This starts as follows:
A statute aimed at suppressing protests against oil and gas
pipelines has been signed into law in Oklahoma, as a related bill
advances through the state legislature. The two bills are part of a
nationwide trend in anti-protest laws meant to significantly increase
legal penalties for civil disobedience. The Oklahoma law signed this
week is unique, however, in its broad targeting of groups “conspiring”
with protesters accused of trespassing. It takes aim at environmental
organizations Republicans have blamed for anti-pipeline protests that
have become costly for local governments.
The statute Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin approved
Wednesday was rushed into immediate effect under a provision that
declared the situation “an emergency.” It will dramatically increase
penalties against protesters who trespass on property containing a
“critical infrastructure facility.”
Under the newly signed trespassing law
individuals will face a felony and a minimum $10,000 fine if a court
determines they entered property intending to damage, vandalize, deface,
“impede or inhibit operations of the facility.” Should the trespasser
actually succeed in “tampering” with the infrastructure, they face a
$100,000 fine or ten years of imprisonment.
Significantly, the statute also implicates any organization “found to
be a conspirator” with the trespasser, threatening collaborator groups
with a fine “ten times” that imposed on the intruder — as much as $1
million in cases involving damage.
These are fascistic laws in my eyes: In
Holland you may get 8 years for murder, so "ten years of imprisonment"
for "tampering" seems wholly insane to me - or indeed alternatively
The same applies to the following:
A second bill, passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Thursday, would permit “vicarious liability” for groups that “compensate” protesters accused of trespassing.
This is also insane or fascistic. The same holds for the following (and Parr is a lawyer):
Parr noted that under the new trespassing law a violation as minor as
spray-painting a message on an oil facility could plausibly lead to
$100,000 dollars in fines if a court determined it was “defacing
For me this is all insane or fascistic, and it merely serves to protect the interests of the very rich.
2. Former Facebook Exec Claims the Tech Giant Can Influence Minds, Moods—and Elections
The second article is by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Ex-Facebook executive Antonio Garcia-Martinez revealed this week the
true extent of the technology giant’s data and influence over its users.
Martinez, a project manager for the company in 2012, helped create
Facebook’s first mechanisms that enabled targeted data ads. The ongoing
practice involves Facebook handing over its users’ internet browsing
histories and information about purchases they’ve made in
“brick-and-mortar” stores for selective targeting.
This customized approach has grown over the years into a much more
complex and powerful tool. Martinez said Facebook can now offer any
agency the ability to target individuals “based on their emotional
state” and declared that any statement from Facebook to the contrary
would be an unequivocal lie.
was posted as commentary after leaked documents to The Australian
exposed an internal report by Facebook executives demonstrating to
advertisers its capacity to identify teenagers who felt “insecure” and
I despise Facebook and its 2 billion
users. Facebook simply is extra-ordinarily degenerate, and I blame its
users because they "sell" their privacy to this horrible corporation for getting advertisements, which sounds either insane or extremely stupid to me.
As to identifying people's emotional states: I don't know, but I would like to know what the - utterly corrupt, very fraudulent - American Psychiatric Association thinks of this:
They forbid the psychiatrists who are their members to diagnose anyone they have not met and who did not give pernission to do so. What about the anonymous programs that diagnose people? (As I said, for me the whole notion on which Facebook is based is utterly obscene and extremely degenerate. And no, I do not expect the APA to agree with me.)
Here is some more:
Sam Levine from The Guardian reported:
The internal report produced by Facebook executives, and
obtained by the Australian, states that the company can monitor posts
and photos in real time to determine when young people feel “stressed”,
“defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”,
“useless” and a “failure”.
The Australian reported that the document was prepared by two top
Australian executives, David Fernandez and Andy Sinn. It was said to
describe how the social network gathers psychological insights on high
schoolers, college students and young working Australians and New
Zealanders. Sinn is an agency relationship manager for the company.
The presentation, which the Australian has not published, was
reportedly written for one of Australia’s top banks and stated that the
company has a database of its young users – 1.9 million high schoolers,
1.5 million tertiary students and 3 million young workers.
Facebook has detailed information on mood shifts of its young users
based on “internal Facebook data” that is not available to the public,
the document stated.
I say. Well, to me it sounds again like applied fascism. As does this:
In 2014, The Guardian reported
that Facebook conducted a secret test engaging the emotions of 689,000
of its users. In the study, researchers found that when they manipulated
news feeds on users’ home pages, they were able to influence the users’
According to the study, what the researchers did was “consistent with
Facebook’s data use policy, to which all users agree prior to creating
an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this
research”—and therefore legal.
If you want to be abused as a
sub-human and be rewarded with advertisements, by all means become a
Facebook member! I will never, and much sooner will give up my computer
than allow it to be connected with Facebook. What utter degeneracy is that!
3. What Is the ‘Trump Doctrine’ of Foreign Policy?
The third article is by Robert Reich on Truthdig and originally on his site:
This starts as follows:
What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance,
foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary, and devoid of
A few weeks ago, even
before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told
Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging
challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. “There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared.
I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump
Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it.
Well... I have been saying now for half a year that Trump is a neofascist, which I defined (see my On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions) as follows:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where
the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that
propounds an ethics which has profit as
its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist,
anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist,
and that has a corporative
organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are
stronger than a national government or state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
And I still think that this is adequate for Trump, who has been also called, by Robert Reich, a fascist and an authoritarian. But this is not what Reich has in mind in this article:
So under what might be called the First Principle of the Trump
Doctrine, people living in a predominantly Muslim country have a chance of
entering the United States only if their country contains an edifice with Trump’s name on
The Second Principle follows logically from the first.
that are potential markets for Trump’s business – nominally run by his
two sons, but still filling his pockets – may be eligible for special
favors if they allow Trump to make money there.
Possibly so, but do these
principles compare well with my definition of neofascism, that I think
is a good explanation of at least Trump's ideology? I think not.
One potential obstacle for the Second Principle is the Constitution’s
“emoluments” clause, which bars U.S. government officials from
receiving gifts from foreign powers.
No matter. Apparently the Trump Doctrine, well, trumps the Constitution.
A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
joined by several prominent law professors, is suing Trump over this.
I agree with CREW, I think. Here is The Third Principle Reich saw manifested by Trump:
The Third Principle comes down hard on countries that kill their own children with poison gas. They will
So far this happened once. It may happen
again (I agree) but for a "Principle" this does not seem well
confirmed. And here is the Fourth Principle:
So under the Fourth Principle of the Trump Doctrine, the
United States reserves the right to drop a mother of a bomb on any group seemingly connected with ISIS.
applies even if the group is not fighting to gain or hold territory
claimed by the Islamic State. The group could be thousands of miles away
from the Islamic State, anywhere around the world.
Hm. In brief, I do not take these Four Principles seriously. I agree Trump is unreasonable, but I still think his actions are better explained by my diagnosis of neofascism than by fairly arbitrary Principles.
4. The Republican Party Is Sociopathic: If You Didn’t Know that Already, the Health Care Bill Should Make It Clear
The fourth and
last article today is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon:
This starts as follows:
On Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to repeal
the Affordable Care Act in order to give the richest Americans and
corporations billions of dollars. To accomplish this, Republicans will deny tens of millions of Americans who have chronic and preexisting health problems access to affordable medical care. The Republican Party’s plan to punish the sick and to kill the “useless eaters” has expanded its targets to
include women who have been victims of sexual assault or domestic
violence or suffered from post-partum depression. The Republican plan
will also hurt disabled people, senior citizens, new mothers, pregnant
women, children in special education programs and babies. It is
estimated that at least 43,000 Americans a year will die if the
Affordable Care Act is repealed.
This is quite literally the politics of life and death. Republicans in
Congress have chosen to place their fingers on the scale in favor of the
I agree with this. Here is more:
Conservatives lack empathy for their fellow human beings. The Republican
Party’s hostility to the poor, the working class, the elderly,
immigrants, Muslims, refugees, the homeless, the vulnerable, gays and
lesbians, children, people of color — and yes, the sick — is not an
aberration or deviation from their voters’ basic desires. For those not
of the right-wing tribe, a decision to strip away health care from
millions of people does not make rational political sense. But for those
inside the right-wing echo chamber, such a decision speaks to basic
psychological and social impulses: It reinforces the demarcations
separating “us” and “them,” the deserving and the undeserving, the
righteous and the sinful.
And I also agree with that. What I do not agree with is the following, and one important reason I don't agree with this is the point I quote:
The Republican Party is sociopathic.
- Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms and obligations
I have since 50 years at least had a "disregard for social norms and obligations"; so did my parents; and so did 3 out of 4 of my grandparents
(for these were all anarchists or communists, indeed with two of the
six condemned by the Nazis to concentration camp imprisonment because
they were "political terrorists").
That is also why I completely disagree with "sociopathy" and think it was a false and ideological replacement of psychopathy, which has a different definition, and has disappeared from the DSMs (but see dr. Robert Hare (<-Wikipedia)):
On the definition of "sociopathy" nearly everybody arrested in the Soviet Union deserved to be arrested because they also had a "disregard for social norms and obligations", as indeed my father and his father probably also would have been supposed to be arrested deservedly as "sociopaths" by the then ruling Nazis in Holland.
And indeed I completely disagree with the DSM. I also am a psychologist and wrote a long essay about it (See: DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six
most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"), and one major reason I disagree with it is that around 1950 there were between 40 and 50 "mental diseases" "recognized" by psychiatrists, whereas a mere 50 years later there were more than 440 different forms of "insanity" that were"recognized" by the alas still completely unscientifc psychiatry.
Therefore, while I agree the
Republicans lack empathy, solidarity, concern, or indeed interest in
anyone who is poor, I do not want to call them sociopaths, simply
because I think that is one of the many psychiatric judgments I disagree with.
Here is the last bit I'll quote from this article:
Hm. I also don't quite agree with this, and basically for two reasons.
The pundit and chattering classes want to believe that the “adults”
in the U.S. Senate will stop Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s
latest effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act. They also think that
Trump’s voters will turn on him once his policies begin to negatively
impact them in material and tangible ways.
These so-called experts
have little to no credibility: They are the same people who believed
that Trump would never be elected president. These supposedly astute
observers of the American scene misunderstand this cultural moment
because they presume reason and human decency where there is only
madness, greed, bigotry, rage, racism, sexism and nihilism.
The first is that the difference between Trump and Clinton was a few percentage points (and Clinton got more voters than Trump). You cannot build strong conclusions like the above one on such small differences.
And the second is that there is a considerable difference between the leaders of the Republicans, that comprise the members of Congress and the Senate, and other Republicans: I think the other Republicans may be mostly and fairly be supposed to be not intelligent and not knowledgeable about politics, but I don't think all or most Republicans belong to those who suffer from "madness, greed, bigotry, rage, racism, sexism and nihilism".