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Saturday, Feb 18, 2017

Crisis: Trump & Fascism, One Month, Vilified Media, ResistTrump, Republican Backbones

Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Is Trump’s Billionaire Cabinet Actually A Closet Full of Fascists?
2. One Month of Trump (Common Dreams)
3.
One-Month Report Card (NYT)
4. Trump Vilifies Media—Except Outlets That Follow His Narrative
5. We Must #ResistTrump
6. Republicans, Where’s the Backbone?
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday
, February 18, 2017.

Summary: This file is a crisis log with 6 files and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is an interesting article about Trump's cabinet; item 2 and item 3 are two different appraisals of the first month of Trump's presidency (and they agree quite a bit more than I expected); item 4 is about the reason why Trump vilifies "the media", as an authoritarian: because they don't say what he wants them to say; item 5 is about a good article by Bianca Jagger on Trump; and item 6 is a good article by Moyers and Winship on the lacking backbone of most Republicans.
As for today (February 18, 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 was this morning again incorrect again (but yesterday it was not); on one.com it may be shown as December 31, 2015 (and often was!!!) and was also again incorrect 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. Is Trump’s Billionaire Cabinet Actually A Closet Full of Fascists?

The first item today is by Laura Bonham and Garrett Jennings on Commom Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Yes, Donald Trump’s cabinet will end up being the richest in modern history—worth around $4.5 billion at conservative estimates but many multi-billions more if you include the family wealth of his appointments and of course Trump himself. Any way you count it, the wealth, corporate influence, and potential conflicts of interest concentrated in this cabinet transcends that of any administration in recent memory.

Wealth in and of itself is only part of a larger problem. It is the connection of wealth to power that can transform a democracy into a totalitarian state. The rich and well-connected corporate elites have long played a dominant role in the executive branch and virtually every other political institution since their inceptions.
Yes indeed. Then again, this time the problem seems more serious than in a very long time. And here is one reason:
Trump’s faux-populist campaign message to "drain the swamp" failed to mention his plan to replace it with a cesspool of corporatists facilitating the corporate takeover of governmental institutions. His cabinet is among the most corporate in U.S. history with one-third of appointments going to executives with no government or military experience. Only President McKinley, who took office during the Gilded Age in 1897, appointed proportionally more corporatists.
And although - to the best of my knowledge - considerable corporate powers were broken by Theodore Roosevelt, the twenties were again of and for the very rich until the Wall Street crash, Franklin Roosevelt, and the New Deal.

But then - and this unravelling of the New Deal started, in my opinion, with Truman:

Over the years, policy changes and laws to unravel the New Deal, and everything flowing from it, were sought and eventually won, in bits and pieces, by and until the descendants and disciples of the Robber Barons and so-called "heirs apparent" to our nation’s wealth won Ayn Rand’s vision of a neo-fascist society. And, then Donald Trump was elected. Journalist Naomi Klein’s assertion that Trump’s election is a "corporate coup d’état" is frightening, mostly because history suggests she's right.
Yes - and I agree Trump is a neofascist (in my quite precise sense), and I insist
that the
"corporate coup d’état" went through several stages that started officially
with Reagan's presidency and was prepared by Lewis Powell Jr. Trump is the latest
stage, and as I said, I think he is a
neofascist, and he is in that sense - while there have been very bad presidents and presidencies - the first (and possibly last) elected president of the USA. [1]

This ends as follows:
In the words of Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend's National Director:

Fascism is corporate economic power merged with the political power of the State. The United States has been creeping in this direction for decades, but now it would appear that our government is unabashedly there, and in the shadows about it no longer. It is critical we figure out how to adjust our movement strategies to address the current situation and push full force to make real the promise of genuine democracy and rule by The People that we have yet to attain as a country.

Will the end result of the experiment in American democracy turn out to be a totalitarian, authoritarian state—modern fascism? Or will We the People act on the sacred words in the Declaration of Independence and perfect an authentic, participatory form of American democracy, where the human rights of all human beings—and only human beings—are protected in a government of, by, and for the people?

I can't answer the last two questions, but I can add some clarity (for rational intelligent people), namely by my definitions of fascism and neofascism. And the reason I insist
these do add considerable clarity is that I know a lot about fascism, but also know this is rarely clearly defined, and if defined then defined in at least 22 different ways (some quite reasonable, others fairly to very ridiculous, and see here for my survey of 22 definitions), while I have never even seen a reasonable other definition of neofascism than mine.

And this is a recommended article.

2. One Month of Trump (Common Dreams)

The second item is by Bob Burnett on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, and consists of 10 points all with clarifying texts. Here are some extracts:

29 days into the Trump regime it's worse than expected. Here's what we've learned.

1. Trump's not an executive.
(..)
Trump's (probably) a billionaire so it would seem that "he knows how to get things done" but, if he does, he hasn't applied this skill to his job as America's CEO.  Everything about his first 28 days suggests that Trump is in over his head in his new job.  For example, after an (initial) week full of executive orders, Trump now appears to have no overall plan for domestic or foreign policy.  As another example, Trump's White House is understaffed and Trump doesn't seem to be good recruiter.
Yes, I agree. Also, although he has a BS degree in economics, he is no intellectual (at all):
2. His thought pattern is chaotic.  It's hard to view Trump dispassionately but his impromptu speeches and press conferences are cringe-worthy.  On Tuesday (February 14th) during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump was asked about rising anti-semitism.  He responded by boasting about his election victory and then said the Trump administration is “going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on.”
In fact, it was considerably worse - see here - and Trump also boasted (in a typically narcissistic (<-Wikipedia) fashion) that "He Is The Biggest Anti-Semite" that the Jewish reporter who asked his quite reasonable question, that Trump failed to answer, had ever met.

Here is more:
3. He doesn't appear to read briefing papers. (..)
4. Trump has very thin skin.  As his lack of focus wasn't bad enough, Trump seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time watching cable newstime where he should be reading briefing papersand takes negative reporting very seriously.
Yes. And both - especially point 4 - supports he is a pathological narcissist. [2]

Then there is this (and the "(..)" indicate texts I removed for this review):
5. Trump detests the mainstream media. (..)
6. He doesn't understand the Federal bureaucracy.(..)
7. Trump doesn't have a legislative agenda.(..)
8. Trump doesn't care about other Republicans.  Not surprisingly, for someone whose instincts are not collaborative, Trump doesn't work well with other Republicans.  He doesn't consult Vice President Pence.  He doesn't consult his Cabinet members.  And he doesn't doesn't consult the Republican congressional leaders.(..)
Yes (to the best of my knowledge). And this - while at present it is not important yet - may turn out to be rather important if Trump gets impeached, as he very well may be
because of point 10 below.

And there is also this:
9. Trump is in the process of losing his base.  The latest Pew Research poll finds that only 39 percent of respondents approved of the job Trump is doing.  Those that do approve of Trump are "White, non-college-educated" (57 percent).  But how long will they approve of Trump when he doesn't deliver jobs, takes away their healthcare, and fails to build "the wall"?
I don't know. One reason is that "white, non-college-educated" folks seem to be rather unintelligent and not knowledgeable, while they seem to get their information from Fox News, that tends - so far - to lie and mislead for Trump. But the question is a good one, and we shall see.

Finally there is this point:
10. Trump has "phenomenal" conflicts of interest.(..)
I agree, and this are (and should be) solid grounds for an impeachment, although I don't see this happening yet.

This is a recommended article.

 
3. One-Month Report Card (NYT)

The third 
item is by Timothy Egan on The New York Times:
This starts as follows (and may be contrasted with the previous item, although it is my guess that Burnett and Egan agree considerably more than they may disagree):

You just came out of a yearlong coma, and you’re trying to catch up. The unimaginable is real. The Cubs won the World Series. California has been drenched with so much rain that its biggest dam may fail. And in the first month of a new presidency, the leader of the free world has:

Told a stunning and easily disproved lie on his first full day in power. He then sent his spokesman out to repeat that lie, and said the press would “pay a big price” for refusing to do the same. The pattern of taxpayer-financed mendacity continued nearly every day under the new regime, with lies about everything from the murder rate to the weather.

Yes indeed - and indeed the president of the USA (bolding added) "lies about everything from the murder rate to the weather".

Here is more (from a considerably longer list):

Created chaos at airports around the world and leading universities and companies at home with the stroke of a pen. His ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries broke apart families, stranded doctors and scholars, and prompted an early constitutional crisis. When his executive order was halted by a court, he attacked the independent judiciary, calling the Republican-appointed judge who challenged him “a so-called judge.” He said blood would be on the hands of courts that had defied him.

This last fact (attacking the independent judiciary) was very authoritarian and completely improper. It also fits my definition of neofascism to a t.

Here is more:

Insulted one of the nation’s most revered civil rights heroes on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, calling Representative John Lewis “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results,” and defaming the congressman’s city of Atlanta as a crime-ridden hellhole. He used the holiday itself to brag about his Electoral College victory and bash the press.

Attacked a major American retailer, Nordstrom, for dropping a failing clothing line of his daughter’s. His top counselor, Kellyanne Conway, used her White House position to urge people to buy these same products from her boss’s daughter.

Quite so. And more:

Responded to general criticism, as well as questions about the rise of anti-Semitic acts, with a boast about his Electoral College win. “I comprehend very well, O.K.? Better than, I think, almost anybody.”

And this again strongly supports that he is a pathological narcisssist: He Is Smarter Than "almost anybody", indeed in his opinion, so far as I can see, In Everything That
Matters. (Which is just not sane: No one is.)

I skipped a fair amount of - quite good - points, and arrived at the ending of the article:

You slap yourself. You douse your head with water. The incompetence, the leaking, the daily indignities. What country is this? Is this behavior normalized? There’s more.

As the first month was coming to a close, he held a news conference and bragged about his Electoral College win while lying about the margin’s place in history. His administration, he said, is a smooth-running machine. “There’s zero chaos.” He spent the majority of his time ranting about the press, then predicted the response: “Tomorrow, they’ll be saying, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving.”

Who would say that a man who insists on these and very many other plain lies, falsehoods, and bullshit, if he were the CEO of a major corporation, is sane?
I wouldn't (but the psychiatric professor Allen Frances would, it seems [3]).

And this is a recommended article.

4. Trump Vilifies Media—Except Outlets That Follow His Narrative

The fourth
item is by Juan Cole on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

So Trump did rant and rave at the press on Thursday. But not at all the press. He has never attacked Breitbart, the vehicle for white supremacist falsehoods piloted by his Rasputin, Neofascist Steve Bannon (White House chief of strategy and National Security Council éminence grise).

And that is the real significance of his accusation that the major corporate media outlets are “fake news.” What he means by that is their refusal to adopt a white supremacist editorial line.

He doesn’t actually mind fake news, or he would fire Bannon and dissociate himself from Breitbart, which is mostly filled with far-right racist falsehoods.
Yes, I agree that what Trump dislikes about the media, that he now accuses of massive lying, is in fact "their refusal to adopt a white supremacist editorial line", or more simply, that he dislikes and will attack the media that do not support him (as a genuine authoritarian president).

Here is more:
He minds the mainstream media reporting on the spike in threats to synagogues since he was inaugurated, and on his White House refusal to mention Jews in his Holocaust message (“other people suffered”). That is why he was so rude to Jake Turx of Ami magazine. Bannon and Trump think the liberal Jewish elite are behind Fed monetary policy and pro-immigration policy (i.e. the Jews are to blame for the Muslims).
Apparently so. Is the reason perhaps that Jews and Muslims are Semites (which - incidentally - is a classification of languages, and not of races)?

I skipped some I don't agree with, but I agree with this:

This is not cute, folks, and for all the giggles it produces on the late night opening monologues, it is extremely sinister.

When someone like Trump moves the signposts on allowable public discourse, things can get ugly fast.
Yes, it is very dangerous, simply because Trump now is the most powerful man on earth. And I also agree with the following:
Trump hopes to keep the pressure on, by portraying independent news and commentary as inherently false and unfair, and to use his shock troops to intimidate the media into taking his line, which is to say, the Neofascist line.

I agree that Trump is a neofascist - and I clearly defined that term (check out the last link if you didn't already), and indeed decided on that definition before knowing much
about Trump and long before he became president (namely around April 2016).

5. We Must #ResistTrump

The fifth
item is by Bianca Jagger (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows - and yes, Bianca Jagger is an ex of Mick Jagger, and I know almost nothing about her except what is in the Wikipedia, which taught me she is not stupid, because she won a scholarship (on a small income) to study political science in France:

On Monday 20th February 2017, thousands of people all over the UK will come together as part of a 'Stop Trump' national day of action, to demand that the government withdraw the invitation for a Donald Trump state visit. I will be addressing the rally in Parliament Square which starts at 6 pm. I hope you will join me there - or find your nearest rally. We must #ResistTrump. Our future depends on it.

I doubt that plan will succeed, but I also think it is a good occasion to protest Trump's presidency.

Then there is this:

I am deeply concerned at the recent ascent of fascism, racism and misogyny. Trump's divisive policies are a threat to world peace. He is leading the United States into a dark era of isolationism; of contempt for human rights, for the rule of law and for civil liberties; where racism and prejudice are condoned; where sexual assault is endemic and committed with impunity; where climate change is dismissed as 'just weather'; where the divide between the one per cent and the rest of the world is driven wider and wider in the name of profit and greed… Donald Trump will take us all down with him—unless we resist him.

Quite so (except that I think Trump is a neofascist rather than a fascist). And here is some about Theresa May, about whom there is more in the article (and Bianca Jagger
holds a dual nationality, namely British and Nicaraguan):

After her US visit, Theresa May travelled directly to Turkey. She described President Erdogan as her 'indispensable partner.' Erdogan has committed a litany of human rights violations: he has imprisoned more journalists than any other world leader since the Committee to Protect Journalists began keeping records. Theresa May should have denounced him, not referred to him as a 'partner.' She hangs onto alliances with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain—countries with some of the worst human right records in the world.

Again quite so.

The article ends as follows:

The Prime Minister seems to have forgotten the shameful example of Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement before the Second World War. Her endorsement of totalitarian regimes is a betrayal of our moral principles and it puts the United Kingdom on the wrong side of history. I urge the Prime Minister to reconsider before it is too late. I urge her not to grant Donald Trump the honour of a State visit, to show global leadership, take a stand against fascism, and withdraw the UK government’s invitation to Trump.

#ResistTrump

I agree, although I do not think that Theresa May has the moral strength or the right ideas to do so, and May is the one who will very probably decide this question. But it is one good reason, among many, for the British to protest Trump.

And this is a recommended article.

6. Republicans, Where’s the Backbone?

The sixth and last
item today is by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Congressional Republicans, we watched you at the White House Thursday. Just before Donald Trump’s rambling, manic, often snarky press conference — delivered more in the manner of a churlish insult comic than leader of the free world — the president met with a group of you, a self-titled “Trump caucus” of early supporters.

You fawned over him like autograph hunters gushing over their favorite movie star.
I didn't see the fawning, but the rest is quite correct. Here is more, on "the Republican Party" or indeed on the Republican members of the Senate and the House:

Oh, brother. Has it come down to this? The party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower in the thrall of a petulant, impulsive, preening and shamelessly amoral president who thinks Vladimir Putin is the apex of effective management.

Republicans, is this really the legacy you choose?

How can you not take a solid stand against an unhinged con man who in less than a month has undermined fundamental constitutional liberties, thrown governance into disorganized hell and possibly made decisions based on his desire to please the leader of another country? (What’s he afraid that Putin might do?)

I think the question is a good one, and that the probable answer is that many Republicans have been corrupted to work for the rich, and the rich only.

Here is some more from near the end of the article:

And so it went: Hemming and hawing, backing and filling, their comments reminded us of Watergate, a scandalous sequence of events that the two of us witnessed firsthand, and thought — or hoped, at least — would be the worst political and constitutional crisis of our lifetimes. This has the potential to be much, much worse.
(...)
Now, once again, we find ourselves desperately counting on the courts and an independent press to help protect us. We can’t depend on but a handful of Republican senators and House members who have come forward. They’ve called for more thorough investigations by the House and Senate intelligence committees, and that’s a start, but in this current Congress, it’s more than likely that a truly, impartial, transparent, honest inquiry will be stymied and quashed.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article (though I don't agree on Russia [4]).

--------------------------------
Notes
[1] And Trump may be the last president of the USA for at least three reasons:
(1) he may blow up the world with nuclear arms; (2) if not, he may take over power by himself and nominate himself as dictator (though he will say Saviour); and if not that either (3) he and Bannon may so much destroy the government that it will be a mere appendage to approve the decisions of the CEOs of big corporations.

[2]
This is one of the characteristics of a pathological narcissist who - among other things (I quote) "8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her". But this is not so according to psychiatric professor Allen Frances, who is the subject of my next note:

[3] I thought about what I will say about Allen Frances, but decided to repeat what I wrote earlier about him - and one point on which I, and 17 million others with ME/CFS disagree with him is that most psychiatrists say that all of these people, including myself and my ex, are not sane, and namely because we say that we are ill, whereas medical people cannot find anything wrong with us: For psychiatrists that is sufficient to say that everyone with M.E. is a psychosomatizer, that is in effect frauds.

Well... I (indeed as my ex) am in the 38th year of my illness, in which I also made a brilliant B.A. in philosophy, after which I was illegaly denied the right of doing an M.A. in it because I was not a Marxist (!!) and because I had criticized the University of Amsterdam, and then made a brilliant M.A. in psychology, all without ever going to lectures, because I simply could not, and also I could not earn any money with my degrees (which I wanted very much) because I was too ill.

But I was not ill, according to Frances and his psychiatrists, because I was not sane, and because they said so I - like most of the 17 million patients with ME/CFS - also was denied all help: I am now surviving for the 38th year with much less energy than healthy persons and with constant muscle aches, on a less than minimal pension...

Here is what I wrote about him on February 5, last:

---

Then Allen Frances.

First, apparently I must feel insulted because I am supposed to have a real mental illness according to him (since a mere 38 years), namely because I believe I am physically ill while doctors find no evidence (and therefore I am crazy, according to Frances and his psychiatrists: Medical science knows everything there is to know about illness and therefore people who claim a disease for which there is no evidence are clearly insane [9]).

Second, he quotes bullshit: "Most people with mental illness are well-meaning, well- mannered and well-behaved", which is bullshit because "mental illness" is totally ill- defined (there are 10 times more forms of supposed "mental illness" now as there were in 1952, which shows either that the APA's psychiatrists are extremely liberal in saying such-and-such is a mental illness, or else that they are and have been talking nonsense that favored their own financial interests).

Third he invokes an utterly arbitrary moral norm he invented: "bad people are labelled mentally ill, it stigmatizes mental illness" - I assume because he assumes that "mentally ill" people are not stigmatized (which is an utter lie) and are not "bad" (which just is bullshit, for badness is a personal value and a personal judgement, and not a psychiatric jugdement).

Here is more bullshit by Frances:

Can you explain why Trump doesn't fit the criteria for narcissism?

In order to qualify for a mental disorder you not only have to have the personality features, you also have to have clinically significant distress or impairment caused by them. Trump causes distress, but there is no evidence that he experiences it. And instead of being impaired by his narcissistic behavior, he is rewarded for it, to the extent of being elected president of the United States.

This is utter bullshit because Frances cannot deny that the criterions he himself formulated for a Narcissistic Personality Disorder do apply to Donald Trump - as I myself and tenthousand other psychologists and psychiatrists also inferred.

Now if you are a person without power and it turns out that tenthousand or more psychologists and psychiatrists agree that you have some form of insanity, then you - very probably - will be supposed to have that form of insanity. [10]

But not if you are a person with power. Then it becomes suddenly also necessary that you not only have all "the personality features" (which Trump has), but also a "clinically significant distress (..) caused by them".

And "there is no evidence that he experiences it" (if only because he does not want to be investigated by psychiatrists or psychologists).

Therefore - according to Allen Frances - Trump is not mad (though Frances doesn't like Trump, and also does not disagree he satisfies all the criterions that Frances himself compiled as a diagnosis for having a Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

O Lord!

---

Incidentally (and I am now back on Feb 18, 2017) not all medics agree with Frances, and I received the day before yesterday a long medical and biochemical paper by 17 Norwegian doctors and biochemists:
In fact, this is biochemistry and medicine, and probably too difficult for most, but it is also based on some 200 patients compared with some 100 healthy persons, and documents many biochemical differences between people with ME/CFS and healthy people. I think myself this is is very probably correct, although more work is also necessary. (By the way: some of the same medical doctors cured two out of three people - in a considerably larger group of seriously ill patients - with serious M.E. with Rituximab, which is both very expensive and somewhat risky.)

Why doesn't Frances say these medical and biochemical people are not sane? (They all work in Norwegian hospitals or universities.) For the same reason as he denies that Trump is a pathological narcissist (while agreeing he is a narcissist on his own criterions, for Frances edited the DSM-IV (<-Wikipedia)):

Because they are too powerful to risk offending them.

And please note that it are especially the opinions of hundreds of psychiatrists, ever since 1980, when their stunning slander of people with M.E. started, who insisted that medical research into ME/CFS is not necessary, simply because they "know" (by circular argumentation) that they are not ill but are psychomatizing.

Therefore extremely little scientific research was done into ME/CFS the last 38 years.
It is my guess that the above paper will change that but I am meanwhile 66, so this
research will probably arrive too late at medicines which will help me.

Thank you very much for your active collaboration in ruining my life, and that of some 17 million ill others, doctor Allen Frances!

[4] As to Russia's supposed interference (by hacking) in the American elections: I have seen many articles that claim so, but I also know that there is no real evidence for it, as outlined by several former NSA or CIA members, namely by William Binney and Ray McGovern (<-both on Wkipedia), who very well know what evidence is, and that it is lacking in this case.

This doesn't mean the Russians don't hack; it does mean that there is no evidence (while the story they did takes away many of the failures of Hillary Clinton).


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