January 11, 2018

Crisis: On Trump´s Insanity, Washington Post, Monarchism,´Stable Genius´,  Nuclear Arms


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from January 11, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, January 11, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from January 11, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Is Mr. Trump Nuts?
2. The Washington Post Lied While Correcting President Trump's 1,950 Lies
3. Time to Bring a Monarchy to the U.S., or Time to End One?
4. Trump, the 'Very Stable Genius,' Is Falling Apart as Mueller Seeks

5. Rising Concerns About Nuclear War as Trump Prepares to Loosen
     Constraints on Weapons

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. Is Mr. Trump Nuts?

This article is by The Editorial Board of The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Is Donald Trump mentally fit to be president of the United States? It’s an understandable question, and it’s also beside the point.

Understandable because Mr. Trump’s behavior in office — impulsive, erratic, dishonest, childish, crude — is so alarming, and so far from what Americans expect in their chief executive, that it cries out for a deeper explanation.

It’s beside the point not because a president’s mental capacity doesn’t matter, nor because we should blindly accept our leaders’ declarations of their own stability, let alone genius. Rather, we don’t need a medical degree or a psychiatric diagnosis to tell us what is wrong with Mr. Trump. It’s obvious to anyone who listens to him speak, reads his tweets and sees the effects of his behavior — on the presidency, on the nation and its most important institutions, and on the integrity of the global order.

I am sorry, but I am a psychologist, and this is simply total bullshit.

Here are some of my remarks:

First, questions of mental fitness are professionally judged by psychologists and psychiatrists, and also (perhaps) by judges in court, mostly on the basis of some testimony by some psychologist, psychiatrist or medical person.

Thus, I had to study (officially) six years to get my M.A. in psychology. You may say that you do not believe that six years of studying qualify people to make accurate judgements about mental characteristics, but this is not done: All of these professional qualifications are declared - implicitly - to be nonsense by The Editorial Board of the NYT - and I would be rather amazed if this board contains as much as one psychologically/psychiatrically or medically trained person.

Second, I am a psychologist, who did read the statement that Trump is not sane for the first time on March 14, 2016, eight months before Trump was declared to be president. And since the verification that Trump satisfies 9 out of 9 criterions that are being used by psychiatrists to decide whether someone has a narcissistic personality disorder only requires observational statements, while satisfying 5 out of 9 criterions is sufficient for the diagnosis that Trump probably has a narcissistic personality disorder, I felt (and feel) quite correct when I decided in March 2016 that Trump does have a narcissistic personality disorder.

Third, at that time The New York Times did not at all insist that ¨we don’t need a medical degree or a psychiatric diagnosis to tell us what is wrong with Mr. Trump. It’s obvious to anyone who listens to him speak, reads his tweets and sees the effects of his behavior¨: it simply totally avoided those questions. (And since when are statements by people who have been trained for - at least - six years to evaluate the mental capacities of other persons declared wholly irrelevant? Is it also wholly irrelevant if physicists decide that one´s reporting on physics are correct?! Or if mathematicians decide that one´s reporting on mathematics is correct?!)

Fourth, in fact The Editorial Board of The New York Times wholly avoids the question what it is that is ¨obvious to anyone who listens to him speak, reads his tweets and sees the effects of his behavior¨ and at the same times both strongly suggests he is insane and insists that questions of insanity are not the province of psychologists and psychiatrists.

Here is more by The Editorial Board:

Mr. Trump hasn’t undergone a mental-health evaluation, at least not one made public. But even if his behavior were diagnosed as an illness, what would that tell us that we don’t already know? Plenty of people with mental disorders or disabilities function at high levels of society. Conversely, if Mr. Trump were found to have no diagnosable illness, he would be no more fit for the office he holds than he is today.

The problem lies in trying to locate the essence of Mr. Trump’s unfitness in the unknowable reaches of his mind, as opposed to where we can all openly see it and address it in political terms. As the psychiatrist Allen Frances told The Times: “You can’t say enough about how incompetent and unqualified he is to be leader of the free world. But that does not make him mentally ill.”

More total nonsense by The Editorial Board:

As to the first quoted paragraph:

Either the judgements of people who have been academically trained for six years to pronounce on the mental characteristics of people have some professional sense (as is daily presumed by the courts) or else the professions of a psychologist and of a psychiatrist are total bullshit. The Editorial Board in effect takes the second position.

Besides: What percentage corresponds to ¨[p]lenty of people¨?! 5%? 10%? 25%? 50%? 75%? 90%? I have no idea whatsoever, and if it were true in some sense that ¨[p]lenty of people with mental disorders or disabilities function at high levels of society¨, then I do think it makes sense to seriously worry about the levels at which people who ¨function at high levels of society¨ in fact do function.

As to the second paragraph:

Firstly, according to the fraud Frances about 17 million people with ME/CFS, of which I am one since nearly forty years (!!), are probably insane on the basis of his decisions and the criterions of the DSM-III and the DSM-IV. (He has had quite a few years to revise that judgement, but did not. In fact, Frances does not even know how to define mental illness, by his own admission.) And these 17 million people all are insane, according to the lights of the APA for one single reason: Their disease has not yet been medically recognized. Ergo, all 17 million of sufferers of the disease are promptly declared insane (in fact: for financial reasons, that strongly favor psychiatrists´ earnings).

Secondly, psychology and psychiatry have pretensions of being real sciences. Clearly, the pronouncements of real science are much better founded than ¨political terms¨, which tend to be mostly a matter of prejudice (in most ordinary people).

Thirdly, it simply is a fact that according to Frances´ own criterions for attributing a personality disorder to persons (like I have, because I believe since nearly 40 years that I am physically ill, during which time I did become a psychologist with only straight As, but was too ill to find work) Trump is insane. Fraud Frances denies that Trump is insane by - completely invalidly and irrelevantly - insisting that Trump in order to be declared mad must also feel bad (?!?!?!); insisted that he could not diagnose him because of the Goldwater Rule .... and then diagnosed over 300 million  Americans (none of whom gave him permission) as ¨psychotics¨.

Here is more utter bullshit by The Editorial Board:

Unfortunately, a number of psychiatrists, politicians and others who should know better have increasingly taken up the Trump-is-crazy line. In “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” released last October, more than two dozen contributors, most mental-health professionals, concluded that Mr. Trump presents a grave and immediate danger to the safety of America and the world. No argument there, but why do we need to hear it from psychiatrists relying on their professional credentials?

Because psychiatrists and psychologists have spend years and years on studying how to rationally judge whether someone is insane or not, and because no one else did such academic studies. That is, because the psychological judgements of non-psychologists and non-psychiatrists (also if on The Editorial Board of the NYT) tend to be mere personal prejudice.

In brief, this article is unqualified, stupid and unscientific bullshit from a psychologist´s point of view.

2. The Washington Post Lied While Correcting President Trump's 1,950 Lies

This article is by Lee Camp on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
The Washington Post put out an in-depth analysis of President Trump’s 1,950 lies and misleading claims over his first year in office. It’s an impressive feat since the Post had to fact-check everything and allow Trump’s third-grade-level speeches to enter its fact-checkers’ earholes, a punishment I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies.

    In 347 days, President Trump has made 1,950 false and misleading claims

The writers at the Washington Post are correct that lies spray out of Trump’s face with the force of an untethered fire hose. They’re also correct that almost every statement by Trump is either false or misleading. However, the irony is that almost every statement the Washington Post prints in correcting Trump’s lies is in itself a lie or misleading statement. So, to be clear, I’m not saying Trump is not lying. I’m saying that the way in which our mainstream media correct him is also meant to deceive us.
In fact, the middle of the above three paragraphs in the original version is an image, with the text I quoted. And it seems to me as if Lee Camp is quite correct in these opening statements.

Here is some more:
The Washington Post starts with December and counts backward through the year. Here are my corrections to its corrections to Trump’s lies. (This is only a few weeks’ worth, but you’ll probably get my gist and need to purge yourself in a bathroom immediately.) The quote on the left is from Trump. The writing to the right is the Post’s correction.
I quoted this mostly to clarify Lee Camp´s conventions, that are used in the following bit that I quote from his article:

Trump statement: “The stock market is at an all-time high and continues to go up, up, up.”

Washington Post correction: “This is a flip-flop for Trump. Before he was elected, he dismissed the stock-market performance under Obama as ‘artificial’ and ‘a bubble.’ Moreover, the U.S. rise in 2017 was not unique. When looking at the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, it’s clear U.S. stocks haven’t rallied as as robustly as their foreign equivalents.”

What the Post won’t tell you is that the stock market does great when workers are effectively exploited. When the average American worker doesn’t have the power or leverage to demand better pay or safer working conditions, corporations are thrilled, the stock market grows and the fabled coke-fueled Wall Street parties go off without a hitch. The market has also continued to grow with increasing inequality. Furthermore, over 90 percent of the income gains since the 2008 collapse have gone to the top 1 percent, and 80 percent of stock value overall is held by the top 10 percent of the population.

Plus, the market does not take into account externalities such as impacts on the environment. Even as the environment collapses around us, the stock market thrives.

Note that the last two paragraphs are by Lee Camp. And I wholly agree with his criticism, to which I probably would have added that the incomes of the 95%, as contrasted with the much higher incomes of the 5% who are most paid, did not significantly rise (in real terms) since 1980.

And in fact there is a lot more by Lee Camp in his article to which I also mostly agree, but that I leave to your interests.

There is one bit I will quote, for it summarizes what it criticizes in the Washington Post:

One need look no further than its hilarious “Prop or Not” article (which was quickly debunked) to see how far down bullshit lane it’s willing to travel. But more importantly, what the Post won’t tell us here is what it won’t tell us all the rest of the time. (And that last sentence is not a typo.) The corporate media—even when it’s getting the story correct—is endlessly avoiding certain topics or points.

Just last week, former New York Times reporter James Risen revealed how he was stopped by his editors from reporting on the Bush-era illegal surveillance of American citizens. That occurred a decade before the Edward Snowden revelations and could’ve changed the outcome of presidential elections as well as the course of our government’s continued assault on our civil liberties. (No biggie.)

Our media avoids everything from climate change (which it’s known about for decades but hardly covers even as it covers extreme weather events) to the current U.S.-backed destruction of Yemen to the fact that only 1 percent of terror plots stopped by the FBI are real—and most of those 99 percent were helped along by the FBI.
I quite agree, and the article ends as follows, after a lot more that I leave to your interests:
And here’s the thing—The Washington Post knows this.

It knows everything I just stated. It’s even covered some of it in the past. And yet, in general, most of the time, it leaves out this context so that our nation continues arresting thousands upon thousands of people (of color) a year for small-time drug use. It seems the Post wants to have its coke and eat it, too.

Overall, The Washington Post has filled its “corrections” with decontextualized manipulations of its own. (And I’ve covered only about two weeks out of 52.) The Post is lying to us as much as Trump is. Until we can see these issues for what they really are, we will never be able to change anything.

I mostly agree, although I may be slightly more optimistic than Camp´s last statement, for while I mostly agree with Camp´s criticisms of The Washington Post, I think its assessment of Trump´s lies as lies is of some help.

3. Time to Bring a Monarchy to the U.S., or Time to End One?

This article is by Thom Hartmann on Truthdig and originally on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The New York Times recently ran a fascinating article by Leslie Wayne putting forth arguments from the International Monarchist League. Summarizing them, Wayne wrote, “Their core arguments: Countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol; monarchies rise above politics; and nations with royalty are generally richer and more stable.”

What the author misses is that we already have an aristocracy here in the United States: rule by the rich. In fact, much of American history is the story of the battle between the interests of the “general welfare” of our citizens, and the interests of the #MorbidlyRich.

I completely agree with the second paragraph, while I very probably would give considerably less weight to the first paragraph, mostly because monarchism vs. non-monarchism is an extremely vague rule. (Thus Holland - the country where I live - is a monarchy, but the monarchy is quite limited in practice, while I have not seen much of the ¨unifying force¨ attributed to it.)

But this is a quite good article. Here is its summary of the present position of the USA:

Here’s where we are right now:

  • A billionaire oligarch programs his very own entire television news network to promote the interests of the billionaire class, with such effectiveness that average working people are repeating billionaire-helpful memes like “cut regulations,” “shrink government,” and “cut taxes” – policies that will cause more working people and their children to get sick and/or die, will transfer more money and power from “we the people” to a few oligarchs, and will lower working-class wages over time.
  • A small group of billionaires have funneled so much money into our political sphere that “normal” Republicans like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker point out that they couldn’t get elected in today’s environment because they’d face rightwing-billionaire-funded primary challengers.
  • The corporate media (including online media), heavily influenced by the roughly billion dollars the Koch Network, Adelson, Mercers, etc. poured through their advertising coffers and into their profits in the last election, won’t even mention in their “news” reporting that billionaire oligarchs are mainly calling the tunes in American politics, particularly in the GOP.
  • Former President Jimmy Carter pointed out on my radio show that the US “is now an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery,” in part as a result of the right-wing Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.
  • Nobody in corporate media, even on the “corporate left,” is willing to explicitly point out how billionaires and the companies that made them rich control and define the boundaries of “acceptable” political debate in our country.
  • Thus, there’s no honest discussion in American media of why the GOP denies climate change (to profit petro-billionaires), no discussion of the daily damage being done to our consumer and workplace protections, and no discussion of the horrors being inflicted on our public lands and environment by Zinke and Pruitt, the guys billionaire-toady Mike Pence chose to run Interior and the EPA. There’s not even a discussion of the major issue animating American politics just one century ago: corporate mergers and how they damage small business and small towns.

I think that is a good summary (and I grant there are other ones), while I add that the rest of the article is also quite good, but is reserved for your interests, except for its ending:

To save our republic, we must acknowledge that the American aristocracy of the morbidly rich is destroying our country. And then overturn (via constitutional amendment) the twin policies of right-wingers on our Supreme Court that say that billionaires can own their own personal politicians, and that corporations are “persons” with human rights.

Once we reject America’s new self-appointed royalty, with their billionaire and corporate money fouling our system, our elected officials can restore protections for working people – and we can once again see our wages begin to rise like they did for 40 straight years before the advent of Reaganism.

Only then can we bring back rules to keep the oligarch’s poisonous money out of our political system, and begin to break up their control of American business and media so that small- and medium-sized businesses, unions, and local media can once again thrive. And, with them, we can return to something resembling a democracy.

In fact, this goes less far than I do, but OK. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Trump, the 'Very Stable Genius,' Is Falling Apart as Mueller Seeks Interview

This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The tide of discussion of President Trump’s mental competence is rising along with the alarm of the president’s lawyers. As special prosecutor Robert Mueller seeks an interview with President Trump, the president's legal representatives are grappling with the challenge of a talkative client who alternates between self-serving lies and self-destructive truths while sowing doubts among his own closest aides about his mental stability.

While Trump has proclaimed himself, via Twitter, to be a "very stable genius," the members of his staff have their doubts, according to Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury,a book about the first year of the Trump presidency. Wolff wrote that "100 percent" of the people close to the president with whom he spoke concluded Trump was "incapable of functioning in his job."

In fact, I do not know how correct the statements of Michael Wolff are, but I believe he may be quite correct, or almost quite correct with his statement that ¨"100 percent" of the people close to the president with whom he spoke concluded Trump was "incapable of functioning in his job."¨

Here is more on that statement:

Wolff told BBC's Radio 4 that he overheard the president’s aides question his mental competence.

"The truth is, over this period that I witnessed, this seven or eight months, they all came to the conclusion gradually at first, then faster and faster, that something was unbelievably amiss here," Wolff explained. "That this was more peculiar than they ever imagined it could be.”

I do not quite say ¨I say¨, if only be because I decided nearly two years ago that Trump very probably is insane, and because I agree that judgement is not very difficult to make, while I also do agree that in Trump´s mind ¨something (..)¨ is ¨amiss¨. And I am quite capable of believing that Trump´s associates came to realize this over the course of the last year, indeed in part because I believe, as a psychologist, that Trump is not sane and that insanity is relatively rare (which may not be what many psychiatrists believe these days, but which is true according to most psychologists).

Here is the ending of this article:

"You cannot listen to this man talk without at least contemplating the possibility that something is grievously amiss,” Wolff said.

Soon Robert Mueller will be listening to Trump and contemplating the possibility that the president of the United States is both criminally liable and mentally incompetent.

I agree with the first of these two paragraphs. I do not know about the second paragraph, indeed in part because Mueller is neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist, and in part because I think Trump very probably is criminally liable, and that Mueller will limit his research to that eventuality.

5. Rising Concerns About Nuclear War as Trump Prepares to Loosen Constraints on Weapons

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Advocates of nuclear disarmament are raising alarms about reports that the Trump administration is planning to loosen constraints on the U.S. nuclear weapons program, warning that the Pentagon's forthcoming plan "makes nuclear war more likely."

Jon Wolfsthal, an official who worked on arms control in the Obama administration and has reviewed what he believes is the final version of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), told the Guardian the Pentagon's new review includes plans to develop more nuclear weapons and expand "the circumstances in which the U.S. might use its nuclear arsenal, to include a response to a non-nuclear attack that caused mass casualties, or was aimed at critical infrastructure or nuclear command and control sites."

I say, which I do because I wholly agree that ¨the Pentagon's forthcoming plan "makes nuclear war more likely"¨, and indeed I would also agree with what is not being said here: Any major nuclear war will very probably exterminate human civilization, and may well exterminate all human beings.

And this is mostly by Kate Hudson, , general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament:

"The review also includes new scenarios for when nuclear weapons would be used to respond to non-nuclear attacks," Hudson noted. "This is a hostile and provocative development and will be understood as such by other states."

Hudson acknowledged the U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) that was published last month—which experts warned could create "more pathways to potential nuclear war" and, as Hudson observed, was "littered with references to nuclear weapons and a belligerent approach to North Korea"—and concluded, "Both the NSS and the soon-to-be-published Nuclear Posture Review reflect Trump's seeming obsession with nuclear weapons and nuclear war."

I completely agree. And it also is especially the combination of Trump´s insanity together with his capacity to start a nuclear war within 5 to 10 minutes that seriously worry me - and while I do not think that Vice-President Mike Pence is politically different from president Trump, the relevant difference between both gentlemen is that Trump is insane, and Pence does not appear to be.

And this is a recommended article.


[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 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 (!!). 

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