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Nederlog

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Crisis: On Vietnam, The C.I.A., Climate Denial, "Russia-mania", Diagnosing Trump


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 16, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, September 16, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from September 16, 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:

This article is by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Richard Hughes on The New York Times. It starts as follows, and one part of the reason I am reviewing it is that I have been "concerned with Vietnam" since more than 50 years (indeed also like many of my age, inside and outside the USA):
Phan Thanh Hung Duc, 20, lies immobile and silent, his midsection covered haphazardly by a white shirt with an ornate Cambodian temple design. His mouth is agape and his chest thrusts upward, his hands and feet locked in gnarled deformity. He appears to be frozen in agony. He is one of the thousands of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
There also is a picture in The New York Times, which is not pretty, but well worth seeing if you want to realize what Agent Orange did to people, also to those who were born some 20 years after the war in Vietnam ended.

Here is some more on Agent Orange (<-Wikipedia):
The history of Agent Orange and its effects on the Vietnamese people, as well as American soldiers, should shame Americans. Fifty years ago, in 1967, the United States sprayed 5.1 million gallons of herbicides with the toxic chemical dioxin across Vietnam, a single-year record for the decade-long campaign to defoliate the countryside. It was done without regard to dioxin’s effect on human beings or its virulent and long afterlife. Agent Orange was simply one of several herbicides used, but it has become the most infamous.
And here is more on both American and Vietnamese plaintiffs:
Over the years, there have been both American and Vietnamese plaintiffs in Agent Orange court cases in the United States. Possibly the only one that could be considered a victory for the plaintiffs was an out-of-court settlement of $180 million in the 1980s for about 50,000 American veterans. Many more never benefited from the case because their illnesses did not show up for years.
To put these "50,000 American veterans" in perspective, the following quotation is from the Wikipedia lemma "Vietnam Veterans", which as used in the USA is pretty strict. The following applies only to the US Veterans of the Vietnam War (minus footnotes):

In 2004, the US Census Bureau reported there were 8.2 million Vietnam veterans who were still in the country, 2.59 million of them being reported to have served "in country."

More than 58,000 U.S. military personnel died as a result of the conflict. That includes deaths from all categories including deaths while missing, captured, non-hostile deaths, homicides, and suicides. The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes veterans that served in the country, then known as the Republic of Vietnam, from February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, as being eligible for such programs as the department's Readjustment Counseling Services program, also known as the Vet Centers. The Vietnam War was the last American war with conscription.

It is also true that quite a few of these were not somehow subjected to Agent Orange. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The reason for official American reluctance is not lack of scientific evidence. The problem is the distance between American policy makers and the Vietnamese people. Vietnamese victims are too far removed from the American public, and too reminiscent of an unpopular war. Agent Orange victims are also among the most visually disturbing consequences of the Vietnam War. Few who look at photographer Philip Jones Griffiths’s powerful book of photographs “Agent Orange: ‘Collateral Damage’ in Vietnam” have the stomach to do so twice. It is easier to keep one’s distance, to not look at all.
Yes, although I also guess that the phrase "[t]he problem is the distance between American policy makers and the Vietnamese people" is a polite phrasing of "the American policy makes as a rule don't care for or look down upon the Vietnamese
people".

And this is a recommended article.

2. C.I.A. Wants Authority to Conduct Drone Strikes in Afghanistan for the First Time

This article is by Eric Schmitt and Matthew Rosenberg on The New York Times. This starts as follows:

The C.I.A. is pushing for expanded powers to carry out covert drone strikes in Afghanistan and other active war zones, a proposal that the White House appears to favor despite the misgivings of some at the Pentagon, according to current and former intelligence and military officials.

If approved by President Trump, it would mark the first time the C.I.A. has had such powers in Afghanistan, expanding beyond its existing authority to carry out covert strikes against Al Qaeda and other terrorist targets across the border in Pakistan.

The changes are being weighed as part of a broader push inside the Trump White House to loosen Obama-era restraints on how the C.I.A. and the military fight Islamist militants around the world. The Obama administration imposed the restrictions in part to limit civilian casualties, and the proposed shift has raised concerns among critics that the Trump administration would open the way for broader C.I.A. strikes in such countries as Libya, Somalia and Yemen, where the United States is fighting the Islamic State, Al Qaeda or both.

Until now, the Pentagon has had the lead role for conducting airstrikes — with drones or other aircraft — against militants in Afghanistan and other conflict zones, such as Somalia and Libya and, to some extent, Yemen. The military publicly acknowledges its strikes, unlike the C.I.A., which for roughly a decade has carried out its own campaign of covert drone strikes in Pakistan that were not acknowledged by either country, a condition that Pakistan’s government has long insisted on.

This also is the only bit I quote from this article, and the reason is that the above is quite clear, while the things that the C.I.A. wants - covert drone strikes done by American spies - are completely mistaken.

But this is a recommended article (and I must admit it is probable Trump will approve of this).


3. Ensuring Catastrophe: The Price of Climate Denial

This article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Democracy Now! It starts as follows:

On Sept. 6, 2017, as Houston was reeling from Hurricane Harvey and millions in Florida and the Caribbean were bracing for Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean, President Donald Trump traveled to Mandan, North Dakota, where he stood in front of an oil refinery and touted his administration’s role in slashing environmental protections and promoting the fossil fuel industry. He hailed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL, and boasted about withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

So as climate-change-fueled disasters ravaged the U.S., Trump — the man who called climate change a Chinese hoax — was doing all he could to ensure future catastrophes.

Yes indeed (and for Trump see item 5). There is also this:

On Jan. 24, 2017, four days after assuming the presidency, Donald Trump signed executive orders to accelerate completion and operation of DAPL, as well as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which President Barack Obama had blocked after being confronted for years by mass protest and civil disobedience. By June 1, ETP claimed in a press release that the pipeline was “operational,” presumably meaning oil was flowing through it.

Several days earlier, The Intercept news website reported on 1,100 pages of documents it obtained, detailing how a military/intelligence mercenary group called TigerSwan had been advising ETP and North Dakota law enforcement for months. The Intercept reported, “TigerSwan discusses protesters as ‘terrorists,’ their direct actions as ‘attacks,’ and the camps as a ‘battlefield,’ reveals how the protesters’ dissent was not only criminalized but treated as a national security threat.”

Last month, Energy Transfer Partners sued Greenpeace International, Earth First! and other environmental groups, accusing them of inciting “eco-terrorism” against the pipeline’s construction. Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, countered that the lawsuit is an attempt “to taint constitutionally protected, science-based free speech advocacy. They’re trying to criminalize healthy, righteous protest.”

The price: the planet.

I completely agree with Annie Leonard, and this is a recommended article.

Then again, there is one possible correction I should make when speaking of climate change:

I think it is real and I think it is very important, but I do not think this is THE important cause of the very many environmental problems humans do have: It would seem to me that the main cause is that there are (far) too many people on earth, at least with the capitalist economy we have. But this is an aside.


4. The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia

This article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
Reading The New York Times these days is like getting a daily dose of the “Two Minutes Hate” as envisioned in George Orwell’s 1984, except applied to America’s new/old enemy Russia. Even routine international behavior, such as Russia using fictitious names for potential adversaries during a military drill, is transformed into something weird and evil.
I think Robert Parry is right and I definitely agree with him on his opposition to the "Russia-mania" that seems to have gripped the NYT, CNN, and much of the mainstream media, and indeed also the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton (and I wrote quite a few time in Nederlog about this "Russia-mania").

Here is one totalitarian aspect of the Times:

Yet, as far as the Times and its many imitators in the major media are concerned, there’s one standard for “us” and another for Russia and other countries that “we” don’t like.

Yes indeed - and besides the many arguments that I have quoted in various Nederlogs (by William Binney, by the VIPS, by Parry and by more) one of the quite odd things about this Russia-mania is that Russia is a quite capitalist country, indeed in part thanks to the help of the Americans: It is not socialist anymore in any sense.

Here is more on the decline of factual, honest and informed journalism, and its replacement by political hysteria:

But the Times’ behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The “newspaper of record” has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America’s global empire.

Except in today’s instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America’s Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you’ll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that.
If so - and at least it looks like it - then The New York Times is being hysterical and quite irresponsible.

Here is the last bit, that seems correct to me:

The truth is that the world has much less to fear from the calculating Vladimir Putin than from the guy who might follow a deposed Vladimir Putin amid economic desperation and political chaos in Russia. But the possibility of nuclear Armageddon doesn’t seem to bother the neocon/liberal-interventionist New York Times. Nor apparently does the principle of fair and honest journalism.

The Times and rest of the mainstream media are just having too much fun hating Russia and Putin to worry about the possible extermination of life on planet Earth.

And this is a recommended article.


5. "A Duty to Warn" and the Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

This article is by Bill Moyers (<-Wikipedia) and Robert Jay Lifton (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams. It starts with the following very sane summary:

Renowned psychiatrist says despite "Goldwater Rule," mental health experts have unique responsibility when someone in power may be dangerous

Yes, precisely. And since I am a psychologist, who has been agreeing with other psychologists and psychiatrists since the beginning of 2016 that Trump is insane, I will pay considerably more attention to this fine article than I would do otherwise
(and I am allowed to, incidentally, because of the - excellent - Common Dreams'  Creative Commons Attribution).

The article, which is mostly a long and very good interview, starts with the following introduction by Bill Moyers:

There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the work of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts to assess President Trump’s mental health. They had come together last March at a conference at Yale University to wrestle with two questions. One was on countless minds across the country: “What’s wrong with him?” The second was directed to their own code of ethics: “Does Professional Responsibility Include a Duty to Warn” if they conclude the president to be dangerously unfit?

As mental health professionals, these men and women respect the long-standing “Goldwater rule” which inhibits them from diagnosing public figures whom they have not personally examined. At the same time, as explained by Dr. Bandy X Lee, who teaches law and psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, the rule does not have a countervailing rule that directs what to do when the risk of harm from remaining silent outweighs the damage that could result from speaking about a public figure — “which in this case, could even be the greatest possible harm.” It is an old and difficult moral issue that requires a great exertion of conscience.
I completely agree: I think this will be a very important book, indeed because it is by mental health specialists who explain that the most powerful man on earth is not sane,
and I also agree with Dr. Lee that the so-called Goldwater Rule is simply mistaken in cases where "
the risk of harm from remaining silent outweighs the damage that could result from speaking about a public figure".

And Donald Trump is such a public figure, and I do believe (and agree) that scientists do have a duty to warn the public in case they know of considerable public dangers that threaten many, and that fall within their own fields of science.

Here is more:

Hence, this profound, illuminating and discomforting book undertaken as “a duty to warn.”

The foreword is by one of America’s leading psychohistorians, Robert Jay Lifton. He is renowned for his studies of people under stress — for books such as Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (1967), Home from the War: Vietnam Veterans — Neither Victims nor Executioners (1973), and The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocidewas the first in-depth study of how medical professionals rationalized their participation in the Holocaust, from the early stages of the Hitler’s euthanasia project to extermination camps. (1986). The Nazi Doctors

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump will be published Oct. 3 by St. Martin’s Press.

Here is my interview with Robert Jay Lifton — Bill Moyers

Incidentally (and I did not know this until I checked it), the choice of Robert Jay Lifton (<- Wikipedia) is a very good one, and I will probably pay some more attention to him in later Nederlogs. Also, he is not just a "psychohistorian" but he is also an M.D. and a psychiatrist.

The interview starts as follows:

Bill Moyers: This book is a withering exploration of Donald Trump’s mental state. Aren’t you and the 26 other mental health experts who contribute to it in effect violating the Goldwater Rule? Section 7.3 of the American Psychiatrist Association’s code of ethics flatly says: “It is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization.” Are you putting your profession’s reputation at risk?

Robert Jay Lifton: I don’t think so. I think the Goldwater Rule is a little ambiguous. We adhere to that portion of the Goldwater Rule that says we don’t see ourselves as making a definitive diagnosis in a formal way and we don’t believe that should be done, except by hands-on interviewing and studying of a person. But we take issue with the idea that therefore we can say nothing about Trump or any other public figure. We have a perfect right to offer our opinion, and that’s where “duty to warn” comes in.

I think I somewhat disagree with Lifton here, but then I am neither an American, nor a psychiatrist and also not a member of the APA, and my opinion is that the Goldwater Rule is false and immoral, and was mainly instituted to protect the incomes of psychiatrists.

In fact, my own opinion is that the Goldwater Rule should be replaced by a rule that says that "it is not unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion on a public figure, if he or she is both serious and the evidence is based on factual psychiatric grounds", simply because it is the duty of scientists to warn people of the clear and evident dangers that they believe exist with reference to their own field of science.

Then again, I will not insist on that, since Lifton is quite correct in his last quoted statement.

And here is some more on the duty to warn, on which Lipton is quite correct (in my opinion):

Moyers: Duty to warn?

Lifton: We have a duty to warn on an individual basis if we are treating someone who may be dangerous to herself or to others — a duty to warn people who are in danger from that person. We feel it’s our duty to warn the country about the danger of this president. If we think we have learned something about Donald Trump and his psychology that is dangerous to the country, yes, we have an obligation to say so. That’s why Judith Herman and I wrote our letter to The New York Times. We argue that Trump’s difficult relationship to reality and his inability to respond in an evenhanded way to a crisis renders him unfit to be president, and we asked our elected representative to take steps to remove him from the presidency.

First the reason why I stress this:

I do think that people who assert their own expertise on mental health (which is what both psychiatrists and psychologists do, and get paid for) do have a duty to warn other people if they think that political or religious leaders are (dangerously) insane, simply because if their expert knowledge is mostly right then such insane leaders may start wars of conflicts in their insanity that may cost the lives of very many persons.

And second, Judith Herman (<- Wikipedia) who is professor of psychiatry in the Harvard Medical School) is among the specialists I quoted in "Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill?"  in fact in the form of a letter she wrote to president Obama on November 29, 2016.

There is also this - which may be an aside but which is relevant:

Moyers: Do you recall that there was a comprehensive study of all 37 presidents up to 1974? Half of them reportedly had a diagnosable mental illness, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. It’s not normal people who always make it to the White House.

Lifton: Yes, that’s amazing, and I’m sure it’s more or less true.
Yes, but this requires at least three remarks:

First, I agree that "
it’s not normal people who always make it to the White House" and indeed I also would agree that it's also not always the best nor the most moral nor the most intelligen nor the most qualified (or really honest people) who make it to the White House.

But second "mental illness" is (especially since the DSM-5, that now has more than 450 ways to declare people insane, as different from the around 50 there were in the 1950ies - and see e.g. here and here for some fine literature on these issues) a quite vague concept that also is used in vague ways.

And third, of the American presidents that I have consciously seen in my life - from Eisenhower onwards - that also covers such definitely not-great presidents like Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr., it seems to me that Donald Trump is far crazier than any of them, and also far less prepared to be president than any of them, in terms of political experiences.

But this is an aside. Here is more about another "APA", namely about the American Psychological Association, which is not at all the same as the American Psychiatric Association, but which also had its scandal, namely in defending the architects of torture:

Moyers: And this is what troubled you and many of your colleagues about the psychologists who helped implement the US policy of torture after 9/11.

Lifton: Absolutely. And I call that a scandal within a scandal, because yes, it was indeed professionals who became architects of torture, and their professional society, the American Psychological Association, which encouraged and protected them until finally protest from within that society by other members forced a change. So that was a dreadful moment in the history of psychology and in the history of professionals in this country.

Yes, I quite agree.

Then there is this on the diagnosis of Trump (<- the first more or less full diagnosis of Trump that I gave, on March 14, 2016):

Moyers: Some of the descriptions used to describe Trump — narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, delusional disorder, malignant narcissist — even some have suggested early forms of dementia — are difficult for lay people to grasp. Some experts say that it’s not one thing that’s wrong with him — there are a lot of things wrong with him and together they add up to what one of your colleagues calls “a scary witches brew, a toxic stew.”

Lifton: (...) He’s not psychotic, but I think ultimately this solipsistic reality will be the source of his removal from the presidency.

Ahem. I agree that "the public" and indeed also most journalists simply are not qualified to judge Trump's psychology: If one wants to make rational and fact-based scientific pronouncements on Trump's psychology one should have studied psychology or psychiatry, it seems to me.

Next, I simply discarded nearly all of the many journalistic attempts that somehow diagnose Trump, simply because these rarely seem to be well informed.

Finally, if I am supposed to use the DSM (which is in fact what - at least - most American and many European psychiatrists do) and turn to the latest DSM, which is the DSM-5 or the previous one, the DSM IV, then there is only one diagnosis that fits Trump (in my psychologically trained eyes) and that is that he is a narcissist. (And I agree with Felton - and I have seen psychotic people - that Trump is - normally, at least, and in public - not psychotic, but he also is, normally at least, rather mad, e.g. in view of his pretty insane and interminable evident lies).

Then there is this by Lifton, that I somewhat disagree with:

Lifton: Yes. Well, while Trump doesn’t have any systematic ideology, he does have a narrative, and in that narrative, America was once a great country, it’s been weakened by poor leadership, and only he can make it great again by taking over. And that’s an image of himself as a strongman, a dictator. It isn’t the clear ideology of being a fascist or some other clear-cut ideological figure. Rather, it’s a narrative of himself as being unique and all-powerful.

I am not a psychiatrist, though I am a psychologist, and I am also a philosopher [2], with a considerable knowledge of fascism and the many meanings of the term "fascism", which I also explained: See On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions.

And in terms of the definitions I reached for "fascism" (of which I have read no less than 21 definitions or attempted definitions) and for "neofascism" (of which I could not find any decent definition not by myself), I think Trump is, quite clearly also, a neofascist, in terms of my definition.

I do not think Trump is much of an explicit ideologist, a philosopher or a thinker, but if you compare my definition of neofascism and Trump's many sayings and doings, it seems a quite fair case can be made that Trump is a neofascist.

Then again, Lifton is quite correct in insisting that Trump is not sane:

Lifton: In addition to being a strongman and a dictator, there’s a pervasive sense of entitlement. Whatever he wants, whatever he needs in his own mind, he can have. It’s a kind of American celebrity gone wild, but it’s also a vicious anti-female perspective and a caricature of male macho. That’s all present in Trump as well as the solipsism that I mentioned earlier, and that’s why when people speak of him as all-pervasive on many different levels of destructiveness, they’re absolutely right.

There is more, but I turn to the diagnosis of Trump - namely that he is an extreme aka grandiose aka malignant narcissist, all in terms of the DSM-5 or IV [3] - with which I agree, as does Lifton to a large extent:

Moyers: You mentioned extreme narcissism. I’m sure you knew Erich Fromm —

Lifton: Yes, I did.

Moyers: — one of the founders of humanistic psychology. He was a Holocaust survivor who had a lifelong obsession with the psychology of evil. And he said that he thought “malignant narcissism” was the most severe pathology — “the root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity.” Do you think malignant narcissism goes a long way to explain Trump?

Lifton: I do think it goes a long way. In early psychoanalytic thought, narcissism was — and still, of course, is — self-love. The early psychoanalysts used to talk of libido directed at the self. That now feels a little quaint, that kind of language. But it does include the most fierce and self-displaying form of one’s individual self. And in this way, it can be dangerous. When you look at Trump, you can really see someone who’s destructive to any form of life enhancement in virtually every area. And if that’s what Fromm means by malignant narcissism, then it definitely applies.

First a correction: As you can see from the Wikipedia item on Erich Fromm, he was Jewish, but he was not, himself, a victim of the Holocaust.

But second, I agree with Lifton that the best diagnosis I can give, on the basis of the DSM-4 or the DSM-5, is that Trump is - in those terms - a malignant (aka grandiose) narcissist, and I also agree that such narcissists, especially if they are powerful, are extremely dangerous to many others.

And there is this on Trump's ability to start a nuclear war within five minutes:

Moyers: There’s a chapter in the book entitled, “He’s Got the World in His Hands and His Finger on the Trigger.” Do you ever imagine him sitting alone in his office, deciding on a potentially catastrophic course of action for the nation? Say, with five minutes to decide whether or not to unleash thermonuclear weapons?

Lifton: I do. And like many, I’m deeply frightened by that possibility. It’s said very often that, OK, there are people around him who can contain him and restrain him. I’m not so sure they always can or would. In any case, it’s not unlikely that he could seek to create some kind of crisis, if he found himself in a very bad light in relation to public opinion and close to removal from office. So yes, I share that fear and I think it’s a real danger. I think we have to constantly keep it in mind, be ready to anticipate it and take whatever action we can against it. The American president has particular power. This makes Trump the most dangerous man in the world. He’s equally dangerous because of his finger on the nuclear trigger and because of his mind ensconced in solipsistic reality. The two are a dreadful combination.

I almost completely agree with Lifton, except that I say that Trump seems far more dangerous than e.g. Nixon, because Nixon - who indeed also was not "a normal man" - did not have "his mind ensconced in solipsistic reality", which - I agree - Trump has (and it also seems: always).

And then there is this, which is less about Trump and more about those who voted for him, and that concerns the qualities of what is called "American democracy":
 

Moyers: You bring up his base. Those true believers aren’t the only ones who voted for him. As we are talking, I keep thinking: Here we have a man who kept asking what’s the point of having thermonuclear weapons if we cannot use them; who advocates using torture or worse against our prisoners of war; who urged that five innocent young people here in New York, black young people, be given the death penalty for a sexual assault, even after it was proven someone else had committed the crime; who boasted about his ability to get away with sexually assaulting women because of his celebrity and power; who urged his followers at political rallies to punch protesters in the face and beat them so badly that they have to be taken out on stretchers; who suggested that maybe some of his followers might want to assassinate his political rival, Hillary Clinton, if she were elected president, or at the very least, throw her in prison; who believes he would not lose voters if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot someone. And over 63 million people voted to elect that man president!

Lifton: Yes, that’s a deeply troubling truth. And I doubt the people who voted for him were thinking about any of these things.
Lifton is probably correct that most voting for Trump were not thinking about any of the facts that Moyers mentions.

Then again, I think they should have, and the fact that 63 million Americans did not (for the most part) for me is one reason to believe that democracy is almost wholly dead in the USA:

If half of the voters in the country are so
stupid and/or so ignorant that they elect an insane always lying bluffer as their president, then they are simply not competent to make real democratic choices (and primarily not because of the lamentable choices they do make, but because their grounds to choose are - well: stupid and ignorant).

Another reason (for me) to believe that democracy is almost wholly dead in the USA is the enormous transfer of power and decisions to the very few who are very rich, that has been quite systematic ever since Lewis Powell Jr. warned the rich in 1971.

And a third reason (for me) to believe that
democracy is almost wholly dead in the USA is the fact that most Americans seem to have given up any attempt to be a rational citizen, and - for the most part - indulge in being manipulated consumers. (In case the third point is not clear, see "The Century of the Self" (<-Wikipedia).)

Finally, here is the last bit that I'll quote from this fine article:

Moyers: Some people who have known Trump for years say he’s gotten dramatically worse since he was inaugurated. In the prologue to The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, Dr. Judith Lewis Herman writes this: “Fostered by the flattery of underlings and the chance of crowds, a political leader’s grandiosity may morph into grotesque delusions of grandeur.” Does that —

Lifton: That’s absolutely true. It’s absolutely true. And for anyone with these traits — of feeling himself victimized, of seeking to be the strongman who resolves everything, yet sees truth only through his own self and negates all other truth outside of it — is bound to become much more malignant when he has power. That’s what Judith Herman is saying, and she’s absolutely right.
I completely agree with Lifton.

And this is a quite important article that is strongly recommended.

------------------------------
  Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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] In fact, that is what I am primarily, and I have done all the work for an M.A. in philosophy, but then I was - quite illegally - refused the right to take that M.A. because I had criticized my "teachers" of philosophy and I had criticized the Board of Directors of the "University" of Amsterdam.

In Holland, real critics of the university (of which I do not know any other, since 1977) are treated like that: They are illegally refused to take an academic degree they did all the work for, excellently also.

So all I can say is that academically I have a B.A. (with an A) in philosophy, who after being refused an M.A. in philosophy decided to take an M.A. in psychology (in which I succeeded, still ill, also with an A).

[3] In fact, I do not like the DSM 5 (or any of its predecessors) and I disagree with it (as do many psychologists), but I am using it simply because the DSMs are commonly used by most American and many European psychiatrists.
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