April 12, 2015
Crisis: Propaganda, Mentally Ill, Schneier, Germany, Scapegoat Economics
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


1. Iranians Are Much Talked About on Sunday Morning TV,
    But Never Heard From

2. Why mentally ill people are an easy target for the Tories
Data and Goliath
German Asylum: Attacks on Refugee Hostels a Growing

5. Scapegoat Economics 2015


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 12, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald that shows how the Americans are propagandized
these days rather than informed by their media; item 2 is a fine article by Nick Cohen who explains how the mentally ill are made responsible for the frauds
and thefts of the rich, also helped by postmodernistic lying and deceiving; item
is a not so good review of a probably good book; item 4 is about an article on
Spiegel Online about the rising amount of attacks on refugee hostels in Germany;
and item 5 is a good article on "scapegoat economics", that also gets explained

1. Iranians Are Much Talked About on Sunday Morning TV, But Never Heard From

The first item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
  • Iranians Are Much Talked About on Sunday Morning TV, But Never Heard From
This starts as follows:
Sunday morning news television is where Washington sets its media agenda for the week and, more importantly, defines its narrow range of conventional, acceptable viewpoints. It’s where the Serious People go to spout their orthodoxies and, through the illusion of “tough questioning,” disseminate DC-approved bipartisan narratives. Other than the New York Times front page, Sunday morning TV was the favorite tool of choice for Bush officials and neocon media stars to propagandize the public about Iraq; Dick Cheney’s media aide, Catherine Martin, noted in a memo that the Tim-Russert-hosted Meet the Press lets Cheney “control message,” and she testified at the Lewis Libby trial that, as a result, “I suggested we put the vice president on Meet the Press, which was a tactic we often used. It’s our best format.”
I say - which I do because I am living now 45 years by myself (not always alone: I have lived with 5 women, all in all) and never had a TV, and I did not know about the role of Sunday morning in the U.S., though it doesn't really amaze me that these days the American press seems to consist mostly of lackeys.

And Glenn Greenwald is no doubt right that what "the American people" get served on Sunday morning (and all other weekdays) is mostly right wing propaganda, and not because it has to but because the present day mass media want to convey the U.S.governments' point of view, or the GOP point of view, but almost completely avoids giving any Iranian any voice.

Indeed, as Greenwald says:

But as these shows “cover” the Iran deal, one thing is glaringly missing: Iranian voices. There has not been a single Iranian official recently interviewed by any of these Sunday morning shows. When I raised this issue on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, a Meet the Press Senior Editor, Shawna Thomas, said the show had “put in a request” with Iran for an interview, while MSNBC’s Chris Hayes also suggested that it can be difficult to secure interviews with Iranian government officials.

That may be, but even if it is difficult to obtain interviews with Iranian government officials, it is extremely easy to interview Iranian experts, scholars, journalists and other authoritative voices from Tehran.
Except that they are not interviewed, not on Sunday morning, and also not - with a few rare exceptions - during the rest of the week.

And Glenn Greenwald gives several reasons why that is rather strange (at least: in a real democracy), which I leave to your interests, and ends as follows:
It’s remarkably telling that the only voices heard on Sunday morning TV shows are those who spout the U.S. Government line about Iran, including officials from the repressive regimes most closely allied with the U.S. Obviously, one can find the arguments of Iranians unpersuasive or even harbor hostility to that nation’s government, but what possible justification is there for the leading Sunday morning news shows in the U.S. to simply suppress those views altogether?
There are several possible answers to the last question, but they all seem to spell "pro-pa-gan-da".

Why mentally ill people are an easy target for the Tories

The next item is an article by Nick Cohen on The Guardian:

  • Why mentally ill people are an easy target for the Tories

This starts as follows:
If there were ever a good time to have a nervous breakdown, now would appear to be it. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the treatment of mental illness is an election issue for the first time in British or, as far as I can see, world history. Say what you will about the Liberals, and I have said much, but this is an achievement.
I am willing to believe it, although it also seems to me that this interest will rapidly disappear after the elections. But what I am considerably more interested in is the following:

Meanwhile, the health service, the bureaucracy and the “serious” media show their respect for mental illness by enforcing speech codes that would make a Victorian clergyman blink. You should never use words that have become insults even if they were not originally insults or are not always used as insults now – “cretin”, “simple”, “cripple”, for instance. You should never say that someone is “suffering” from autism or schizophrenia – even if they are. On no account should you describe someone as “mentally ill”. You must refer to “people with mental health problems” instead. By extension, mental health patients are no longer “patients”, but the “users” or “consumers” of health services.

I bristle when anyone tries to tell me what to write and find “inoffensive” language to be so deceitful and clunking that it is an offence in itself.
Yes indeed - and so do I (without bristling), for this is an extremely dishonest, postmodernistic, complete falsification of what is really happening - and I note that I am ill since 1.I.1979 (for the 37th year), but that my illness is still not recognized by the Amsterdam dole, even though I got an M.A. in psychology that must be the best or one of the best ever awarded, and that could have earned me a lot of money (blissfully also: outside Holland).

And as to postmodernism: I thought it was turning oldfashioned, but Zoe Williams drew my attention yesterday to the fact that everyone who did get a full postmodernistic university education (in the 1990ies) now is in their forties, and many are journalists, and few seem to have forgotten or given up the bullshit they were drilled in.

In any case: I am suffering from a serious physical disease, that has caused me 37 years of pain; I am not mentally ill; I have one of the best M.A.'s ever awarded (made when ill), but I am very poor - though wholly without debts - because I got for most of these 37 years no help of any kind in the supposedly "civilized" country I live in, except for minimal dole (for a healthy adult - even though I can walk at most 300 meters without problems).

Also, I don't quite "bristle": I refuse to speak or write the relativistic, degenerate, falsifying, intentionally lying bullshit lingo that postmodernists, bureaucrats and psychiatrists glorify in: They are lying and they are also demeaning, and usually they know both (but will never admit it).

I do not know whether Nick Cohen thinks so - but then he is not a psychologist,
not a philosopher, and he has neither been ill in the dole for 30 years nor been ill for 37 years:

Many good people do not agree that a fraud is being committed. For them, driving “stigmatising” language out of respectable conversation has been one of the great mental health achievements of the past decade.

If they were right, if it were anything other than an easy lie that you can change the world by changing language, then the condition of the mentally ill would have improved.
Yes,indeed - but in case they are "good", they must be also quite dumb, for indeed one of their big mistakes (next to not believing in truth, not believing in morals, and not believing in any inequality of any kind) is that they believe/pretend that you can cure the world and the ill by revising your language, which is plain crazy. (And which no one believes if it concerns himself or herself, rather than others.)

And as Nick Cohen says (which is in part why I think it is intentional dishonesty very much rather than goodness):
In Britain, the powerful can get away with any inhumane act as long as they cover themselves with the cloak of “appropriate” language. Mind has emphasised how Iain Duncan Smith’s supposed attack on “scroungers” has turned into an attack on the mentally ill. His staff were sanctioning and removing their benefits at a rate of 100 a day.

The prejudice of Conservative officialdom is that they are lazy rather than sick. They punish them and then they fail them. Almost 150,000 people with mental health problems have been placed on the work programme – only 5% have been helped into work.

Precisely - and this should explain why I am rather happy I will be pensioned soon: I have suffered 30 years of extreme discrimination by the Amsterdam dole, and will at long last be relieved from this - explicit, intentional, degenerate - sadism when I am pensioned (minimally, of course).

Nick Cohen also says and asks:
The covering of real suffering with euphemism suits an age of austerity well. For if people are not suffering, if patients are empowered “consumers”, why do they need public money spent on their treatment?
The question is fair, but euphemisms and lies are from long before austerity: They started in the late 1970ies with the rise of postmodernism, according to which everything is linguistic or textual, and there is no truth, no non-relative value of any kind, and we also all are equal (so if you are sick you must be a scrounger and a liar, since you claim not to be equal to all).

Anyway - there is considerably more in the article, which is good and deserves full reading.

3. Data and Goliath 

The next item is an article by Emily Parker on Truthdig:
  • Data and Goliath

This is a review of two books, of which I shall consider only one, namely “Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World” by Bruce Schneier.

This starts as follows:

“Even the East Germans couldn’t follow everybody all the time,” Bruce Schneier writes. “Now it’s easy.”

This may sound hyperbolic, but Schneier’s lucid and compelling “Data and Goliath” is free of the hysteria that often accompanies discussions about surveillance. Yes, our current location, purchases, reading history, driving speed and Internet use are being tracked and recorded. But Schneier’s book, which focuses mainly on the United States, is not a rant against the usual bad guys such as the U.S. government or Facebook. Schneier describes how our data is tracked by both corporate and government entities, often working together. And in many cases, the American people allow them to do it.

Hm. I have several remarks.

First, I very probably followed surveillance a lot better than Emily Parker, and while I have met some "hysteria", most of the hysteria - and lies and deceptions - I read were by the NSA or the government.

Second, if it is true what Schneier says -
“Even the East Germans couldn’t follow everybody all the time,” Bruce Schneier writes. “Now it’s easy.” - why should one not get hysteric? It doesn't seem very rational, indeed, but the threats are enormous.

Third, what is so very bad about "
a rant against the usual bad guys such as the U.S. government or Facebook"? They are lying, they are deceiving, they are stealing, while very few of those they steal from understands much about either computers, totalitarianism, or programming.

There is more in the article and in the review, but I will quote just one more bit, and that because this is one of the first times I've read this (in nearly two years
of daily checking of some 40 sites looking for crisis materials), outside my own Nederlog:
Data about us is being stored and held, subject to the whims of future political figures. Schneier asks, “Is someone’s reading of Occupy, Tea Party, animal rights, or gun rights websites going to become evidence of subversion in five to ten years?”

This is a good and important question - but as I said, I see it rarely discussed, and indeed this article only mentions it.

Anyway - there is more in the article, but I did not like it much.

4. German Asylum: Attacks on Refugee Hostels a Growing Problem

The next item is an article by Spiegel Staff on Spiegel Online International:
  • German Asylum: Attacks on Refugee Hostels a Growing Problem
This has the following subtitle, that also is the reason to list it here (and it is bold in the original):
The recent arson attack against a refugee hostel in Tröglitz has made headlines around the world. But it is far from the exception in Germany. Even as most asylum-seekers in the country are left in peace, there has been a disturbing rise in anti-refugee violence.
Here are the second and third paragraph of the article:
Indeed, attention these days could be focused on Vorra instead of Tröglitz, where a similar arson attack made international headlines this week. Or on Escheburg, near Hamburg. Or Germering, located next to Munich. Or Sanitz, in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Or on Berlin, the allegedly cosmopolitan capital of Germany. All of these places have seen arson attacks perpetrated recently against refugee facilities; all of these places have seen animosity escalate dangerously. There are such places in the western part of the country and in the eastern part; they include villages and cities; and they are both well-off and poor.

It would, of course, be inaccurate to say that Germany is in flames. And, contrary to what some have been saying, Tröglitz is not "everywhere." Most asylum-seekers in Germany live in peace and are left largely alone, aside from the thousands of volunteers who ensure that the newcomers have all they need. Normality is the standard in Germany's refugee homes. And yet, Tröglitz is far from being an exception either. Last year, in fact, there were almost three times as many attacks on refugee hostels in Germany as there were in 2013.

There is a considerable amount more in the article.

5. Scapegoat Economics 2015  

The last item is an article by Richard D. Wolff (<- Wikipedia) on Truth-out:
  • Scapegoat Economics 2015

This starts as follows:

As economic crises, declines and dislocations increasingly hurt or threaten people around the globe, they provoke questions. How are we to understand the forces that produced the 2008 crisis, the crisis itself, with its quick bailouts and stimulus programs, and now the debts, austerity policies and deepening economic inequalities that do not go away? Economies this troubled force people to think and react. Some resign themselves to "hard times" as if they were natural events. Some pursue individual strategies trying to escape the troubles. Some mobilize to fight whoever they blame for it all. Many are drawn to scapegoating, usually encouraged by politicians and parties seeking electoral advantages.

Yes, indeed - and especially of the last kind, which also is the subject of the article: The scapegoating that governments and media these day engage in, that blame ill and poor people for the problems in the economy that are really due to
the rich owners, who have been deregulated, and can mostly do as they please.

There is a good treatment of Germany and its relation to Greece, that I leave to your interests, and there is this on the U.S.:

Governors in the US now increasingly attack state employees, their unions and pensions as if they, rather than the crisis, had suddenly become the economic problem. Mayors across the country do the same to municipal workers. Of course, both state and municipal budget problems since 2007 are primarily the results of high unemployment and reduced consumer spending. In short, it was and remains the crisis since 2007 that played and plays the key role in cutting governments' tax revenues and hurting government budgets. Growing and more effective tax-evasion strategies of business and the rich have had the same effect. Responding to lowered tax collections, politicians fearful of damage to their careers refuse to raise tax rates. Instead they embrace spending cuts that they justify by means of scapegoat economics.

Thus they demonize public employees as lazy, greedy, overpaid, underworked, over-pensioned, etc. - all remarkably similar to German depictions of Greeks.

This is a good article, and the idea of "scapegoat economics" - "it's the poor welfare queens, the foreign scroungers, the "ill", and "the people with mental problems that cause our economic problems, and never the owners" - is useful.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.


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