September 6, 2018

Crisis: Inside "Resistance", Health Care, Democrats, Stupid Americans, "Epochal Shift"


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 6, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 6, 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 September 6, 2018:
1. Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
2. Fake Reform Foisted on Us by Those who Benefit Most from the Current

3. Democrats and the 2018 Midterms
4. Creeping Fascism No Problem for Trump’s Durable Base
5. 'We Are Experiencing an Epochal Shift'
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. Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

This article is by Anonymous on The New York Times, who is styled "Anonymous" because the NYT
have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure." It has a subtitle:
I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
I say, for this is a rather odd beginning, or so I would say. Also, the anonymous senior official  (?) does not say why he is trying "to thwart parts of his agenda and his [Trump's] worst inclinations."

And while I can, as a psychologist, name at least one good reason for
the anonymous senior official (?) to do so, namely the fact - which I think, as a psychologist, very probably is a fact - that Trump is mentally ill, but that possibility is not even mentioned in this article.

Here is the start of the article:

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

Well... I am sorry, but I do need more independent evidence to infer from one or possibly a few anonymous senior officials (?) that therefore "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations".

That is, it may be true, but the evidence of just one supposed anonymous senior official (?) is definitely not enough (for me).

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

Possibly so, but I need more evidence.

Here are some of the things that convinced this anonymous senior official (?):

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

I am sorry, but the first two paragraphs of this quotation are false or nonsensical propaganda:

First, if you look at the evidence that Trump is mentally ill, you will find that he very probably is a narcissist, who does have a clearly discernible first principle, namely that Donald Trump Is The Greatest.

And second if you believe in "free minds, free markets and free people" what you are believing in is plain propaganda, not warrantable facts.

Then again, the supposed anonymous senior official (?) does agree with Trump on some "bright spots":

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

I am sorry, but I find all three evidence that ever more profits for the rich are what this supposed anonymous senior official (?) does wish for. I neither like nor admire that.

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

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

No, I am sorry: I think Trump himself is the first responsible one for what he "has done to the presidency"(who else?!). Also, while I think a very important problem with American politics is that most Americans are both stupid and ignorant, Trump has been abusing that in a new way.

2. Fake Reform Foisted on Us by Those who Benefit Most from the Current Dysfunction

This article is by Roy M. Poses MD on Health Care Renewal. It starts as follows:
To better understand health care dysfunction, I interviewed doctors and health professionals, and published the results in Poses RM.   A cautionary tale: the dysfunction of American health care.  Eur J Int Med 2003; 14(2): 123-130. (link here).  In that article, I postulated that US physicians were demoralized because their core values were under threat, and identified five concerns:
1. domination of large organizations which do not honor these core values
2. conflicts between competing interests and demands
3. perverse incentives
4. ill-informed, incompetent, self-interested, conflicted or even corrupt leadership
5. attacks on the scientific basis of medicine, including manipulation and suppression of clinical research stuides

After that my colleagues and I have tried to raise awareness of these and related issues, now mainly through the Health Care Renewal blog.  We also set up FIRM - the Foundation for Integrity and Responsibility in Medicine,  a US non-profit organization, to try to provide some financial support for the blog.
As readers who read me before know, I am ill almost 40 years with ME/CFS, as is my ex, and we have been told for 40 years that we are not ill (though both of us became - very good - M.A.s in psychology, in spite of not being able to follow any lectures).

It is only since March of 2018 that I am allowed by the Dutch medics to say I have "a serious chronic disease" since 40 years, and also that, presumably, I should feel most happy at the thought that future Dutch medics will be better educated in ME/CFS.

In fact, that was - as nearly always - a stinking Dutch medical lie, because no one knows as much as the cause of ME/CFS, indeed in good part because most research that could and should have happened in the last 40 years was not done at all. (Besides, Dutch medics get at most half of what Dutch medics had to learn 40 and more years ago, and very probably have an average intelligence of less than 115, which was the average IQ in 1984 in the University of Amsterdam.)

Well... my ex and I have seen some 30 medics, and 27 of them were frauds, liars, and deceivers, whose first and only responsibility was to their own financial well-being, and not helping their patients.

And I think 30 medics is a sufficient sample to conclude that 90% of all Dutch medics simply is incompetent. (And at any rate, given that 27 out 30 medics were liars in our experiences, is not precisely an inspiration to try yet another one.)

Next, as to Roy M. Poses MD: I have been following his site for quite a few years, probably at least seven, and I like him.

Here is some more by him:
However, we failed to find any prominent foundations willing to help.  We have occasionally gotten small amounts of money from a few small foundations, but not recently.  Meanwhile we have not seen any major health care foundations supporting any iniatives by anybody meant to address any of the issues we discuss on Health Care Renewal.  In particular, while outright health care corruption seems one of the most outrageous issues we discuss, we have never found a foundation willing to take that on - at all.

 We should not have been surprised.  We later discovered that the leaders of many health care foundations had conflicts of interests which likely decreased their enthusiasm for even considering issues such as ... conflicts of interest and their risk of generating health care corruption.
Yes, precisely - and one of the things that seem very much as they should not be is the testing of new medicines (like Oxycodontin), which seems to be mostly corrupted (literally) and falsified.

Here is one more bit:
As a society, at least in the US, we have abandoned true reform, including reform of health care, for faux reform controlled by those who would lose the most were true reform to take place instead.  We have handed the problem of excessive drug prices over to the executives of pharmaceutical companies who benefit most from currently outrageous pricing.  We have handed the problem of a dysfunctional health care insurance system over to executives of insurance companies who benefit most from high cost commercial insurance plans that cover as little as possible.  We have allowed corporations accused of unethical and criminal practices to make lax legal settlements that pretend they will be able to improve themselves without penalties accruing to the managers on whose watch the bad behavior occurred.  And we have let health care foundations led by top health care corporate managers and their cronies to sell change that matters. 
There is a lot more more in the article that is interesting. If you are not interested and are an American, I think you must have been remarkably healthy all your life. This is a recommended article.

3. Democrats and the 2018 Midterms

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

The collapse of the Democratic Party over the last four decades is nothing less than historic.  It’s the kind of thing folks will study in the future, as what Barbara Tuchman called a “march of folly.”

Ms. Tuchman defined a march of folly as “the pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest,” and nothing has been as obviously contrary to the Democrat’s fortunes as their pursuit of a neoliberal, centrist strategy.

Oh, yes, Democrats will do well in the 2018 midterms, but in too many cases it will have nothing to do with their policies, and everything to do with how Republicans have screwed the vast majority of the American people so that they could – once again – give trillions to the uber-rich and corporations.

And of course, when it comes to creating fear and loathing, nothing tops Trump’s record of incompetence and criminality, and the Republican Congress’s perfidy. 
Actually, I found Tuchman's "The March of Folly" (for it is a book, published in 1984) quite interesting reading, without agreeing to everything.

Then again, I think I should add that it doesn't quite seem to fit here, for Tuchman's definition of the march of folly as "
the pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest", which is quite adequate, does not apply if you consider the self-interest of Democratic (and Republican) elected politicians: They seem to vote (on many issues) according to who pays them the most.

And that is quite self-interested. Of course, I have no strict proof of such payments, but then these are kept secret. Then again, they do explain quite a few of the Democrats' choices.

Here is more by Atcheson:
But winning because people are fed up with the other guys is a far different thing than winning because people support your policies.  And the Democrats have no real policies. Their centrist, neoliberal, be-all-things-to-all people approach to politics – which allows them to collect campaign money from corporations, Wall Street and the uber-rich – has create a toxic brew of anger and alienation in middle America.  And while there is an insurgent force within the party fighting for a progressive platform, the party leaders and pundits are fighting it every step of the way. 

The angry and justifiably cynical end up voting for demagogues and tin-horn tyrants who bad-mouth government, while the alienated stay home.

This is the root of the Democratic leadership’s march of folly.
In fact, I think is is far less "[t]heir centrist, neoliberal, be-all-things-to-all people approach to politics" than it is, quite simply, that the Democrats now have been admitting and protecting their collections of their campaign money from those they ought to be most opposed to: "corporations, Wall Street and the uber-rich".

At least, that is what I think. Also, I would not at all be amazed if Hillary Clinton will insist that she should have yet another chance of defeating Trump.

Here is more by Atcheson:
The root cause is that working class Americans are standing still.  There’s been little in the way of economic gains for the vast majority of Americans since 1980. And this is the result of policies that favor the rich and corporations, policies supported by both political parties.  But whereas the Republicans offer the voters an explanation and someone to blame (both false, as usual), Democrats seek to straddle the middle, and manage to feed the anger that supports the Republican’s narrative, and the victories that accompany it.

The rationale neoliberal Democrats offer for embracing this march of folly is that Americans are political centrists.

They aren’t. Even in so-called red states, progressivism plays well.

Yes, I think that may well be true. Then again, for the rich Democrats holding seats, of course the problem is that "progressives" usually have little or no money to pay them.

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

As a result, when they do manage to win because “we’re not as bad as they are,” they hold no mandate for change, which means in the long run, they will be unable to deliver the change that the American people want, deserve and need, which in turn means they will ultimately lose again.

Which makes the Democratic leadership’s devotion to the failed strategy of centrism all the more perplexing.  Unless, of course, you factor in the central role that corporate and uber-rich campaign contributions play for the party elite.  As Sanders said, too many Democrats would rather retain their power than see the party as a whole win elections.

And so, despite the 2018 gains, the Democratic Party will still be marching towards folly, unless the progressives manage to take it over completely.

Yes, that may well be correct (and note "Unless, of course, you factor in the central role that corporate and uber-rich campaign contributions play for the party elite"). This is a strongly recommended article. 
4. Creeping Fascism No Problem for Trump’s Durable Base

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

How, liberals and progressives ask with shocked amazement, can Trump’s supporters continue to back him? They persist even as one piece of evidence after another emerges of his epic and pathological gaslighting, his shameless immorality, his abject criminality, his wild stupidity and his corruption. Then there’s his chilling authoritarianism, his tendency toward fascism, his ugly sexism, his textbook malignant narcissism and his nasty racism.

These flummoxed observers aren’t wrong about Donald “Don’t Believe What You See and Hear” Trump’s terrible, duplicitous and unabashedly Orwellian nature, but their incredulity is na´ve.

Yes, the evidence is clear as day—to people who pay serious attention to evidence. Nine of every 10 Americans—and certainly a larger share of Republicans and Trump-backers—believe in the existence of God. Ask most Americans what exactly one is supposed to believe in when it comes to “God,” and they will say little or nothing in the way of empirical proof. It’s never quite clear what the concept and word means. It’s about faith, not evidence.

Evidence is easily devalued in a faith-based nation in which magical thinking (a critical component of authoritarianism and hardly limited to religious and metaphysical matters) is rife.

Well... I certainly am someone who is interested in evidence. Then again, I studied philosophy and psychology, and I think that the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans (is that still the case, by the way?) is religious is considerably less important for Trump's success than is the fact that truly large numbers of Americans are simply stupid and ignorant.

Here is some of the utter bullshit the Republicans utter:

Watch Fox News and listen to noxiously racist, nationalist and neo-McCarthyite talk-radio hate-mongers like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. Nothing is clear as day across the soulless landscape of radically conservative media, where 2+2=5; war is peace; love is hate; corporate Democrats are Marxists; antifa is a giant mass movement created by the Democratic Party; black football players who take knees during the national anthem are traitors; the billionaire rentier Donald Trump is a friend of the working man; anthropogenic global warming is a “hoax”; and “God” wants us to burn every last fossil fuel on Earth. As Trump’s wacky post-modernist lawyer Rudolph Giuliani put it recently, “truth isn’t truth.”

Clearly, none of this bullshit has anything to do with religion. Here is something on Trump's - let's say - lack of brilliance:

Speaking of stupidity, what about Trump’s real or alleged idiocy? The “mentally deranged dotard” (North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s colorful description of Trump last summer) would probably outscore George W. Bush (more on that dolt below) but come in below the Clintons and Obama on standard intelligence measures. Whatever his brainpower, however, Trump is an inexhaustible font of fatuous and inane political assertion. Take, as one example, his frequent go-to: climate-change denial. Then there’s his claim that thousands of Muslims danced on the roofs of apartment complexes watching the World Trade Center towers collapse on 9/11, as well as the ridiculous assertion the U.S. is being flooded by immigrant rapists and murderers.

I agree to Trump's relative position, but then again I am less interested in how intelligent Trump is as I am in why so many Americans believe in him. And here I say again: Because of their stupidity; because of their ignorance.

Here is more on American stupidity:

Sadly enough, however, stupidity is not necessarily a big problem for much of the population. Ten years ago, historian Rick Shenkman wrote a book titled ”Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter”. The book was filled with depressing statistics like the following:
● A majority of Americans didn’t know which party was in control of Congress.
● A majority couldn’t name the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
● A majority didn’t know the U.S. had three branches of government.
● A majority of Americans told pollsters in 2003 they believed George W. Bush’s argument the United States should invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had attacked America on 9/11.

I mean: How could you not know these elementary things and be not stupid? Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, after skipping a lot, and this is from the ending of the article:

Is Trump’s “creeping fascism” a problem for his backers? Leaving aside the interesting debate among liberal and left commentators about whether Trump is a real or creeping fascist, it is unlikely that more than a small number of Americans could provide even the remotest outlines of a working definition of what classic
European fascism was or what fascism more broadly defined is in the world today. It’s hard for people to reject something they know little or nothing about regarding its existence and nature (even as they are thinking and acting in accord with some of the phenomenon’s key characteristics).

Precisely - or even worse, for I have not been able to find as many as 1 journalist in over 5 years of reading and reviewing over 2000 articles who could do so.

5. 'We Are Experiencing an Epochal Shift'

This article is by Britta Sandberg and Mattieu von Rohr on Spiegel International. Well... I admit that I thought it would be more interesting, but then the interviewee, Ischinger, spent no less than the last 40 years as a politician of some kind, and he speaks like that as well. So just two bits:

DER SPIEGEL: "The World in Danger" ("Welt in Gefahr") is the title of your new book. How bad is the situation?

Ischinger: We are experiencing an epochal shift. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation has never been as dangerous as it is today. Primarily because mutual trust has vanished. We can only see the rough outlines of what the new political age will look like. There is Russia's new role, China's expansion, violent conflicts around the world such as the war in Syria, the consequences of which we in Europe have particularly felt. A once reliable partner like Turkey is faltering, and we have experienced significant instability even within the European Union. But no politician has unsettled the world to the degree Donald Trump has. Since he entered office in January 2017, the entire liberal world order seems to be in danger.

I say, but not really: What is "an epochal shift"? And what is "the entire liberal world order"?
I have no idea, and the prose of Ischinger is most uninviting.

Here is the last bit of this politician's prose I quote:

DER SPIEGEL: Is Trump destroying the West with his rhetoric?

Ischinger: If it were only actions that mattered in foreign policy, I would be more sanguine. Because the U.S. is still doing more for NATO than all the rest of us put together. Unfortunately, the current situation isn't the only thing that matters. Words do too. And Trump's words act like poison to the cohesion of the West. The West needs a symbol, and that is what we have lost under Trump. And because we Germans finally became embedded in the West after a long journey over the last 70 years, it is a particularly painful loss, almost a loss of identity - much worse than for the French or the British.

Note Ischinger could simply have said "Yes" or "No" or perhaps "Don't know". Instead, he utters forth a sort of bullshit that I can't translate and also am not interested in. O well....


[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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