July 11, 2018

Crisis: On Kavanaugh *2, Three ¨Addictions¨, Trump´s Many Lies, On Trump´s Failure


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

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, July 11, 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 July 11, 2018:
1. Inside the Right-Wing History of Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee
2. America’s Three Addictions
3. Kavanaugh Despises Net Neutrality and Loves Mass Surveillance
4. What We Can Do About Trump’s Escalating Lies
5. Judge Asks ACLU for "Possible Punishment" Ideas For Trump
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. Inside the Right-Wing History of Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Trump has nominated federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the high court. Kavanaugh has deep ties to the Republican Party and will push the Supreme Court further right if he is confirmed. Kavanaugh served as a senior aide under President George W. Bush in the White House Counsel’s Office. He has similar credentials to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Both clerked for Anthony Kennedy, and both are backed by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, who drew up a list for Trump in 2016 of suitable right-wing judges to consider for the Supreme Court. We speak with Ian Millhiser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the editor of ThinkProgress Justice. His latest piece is headlined “Who is Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick to replace Anthony Kennedy?”
Yes indeed. Here is more:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In a move to push the Supreme Court further to the right, President Trump has nominated federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the high court. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, it would create a bloc of five right-wing justices, likely making it the most conservative court since the 1930s. Critics warn this could lead to a major rollback of civil rights, environmental regulations, gun control measures, voting rights and reproductive rights, including possibly overturning Roe v. Wade.
Again yes indeed, but I also have a question: Why are Supreme Court judges nominated for life? For indeed that is the main problem: While presidents have to be nominated every four years, and are now limited as presidents to eight years, a Supreme Court judge, who may be nominated at 40, is supposed to remain there for life, also if he or she gets to be 85 or so.

Personally, I see no reason whatsoever for that, and especially not as Supreme Court judges tend to be nominated not on judicial but on ideological grounds. And being nominated for life - and I am argueing here entirely in the abstract, and irrespective of a leftish or rightish ideology - has another setback: It protects judges who have been nominated, but who turn out to be not very competent, or at least not as competent as Supreme Court jugdes should be.

Then again, I raised this question not because I expect it will be solved, or indeed be taken up, but simply because they seem to me to be rather fundamental questions.

Back to the article:
AMY GOODMAN: Brett Kavanaugh has also argued that sitting presidents should be shielded from criminal or civil investigations. In a 2009 article for the Minnesota Law Review, Kavanaugh wrote, “I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office,” unquote. He went on to write, “The indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government.”
I strongly disagree with Kavanaugh, and my main reason is that in a real democracy, and indeed also in any state of law, no individual should be above the law: That position is only compatible with kings or ceasars or absolute dictators.

And here is Senator Warren:
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: He is hostile to healthcare for millions of Americans. He is opposed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and corporate accountability. He is opposed to the rights of women, workers and consumers. He is hostile to just about anyone who isn’t wealthy and powerful. He thinks presidents like Trump should be above the law.
I entirely agree with this. And here is Ian Millhiser:
IAN MILLHISER: (..) [T]his guy looks like he was grown in a vat by the Republican establishment. He literally went to the same elite prep school with Neil Gorsuch. I think they might have even been in the exact same class. You know, he graduated from Yale twice, clerked for Justice Kennedy. He worked for Ken Starr, the Clinton inquisitor. He worked at an elite law firm, was a very senior aide to President Bush. And then, for these last—this last decade, he’s been on the D.C. Circuit, the second-most powerful court in the country, where he was a consistent antagonist of environmental regulations, where he said that he would have struck down—he didn’t just say he would strike down net neutrality, he said that net neutrality violates the First Amendment, where he was a big proponent of gun rights and moved to strike down D.C. gun laws. So, on issue after issue—abortion, birth control—he’s got a really thick record, and he’s very consistently voted with the right on issue after issue.
I take it this is all quite correct, and indeed there is considerably more by Millhiser in the rest of the article, that I leave to your interests.

But I want to make one more formal point here (and by ¨a formal point¨ I mean one that seems quite relevant to me, but that will also very probably not be discussed at all). It is this:

As far as I can see, neoconservative interests in the First Amendment have very much increased after (i) the Supreme Court in effect decided that money = votes, which again meant the rich now can invest extremely much money to see to it that only those are elected whom the rich like, and also after (ii)
the Supreme Court in effect decided that the First Amendment may be interpreted so as to benefit the quasi-persons that are corporations as much as possible, on the ground that these quasi-persons are real persons and deserve rights as real living persons. (And I think both points are totally mistaken.)

I merely notice this, simply because I don´t think it will be changed, but it does show to what extent the recent decision of the Supreme Court have been for the rich and for the rights and liberties of corporations, while the rights of the non-rich and of living persons have been neglected.

And this is a recommended article.

2. America’s Three Addictions

This article is by Tom Engelhardt on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:
When you think of addiction in America today, one thing comes to mind: the opioid epidemic. And it should. It’s serious. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost 64,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016 (more than died in the Vietnam War), an average of 175 people a day. In that year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 11.5 million Americans “misused” pain medication. (..) This crisis of addiction has already cost the country an estimated $1 trillion since 2001 and might, in the next three years alone, cost more than half that much again.
I completely agree with this, and like to remark, as an aside in the present context, that these ¨opioid overdoses¨ have been prescribed on mostly false grounds and false promises by thoroughly corrupt medical doctors who were much more interested in getting rich themselves than in defending the human or medical rights of their patients - and see e.g. "Hope in a Bottle" - Components of Purdue Pharma Stealth Marketing Campaign from two days ago for backgrounds.

Here is more:
This country (and above all its media) is addicted to Donald J. Trump in a way that no population, no media, possibly not even the Communist Chinese press in the days of Mao Zedong, ever was to any figure. Since he rode that Trump Tower escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and took out after Mexican “rapists” and future Great Walls, no one — nothing — has ever been covered or attended to this way, online or off, in daily life or in our increasingly shared, increasingly addictive media life. (Yes, the Internet and social media are undoubtedly addictions of some sort, too, but let’s not head down that road or I’ll never stop writing!)
Well... no, I disagree and I disagree mainly because ¨addiction¨ is abused in two incompatible and conflicting ways.

First, there is physical addiction, as is the case with opioids, mentioned above, and also with heroine, morphine, cocaine and opium: These are physically strongly habit forming, which also entails that
- trying to - getting rid of these physical addictions is quite painful, quite sickening and quite difficult.

And second there is metaphorical addiction (to elect a term), which in the end are based on strong likes or strong habits or strong values and which are for that reason difficult to get rid off, but which are not physical addictions.

Since I am a psychologist, I think the distinction is quite important, but unfortunately Engelhardt seems not aware of the difference, and if he is, he never mentions the difference.

Also, and thirdly, I think myself that Engelhardt is mistaken in the amounts of propaganda that have supported political leaders. And I think the propaganda for Stalin, for Hitler and for Mao all were stronger than for Trump, because disagreement with these first three kinds of - often wild, often phantastic - propaganda meant serious trouble with the authorities (often the secret police) simply for disagreeing. And the USA under Trump is not there - yet.

Here is one example of Engelhardt´s confusions:
When it comes to the media in particular, Donald Trump is the opioid crisis. He’s their drug of choice. He gets them high. They can’t help themselves, nor can they stop. As head of CBS Leslie Moonves put it during election campaign 2016: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” And then he added, “The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this [is] going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”
For this is confused on several levels. First, Engelhardt explicitly denies the - pretty large, pretty important - distinction between physical and metaphorical addiction I drew above. And second, he also confuses the policies of heads of the CBS (or other media corporations) who gave free rides to Trump because this made them a lot of money through advertisements with the experiences of ordinary voters who simply could get little else than Trump.

Here is the same confusion at work:
Tell me, then, if this isn’t an addiction, what is it? And what’s the one thing you know about addictions? Whatever high they give you — and let’s not deny that Donald Trump offers us a constant set of highs (whether as rushes of agreement and pleasure or horror and dismay) — if you can’t stop yourself from taking the drug, day after day, night after night, there will be a price to pay. Somebody better have the equivalent of naloxone on hand.
I will tell you. It is not physical addiction, but it is habituation, and that habituation, in turn, is based on the mainstream media providing daily overdoses (so to speak) of Trump while also appealing to the stupidity, ignorance, conformism and wishful thinking of a great many of their normal viewers.

And here is more of the same confusion once again:
And then there’s that other twenty-first-century all-American addiction, in some ways far stranger than the Trumpian one and likely to be no less costly in the long run: addiction to war. Almost 17 years after the Global War on Terror was launched, the highs — the invasion of Afghanistan! The taking of Kabul! The smashing of Iraq! The capture of Saddam Hussein! — are long gone. Now exhausted and discouraged, those hooked nonetheless remain unable to stop.
I shall not repeat my arguments, for they are just the same as above. There is a lot more and it is not all bad either, but it ends as follows:
So, addiction? If you don’t think this country has an addiction crisis (other than opioids), think again.
Well, I am a psychologist and my opinion is that you either do not know or do not want to use the proper distinction between physical addiction and metaphorical addiction aka habituation. 3. Kavanaugh Despises Net Neutrality and Loves Mass Surveillance

This article is by Jake Johnson on AlterNet and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

In addition to the mountain of much-discussed reasons the American public should be alarmed by President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh—from his anti-abortion views to his past opinions favoring the interests of big polluters—advocacy groups are warning that the 53-year-old judge's established record of hostility to net neutrality and support for mass surveillance shows that his confirmation would spell "disaster for internet freedom."

"Trump's SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is an enemy of net neutrality and has sided with big cable companies in the lower courts," noted Demand Progress on Twitter following Trump's official selection of Kavanaugh Monday night, citing his previous argument that net neutrality rules violate the free speech of internet service providers.

First, for some more on Kavanaugh, see item 1 above. And second, Jake Johnson is quite correct. Here is more:

In an analysis of Kavanaugh's past opinions late Monday—which include his assertion that net neutrality rules are "unlawful and must be vacated"—Slate's April Glaser notes  how the record of Trump's pick for the court reveals a judge who is vastly more "sympathetic to the handful of companies that control the internet...than to the hundreds of millions of Americans who use it."

While the net neutrality protections established in 2015 were officially rolled back by FCC chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai last month, this telecom-backed move is facing a slew of legal challenges from advocacy groups and state attorneys general that could ultimately make it to the nation's highest court.

"If any of those cases do make it to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh probably feels that net neutrality isn't something the federal government should take strides to preserve," Glaser writes.

Yes indeed - I think all of this is quite correct. Here is more:

While Kavanaugh's past rulings as a federal appeals court judge demonstrate his concern for the rights of giant corporations, they also lay bare his apparent contempt for the privacy rights of Americans.

As Politico reported ahead of his nomination, Kavanaugh "has a history of embracing warrantless surveillance and rejecting Fourth Amendment challenges to it."

In a concurring opinion in 2015, Kavanaugh argued that the National Security Agency's warrentless metadata collection program—which was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013—is "consistent with the Fourth Amendment" and insisted that "critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this program."

Quite so. And I agree with Johnson that Kavanaugh is quite dangerous (for those of even the mildest leftish or liberal values). As I said, also see item 1 above, and this is a strongly recommended article.

4. What We Can Do About Trump’s Escalating Lies

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

As the political season heats up, Trump is ramping up his lies through his three amplifiers: Fox News, rallies, and Twitter.

According to The Fact Checker’s database, the average daily rate of Trump’s false or misleading claims is climbing.

The problem isn’t just the number or flagrancy of the lies – for example, that Putin and the Russians didn’t intervene in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, or that the Mueller investigation is part of a Democratic plot to remove him.

And it’s not just that the lies are about big, important public issues – for example, that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans, or trade wars are harmless.

The biggest problem is his lies aren’t subject to the filters traditionally applied to presidential statements – a skeptical press, experts who debunk falsehoods, and respected politicians who publicly disagree.

Yes, I think this is mostly correct, but I do have an addition because I am a psychologist: To the best of my knowledge there are currently at least 70,000 psychologists and psychiatrists who agreed that Trump is not sane - see the last link, from December 2016.

And I am a psychologist, and while I do not have a high opinion of psychology as a real science, while I also have a low opinion of psychiatry, which hardly is a real science, I also insist that the more or less standardized judgements of these (as expressed e.g. by the DSMs), although far from perfect also are the best we currently have, and certainly are both better and more informed than the opinions of random persons or random journalists on so-and-so´s mental characteristics.

Here is more on Trump and his presidential habits:

(..) Trump doesn’t hold press conferences. He doesn’t meet in public with anyone who disagrees with him. He denigrates the mainstream press. And he shuns experts. 

Instead, his lies go out to tens of millions of Americans every day unmediated.

TV and radio networks simply rebroadcast his rallies, or portions of them.

Quite so. And here is more:

At his most recent rally in Great Falls, Montana, Trump made 98 factual statements. According to the Washington Post’s fact checkers, 76 percent of them were false, misleading or unsupported by evidence.
Meanwhile, over 50 million Americans receive his daily tweets, which are also brimming with lies.

I agree, and there is also this:

Fox News is no longer intermediating between the public and Trump. Fox News is Trump. Many of his lies originate with Fox News; Fox News amplifies the ones that originate with Trump. 

Fox News’s Sean Hannity is one of Trump’s de facto top advisers. Trump has just appointed Bill Shine, the former number two at Fox News, as his deputy chief of staff for communications.

No democracy can function under a continuous bombardment of unmediated lies.
This needs at least two additions, namely: especially not with so many voters who are quite stupid and ignorant, and also especially not with so many voters who do not vote,

Here is the last bit of Reich´s advice:
Fourth, write to Twitter and tell its executives to stop enabling Trump’s lies. Its contact information is here.

My own recommendation is different (but I am a very intelligent academically educated person): If you tweet, you must be an idiot who believes that communications of tweet-length are rational. They are not, and I will never tweet until it has become an ordinary mail without anonymous users and sadists. And this article is recommended.

5. Judge Asks ACLU for "Possible Punishment" Ideas For Trump

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

While President Donald Trump and administration officials took to social media to celebrate the news that 12 Thai children and their soccer coach will be reunited with their families after being trapped in a cave for 18 days, the White House didn't even come close to meeting Tuesday's court-imposed deadline to reunite 102 children under the age of five with their parents after they were separated by Trump's cruel policies.

Federal judge Dana Sabraw—who issued the ruling that set the Tuesday deadline—asked the ACLU to "submit a proposal for possible punishment" against the Trump administration for failing to meet the target date.

Rebuffing White House requests, Sabraw also declined to extend the deadlines for reunification, declaring that they are "firm deadlines" not "aspirational goals."

Speaking to reporters just before his flight to Europe for the NATO summit, Trump blamed his administration's failure to meet the court's deadline on the detained families themselves, saying the "solution" to the crisis he created is "don't come to our country illegally."

Yes indeed. I do not have a realistic opinion about ¨a possible punishment¨ for Trump, simply because I do not know enough American law, but my opinion is that the sooner a madman and a neofascist like Trump is removed, the better it will be for most Americans and nearly all non- Americans.

Here is what the professional sadists from ICE succeeded in doing (I think in part because many of the addresses of the children or the parents were either not taken at all or destroyed):

According to court filings, the Trump administration had reunited just four families by Tuesday afternoon and is expected to reunite 34 more by the end of Tuesday.

"The Trump administration's failure to meet the court's deadline to reunite families separated at the border shows the administration's ongoing neglect and disregard for the wellbeing of immigrants," Javier Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said in a statement. "We demand immediate reunification of these families, an end to the so-called 'zero tolerance' policy, and once and for all we must end family detention."

To put what I just said in some perspective: If you are ordered to unite 102 very young children your government has kidnapped, and you united at the time you are ordered to have done so just 1 in 3 of these very young children, my only rational explanation is that you or your menials must be sadists.

And this is from the ending of this article:

"The Trump administration was ordered to reunite more than 100 children with their parents by today," Rep. Pramila Jayapal noted in a tweet on Tuesday. "They've missed the deadline and must be held accountable."

In total, an estimated 3,000 children were separated from their parents as a result of Trump's so-called "zero tolerance" policy.
Yes. The above means Trump´s goverment kidnapped around 3,000 children from their parents, 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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