1. Rep. Ted Lieu to Introduce Bill Requiring a Psychiatrist in White
2. Trump’s Dysfunctional White House
3. German Intel Clears Russia on Interference
4. Taking on the Billionaires
5. How to Defend Our Democracy
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 16, 2017.
a crisis log with 5 files and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about
Congressmember Ted Lieu, who proposed a bill that requires a
psychiatrist in the White House (I don't quite agree, but my arguments
are those of a psychologist, and Lieu's
reasoning is mostly correct); item 2 is about Trump's dysfunctional White House (and can be seen as supporting Robert Reich's article that I reviewed yesterday); item 3 is about real evidence for a Russian interference in the USA or in Germany by Ray McGovern, and is quite good (and there is no real evidence); item 4 is a fairly brief
and completely inadequate review of a long, quite good, and recommended article
by David Morris about the present state of the American economy; and item 5 is a review of an article by Timothy Snyder that I like and recommend.
As for today
(February 16, 2017): I have changed my site on February 1, 2017 to make
that it might be read,
because it now happened for most
of last year that both of my sites are not uploaded
1. Rep. Ted Lieu to Introduce Bill Requiring a Psychiatrist in White House
On xs4all.nl it may be days, weeks or months behind to show the proper
last date and the proper last files (in the last 4 years always
date it was that day), and it was today
again NOT updated;
one.com it may be shown
December 31, 2015
often was!!!) but it was correct this morning; and
indeed I am sick of being system- atically made
unreadable and therefore changed
the site to allow most readers to find it more easily.
For more explanations, see here - and no:
with two different sites in two different countries
with two different providers,
where this has been
happening for a year (and not
for over 20 and over 12 years
before) now I'm absolutely certain that
this happens and that it's not due to me.
Incidentally, if you reached February 1, 2017 on one of
my sites you are in the new set-up and from there you can
find the latest Nederlog, and all others from there.
The first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
Dozens of mental health professionals recently wrote a letter warning
that President Trump is displaying "grave emotional instability." Now,
one lawmaker has introduced a new piece of legislation that would
require a psychiatrist in the White House. For more, we speak with that
lawmaker: California Democratic Congressmember Ted Lieu.
I say. Anybody who reads Nederlog regularly - and I know it is mostly crisis logs since 2013, which is not quite as I want it, but then I fear neofascism, while my direct family was much hurt by fascism in WW II (parents
and a grandparent in the resistance; father and grandfather arrested
and locked up as "political terrorists" in concentration camps, which
killed my grandgfather) - will know that I am a psychologist who (now for nearly a year) has agreed with "mental health professionals" who said that Trump is not sane.
And I do not know the letter of "[d]ozens" of them, but I do know and quoted an earlier one, which I think yoy should read.
However, I doubt that it is a good idea to "require a psychiatrist in the White House".
Here is Ted Lieu:
There are two problems with this.
Congressman Lieu, you are introducing legislation that would require a
psychiatrist in the White House. Can you explain what you’re doing?
REP. TED LIEU:
Sure. So, we’re looking at legislation. And let me just tell you the
context for this. In 1928, Congress passed a law requiring that doctors
be at the White House, because Congress concluded that presidents are
human beings, and like all human beings, we have our own frailties.
Because of how people viewed mental health at the time, there was no
psychiatrist or psychologist that was required. In the 21st century, we
know that mental health is just as important as physical health, so it
seemed to make sense that the White House should also have a
psychiatrist or a psychologist available.
The first problem is that while medical science is a factual science, psychiatry is not a factual science. More specifically, somebody is physically ill if there are physical signs of pathology, that are objectively present and can be (mostly) objectively seen and tested by medical specialists.
In psychiatry, apart from a few bits where there are physical signs of pathology as in
Alzheimer's Disease, there are in almost all cases no physical signs of pathology. That
means that in the end it is the opinion of a psychiatrist or a psychologist that says that
you are or are not "mentally ill", and indeed there are quite a few (including many
psychiatrists) who want to keep the term "illness" tied to objective
signs of factual pathologies, and who therefore speak rather of "mental
I think myself this is a very real problem: In fact there is - still - not known enough
of the brain to provide objective evidence of pathologies that may explain psychiatric
symptoms, which are generally behaviors or opinions of the (supposedly) disordered.
And while I think it is quite evident some people do get mad and do need help , psychiatry and (clinical) psychology in general cannot - now - rely on known physical pathologies, and in the end depend on experts' opinions, that are therefore in principle quite
less well-founded than medical evidence that you have appendicitis,
high bloodpressure, a broken leg, a leaky heart or a diseased kidney.
The second problem is based on the first problem: While indeed there is
a good reason to have a medical doctor "in the White House" (so to
speak: I suppose they are on call) simply because one may get
physically ill quite suddenly and a good physician therefore may be urgently
needed, psychiatric disorders take a lot longer to diagnose, are rarely
urgent, and if urgent - somebody gettting violently crazy, say - they can be handled by ordinary non-psychiatric medical doctors.
And since psychiatric disorders are very much more a matter of opinion, I'd say there
is no real need for a psychiatrist "in the White House".
Then again, since presidents may get mad or may get disordered, I think they should be seen, preferably
before they get to be president, by some qualified psychiatrists, and
also, in case there is a more or less objective reason to think they
may have serious psychiatric problems, when they are president.
And I agree Donald Trump's behavior provides excellent reasons to suspect he has some serious psychiatric problems.
Back to Congressmember Lieu:
What makes you particularly concerned about President Trump’s mental health?
REP. TED LIEU:
Well, there is a structural issue, where I believe that the demands of
the presidency have increased significantly, especially since the advent
of nuclear weapons, and the president should have the best treatment
available. In terms of this bill, we’re trying to see if this is the
best way to go about it. Clearly, to me, when you have a president that
lies pathologically, that believes in alternative facts, it suggests to
me there is a problem. I don’t know the extent of that problem. I don’t
know what the best solution is. But I do think that this issue should be
raised. And so I raised the issue.
I do more or less agree: President Trump "lies pathologically", "believes in alternative facts" and can blow up the world with nuclear arms.
And this is a recommended article.
2. Trump’s Dysfunctional White House
This starts as follows:
The second item is by Lawrence Davidson on Consortiumnews:
There is something both horrifying and fascinating about the behavior of
President Trump, as we watch him fail to cope with – or perhaps even
recognize – the differences between the no-holds-barred world he created
for his campaign and the much more polite and temperate world expected
of leaders of a constitutional government.
Yes indeed - and see item 1 above and Robert Reich's article that I reviewed yesterday,
As a result, the present White House appears to be a dysfunctional
place. Apparently neither President Trump nor most of his staff have
considered that there are real differences, different rules of behavior,
between private and public life. Maintaining the model of the abusive
boss, the know-it-all CEO (Trump’s preferred modus operandi), has, in
quick order, proved both inappropriate and self-defeating.
which gets more evidence form the present article.
Here are a few of Trump's - let's say - weirdnesses (a mere brief selection):
—The President has refused to stop being the avaricious businessman
As I indicared by "(...)"s there is considerably more text that I leave to your
and relinquish control of his assets. (..)
—The rush to impose a ban on immigration into the United States from
seven predominantly Muslim countries (...)
—In the meantime, Trump has, in a manner that has become typical for
him, attempted to delegitimize judicial opposition (...)
—There are many other moments of Trumpian bluster (...)
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Thus, even though we are still early in his administration, there is no
sign that anyone can control the President’s addiction to gaffes. He is
an immature, thin-skinned egotist, and in the end, this may well cost
the Republicans dearly.
I'd say no and yes.
However, one does have to give President Trump his due. He has a really
exceptional ability to stir up the American political scene. For
progressives such agitation creates opportunities and risks. There is
now an opportunity for a truly united front of progressives that can
reform the Democratic Party and give us, in the near term, a viable
alternative to the manic CEO and rightwing radicals now occupying the
The first paragraph does not list the best explanation I know for Trump's appearing as an "immature, thin-skinned egotist", namely that he has a narcissist personality disorder, and since this by now has been asserted by many psychologists and psychiatrists, I think it should have been mentioned.
But the second paragraph: "There is
now an opportunity for a truly united front of progressives" is correct. I would myself avoid the Democratic Party, but OK - that is just my personal preference.
3. German Intel Clears Russia on Interference
The third item is by Ray McGovern (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
After a multi-month, politically charged investigation, German intelligence agencies could find no good evidence
of Moscow-directed cyber-attacks or a disinformation campaign aimed at
subverting the democratic process in Germany. Undaunted, Chancellor
Angela Merkel has commissioned a new investigation.
I say - and didn't know this. First some background.
There has been very much journalistic writing on Russian interference in the American elections. In my opinion, which indeed can be traced back to Ray McGovern and William Binney, both specialists on spying, the NSA and the CIA, there is simply no known evidence for this: It is all propaganda.
In fact, I have outlined why I believe this in the end of 2016 and here are three bits that explain this from last December: one, two, three. I think that is quite convincing evidence that there is no evidence for Russian interference in the elections.
Indeed, that is the reason why I avoid writing about it, also because it seems to me mostly propaganda by the Democratic Party to "explain" Hillary Clinton's loss, while completely avoiding any criticism of her or the Democratic Party.
Next, here is Ray McGovern about the very
similar problem in Germany: Did the Russians interfere in "the
democratic process in Germany":
German intelligence agencies rarely bite the hand that feeds them and
realize that the most bountiful part of the trough is at the CIA
station in Berlin with ultimate guidance coming from CIA headquarters in
Langley, Virginia. But this time, in an unusual departure from past
practice, analysts at the BND and BfV decided to act like responsible
Whereas former CIA Director John Brennan prevailed on his analysts to
resort to anemic, evidence-light reasoning “assessing” that Russia
tried to tip the U.S. election to Donald Trump, Berlin’s intelligence
agencies found the evidence lacking and have now completed their
Better still, the conclusions have been reported in a mainstream German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, apparently because a patriotic insider thought the German people should also know.
I think all of this is good: The German
intelligence agencies did their job properly, unlike the CIA, and
indeed their report also was released "in a mainstream German newspaper".
You'd say - I guess - that this settles the matter, at least for the moment. But if so,
you forget that we are living in the Age of Propaganda:
So, what do powerful officials do when the bureaucracy comes up with
“incorrect” conclusions? They send the analysts and investigators back
to work until they come up with “correct” answers. This turned out to be
no exception. Absent evidence of hacking directed by the Kremlin, the
Germans now have opted for an approach by which information can be
fudged more easily.
And what well may have happened is this:
For guidance, Merkel may well give the new “investigators” a copy of the
evidence-free CIA/FBI/NSA “Assessment: Russia’s Influence Campaign
Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election.” Released on Jan. 6, the
report was an eyesore and embarrassment to serious intelligence
professionals. The lame “evidence” presented, together with all the
“assessing” indulged in by U.S. analysts, was unable to fill five pages;
filler was needed – preferably filler that could be made to look like
Finally, about the Age of Propaganda we live in:
If Americans became aware of the story, it was probably via RT – the
bÍte noire of the abovementioned CIA/FBI/NSA report condemning Russian
“propaganda.” Can it become any clearer why RT America and RT
International are despised by the U.S. government and the “mainstream
media?” Many Americans are slowly realizing they cannot count on
American network and cable TV for accurate news and are tuning in to RT
at least for the other side of these important stories.
It was from a early morning call from RT International that I first learned of the Feb. 7 Sueddeutsche Zeitung report on Germany’s failed hunt for evidence of Russian electoral interference.
Yes indeed. And I know since a long time that I "cannot
count on American network and cable TV for accurate news" and neither
can I count on any really objective reporting or real news in the
mainstream media: They all do mostly propaganda (and also leave out a
lot of the news that they find inconvenient, while I think it should be
That the purveyors of American propaganda
now decry the Russians for making propaganda shows - in my opinion -
that the system is really sick, and indeed, as
Ray McGovern explains, the American propaganda sheets and programs simply chose
not to mention anything about the news about Germany and Russian interference.
And I want to make my own judgements about what I regard as propaganda, and in order to do that somewhat properly I need at least to see it.
As to RT: I anyway do not watch many videos (reading goes much faster for me), but what I have seen from RT's programs - mostly Abby Martin or Chris Hedges - is much better journalism than the video-bullshit I can see, and almost completely avoid, on American sites.
I agree it would have been better if there were real news available on American TV,
but in fact the only good American news program I know is the The Real News (recommended). 
As is, I like it that there is RT. And this is a recommended article.
4. Taking on the Billionaires
The fourth item is by David Morris on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Combatting defeatism may be our single most important psychological
objective in the wake of the election. We need to revive the spirit
embodied in Barack Obama’s vague but hopeful campaign slogan in 2008,
"Yes We Can." At the federal level this is a time to expose, to educate
and to resist. But at the state and local level we can act proactively
to fashion strategies that both embrace progressive values and directly
benefit those who mistakenly voted for Donald Trump as an economic
savior. This is the first in a series of pieces focusing on what can be
I am no admirer of Barack Obama at all, but otherwise I agree. And in fact I really liked
this article and recommend it, but it is simply too long to properly
review. So what I did was to extract three pieces from the beginning to
show it is really good,
which in the present case also means that quite a lot of real facts are reported.
Here is the first bit:
Over the next 6-12 months Congress will almost certainly give the
richest 1 percent of the population an income tax gift totaling some
$75-150 billion. The 1 percent, with annual incomes averaging $1.3
million will capture 47 percent of the tax cuts for an average annual
tax saving of $214,000 each, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates based on Trump’s proposal, which does not differ dramatically from that of the House Republicans.
The top 0.1 percent, a population comprised of only 117,000 taxpayers
who earn, on average $37 million a year will see their tax bill slashed
by $1.3 million. The top .001 percent of taxpayers, fewer than 1400
individuals, who earn a dizzying $160 million annually, may see their
bank accounts swell by some $10 million.
Profligacy is reserved for the few. For the many this Administration
and Congress will be downright tightfisted. The bottom 20 percent of the
population, some 80 million low income and working class people, will
receive on average a $100 income tax reduction. By one estimate, given the whole package of proposed changes, almost 9 million families could see their taxes actually increase.
Adding insult to injury, the Trump tax plan would not only give the
wealthy far larger dollar benefits but it actually reduces taxes on the
wealthy by a greater percentage.
I think this is factually correct and also considerably more detailed than most reporting.
Here is more:
Those who now run Washington insist the "me" should take precedence
over the "we," that the private is superior to the public. Michigan
Republican State House Speaker Tom Leonard, who proposes eliminating the
state’s income tax, already the lowest in the country, justified
his stance by invoking a common meme, "This is the people's money, not
ours." We need to make clear that, given the current distribution of tax
breaks and the unprecedented concentration of wealth, the attitude of
the 1 percent might more accurately be summarized as, "This is our
money, not the peoples."
Despite the election of Donald Trump, a clear message of this
election was that the American people believe that class matters. They
are outraged that the top 1 percent have captured 99 percent of all new income generated since 2009 and amassed more wealth
than 95 percent of the population. They understand the inherent
unfairness and danger when 400 individuals have more wealth than 150
I agree this is mostly interpretation, but I like the interpretations. Here is the
last bit that I'll quote:
The tax gift to the rich will demand real sacrifice from the poor and
the middle class—more closed state parks, fewer health services,
overcrowded classrooms, more prison unrest. The House tax plan will
reduce federal revenues by $3 trillion in the first 10 years; Trump’s
plan will reduce them by $9.5 trillion according to the Tax Policy Center. The Administration appears to agree with the higher estimate given that Trump’s staff proposes federal spending cuts of $10.5 trillion over the next decade.
The brunt of these cuts will occur in the non-defense part of the
discretionary budget, spending on Medicaid, science, veterans’ benefits,
food stamps, job training, health research, disaster assistance,
housing assistance, national parks, roads and transit will suffer
disproportionately. Indeed, Trump proposed during the campaign an increase in military aid to be "fully offset" by reduced spending on social insurance and public works.
I think the reported facts are corrrect, and I agree with the interpretations. There is
a whole lot more in the article, including graphics, and it is
well done and well presented: I strongly recommend you to download the
5. How to Defend Our Democracy
The fifth and last item today is by Timothy Snyder (<-Wikipedia) on Yes! Magazine:
I picked this up yesterday, in my review of Time Is Already Running Out on Our Democracy, Says Expert and said then that I might review it today.
This is the review, which is a bit different from normal reviews, mostly because it
is a list of 20 recommendations "How to Defend Our Democracy" all with brief comments.
The recommendations are by Timothy Snyder (<-Wikipedia) who is a professor in history at Yale University and also at three European universities, who specializes
in fascism and the Holocaust (<-Wikipedia) and who fears - correctly, I think -
this, as I reported yesterday:
The present article, under the last dotted link, are twenty of his recommendations. I reproduce the recommendations, but deleted all (brief) explanations except for the introduction and the last one:
Snyder urges immediate resistance to the administration’s targeting
of Muslims, immigrants, blacks and LGBT people, because if it can “slice
off one group, it can do the same to others.” He says protest and
pushback should continue with regularity.
“The Constitution is
worth saving, the rule of law is worth saving, democracy is worth
saving, but these things can and will be lost if everyone waits around
for someone else.”
I think this is a quite good list, and I recommend you to download How to Defend Our Democracy if indeed you want to do something against the rise of American neofascism.
Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw
democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is
that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.
Here are 20 lessons from the 20th century, adapted to the circumstances
1. Do not obey in advance.
2. Defend an institution.
3. Recall professional ethics.
4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
6. Be kind to our language.
7. Stand out. Someone has to.
8. Believe in truth.
10. Practice corporeal politics.
11. Make eye contact and small talk.
12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
13. Hinder the one-party state.
14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
15. Establish a private life.
16. Learn from others in other countries.
17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.
18. Be reflective if you must be armed.
19. Be as courageous as you can.
20. Be a patriot.
The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.
fact, there were some - quite famous - psychiatrists who denied that
people got mad or who insisted that as long as there is no real
evidence of a relevant patho- logy, psychiatry isn't much of a science
at all. One was Ronald Laing (<-Wikipedia) and another Thomas Szasz (<-Wikipedia).
I read most of Laing's book in the 1970ies, but was never convinced, though I liked his (and Phillipson and Lee's) "Interpersonal Perception: A Theory and a Method of Research" (which is fairly technical and was never popular, unlike some of his other books).
Thomas Szasz was quite interesting and relatively well-known. According to the Wikipedia-article on him:
Szasz argued throughout his career that mental illness is a metaphor
for human problems in living, and that mental illnesses are not real in
the sense that cancers are real. Except for a few identifiable brain
diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, there are “neither biological or chemical tests nor biopsy or necropsy findings for verifying or falsifying DSM
diagnoses", i.e., there are no objective methods for detecting the
presence or absence of mental illness. Szasz maintained throughout his
career that he was not anti-psychiatry but was rather anti-coercive psychiatry.
I agreed with that, but I don't quite agree with Szasz. In case you are interested,
I wrote a long review of his theories here.
 My point that they do not just confuse reporting with facts with writing propaganda (and also mixing the two) is relevant, but the other criticism, that they simply do not report on the things they think their readers shouldn't know is at least as important, for this means that you do not even get to see it.
 I really like The Real News:
What I saw of them was all quite well done and interesting. In case you
might remember - I don't know, and it is meanwhile about eight years
ago - that I liked The Young Turks:
I still more or less like them, but they are considerably less radical
than they were in 2009 (and are now considerably more popular), and I
am also older and better informed, while they report mostly - I'd say -
for people in their teens till thirties. The Real News is better and also more intelligent. One of the things I
dislike about TYT is that they mostly seem to address the averagely
intelligent, to whom they have to explain - over and again - the same
I agree there should be a time and a place for that, and TYT fills it
probably reasonably well, but I am not average, and am meanwhile 66 and
a heavily degreed intellectual.