from January 9, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will
continue with it.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from January 9, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. From ‘Fire and Fury’ to Political Firestorm
2. Trump’s Obsessing Over the Wrong Guy
3. Charles Blow: The GOP Is Covering for an Obvious Madman
4. How Inequality Is Killing Off Humanity
5. Is Trump Certifiable?
items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
‘Fire and Fury’ to Political Firestorm
This article is by Jonathan Martin on The New York Times. It starts as
a New Yorker in Washington, far more consumed with the news media and
personalities than policy issues. He elides facts, fudges the specifics
and dispenses with professional norms in the service of success and
status. And while affecting a contempt for the mainstream press, he
cannot help dropping the mask to reveal the double game he is playing.
I am talking, of course, of the
writer Michael Wolff, who with “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump
White House” has delivered an altogether fitting, if ultimately
unsatisfying, book on the chaotic first nine months of President Trump,
another media-obsessed Manhattanite.
I wrote some
days ago in Nederlog that there will be more news of Wolff´s ¨Fire
Fury¨, and this is a review of it. And I will review this
but I should add that I did not read Wolff´s book and do not
will, indeed in part because I have
been writing over 1800 articles om
the crisis in the last eighth years; in part because I am not
interested in this kind of book (and I have read a
lot on politics anyway); and in part also because I am more
interested in - real - scientific analysis than in journalism.
But here goes (and I am selecting bits):
is unsparing in his portrayal of Trump as an aberrant chief executive,
not only detached from governance but barely literate. He summons
withering on-the-record assessments from ostensible allies of a
seemingly infantile president. “If they tell him the whales need to be
saved, he’s basically for it,” says Katie Walsh, a former White House
deputy chief of staff, recalling how easily the Kushners could sway
Trump. Yet much of Wolff’s sourcing is opaque.
this - ¨[y]et
much of Wolff’s sourcing is opaque¨ - is probably correct (but as I said,
I have not and will not read Wolff´s book, were it only because I have much
to do anyway and little health
and little money).
Here is some more on Wolff:
is a media writer by trade and, like his protagonist, he repeatedly
scorns the mainline press for what he suggests is its liberal bias. He
singles out this paper for treating the Trump presidency as anomalous.
is certainly right in ¨treating the Trump presidency as anomalous¨ (but I grant that
media writers are not my favorite kind of writers).
Here is some more on Wolff:
is strongest when he’s writing on what he knows best: the insecurities
and ambitions of Trump and other media fixtures. Yet while much of this
presidency does revolve around news coverage, it is still a presidency.
And Wolff is far weaker when it comes to politics.
I take this for
granted. This is from the ending of this article:
writing is often vivid but Wolff, who tries to hold to a chronological
narrative, can be as repetitive as Trump, returning again and again to
preferred words or phrases (joie de guerre is a favorite).
What ultimately salvages the book are those moments when he all but
makes Bannon his co-author, letting Bannon describe West Wing showdowns
with his moderate nemesis, Jarvanka, in ways that render this the de
facto first insider account of the Trump White House.
And I will suppose
(but do not know) this is a more or less adequate review of
book. I agree that the book is ¨the de facto first insider account of the
Trump White House¨,
and I also point out (which
this review does not) that Bannon seems to be an anti-semite,
Jarvanka = Jared + Ivanka are both Jewish.
But I do not know how important the last fact is. And this is a
Obsessing Over the Wrong Guy
This article is by Bill Blum on Truthdig. This is from near the
beginning, and this is also about Wolff´s ¨Fire and Fury¨, while
¨the Wrong Guy¨ is Wolff:
At the moment, Trump
is seething about Wolff. He’s so hopping mad and fixated that he sought
to stop the publication of “Fire and Fury,” authorizing one of his
personal lawyers to send the author and his publisher, Henry Holt and
Company, Inc., a cease-and-desist
letter before the book’s Jan. 9 scheduled release date. The letter
also threatened a libel action if the publisher didn’t relent.
Undeterred, Henry Holt and
Co. responded by accelerating
the book’s publication to Jan. 5. Since then, sales have
skyrocketed. Currently, “Fire and Fury” ranks
No. 1 on the Amazon.com top 100 chart. The book also has been the
subject of nonstop breathless discussion on cable news.
In fact, it is
today and I do not know about the present legal status of the
cease-and- desist letter or indeed of the libel action. (There probably
will be later more news.)
Here is some advice of Blum
I would tell the president
that the law is decidedly against him in his attack on Wolff and Henry
Holt. The Supreme Court has long interpreted the First Amendment to
restraints on the press. I would remind the president of Daniel
Ellsberg and the Pentagon
Papers case that ended so badly for Richard Nixon.
I also would remind the
president of the important protections the Constitution affords
journalists in defamation
actions brought by public figures, among whom Trump is the absolute
archetype. Even with top-notch attorneys working for him—and contrary
to what you might hear on MSNBC, some of Trump’s lawyers are excellent
litigators—it is unlikely he will achieve his long-stated goal of
“opening up” the nation’s
libel laws. Why waste time and precious legal resources on a losing
battle that in any event doesn’t have to be waged?
Perhaps, but I don´t
know. Two relevant differences are that (i) the mainstream media
mean the press, whether on paper or the internet) is considerably
factual and less true than it was in the early Seventies, while
(ii) in the early Seventies there were considerably more Democrats
the Senate and the House.
Here is some more:
The president is personally
in jeopardy for possible obstruction of justice. That, in my view, is
what Mueller will eventually subpoena Trump to address under penalty of
perjury, either in a deposition or before a grand jury, or by means of
written interrogatories, or some combination of the three.
I agree with Blum that this
also seems the likeliest outcome of Mueller´s investigation.
Here is the end of this
article, after considerably more that I leave to your interests:
The point is, we deserve
answers, and we can only get them from the man in charge. We can either
wait until Mueller indicts more members of Trump’s inner circle en
route to his endgame of going after the president directly, or the
president can take the initiative and volunteer to meet with Mueller
and answer questions in person, on the record, under oath.
To be sure, the president
has other options. He can attempt to fire Mueller, or pardon those
Mueller has indicted or will indict (perhaps including himself), or he
could take the Fifth Amendment and decline to testify when the hour to
do so arrives.
But those would be the acts
of a coward—not unlike what we might expect from the weak,
thin-skinned, unstable man described by Wolff in his best-selling
book—one that the president insists is a work of fiction.
Yes, and this is a
Blow: The GOP Is Covering for an Obvious Madman
This article is by Ilanka Novick on AlterNet. It starts as follows (and
for more on Charles Blow see here):
Trump is mentally
and emotionally unfit to hold the presidency of the United States,
Charles Blow reminds his readers in his Monday column. This is neither
an armchair diagnosis nor an op-ed columnist punching above his weight
class, but a truth that even those closest to the president know. But
because he's enabled their precious tax cuts for millionaires,
Republicans "would rather defend a compromised Republican president
than have to live in the wake of a deposed one."
this seems mostly a fair review. Also - being a psychologist - I like
add that Trump´s self-diagnosis as ¨a very stable genius¨ is fairly
good confirmation that Trump
indeed is a megalomaniac aka a
grandiose or malignant narcissist (and I agree he is, since the beginning
Failing to admit
the obvious truth about the president's mental state and how
Republicans are covering for him would be "basking
in false virtue," Blow argues. Just look at Trump's behavior
after the release of Michael Wolff's bombshell book "Fire
and Fury." Trump was so outraged America might learn the truth
about his instability he took to Twitter to defend his intellectual
honor, writing, "throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been
mental stability and being, like, really smart” and then upped the ante
by writing that his being elected meant he was “not smart, but
genius...and a very stable genius at that!"
And this also seems quite correct to me (who is not a member of
APA, that thinks it is better to remain silent on a very
than to inform the public that the man is very dangerous):
indeed, and this is a recommended article.
about whether an American president might plunge us into nuclear war
are not mere partisan quibbles. It goes straight to the heart of our
national survival. As Blow reminds us, "We have a person occupying the
presidency who is impetuous,
fragile, hostile, irrational, intentionally uninformed,
information-averse and semiliterate." Yet the "conservative
architecture" of a Republican Congress and its donors don't feel the
need to stop him. Which leaves it up to us, the voters.
we have to put to the elected officials protecting this president,"
Blow writes, "and indeed to all those being paid a taxpayer-funded
salary and then concealing, distorting or denying the truth to make
this man look competent, is: Don’t you have an obligation, either
moral, ethical, patriotic or otherwise, to level with America that you,
too, are concerned by Trump’s erratic behavior?"
Inequality Is Killing Off Humanity
This article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It starts
There is ample
evidence for a growing inability of people around the world to maintain
the basic human needs of physical health and mental stability and a
living wage and a desire to live in peace.
and this also happens to be one of Paul Buchheit´s fine
articles. I will abstract three more pieces from it, but the article is
considerably longer and is recommended.
Most of us recognize the need
for some semblance of equality in our relationships with others. But a
smallish group of shockingly wealthy households around the world --
especially in America -- is gaining more and more power along with
their wealth. They're making it nearly impossible to reverse the deadly
effects of an unnaturally unequal society, in part because they're no
longer connected to the world beyond their estates. They police us,
they starve our public institutions, they abhor any form of social
cooperation, they blame the poor for being poor. The means to restore
some balance is steadily slipping away.
Here is the first bit:
.01% Are Wealth-Obese
I think these
differences are obscene and should
be legalized away, but I also think this will require
something like a revolution towards a liberal kind of socialism, that
I think is most unlikely to happen without a major economical crisis,
that will come, though no one knows when (and this possible
revolution also may go the other direction, into more neofascism: I
do not think there is a moral direction in human history).
In the United States, where
wealth inequality is extreme and
getting worse (see
- The richest 24,000
adults (the .01%) have an average of over $400,000,000 in wealth
- The poorest 120,000,000
adults (the bottom 50%) have an average of about $8,500 in wealth
Global inequality is
similar in the degree of disparity:
- The richest 500,000
adults (the .01%) have an estimated average of $30,000,000 in wealth
- The poorest 2.5 billion
adults (the bottom 50%) have an average of about $673 in wealth
Here is more:
Made Worse: Tax Havens and Tax Breaks and Tax Deferrals
And these $14 trillion
dollars - all of it illegal - are hidden by some of the 500,000
who already have $30 million on average: Insane
greed, in my eyes.
"Taxes are what we pay for
civilized society," Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
government regulation, and one result has been trumpeted to the ends of
the earth by the Panama
Papers and Paradise Papers:
Despite their immeasurable benefits from society -- the financial
system, tax law, security forces, computer technology -- the world's
richest individuals and corporations are stashing away their gains
rather than paying for all their benefits. If researchers Saez and
Zucman are correct (and they usually are), an incredible $14
trillion of global wealth is being hidden in offshore tax
havens. That's approximately the total wealth of the entire United
Here is the final bit I quote from this article:
Quite so. And this
is a strongly recommended article.
In his book "The Great
Leveler," Walter Scheidel documents the
ultimate destinies of desperately unequal societies throughout history,
and they're not pretty: wars, revolutions, state collapses, and
catastrophic plagues. Says the
author about the inevitable equalizing forces, "they shared one common
root: massive and violent disruptions of the established order."
Even if the super-rich
survive for a while in their bunkers, they may walk out into a world
that can no longer keep them alive.
This article is by Lisa Appignanesi on The New York Review of Books. It
starts as follows:
He may not be altogether
“crazy,” but he is so:
[…] unstable a
personality as to be quite vulnerable to certain kinds of psychological
pressure. The outstanding neurotic elements in his personality are his
hunger for power and his need for the recognition and adulation of the
masses. He is unable to obtain complete emotional gratification from
any other source.… Whenever his self-concept is slightly disrupted by
criticism, he becomes so emotionally unstable as to lose to some degree
his contact with reality.… [His] egoism is his Achilles heel. The
extreme narcissistic qualities of his personality are so evident as to
suggest predictable patterns of action during both victory and defeat.
This is not a psychiatric
assessment of Donald Trump but of Fidel Castro, from a December 1961 report commissioned by the CIA. Given
his politics, you’d think Castro would have little in common with
Trump. Yet, even though the language of diagnosis has changed, there
are many echoes in the warning put forth by twenty-seven psychiatrists
and mental health experts, plus an epilogue by Noam Chomsky in the recent book, The
Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.
I was not aware
parallelism between Fidel Castro and Donald Trump, but I think it is
quite fair to say that Castro also was a
megalomaniac aka narcissist,
and indeed have been thinking so for a long time. In fact, my own
reasons go back to the later Sixties, when I became aware that Castro
regularly indulged in speeches of six hours or so. I did not like that
at all, but I also admit that I connected this dislikable feature of
Castro to megalomania some 15 years later, when I studied psychology
(in the early 1980ies).
And while I agree
Appignanesi on both Castro´s megalomania and Trump´s megalomania, I
don´t think both are very similar (but this is indeed ¨a
judgement from far away¨).
Here is more on The
Dangerous Case of Donald Trump:
The book has its origins in
a conference held on April 20, 2017, organized by a forensic
psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine named Bandy X. Lee, in
defiance of what some psychiatrists have called a “gag order” issued a month earlier by their
professional body, the American Psychiatric Association, which ruled
against clinical opinion being given on public figures, even in the
interests of national security.
Well... if your
professional association threatens to disband you if you attempt to
diagnose (in any way, moreover, or so it seems) a very powerful
person who can destroy many hundreds of millions or several billions of
people, as is the case with presidents of the USA, I think
this is a real gag order.
Here is more on Bandy
Lee and also on Michael Wolff:
The controversy was
recently reanimated by a letter sent by Lee on behalf of
the books’ contributors to The New York Times,
calling for “the public and the lawmakers of this country to push for
an urgent evaluation of the president, for which we are in the process
of developing a separate but independent expert panel, capable of
meeting and carrying out all medical standards of care.” And with the
release last week of journalist Michael Wolff’s damning portrait of
Trump as a paranoid child-man utterly ill-equipped for office in his
book Fire and Fury, Lee and her colleagues have once again
found their concerns widely cited.
Then there is this,
which is fair in a sense, although I add immediately that while Lisa Appignanesi has
been a ¨former Chair of the Trustees of the Freud Museum in
London¨, she has neither studied psychiatry nor
psychology, but Comparative Literature (while I did study both
psychology and philosophy, and the former study did take six years):
But even then, as the
checkered history of psychiatry makes clear, mind professionals don’t
always agree with one another, whether on diagnoses or on the
dangerousness of a subject. Norms and what we designate as normality
also change: women used to be institutionalized for behavior that
society and the doctors now think utterly ordinary. The irony of Trump
now suggesting that his former chief strategist Steve Bannon “has lost his mind” is evident.
In fact, I am quite
willing to agree that psychiatry is not a real science, and
argued so at length in 2012: See here
and here, for example. Then
again, my criticism is fairly technical and presupposes
at least a
decent grounding in philosophy of science (and see also Paul Lutus,
while what I agree with in postmodern
psychiatry is in fact only the observational status of the
criterions they use in
And being a
psychologist I can apply these observational criterions to see
whether I do agree with the resulting diagnosis, and in the case of Donald Trump I fully
agreed: he satisfied (in the beginning of 2016) all 9
of 9 criterions to arrive at the
diagnosis of grandiose narcissism (while 5 out of 9 is
sufficient for the diagnosis).
Here is more on Trump´s
In Trump’s case, the
twenty-seven campaigners see the duty to warn of danger as overriding
the Goldwater Rule. Each has a variety of diagnostic categories for
Trump, but they don’t tell us much more than what savvy lay
commentators have often repeated. We learn that Trump is “mentally
unstable,” that he exhibits, according to psychologist Philip Zimbardo
and counselor Rosemary Sword, “extreme present hedonism” and “lives in
the present moment without much thought of any consequences of [his]
actions or of the future.” He is impulsive, dehumanizes others and will
do whatever it takes to bolster his ego. He also exhibits “malignant
narcissism,” which includes antisocial behavior and aspects of
paranoia; and “pathological narcissism,” which begins, according to
Craig Malkin, “when people become so addicted to feeling special that,
just like with any drug, they’ll do anything to get their ‘high,’
including lie, steal, cheat, betray, and even hurt those
closest to them.”
Well... are these
judgements (by psychologists and psychiatrists) more or less correct,
in the eyes of the specialist on Comparative Literature Appignanesi? She doesn´t
really tell us, which I think is not very brave, for a specialist in Comparative Literature.
(Among other things because I did study psychology for six
she did not.)
Here is more by Appignanesi (who does
appear to agree a bit more with Trump´s critics than with Trump´s
What distinguishes Trump
from the rest of the population, though, is the substantial effect of
his personality. His “impulsive blame-shifting, claims of unearned
superiority, and delusional levels of grandiosity,” his “unhinged
response to court decisions, driven as they appear to be by paranoia,
delusion, and a sense of entitlement are of grave concern,” writes
Jhueck, and have already impacted on the lives of many. As Hillary Clinton remarked, “A man
you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear
Sadly, the misuse of power
is not a free-standing psychiatric category, though power seems to
exacerbate a whole range of existing “craziness,” whether it is that of
movie moguls or politicians.
Yes, and that last fact is
one of the very many shortcomings
of present-day psychiatry.
And here is Appignanesi´s ending:
Let us hope that the
institutions of democracy allow Trump only three more years, rather
than the fifty or so Castro had in power.
I agree with that.
have now been
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).