Monday, August 14, 2017

Crisis: On the ACLU, WW II, Pence President?, On Trump's Mind, Health Care Corruptions

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 14, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Monday, August 14, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from August 14, 2017

The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville

This article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. It starts as follows - and perhaps readers should realize that Greenwald is a lawyer who did what the ACLU is doing before he became a journalist:

Each time horrific political violence is perpetrated that is deemed to be terrorism, a search is immediately conducted for culprits to blame other than those who actually perpetrated the violence or endorsed the group responsible for it. It’s usually only a matter of hours before the attack is exploited to declare one’s own political views vindicated, and to depict one’s political adversaries as responsible for, if not complicit in, the violence. Often accompanying this search for villains is a list of core civil liberties that we’re told ought to be curtailed in the name of preventing similar acts of violence in the future.

All of this typically happens before much of anything is known about the killer, his actual inspirations, his mental health, or his associations. In the aftermath of the widespread horror such violence naturally produces, the easiest target for these guilt-by-association tactics are those who have advocated for the legal rights of the group of which the individual attacker is a member and/or those who have defended the legal right to express the opinions in the name of which the attack was carried out.

Yes indeed. But there is also a major difference that simply was absent until the 2000s:

The fact that there are now billions of anonymous writers on the internet - who cannot write, hardly know anything relevant, but who all can scold as much as they want to, for all are anonymous to anyone they offend.

And clearly these kinds of people were there before the internet arrived, but none of them could write anything that would reach more than a couple of tens or a couple of  hundreds at most, instead of the chances they all have now, of addressing equally stupid and ignorant folks by the millions or the billions, also with all of them having the means to reply as well.

Greenwald is quite correct and gives a good defense of what the ACLU does and stands for, which I recommend but do not copy, except for this bit:

Demonizing lawyers and civil liberties advocates by depicting them as “complicit” in the heinous acts of their clients is a long-standing scam that is not confined to the U.S. The Belgian lawyer who represented one of the Muslim attackers in Paris, Sven Mary, said “he had suffered physical and verbal attacks and his daughters had even needed a police escort to school.”

Needless to say, none of these legal organizations or individual lawyers condone violence. They all vehemently oppose the ideology and worldview in the name of which this violence is committed. Yet they are all blamed for the violence and accused of complicity in it because they defend the free speech rights and civil liberties of people who express views in the name of which violence is commited.

Yes, indeed.

My own explanation is in part as follows: I am now since forty years "a fascist" [3] simply because the Stalinist terrorists who ruled the University of Amsterdam in the 1970ies considered I must be a fascist because I did not consider Marx the greatest of all philosophers ever, and because I had said I preferred - what they must have considered to be a fascist terrorist American, as emerged from their own replies, forty years ago - the American Charles Sanders Peirce.

These totalitarian "Marxists" (who were not Marxists at all, that is, if my knighted communist father and communist grandfather, both of who were in the resistance against the Nazis, and both of whom were arrested by the Nazis and convicted to the concentration camp, where my grandfather was murdered, were Marxists in any genuine sense) were a surprise for me in the 1970ies, but I have since arrived at the conviction that they all were ordinary men, who were totalitarian as most ordinary men are.

You may disagree, but you did not have my parents or grandparents, who were very much more courageous than the vast majority of conformist Dutchmen.

The article ends as follows:

The need to fight neo-Nazism and white supremacy wherever it appears is compelling. The least effective tactic is to try to empower the state to suppress the expression of their views. That will backfire in all sorts of ways: strengthening that movement and ensuring that those who advocate state censorship today are its defenseless targets tomorrow. And whatever else is true, the impulse to react to terrorist attacks by demanding the curtailment of core civil liberties is always irrational, dangerous, and self-destructive, no matter how tempting that impulse might be.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article

2. Fools, Cowards, or Criminals?

This article is by Ian Buruma on The New York Review of Books. It starts as follows:

The main Nuremberg war crimes trials began in November 1945 and continued until October 1946. Rebecca West, who reported on the painfully slow proceedings for The New Yorker, described the courtroom as a “citadel of boredom.” But there were moments of drama: Hermann Göring under cross-examination running rings around the chief US prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, for example. Jackson’s opening statement, however, provided the trial’s most famous words:

We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this Trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice.

How well humanity lived up to these words, after a good number of bloody conflicts involving some of the same powers that sat in judgment on the Nazi leaders, is the subject of The Memory of Justice, the four-and-a-half-hour documentary that has rarely been seen since 1976 but is considered by its director, Marcel Ophuls, to be his best—even better, perhaps, than his more famous The Sorrow and the Pity (1969), about the Nazi occupation of France, the Vichy government, and the French Resistance.

This is here mainly because of my own - very - anti-fascistic background. (See note [3]). And I admit I did not see the movie by Marcel Ophuls that Buruma is defending in this article.

The article ends as follows:

For Germans living under the Third Reich it was risky to imagine too well what their rulers were doing. To protest was positively dangerous. This is not yet true for those of us living in the age of Trump, when the president of the US openly condones torture and applauds thugs for beating up people at his rallies. We need films like this masterpiece by Ophuls more than ever to remind us of what happens when even the memories of justice fade away.

I think I agree (without having seen Ophuls' film) - and I did notice the "yet".

3. Is It Time For Mike Pence To Be President?

This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones. It starts as follows:

Back in the day, there was a bit of bloggy conversation about whether Donald Trump might actually be a less destructive president than, say, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. The case against that was pretty simple:

He’s a serial liar. He’s a demagogue. He’s a racist and a xenophobe. He appeals to our worst natures….He’d appoint folks who make Michael Brown look like Jeff Bezos. He would deliberately alienate foreign countries for no good reason….And while that volatile personality of his probably wouldn’t cause him to nuke Denmark, you never know, do you?

This week we’ve seen both of his two most serious flaws in action. Resurgent neo-Nazis and white nationalists, who take Trump as their inspiration and role model, invaded Charlottesville and produced exactly the violence and mayhem you’d expect. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had no problem denouncing these racist thugs. But Trump, as he did before with David Duke, refused to clearly and explicitly condemn them.

In fact, this is the only article I review that is about Charlottesville. And I think I agree with Drum, although I have no illusions about Cruz's and Rubio's characters.

In any case, here is the end of Drum's article:

Trump needs to go. The sooner Republicans figure this out, the better off we’ll be. Mike Pence may have sold his soul by signing up with Trump—and as president he’d unquestionably be bad for everything I care about—but Donald Trump is a disgrace, and a dangerous one. His 15 minutes should have been up long ago.

I agree. But since I am a psychologist, which happens to be relevant to judging Trump, here is (once again) my own judgement: Trump has to go, and the sooner the better, simply because Trump is a madman. And the last link gives specialists who think the same, indeed already in 2016.

4. My meeting with Donald Trump: A damaged, pathetic personality — whose obvious impairment has only gotten worse

This article is by Bill Curry, who was a counselor to Bill Clinton and who also was active as a Democratic politician. This is from near the beginning:

In 2016, the precariousness of Trump’s mental health was clear to all with eyes to see, but like extras in a remake of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” reporters averted their glances. The day after the election, they were all in a state of shock, like staff at an asylum who woke one morning to find that the patient who thought he was Napoleon had just been named emperor of France. Once he took office, many publications began keeping running tallies of his lies. But all take a more cautious approach to questions of their origins in his deeply troubled psyche. To date, no major network, newspaper or magazine has run an in-depth analysis of Trump’s mental health.

Yes indeed - which is rather odd, for the simple reason that you don't need an M.A. or a Ph.D. in psychology or psychiatry to say that Donald Trump does not appear quite sane, quite often.

In any case, here is the diagnosis psychologically or psychiatrically educated people have no difficulty assigning to Trump:

The diagnosis we associate with Trump is “narcissistic personality disorder” (a term that only lately replaced “narcissistic character disorder”). You’ll find it in the Diagnostic Survey Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, fifth edition. [4] Back in February, a principal author of the prior edition, Dr. Allen Frances, wrote a letter to the Times rebuking mental health professionals for “diagnosing public figures from a distance” and “amateur diagnosticians” for “mislabeling” Trump with narcissistic personality disorder. Allen says he wrote the criteria defining the disorder and Trump doesn’t have it. His reasoning: Trump “does not suffer the disorder and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.”

Frances does what he accuses others of doing. By saying flatly that Trump doesn’t suffer a disorder, he diagnoses a public figure we assume — for multiple reasons — he hasn’t treated. Nor can he or anyone else tell “from a distance” that Trump doesn’t suffer the requisite impairment and disorder. No president ever seemed so impaired or disordered, but we needn’t compare him only to other rotten presidents. Trump is the Chuck Yeager of lying, a shatterer of records thought untouchable. That he is frozen in pathological, crotch-grabbing adolescence is well documented; that his judgment is often deranged by rage is self-evident.

Curry is quite correct about Allen Frances. My own response to Frances (from February 5, 2017) includes some of the reasons why I don't believe in Frances (and the notes in this quote link back to February 5):

It so happens that I know of Frances since late 2010, when I first read

which taught me (among other things, and I am adding some that I learned later, for I did read rather a lot of psychiatry between 2010 and 2013 [2]):
  • that Allen Frances can't define madness, but he is a specialist on it;
  • that psychiatry was not a science till 1980 - see e.g. The Past of A Delusion - when Robert Spitzer (<-Wikipedia) almost singlehandedly transformed it by writing the DSM-III mostly by himself and made it a real science [3];
  • that the DSMs are all the private initiative and the private property of the American Psychiatric Association, that earned at least a hundred million dollars selling - very expensive - copies of them;
  • that the process of compiling the DSMs is totally private and depends on the decisions of the APA, many of which are secret;
  • that since then the number of "psychiatric disorders" has risen from between 40 and 50 in 1952 till over 400 (!!!) in the DSM 5 (and the DSM IV) [4];
  • that the APA's professionals together with the pharmaceutical corporations made
    many billions of dollars prescribing "psychiatric medicines" [5]; and
  • that I, my ex, and 17 million of others with M.E. are not physically ill with some unknown disease, but are insane according to the vast majority of psychiatrists, and namely because we do not have a disease that current medical science - that exists at most 150 years - can find: Those without an identifiable disease all are insane according to the majority of all psychiatrists [6], and also that
  • according to the psychiatry of the DSM-IV 78% of all the British are not sane.
There is a lot more I could tell about pyschiatry - and see my  DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis" of 2012, that is a long but well-founded criticism of modern psychiatry - but these are some of the facts that convinced me that psychiatry never was a real science, and still is not a real science at all.
For Allen Frances not only described one man he did not see as sane; he also described (implicitly, at least) 17 million persons he did not see, who have my disease, as insane, although he probably did not see any, and certainly not many.

This is from near the end of Curry's article:

I too recoil from quack therapists diagnosing strangers on cable TV. But you don’t need to be a botanist to tell a rose from a dandelion. In 2016 Trump compared Ben Carson to a child molester and pronounced him “incurable,” but few raised the far more real question of Trump’s own mental health. Do we dare not state the obvious? You needn’t be an amateur diagnostician to see that Donald Trump is mentally ill.

Yes indeed.

5. Can We Challenge Health Care Corruption Under Morally Failed Government Leadership?

This article is by Roy M. Poses MD on Health Care Renewal. A part of the reasons this is here are that I have ME/CFS since 1.1.1979, and another part is that I like Health Care Renewal.

This article starts as follows:
An important theme of Health Care Renewal has been health care corruption as a cause of health care dysfunction.

Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as
Abuse of entrusted power for private gain
In 2006, TI published a report on health care corruption, which asserted that corruption is widespread throughout the world, serious, and causes severe harm to patients and society.
the scale of corruption is vast in both rich and poor countries.
Corruption might mean the difference between life and death for those in need of urgent care. It is invariably the poor in society who are affected most by corruption because they often cannot afford bribes or private health care. But corruption in the richest parts of the world also has its costs.
Yet the report did not get much attention and health care corruption
has been nearly a taboo topic in the US, anechoic, presumably because its discussion would offend the people it makes rich and powerful.
Yes, I think thay last conclusion is very probably correct (which incidentally also means, I think, that the USA ceased to be a democracy). Here is some more:
(..) Health Care Renewal has stressed "grand corruption," or the corruption of health care leaders.  We have noted the continuing impunity of top health care corporate managers.  Health care corporations have allegedly used kickbacks and fraud to enhance their revenue, but at best such corporations have been able to make legal settlements that result in fines that small relative to their  multi-billion revenues without admitting guilt.  Almost never are top corporate managers subject to any negative consequences.
Precisely - and also note the parallel between bank managers and health care managers.

The article ends as follows:

Is it still possible to meaningfully address health care corruption in a land whose leader is so corrupt, a "moral failure," unable to "call evil by its name?" Maybe not until that leader is no longer in office. We will find out, but may not be able to survive a long wait.  
I think it is, but I do not live in the USA.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better.

[2] I remind you (again) that when I say "an article is recommended" I mean that I recommend you to read it all (which you can do by clicking its title).

[3] I was first deemed to be "a fascist" in late August of 1977, by philosophy students who probably had just become members of the Dutch Communist Party. I have since been claimed to be a - dirty etc. - "fascist" and a "terrorist, terrorist, terrorist" in 1988, when I was denied the right to take my M.A. in philosophy in the University pf Amsterdam.

Being called "a dirty fascist" and "a terrorist" merely lasted from 1977 till 1989...

In fact, both of my parents were - real - communists for 45 years; both of my parents were in the resistance against the Nazis, as was my grandfather; both my father and my grandfather were arrested by the Nazis in 1941, and convicted to concentration camp imprisonment as "political terrorists", where my grandfather was murdered; and even I was a member of the Dutch communist party from 1968-1970, when I gave up Marxism.

So I think I was offended - tens of times, possibly several hundreds of times - as "a dirty fascist" by sick, morally degenerate, Stalinist terrorists from the ASVA, who all made careers through their membership of the Dutch communist party, while very many earned hundreds of thousands or more of euros that way, for none was ever treated or regarded as I was by them.

[4] In fact, "narcissistic character disorder", which replaced "narcissistic personality disorder" are both very recent psychiatrese terms (that is, terms used mostly by psychiatrists) that both replaced the English term megalomania (that these days has been removed from Wikipedia, that rapidly is growing worse).

And again I say I could remark a great lot here, but I restrict my remarks to the fact that I did make a brilliant M.A. in psychology in Holland, where I did learn precisely nothing about any of the DSMs and also learned precisely nothing about psychiatry, simply because the Dutch psychologists (of the 1970ies, to be sure) were united in the thesis that psychiatry was not a real science and that the DSMs were nonsense.

Those judgements were quite correct. (And I fear they are in the present days of postmodernism out of date.
) And this does not mean that Trump is not a megalomaniac, but it does mean you cannot trust psychiatrists.

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