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Saturday, Feb 11, 2017

Crisis: Trump's Impeachment, What To Do, USA Police State, Orwell vs. Huxley

Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Trump in Freefall as Disapproval Rate and Support for
     Impeachment Soar

2. What We Do Now
3.
3 Reasons to Believe America Could Become a Police State
     Under Trump

4. Fake News is Not New and Huxley, Not Orwell, is the Messenge
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Satur
day, February 11, 2017.

Summary: This file is a crisis log with 4 files and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a fairly interesting article about the support for Trump and the chances of Trump's impeachment: I think it is too early (for impeachment) but it is interesting; item 2 is about an article about the two first books about Trump that have been published, and while these books do not seem interesting, they are the first of considerably more to
follow; item 3 is about three reasons why the USA may be transformed into a police state by Trump (and I disagree with one reason); and item 4 is about a book by Postman from 1985 who then believed that Huxley in 1932 saw sharper than Orwell in 1949: I read all three in or before the 1980ies, and think Postman was incorrect (and besides there is more interesting fact-based information about 2017 in 2017 than was available to novelists in the 1930ies and 1940ies, though I also agree both novelists
are interesting and worth reading).
As for today (February 11, 2017): I have changed my site on February 1, 2017 to make it easier that it might be read, because it now happened for most of last year that both of my sites are not uploaded properly:

On xs4all.nl it may be days, weeks or months behind to show the proper last date and the proper last files (in the last 4 years always on the date it was that day) and it is today 4 days off again; on one.com it may be shown as December 31, 2015 (and often was!!!) but was correct this morning; and indeed I am sick of being system- atically made unreadable and therefore changed the site to allow most readers to find it more easily.

For more explanations, see
here - and no: with two different sites in two different countries with two different providers, where this has been happening for a year (and not for over 20 and over 12 years before) now I'm absolutely certain that this happens and that it's not due to me.
1. Trump in Freefall as Disapproval Rate and Support for Impeachment Soar

The first item today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Two new polls reflect poorly on President Donald Trump's brief tenure in the Oval Office, with one showing his administration is tarnishing Americans' view of U.S. popularity around the world, and another finding voters are already evenly divided on the issue of impeaching the president.

The Gallup poll released Friday finds Americans believe the world at-large sees the U.S. more unfavorably (57 percent) than favorably (42 percent)—the worst assessment of the country's image in almost 10 years. "The 42 percent favorable rating is one of the lowest since Gallup began asking this question in 2000 and may be attributable to the election of Trump, whose sometimes controversial statements and actions have rankled several world leaders," the polling outfit wrote.

I say. But in fact, Trump is president for three weeks now, and I do not think that the second paragraph that is quoted above is very interesting, indeed mostly because it is supposed to chart the beliefs of "Americans" about the beliefs of "non-Americans", and I think that the beliefs of the former about the latter are neither informed (for the most part) nor interesting.

Then again, I think that the news that - after a mere three weeks - "voters are already evenly divided on the issue of impeaching the president" is fairly interesting, because I think myself that the sooner Trump gets impeached, the better it is. But I do not think he will be impeached yet, though a 50/50 division after a mere three weeks in the presidency must be considered hopeful.

But first there is some more news about what percentage of "Americans" believe about the beliefs of "leaders of other countries", which I skip because I think these beliefs about beliefs of mostly completely unknown others are really not interesting.

What is more interesting is this:

Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey also released Friday finds that Trump's popularity as president has "declined precipitously just over the last two weeks."

The first PPP poll of Trump's presidency in late January found voters were evenly divided on Trump, with 44 percent approving of him and 44 percent disapproving. Now, his approval rating is 43 percent, while his disapproval has gone all the way up to 53 percent. 

What's more, the poll shows 46 percent in favor of impeaching Trump and 46 percent opposed. According to PPP, "Support for impeaching Trump has crept up from 35 percent two weeks ago, to 40 percent last week, to its 46 percent standing this week."

And I think this is more interesting because "Trump's popularity as president" is far better estimated by polls among American voters than are the Americans' beliefs about the beliefs of non-Americans, and I do find it rather interesting that within two weeks 46% is for impeaching and 46% against.

In fact, the American voters also have good reasons to doubt their president:

The agency identifies several reasons for Trump's troubles, as per conversations with voters:

Respondents also told PPP that the television program "Saturday Night Live" has more credibility than Trump (48-43 percent, with 10 percent "not sure").

I think all six reasons are correct, and it also is rather striking that a satirical program like "Saturday Night Live" "has more credibility than Trump", which may indicate that
many Americans do feel that the truth is important and that Trump rather systematic-
ally lies.

But it is still very early in Trump's presidency. And this is a recommended article.

2. What We Do Now

The second item is by Carlos Lozada on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

“What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America”
A book edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians

“The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen”
A book by Gene Stone
(..)

Opponents of President Trump face two battles. The first is against the new administration’s policies and choices — on immigration, education, the environment, the Supreme Court and national security. This is the battle already playing out in street marches and courtroom motions, in federal bureaucracies and legislative bodies. To those waging it, this is the most urgent fight, as Trump’s campaign promises morph into executive orders and appointments. This battle is what is being called, a bit melodramatically but with understandable zeal, the resistance.

The second fight differs in its objectives and time frames. It is more amorphous and easily forgotten, but no less critical. This is the fight over the cultural and economic forces that propelled Trump to the presidency in the first place. It is a battle about jobs, mobility and opportunity; about prejudice, anger and resentment; about understanding, empathy and imagination.

This is here mostly because these seem to be about the first books that have been published about Trump, and with "Trump" in their titles. In fact, I don't think they are very interesting, but they are - to the best of my knowledge - the first. (Also, I don't think the "second fight" is well described, but I merely remark this here.)

Here is Lozada's summary of both books:

“What We Do Now” is a collection of essays from lefty luminaries — legislators, academics and activists “announcing themselves as the new American resistance movement,” as the introduction declares. “The Trump Survival Guide,” its lesser ambitions clear from its title, warns of the damage Trump might inflict and offers suggestions for how individuals can cope and push back. These are the first of what will be countless books hoping to guide, chronicle or simply cater to the anti-Trump movement.

There is considerably more in the article, that is also more specific than the above summary, but I leave this to your interests.

3. 3 Reasons to Believe America Could Become a Police State Under Trump

The third 
item is by Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Trump has been in office for three weeks, but "Big Picture" host Thom Hartmann is already preparing for the awesome surveillance power his administration may use on its citizenry.

"What starts out as a small, necessary, temporary invasion of privacy soon becomes permanent. Then, once it becomes permanent, that surveillance power grows and grows... until it becomes borderline impossible to remove," Hartmann warned. 

On Friday, President Trump promised to reveal new security measures during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The announcement came on the heels of the 9th Circuit court's ruling against Trump's immigration ban, which he has vowed to appeal.

Yes indeed - and I am especially concerned with "the awesome surveillance power his administration may use on its citizenry", simply because the - very few - American governors know (in principle, at least [1]) extremely much more about any American (and any non-American) than did the Gestapo or the KGB know about the people they
sought to control.

And I am strongly convinced that Lord Acton was quite right when he wrote that (and these are his exact words):

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

That heresy is held by Donald Trump, whose government is clearly corrupt from the top down, and who seems to seek all the authority he can possibly get, and is quite prepared to battle both the courts and the media for those extreme powers.

The three reasons Alexandra Rosenmann sees that tend to the belief that "America Could Become a Police State Under Trump" are these, which I quote without her text
that elucidate them:

1. Most people don't know the law.
2. Social media anonymity has yet to be ruled on.
3. Trump believes he's above the law, or will challenge it.

I agree with the first and third reason, but I am an opponent of social media anonymity.

My reasons are that there have been added about a billion persons by the social media, all of whom seem to think they can write, most of whom have absolutely nothing interesting to say, and many of whom love to scold and discriminate others in the most awful ways, about which other people have absolutely no defense as long as they don't know the real names of those who tell them the most awful things in total anonymous freedom.

And I simply avoid all a-social media and all a-social intercourses as long as I cannot hang the fascists, the terrorists, and the degenerates who scold anyone from a position of anonymity by their real names (and addresses), and I can't do that now because I don't have any idea about who they are.

Besides, while I favored anonymity until 2010, indeed mostly because I think people with M.E. ought to be able to say what they please, I stopped favoring anonymity in
2010 after I found it was precisely this anonymity that helped the majorities of the stupid and the uneducated to discriminate anyone who is more intelligent than their horrible levels of idiocy and moral degeneracy. [2]

I am sorry, but I like to hang out fascists and terrorists with their real names as fascists and terrorists, but with a schema where the secret services know precisely which person hides behind which anonymous marker while the people who are extremely grossly attacked do not know this, I am for the complete removal of all social media anonymity: It doesn't really protect people from the government, but it does really protect fascist scolds from being hung for all to see as fascist scolds. 

And I am against that.

4. Fake News is Not New and Huxley, Not Orwell, is the Messenge

The fourth
item and last item today is by Jerry Lembcke on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
The news business is in a sweat about fake news. The temperature has been rising since the November election of Donald Trump as President and it went febrile on February 2 when his press secretary Kellyanne Conway claimed the president’s restrictions on immigration announced on January 27 were justified by the massacre carried out by Iraqi refugees (some time ago) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. There had never been a massacre but she got away with saying it on the Chris Matthews MSNBC news show—and that has news critics apoplectic. How could mainstream journalism, which has to include presidential press secretaries, have fallen into such an embarrassing state?  
I say, but not really: As long as journalists insist on using the vague euphemism "fake news" rather than lies (or indeed: outrageous and degenerate lies), I can't take them very serious. And the last question of the quoted paragraph also seems bullshit to me, for "mainstream journalism" has been lying actively - by spreading straight lies - and been lying inactively - by refusing to treat important news at all - for at least thirty years now (in my experience - and yes, I do recall the bullshit, the propaganda and the many deceptions that "the people" were fed in 1990/1991 in the Gulf War instead of real information very well).

Then there is this:
Only now, however, with untruths flying out of the White House like chafe from a speeding grain truck—Trump charges that the press has underreported terror attacks and crime rates, both wrong—do establishment figures appear worried about the declining credibility of pillars-of-information-exchange like press secretaries and the journalists to whom they speak.
Again, why do so many journalists prefer "untruths" over lies?! [3] And why "wrong" (which is a moral judgement) instead of false (which is a factual judgement)? (I think Trump's lies are both wrong and false, and that they are lies and are false.)

In any case, the "
establishment figures" are quite mistaken (and lying) if they insist that only now that not reporting the truth, while covering lies as if they were true, is a problem. In fact, it is a major problem for at least thirty years, and the problem is fundamental because there is no real democracy with a majority of misled and deceived voters.

Then there is this:
Rutenberg then reported that sales of George Orwell’s book 1984, published in 1949, and was back on bestseller lists. In that novel, Orwell had warned of the power of big government to control its people by controlling the information they got. The fictitious head of Orwell’s totalitarian fantasy was Big Brother who employed information specialists to create false news stories and rewrite the history of the nation’s people. Big Brother’s objective was to build a permanent warfare state. "Orwell’s classic seems all too familiar," writes Rutenberg, capturing in the words of Times book critic Michiko Kakutani, "a world in which the government insists that reality is not something objective . . . ."  And now, continues Rutenberg, Mr. Trump "renews those fears."
That is more or less correct, but it should be added that Orwell died 67 years ago,
and that his novel was in fact mostly about the world of the late 1940ies. Then there
is this - and I like to say that I have read all of Orwell, and much of Huxley, including his "Brave New World", and that I also read Postman in the 1980ies:
Media critic Neil Postman took up the matters of information and power in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Postman was writing out of concern that an actor, Ronald Reagan, had become president. The televised debates leading to Reagan’s election had, said Postman, displaced oral engagement and discourse, the currency of debate, with "'giving off impressions,' which is what television does best." Television, he said, is a medium in which credibility refers "only to the impressions of sincerity, authenticity, vulnerability or attractiveness conveyed by the actor/reporter" (emphasis added). The problem, as Postman saw it, was not that television was a medium through which misinformation could be conveyed more easily—the Orwellian problem—but that it had so dumbed-down the American public that voters were more persuaded by the entertainment value of candidates' appearances and presentations than what candidates actually had to say about the issues—the problem cited by Aldous Huxley years earlier.
The problem with this is that Postman is mistaken about "television" as the "medium" which "had so dumbed-down the American public that voters were more persuaded by the entertainment value of candidates' appearances and presentations than what candidates actually had to say about the issues".

In fact, it is not "television" that "
dumbed-down the American public" but their own lack of proper education in schools, at home and in universities (of most, though not all).

There is also this (which is taken from a straight quote of Postman that you can find here):

Postman dichotomized Orwell and Huxley in other ways:

  • Orwell feared those who would ban books; Huxley feared there would be no reason to ban books because nobody would want to read one.

  • Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information and conceal the truth; Huxley feared the truth would be drown in a sea of irrelevance.

  • Orwell feared we would become a captive culture; Huxley feared would become a trivial culture.

  • In 1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain; in Brave New World, people are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

  • Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us; Huxley feared that we will love what will ruin us.

Let me first remind you that Orwell's book is from 1949; Huxley's book is from 1932; and that both are novels, that is fantasies. And while I like both books (for different reasons), I do not think that intelligent persons are best adviced to read these books now if they want to make sense of the present world.

Then again both books are well-written; both books are interesting; and I also agree that, while neither book was intended to throw light on the events of 2017, they do help to make some sense of the present.

And in fact I agree considerably more with Orwell than with Huxley, indeed in part for reasons that Huxley might have agreed with in the 1950ies (but I don't know this):

There are far too many people to control "
by inflicting pleasure" (with over 7 billion people on earth, that already are considerably too many), and besides: states and governments rule through the infliction of pain much rather than pleasure, as indeed they always did.

Here is the end of the present article:

Neil Postman ended the preface to his 1985 book with a dedication to "the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right." Oh, if he could write now of journalists pointing fingers at Big Government for fake news while comfortably pleasuring themselves with the tools of their own destruction!
I think myself that Postman very probably was mistaken, and he was anyway discussing two novels rather than two books with - purported or real - facts. And "fake news" consists of deliberate lies, but it is true that many journalists who "complain" about "fake news" in fact are lying about lies, and indeed this seriously risks the death of most real journalism, which is based on the desire to write the truth and is incompatible
with deliberate lying.

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] The principle I am talking about is the fact that while - it seems - all information that the secret services can get about anyone gets downloaded by them
and is stored, only a very small percentage of that information is being read by human eyes.

But the information is there, and very probably will be there as long as the NSA is allowed to download all information it can get about anyone.

And for me this utterly insane and extremely dangerous decision to allow the secret services to collect all information about anyone is the most likely reason that the USA is developing into a neofascistic authoritarian state, and this is also all completely independent from Trump's being president now (a fact very probably will lead to even more freedoms for the NSA).

Here is - once again - Senator Frank Church in 1975 (!!!):
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
I think that the USA is in "the abyss from which there is no return", and this started in 2001, and has been continued ever since, indeed not only in the USA but by all secret
services:
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
And that is where the world is now, which makes me glad that I am 66 and have no children and hardly any family.

[2] I will write more about this soon, but here I only point out that I - a philosopher and psychologist with excellent academic degrees - was hunted from Phoenix Rising in May of 2010, and excluded from another site for people with M.E. in July, while I have seen since that three other very intelligent and highly educated women have been hunted away since from Phoenix Rising. They were all hunted away by utter nonsense, and simply because they were clearly more intelligent than the average there (which I suspect have an IQ below 100).

And indeed for me all actions for "people with M.E." are over and out since 2010 simply because the average "people with M.E." are not really interested in helping the more intelligent to help them, but in excluding anyone who is more intelligent than they are from contributing anything to "their" discussions.

[3] I must guess here but it seems that the simple truth is that "lies" or "lie" is, indeed like "socialism", a dirty word in much of the USA. I suppose a considerable part in making these terms incorrect is the strong political correctness in the USA, but I grant this is another guess, as I also grant more is involved, such as simple corruption - lying for pay - of considerable numbers of "journalist" and "editors".


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