March 3, 2019

Crisis: Trump & Foes, On Michael Cohen, 14 Trump Crimes, A Psychoanalyst, Cohen & Trump

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 3, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, March 3, 2019.

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 three 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:

. Selections from March 3, 2019:
1. Trump: Foes 'Trying to Take Me Out With Bullshit'
2. Michael Cohen and the pathological liars among us

3. David Cay Johnston lays out the 14 Trump crimes uncovered by Michael

4. Harvard psychiatrist: ‘Trump is a sociopath’

5. Cohen Knows What Trump Is Capable Of
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: Foes 'Trying to Take Me Out With Bullshit'

This article is by Kevin Freking on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

In a slashing speech packed with braggadocio and grievance, President Donald Trump denounced Democrats as the party of “the socialist nightmare,” relitigated his crowd sizes back to the inauguration and took on “sick,” ”lunatic” and “dirty” foes at every turn, earning him the unvarnished adoration of cheering conservatives Saturday.
Trump let loose against House Democrats, who are broadening their investigations of him, predicted he would win re-election by a greater margin than his 2016 victory, taunted his potential White House challengers and sounded themes that are staples of his rallies. He complained often of getting “no credit” for his achievements as he proudly drifted “off script” at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

His remarks capped a week that saw his nuclear summit with North Korea’s leader collapse without an agreement, his former lawyer deliver damaging congressional testimony about his character and business practices and Congress take action to nullify his emergency declaration to secure money for the border wall that lawmakers have denied him.

I think all of the above is quite correct. Here is more:

And he laced into the “New Green Deal or whatever the hell they call” the climate-change plan floated by some liberal Democrats that Trump showcased as creeping socialism.

It took him more than an hour to get to the message that Republicans and members of his administration have been spreading in recent weeks as they brand Democratic policy ideas as socialism.

“America will never be a socialist country,” he said. “Socialism is not about the environment, it’s not about justice, it’s not about virtue.” He said it’s about “power for the ruling class.”

Well... I think I like it that Trump attacks "socialism" and the Green New Deal (and in the sick way of Pelosi, who also pretended not to know what it is called).

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

“I think the New Green Deal or whatever the hell they call it — the Green New Deal — I encourage it,” Trump said mockingly as he wound up for a round of exaggeration. “I think it’s really something that they should promote. They should work hard on it. … No planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing that’s the end of your electric. Let’s hurry up. Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.”

Incidentally, if these remarks are taken serious by many Republicans, it shows how extremely stupid or ignorant they must be - but I fear they are. And this is a recommended article.

2. Michael Cohen and the pathological liars among us

This article is by Abby Ellin on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
America is abuzz with Michael Cohen’s damning testimony about his former boss, Donald Trump, and the charges of malfeasance and criminality on the President’s part. Yet the response of the President’s supporters was not to challenge Mr. Cohen’s evidence but instead to demean him as a “pathological liar” who doesn’t know “truth from falsehood,” to paraphrase Republican Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona.

Later, Gosar sang “Liar Liar Pants on Fire” to Cohen, reminding us yet again that our elected officials often behave like overgrown kindergarteners.

Yes indeed - and incidentally, that Republican response was, intellectually speaking, very weak for the simple reason that they did not challenge any of Cohen's supposed many lies.

As to "pathological liars", there is this:

I intimately know about “pathological liars” — I almost married one. In response to my experience, I investigated the phenomenon of those who lack a relationship with the truth. And here’s what I can say for certain: Confessing to having lied in the past, or atoning for their misdeeds, as Cohen appears to have done, is the opposite of the pathological profile. While Cohen’s history of duplicity and fraud runs very deep, he’s not a pathological liar. A “fool,” as he himself admitted, with dubious, often despicable, values. But not a pathological liar.

Perhaps, and I am happy I never lived with or thought to marry a pathological liar. Here is more on pathological lying:

The official term for pathological lying is pseudologia fantastica, but experts are unsure if the condition is a symptom of a larger psychiatric condition or a disease in itself. Pathological lying isn’t in the DSM-V, the diagnostic bible; doctors aren’t completely sure what causes it.

The first article is mildly interesting, also for this psychologist. Then again, being a psychologist I should tell you that (1) I do not believe that psychiatry is a science (and see here); (2) I do not think that most psychological problems are due to "a disease"; and in fact (3) doctors aren't sure about very many things, including many real medical problems (as I should know after having been declared not ill for nearly 40 years by 90% of all medical doctors, whereas since March 2018 the very same symptoms constitute a serious chronic disease - as is correct).

Besides, I also think that there very probably is a large grey territory between people who definitely suffer from pseudologia fantastica, and those who lie a lot or who lie easily (like 90% of the doctors my ex - also ill for more than 40 years - and I saw).

Here is some more:

Why do some people become pathological liars — that is, an embodiment of the lies they tell, indifferent, if not incapable, of the distinction between what’s real and not? For many, the thrill of lying demonstrates their skill and superior intellect; manipulating others is fun.

Yes, probably so, though I do want to remark that somebody who is "incapable" of understanding what is real and what is not, also is probably incapable of lying.

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

For others, lying allows them to obtain the acceptance they would otherwise be denied. This distinction is crucial in today’s day and age, as we live in what’s been called a “post-truth” society where bad news is “fake news” and one’s critics aren’t judged by the quality of their criticism but by the fact that they are critics — “enemies of the people.” (Or, in the words of Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee, a “fake witness.”) The ability — and the desire — to misrepresent the truth is being given free range in unaccountable social media and by axe-grinding media partisans. It’s an environment that enables “pathological liars” to prosper.

Well... yes and no.

First about the purported fact that "we live in what’s been called a “post-truth” society where bad news is “fake news” and one’s critics aren’t judged by the quality of their criticism but by the fact that they are critics — “enemies of the people.”"

I have heard over 40 years ago for the first time the sick, evil and degenerate lie that "Everybody knows that truth does not exist", and I did so in the context of the "University" of Amsterdam. But this was in an intellectual context, and I deny we live in any plausible sense in "a “post-truth” society", though I agree lying and misrepresenting and propagandizing have been made a great lot easier than they were 40 and more years ago.

I come to that in a moment, but I first want to say that "post-truth" and "fake news" and the "enemies of the people" are - to my mind, at least - weak evidence that truth somehow has disappeared while they are strong evidence that speakers who use these term in an apparent realistic sense are in fact totalitarians (except on Wikipedia, that uses an intentionally false sense of totalitarianism, that has nothing to do with serious writers like George Orwell, and that has a lot to do with serious frauds like Brzezinski).

And here is my second remark, which is about "The ability — and the desire — to misrepresent the truth is being given free range in unaccountable social media" and what I want to say here is that the social media are also free in aliases, while it seems as if billions of people only write in public as aliases. I think that is extremely dangerous, and it also shows that extremely many very ordinary people, who are not pathological liars, do like to lie, especially if this avoids any personal responsibility. And this is a recommended article.

3. David Cay Johnston lays out the 14 Trump crimes uncovered by Michael Cohen

This article is by David Cay Johnston on AlterNet and originally on DC Report. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:
How many crimes did Michael Cohen reveal in his testimony? By my count 14.

If you missed many of the crimes, it’s not surprising. Fascinating as much of his testimony was, Cohen did not articulate the various crimes in an orderly fashion. Instead, he just threw a lot of them out there like so many dots.

And for good measure, he said, in response to a question, that he was not confident that Trump would peacefully transfer power to the next president, which would be a 15th crime if his speculation proves accurate.

Worse, the House Oversight and Reform Committee majority never connected Cohen’s dots into a compelling picture of White House criminal culture—with three notable exceptions that we will get to in a moment.

Scattered among Cohen’s 20-page opening statement and its attached exhibits, together with his hours of public testimony on Feb. 27, was plenty of evidence that Trump is running a criminal organization whose offices and key staff simply moved its headquarters from his Manhattan high rise to the White House.

Yes, I think that is right, and one of my (quite plentiful) reasons is the writer of this article, David Cay Johnston, for he is an intelligent man who has studied Donald Trump for thirty years.

Here is some more:

Cohen in detail or in passing revealed 11 kinds of fraud: accounting, bank, charity, insurance, mail, wire, federal income tax, state income tax, local property tax fraud, campaign finance disclosure and federal ethics disclosure.

Many of these were overlapping or interconnected. That’s how white-collar crime works. It’s not akin to a crude stickup with a gun, it’s a slight-of-facts designed to fool the gullible, enrich the bribable and to slip through the wide gaps in the weak legal walls Congress has erected to address financial crimes.

Yes, I think this is all correct. Here is the final bit that I quote from this article:

During the Feb. 27, hearing we heard a lot of efforts by Republicans to demonize Cohen, but not one word about why Trump would have employed him as his consigliere for more than a decade.

No Republican tried to deny that Trump had done what Cohen said, other than vague assertions that Cohen was lying.

Quite so, and it should be added that while Republicans insisted that Cohen was lying, no Republican said about what he was specifically lying, which suggests that he was not lying.
And this is a recommended article.

4. Harvard psychiatrist: ‘Trump is a sociopath’

This article is by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. I abbreviated the title.
This is from near its beginning:

Raw Story spoke with Dr. Lance Dodes, a Training and Supervising Analyst Emeritus with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He recently retired as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dodes is a contributor to The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a PresidentHis chapter makes the case that Trump suffers from a dangerous sociopathic disorder.

Tana Ganeva: Following what was largely seen as a failed summit with Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump said he believed the dictator when he said he hadn’t known about Otto Warmbier. Do you see strains of Trump’s sociopathy in this?

Lance Dodes: Mr. Trump is a sociopath, in that he meets every diagnostic criterion for the official diagnostic term “Antisocial Personality Disorder.” The fact that this is a personality disorder, rather than simply a single symptom such as anxiety or depression, means that all his actions are signs of this severe, continuous, mental disturbance.

To understand his actions, it is essential to keep in mind that sociopaths have only one goal: to enhance themselves, and that in pursuing their self-interest, they lack both normal human empathy for others and a normal human conscience. Cheating, conning, lying, stealing, threatening are all done with no remorse.

I say, which I do because (1) I am a psychologist, who (2) believes - like the vast majority of Dutch psychologists who were educated in the 60ies, 70ies, 80ies and 90ies - that psychiatry and psychoanalysis are not real sciences in any rational sense, though (3) I agree - in fact mostly because the criterions are behavorial - that Trump is a megalomaniac (aka "narcissistic personality disorder"), for which reasons (4) I am and am not somewhat amazed to be presented with a psychoanalyst who denies he is a megalomaniac but insists he is a sociopath.

Well... for me sociopathy is utter bullshit, so that I am rather thankful that the definition that the (sick and degenerate) DSM-5 uses for sociopathy is listed:

Tana Ganeva: What made you first consider that Donald Trump is a sociopath?

Lance Dodes: Mr. Trump has a long history that proves his diagnosis. If you consider the 7 traits that define Antisocial Personality Disorder in the DSM-5, he meets every one of them:

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.
2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying … or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
4. Irritability and aggressiveness
5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

Now suppose you are living in the Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany or in the present China, and suppose you do not agree with your government: Clearly, you will satisfy criterion 1 above, and if you are in any way smart you also will satisfy criterion 2, 6 and 7, while if you are also courageous, you probably will satisfy (until you are tortured) criterions 4 and 5.

But the Soviet Union was totalitarian and China is totalitarian - yet, in the eyes of local psychiatrists and local psychoanalysts, many who disagree with "social norms" will be classified as mentally ill because they are supposed to sociopaths.

And therefore I think sociopathy is evil bullshit, indeed like many of the present-day diagnoses of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts.

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

There are two major risks from Mr. Trump.

First, there is a serious risk that he will start a war to distract the country from his multiple failures and his attempts to become a one-man ruler. This is most likely to occur as he is stressed by challenges to his position as President. Other tyrants have plunged their nations into war, sometimes by creating an international incident as an excuse, to avoid internal disputes and solidify power.

Second, there is a serious risk of his destroying democracy in this country. He has already eroded it by attacking the principle of balance of powers, attacking the judicial system and the Congress, attempting to gather all power to himself. He has tried to destroy our free press by claiming that its criticisms of him are “fake news” and that a free press is the enemy of the people.

I agree with this. But I do not think Trump is a sociopath, firstly because of my criticism of that concept, and secondly because I did verify myself that Trump satisfies all 9 criterions for being a megalomaniac. Anyway, I suppose this is a recommended article.

5. Cohen Knows What Trump Is Capable Of

This article is by Marjorie Cohn on Truthout. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

On February 27, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee for six hours. In two months, Cohen will begin serving a three-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations involving illegal hush money and falsely testifying to Congress that Trump Tower Moscow negotiations had ended before the campaign.

“The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump,” Cohen testified. “I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore.”

Cohen called Trump “a racist,” “a conman” and “a cheat,” who enlisted others to do his dirty work. “Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.” He “would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people.”

I think all of the above is (probably) correct. Here is more on Trump:

“Mr. Trump is a conman,” Cohen said. “He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did.” Trump told Cohen to say that Trump “was not knowledgeable of these reimbursements and he wasn’t knowledgeable of” what Cohen was doing.

Cohen displayed a copy of a $35,000 check written to him on Trump’s account, signed by Trump and dated August 1, 2017, while Trump was president. Cohen said the check was “pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea.” It was one of 11 payments Trump made to reimburse Cohen for the hush money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels. This constituted obstruction of justice.

I think this is also all correct. Here is more on Trump:

“Mr. Trump is a racist,” Cohen stated. While Barack Obama was still president, Trump asked Cohen if he could name a country run by a Black person that wasn’t a “shithole,” a term Trump has used in the past. Once, when they drove through a “struggling neighborhood in Chicago,” Trump told Cohen only Black people could live that way. “And,” Cohen testified, “he told me that Black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

I fear this is also all correct (and Trump sounds more like Archie Bunker than like the President of the USA).

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

Cohen explained why he agreed to testify even though he has nothing to gain and much to lose: “I fear that if [Trump] loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

That is the most disturbing thing Cohen said. He knows better than anyone what Trump is capable of.

I say. Then again, because I think that Trump is mad I do not think this is "the most disturbing thing Cohen said", though this may become problematic. 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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