December 4, 2018

Crisis: The Israel Lobby, Hungary, Bernie Sanders Interviewed, Trump & Mueller, On Psychiatry


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 4, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, December 4, 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 three 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 December 4, 2018:
1. The Film the Israel Lobby Does Not Want You to See
2. No News Is Bad News for Hungary
3. Interview: Bernie Sanders
4. 5 Reasons Trump Won’t Fire Mueller

5. A Yale psychiatrist explains 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. The Film the Israel Lobby Does Not Want You to See

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The Lobby,” the four-part Al-Jazeera documentary that was blocked under heavy Israeli pressure shortly before its release, has been leaked online by the Chicago-based website Electronic Intifada, the French website Orient XXI and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

The series is an inside look over five months by an undercover reporter, armed with a hidden camera, at how the government and intelligence agencies of Israel work with U.S. domestic Jewish groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs to spy on, smear and attack critics, especially American university students who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
I did not know anything about "The Lobby". It seems interesting, although I very probably will not watch it.

There are several reasons for this, but one is that I cannot get the BDS site (with a very recent Firefox on a very recent Linux) other than as a title (so Firefox appears to be able to go there) but otherwise with an entirely blank page (which makes it seem as if the text has been somehow deleted).

In fact, this is quite similar to two very recent articles about China on Spiegel International (that since many years has been displaying well on my Firefox), that has precisely the same behavior (title: yes; text: no) for me. (The rest of Spiegel International displays well.)

Anyway - I suspect someone is fucking up both displays, but I do not know and do not intend to try to find out, for that is almost certainly utterly wasted time and energy.

In any case, here is Hedges' summary of "The Lobby":
[The documentary] uncovers Israel’s sleazy character assassination of academics, activists and journalists, its well-funded fake grassroots activism, its manipulation of press coverage, and its ham-fisted attempts to destroy marriages, personal relationships and careers. The film highlights the efforts to discredit liberal Jews and Jewish organizations as tools of radical jihadists, referring, for example, to Jewish Voice for Peace as “Jewish Voice for Hamas” and claiming that many members of the organization are not actually Jewish. Israel recruits black South Africans into an Israeli front group called Stop Stealing My Apartheid, in a desperate effort to counter the reality of the apartheid state that Israel has constructed. The series documents Israel’s repeated and multifaceted interference in the internal affairs of the United States, including elections; efforts to discredit progressive groups such as Black Lives Matter that express sympathy for the Palestinians; and routine employment of Americans to spy on other Americans. Israel’s behavior is unethical and perhaps illegal. But don’t expect anyone in the establishment or either of the two ruling political parties to do anything about it. It is abundantly clear by the end of the series that they have been intimidated, discredited or bought off.
I think that is all - at least - mostly correct. Then again, I admit that (i) I don't know much about Israeli policies, since I do not regularly follow them, which has a considerable amount to do with (ii) the fact that I strongly dislike Netanyahu. There also are other reasons, such as the fact that my grandfather was murdered in a German concentration camp for resisting the Nazis, and my father spent over 3 year and 9 months in four German concentration camps for the same reason.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Those of us who denounce and expose the Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians are intimately familiar with the sordid and nefarious tactics of the Israel lobby. The power of the film series is that in dealing with the reporter—a young Oxford postgraduate, James Anthony Kleinfeld, who goes by the name Tony in the film and poses as a pro-Israel student—major figures within the Israel lobby candidly explain and expose their massive covert campaign in the United States. There is no plausible deniability. And this is why Israel worked so hard to stop the film from being broadcast.
I suppose this is correct as well. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.
2. No News Is Bad News for Hungary

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
The world’s growing ranks of would-be autocrats should study Viktor Orban. Steadily, systematically, relentlessly, he has disabled any criticism or honest accounting of his imposition of right-wing, nativist, nationalist politics on all spheres of Hungarian life. His latest feat is breathtaking in its audacity.
What Mr. Orban has managed to create is a media juggernaut that closely resembles Communist propaganda machines of old. The consolidation, if that’s the word, still needs to be approved by regulatory authorities, but they’re led by officials appointed by Mr. Orban. So is the Constitutional Court, should anybody consider challenging the transfers in the courts.

The nonprofit foundation that has suddenly become an enormously powerful government mouthpiece, the Central European Press and Media Foundation, was formed in August by staunch allies of Mr. Orban. In an email to The Times, a board member, Miklos Szantho, echoed a line from Fox News, claiming that the foundation would work to create a “balanced” media environment in Hungary by serving as a counterweight to “progressive” news outlets.

That’s a curious notion of balance, since more than 500 news outlets in Hungary today are pro-government, compared with 31 in 2015. Independent media organizations have been denied state advertising for years, often rendering them targets for acquisition by Mr. Orban’s friends. The most widely read opposition newspaper, Nepszabadsag, was shut down in 2016. Many of its staff members charged that the shutdown was the work of Mr. Orban.

Yes, I think most of the above is quite correct. Here is more:

Hungary is not alone in its assault on media freedoms — Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice Party is also trying to bring the media under its control. But Mr. Orban has been the trendsetter in his effort to build what he proudly describes as an “illiberal state.” His efforts have included active measures to spread his far-right ideology to the theater and other arts, to universities and other schools, and even to religion.

They have also included a crackdown on pro-democracy organizations and institutions like the Central European University, created to foster democracy by the Hungarian-American investor George Soros — a bte noire of Hungarian government propaganda — that is now being forced out to Austria, with a shrug from the Trump administration.

Yes. And this is a recommended article.
3. Interview: Bernie Sanders

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:
Hundreds of international progressive leaders gathered in Burlington, Vermont, last weekend for an event hosted by The Sanders Institute. While there, Amy Goodman sat down with independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to discuss his efforts to pass a Green New Deal, raise the minimum wage and protect Social Security. He also spoke about last week’s historic Senate vote to advance a resolution he co-sponsored to end military support for the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war in Yemen.
This was a good idea. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. We’ve just returned from Burlington, Vermont, where hundreds of international progressive leaders participated in a gathering hosted by The Sanders Institute. On Saturday, I had the chance to sit down with independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and ask him about his efforts to pass a Green New Deal, raise the minimum wage and protect Social Security. I began by asking him about last week’s historic Senate vote to advance a resolution he co-sponsored to end military support for the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war in Yemen.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It is a big deal. It’s a big deal because for the first time since 1973 we have used the War Powers Act to in fact stop a horrific war. What we won last week was the beginning of the process. We got the language discharged from committee, so it’s now on the floor. We’re going to need a motion to proceed, and then we need final passage. I think we have the votes to pass it.

Yes, Sanders may be right. Here is some more on it:

AMY GOODMAN: So, what exactly does this bill say?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It says the United States will not be involved in the war on Yemen anymore.

AMY GOODMAN: And what has to happen for the motion to go forward, to have the debate on the floor?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It has to pass the Senate. And unless I’m mistaken, it will get the 51 votes that we need. Mike Lee, who’s a conservative Republican from Utah, Chris Murphy and I brought this up in March. We got all of 44 votes. But I think the Khashoggi murder really turned a lot of attention to the brutality and the despotic nature of the Saudi regime, and so we got a lot more Republicans on board. I think we’ll probably lose some of them next week, but I think we’ve got 53, 54 votes.

Yes indeed. Here is more:

AMY GOODMAN: You have a massive change now that’s coming up, and that is the House will become Democratic. But that’s just the House. It’s not your House. It’s not the Senate. What does that mean? And what does a path forward look like for an issue you have pushed for years?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, Amy, thanks for asking that question. And what I want to say, and I think all of us should be proud of this, who are supporting Medicare for all, we have come a long way in the last few years. If you and I were sitting here three years ago talking about Medicare for all, you would have said, “Well, it’s a good idea, but nobody supports it.” Well, last two polls that I’ve seen, 70—seven zero—percent of the American people support it. All over this country, more and more doctors’ organizations are coming on board, because they’re tired of practicing in a dysfunctional healthcare system which doesn’t allow them to provide the treatment they want for their patients. We’re making real progress.

Now, I hope, in terms of Medicare for all, in terms of raising the minimum wage to a living wage, in terms of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, criminal justice reform, immigration reform—I hope—climate change—I hope that the Congress, the new Congress, will come out and come out swinging.

Well... I hope so as well, but I am not very confident. Then there is this:

AMY GOODMAN: What you think about impeaching President Trump?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Not right now. Right now, obviously, we’re waiting for the report of the Mueller investigation. I think we would look stupid if you jump the gun on that. So, and it would look highly, highly political. Let Mueller do—continue to do his investigation, and let’s see where we go from there.

I agree, basically because (i) it will be very difficult until 2020 to impeach Trump, while also (ii) his replacements (while probably not mad) are about as bad as Trump.

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

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what’s going to happen with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—what they call, or Republicans call, the entitlements. What do you call them?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, they’re not entitlements. They’re paid-for programs that people have invested in.

What Trump promised his supporters during the campaign is that he was a different type of Republican. You recall that. He was not going to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I know I will shock your viewers when I tell them that he lied. And his last budget provided a trillion dollars in cuts in Medicaid, which would be a disaster not only for low-income people, but for middle-income people who have family members in nursing homes. It was a $500 billion cut to Medicare, $72 billion cut the Social Security Disability Fund.

Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article. 

4. 5 Reasons Trump Won’t Fire Mueller

This article is by Bill Blum on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

For those who fear that Donald Trump is about to lower the boom on special counsel Robert Mueller, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Despite all you’ve heard from Trump himself, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and law professor Alan Dershowitz about the commander-in-chief’s unfettered authority to discharge any member of the executive branch with impunity, Mueller isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

There are at least five reasons why Mueller and his probe are safe:

1. Trump lacks unilateral authority to remove Mueller.

The Department of Justice regulations under which Mueller was appointed preclude the president from dismissing a special counsel on his own initiative.

Well... we shall see, but this article does announce five reasons why Trump won't fire Mueller, and this is the first, and is correct.

Then again, Trump seems to have appointed a new attorney general whose main task is (according to quite a few commentators) to dismiss Mueller.

Here is more on that possibility:

2. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker may lack the legal authority to remove Mueller
But Trump’s plans to deploy Whitaker to ax Mueller may be dead on arrival, because Whitaker’s appointment may be unconstitutional. To date, at least half a dozen lawsuits have been filed challenging Whitaker’s installation for running afoul of the Constitution’s appointment clause (Article II, Section 2).
The lawsuits against Whitaker contend that he cannot lawfully discharge the duties of the attorney general because he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate.

I say, for I did not know that. Here is the third reason:

3. Whitaker may defy expectations and refuse to fire Mueller.

As with each of the five reasons, there is more text in the original. I completely deleted the text for this reason, because I think this one is rather unlikely.

The next reason seems considerably more relevant:

4. Mueller can contest his firing.

Even if Whitaker follows presidential orders to fire Mueller, the special counsel can contest the firing by filing a wrongful termination case in federal court.

I think this may well happen, but so far it hasn't (and Whitaker's appointment may be unconstitutional).

Here is the last reason:

5. Trump is deathly afraid of impeachment

The image of Trump as a strongman who hits back twice as hard as his opponents is a mirage. Beneath his bravado lurks what many prominent mental-health professionals perceive is a brittle, insecure narcissist who lives in fear of being exposed as a weak and craven con man.

For the first two years of his presidency, Trump’s narcissism went essentially unchecked. He could fire Comey, threaten to discharge Mueller, hint at pardoning supporters and himself and lie about everything from his business dealings with Russia to his efforts to obstruct the Russia probe, and get away with it all.

No more.

The difference is, of course, that the Democrats won the House in November. And in any case, I do not know what Trump or Whitaker may do, and this is a recommended article.

5. A Yale psychiatrist explains Trump

This article is by Tana Ganeva on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to heap praise upon his ally Roger Stone, who continues to maintain his refusal to flip—even as Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, who once said he’d take a bullet for the president, begged federal prosecutors to not serve jail time.

Stone might be Trump’s most famous supporter—but there are millions of Americans who refuse to abandon the president regardless of the chaotic news cycle. A poll conducted over the summer found that many Trump supporters trust the President more than their own friends and family.

Raw Story spoke with Yale psychiatry professor Bandy X. Lee on why the president’s supporters show such undying devotion to a man who’s repeatedly reneged on promises and whose tumultuous first term has been filled with shake-ups.

Yes. And while I basically agree with Lee that Trump is insane, I am also a philosopher and a psychologist who does not like most psychiatry, for various reasons. In case you are interested,
this is a link to my ideas on psychiatry:
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"

Also, my own strong inclination is to explain facts such as these: "there are millions of Americans who refuse to abandon the president regardless of the chaotic news cycle. A poll conducted over the summer found that many Trump supporters trust the President more than their own friends and family" not by psychiatric reasons but by psychological ones, such as that these supporters of Trump are mostly stupid or ignorant (and often both) - which in fact seems to be even less agreed to than psychiatric ones (because it is supposed to be discriminatory, since we all know everyone is equal, from Einstein to morons).

As the rest is an interview, I will quote some of that. Here is the first bit:

But, in this case, Trump appeals to that childlike degree of emotional development? Why?

Strongman-type personalities are very appealing in times of socioeconomic or political crisis, as the population is less able to think rationally but is rather overcome with fear, or desire to draw strength from fantastical ideas. This happens to normal people in times of stress, or to people whose development has been stunted because of emotional injury. The problem is, the person who promises the impossible and states, “I alone can fix it,” and gives himself an A+ on his performance, is not a strong person who can deliver but the opposite. So Mr. Trump’s “base“ looks for someone to rescue them and their intense yearning does not allow them to see through his deception, while Mr. Trump senses better than anyone their needs (they are his) and makes use of them for his own benefit—even as he disdains his supporters for being so gullible.
Well... no, I mostly disagree. That is, I agree Trump is a "strongman-type personality", but I think his effects are better explained by assuming most of his supporters are stupid or ignorant, rather than by mostly psychiatric assumptions.

Here is more:

What’s your biggest concern?

One concern I have, in my 20 years of studying this personality structure while treating violent offenders, is the disturbing societal trend. More and more of this personality type are taking on leadership positions, including of corporations, whereas 20 years ago one would mostly find them in jails and prisons.
Possibly so, but (i) I do not have "20 years of studying this personality structure while treating violent offenders" and (ii) I also do not think that the political and corporate leaders I have seen since 1980 (or earlier) are very different from those I saw before, while also (iii) a major difference between the present political and corporate leaders in the USA and the previous ones is that the present leaders have far more possibilities to do what they like and profit from it through nearly 40 years of successive deregulations.

Besides, there also is the fact that the present corporate and political leaders in the USA tend to come from the same group as the previous
corporate and political leaders, namely the 1% of the richest.

Here is more:
We find in him a pattern of following exactly what his base is looking for—he has no intrinsic philosophy or ideology but is responding to an emotional need for adulation and approval, and so he will try anything that gets as many people on board as possible. He will also sense keenly those who will never go along with his pathological methods—that is, healthy people—and drop them instantly. That is why we see him desperately clinging to an ever narrower base with increasingly fringe ideas.
There will likely be no limit to the violence he is capable of, since destroying the world would be nothing compared to the shame and humiliation he might suffer.
No. While I agree Trump is insane I also think he is a neofascist, and indeed published both opinions on the same day in 2016. If you disagree, you should read what I think neofascism is (it is at least a decent definition) and why I think Trump satisfies each and every criterion I gave.

But I do agree with the last statement. Then there is this:
By the way, I think we need to include a very different demographic group among his supporters, which is the richest one percent. This will be the more calculating, pragmatic group. How is such a minority able to control politics and to keep convincing 99 percent of the population to give up what it has so that it can grow richer still? It is by distracting and manipulating the 99 percent through advertising, hot-button issues such as abortion, Fox News, and reality TV, which explicitly employ psychological techniques to make the population more impulsive, irrational, and ill-informed.
I think that is basically correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
There is a phenomenon called “shared psychosis” (also called “folie deux”) that happens when an untreated sick person is in close proximity to, say, other family members within a household. In such a situation, normal people grow increasingly out of touch with reality and take on symptoms of the person who is unwell. It can also happen with an impaired president—once in power, he becomes not only the most urgent problem that needs to be addressed but a cause of widespread deterioration of health in a way that can become a “folie millions.”

No - and one personal reason is that my ex and I have been repeatedly said to be suffering from a "folie deux" in the last 40 years - where we could not get any help or any support except from our families and a few rare doctors precisely because of this discrimination (which always was by ordinary GPs who had not studied psychiatry nor psychology).

My ex and I both made excellent M.A.s in psychology why we were ill (or mad - during the last 40 years - according to the vast majority of GPs we saw) without ever going to lectures, simply because we both had an IQ above 140.

Also, while I am a psychologist, I never saw anyone with folie deux, that is, other than myself and my ex, who have been declared - after almost 40 years of medical discrimination - to suffer from a "serious and chronic disease" in March 2018, which is what we have tried to convince medics of since we fell ill, as first-year students on study loans, in January 1979.

Finally, while I do not deny there are some cases of “folie deux”, I think the extension of that psychiatric conception to a “folie millions” is pseudoscientific baloney.

[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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