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Nederlog

February 24, 2019

Crisis: The Green New Deal, America Socialist?, Right-Wing Outrages, On Trump's Insanity, Sachs


“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.







Sections

Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 24, 2019
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, February 24, 2019.

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:

. Selections from February 24, 2019:
1. What’s Green? What’s New? What’s the Deal?
2. America Is a Socialist Country for the Rich

3. The 5 biggest right-wing outrages of the week

4. If Trump weren’t president he would be ‘contained and evaluated’

5. Green New Deal Is Feasible and Affordable
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. What’s Green? What’s New? What’s the Deal?

This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York Times. This is from near its beginning:

It was also long before anyone had seen a nonbinding congressional resolution calling for something called the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change (and a lot else, too) that earlier this month burst like a shooting star upon the Washington political and legislative scene. The resolution — introduced by Ed Markey, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected Democratic representative whose district covers parts of the Bronx and Queens — calls for a “10-year national mobilization” through giant investments in infrastructure and carbon-free energy. It has since won the full or partial allegiance of a half-dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls who pray that town hall participants or debate moderators will ask them what they think about global warming. Which in turn means that, whatever becomes of the plan, it will have moved climate change — a serious issue that has had serious trouble gaining traction — to a commanding position in the national conversation. That alone is reason to applaud it.

Yes, I more or less agree. Here is some more:

In name and concept, the plan is not new. The term Green New Deal appeared in a column in The Times by Thomas Friedman in January 2007, in which he called for a vast public and private investment program that would throw everything under the sun (including, actually, the sun itself) — wind, solar, nuclear power, energy efficiency, advanced research, tax incentives and a price on carbon — into a massive effort to build a more climate-friendly energy system while also revitalizing the American economy.

This is essentially what the Mr. Markey and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had in mind when they rolled out their resolution on Feb. 7.

Well... yes and no.

Yes, I agree that Friedman did use the term "
Green New Deal" in January 2007, and I also agree that "he called for a vast public and private investment program" that somewhat resembles the resolution of Markey and Ocasio-Cortez.

But no, I don't think Friedman "had in mind" what Markey and Ocasio-Cortez had in mind in 2019. There certainly are similarities, but you only have to read the full text of the Green New Deal to realize that it is much more specific and detailed than Friedman's two paragraphs of 12 years ago.

Here is some more:

The actual resolution seems more measured. It speaks only of a 10-year mobilization effort to reduce carbon emissions, without giving an explicit deadline, and it is silent as to particular strategies, leaving nuclear, carbon capture and price signals very much on the table. It does not mention costs.

Yes, that is correct.

Here is some more - and you should keep in mind that at the moment there are 70 Democrats in the House who are for the Green New Deal, which is substantial but also is (so far, at least) a minority of the Democrats:

Whether such measures will satisfy the activists who have gathered around Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is another matter. After all, her talking points, as well as the resolution itself, speak also of providing higher education for all Americans; universal health care; affordable housing; remedies for “systemic injustices” among the poor, the elderly and people of color; and a federal job guarantee insuring “a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security.”

Which raises this question: Is the Green New Deal aimed at addressing the climate crisis? Or is addressing the climate crisis merely a cover for a wish-list of progressive policies and a not-so-subtle effort to move the Democratic Party to the left?

Well, I agree with the points that are mentioned in the Green New Deal, and indeed would add that these points explain why it is called a Green New Deal.

And I think the last quoted paragraph is unfair: Clearly the Green New Deal is aimed at addressing the climate crisis, and clearly it is also more leftist than Nancy Pelosi and many other Democrats who are centrists and subsidized by Wall Street. But this is a recommended article.

2. America Is a Socialist Country for the Rich

This article is by Robert Reich on Truthdig. It starts as follows (and in fact I do not know whether I reviewed this article before):

“America will never be a socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism.

In the conservative mind, socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into massive bonuses for bank executives. On the other hand, more than 4,000 lower-level bank employees got a big dose of harsh capitalism. They lost their jobs.

Banks that are too big to fail—courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout—enjoy a hidden subsidy of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears.

Well... I agree with the facts Reich gives, but I disagree with his - quite intentional - confusing of socialism with what "the conservative mind" understands by socialism, and I also think this is very confusing.

But I do have an explanation for Reich's intentional confusion of "socialism for the rich" with any version of real socialism (see here, for example: Crisis: On Socialism), which is also about a disagreement I have with Reich, although I also think that he is a smart man who has sensible ideas: Reich is against socialism as this is understood by socialists, as is also indicated by his recent book "Saving Capitalism".

Here is more by Reich:

Trump and his appointees at the Federal Reserve are easing bank requirements put in place after the bailout. They’ll make sure the biggest banks remain too big to fail.

Trump is promoting socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in other ways. Since he was elected, GM has got more than $600 million in federal contracts plus $500 million in tax breaks. Some of this has gone into the pockets of GM executives. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra raked in almost $22 million in total compensation in 2017 alone.

But GM employees are subject to harsh capitalism. GM is planning to lay off more than 14,000 workers and close three assembly plants and two component factories in North America by the end of 2019.

Again I agree with the facts but not with "socialism for the rich", for this is intentionally quite confusing. What is true is that Trump, like the vast majority of rich men would do in his position, is helping the rich to get a lot richer - but that is not socialism but capitalism, and indeed a quite unpleasant form of extreme capitalism (except for the few rich).

Here is some more:

Under socialism for the rich, you can screw up big time and still reap big rewards. Equifax’s Richard Smith retired in 2017 with an $18 million pension in the wake of a security breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million consumers to hackers.

Wells Fargo’s Carrie Tolstedt departed with a $125 million exit package after being in charge of the unit that opened more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts.

No, once again this is not "socialism for the rich": It is extreme capitalism for the rich.

Here is the ending of this article:

To the conservative mind, the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive. Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are promoting for the rich.

Meanwhile, most Americans are subject to an increasingly harsh and arbitrary capitalism in which they’re working harder but getting nowhere, and have less security than ever.

They need thicker safety nets and deserve a bigger piece of the economic pie. If you want to call this socialism, fine. I call it fair.

No, I am sorry for this is yet another intentional confusion of the (anyway difficult and ambiguous) term "socialism": "thicker safety nets" and "a bigger piece of the economic pie"
are not called "socialism" for they are also quite compatible with social democracy and even with many forms of liberalism.

So basically I am both against the title and against the arguments that extreme capitalism for the rich is socialism, and also against the (false) idea that
"thicker safety nets" and "a bigger piece of the economic pie" may be fairly called "socialism".

Both theses are false, and I think Reich is easily intelligent enough to know they are false.


3. The 5 biggest right-wing outrages of the week

This article is by Matthew Chapman on AlterNet. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

This week saw a barrage of scandals develop for members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. House Democrats accused Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of obstructing a probe into her reinstatement of a shady private-sector college accrediting body. An investigation revealed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao improperly coordinated meetings and funding for Kentucky on behalf of her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ financial disclosure was rejected by the Office of Government Ethics for misstating his financial transactions. And a federal judge ruled Labor Secretary Alex Acosta broke the law as a U.S. attorney by cutting a secret non-prosecution deal with billionaire and alleged child molester Jeffrey Epstein.

In another presidency, any one of these scandals might dominate the news cycle for a week. But in the Trump era, they barely register — and part of that may be because right-wing media personalities were too busy getting into trouble themselves.

Here are five of the craziest right-wing moments this week:

I agree with the first quoted paragraph, and - probably - also with the thesis that the following five facts may well be "the craziest right-wing moments this week".

In fact, I will quote all five crazy right-wing moments, but will leave most of the texts to your interests:
  1. Boris Epshteyn says the presidents on Mount Rushmore “may have to make room” for Trump.
(..)
  1. Rick Wiles calls for waterboarding former Justice Department officials.

A lot of Trump’s supporters are angry about former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe acknowledging that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein debated exercising the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office in early 2017. But few have taken their outrage as far as Rick Wiles, the host of “endtimes” conspiracy theory talk show TruNews, did on Monday.

“Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — should they be taken to Guantanamo Bay and waterboarded?” said Wiles. “This was an ongoing coup, and so there’s another two names that need to go to Guantanamo Bay (...)

Well, Epshteyn seems mostly a right-wing fanatic, while Wiles seems like a dangerous idiot to me
who seems also a fanatic and a very anti-democrat.

Here is more:
  1. Laura Ingraham says people who criticize John Wayne for racism are like the Taliban.

This week, social media circulated snippets of a 1971 Playboy interview of legendary movie star John Wayne, which showcased his appallingly retrograde views on race. “I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to the point of responsibility,” said Wayne. “We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks … I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

Evidently, Wayne was a racist, while Ingraham is an extremist rightist liar. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
4.  Tucker Carlson says universal childcare is a plot to increase immigration.
(..)
  1. Roseanne Barr calls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “bug-eyed bitch.”

“That Green New Deal … Farrakhan-loving bitch. I don’t remember her name. The bug-eyed bitch who looks like a realtor,” she said in a two-minute video uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. “She got them realtor eyes. She got ’em. Bug-eyed lyin’ bitch. Farrakhan fan. Israel hater. Lefty. Dumbass, dumb as they get … I’m gonna try to correct some of the mistakes she’s made like costing hundreds of people decent-paying jobs ’cause, I don’s know, they breathe carbon in the air or some horseshit.”

Clearly, Carlson is a liar while Roseanne Barr may well be insane (and I am a psychologist).

Anyway... while Chapman is probably right these were
"the craziest right-wing moments this week" these - extremist - rightist ideas and values may make it clear why I do not follow the rightists: Too stupid, too ignorant, and too prejudiced. And this is a recommended article.

4. If Trump weren’t president he would be ‘contained and evaluated’

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

At the center of the chaotic maelstrom that is the Trump presidency is the question of Donald Trump’s mental health. His public behavior (and, by most accounts, his private behavior as well) is that of a man who is a compulsive liar and malignant narcissist, is paranoid, lacks in impulse control and lives in an alternate reality of his own creation.

Donald Trump has recently declared a “national emergency” in order to further expand his power and gut American democracy and the Constitution in the service of his radically destructive right-wing agenda. But in reality it is Donald Trump who is the actual national emergency, an obvious threat to this country and the entire world.

Yes, I mostly agree to the above. Here is more:

How are mentally unwell leaders more dangerous than leaders who are “merely” criminals? How have the American people become so numb to Trump and the Republican Party’s assault on American democracy and the common good? How is dangerous behavior normalized in an unhealthy society — such as ours? How are Trump and his movement affecting negatively the mental and physical health of the American people?

In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Dr. Bandy Lee. She is a psychiatrist at Yale University and a leading voices among the growing number of mental health and other medical professionals who have been trying to raise public awareness about Donald Trump’s mental health.

I will not attempt to answer the questions in the first quoted paragraph, and I also do not think Bandy Lee answers them.

Then again, academically I am both a philosopher and a psychologist (with excellent marks in both subjects) and I have quite definite ideas about psychiatry: I do not think it is a real science, and I also do not think it ever was a real science.

You may disagree, but if you have not studied both psychology and philosophy and got fine degrees I will not take your opinions serious. Also, I have several times explained my opinions on psychiatry.

Very briefly, I am for psychiatry because I do think some people do get mad (insane, crazy, disturbed) and psychiatrist aim (if decent and rational) to help them, which I also agree with, because I think mad people do need help.

But I am against many of the theories of psychiatry, for reasons most fully explained here:
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"
which I wrote in 2012, and which is very strongly recommended. (Warnings: It is well-written but it also is long and not easy.)

This also implies that while I may agree with psychiatrists on specific points and diagnoses (normally as a psychologist), I disagree with most psychiatrists on psychiatry in general.

And this makes my answers to psychiatrists, including dr. Bandy Lee, a bit complicated.

But here we go:

How is Donald Trump’s mental health central to the destruction, cruelty and chaos he engages in?

When a person’s mind is pathological we know that it is going to create a lot of chaos and danger. That’s precisely what Trump’s pathology has done. When I or other mental health professionals say that we need to stop him, it is not stopping the person Donald Trump per se, it is actually freeing Donald Trump from the pathology that gets him, and the country, in trouble.

No, it simply is not true that "when a person’s mind is pathological we know that it is going to create a lot of chaos and danger": This is only true for some pathologies.

Besides, I don't think there is much sense in distinguishing "
the person Donald Trump per se" and the pathological person Trump: I agree he is a pathological narcissist (who probably will never admit he is a narcissist), and that is for me sufficient to want him removed as president of the USA.

Here is some more:

What is this stress doing to the American people?

Research shows that stress levels are the highest in our memory — actually higher than any time since World War I. If you think of all the crises that have happened in that time period, we are actually in a worse state. We know that anxiety levels are 70 percent higher than two years ago. This is according to research from the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association. We know that public mental health is deteriorating.

No, I am sorry: This reminds me far too much of the thesis of many psychiatrists that e.g. nearly 4 out of 5 British are insane. See my Brit. Jn. Psychiatry: 78% of the British are not sane - that is and was utter nonsense.

Besides, I am both a philosopher and a psychologist in academic terms, and it is since quite long before 1980 my position that psychiatry is not a real science (which explains why they insist that almost 4 out of 5 Britishers - for example - are insane), and in fact something similar holds for psychology, although there are parts in it that are - more or less - scientific. (My degrees in both philosophy and psychology were straight A's: I do not have my opinions because I am stupid or uninformed.)

Finally about the above bit: As far as I am aware, both the
American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association sanction a great amount of bullshit as science at least in part because they get paid for it by rich corporations that sell psychiatric medicines. I am sorry, but I cannot take them serious.

Here is more (and Bandy Lee is the speaker):

I think at this point his pathology is so obvious to those who can see what is actually occurring in America that one does not need to have a degree in psychology to be able to tell what Donald Trump will do next.
     (...)
This is why someone with Donald Trump’s mental impairments possessing so much power is  such a dangerous state of affairs for the United States and the world. Trump is going to abuse his powers even more than he has already. There will be no limit on what Trump is willing to do in terms of abusing his power as president.

I disagree with the first quoted paragraph, for the simple reason that I have an excellent M.A. in psychology, and I do agree that Trump is insane, but I am absolutely not "able to tell what Donald Trump will do next".

Indeed, that is part of the reason why I agree with the thesis that Trump is insane: He is utterly unpredictable and quite irrational.

But I agree with the second quoted paragraph. Here is some more:

All of the violence, including the geopolitical instability that exists right now, was very much inevitable. Those mental health professionals who have been sounding the alarm about what Trump would mean for the country and the world could have told you on day one — or before — of Trump’s presidency that this was all going to happen.

No, I am sorry, but this is pure bullshit. If the "mental health professionals who have been sounding the alarm about what Trump would mean for the country and the world" indeed "could have told you on day one — or before — of Trump’s presidency" what he was going to do (as regards "the violence, including the geopolitical instability that exists right now", then why did they tell nobody?

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

As the Mueller investigation is drawing to a close and the Democratic Party is exercising its oversight, and he’s losing his supporters, the dangers of a nuclear war or some other kind of devastating war are going to accelerate. Trump is declaring a fake national emergency in order to create more emergencies and crises. A rational person can be defeated through logic. Trump is pathological.
    (..)
The end of the world, the end of humankind, none of that will matter with a person like Donald Trump when his sense of self is imperiled.

I agree to this.


5. Green New Deal Is Feasible and Affordable

This article is by Jeffrey D. Sachs on Common Dreams and originally on CNN. It starts as follows:

There are three main ideas of the Green New Deal Resolution introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey.

The first is to decarbonize the US energy system -- that is, to end the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil and natural gas, in order to stop global warming.

The second is to guarantee lower-cost, high-quality health coverage for all.

The third is to ensure decent jobs and living standards for all Americans, in part by making colleges and vocational schools affordable for all.
 
The right wing and corporate lobbies are already hyperventilating: It is unachievable; it will bankrupt us; it will make us into Venezuela.
 
These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable.

I completely agree with Sachs, and one important reason to review this text is that Sachs is one of the most important economists.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article (which may be compared with Reich's opinions, above):

In the US, the economy is feeding the wealth of billionaires while leaving tens of millions of households with no financial cushion at all. Meanwhile, the fossil-fuel lobby continues to endanger the planet by promoting the use of fuels that contribute to climate change, raising the risk of mega-floods, droughts, hurricanes, and heat waves, claiming many lives and costing the US more than $450 billion during 2016-18, or more than $150 billion per year on average.
 
The key ideas of the Green New Deal -- decarbonization, lower-cost health care, and decent living standards for the working class -- have been studied for years. The Green New Deal Resolution is the opportunity, finally, to put that vast knowledge into effect.

What is absolutely clear is that the Green New Deal is affordable. The claims about the unaffordability of these goals are pure hype. The detailed plans that will emerge in the coming months will expose the bluster.

I completely agree again. Also, there is considerably more text in this article, which is strongly recommended.

Note
[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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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