Dec 12, 2016

Crisis: Demagogery, Trump the Great, Snowden, Liberties, Internet Archive
Sections                                                                     crisis index

2. The Imperial Presidency of Donald Trump
3. "Ed, I'm On Your Side": Snowden Allies Beam Calls for
     Pardon On DC Museum

4. Cops Aren’t Under Siege. Civilians and Liberties Are.
5. The Coolest Thing on the Internet Is Moving to Canada

This is a Nederlog of Monday, December 12, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a review of Chris Hedges' latest article, that is far from optimistic, but that seems correct about the coming Trumpian government; item 2 is about Donald Trump's Superhuman Genius c.q. his madness; item 3 is about Snowden (but I don't think Obama will pardon him, though he should); item 4 is about human rights (which by now have mostly disappeared, both in the USA and in Europe); and item 5 is about the Internet Archive (which I like and am a member of) that is moving to Canada because of Trump (and right they are).

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days and was so on most days in November 2016. But on 2.xii and 3.xii it was correct. Since then it mostly wasn't (until and
including 10.xii).

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. [0]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: This was so-so till 18.xi and was correct since then (most or all days).

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.

1. Demagogue-in-Chief

The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

  • Demagogue-in-Chief

This starts as follows:

For Donald Trump, the presidency will be a vast stage for accommodating his megalomania and insatiable appetite for money. Those who mock, defy or anger him will feel the wrath of the state. Those who are not obsequious will be cast aside. He will invest most of his energy in his brand. Self-promotion is the only real talent he possesses. Corruption, already rife within the political system, will explode into a full-blown kleptocracy. Manufactured stories about Trump’s prowess, brilliance, sexual allure and goodness, as well as how America is becoming “great again,” will be pumped out by the White House smoke machine. He will demand encomiums that will become ever more outrageous. All love, devotion and allegiance will be to Trump.

I do not know what will happen if and when Trump is president, but I expect something much like Chris Hedges sketches in the above quotation. Then again
I also have some special reasons, and these relate to the fact that I really think Trump is insane, which I think mostly because I am a psychologist: I do know some more about crazy people than most do. (The link is to March 14, 2016, when I first said so, indeed after thinking it for a while longer. [1])

This is a somewhat more factual estimate of Trump:

Trump is the sick expression of a dysfunctional political system and mass culture that celebrate the most depraved aspects of human nature—greed, a lust for power, a thirst for adulation and celebrity, a penchant for the manipulation of others, dishonesty, a lack of remorse and a frightening pathology in which reality is ignored. He is the product of our escapist world of constant entertainment. He embodies the mutation of values in American society that has culminated in an enormous cult of the self and the abandonment of the common good.

Yes, I think that is mostly correct also - it seems to me - in laying the blame for a good part not on Trump or the Republican Party (though both are guilty of abusing it) as on the stupidity, the ignorance, and the negligence [2] of the many Americans who voted for him, welcomed him and support him.

And I think that is correct: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and if the vigilance ceases to be intelligent and fact-based, it ceases to be vigilance, and liberty ceases. This is what has happened in the USA.

In fact, I did guess Chris Hedges was leading up to Neil Postman (<- Wikipedia) and his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death" (<-Wikipedia) and indeed he does quote him:

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia,” wrote Neil Postman, “when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people becomes an audience and their public business a vaudeville, then a nation finds itself at risk: cultural-death is a clear possibility.”

Incidentally, "Amusing Ourselves to Death" (<- Wikipedia) was published originally in 1985. I bought and read it in 1990, and may return to it later, for Postman was a sensible man.

Then there is this about demagogues and demagogery:

Demagogues—insecure and crippled by an unbridled narcissism and seldom of high intelligence—play to the inverted values of a decayed society. They attack all who do not kneel before the idol of “the great leader.” “Saturday Night Live” can continue to go after Trump, but Trump, as president, will use every tool in his arsenal, no matter how devious, to banish such public ridicule. He will seek to domesticate the press and critics first through the awarding of special privileges, flattery, gifts and access. Those who cannot be bought off will be destroyed. His petulant, childish taunts, given authority by the machinery of the security and surveillance state, will be dangerous.

Yes and no, though mostly yes if this is applied to Trump.

But first about demagogues in general. I agree most demagogues are not intelligent, and indeed also that if they are intelligent, a successful demagogue usually adjusts to the level of intelligence of his (or her) audience and is successful in considerable part because he (or she) pretended successfully to be as stupid as they are.

Then again, there are many kinds of demagogues (left, right, center, religious, non-religious...) and quite a few kinds of demagogery, and not all are "insecure and crippled by an unbridled narcissism". In fact, most are not so much crippled by narcissism (as Trump is) as by wishful thinking, exaggerations of many kinds, and a dishonest reliance on their value-based assessments of real facts, without really investigating whether the facts really are as their values assure the demagogues they should be. (And this is wishful thinking: Your desires become your standard for the truth, instead of your real knowledge of real facts.)

When speaking about Trump, who is insane in my psychologically trained eyes,
I must say that my expectations agree with those of Hedges, indeed in part because his madness will be "
given authority by the machinery of the security and surveillance state", and the security and surveillance state that has been surrected in the USA is that of a total dictatorship far more than of any democracy or republic.

There is also this on one of the weapons that might defeat Trump, if Trump was not given the full dictatorial powers of the security and surveillance state:

Ridicule especially antagonizes the demagogue. It deflates the pretentious and the powerful. It reduces to human size those puffed up by their self-importance. It exposes them for who they are. It affirms the self-respect and dignity of the oppressed. Demagogues, lacking the capacity for self-transcendence, cannot see the ludicrousness and absurdity of their pretensions. They cannot distinguish between their inner fantasies and reality. They can belittle and ridicule others, as Trump does, with great cruelty, but they see nothing humorous about similar treatment directed at the self-created edifice of their own glory.

Yes indeed, though there are considerably more kinds of demagogues than Trump, and most demagogues also are not mad, even if they are blinded by
their wishful thinking and/or evidently lying and deceiving.

The same remark applies to the following bit, that seems quite correct if it is about Trump, but less correct if it is about demagogues in general:

Demagogues expend great energy marginalizing, censoring and silencing all critics, something the corporate state has already done to dissidents such as Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader. They use the media, especially the airwaves, as a vast public relations department to amplify their lies and promote their personality cults. They destroy cultural and education institutions, replacing them with rote vocational training, nationalist kitsch and tawdry entertainment. They elevate members of their family, sect, tribe or clan to the inner circles of power.

Chris Hedges is quite right about Noam Chomsky (<-Wikipedia) and Ralph Nader  (<-Wikipedia), who in fact both have been marginalized, censored and mostly silenced for a long time now, in the mainstream media (and long before Trump gained political eminence).

The article ends as follows:

The story of demagogues is as old as civilization. They have risen and fallen like the tides, always leaving in their wake misery, destruction and death. They exploit the frustrations and anger generated by a decayed society. They make fantastic promises they never keep. They demonize the vulnerable as scapegoats. They preach hatred and violence. They demand godlike worship. They consume those they rule.

I agree if this is about the insane demagogue Donald Trump (but less if it is about any kind of demagogue, though I think it is mostly directed against Trump).

And this is a strongly recommended article, that I much fear is correct in its anticipations of the Trumpian presidency (which may kill very many people).

2. The Imperial Presidency of Donald Trump

The second item is by Jim Hightower on AlterNet:
  • The Imperial Presidency of Donald Trump

This starts as follows:

All hail Augustus Trumpus! All hail the American Putin, whom none can criticize! All hail the Great All Knowing One, who reveals “realities” that are not there and finds “facts” that mere mortals cannot detect.

Yes, indeed: This is the sort of reception (the first two statements, at least) that Trump deeply craves, for he is a megalomaniac. This is about the "facts" the megalomaniac "saw":

“I won the popular vote,” decreed our incoming tweeter-in-chief!

Wow, how did he turn a 2 million-vote loss into a glorious victory? “I won,” he tweeted, “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Wow again! Millions? You’d think such a massive conspiracy — with millions of illegal voters in line at thousands of precincts — would have been noticed by election officials, GOP poll watchers and the media.
Clearly - in so far as the real facts are known today - the real facts are that (1) Trump won the presidency because of and inside the Electoral College, but (2) Trump lost the popular vote by over 2 million votes (it seems).

But Trump is a grandiose narcissist who just cannot stomach he is less than anyone in anything he desires, so he fantasized millions of illegal votes, and asserted publicly his fantasies are fact.

Somebody who can do a thing like that is extremely dangerous.

Then there is this, which I don't quite agree to, mostly because I am a psychologist:
Get used to it: Fakery is reality for America’s next president. Unfortunately for us it is not just fakery that we will have to get used to, because President Trumpus happens to have a real knack for irony as well.
Clearly, those who believe Trump's fantasies are real may fake their belief, but I think Trump believes his own fantasies when he utters them, which I think because I believe - as a psychologist - that Trump is mad. So Trump himself is not really faking: he is saying what he - totally falsely - genuinely believes to be true if and when he utters it. [3]

Also, I do not think Trump has a knack "for irony", and mostly for the same reason:
Trump believes his own fantasies when he utters them, because Trump is mad.

This article ends as follows and does so quite correctly:

Overall, according to watchdog group Public Citizen, three-fourths of Trump’s transition team members — who are organizing, staffing and shaping his new government— come from the corporate world. Not a single working-class populist has been allowed a seat at his power table.

As America’s working stiffs know, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. And now we know what Augustus Trumpus will be serving. Trump’s no populist, he’s a full-time corporatist.

This is a recommended article.

3. "Ed, I'm On Your Side": Snowden Allies Beam Calls for Pardon On DC Museum

The third item is b
y Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

  • "Ed, I'm On Your Side": Snowden Allies Beam Calls for Pardon On DC Museum

This starts as follows:

Supporters of U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden on Saturday projected thousands of messages calling for his pardon onto the Washington, D.C. museum dedicated to freedom of expression and information.

In a display the Guardian described as "audacious," nearly 4,000 messages and images urging President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden were beamed onto the outside wall of the Newseum, an institution that promotes free expression and tracks the evolution of the press—just two miles away from the White House.

I like this (though "audacious" = "extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave" seems a typical Guardian exaggeration: Snowden was and is audacious, but not those who use the - still - existing freedom of expression and information).

Here are three of the messages that got projected (quoted in part):

"Edward Snowden acted with courage and a heartfelt desire to improve the country and the world. (..)" read one message from a supporter named Devin.

Tess: "Ed, I'm on your side. You're a hero and an example of what it means to be an American. Thank you for making such an incredible sacrifice in order that we might move a bit more toward the truth."

Casey: "I'm a 69-year-old vet and applaud your guts, we owe you lots and let's hope you can come home to your family and friends."

Yes indeed (and I do like to point out that the first time I reported on Edward Snowden, on June 10, 2013, I did call him "an extra-ordinary man", which I still think).

There is also this:

Saturday night's action was organized by the group Pardon Snowden, which has increased the urgency of its message in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump's startling victory. Trump's pick for CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has called for Snowden to receive the death penalty.

The action was also scheduled to correspond with International Human Rights Day on December 10.

I should say I will be very surprised if Barack Obama pardons Snowden. I think he should and hope he will, but I also think he is a corporate fraud like Bill Clinton: Obama is probably much more concerned with getting his millions for
doing what the bankers wanted.

This is the last bit I'll quote from this article:

"These expressions of support for Snowden celebrate his decision to shed light on a surveillance apparatus so invasive and bloated with secrets that it became a risk to democratic accountability," the group wrote in a press release. "Thanks to his act of conscience, we’ve seen historic reforms and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting that is a model for the kind of adversarial journalism that we should expect from our media."

Yes, I agree. And this is a recommended article.

4. Cops Aren’t Under Siege. Civilians and Liberties Are.

The fourth item is by Pierre Tristam on Common Dreams:

  • Cops Aren’t Under Siege. Civilians and Liberties Are.

This is from near the beginning:

For three decades, Congress, state legislatures, courts and public attitudes have overwhelmingly beefed up police powers, toughened crime laws and harshed up prison terms at the expense of defendants and the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court under Earl Warren in the 1950s and 60s was an exception.

I think that is correct, though I know little of the Supreme Court in the 1950s. But it is correct since 1980, and there is more that is also correct, or indeed too weak:

Under the guise of the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on immigrants and now the revived craving of Nixon-era “law-and-order,” policing has evolved into the shrewdest expression of authoritarian power in everyday life.
Even a cursory look at the sort of policing that’s been normalized over the past decades shows its one-way command to submission. “Stop resisting” isn’t a suggestion. It’s a citizen’s only warning shot of what follows—a cop’s blank-check equivalent to tap an arsenal of powers, naked force that scrapes at the edge of human rights included.

I agree with everything said in the above quotation, except that the police at present "scrapes at the edge of human rights": I think they are far over the edge of human rights, for the original declaration of human rights included this clause [4]:

      Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
At present everyone is "subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence" for everyone's email correspondence and everyone's internet phone conversations are secretly downloaded by the NSA (and many other secret services), which itself is an attack on the "honour and reputation" of nearly everyone, for nearly everyone is accused of being a possible terrorist or a possible criminal and on that ground gets denied all the
rights he does have under the Fourth Amendment.

Also, by now all Americans and else lacks "the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks": Instead "the law" systematically denies most of the rights that were in the the original declaration of human rights [5].

Here are the facts:

Camera surveillance, face-recognition technology, license-plate readers, not to mention the sweeping powers of the USA Patriot Act, still very much in force, have made a mockery of privacy in most places, your home computer and hand-held devices included. Police powers under civil asset forfeiture laws give cops authority to seize cash and assets on mere probable cause, not conviction—and never give them back.

Yes, and privacy is a human right - which now is denied in the grossest possible ways, for no reason at all that I can see, except the totalitarian desires of the American government. [6]

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

The surge in police powers has paralleled an explosion in private security forces, private prisons, and legalized vigilantism such as Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, all the while legitimizing the language of totalitarian states: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.”  That’s the language of submission, not liberty, of flipping means and ends: police aren’t here to protect us, but to command us.

Yes indeed - and those who "have nothing to hide" all belong to the vast army of the stupid, the ignorant and the negligent with IQs that are maximally 100 (which is half of the population): Everybody else knows that he or she has much to hide, and not because it may be illegal, but because the degenerates who work for the government simply have no right (or should have no right) to secretly know everything about anyone.

And this is a recommended article.

5. The Coolest Thing on the Internet Is Moving to Canada

The fifth and last item today is by A.J. Vicens on Mother Jones:

  • The Coolest Thing on the Internet Is Moving to Canada

This starts as follows:

A year ago, Donald Trump said he would consider closing off parts of the internet.

"We're losing a lot of people because of the internet, and we have to do something," he told a crowd while campaigning at the U.S.S. Yorktown in South Carolina. "We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people…about, maybe in certain areas, closing the internet up in some way. Somebody will say, 'Oh, freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! These are foolish people…We've got to do something with the internet."

These are the words of a neofascist madman. But because 60 million stupid, ignorant and negligent people believed his bullshit, this sick degenerate is now scheduled to be the next American president. And indeed Trump may very well
try to do what he threatened a year ago, as he may also try to break down the
whole machinery of legal government.

Here is one consequence, to which I happen to be partial, because I am a member of the Internet Archive (indeed one of the very few things I am a member of):

So now, as Trump prepares to take office, a number of internet-freedom activists are worried he may make good on these campaign promises. They include Brewster Kahle, the founder of the San Francisco-based Internet Archive, one of the biggest online libraries in the world that curates 279 billion web pages, 2.9 million films and videos, 3.1 million recordings, and much more. Part of the Internet Archive is the Wayback Machine, a search engine for past incarnations of web pages, some of which are no longer accessible.

Yes indeed (and in fact the saying that "what's on line never disappears" was a major falsehood: Everything disappears from the internet as soon as it is not paid for anymore, by someone, and this is how it always was).

Here is what Kahle and his team plan to do:

(..) Kahle and his team are now moving forward with a full duplication of their work based in Canada. The group already has partial backups in Alexandria, Egypt, and Amsterdam, but Kahle says the $5 million Canadian project is designed to be not just a backup, but "another node in an international library system."

I think they are quite right, for with a president like Donald Trump absolutely everything will be possible, including shutting down everything Kahle built, on the mere ground that it comprises material that is not flattering Trump. [7]

Giving the government the ability to access all communications is part of the general discussion of restricting what can and can't be done online, and what is preserved for posterity.

For me, a government which has "the ability to access all communications" is a tyrannical or dictatorial government, and I very much fear this is what the American government will be under Trump (and much more so than under Obama or Bush Jr.)

So I think Kahle did very well. And this is a recommended article.

[0] 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).

[1] I also admit that originally I did not take Trump seriously, indeed in part because he evidently lied extremely much, and because I thought, quite a few months before March 2016, that one must be commonsensically mad if one utters that amounts of lies.

But I also admit that originally I did not think about narcissism or megalomania as diagnoses of Trump, although as soon as my attention was drawn to that I concluded it was correct when I had seen the definition: It fits Trump on all points.

[2] In fact, the best short summary of my ethics is contained in the following clause, that I first formulated in 1982 (more than half of my life ago):
  • Do not be MAD; do not SIN
Here "MAD" abbreviates Meanness, Anger and Dishonesty, while "SIN" abbreviates Stupidity, Ignorance and Negligence.

The best living example of a mad sinner is Donald Trump: He is mean, angry, extremely dishonest, quite stupid, very ignorant and most negligent of everything that does not contribute to His Greatness.

And it is for this reason I am quite afraid of Donald Trump: He may well destroy the USA in four years, and he may also destroy all of humanity.

Incidentally, here is a link to one of my explanations of "SIN" and here is also a link to my explanation of the more normal sins.

[3] In fact, I must guess that Trump does not have any other theory about truth than that Trump believes something is true if and only if The Great Super- Genius Whose Name Is Trump believes it.

And I think so in part because this is quite consistent with his being a megalo- maniac, and in part because this is the best explanation for the fact that 71% of Trump's sayings that were tested for truth were falsehoods.

Note this also explains why Trump is quite unpredictable: What is true, according to Trump, is what Trump desires to be true (which is wishful thinking), and he may change his desire any time, and for no other reason than that he got a new desire. (And facts do not matter at all: All that matters is whether
The Great Super-Genius Whose Name Is Trump believes it.)

[4] I am speaking of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, which the interested reader can find under the link. What replaced that in Europe, the so-called "European Convention on Human Rights" is not a convention on real human rights, but is an utter blasphemy of human rights, for it encodes all the rights of the secret services to secretly surveil everyone. That is not a human right: It is an inhuman governmental force that excludes all real rights.

Here is - for just one example - Article 8 of the
so-called "European Convention on Human Rights" that supposedly corresponds to the original Article 12:

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The first clause of this neofascistic sick bit of total bullshit denies you any legal right and replaces this by the totally void "right to respect"; the second clause carefully specifies which rights the police and the secret services may trample, destroy and deny:

Anything which might conflict with:
  • the interests of national security
  • the interests of public safety
  • the economic well-being of the country
  • the prevention of disorder
  • the prevention of crime
  • the protection of health
  • the protection of morals
  • the protection of the rights of others, or
  • the protection of the rights of others
is NOT a human right anymore, as it IS under Article 12, but all belongs to the freedoms of the police and the governments secret services.

This "
European Convention on Human Rights" was and is a sadofascistic neofascistic sick bit of utter degeneracy. Anybody who believes these are "human rights" either is a sick liar or is utterly mad. (Or indeed: a well-paid lying lawyer or politician.)

[5] See the previous note for one example.

[6] Yes indeed. In fact, my personal probability that 9/11 was arranged by Dick Cheney to destroy democratic government and replace this by the absolute rule of the rich is still around 50/50, but indeed I have no proof.

[7] Can Trump do this as soon as he is president? No, for the laws are not yet in place. Will Trump try to put new laws in place that will permit him to prosecute those who criticize him? Yes, at least he said so, and repeatedly.

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