June 25, 2018

Crisis: The Soldier's Tale, Deportations, Erdogan, Trump IS a Liar, GOP Farm Bill


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 25, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, June 25, 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 25, 2018:
1. The Soldier’s Tale
2. 'Both Illegal and Unconstitutional': Trump Brazenly Suggests
     Immediate Deportations, Zero Due Process

3. Turkey's Erdogan Claims Presidential Election Victory
4. Is Donald Trump a Liar? Maybe Not — And That’s When It Really Gets

5. "Slap in the Face" to Poor Americans: House GOP Passes Farm Bill
     Attacking Nation's Hungriest Families
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. The Soldier’s Tale

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows (after a brief song by Brecht):
The soldier’s tale is as old as war. It is told and then forgotten. There are always young men and women ardent for glory, seduced by the power to inflict violence and naive enough to die for the merchants of death. The soldier’s tale is the same, war after war, generation after generation. It is Spenser Rapone’s turn now. The second lieutenant was given an “other than honorable” discharge June 18 after an Army investigation determined that he “went online to promote a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers” and thereby had engaged in “conduct unbecoming an officer.” Rapone laid bare the lie, although the lie often seems unassailable. We must honor those like him who have the moral courage to speak the truth about war, even if the tidal waves of patriotic propaganda that flood the culture overwhelm the voices of the just.
As seems more and more usual these days, although there was a lot of information about Spenser Rapone in many papers, there is no lemma on him on the ever worsening Wikipedia. Well... there is the modern Wikipedia for you.

I will leave it to you to find more information on him (easy), but want to make a comment on Hedges´ position on ¨soldiers¨, for I think he is a bit misleading on that: While it may be true, in some sense, that ¨
[t]he soldier’s tale is as old as war¨, I think there have been - at least - two types of soldiers, namely drafted soldiers and professional soldiers.

The draft is quite old, but may be seen as having started as a near-universal national conscription of young men with Napoleon, that was soon adopted by many other nations. It also was common in the West, and was used in WW I, WW II, and Vietnam, and also in many more places.

Since Nixon stopped the draft in the early 1970ies and changed the army into a professional army, many countries have followed his example, although it should be noted that quite a few countries, such as the Netherlands, combine both: Every Dutch citizen - males and females - aged 17 gets a letter which tells them they have been registered as soldiers, but do not have to present themselves for service (which presumably will happen when the Dutch go to war).

I do not think myself that the draft produces the same kind of soldiers as a professional army does, in considerable part because the draft tends to be a bit less military; takes fewer years than a professional soldier; and is very probably of higher average intelligence than the professional soldiers (who tend to be from the lower classes, and from the lower levels of intelligence).

Then again, I am doubtful whether the draft (as opposed to professional soldiers) would be capable of stopping a war (as some have argued), and I am doubtful simply because so many dirty wars in the previous century were faught with drafted and not with professional soldiers.

Back to the article. Here is some more on
Spenser Rapone, who in fact was eight years in the American army:

Rapone enlisted in the Army in 2010. He attended basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. He graduated from airborne school in February 2011 and became an Army Ranger. He watched as those around him swiftly fetishized their weapons.

“The rifle is the reification of what it means to be infantrymen,” he said when I reached him by phone in Watertown, N.Y. “You’re taught that the rifle is an extension of you. It is your life. You have to carry it at all times. The rifle made us warriors dedicated to destroying the enemy in close personal combat. At first, it was almost gleeful. We were a bunch of 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds. We had this instrument of death in our hands. We had power. We could do what 99 percent of our countrymen could not. The weapon changes you. You want to prove yourself. You want to be tested in combat. You want to deliver death. It draws you in, as much as life in the Army sucks. You start executing tactical maneuvers and battle drills. You get a certain high. It’s seductive. The military beats empathy out of you. It makes you callous.”

I think all of the above is probably a quite fair description. Here is more on Rapone and Pat Tillman (who still is on the ever worsening Wikipedia):

“Pat Tillman showed me I could resist the indoctrination,” he said. “I did not have to let the military dehumanize me and turn me into something monstrous. When I learned how his death was covered up to sell the war, it was shocking. The military wasn’t interested in preserving freedom or democracy. It was only interested in protecting the profits of those in power and expanding the U.S. hegemony. I was not a Hollywood freedom fighter. I was a cog in the imperialist machine. I preyed on the poorest, most exploited people on the planet.”

I think Spenser Rapone´s inferences are correct, but I also think very few professional American soldiers will agree with him, indeed in part because most professional American soldiers are less intelligent or less informed than either Rapone or Tillman.

Here is some more on West Point, where officers are educated:

“When I started West Point in July 2012 I encountered a lot of similar themes I noticed in the Ranger regiment,” he said. “Officers and NCOs relished the idea of being able to kill people with impunity. It’s Rudyard Kipling. It’s the young British soldier mentality we’ve seen for hundreds of years. Its hyper-masculine. Even female cadets have to assimilate themselves. Any display of femininity is considered weakness. This is combined with the structural racism."

I fear this is also correct, although I add (once more) that I also think very few professional American soldiers will agree with him, indeed in part because most professional American soldiers are less intelligent or less informed.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

“The public doesn’t understand how regressive and toxic military culture is,” he went on. “The military’s inherent function is the abuse and degradation of other people. It is designed to be a vehicle of destruction. It’s fundamental to the system. Without that, it would collapse. You can’t convert the military into a humanitarian force even when you use the military in humanitarian ways, such as in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The military trains soldiers to see other human beings, particularly brown and black human beings, as an imminent threat.”

I fear this is also correct. There is considerably more in this article, that is strongly recommended.

Incidentally, my own position on both the draft and professional soldiers is that I would have refused military service in either case, except that I did not have to, because I was declared to
be ¨medically unfit¨ for the draft in 1968 - which was very probably false, but assigned to me
because I was very intelligent, and my father was a long time communist who had survived 3 years and 9 moths of German concentration camps for resisting the Nazis.

But in fact I do not know this although I think it is correct (and I would like to add that - rather strangely - only the Dutch military and the Dutch taxes have treated me decently, since both my ex and myself have been ill with ¨a serious chronic disease¨ since January 1979, that was only admitted to be a disease in 2018, and that cost us endless troubles with both Dutch bureaucrats and Dutch medics).

2. 'Both Illegal and Unconstitutional': Trump Brazenly Suggests Immediate Deportations, Zero Due Process

This article is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
President Donald Trump on Sunday called for immediately deporting immigrants—a group he referred to people who "invade our country"—without due process.

The ACLU hit back at president's proposal, calling it "both illegal and unconstitutional," as the right to due process extends to those who've entered the U.S. without documentation.

At roughly 11am, Trump sent out a pair of tweets, saying in part, "When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came."

We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents...

— Donald J. Trump
I have been saying since the beginning of 2016 that I think that Trump is both a madman and a neofascist, and the present illegal and unconstitutional bullshit from Trump only underlines my judgements (and yes: academically I am a psychologist and a philosopher).

And the above Trumpian proposal is illegal and unconstitutional:

"That's not how any of this works," the ACLU added in a comment about Trump's tweet.

It was just a year and half ago Trump swore he would "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States"—a point noted by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.):

Dear @realDonaldTrump: Remember the oath you took to the Constitution at your relatively small inauguration? You should read the Constitution. The Due Process Clause applies to all persons, not just US citizens.

— Ted Lieu

Yes indeed. And here is "ethics expert" Norm Eisen:

Ethics expert Norm Eisen, meanwhile, suggested the tweets were a sign the president's attack on the rule of law would widen its scope:

He's trying to use the most vulnerable as a battering ram in his ongoing attack on the rule of law. But if he can deprive them of due process, American citizens will be next. How long before new chant at his rallies is "lock them all up"?

— Norm Eisen
I admit I don't know what an "ethics expert" is (perhaps it is the latest simplification in a degree of philosophy?), but I think he is right, although my reasons are not Eisen's: My reasons are - especially - that Trump is a madman. And this is a recommended article.

3. Turkey's Erdogan Claims Presidential Election Victory

This article is by Suzan Fraser, Elena Becatoros and Zeynep Bilginsoy on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory after unofficial election returns Sunday showed him with enough votes to serve another term that carries new executive powers.

“The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul after a near-complete count carried by the state-run news agency gave him the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

The presidential election and a parliamentary election also held Sunday, both more than a year early, complete NATO-member Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary system of government to a strong presidential system.
Well... yes and no: Erdogan did claim victory, but I think "a strong presidential system" is a euphemism for either authoritarianism or a kind of fascism colored with some Islam.

Here is some more on Turkey and Erdogan:
Erdogan, 64, insisted before the election that the expanded powers — which include the authority to impose states of emergency and to issue decrees — would bring prosperity and stability to Turkey, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016. A state of emergency has been in place since the coup.

The president’s critics, however, warned that Erdogan’s re-election would cement the grip on power of a leader who they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies.
I think the president's critics are quite right, and this is a recommended article.

4. Is Donald Trump a Liar? Maybe Not — And That’s When It Really Gets Scary

This article is by Andrew O'Hehir on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

There was and is no law requiring the children of undocumented immigrants to be taken away from their parents at the border. There is no crime wave caused by immigrants in Germany. (That nation’s historically low crime rate has fallen recently, and as in the United States immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.) There was no measurable number of illegal votes cast in the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s inauguration did not draw the largest crowds in history, and in his first year he did not sign more legislation than any other president. (Indeed, he ranked last among post-World War II presidents.)

Do you want me to go on? I definitely don’t. But how are we to categorize Trump as an unquenchable fount of untruth, who by the Washington Post’s count passed 3,000 “false or misleading statements” as president more than a month ago? Is he a liar, a bullshitter, a gaslighter, a prevaricator, an ignoramus or a delusional sociopath whose relationship to the world of observable reality and established fact is at best “transactional”?
Well... Donald Trump is by far the biggest liar who is alive (there may be a few - Hitler, Stalin, Mao - who may have been bigger, although I don't even know that. Also, I just linked in my definition of lying, and want to repeat a part of that here, because it is quite relevant:
Lie: Conscious assertion of what the speaker knows he does not believe.

Note that it is not required that a lie is a false statement: What is required is that its speaker considers it one, but states it as if it is true.
The majority of human beings is not much interested nor finds much profitable in true or probable ideas, but is much interested in pleasant illusions and profitable lies.

And the majority knows this very well, although they rarely admit it in public.

And the sad fact concerning lying - see Features of Moral Norms - is that the majority of human beings let themselves be deceived by lies they could rather easily have seen through, if only the lies they accept as if it were truths are the lies of their own leaders, or are the lies which support their own desires or delusions - which they then support with great moral pride as the socially and morally decent and moral thing to say and believe.

I think this is a good definition, but it gets complicated by the fact - I am a psychologist, and I think it is a fact - that Trump is mad.

Specifically, this means that he may believe certain things, such as his utterly false claim (see the photographs) that his presidential inauguration drew "the largest crowds in history" (for an American president).

My explanation is that Trump is a wishful thinker: he believes that a proposition is true if and when he desires it to be true, and he desires to have had "the largest crowds in history" and therefore he says (quite falsely) he had them.

And I think he knows he is lying, but in fact he doesn't care, again because he is a wishful thinker: His wishes are the standards for what he regards as true, and not the facts.

Back to the article:

[Donald Trump] often appears to believe that nothing has changed since that era, or that it revealed truths about American society that today, out of “political correctness,” we avoid or ignore. His obsession with gruesome, violent crimes — with rape in particular — and his nightmarish fantasies about hordes of animalistic invaders bent on destroying America all echo the semi-mythical tabloid coverage surrounding the Central Park case.

I suspect that was also the moment when Trump clearly understood that he possessed a certain dark gift: He could tap into a deep current of popular rage and discord — at least in a certain proportion of the population — and channel it for his own purposes.
Yes, I think that is true, and indeed the wishful thinking of Trump is rather similar to the wishful thinking of those who support him.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article. It  is from an interview with ¨legal affairs correspondent Dan Abrams", who - in my opinion - tries to be unduly legalistic:

Or when he says, as he did the other day, that crime is way up in Germany and it's because of immigrants. That's two things that are false.

Right, but do we know he doesn't know that accurately? Do we know he was specifically —

You can use Google and get the statistics.

That's true. He's wrong. But does that mean he's intentionally lying about it? Or is he just winging it and doesn't know what he was talking about? I don't mean to play lawyer here, but your question suggests, and I think rightly, that words matter.
Well... I have explained above what creates most of the - let's say, for a moment - false statements Trump makes every day, namely wishful thinking.

I do think that Trump does know that most the things he says falsely are false - and my own conclusion would be that if Dan Abrahams were correct that he does not know, he is even more mad than I think he is, for then he is completely delusional. And this is a recommended article.

5. "Slap in the Face" to Poor Americans: House GOP Passes Farm Bill Attacking Nation's Hungriest Families

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
With the Poor People's Campaign protesting "policy violence against families and children" outside the Capitol Building, House Republicans on Thursday forced through a "shameful" and "cruel" Farm Bill that would deprive about 2 million Americans of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often called food stamps.

"It's a deliberate slap in the face to the millions of low-income Americans who rely on SNAP benefits to survive," declared Morris Pearl, chair of Patriotic Millionaires. "We don't want to live in a country where the government allows its citizens to starve, and neither should anyone else."
I agree with this (and would Morris Pearl be a "Patriotic Millionaire"?), and in fact I think it is a fair conclusion that if you want to rob food from the poor, what you are really doing is trying to make them suicide - and incidentally: it is widely agreed that if you are starving in the middle of plenty, and you are denied bread, you are entitled to steal it.

But Trump inverted this: According to Trump,
if you are starving in the middle of plenty then you have earned it and you deserve no food.

Here is some more:
"This is just another attempt by Paul Ryan to pretend that the biggest problem with the federal deficit is lazy poor people, not the $1.5 trillion tax cut he and his colleagues just gave to the richest people in the country," Pearl added, singling out the House Speaker who infamously revealed last year he's been "dreaming" of slashing social safety net programs since he was "drinking at a keg" in college.
Precisely. Here is more on what I just said, namely that according to Trump, if you are starving in the middle of plenty then you have earned it and you deserve no food:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities president Robert Greenstein noted in a blog post that the bill "includes a sweeping proposal to impose harsh penalties on those who don't prove within a limited time frame that they have worked or participated in work programs for enough hours each month or that they qualify for an exemption from the bill's aggressive work requirements."
You see? Perhaps if you work you may get some "supplemental nutrition", but not if you don't work: Then you can starve. In Trump's modern USA.

There is one possibility for relief from this:

"The GOP Farm Bill is a disaster for people and the planet," Archer concluded. "Any member of Congress that voted for this bill is prioritizing the interests of corporations over the health of the American people."

The Senate is currently working on a competing Farm Bill that not only includes
funding for mental health services and research into organic agriculture, but also maintains and even strengthens the food assistance program. 

I hope the Senate's Farm Bill is a whole lot better, that is: a whole lot more humane, than Congress's Farm Bill. 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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