June 29, 2018

Crisis: Seymour Hersh, Trump A Psychopath?, Judge Kennedy, Psychiatrists, Robert Reich


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 29, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Friday, June 29, 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 29, 2018:
1. Intercepted Live From Brooklyn With Sy Hersh, Mariame Kaba, Lee
     Gelernt, and Narcy

2. Presidential Psychopathy: Trump at the Border
3. Justice Kennedy’s Resignation Opens Door for Far-Right Supreme Court
     & Overturning of Roe v. Wade

4. Top Mental Health Experts Are Calling for the Goldwater Rule to Be

5. What Must We Do Now?
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. Intercepted Live From Brooklyn With Sy Hersh, Mariame Kaba, Lee Gelernt, and Narcy

This article is by Jeremy Scahill on The Interpreter. It starts as follows:
Did President Lyndon Johnson really take a shit in front of reporter Tom Wicker? This week on Intercepted, live in Brooklyn: Legendary reporter Seymour Hersh shares what he thinks of Donald Trump, his analysis of the Trump-Russia story, and some wild stories from his new memoir, “Reporter.” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt recounts the latest on the immigrant families that are being ripped apart and separated indefinitely, and shares personal stories of the victims he represents in a nationwide class-action suit against the Trump administration. Activist Mariame Kaba explains the historical foundations of the American carceral state and calls for the abolition of ICE and the prison-industrial complex. Multimedia artist and rapper Yassin Alsalman, better known by Narcy, performs an original spoken word and premieres his new song, “Yemenade.”
Jeremy Scahill makes his interviews with several persons each week and produces articles like the present one. I generally like them, but they are too long to - fairly - summarize. So this time I shall select only from the interview with Seymour Hersh, and leave the rest to your interests.

Here is a part of Scahill's introduction to Seymour Hersh:
You know, Sy Hersh was the very first guest that we had on Intercepted when we started just days after Donald Trump was inaugurated and gave his “American Carnage” speech. Sy Hersh has been in the game of journalism for almost his entire adult life. This was a man who, decades before Edward Snowden, blew the whistle on warrantless spying, not only on people around the world but inside the United States, exposed CIA operations targeting the antiwar movement in this country and engaging in spying on all forms of dissidents. Sy Hersh was one of the key journalists that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
He exposed the My Lai massacre, he exposed the Abu Ghraib torture; Sy Hersh did incredible groundbreaking reporting on the U.S. assassination program post-9/11, well before many news outlets even understood what the real project of Cheney and Rumsfeld actually consisted of. This is a man who is nothing short of the greatest journalist of his time, and perhaps of our time.
Well... let's say Hersh is one of the greatest journalists in the USA, and I am saying so not to take him down, but to have some perspective.

And here is Hersh:

SH: Trump lies. He has a five-minute conversation and you repeat something he said and he says, “I don’t — I didn’t do it.” I’m not diminishing lying; lying is awful. But we had a president named Lyndon Johnson that told us for five months that there were no troops going to go to Vietnam and he had troops already in there and he sent more during that time. And so I don’t know what a lie means — that to me, that’s a lie.

Trump is — he’s evil, of course. He’s a buffoon of course. But, I hate to say it, he was elected. So, what do you do?

So, look, when I say what I think it means nothing because what I think is, you know, the answer is we really don’t know what goes on in his mind. He doesn’t read much, we know that. No, he just doesn’t. But, gee, I think a lot of people underestimate him.
I more or less agree, but I am also a psychologist, and I think he is simply mad, and is so by behavorial criterions: He most probably has the narcissist personality disorder.

This also explains his interminable lying and it implies he is extremely dangerous.

Then again, I think Hersh is right that "
a lot of people underestimate him", but I agree that it is difficult to comprehend narcissists.

Here is more Hersh:

You mentioned Yemen. We’re talking about mass murder, particularly now there’s going to be a blockade of a main port that could end up killing — that’s getting reported, but the American role in it, besides supplying intelligence, we refuel the planes that are doing the bombing missions, we supply all sorts of intelligence support. We’re up to it up to our ass, and nobody really gets into that.

And so I would say: You want to go after Trump, forget about the tweets. And forget about Pruitt and that stuff (...)
I think Hersh is right about Yemen, but I also think he is mistaken about Trump's tweets and Pruitt, and indeed not because much of that is important, for it is not, but because this is the
most that most ordinary people read about Trump
. And therefore it should be contradicted if it is false, as it usually is.

Here is Hersh on whether Russia has manipulated the latest presidential elections:
SH: The fact of the matter is, if Russia wanted to do, cause lot of difficulty to the American election they could have. Instead, they went and talked privately to us. So when the government says Russia intercepted stuff that was very important to us, I’m being very fuzzy about it, it wasn’t about the election. They told us that there were certain people in America doing things that were very deleterious to the War on Terrorism for personal and financial gain, and they could have blown it publicly but they went internally to us.
I guess that is correct - and indeed I never believed the Russians did a lot to upset the American elections, and not because I believe that is impossible, but because I have seen no evidence for it during the last 1 1/2 years.

Here is more on the very many wars the USA is in fact conducting:
We’re in 76 countries right now conducting war, most of them in Africa. And you know nothing about it. And if you believe what the Joint Chiefs, the Joint — the Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command tells you about what happened in Mali, I’m not going to sell you whatever the cliché is, they’re completely out of control. They’re just there. They do their thing and they’re just causing havoc, particularly in Africa and also in the Middle East.
I quite agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:

JS: This is what he wrote. “Reporter” demonstrates that Hersh has derived three simple lessons from his rule — rule about reporting: “The powerful prey mercilessly upon the powerless, up to and including mass murder. 2. The powerful lie constantly about their predations. 3. The natural instinct of the media is to let the powerful get away with it.”

SH: Well, we know that. I mean, you guys all know that. That’s why The Intercept lives, right? You guys are practicing journalism in sort of the purest sense, which doesn’t always translate into widespread acceptance, particularly by your peers, right?

And I think this is completely correct. There is a lot more about Hersh in this article, besides other interesting interviews, and it is strongly recommended.
2. Presidential Psychopathy: Trump at the Border

This article is by Kathleen Barry on Common Dreams. It has a subtitle:
As there is no cure for psychopathy, in a civilized country all that is left is removing the psychopath from office.
Well... I am a psychologist and Kathleen Barry is not: She is a sociologist and an educationalist.
And I do not - even - know whether she knows that "psychopathy" has been deleted from the DSM-5, and seems to have been mostly replaced by "sociopathy".

There is a considerable difference between the two, in that psychopathy requires some mental disorder, whereas sociopathy simply means that one does not agree with the norms of the majority, which in turn means that psychiatry, which at present as over 450 different ways of declaring people to have some form of "disordered mind" and to prescribe or even enforce psychiatric medicines on people thus described, while the psychiatrists until the 1980ies had around 50 such different ways, which - to my mind - again implies that psychiatry is not a real science at all, but is simply officialese to keep up the current norms. (And incidentally, my ex - also a psychologist - and myself have been described as "psychosomatizers" - which is not even medicine, but simply metaphysical bullshit - for nearly 40 years because we have the "serious chronic disease ME/CFS" for nearly 40 years.)

And in any case, while I do believe in psychopathy (and dislike and reject the psychiatric diagnosis of sociopathy, which is much like the Soviet Union regarded and medically abused dissidents: "You don't have our norms, ergo you are insane") I am a psychologist who says that the most probable diagnosis of Trump is not that he is a psychopath, but that he is a narcissist.

Here is Barry's description of Trump:
A broad range of Americans deplore the cruel and inhumane treatment of immigrants, especially the separation of them from their children ordered by Donald Trump. But we see him responding with macho bullying and grandiose threats riddled with his unbridled racism against people he wants to keep out of his country. His cold, highly aggressive behaviors evidence the essential characteristics of psychopaths whose disregard for the welfare of others comes from an absence of both empathy and remorse, the foundations of conscience that make us human. In place of being empathetic with the migrant families, he pushes the harm deeper and feels no remorse for the trauma his actions cause the children. Instead, he is the winner with the power to harm others to be able to punish others to make them the losers.
I will not spend time in agreeing or disagreeing with this, but I do like to know on what grounds Barry decided that Trump is a psychopath (which is no longer valid psychiatry-as-judged-by- the-DSM-5):
Psychopaths find little or nothing to gain from telling the truth, and more likely most of the time, he does not even take the problem of his facts vs lies in his statements into consideration. All of his self-made drama is about him, not about the country he governs. If harm comes to others because of his policy or behavior, what matters to him is his power to create it and even if he changes policy, it is about him and his power to stop the wrongs he created. That fits with how Trump is alienating allies of the United States while he cozies up to a brutal dictator with whom he can identify. It seems that he could care less that the US is losing allies and respect around the globe as long as his actions serve his ego and keep him at center-stage globally.
Possibly so, but speaking as a psychologist, this sounds more like narcissism. And here is Barry''s certainty as to why she thinks Trump is a psychopath:
How am I so sure about Trump's psychopathy when I have never met him?  Besides the fact that he daily demonstrates to us psychopathy in action, as a sociologist, in my latest book, Unmaking War (2011), I examined psychopathy in the US Presidency showing how the office has degenerated to the extent that it lends itself to engaging in those aberrant behaviors.
It seems to me she believes it because she believes it, and not because she knows a lot about psychology or psychiatry. I don't think you need to read this. 
3. Justice Kennedy’s Resignation Opens Door for Far-Right Supreme Court & Overturning of Roe v. Wade

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
In a move that could transform the Supreme Court for decades, Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement, giving President Trump a chance to pick a second conservative on the high court. Kennedy, who was nominated by President Reagan, was widely seen as the swing vote on the nine-justice court. On Wednesday, he sided with the conservative wing of the court to deal a major blow to public-sector unions in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. He also sided this week with the majority upholding President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. But Kennedy has sided with the liberal wing of the court on a number of pivotal issues. He has been instrumental in preventing Roe v. Wade from being overturned, and he has supported same-sex marriage, affirmative action and criminal justice reform. On Wednesday, President Trump said he wants to pick a justice who will be on the court for the next 40 or 45 years. We speak to Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at
Yes indeed - and this is just one of many articles about this fact. Here is Dahlia Lithwick:

DAHLIA LITHWICK: (..) I see it as giving up, because I was one of an enormous number of people who believed that Anthony Kennedy had certain foundational principles that would make him hesitant to step down when Donald Trump was likely to appoint his successor. For one thing, as you said, he was the bulwark in so many 5-4 cases—reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, prisoner rights, affirmative action. In so many areas, he was the fifth vote that would have precluded a sea change from overtaking the country. And the idea that his legacy wouldn’t matter in considering whether he’d step down, I just didn’t see it happening. I thought he would stay on because his legacy was that important.

Which - I take it - means she believed Kennedy had stronger moral fibres than he seems to have. Then again, since I do not know Kennedy at all, and he is 81, I do not know.

Here is the other bit I'll quote from this article:

DAHLIA LITHWICK: (..) I mean, I think that there is—has been a question that has animated Republican politics since the '70s, since Roe, that has really laser-focused on the idea that Roe was the original sin in judicial politics. And you'll remember that Sandra Day O’Connor’s confirmation hearing, Anthony Kennedy’s confirmation hearing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hearing, the issue that matters most to conservative movement Republicans has been doing away with Roe. And that was again—we had never had, until this election in 2016, a president who said, “I am promising you a litmus test. The litmus test is that Roe will be gone."

Possibly so, but I don't know. Then again, I have strong doubts about the Supreme Court of the United States for several reasons, and one is the fact that its judges are nominated for life.
4. Top Mental Health Experts Are Calling for the Goldwater Rule to Be Revised

This article is by Chris Sosa on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The American Psychiatric Association is facing calls from top mental health professionals to revise the infamous Goldwater rule that effectively bars discussion of political candidates' mental health.

The twenty-two signatories to the official letter include Robert Jay Lifton, a leading global expert on the psychological effects of war and political violence and Philip Zimbardo of the Stanford prison experiment.

Signers say withholding their professional views in political settings is a breach of ethics and believe President Donald Trump showed clear signs of dangerous psychological patterns.

I agree with the signers, although I very probably disagree with them on the status of psychiatry (which I did not study) and psychology (which I have an M.A. in): I think psychiatry is a total pseudoscience, while much of psychology also is. Also, while I am not against them as such, simply because people with serious problems need help, I think that anyone who knows something about philosophy of science and physics or chemistry should come to similar conclusions as I have.

Then again, I know my conclusions are not common. Here is some more by the signers:

“If you understand character and the typical psychological needs of someone reacting to threats to his self-esteem, you know that that behavior and speech doesn’t change readily,” Dr. Leonard Glass of Harvard Medical School said.

The letter to the APA says the Goldwater rule is "antiquated, illogical, without scientific foundation, and intrinsically undermining of mental health professionals’ efforts to protect the public’s well-being.”

Signers believe that a prohibition on discussing individuals they've treated and non-public figures should remain, but that the Goldwater rule must be revised to recognize the ethical duty to warn about dangerous public figures.

I agree with them, but then I do and did so from 1980 onwards, and for me the APA is simply a private and mostly secret gathering of persons trying to get rich with what is mostly, from a scientific point of view, bullshit.

5. What Must We Do Now?

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

My friends, this is a dark hour. Intolerance, cruelty, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and environmental destruction have been let loose across the land.

Trump controls the Republican Party, the Republican Party controls the House and Senate, and the Senate and Trump will soon control the Supreme Court.

Republicans also control both chambers in 32 states (33 if you count Nebraska) and 33 governorships. And in many of these states they are entrenching their power by gerrymandering and arranging to suppress votes.

Yet only 27 percent of Americans are Republican, and the vast majority of Americans disapprove of Trump.
I shall take this as mostly correct, although 27 percent of Americans are about 75 million of them.

Here is what Reich wants you - then non-Republican majority - to do - and I have deleted the texts, and only copied the bold parts: If you want to read the texts, go to the original:

So what are we – the majority – to do?

First and most importantly, do not give up. (...)

Second, in the short term, if you are represented by a Republican senator, do whatever you can to get him or her to reject Trump’s Supreme Court nominee (...)

Third, make a ruckus. (...)

Fourth, don’t succumb to divisive incrimination over “who lost” the 2016 election (...)

Fifth, vote this November 6 for people who will stand up to the Trump Republican outrage. (...)

Sixth, help lay the groundwork for the 2020 presidential election  (...)

Finally, know that this fight will be long and hard. (...)

I think all of this is correct, 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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