Friday, Feb 17, 2017

Crisis: Trump Press Meltdown, Nuclear Apocalypse, Glenn Greenwald, Trump Scams

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. On the Trump Press Meltdown
2. Trump Official Obsessed Over Nuclear Apocalypse (...)
Greenwald: Empowering the "Deep State" to Undermine
     Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy

4. Trump Will Continue to Scam the White Working Class. Here’s
     How to Stop Him.


This is a Nederlog of Friday
, February 17, 2017.

Summary: This file is a crisis log with 4 files and 6 dotted links. Item 1 is about the Trump Press Meltdown, and in fact has three dotted links; item 2 is an interesting but somewhat frightening article about the nuclear fantasies and delusions by a Trumpian that was nominated by Trump to the
National Security Council; item 3 is about a fine interview with Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now!; and item 4 is about an article on Truthdig that is OK but that I also found a little bit naive.
As for today (February 17, 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 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 was this morning correct again (but yesterday it was not); on it may be shown as December 31, 2015 (and often was!!!) but was correct this morning; and indeed I am sick of being systematically 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.

Incidentally, if you reached February 1, 2017 on one of my sites you are in the new set-up and from there you can find the latest Nederlog, and all others from there.
1. On the Trump Press Meltdown

The first item today is about Trump's latest press conference. I have based this on
three articles on respectively The Intercept, The New York Times and Mother Jones:

The first of these three articles, by Robert Mackey, starts as follows [1]:

Donald Trump launched a surprise attack on the news media on Thursday at a press conference in which he mocked and harried the White House press corps for more than an hour.
Having carefully avoided questions from all but a handful of friendly reporters in recent days, as evidence of his stumbling performance as president mounted, Trump devoted less than 60 seconds to introducing his new secretary of labor nominee Alexander Acosta. Then he launched into what amounted to a 20-minute campaign speech blaming reporters in the room for portraying an administration in chaos when it was, he said, “running like a fine-tuned machine.”

As I have said many times by now, I am a psychologist who thinks Trump has very probably a serious mental disorder, for he is quite evidently a pathological narcissist.

This Trumpian performance supports my opinion: Sane presidents, even if they much dislike considerable parts of the press (I do as well, though not for Trumpian reasons), simply act differently (in my psychologically qualified eyes).

But OK... Here is some more:

When he opened the floor to questions, Trump responded to them in a sarcastic, rambling, not entirely coherent manner, frequently adopting the tone of an insult comic, roasting reporters as if at the annual correspondents’ dinner. He raged at the profusion of leaks that have been coming out of his administration — and at what he called the “fake news” that was based on those leaks.

The performance, which prompted an outpouring of disbelief from viewers around the world, was the clearest example yet of Trump treating reporters who fail to flatter him as “the opposition party,” as his chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, explained to The New York Times last month.

Much of the rest of this article - there is considerably more - consists of Tweets, and was skipped by me for that reason. [1]

The second of these three articles, by Peter Baker, is blissfully totally free from Tweets. This is from near the beginning:

At a hastily organized White House event — ostensibly to announce a new nominee for labor secretary, R. Alexander Acosta — Mr. Trump engaged in an extended attack on the news media and insisted that his new administration was not a chaotic operation but a “fine-tuned machine.” Any challenges, he said, were not his fault. “To be honest, I inherited a mess,” he said.

In fact, he did not "inherit a mess" (see below) and in fact it seems as if the performance of his White House is - completely apart from any politics - a lot
than the performances of previous presidents + cabinets.

This is about Trump's berating reporters and news organizations, and about his lies about what he calls "fake news":

Mr. Trump spent much of the conference berating reporters and their news organizations. Clearly exasperated by coverage of him, he said he did not watch CNN but then gave a detailed critique of one of its shows. He cited specific articles in The Times and The Wall Street Journal that he called “fake,” even harking back to one from last year’s campaign.

“The press is out of control,” he said. “The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

He added later, “The public doesn’t believe you people anymore.”

In fact, this is extremely authoritarian: Trump wants "the American people" to believe his Tweets and discard reading the press or viewing the ordinary TV.

Then there is this about anti-semitism:

At one point, he called on Jake Turx, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine. “Are you a friendly reporter?” he asked.

“I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic,” Mr. Turx said. But, citing bomb threats against Jewish centers, he said, “What we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.”

Mr. Trump bristled, taking it as a suggestion that he was anti-Semitic even though the reporter specifically said the opposite. “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Turx protested that he was not suggesting otherwise. “Quiet, quiet, quiet,” Mr. Trump said. “See? He lied. He was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question.” Instead, Mr. Trump said, the question was “repulsive” and “very insulting.”

Of course a pathological narcissist would reply that He is "The Least Anti-Semitic Person Ever". More below:

The third of these three articles is by Kevin Drum. He wrote about the mess Trump asserted there is (that was, albeit quite partially, reported above):

Fact check: Delusional. Trump inherited an economy in pretty good shape. Crime has steadily decreased over the past decade. ISIS is losing ground and close to defeat. Illegal immigration has been stable for many years. Test scores for schoolkids are up. Fewer than a dozen American soldiers have died in combat in the past year. Obamacare has cut the number of people without health insurance almost in half. The budget deficit is down to 3 percent of GDP. After years of stagnation, wages are finally starting to go up. Unemployment and inflation are both low.

I don't think I would have been quite as optimistic as Kevin Drum (there is - for one thing - a great amount of dire poverty in the present USA), but he is, in general terms at least, correct.

There is also this about Trump's assertion that He had The Biggest Win in the elections
since a long time:

Fact check: Also delusionial. He got 304 electoral votes, and Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Obama all did better.

Yes, evidently so - and I agree with Kevin Drump that Trump is delusional.

Finally, there is this about the above reported exchange between Trump and Turx:

Fact check: Incoherent. Turx explicitly tried to assure Trump that nobody thought he was anti-Semitic, but Trump's skin is so thin that he immediately decided Turx was calling him a racist and an anti-Semite. I wonder why?

By the way, the entire point of this press conference seemed to be directed at one thing: accusing the press of being horrible and dishonest. This came up in nearly every Trump answer.

As to Kevin Drum's "I wonder why?": This seems to me a good answer. And I think
Drum is also correct in saying that the basic point of the press conference was to accuse "the press
of being horrible and dishonest".

As I said, I don't like the mainstream media either, but for quite different reasons than Trump does. And he is just not acting as a president, but as a crazy person - I am very sorry to say, and namely because he has the power to blow up the world by nuclear arms.

And precisely that fact - there are nuclear arms that can blow up every human being - is the subject of the next item:

2. Trump Official Obsessed Over Nuclear Apocalypse (...)

The second item is by Peter Maass on The Intercept. It is here because I fear there is a good chance of a nuclear war with a president like Donald Trump:

This starts as follows (and this article contains much more than I extract from it, and is quite interesting, though also quite frightening):

A senior official on President Trump’s embattled National Security Council warned in previously unreported comments that it is “inevitable” an Islamic terrorist group will carry out a successful nuclear attack against the United States, and that in its aftermath, the world “will regress hundreds of years politically.” The official, Michael Anton, laid out a dire scenario of multiple nuclear detonations on American soil, saying that terrorists “will, I think, wait until they can hit us with several blows at once, followed by a number of follow-on blows.”

Anton, appointed as the Trump administration’s senior director of strategic communications on the NSC, wrote in 2009 that he was “surprised it hasn’t happened yet” and predicted that once the attacks occur, “economies will collapse … the world will revert to a kind of localsim [sic] and warlordism.” He added, “If Chicago wakes up one morning and NY is simply not there any more, and some dude on Al Jazeera is saying, ‘Chicago you are next!’ I don’t see order lasting long.”

I say. I do know that it is possible to make small nuclear bombs, but I also know
that many people rely more on their own fantasies and imaginations in politics and
in religion than on real facts.

And Mr. Anto seems a fantasist. Here is some more:
“An all out nuclear war is not inevitable, or even likely,” he wrote in a discussion thread he started about nuclear terrorism. “A regional nuclear exchange between two regional powers is more likely, but still not inevitable. A nuclear detonation in a major US or European city (or Moscow) is inevitable.” He added, “Let’s just say the event is overdue. People have been wanting to do it for a long time, and trying to do it for a long time. … As a general matter, anything that human beings have wanted to do badly enough, that it is physically possible to do, they have eventually found a way to do.”
What the hell is his evidence for his fantasies?! He seems to be completely - and also quite idiotically - bullshitting. And he is on the National Security Council...

Here is more about his totally fact-free delusions:
Asked by another commenter when he thought the nuclear attack would occur, Anton responded, “Any day now.”
Here is Peter Maass's conclusion:
The detail and apparent extremism of Anton’s comments appear to go even further than much of what has already emerged from the Trump White House. The comments provide what seems to be the darkest of contexts for understanding the Trump administration’s desire for radical crackdowns on immigration and Muslims in general: a fervent conviction that a civilizational apocalypse caused by Muslims is coming soon.
Yes indeed - and there is a whole lot more about Anton's deluded fantasies in the article, which is recommended.

3. Greenwald: Empowering the "Deep State" to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy

The third 
item is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!, who interviewed Glenn Greenwald (and there are more interviews with Greenwald there, that were made on the same day, and that are also recommended):

This starts with the following:

Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, have accused the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a deep state coup against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity. Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard, wrote on Twitter, "Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state." We talk about the deep state with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept.

This is - for me, at least - a very interesting topic. There is considerably more about the Deep State in the index for 2016, and I recommend especially this one: Crisis: On The Deep State in the USA, TTIP Has 'De Facto Failed' (with four different sub-sections, all worthwile).

Now to Glenn Greenwald, but I start with a bit of background by Shaikh and Goodman:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re looking at the growing scandal over the Trump administration’s alleged dealings with Russia before and after the November election. In early January, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show and suggested the intelligence community may try to get back at Donald Trump.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly, hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, in January.

Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, are now accusing the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a "deep state coup" against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity, like Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard. He wrote on Twitter, "Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state."

Yes, and it is good to have this background. Here is Glenn Greenwald:

GLENN GREENWALD: The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads.

Yes, I agree. Here is more Greenwald:

The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies better than they liked Donald Trump’s.

I think that is also quite correct. Then there is this:

So, Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him. There’s claims that they’re withholding information from him, on the grounds that they don’t think he should have it and can be trusted with it. They are empowering themselves to enact policy.

I also agree with this, though there is - naturally - less good evidence about what mostly secret agencies like the NSA and the CIA really want and really do.

Here is the last bit that I quote, that is still from Glenn Greenwald (and there is considerably more in the interview):

Now, I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous. You just listed off in your news—in your newscast that led the show, many reasons. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that.

Hm. I agree with most of this (although "this resistance" seems broader to me than Greenwald seems to suggest, but I may be mistaken) - except for the fact that I am a psychologist who thinks Trump is not sane (and I am not by far the only psychologist or psychiatrist who thinks this, as the last link shows).

In fact, it seems to me that the real choice is between the following two options:

(1) The very dangerous Trump who is president, and who has very bad plans and
     policies, as I completely agree with Greenwald, and who is not sane; and
(2) the very dangerous CIA and NSA, who are behind the scene mostly secret forces,
     who themselves are not and never elected, and who are very bad (as Trump is,
     and in historical terms indeed worse), but who are (mostly) sane though bad.

It is a difficult choice, but since I believe that the CIA and the NSA will remain where
they are until the American state collapses (and probably even then, until they can be
weeded out, if they can be), and until then need some government and some president who protects them, my own choice tends to be for (2), because I think Trump may be removed a lot easier than the CIA and the NSA, especially because I think Trump is not sane (which is what forces my choice: I don't want a nuclear war started by a madman), also because I indeed will not support the CIA and the NSA, which will do what they please anyway.

Then again, I have a lot of respect for Glenn Greenwald, and the choice is a difficult one, from two major evils. And there is considerably more in the interview, which is strongly recommended.

4. Trump Will Continue to Scam the White Working Class. Here’s How to Stop Him.

The fourth
item is by Paul Street on Truthdig:

This is from near the beginning (and I do give five quotations from this article, in which there is considerably more, also for each point that I do quote):

The Wedge We Need to Build

Two things are clear going forward. First, progressives hoping to defeat Trump and Trumpism will need to drive a class wedge between the new administration’s big basket of deplorable, super-wealthy plutocrats and the president’s conservative WWC base. Second, Trump is going to provide a lot of ammunition for that wedge-building task with policies that mock his posture as some kind of great white working-class hero.

First about "WWC": This represents the White Working Class, and I think it is one of many abbreviations I do not see the point of and am against, but this is very much
a side-remark [2] that I mostly make because the abbreviation is used in the quotation.

And second, I don't much believe in driving "a class wedge" between Trump and his many hardly educated followers and supporters, apart from telling the truth and stating
the facts, and hoping they read them.

Then there is this (and each point I quote has more text in the original):

Outsourcing Continues

There is every reason to think that Trump will continue scamming the WWC as president.  Loaded with anti-union billionaires and multimillionaires, his administration is one of the most business-heavy and corporate-friendly in American history.
Yes, I mostly agree: Trump scammed most of his supporters and will continue to do so.

Then there is this on "free trade" (which in my reconstruction of this Orwellian propaganda term means: The freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as much as they can, after deregulating most of the laws that protect the non-rich):

Free Trader Trump

What about Trump’s much-ballyhooed opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his threat to impose steep tariffs on goods imported from Mexico and China? Trump has sold all this as part of his plan to bring back manufacturing jobs stolen, he says, by other countries (primarily China and Mexico) under the rules of “free trade.”

This, too, is a scam. Protectionist bluster will not magically recreate jobs that were evaporated long ago by technological change and globalization.
I agree. Here is the last-but-one bit that I quote, which is about deregulations and tax cuts for the richest:

Tax Cuts and Deregulation: A Regressive Wrecking Ball

Then there’s Trump’s promise to slash taxes on the rich and their corporations along with regulations on finance and industry. Nearly half (47 percent) of Trump’s proposed tax cuts will go to the top 1 percent while his plan will increase levies on 26 million low-income Americans.

I agree again. And this is a decent article that is recommended, although I should also say that the last bit - "Here’s How to Stop Him."  - is mostly limited to Street's advice not to look down upon "the WWC" [2] and to (I quote) "try joining it".

There is also this, from the ending, that expands a bit on the
"try joining it":

Progressives must, of course, work with and through particularities of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality and sexual orientation. But there are socialist, democratic and working-class solidarity-building ways of doing that, and there are hateful, neoliberal and top-down “divide-and-rule” ways of dealing with those particularities. A real, progressive activist must strive for the former.

I agree considerably more than not, but I fear more is needed to stop Trump.

[1] But this journalistic article (like quite a few other journalistic articles these days) has far too many Tweets in it, for me at least:  I very much dislike Tweets - self-advertisements in maximal 140 characters, usually consisting of bullshit
and necessarily without any rational argumentation - and this articke has far too many Tweets.

I dislike most abbreviations that do not belong to standard English (like "etc.", which is fine with me) and my two reasons are pretty fundamental, and are more important than they seem.

First, it is much easier and much faster, and also far less interfering with my trying to understand what an article does say, if I every time some new abbreviation is introduced - like "WWC" for "white working class" - have to realize: "O yes, he means
"white working class" by "double you double you see" (for that is how I read such "abbreviations").

Second, I also think many of these abbreviations are in fact introduced (and especially by governments, indeed) with the intent to confuse the readers, and that in two ways:

First, a couple of letters - like "USA PATRIOT" (<-Wikipedia) - do not mean what they would say when expanded (which is in this case doubly tricky, for it means in fact the mouthful "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001
"), and second, as the last example showed, these very abbreviations are themselves chosen in order to mislead the readers. (For this "legalized" the spying on every American by the NSA.)

And yes, of course I know "U can UAA as much as UL but DYRT this CMs?" And if you do, why not rather write it unabbreviated but without the vowels (so that the above translates as "Y cn s rbtry bbrvtns s mch s y lk bt d y rll thnk ths clrfs mttrs?)

For me, it is usually easier and faster to read the full English expression, and if that is
indeed inconveniently long, as in the case of
"Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001"
to refer to it as "this law" - which is nearly always possible, and is certainly almost always less confusing then an abbreviation (which also itself may be tricked and tricky, as in the above example).

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