Nov 1, 2016

Crisis: On Psychopaths, CETA, Weiner Mails, Podesta Mails, On Democrats
Sections                                                                     crisis index

We Can't Elect a Psychopath President:
2. Canada and EU Sign 'Thoroughly Undemocratic' CETA
     Trade Deal

The October Surprise: Michael Isikoff on the FBI's
     Clinton Email Investigation That Could Jolt Race

4. Forget the FBI Cache; Podesta Emails Show How
     America Is Run

5. Why the Democrats Keep Losing the Congress

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, November 1, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a long article on AlterNet that explains why Americans should not elect a psychopath for president, and comes with a fair bit of decent psychology (that I leave to your interests); item 2 is about the CETA which has been signed (and I have warned repeatedly that the opponents were mistaken when they said they had defeated it); item 3 is about Clinton's emails, but in fact contains very little news; item 4 is about an article by Thomas Frank that tells me what I knew about Hillary Clinton and her kind, while insisting - without any knowledge - that the Clinton mails on Weiner's computer are without interest; and item 5 is about a good article by Ralph Nader.

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It was OK for two days now (!).

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working.

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

And I may do today, but do not know this as yet.


1.  We Can't Elect a Psychopath President:

The first item today is by Don Hazen and Kali Holloway on AlterNet (and I shortened the title):
  • We Can't Elect a Psychopath President:

This starts as follows:

It’s possible that no previous presidential candidate, at least in contemporary American history, has exhibited the range of aberrant, offensive and outrageous behaviors as Donald Trump. Belligerent, unstable and anything but presidential, Trump has turned much of the country into armchair psychotherapists. His behavior is so undisciplined and erratic, he’s even prompted licensed clinicians to break with orthodoxy—not to mention rules—to declare he suffers from a personality disorder.

Yes, indeed. It so happens that I am a psychologist, though indeed (thankfully!) not a "licensed clinician". Part of my reasons to be thankful that I am not a licensed clinician is that I don't think much of psychology is a real science, and that certainly holds for clinical psychology and psychiatry. [2]

Then again I did learn something when I studied psychology, and I want to apply what I learned a little. First, each of the four links in the above quotation is quite interesting, and especially the fourth - this one: from a - is a rather convincing statement (including many photos) that Trump is not sane.

I leave that to your interests (I liked it, and think Trump is not sane) and turn to some declarations from psychologists and psychiatrists that indeed he isn't.

Here is the start from the second of the above four links:

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Precisely. And while I am not a "mental-health professional" [3] I know more than enough of psychology and psychiatry to say "Yes, indeed!" as soon as I did read the diagnosis that Trump is a grandiose narcissist, and in fact I should add that everybody who is an M.A. in psychology or psychiatry can do little else but say "yes, indeed".

One reason many didn't is the Goldwater rule, which follows, in part because it is obvious baloney. Here it is:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

It is obvious baloney because it shuts up psychiatrists from saying what they know about public persons. And it is baloney because it preserves the psychiatrists' interests, while denying anyone else their knowledge on the basis of the completely trashy notion that one may only inform the public (say: about the obvious madness of a public figure who tries to be elected) if (i) one knows him or her personally, and (ii) if one has gotten permission to diagnose him and (iii) if one has also gotten permission to make one's diagnosis public.

Clearly, that will never happen, especially not if the public figure is obviously insane. Also, while the professional, financial and personal interests of psychiatrist are very well covered by this rule, the financial and personal interests of everyone else, who may suffer a lot if the obvious madman gets
elected are not at all covered - or are supposed to be unethical.

In brief, I am all for making open the supposedly scientific insights of supposed scientists on topics that are of importance to the public. It's as much bullshit to
deny the public scientific knowledge about a politician's mind as it would be to deny the public
scientific knowledge about a politician's plans. [4]

The above quotation gets continued as follows:

Despite all this, Trump rose to the top of the Republican ticket, and as recently as September, posed a real and viable threat to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Even with his chances of a successful Hail Mary growing slimmer by the day, Trump seems poised to collect about 40 million votes, a sizeable segment of the voting populace. Those numbers should force those of us who oppose Trump to understand what motivates those who support him.

Yes, indeed. And here is some sociological, economical and political background to the rise of Donald Trump:

One contributing factor is how ideologically, economically and socially divided America is. Those factors are compounded by elevated—if not unprecedented—levels of anxiety, fear and trauma. Many of the country’s wealthiest and most highly educated citizens live along its coasts and in its major cities. Trump supporters not only live outside those areas, they feel as if they’re foreign in nearly every conceivable sociocultural way. This goes hand-in-hand with a number of other social ills: a raging opiate epidemic, persistent gun violence, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs. It’s no wonder America now finds itself coping with a troubling trend of middle-aged white, mostly working-class men and women prematurely succumbing to the wages of despair: drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.

I mostly agree. That is, while I do believe Trump himself is not sane (if you disagree consider this) the main reasons for his popularity are not his sanity or insanity, but the sociological, economical and political causes for the miseries of very many non-rich Americans.

These causes are very real. Trump abuses and lies about them to become president but then something similar may be said about his main opponent (although she lies less, and also is not insane). But as I said, I think the main
causes for Trump's popularity are sociological, economical or political, rather
than personal.

But psychology is important as well:

Much of Trump’s campaign is fear-based. For a variety of reasons, many people are fearful of many things, and their fears are egged on by a news media that thrives on creating anxiety. Advertising, political ads, news coverage and social media all send the constant message that people should be afraid, very afraid. The result is that many people are fearful of the wrong things, which makes our society ripe for militarism, spying and Trump’s own messaging. These fears often have little to do with the things people should really be afraid of. But the constant fear-mongering explains a lot of Trump’s appeal.

I more or less agree. This is continued as follows:

And perhaps the most obvious question of all: are we watching an illogical fool or a masterful psychopathic, narcissistic, master manipulator at work? Or perhaps both?

We’ve created this handy guide to identify the brain games we’ve witnessed over this seemingly eternal race. We begin with the psychopathic and narcissistic personality, which includes traits Trump so often exhibits. Then, we’ll look at some of the realities of life for so many Americans, which make them vulnerable to Trump’s appeals

My answer to the questions asked in the first of the above two quoted paragraphs is that Trump is a grandiose narcissist who very much overestimates his intelligence, his knowledge, his capacities and his self-control.

He can get away with it mostly because those who support him tend not to know the relevant facts about sociology, politics and economy, and because the media have very much supported him until recently.

Here are the ten subjects that make up the rest of this long article. I quote just the titles and not the accompanying (long, usually clear and informed) texts:

1. Psychopathology/Sociopathology
2. Narcissism
3. Projection
4. Displacement
5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
6. Triggers
7. Cognitive Dissonance
8. Dunning-Kruger Effect
9. Gaslighting
10. Trump Anxiety

I leave these all to your interests, but should like to say that while I have some criticisms, overall this is a psychologically/psychiatrically informed survey of these ten points, and is also the first such one that I have read in the ordinary (alternative) media.

And as I said: I think Trump is a grandiose narcissist; grandiose narcissists are insane; and the president of the United States should not be insane.

This is a recommended article.

2. Canada and EU Sign 'Thoroughly Undemocratic' CETA Trade Deal

The second item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

  • Canada and EU Sign 'Thoroughly Undemocratic' CETA Trade Deal
This starts as follows:

Canada and the European Union signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on Sunday amid widespread protests against the controversial deal that came back to life after negotiations stalled over objections from Wallonia, Belgium.

Environmental and democracy groups who opposed the agreement issued cautious statements condemning the signing but noting that CETA was not a done deal.

"This agreement will probably not survive the democratic and legal scrutiny of the ratification process over the coming months. It's time for our governments to break rank with corporate lobbyists and redesign a trade policy that respects democracy and promotes the public interest," said Shira Stanton, trade policy adviser at Greenpeace EU.

CETA now faces a vote in the European Parliament and ratification by the parliaments of the EU's 28 countries.

If it passes, CETA would create a legal system that allows corporations to sue governments for perceived loss of profit. That framework will also be put to scrutiny by the European Court of Justice and the German constitutional court, and if it fails to stand up would invalidate CETA.

The deal has long been opposed on the grounds that it would harm human rights, democracy, and the climate, among other risks.

This is all that I quote from this article, but I do like to say (awful though I think it is) that I was right in insisting CETA was not dead, while it was announced to be dead by the alternative media, including Common Dreams.

Also, for me this is the beginning of neofascism in Europe, but then I also suppose I know more about (neo)fascism and politics than most, and that I should give in to the majority of the stupid, the ignorant and the deceived.

I do not, but I am very pessimistic about Europe's future.

3. The October Surprise: Michael Isikoff on the FBI's Clinton Email Investigation That Could Jolt Race

The third item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
  • The October Surprise: Michael Isikoff on the FBI's Clinton Email Investigation That Could Jolt Race

This starts as follows:

The race for the White House was jolted on Friday when FBIFBI after Weiner allegedly sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. Comey notified Congress before the FBI had even obtained a warrant to look at Abedin’s email.
Director James Comey notified congressional leaders that the agency had discovered more emails as part of its probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system. The emails were discovered as part of an investigation into former Congressmember Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Abedin reportedly stored hundreds of thousands of emails on Weiner’s computer, which was seized by the FBI after Weiner allegedly sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. Comey notified Congress before the FBI had even obtained a warrant to look at Abedin’s email.

This is from the introduction, and it is true as far as I know: Huma Abedin seems to have stored several tenthousands of mails from Clinton and her staff on a computer used by her ("estranged") husband Anthony Weiner.

Then again, so far it seems no one has read the emails, and therefore no one
really knows whether they are dangerous for Clinton.

Apart from all that, I have one simple question: Did Huma Abedin lack the money to buy her own computer to store the mails she wanted to store from
Clinton and her staff?!

Here is some more by Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton is not alone in criticizing FBI Director Comey’s actions. A bipartisan group of former federal prosecutors signed an open letter, writing, quote, "Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him. But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed," they wrote.

The criticism of the FBI director has come from both Democrats and Republicans.
To talk more about the news, we’re joined by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News. He’s joining us from Washington, D.C.
Yes, indeed: There was an open letter signed by former federal prosecuters. I haven't seen it; I think it was mostly politically motivated, as I suppose was Comey's decision to make it known that (so far unread) mails from Clinton and her staff were stored on Weiner's computer by his wife.

In actual fact, this is what is known (late on October 31):
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: (...) But what was in those emails, we don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, the FBI agents who see this trove of emails, reportedly something like 650,000 emails—is that right?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: That’s 650,000 emails that were on the computer. Most of those were Anthony Weiner’s emails. Some portion of them, in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, were Abedin emails.

There is considerably more in the original.

4. Forget the FBI Cache; Podesta Emails Show How America Is Run

The fourth item today is by Thomas Frank (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:

  • Forget the FBI Cache; Podesta Emails Show How America Is Run

This starts as follows:

The emails currently roiling the US presidential campaign are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being slowly released by WikiLeaks from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.

This is misleading in part: Thomas Frank does not know what is in the mails on Weiner's computer. There is this on what he found (he says) in the Podesta emails (and this ends the article):

Then there is the apparent nepotism, the dozens if not hundreds of mundane emails in which petitioners for this or that plum Washington job or high-profile academic appointment politely appeal to Podesta – the ward-heeler of the meritocratic elite – for a solicitous word whispered in the ear of a powerful crony.

This genre of Podesta email, in which people try to arrange jobs for themselves or their kids, points us toward the most fundamental thing we know about the people at the top of this class: their loyalty to one another and the way it overrides everything else. Of course Hillary Clinton staffed her state department with investment bankers and then did speaking engagements for investment banks as soon as she was done at the state department. Of course she appears to think that any kind of bank reform should “come from the industry itself”. And of course no elite bankers were ever prosecuted by the Obama administration. Read these emails and you understand, with a start, that the people at the top tier of American life all know each other. They are all engaged in promoting one another’s careers, constantly.

Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.

But the One Big Boundary remains. Yes, it’s all supposed to be a meritocracy. But if you aren’t part of this happy, prosperous in-group – if you don’t have John Podesta’s email address – you’re out.

I say, but not really: I think I knew all of this, and for a long time as well:
Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed.
And while I don't mind reading this again, I also think that Frank does not know what is in the mails on Weiner's computer.

5. Why the Democrats Keep Losing the Congress

The fifth item today is by Ralph Nader on his site
  • Why the Democrats Keep Losing the Congress

This starts as follows:

Why isn’t the Democratic Party landsliding the worst and cruelest Republican Party in the past 162 years?

Just take a glance at their record votes and you’ll wonder why the Republican representatives don’t just incorporate themselves and be done with any pretense that they are real people.

A brief look at a compilation of Republican votes during the years 2011-2012, when the Republicans controlled the House, demonstrates that they regularly choose Wall Street over Main Street, drug and oil, banking and insurance companies over consumers. And that Republicans want  tiny enforcement budgets against corporate crime to assure that hundreds of billions of your health and other consumer dollars are not recovered from the corporate criminals ($60 billion a year alone in business frauds on Medicare).

Repeatedly, these Republicans, often a unanimous 100% of them, in a bizarre kind of corporate-conditioned response, vote in favor of corporations shipping American jobs overseas rather than voting to protect American workers. This Republican- controlled congress was intent on defending and increasing massive tax breaks for the wealthiest at the expense of the lower income families, attacking Medicare, social security, and other programs assisting elderly Americans, even assaulting women’s health and safety, opposing stronger food safety enforcement and preventing toxic pollution controls while at the same time protecting rapacious student loan companies and keeping victims of mortgage companies and banks defenseless against onslaughts of insurmountable debt accumulation.

They also passed a bill to pay members of Congress during a GOP-led government shutdown, however, while refusing to guarantee that soldiers would get paid during the same shutdown.

Yes indeed. There is more in the article, which is recommended.

[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] I have explained this quite a few times in Nederlog, and will not do so again. Instead, I refer the interested to
an article from the early 1950ies by a former psychiatrist, Warren S. McCulloch, who is also one of the founders of cybernetics: The Past of a Delusion (this has both the original English text and a German translation, and both are in pdf), while this is my own from 2012 (and I have excellent academic degrees in philosophy and psychology): DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"

(This was most of Note 2 from October 29, 2016).

[3] Indeed, not at all - but then I did pick up a schizophrenic who had no house, no money, no job and had been thrown from the art academy at which she studied, and provided her with nearly 6 years of my help simply because I had fallen in love with her briefly before she turned schizophrenic (triggered by speed and cocaine, but prepared for in her youth by her insane parents).

Since she started as I said, and finished as Ph.D. in psychology, and would not have done anything remotely like that without my help, which I did give unstintingly and completely for free for more than five years, I do know something about mental health, crazy people, helping others and schizophrenia.

She did leave me soon after getting a job in the University of Amsterdam and in fact returned to the standards her insane parents had taught her in her youth. I am not sorry that I got rid of her, but I am sorry I helped her, simply because I had to do that while I was ill, and she turned out to be totally not worth any of the enormous risks and troubles I took for her.

In any case: I did have a lot of experience - in fact: at least two years constantly, 24 hours a day - with treating a seriously mad person, and I did that very well and quite honestly, and also much better than professional psycholo- gists or psychiatrists could have done it (for in fact I did so after five of these professionals turned out to be failures: we did try to get real professional help, but we simply couldn't find competent professional help).

There is (or will be) more in my autobiography (in Dutch).

[4] Incidentally: I am not for disclosures of anyone's medical or psychiatric problems if one is not a public person trying to get an important job with what are obvious medical or psychiatric falsehoods about his or her own condition. But I am for disclosures of obvious falsehoods that are told by public persons that serve their own interests. And Donald Trump is an obvious case of such a public person.

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