July 19, 201
Crisis: Labour Party, Stanford Experiment, Warren, NYT on Sanders, Clinton
  "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. Labour isn’t working. It’s spamming us instead
Here's What Happens When You Ask a Bunch of Hippie
     Kids to Act Like Correctional Officers

3. Elizabeth Warren Challenges Presidential Candidates to
     Stop Revolving Door

4. Why Is the NY Times Basically Doing a Blackout on Bernie

Clinton Days Are Here Again!

This is a Nederlog of Sunday July 19, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article on The Guardian that says - correctly, I presume - that the British Labour Party is defunct and merely spamming; item 2 is (in fact) about a recent film that is about the Stanford Prison Experiment, which was interesting; item 3 is about senator Warren's support for a legal challenge against revolving doors (which I think will fail, but OK); item 4 is about a good article about the fundamental dishonesty of the NYT as regards Bernie Sanders; and item 5 is about Bill Clinton who now adds to the $ 104 million he has received since 2001 for his speeches, by speeching about his apologies for his presidential mistakes.
This last item has two dotted links.

1. Labour isn’t working. It’s spamming us instead  
The first article today is by Sophie Heawood on The Guardian:
  • Labour isn’t working. It’s spamming us instead
This starts as follows:

If you felt so upset about the Conservatives’ election victory that you resolved to do something about it, and joined the Labour party the very next day, you will know that the past month has been hard. I don’t mean watching George Osborne make cuts in places you didn’t think there were cuts left to be made, like a barber who has run out of hair and made a start on his customer’s neck. I don’t even mean having to look at David Cameron’s face of smug bunting while he talks about bringing back fox hunting, while food banks make appeals on behalf of schoolchildren who go hungry during the holidays.

No, I mean the fact that, every time you so much as glance at your phone or computer, there is yet another email or text message from the sodding Labour party. Less a political party and more a call centre now, they are spending all their valuable opposition time stalking you. I’m now being contacted several times a week by every leadership candidate, and every candidate for the deputy role, and my local party, some MEPs, plus all the mayoral candidates, if you live in London, and somebody who once met someone down the pub who owned the same breed as a backbencher’s dog and has something to say about it.

There is considerably more in the article, but it is mostly limited to a criticism on the amount and the stupidity of Labour Party spam.

I believe her (I don't get any Labour spam, but then I am not even English and also not a jourbalist), but the real reasons for the spam and the near total lack of any critical ideas is that Labour has been betrayed and destroyed by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and  the Third Way - and yes, you should read the last link if you
are interested in the Labour Party. (And no, I am not a socialist, but socialism is a real alternative, whereas present-day Labour just is spam, spam, spam.)

And I should add that I also think that the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are no better, and just as propagandistic, though indeed I also do not receive mail
from them.

2. Here's What Happens When You Ask a Bunch of Hippie Kids to Act Like Correctional Officers

The next article today is by Michael Mechanic on Mother Jones:

  • Here's What Happens When You Ask a Bunch of Hippie Kids to Act Like Correctional Officers
I must start with a clarification and a correction. The clarification is that this is,
indirectly, about the rather (in)famous Stanford Prison Experiment that was set up and conducted by Philip Zimbardo in the early 1970ies.

Here is the initial bit from the Wikipedia on it, for I thought this quite interesting, and have written about it repeatedly in Nederlog (see e.g. here), and know about it since 1971, and also from my study of psychology. This is quoted minus the note numbers:

The Stanford prison experiment (SPE) was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted at Stanford University on August 14–20, 1971, by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. It was funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research and was of interest to both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as an investigation into the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners. The experiment is a classic study on the psychology of imprisonment and is a topic covered in most introductory psychology textbooks.

Twenty-four male students were selected, from an initial pool of seventy-five, to adopt randomly assigned roles of prisoner and guard, in a mock prison, situated in the basement of the Stanford Psychology Department building, for a period of between seven and fourteen days. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo's expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to continue. Two of the prisoners quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days, to an extent because of the objections of Christina Maslach. Certain portions of the experiment were filmed, and excerpts of footage are publicly available.

My reason to write "indirectly" is that Michael Mechanic's article is in fact about a film, also called "The Stanford Prison Experiment", that was released two days ago:

It has taken Hollywood more than four decades to turn the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment into a feature film, but not for lack of trying. There have been numerous attempts, retired psychology professor Philip Zimbardo told me. One involved Leonardo DiCaprio, whose father, George, was one of his students. But they kept falling through, either due to the whims of Hollywood or because Zimbardo found the treatments "too grandiose."

To use the university's name in The Stanford Prison Experiment movie, which hits theaters on July 17, producer Brent Emery had to agree that he would portray the events of 1971 largely as they actually happened.
The correction is that "Hippy Kids" don't have anything to do with it: I suppose that falls under "journalistic freedoms" when reporting about things that happened 44 years ago.

What was the
Stanford Prison Experiment about?

Basically, to test the ideas of Milgram and the Milgram Experiment, that predicted similar things as Zimbardo found: The solid majority of ordinary men, also if these are - fairly intelligent - students at Stanford, follow - what they perceive as - authorities, also in doing things they privately disagree with. (See also Christopher Browning's "Ordinary Men", about how ordinary men acted under Hitler.)

There is a lot to say about this, but I did so already several times in Nederlog and also in my Philosophical Dictionary, so for the moment I refer those who are interested to the last linked item. See e.g. Role, Group, Groupthinking, Person, Hypocrisy, Character, Self, Self-Deception, Conformism and Society.

3. Elizabeth Warren Challenges Presidential Candidates to Stop Revolving Door

The next article today is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

  • Elizabeth Warren Challenges Presidential Candidates to Stop Revolving Door

This starts as follows:

Elizabeth Warren has drawn a line in 2016’s presidential election sands.

Speaking at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix on Friday, she challenged the presidential candidates to stand behind legislation introduced this week that would vastly slow down the revolving door between Wall Street’s financial firms and working for the government—where high-level private sector employees end up making government decisions that favor their past employers over the public. 

“We have a presidential election coming up. I think anyone running for that job—anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government—should say loud and clear that they agree: we don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people,” Warren said, according to a draft of her speech.

Well... I agree with Warren, but I also think it is far too late to be successful. That doesn't mean that I think it shouldn't be tried, but I would be very amazed if the present Congress would support this proposed new legislation.

4. Why Is the NY Times Basically Doing a Blackout on Bernie Sanders?

The next article today is by William Beardman on AlterNet:
  • Why Is the NY Times Basically Doing a Blackout on Bernie Sanders?
This starts as follows:

The front page story is about such issues as “work force anxieties,” “shrinking middle class,” “stagnant wages,” and a growing income gap at pre-Depression levels. The candidate who has been raising these issues longer and louder than any others is Bernie Sanders. Yet the New York Times story about these issues does not even mention Bernie Sanders, although it mentions others with less credibility. 

That is the level of intellectual dishonesty actually achieved by the Times in its July 13 page one story headlined “Growth in the ‘Gig Economy’ Fuels Work Force Anxieties.” Two of the most relevant words excluded from the 1700-word story are “Bernie Sanders,” even though it includes two Republican and Hillary Clinton.

It’s intellectually dishonest to write about these issues without mentioning the Independent senator from Vermont now running for the Democratic nomination for president as a Democratic Socialist. It is also deceitful and would be journalistic malpractice for anyone purporting to practice actual journalism.
Yes, indeed and this is a good and rather long article. It is pro Bernie Sanders,
but is so on the basis of facts.

5. Clinton Days Are Here Again!

The first of the two final articles today is by David Swanson on Washington's Blog:

  • Clinton Days Are Here Again!
This has the following from near the start:

Here are things Bill Clinton is now apologizing for: mass incarceration, Wall Street deregulation, the drug war, and corporate trade agreements. Here are a few of the things he should also be apologizing for: destroying welfare, creating media monopolies, expanding NATO toward Russia, creating a precedent for illegal NATO wars without Congressional or UN authorizations, and 500,000 children killed by sanctions in Iraq.

Here are a few little-known facts about President Barack Obama: the war on Afghanistan is more his than Bush’s by any measure, he had regularly voted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a senator, he broke his promised schedule for ending the war on Iraq and never fully ended it and soon revived it, he’s supported coups in Honduras and Egypt and Ukraine, he’s claimed the power to murder anyone anywhere by drone, he’s expanded the military into numerous nations laying the groundwork for future hostilities, and his war on Libya followed the Clinton model of blatant illegality rather than the Bush Jr. approach of at least bothering to lie to Congress and the United Nations.

I think that is mostly fair. And indeed David Swanson is right that Bill Clinton is now apologizing for quite a few things he did as a president, and the link he provides is quite interesting:

The final article is by Marina Fang and Amber Ferguson on the Huffington Post:

  • Bill Clinton Is Sorry For A Lot Of Things

This starts as follows:

As president, Bill Clinton was wrong about Wall Street deregulation and various elements of his foreign policy, pushed trade policies that painfully drove up drug prices around the world, sowed chaos in Mexico through his prosecution of the drug war and exacerbated the problem of mass incarceration through an overly punitive approach to sentencing. 

It may be a harsh judgment, but it's one that carries weight considering the source: former President Bill Clinton. 

This is a fairly long article, that discusses the following apologies by Clinton, of which I merely list the titles: If you are interested, you can get the text by way of the last link:

Criminal justice
Financial deregulation
The drug war
Marriage equality
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Rwandan genocide
Haitian rice tariffs
HIV/AIDS & drug prices

I have added the last link because the link given in the article is empty. The quoted apology is from 1998.

Finally, what do I think about Bill Clinton? This is from the Wikipedia article on him:

Clinton earned more than $104 million from paid speeches between 2001 and 2012.

In brief: He will say almost anything that makes him popular; he does that very well because he has an IQ over 150; and I neither like nor trust him, even though I think he is less bad than most Republicans.

But basically, he is a clever liar and deceiver, and his only excuse is that he is undeniably clever.


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