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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Crisis: Trump's Intelligence, On Pot, "Spiritualism", Clinton & Pilger, On Orwell

Sections                                                crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 29, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, October 29, 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 and since nearly two years (!!!!) 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 October 29, 2017
1. Trump's Bizarre Obsession With His Obviously
     Questionable Intelligence

2. Thousands Serving Long Sentences in an Era of
     Pot Liberalization

3. How to Reverse the 'Spiritual Blackout' That
     Trump Has Ushered into America

4. Hillary Clinton Keeps Pointing Fingers
5. Saving Orwell
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. Trump's Bizarre Obsession With His Obviously Questionable Intelligence

This article is by Peter Dreier on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Many Americans complain that Donald Trump has a tiny vocabulary. But he disproved his critics Wednesday during an impromptu press conference on the South Lawn of the White House.

In the past, Trump has repeatedly reminded people about his keen intellect by insisting “I’m smart.” Wednesday, he dug deep into his massive personal word bank and uttered a five-word sentence, “I’m a very intelligent person.”

I take it this beginning is a bit sarcastic, but I agree that Donald Trump is not "a very intelligent person". Then again, I also think this is not the most important fact about him. I will come to that below, but here are first a few examples of how Trump boasts his own - he thinks - extreme intelligence:

Even long before he started running for president, Trump repeatedly claimed that he’s both well-educated and brainy. Each time, it isn’t clear if he’s trying to convince his interviewers or himself.

In a 2004 interview with CNN, Trump said, “I went to the Wharton School of Finance. I got very good marks. I was a good student. It’s the best business school in the world, as far as I’m concerned.”

In 2011, in an interview with ABC, Trump said, “Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy. I was a really good student at the best school in the country,” referring once again to Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania’s business school, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1968.

There is considerably more in the article. Here I make just three points:

First, Trump was admitted to Wharton because of special relations his father had, and not because of his academic brilliance: That was wholly absent.

Second, if you attempt to prove your great intelligence by stating that you got a B.A. it seems this itself is sufficient you are not (which indeed also would have been different if he had gotten a fine Ph.D. in mathematics or physics).

Third, his B.A. is in the non-science of business.

Next, there is this about Trump's real intelligence:

Anyone who feels compelled to boast how smart he is clearly suffers from a profound insecurity about his intelligence and accomplishments. In Trump’s case, he has good reason to have doubts.

Trump has the kind of street smarts (what he’s called “gut instinct”) characteristic of con artists and hucksters, but his limited vocabulary, short attention span, ignorance of policy specifics, indifference to scientific evidence, and admitted aversion to reading raise questions about his intellectual abilities—his capacity to absorb and analyze information and ideas.

Many observers have noted that Trump has a difficult time expressing himself and speaking in complete sentences. A linguistic analysis by Politico found that Trump speaks at a fourth-grade level. A study by researchers at Carnegie- Mellon University compared last year’s Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in terms of their vocabulary and grammar. Trump scored at a fifth-grade level, the lowest of all the candidates.

Well... yes and no.

That is, I agree with the stated facts, but - being a psychologist - I explain these facts in another way than the article does:

I think that the "profound insecurity about his intelligence and accom- plishments" is part and parcel of his being - as the psychiatrists say - "a malignant narcissist", which I translate from this awful psychiatrese into English as: he has megalomania, which is a quite serious mental pathology. [2]

And it is this fact that I think ought to typify Donald Trump, although it also seems as if hardly any journalists reads psychology or psychiatry, or knows much about it - which is the case (in my - extensive - experience) since 1 1/2 years now (about Donald Trump).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, from near its end:

Many observers have noted Trump’s sociopathic, thin-skinned, demagogic, authoritarian, impulsive, and vindictive personality. Although Trump has the self-awareness of an adolescent, it is obvious to many others that his compulsion to constantly boast “I’m smart” and to deride others as “losers” is rooted in his profound sense of insecurity.

Presidents don’t have to be geniuses. But a successful president must recognize his own limitations and be willing to rely on others’ expertise.
No, I think this is too ignorant of what - it seems meanwhile 62,000 - psychologists have argued, namely that Trump is a very bad choice as a president because he is mad.

Also, I am getting rather sick of pointing out that "sociopathy" and indeed "malignant narcissism" are recent tech terms of American psychia- trists that are both copied as a matter of course by Wikipedia (that even banned the word megalomania from the list of its lemmas) and that "sociopathy", like very much that emerged from American psychiatry since 1980 is fallacious bullshit:

A "sociopath" is merely someone whose opinions differ from the currently most popular ones, and should not be a ground to call someone insane, indeed except in the former Soviet Union, where this was widely practised, also before "sociopathy" was advanced by American psychiatrists for - what I take to be - the same reasons as the Soviet psychiatry practised it: To defame persons and lock them up as insane, while the only thing provably wrong with them is that they disagree with the government.

And in fact the correct term for "sociopathy", which also has a rather different definition, is the term "psychopathy", that again has been banished from American psychiatry, although it is kept up by a few sane psychiatrists.

In any case, my reading of Trump is that he is mad because he is an evident megalomaniac, and that he is very dangerous for these reasons.

But this is a recommended article, because it gives  information about Trump's fairly low intelligence.


2. Thousands Serving Long Sentences in an Era of Pot
Liberalization

This article is by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet.

“There are people serving life for marijuana,” Deedee Kirkwood says. “When I tell people about this, they don’t believe me.”

It does defy plausibility, even in the context of the American criminal justice system, which is hardly famous for being rational or sane. According to the ACLU’s “A Living Death” report, as of 2012, 3,278 people were serving life without parole for nonviolent crimes—and that’s just federally and in nine states. The states that have locked away the most people per capita are Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.

Even at a time when more Americans support pot legalization—a Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 64 percent of Americans want legal weed—Fate Winslow is not the only person serving an absurdly long sentence for marijuana.

I say, because I did not know that no less than "64 percent of Americans" want legal weed, although I did know that quite a few are locked up for life for the crime of owning or selling small amounts of marijuana, and quite a few others get very long sentences for the same crime.

In contrast, being Dutch I could get stoned the last fifty (!!!) years without running any risk whatsoever on any legal prosecution (if one buys no more than 5 grams a day).

Also, while I think since 48 years (at least) that marijuana is the least dangerous recreative drug of all (including the - much more dangerous - alcohol) and while the Dutch have kept marijuana illegal all these years (it seems because Dutch politicians have earned rather large illegal amounts of money by keeping it illegal the last 30 years), at least they were sane enough of not prosecuting anyone at all for smoking or owning small amounts of marijuana.

Here is one more bit from this article:

The Gallup survey released this week(referenced above) found that for the first time, even a majority of Republicans support marijuana legalization.

Even if the Sessions DoJ did shake up markets for a bit, that’s a far cry from dying in prison for a drug most college kids can get any night of the week by texting their weed delivery guy.

I did not know that "even a majority of Republicans support marijuana legalization" but I can assure them that anybody could get as stoned as they pleased in Holland for the last fifty years, while all these years there has been very little harm done by smoking marijuana.

There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.


3. How to Reverse the 'Spiritual Blackout' That Trump Has Ushered into America

This article is by Adam Szetela on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Not many people can say they have done yoga with Amy Goodman. But then again, not many people have been to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Founded in 1977, the institute has been a spiritual haven and progressive force in a world cut through with hate, anger and ignorance. Last week, the institute held a multi-day retreat focused on the union of contemplative wisdom and political activism. In between yoga poses, performative art, meditation sessions, and communal dining, leaders of the progressive left gave talks on how to proceed in difficult times. Here is what they had to say.

I should say that I am not much (or at all) impressed by "a spiritual haven and progressive force in a world cut through with hate, anger and ignorance", if only because this sounds far too dogmatic and far too vague.

Perhaps it is because I am also not into "yoga poses, performative art, [and] meditation sessions" and indeed none of these had much or anything to do with Left politics, about which I do know quite a lot. Or at least not till recently.

Here is some more:

Cornel West helped to kick off Friday evening with a fiery sermon that condemned neoliberalism and the rising tide of neofascism in America. His words were soaked in metaphors, alliteration and the hip-hop style that Harvard president Larry Summers once called "an embarrassment." In between his rebuke of Wall Street and its political puppets, West made the important point that what America is experiencing is not just economic and political tyranny, but an “eclipse of integrity, honesty, decency, and generosity. It is the escalation of gangster-like sensibilities.”

Hm. I agree that neoliberalism and neofascism often come to quite the same (read my lemma neofascism before you disagree), but I deny that - right now, or in the recent past - "what America is experiencing is [..] just economic and political tyranny": It may grow into that, but it is not there yet.

Then there is this, that for this psychologist is merely the latest of some 50 years of similar baloney:

For Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is a valuable tool activists can use to better understand how “conditioned” and “robotic” their minds are.

O wow! "mindfulness" can be used "to better understand" "how “conditioned” and “robotic” their minds" (unenlightened by Kabat-Zinn, to be sure) are.

I am sorry, but this is just fashionable bullshit. [3] And this article ends as follows:

Ultimately, all the speakers concurred that the current historical moment is representative of a broader moral and spiritual crisis in America. They also made the point that Trump has enormous power as president to further degrade the moral and spiritual climate in our country. It is up to the people to ensure that greed, hate, anger, sexism, patriarchy, transphobia, xenophobia, and the whole potpourri of what West describes as "neoliberal soulcraft" does not continue to spread across America and the rest of the world. To stop this, we will not only need mass movements; we will need an understanding of where our shortcomings are, the ability to listen to those we disagree with, and a whole lot of empathy and love.
I am sorry, once again, to read that "It is up to the people to ensure that greed, hate, anger, sexism, patriarchy, transphobia, xenophobia, and the whole potpourri of what West describes as "neoliberal soulcraft" does not continue to spread across America and the rest of the world."

My main reason is that "the people" did not ensure any of that the last fifty years: It is just bombastic baloney.


4. Hillary Clinton Keeps Pointing Fingers

This article by Dennis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows and is in fact an interview with John Pilger:

Because of the failure of the corporate press to report fully on Hillary Clinton’s policy failures throughout her career, it was difficult for voters to perceive how dangerous her presidency might have been, although many Democratic voters bolted to Bernie Sanders and enough Americans voted against her last November to give Donald Trump his narrow Electoral College victory.

In the following conversation with the legendary filmmaker and muckraking journalist John Pilger, we leap off from his recent article regarding Clinton’s new book and her recent appearance on Australian Broadcasting (ABC).

I like John Pilger and that is one reason to review this article. But here is more:

John Pilger: (...) When I was in New York recently I read quite a few interviews conducted by female reporters with Hillary Clinton in which she was portrayed as a feminist and therefore all else should be set aside if not forgiven.  This was what came across in the Sarah Ferguson interview.  It opens with “your pain seemed almost visceral, describe your pain to us.”  It was as if she were being invited to lie on a therapist’s couch instead of being interviewed.  This has run right through interviews with Clinton by women journalists.  The whole question of identity politics has such potency now that a corrupt politician who deceived and abused the electorate can be held up as a martyr.

Yes, and I have two remarks on this:

First, since my parents were both communists all their adult lives, as was a grandfather, while I also had two grandparents who were anarchists all their adult lives, I am quite well informed about Left politics including feminism. And about the "feminism" I have seen since the late 1960ies, that introduced a lot of "identity-politics", postmodernism, and bullshit, I say it never was real feminism, as follows from the fact that a few academic "feminists" helped to make all women into wage-slaves, because that way the academic "feminists" had nice, well-paid, mostly postmodernistic careers.

Second, "identity politics", like postmodernism and political correctness, are all plain totalitarian baloney.

And there is this on censorship:

Dennis Bernstein: The feeling you get in watching this whole thing unfold is that this is a full-court press to distract from the content of the released emails.

John Pilger: It is very easy to distract attention from something if you simply don’t mention it.  I have always felt that the most virulent form of censorship is censorship by omission.  The whole nefarious state of the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation is simply left out of these interviews.  Hillary Clinton is able to plead a kind of special case for herself because she is a woman and a feminist.

Yes, precisely. There is considerably more in this article, that is recom- mended.


5. Saving Orwell

This article is by Peter Ross on the Boston Review Net. This is from near the beginning:
We were in Senate House, now part of the University of London, for 1984 Live. For the first time in the United Kingdom, the book was to be read aloud publicly from start to finish. It had been estimated that it would take sixty or so readers—well-known journalists, academics, actors, activists—thirteen hours, that Orwellian number, to get from the bright cold day to the gin-scented tears.

The event was being staged as part of the University College London Festival of Culture and organized by the Orwell Foundation, a charity celebrating the author’s work and values. Its director, Jean Seaton, explained that the idea had come “last summer, just after Brexit, but before Trump. The world felt dark and full of lies. Still does.”
This is from a rather long article, and the only thing I have to note about the above bit is that it does seem to be (bolding added) "the first time in the United Kingdom", that is, in the 68 years it existed.

I skip a lot and arrive at this bit:
Orwell grew concerned that the novel was being interpreted across the Atlantic as an anti-communist or anti-left polemic, rather than the warning against totalitarianism that he had intended. True, he said, the name he had given to the political ideology of Oceania was Ingsoc—or English Socialism—but he could easily have chosen something different: “In the USA the phrase ‘Americanism’ or ‘hundred per cent Americanism’ is suitable and . . . as totalitarian as anyone could wish.”
Yes, that is also correct (I know, for I have read almost all of Orwell): Orwell was a socialist, at least since 1937, and he also died a socialist, and those who deny this either lie or have not read him.

As to reading Orwell, here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
This flesh-and-blood Orwell is not well known. He exists more vividly as a set of ideas and moral positions that can be used to shore up one’s own argument. Being conveniently dead, he has been pressed into the service of various causes, from invading Afghanistan to remaining part of the European Union. Conservative commentators have described as “Orwellian” the removal of Confederate statues from public space, while liberal pundits have suggested that Antifa—which supports taking down the statues—displays a certain comradeship with Orwell in its willingness to take a physical stand against fascism. There is a tendency by both left and right, as the journalist Paul Gray once wrote, “to hold Orwell’s coat while sending his ghost out to battle.”
Well... if the "flesh-and-blood Orwell is not well known" this must be because people refuse to read him, but are not at all above pretending they did, and falsifying his intentions and his - quite clear - words.

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

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] I observe that (i) the term "megalomania" did exist in the Wikipedia, 1 1/2 year ago; (ii) it has since been totally disappeared in favor of the bullshit psychiatrese "malignant (or: grandiose) narcissism", while (iii) I see no reason whatsoever for deleting the term "megalo- mania" and insisting on - the awful and ugly - psychiatrese.

Then again, I see many signs that the Wikipedia is being taken over.

[3] I am sorry, but I am a philosopher and a psychologist, and I have recently looked into mindfulness and Kabat-Zinn because a girlfriend that I had in the late 1960ies turned to that. Well, I say it is bombastic nonsense.
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