June 14, 2018

Crisis: On The Koreas, Chomsky Challenge, The Kushners, Dishonest Fake Belief, Psychiatry


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 14, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 14, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) 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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from June 14, 2018:
1. U.S. Bombing in Korea More Destructive Than Damage to Germany,
     Japan in WWII

2. The Chomsky Challenge for Americans
3. Jared and Ivanka Are Raking In Tens of Millions as Public Servants
4. America is Suffering an Epidemic of 'Dishonest Fake Belief'
5. Psychiatrist Warns Trump May Be on 'Boundary of Psychosis and
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. U.S. Bombing in Korea More Destructive Than Damage to Germany, Japan in WWII

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un follows another historic meeting only weeks earlier between Kim and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, where the two leaders agreed to work to formally end the Korean War. After Tuesday’s summit in Singapore, Trump called the Korean War “an extremely bloody conflict” and expressed hope that the war would soon formally end. For more, we speak with University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, author of several books on Korea, including “Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History” and “North Korea: Another Country.”
This is a fine idea, if only because few people (in the West) know much about the two Koreas, nor about the war that raged there 65 years ago.

Here is Bruce Cummings:

AMY GOODMAN: (...) So, you have been following Korea for decades. Talk about the statement that was signed today, what you were most surprised by. And is this actually continuation of the past or the first real break with the past, Professor Cumings?

BRUCE CUMINGS: Well, I think the first principle about a new relationship between North Korea and the U.S. is very important. It’s a recognition of the DPRK. The U.S., 72 years ago, refused to recognize Kim Il-sung’s rise to power in February 1946. That was his effective rise to central power. The U.S. denounced it as a Soviet ploy. And ever since, the U.S. has refused to recognize North Korea. North Korea has an ideology that is pinned on projecting its own dignity and wanting respect from other countries. So I think that the first principle of that statement is a very important one, if it’s implemented.

Second, you know, Donald Trump has this kind of innocence. He looks at the Korean problem with innocent eyes. He says that it’s ridiculous that there hasn’t been a peace treaty signed, you know, shortly after the war ended in 1953 or sometime in the last 60 years. And he’s right about that.

But I agree with Tim Shorrock that the most stunning thing was for him to talk about the war exercises being provocative, not to mention stopping them or at least suspending them. When Barack Obama was president and there was a particular crisis involving North Korean missile or bomb tests, he would send nuclear-capable bombers to drop dummy atomic bombs on Korean islands.

Yes indeed. This seems all quite correct to me. Here is more:

BRUCE CUMINGS: (...) What every North Korean knows is that a family member was killed during the Korean War, and usually by incendiary bombing that the U.S. carried out with no limits. Basically, the apparatus of firebombing that was used to level German and Japanese cities during World War II was redirected to North Korea, which had 15 or 16 cities of modest size, and they were all just wiped off the face of the Earth. Official U.S. Air Force statistics show that the percentage of destruction, sometimes 100 percent, in North Korean cities was higher, on average, than the percentage of destruction in Germany and Japan during World War II. Plus, napalm was splashed all over the place. Churchill even had to send a cable to Eisenhower in 1953 saying, essentially, “When we invented napalm, we had no idea it was going to be splashed all over civilians.” Historians estimate that about 70 percent of the casualties in the Korean War were civilian, compared to about 40 percent in Vietnam. So, it was, as President Trump said, a very, very destructive war.

Yes indeed, again. And incidentally: At present, and since the last 65 years, napalm has been mostly used on civilians, and not on the military, in fact just as the military´s aim (outside the West) has been to kill the civilians of the other side rather than the military.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. The Chomsky Challenge for Americans

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. Let me start with saying what ¨Chomsky’s challenge¨ is: It is to imagine ourselves in others’ situation. Havung said that, the article starts as follows:

It’s no wonder that most Americans are clueless about why “their” country is feared and hated the world over. It remains unthinkable to this day, for example, that any respectable “mainstream” U.S. media outlet would tell the truth about why the United States atom-bombed the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Gar Alperovitz and other historians have shown, Washington knew that Japan was defeated and ready to surrender at the end of World War II. The ghastly atomic attacks were meant to send a signal to Soviet Russia about the post-WWII world: “We run the world. What we say goes.”

Yes, I think that is quite correct: Truman decided to atom-bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki to point out to the Russians that the Americans had an atomic bomb, and also what that could be used for.

Here is more on the war in Korea in the early 1950ies:
An early challenge to Uncle Sam’s purported right to manage postwar world affairs from the banks of the Potomac came in 1950. Korean forces, joined by Chinese troops, pushed back against the United States’ invasion of North Korea. Washington responded with a merciless bombing campaign that flattened all of North Korea’s cities and towns. U.S. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay boasted that “we burned down every town in North Korea” and proudly guessed that Uncle Sam’s gruesome air campaign, replete with napalm and chemical weapons, murdered 20 percent of North Korea’s population. This and more was recounted without a hint of shame—with pride, in fact—in the leading public U.S. military journals of the time.
Yes indeed. And here is more on Vietnam:

Contrary to the conventional U.S. wisdom, there was no “Vietnam War.” What really occurred was a U.S. War on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia—a giant and prolonged, multi-pronged and imperial assault that murdered 5 million southeast Asians along with 58,000 U.S. soldiers. Just one U.S. torture program alone the CIA’s Operation Phoenix—killed more than two-thirds as many Vietnamese as the total U.S. body count. Unbeknownst to most Americans, the widely publicized My Lai atrocity was just one of countless mass racist killings of Vietnamese villagers carried out by U.S. troops during the crucifixion. Vietnam struggles with an epidemic of birth defects created by U.S. chemical warfare to this day.

America’s savage saturation bombing of Cambodia (meant to cut off supply lines to Vietnamese independence fighters) created the devastation out of which arose
the mass-exterminating Khmer Rouge regime, which Washington later backed against Vietnam.

I think this is also quite correct. Here is some more on Burns and Novick´s recent long video on ¨The Vietnam War¨, that in fact contains quite a lot of American propaganda, such as this bit:

With no small help from Burns and Novick’s instantly celebrated documentary on, well, “The Vietnam War” last year, we are still stuck in the ethical oblivion of then U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s morally idiotic 1977 statement that no U.S. reparations or apologies were due to Vietnam since “the destruction was mutual” in the “Vietnam War.” As if fearsome fleets of Vietnamese bombers had wreaked havoc on major U.S. cities and pulverized and poisoned U.S. fields and farms during the 1960s and 1970s. As if legions of Vietnamese killers had descended from attack helicopters to murder U.S. citizens in their homes while Vietnamese gunships destroyed U.S. schools and hospitals. Did the Vietnamese mine U.S. harbors? Did naked American children run down streets in flight from Vietnamese napalm attacks?

Yes indeed, and in fact there is a lot more in this article, which is strongly recommended.

3. Jared and Ivanka Are Raking In Tens of Millions as Public Servants

This article is by Jessica Corbet on Truthdug and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Amid ongoing concerns about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s perceived conflicts of interest as the married couple continues to serve as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, new financial disclosure filings reveal they raked in at least $82 million in outside income last year.

The figure alone as well as the contrast with limitations on and past practices by other government officials are raising the question of whether they are behaving as “humble public servants.” As NPR reporter Susan Davis pointed out on Twitter, “For comparison, members of the U.S. House and senior House staff can’t earn more than $28,000 in outside income in 2018.”

I say, which I do because I did not know that the two Kushners ¨raked in at least $82 million in outside income last year¨. But it seems they have, and here is some more on them:

Trump earned millions from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.—which ethics experts have accused her father of improperly benefiting from during his time in office—as well as the trust that oversees her eponymous clothing brand and her severance from the Trump Organization, while Kushner took in at least $70 million from dozens of companies connected to his family’s real estate firm.

And this is - more or less - how they did it, where my ¨more or less¨ is motivated by the fact that in fact little is known about the Trumps´ earnings in the White House:

As the New York Times noted, the filing also shows that during their first year serving in the White House, the pair “remained investors through various vehicles and trusts, which bought and sold as much as $147 million of real estate and other assets,” activity that has some ethics experts warning about conflicts of interest.

“We don’t have insight into who is buying and selling stuff, so we don’t know if it’s market value,” said Virginia Canter, the executive branch ethics counsel at CREW, and an associate counsel in the Obama and Clinton administrations. “Who is financing these transactions? Is it some unknown LLC? How do we know it isn’t a sovereign wealth fund from Saudi Arabia or some other place?”

Yes, I think that is probably true and this is a recommended article.

4. America is Suffering an Epidemic of 'Dishonest Fake Belief'

This article is by Jeremy Sherman on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

“The True Believers” is a psychology classic, a study undertaken by Eric Hoffer, a longshoreman moonlighting as a psycho-philosopher shortly after WWII. It profiles the characteristics of an authoritarian fanatics, the kind we see falling for ISIS and here at home, for Trumpism or Evangelicalism.

To lump all such believers together as “true” seems a mistake. For starters, there are true and false believers. False believers think that declaring their commitment is enough. They don’t have to actually follow the beliefs or change how they act. They’re members in good standing simply because they declare themselves to be.

In case you want to know some more about Eric Hoffer, this was a link. Then again, I - more or less - agree with Sherman, and indeed from my own experiences of more than 50 years, I´d say that 90% of the Dutch (I am Dutch, alas) are not real believers but false believers.

I found this in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam, where I was first identified as ¨a dirty fascist¨ over 41 years ago by some 20 year old posturing fanatics who did not have the least idea that I have a more leftist family than any other I know in Holland (with two communists for parents; a communist as one grandparent; and two anarchists as other grandparents), and was and am myself an anarchist.

The fascists from the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam kept this sick slander of me up till 1989 (a mere 11 years, in which I was not always in the UvA because I was and am ill), and indeed illegally removed me from the right of taking my - excellent - M.A. degree in philosophy because I was - according to the Stalinist fascists who pretended to be ¨communists¨ in 1988 - a ¨terrorist, terrorist, terrorist¨ because I dared to criticize the fascistic and totally incompetent staff who did not teach me any philosophy whatsoever; who did not believe in any truth whatsoever; who did not write anything whatsoever ¨because they were not vain¨; and who seemed to work mostly for 4 to 8 hours a week.

Then again, my father survided over 3 years and 9 months of four German concentration camps and his father was murdered in a German concentration camp, both because they were in the communist resistance against the Nazis - and for me it seems as if around 90% of the Dutch in WW II were false believers in Nazism. That is, they collaborated because the Nazis had the power.

In part this is also the reason why the Nazis were capable of murdering over 100,000 Dutch Jews: Because very few had the guts to try to protect them, other than the Dutch communists and a few Christian groups.

Back to the article:

Most authoritarian movements start with some disdain for false believers just going through the motions, but end up allowing, inviting and encouraging it.

I would further distinguish honest from dishonest false believers. Honest false believers know and admit that they’re just going through the motions, claiming to be members but no different from other people.

I do not quite agree with this, and my main three reasons are these.

First, becoming a believer in what you know or suspect to be other than you think, means that you are intentionally being illogical, at least in the sense that you normally seem to have decided to become (in public) a believer in what you don´t believe, because you like your selfinterest more than your respect for the truth.

Second, while this may be sane in a totalitarian country, where you risk being persecuted, prosecuted, imprisoned or killed for contradicting The Official Truth, the USA is not - yet, at least - such a totalitarian country.

Third, I conclude from these two reasons - plus the stupidity, the ignorance, and the conformism that marks many Americans - that there is no sharp distinction between honest and false believers, if only because all who pretend to believe what they do not believe are in fact being illogical, and they are all being dishonest.

Here is more - and I think Sherman is right in the benefits of what may also be called pretense:

Here in the US, we’re suffering an epidemic of dishonest fake belief, promoted by the people who took over the conservative party. Just call yourself a Christian, a patriot, a True American and you can get away with anything. All the perks, none of the costs of actually behaving in accord with any kind of disciplined lifestyle ­– license to indulge from the moral high ground. Trump takes it to a new level.

Trump plays classic Western god - self-obsessed, petty, petulant, disappointed, vengeful, cliquish, devoted solely to building his fan club, chronically bitter about being under-appreciated. And most of his followers are typical dishonest fake believers. They love him because they want to be like him. Trump teaches that earning respect by being honest isn't the only way. Fellow liars will respect you if you lie and always get away with it.

With dishonest false belief you get to swagger like the moral police without living by your proclaimed moral standards. You can claim the piety even as you cheat, lie and steal.
Yes indeed. This is from the ending of this article:

In sum, three categories for fanatics:

  • True believers who really try to live by their principles.
  • Dishonest false believers who don’t try to live by their principles but pretend that they do.
  • Honest false believers who don’t try to live by their principles and admit it, not taking their beliefs seriously, while still going through the motions for ritualistic sake.
I say again that I have seen very many false believers in my life (as I said: 90% of the Dutch are false believers about politics, and indeed most of them are also mostly ignorant about any of the relevant science for their beliefs), but hardly any honest false believers, which indeed also seems to me to be a logical contradiction.

But this is a recommended article.

5. Psychiatrist Warns Trump May Be on 'Boundary of Psychosis and Reality’

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:
Based on Donald Trump’s public behavior, some of America and the world’s leading psychologists, psychiatrists and other clinicians have concluded that the president of the United States is mentally unwell. Trump appears, in their opinion, to suffer from malignant narcissism. He is also a compulsive liar who lacks empathy for his fellow human beings and shows no remorse for his bad behavior. Most importantly, Trump’s personality defects amplify his authoritarian values, beliefs and behavior. The results of this could be catastrophic.
Yes indeed, and I am a psychologist who completely agrees with other psychologists and psychiatrists who declared that Trump is a megalomaniac (which is the classic English term for Trump, but now has disappeared from Wikipedia, where is has been replaced by ¨narcissism¨, which is not so much proper English but psychiatrese, but OK: I will not discuss my ideas about psychiatry in this review).

Here is some about
Dr. John Gartner:
(..) I recently spoke with Dr. John Gartner, a former professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Gartner is also the founder of the Duty to Warn PAC, an organization working to raise awareness about the danger to the United States and the world posed by Donald Trump.
And this is Gartner about his own ideas.
Part of the reason many people do this is because it really is psychologically overwhelming. It’s just almost too frightening to consider that a madman has control of the nuclear button, and he truly doesn’t care if he destroys us all. In fact, there’s a part of Trump that would almost take glee in it. He’s impulsive, he’s erratic, he’s seeing the world in a grossly distorted way. He’s only concerned with how things impact his own thriving and survival. Trump does not care about the well-being of literally anyone but himself. It really is a kind of dystopian nightmare.
Here is more:

Trump’s political movement meets the criteria for a political cult. You are a psychiatrist. Is it possible to reach someone who is stuck in Trump’s cult? Why does he have such influence over these people?

It does meet the criteria. You’ve got the charismatic leader, and his followers subsume their identity into his group, which makes them feel larger and more powerful. Once you have that kind of blind belief and loyalty, the leader, as Donald Trump has said, could really shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and nothing would happen. The cognitive dissonance is such that the cult members will rationalize anything. For example, something like 50 percent of Republicans say that if Trump wanted to cancel the 2020 election, that would be fine with them.

In fact, the proper English term for the above is totalitarianism - except that you cannot say this anymore according to Wikipedia, where the classic use of totalitarianism has been falsified to fit the ideas of Brzezinski, namely that one can be a totalitarian only because one is an inhabitant of a totalitarian country, and not anymore (as Orwell and many others used it) because one has totalitarian attitudes - indeed, one´s attitudes are totally irrelevant on Brzezinski´s redefinition of ¨totalitarianism¨.

But I will also not worry you about proper English on Wikipedia. Here is more by Dr. John Gartner:

This is what I have described as a “malignant reality.” Trump, the Republican Party, and their supporters’ sadism is a key part of it.

The sadism is very important. When I first started talking about Trump as a malignant narcissist, people could see the narcissism, the paranoia and the antisocial element. But the fourth component of malignant narcissism is sadism. You see it in everything he does, from the separating of the children at the border to how Trump tortures anyone who doesn’t give him what he wants. There’s a way in which he takes a kind of manic glee in causing harm and pain and humiliation to other people.

I think - as a psychologist - that this is quite correct. Here is more:

Malignant narcissists deteriorate. When they gain power, they become more inflamed in their grandiosity and in their paranoia. They also become more unrestrained in their sadism and in their will to power. Malignant narcissists like Trump are antisocial and have a willingness to do anything to get and keep power. The noted psychologist Erich Fromm actually argued that such personalities then begin to verge on psychosis at that point, becoming so grandiose and paranoid that they really live on the boundary of psychosis and reality.

In addition to that, I think Donald Trump is deteriorating for a second completely independent reason, which is that we’re seeing clear evidence of organically based cognitive decline. If you look at the interviews that he did in the 1980s, he was actually surprisingly articulate.
I don´t really know about Trump´s ¨organically based cognitive decline¨. I have seen a few videos of him in the 1980ies, but am not convinced, although there is one characteristic of Trump´s tweets that remind of my mother, who got Alzheimer in her early seventies: He does repeat almost everything he says three times (in one tweet).

Here is Dr. Gartner on Trump´s being a great genius:
Trump’s grandiosity is such that he actually believes he is an expert on everything. Based on his speeches and interviews, Trump is apparently the world authority on 25 different issues. This also speaks to a bigger problem, which is the death of expertise. For authoritarians and malignant narcissists like Trump an independent source of authority, whether it’s the press, the bureaucracy or the experts, are threats to his authority. Trump leaves positions at the State Department unfilled because he doesn’t want experts telling him what to do. He knows that he knows more than everybody else. What’s really frightening is that he actually believes that he has this kind of papal infallibility.
Yes, I think that is correct: Trump really believes that he is ¨the world authority on 25 different issues¨ (which again is strong evidence he is a madman).

There is a lot more in this interview, that is strongly recommended.


[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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