law professors are quoted.

Also there is this, which I selected because I am a psychologist, who completely disagrees with most decisions by the American Psychiatric Association:

DR. BANDY LEE: The Goldwater rule came about because the psychiatric profession was embarrassed during the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign for presidency. Fact magazine put out a survey to about 12,000 psychiatrists, and about less than 10 percent came back saying that Mr. Goldwater was unfit to be president, and gave all kinds of diagnoses. And because of that, the magazine was sued, and they went out of business. But the American Psychiatric Association, because of the embarrassment to the profession, decided to institute it as an ethical rule not to diagnose a public figure without a personal examination and without authorization—which I actually agree with. It just follows along the general principles of good practice.

But the Goldwater rule, as it is stated, says that when you’re asked about a public figure, educate the public, just don’t diagnose. That is what it says. And under the principle that it falls—that it falls under, it’s actually a mandate to act, not just a prohibition. But two months since this presidency, two months after inauguration, the American Psychiatric Association actually changed the meaning of the Goldwater rule, not to just prohibit diagnosis, but to prohibit any comment whatsoever about a public figure under any circumstance, even when the nation is thought to be in danger.

No, I am sorry: I disagree, and I disagree with two points:

The first is the decision of the AMA ¨not to diagnose a public figure without a personal examination and without authorization¨: Public figures, and especially political public fugures, should have no voice in whether somebody critically investigates their claims and publishes the results.

Besides, that is freedom of speech (and writing). What the AMA tried to do was to limit freedom of speech.

And the second concerns the second decision of the AMA, namely that they prohibited ¨any comment whatsoever about a public figure under any circumstance¨ - which is plainly both crazy and totalitarian. This is a recommended article.


3. One Man Could End World Hunger, but He Won’t

This article is by Lee Camp on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

I do not want to talk about Jeff Bezos.

But in order to not talk about Jeff Bezos, I have to talk about Jeff Bezos.

We all know the Lex Luthor-looking head of Amazon is the richest human in the world.

He’s achieved a net worth of more than $150 billion by selling everything that has ever existed … with free shipping. (It turns out the only thing stopping the human race from giving all our money to one man was that pesky $4.99 shipping fee.)

But let me stop right here. Even the way we talk about economics is influenced by a capitalist culture that tells us amassing money is the answer to everything. Did you notice I said Bezos “achieved” a net worth of $150 billion, and that seems like a normal way to phrase it? However, would you say, “Jeffrey Dahmer achieved eating the hearts of 10 different people?” No, that would sound odd to you. Yet having $150 billion is nearly as sociopathic, and still we use terminology as if it’s GREAT!

I quite agree, and in fact go considerably further:

Just like many thefts are prevented by law (because those who steal run the risk of being punished), many glaring inequalities and injustices could be prevented by law, and a very notable example is to limit the maximum that anyone can earn to no more than twenty times than what the poorest do earn (which in European terms would mean no one is allowed to earn more than 200,000 euros).

And one major reason to do this is that not to do this means - as over 2000 years of history show - that a very few get very rich and very powerful, whereas the great majority, therefore, must remain poor and powerless.

There is considerably more in my Crisis: On Socialism. You may not be convinced, but here is one example:   

Jeff Bezos himself could provide the world with clean water for the next 15 years.

He could save millions upon millions of lives. But instead of doing that, he will continue to enrich himself by delivering sex toys in a box with a smiley on it.

But this is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about world hunger. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty while the U.N. in 2015 estimated it would cost $30 billion a year to end world hunger. Imagine—not a soul hungry! And big shock—when people aren’t hungry, there’s less crime, less hatred, better decision-making, and so forth. Hunger correlates with all kinds of shitty stuff, which means we all benefit when there’s no hunger. Think about it; you probably have coworkers who miss lunch and start spraying hate crimes around the office. Then you have to say, “Leslie, I think if you just had a taco, you would stop using the C-word so much.” Now imagine Leslie on a global scale.

Jeff Bezos himself could end world hunger for five straight years. If he teamed up with the Koch brothers, they could do it for eight to 10 years.

But Bezos wouldn’t do that. Instead, he’ll just make billions convincing people to put Amazon Echo spy systems into their own homes.

I think that is essentially correct. In fact, Bezos could do a whole lot more and spend only a fraction of his total income, as is shown in this article, but I leave this to your own interests.

The article ends as follows, after considerably more:

Profit over all else. It doesn’t matter how many people die or work at an Amazon warehouse for pennies. Does. Not. Matter. So it’s not that capitalism is failing in this new Gilded Age. Rather, capitalism is succeeding at what it was meant to do: amass all the money in a tiny number of hands and exploit everyone else.

That’s what this column is about.

Yes, and what I propose is to limit the amount of money anyone can earn to (in present euro terms) no more than 200,000 euros. Unfortunately, this seems to require a socialist revolution, which is in fact a pity: If you can legally control most criminals, you should be able to legally control a few very rich men from becoming very rich. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. 'Intemperate, Inflammatory And Partial': A Stunning 650+ Law Professors Urge Senate Not to Confirm Kavanaugh

This article is by Matthew Chapman on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

As the groundswell of opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues to grow, many of the vocal critics of his nomination are law professors.

In fact, in an open letter published in The New York Times and set to be delivered to the Senate on Thursday, over 650 law professors — and counting — are urging the Senate to reject his confirmation, on the grounds that, regardless of his guilt or innocence in multiple allegations of sexual assault, his response to the Senate inquiry was so inappropriate and unbecoming a judge as to be disqualifying.

Precisely! And once again, if you did not see and hear Kavanaugh´s testimony, it is here and it is very well worth seeing, and I completely agree with the more than 650 law professors who urged that ¨regardless of his guilt or innocence in multiple allegations of sexual assault, his response to the Senate inquiry was so inappropriate and unbecoming a judge as to be disqualifying¨.

Here is more by the law professors:

"We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh," the professors conclude. "But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land."

Among the signatories of the letter include professors at Yale Law School, Kavanaugh's own alma mater, and the site of one of the assault allegations; Harvard Law School, where Kavanaugh has taught classes and where student protest has resulted in his course being withdrawn; and from state universities in Maine and Arizona, states that are home to Republican senators who are reportedly still making up their minds.

Again precisely: Kavanaugh ¨did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land¨. This is a strongly recommended article.


5. Book Review: Propaganda Blitz – How Corporate Media Distort Reality

This article is by Philip Roddis on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:

We’ve heard a good deal of late about Western democracy, and I for one don’t knock it. I think it an excellent idea, but wouldn’t it require an informed electorate? And wouldn’t that require a media untainted by power and unfettered by any ties other than to truth? Truth in the sense of accuracy and immunity from entrenched interest; truth in the sense of facts and interpretations offered with neither fear nor favour on matters vital to the common good – like climate change, waging war, and levels of inequality both morally indefensible and socially dysfunctional?

We have no such media, alas: ergo no real democracy.
I think that conclusion - there is ¨no real democracy¨ in the USA - is justified, although there are more reasons than the massively lying, misleading and propagandizing media (such as: the influences of big money on elected politicians, and the role of the lobbyists behind the acts and decisions of American politicians).

Then there is this:

As for the contribution of liberal media to rule of the many by and for the few, Noam Chomsky has this to say:

The right-wing claims the press has a liberal bias, and there’s some truth to that…liberal bias is important in a sophisticated system of propaganda. You don’t express the propaganda: that’s vulgar and easy to penetrate, you just presuppose it. And the presuppositions are instilled not by beating you over the head with them but by making them the foundation of discussion. You don’t accept them, you’re not in the discussion.

I do not know whether I agree with Chomsky that this is a liberal bias, but I do agree with him that a considerable amount of bias that the mainstream (aka: corporatist) media displays is of the form (i) we do not articulate our biases: we presuppose them, and (ii) we simply do not print any article by persons who do not share our biases.

In fact, this article is a review of a book, that seems quite good:
The examples – climate, war and inequality – I cited earlier were not picked from a hat but from the wider set explored in an invaluable new book from the Media Lens team, Propaganda Blitz: How Corporate Media Distort Reality.
I do not think that the present review is a good one, but I think the book is good for two reasons: It is by the Media Lens team, which are quite good in my experience, and they are recommended by John Pilger, who is a fine journalist:
[T]he Media Lens approach, [gets] described thus in the book’s preface by John Pilger:

Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they email a journalist to ask why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths. The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.

… they have shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate, questioning, deconstructing and ultimately demystifying the media’s monopoly.

In any case, that is considerable support for this book and this is a recommended article.

Note

[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 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 (!!).
       home - index - summaries - mail