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|Michael Novakhov - SharedNewsLinks℠|
|Judiciary Committee chairman says he has received tens of thousands of documents in Trump investigation|
|Analyse this: what Freud can teach us about Trumpism | News|
It will be left to future historians, if there are any, to explain to their contemporaries why a profession came into existence in the 20th century whose well-paid practitioners sat in an office while people otherwise unknown to them talked about their unhappiness, one after the other, for an hour at a time. I have been a therapist for 35 years, and I still don’t really understand it. I don’t speak in delphic tongues or offer holy absolution or perform shamanic hocus pocus; I really don’t do much of anything but sit there, listen and try to tell the truth. Not that it is easy; it is taxing to spend your days immersed in other people’s misery, and whatever is wrong with me that prompted me to do this with my life, and left me able to withstand it, is not improved by the exercise. Still, I am grateful to the marketplace for providing me with such an improbable way to make a living.
I suppose those historians will also note the inexhaustible genius of a political economy that created this marketplace and ensured a robust supply of the pathologies for which renting a rapt audience by the hour was the cure. Still more impressive, in retrospect, will be the imposing professional infrastructure – offices, licences, the monetisable unit of time – for legitimising the listening caste.
I envy these future investigators the opportunity to make of psychotherapy a specimen in the autopsy of consumer capitalism, or even a leading indicator of its collapse: if paid listeners are what we came to, they will probably say, then the rot must have been deep. In the meantime, stuck as we are in our own time, it is enough to note the profession’s presence, and its weirdness, and to say that there are moments when the seams that stitch it into daily life are suddenly visible. At such intervals, honest therapists realise that they are not only incapable of doing much about the suffering they are witnessing; they are part of the problem.
I refer you to 9 November 2016, the day after the most recent day that will live in infamy. I have been at this job through many public catastrophes, and I have been struck, for better and worse, by the therapeutic dyad’s ability to shut the door on the world even when it is actively burning, to note (or not) that the towers collapsed or a school got shot up, and then return to our private concerns. So, when on that Wednesday, no matter how much they (and I) might have wanted to get back to their intimate dramas, if only as a refuge, we found ourselves unable to speak of anything else but the ascension of Trump. It seemed remarkable – an inversion of business as usual. The political had become personal in the most literal fashion.
Each afflicted person was afflicted in their own way, but underneath all their reactions ran a common current, one that transcended the categories into which my colleagues and I generally sort our clients. The stoics and the obsessives, the anxious and the depressed, the dissolute and the uptight: they all seemed stunned and downcast and, since many of them had awakened in the wee hours to check the news, exhausted. It was as if overnight each person had experienced an unexpected death in the family and had come to me in the early stages of mourning.
If psychotherapy, as Sigmund Freud supposedly said, is a cure through love, and if love, as Milan Kundera definitely said, is constant interrogation, I was not curing anyone that day. I was not interrogating their sadness. At the time, it seemed beyond question, self-evident, which is what happens when a therapist is feeling the same thing as a client – a less than reliable way to judge what is beyond question, I admit. It wasn’t until the intensity subsided over the following weeks, and its muted version took up residency in the post-election world, that the oddness of the reaction struck me. Why were we all so sad?
I can’t really ask any more – the whole premise of therapy, upheld sometimes more than others, is that it is about you and not me – so unless someone volunteers the question, I am left to guess. But if that happens, I am ready with an answer: there is nothing to make you feel helpless like watching 63 million of your neighbours converge upon something so foolish and dangerous as to elect a carny barker, and not a very good one at that, to the presidency. The election ends, and, good democrats that we are, we must accept its outcome just as surely as we must accept a death. There are no do-overs. Flail about all you like – when the cause is lost, it is lost. You watch a loved one decline and expire, your dog gets hit by a car, your lover leaves you for the last time, and there is nothing you can do about it. Helplessness is the gateway to grief, and to grieve – at a wake, during shivah, in a chance encounter at the store – is to talk, to bear witness to the loss until you have absorbed it.
But what exactly had been lost? After all, the day after the election the country remained intact, the economy hummed along, there were not troops in the street or militias in the woods (or not very many, at least). Had I asked, I probably would have heard that for some it was team pride, for others the sense that something precious to them – reproductive rights, racial tolerance, gender equality – was suddenly threatened. For others still, the narcissistic injury of having such a repellent man embody the country in which they had been trained to take pride. I might even have found in their private histories the template for their response.
But it is possible the sadness has its source in a deeper unconscious than the personal one, and I don’t mean Jung’s quasi-mystical collective one. I mean the historical unconscious, the one that turns us, before we know it, into people who, with certain expectations of ourselves and our world, do things like go to therapy to confess our sadness; people who think that the past can somehow redeem the present and make the desired future possible, if only we can understand it.
That may be hardest when it comes to loss, which almost always, at least temporarily, throws the future into question. No one understands this, or much of anything else about grief, not even the experts. My industry nearly shook itself apart a few years ago over the question of how to distinguish normal mourning from clinical depression. The squabble was too stupid to be worth recounting, but something important got lost in its noise: that no argument like this is possible unless we assume there is such a thing as normal mourning.
We would like to think so, of course. We would like to believe natural selection has endowed us with a mechanism that reliably cleans up the wreckage of loss, and, after a decent interval, restores our faith that whatever we love will remain with us for ever. But natural selection doesn’t give a rat’s ass about our sorrow. And besides, if you suffer (or witness) enough loss, you will likely come to doubt, to distrust, and finally to discard this confidence, and to recognise that the capacity to soldier on in the face of the inevitable, let alone to venture love, is inexplicable. You will then perhaps see that bereavement is infinitely more complicated than any other wound, and that healing from it, whatever that may mean, is a miracle.
But if there is any standard for sorting normal from pathological grief, it is that normally we know for whom or what we grieve. Freud distinguished melancholia from mourning on exactly these grounds, arguing that grief becomes pathological when it is prolonged so far past any actual loss that its object can no longer be identified. Melancholics hold on to a loved one in order to stave off the feeling of loss. Their condition, Freud indicated, will not remit until melancholia is transformed into normal mourning, at which point the loss can recede into the past.
But while Freud, and all of us talking-cure practitioners who have come after him, looked to the family as the source of the response to loss, he also recognised a mourning that was neither the persistence of memory nor the shock of recent bereavement. His case study was not a patient but himself, and the traumatic circumstance was not incest or domestic violence, but a catastrophe unprecedented in its scope and horror: the first world war. The outbreak of war, he wrote in 1915, shattered our pride at the accomplishments of our civilisation, our respect for so many thinkers and artists, our hopes of finally overcoming the differences among peoples and races. It unleashed within us the evil spirits that we thought had been tamed by centuries of education on the part of our most noble men. It made our fatherland small again. In this way, it robbed us of so much that we had loved and showed us the fragility of so much that we had considered stable.
“Transience”, as Freud called this short essay, is not well known, nor does it tell us what is to be done when “that which is precious has not proved to be enduring”. Within a year, he had turned his attentions back to domestic and personal misfortunes, the kind most suited to his treatment. The rosy forecast that ends the paper – “once mourning is overcome ... we will once again build up everything that the war has destroyed, perhaps on firmer foundations and more lastingly than before” – would be virtually his last word on the subject until the much darker Civilization and its Discontents, written as the Nazis were gaining power in Germany. It is a pity Freud dropped the subject so quickly, not because he might have offered solutions, but because, in the 15 years between the essays, something far more decisive for the future of psychoanalysis – and maybe for the future of democracy – had occurred: psychoanalysis came to the United States.
Actually, Freud had brought psychotherapy to the US in 1909. But he hated his time there, and the feeling was largely mutual, so, as EL Doctorow put it in Ragtime, “at least a decade would have to pass before Freud would have his revenge and see his ideas begin to destroy sex in America for ever”. Freud may have made us more honest about our urges and more cognisant of how they manifested in daily life, but he also yanked away a shroud that gave sex its mystery, the shadows that deepened it even as they obscured it.
I am not complaining, either as a civilian or a therapist; it turns out that honesty and ecstasy can indeed inform and augment each other. But in insisting that we repress the instinctual life epitomised by sex at our own peril, Freud was not suggesting we cast off all restraint in favour of our emotional lives. To the contrary, our job as civilised people was to find (presumably through psychoanalysis) what it is about ourselves that we have to protect one another from, and then to muster the self-control to do that – and all without ever pretending that we have vanquished the beast within. In return for replacing unconscious repression with conscious renunciation, we get a civilisation, and all its bounty – stability, a sense of purpose, the fulfillments of culture.
What we do not get out of this contract, however, is happiness; instead, we get, as Freud famously put it, “common unhappiness” rather than “neurotic misery”. That is probably the real reason that it took a while, much longer than a decade, really, for psychoanalysis to find its footing in the US: it is one thing to ruin sex and quite another to ruin the pursuit of happiness by declaring tragic resignation to be our proper destiny.
Still, it was only a matter of time before the marketplace offered a solution, a way to use the analytic accoutrements – the couch, the legitimacy, the hour – to serve that prospect. By the time I got to therapy school in the mid-1980s, Freud’s interior landscape had been transvalued, the source no longer of trouble, but of wisdom. No one ever said it out loud, and I didn’t realise it until much later, but the purpose of psychotherapy had become finding what it is in ourselves that we need to protect from the world. The safe space of the therapy office was not only a refuge but a model, a foretaste of the way the world ought to be: full of interlocutors whose job was to love us unconditionally and to help us to love ourselves the same way, so that we could be all that we can be.
The Freudian imperative to seek fearlessly for the traces of instinctual life still reigned, although not with suspicion or an eye toward restraint. Instead, Freud’s doctrines, once fully transmitted to the New World, took on a peculiarly American colouration: steeped in personal affirmation, the therapeutic faith rested here on a conviction that in instinct, and especially in the emotions, lay wisdom. And a corollary to this faith was the bedrock belief that in psychological pain lay not the evidence that we had failed to surrender instinct to civilisation but rather that civilisation had failed to protect us from injury. Therapists would help people become virtuosi of their psyches, exquisitely tuned to each fine gradation of inner suffering, managing their emotional lives to protect themselves against incursion. We set about, in short, asking not what we can do for country but how we can stop country from doing to us.
This therapist-led decoupling of the personal from the political has been much noted, and mostly lamented, by scolds from the right and other schoolmarms, and I do not wish to follow in their path. Rather, I would just point out that behind both the affirmative and the dour views of our interior life lurks a question that has been haunting us since the Enlightenment: now that God is dead and priests are just men spouting superstition, now that we have taken matters into our own hands, just how are we supposed to live with one another? Now that everything is permitted, now that rules are whatever we make them to be, how can we tame those evil spirits ourselves? Implicit in the therapeutic answer is a bet, the same bet that lies behind science and democracy and free-market capitalism: that we are self-limiting creatures, that given freedom and self-knowledge and the opportunity to express them, we will be able to ride the long arc of history toward progress.
But, as Dr Phil might ask, how’s that working out for you? Not so well, it seems, at least not if you are living in Trumpistan, where those Enlightenment virtues look like political correctness and globalism and the elitism of the effete, where the invisible hand gives you its back and reason tells you that your moral standards are only so much prejudice and science insists that the car in which you drive to your shitty, low-paying job is making the ice caps melt. In this blighted province, even if you have never set foot in a therapist’s office, even if you see the profession as a vast snowflake factory, you have absorbed the truth of the therapeutic: that grievance is always justified, that the victim always has the high moral ground, and that if you are frustrated or worried or despairing or otherwise discomfited, then that means you have been robbed of your birthright. Because you were put on this earth, or at least in this country, to pursue happiness; if you can’t even dream of that any more, then you are entitled to redress. And if the channels through which redress is achieved are closed off to you, then perhaps you should hitch your wagon to a bulldozer intent on carving out a new one.
‘You cannot exaggerate the intensity of man’s inner irresolution and craving for authority,” Freud told a congress of psychoanalysts in 1910. That yearning is part of what he called elsewhere an “archaic heritage” that, when awakened, seeks “a paramount and dangerous personality, towards whom only a passive-masochistic attitude is possible, to whom one’s will must be surrendered”. A century ago, that probably was not as cheap a shot as it is now that victim-blaming has become a thing, and while it points to the impatience of an elite man with those craven people, it does not explain the sadness that came into my office that day and that I think still has not worn off. It does, however, get at one of our more melancholy emotions, one that Trump has mined unrelentingly: nostalgia. Like all nostalgia, the yearning to make America great again is a yearning for the never-was, and it tells us more about what is missing from the present than what was present in the past.
But in the Freudian view, the success of the Trumpian con should point us to our archaic heritage – and indeed the past to which Trumpism aspires lies much deeper than the mid-20th century, or whatever period those red hats are referring to. Trump promises more than the restoration of white men to their rightful place at the top of the org chart. He promises to make the world comprehensible again without the intercession of pointy-headed elites and the nagging of social justice warriors. He urges us all to shake loose the surly bonds of civilised conduct: to make science irrelevant and rationality optional, to render truth obsolete, to set power free to roam the world, to lift all the core conditions written into the social contract – fealty to reason, scepticism about instincts, aspirations to justice. We then, at last, will be restored to the primordial American state of nature – free to consume, to pillage, to destroy, to wall out our neighbours and to hate people for living in shitholes.
Trump indeed does more than promise: with his profligate lies, his proud immorality, his sneering disdain for fairness, his disregard for consistency or any other kind of integrity, he embodies those promises. He is the anti-Aufklärer, and his deepest appeal lies in an unspoken promise that lies behind the others: to undo the Enlightenment, to free us from the burdens of living rationally in a world where nothing is settled and where everything – economic well-being, national borders, gender identities, domestic arrangements – is up for grabs, let the strongest prevail.
If the machine guns and mustard gas of the first world war revealed to Freud the fragility of what had seemed solid, the election of Trump reveals its decrepitude, if not its collapse. Without a single shot, with hardly any sort of sustained violent break at all, in a collective ejaculation of rage and resentment, a near-majority of the electorate went with its gut and rejected not a candidate or a party but an ethos shaped over five centuries, of which Freud was an acolyte and the odd profession he spawned an apotheosis. They rose up against the demand imposed by modernity – that we use reason to figure things out for ourselves – and replaced it not with the old rules, but with impulse itself, with the vengeance and cruelty and rage that Trump so brilliantly embodies. Freud’s answer, that we find our limits only when we recognise just how badly we need them, was insufficient, and its transvalued version even more so. As John Adams recognised in noting the way that democracy “wastes, exhausts and murders itself”, individuals may conquer themselves but “nations and large bodies of men, never”.
Still, the problem may lie not in our answers, but in the question itself: it may be that life on earth is too complex and chaotic for humans to manage, that our randomly acquired strengths and flaws did not evolve to meet that challenge, and that the idea that we can fashion an order that lasts is merely a conceit that reached its peak with the Enlightenment. Another of those conceits is that progress is inevitable, and it is possible that on the other side of the long darkness upon which we are now embarking is an understanding of ourselves and the world just as unimaginable to us as democracy was to a Lascaux cave artist, and that will not contain within it the seeds of its own destruction.
But that is far from certain, and here is where my profession and all it has taught us about the value of the interior landscape will come in handy. For we have only just begun to grieve the passing of this great experiment, of the idea that we will find in ourselves the ability to run our own show, and as we watch ourselves decline, we will have to get very good at mourning. My colleagues and I stand ready to assist.
This article was first published in the Baffler No 41, and on thebaffler.com
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|The Israeli left’s endless misery in the days of Netanyahu and Trumpistan - Opinion - Israel News|
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|Cambridge Analytica Secrets Allegedly Covered Up by Trump Campaign Veterans|
IN THE DARK
Cambridge Analytica Secrets Allegedly Covered Up by Trump Campaign Veterans
The High Court in London heard that former insiders, including Rebekah Mercer, were pulling the strings of “biased” officials responsible for the fate of the company.
Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of billionaire Trump donor Robert Mercer, are listed as directors of Emerdata. As is former Cambridge Analytica chairman Julian Wheatland, who is named on the list of people close to President Trump being probed by the House Judiciary Committee, alongside Nix, who resigned as a director of Emerdata on the same day that he was called back for further questioning by a committee in Britain’s House of Commons. Nix remains a shareholder.
The dispute between Carroll and Cambridge Analytica began when the professor read about the alleged use of data in the 2016 presidential campaign. Under British law, companies are required to disclose what information they hold on any individual who asks for it, so Carroll filed a formal request. Cambridge Analytica repeatedly refused to hand the information over until it entered administration last year.
Notionally, Carroll’s involvement in this case is due to his role as a creditor who is potentially owed around £5,000 ($6,600) for the personal data breach.
“Even if I were to get the money, it's tiny fraction of the amount of money that I'm risking,” he told The Daily Beast. “It's about searching for the answers and triggering accountability. If it wasn't for me they would just rubberstamp it—and they'd be gone.”
His contention is that there are millions of other people whose data was stolen and misused by Cambridge Analytica.
On Monday, the High Court heard that press reports following Cambridge Analytica’s bankruptcy speculated that Emerdata might take up the baton and continue the controversial company’s work under another name.
Court documents submitted by Carroll’s team claimed that the administrators had also failed in their most basic duties: “Employees have refused to return laptops to the Administrators, and others have been stolen from the Administrators’ custody. Adding to concerns that the Cambridge Analytica business continues to be carried-on under another guise, as at November 2018, former employees were apparently still accessing its cloud-based infrastructure.”
Gledhill told the court that it was vital for Mr. Justice Norris to refuse to grant Crowe’s bid to become liquidators and shut the company down permanently.
“This case has attracted exceptional public interest and in our submission the standard of independence in this case should be correspondingly high. We say that the administrators cannot meet that standard both because of the appearance of bias and because they are in fact biased,” he said.
Gledhill claimed that Emerdata’s favored administrators had gone to extremes in order to avoid complying with the regulator which ordered Cambridge Analytica to respond to a subject access request (SAR) from Carroll. He wanted to know what information had been obtained on him, where it had come from, and how it was used. The Information Commissioner's Office ended up taking the company to court, and Cambridge Analytica parent company SCL was convicted of breaking the law in January.
“It speaks volumes about the extent to which the administrators are beholden to Emerdata that, despite their status as officers of the court… they preferred to expose [SCL] Elections to criminal sanction for failure to cooperate with a regulator, rather than yield an inch to Professor Carroll’s SAR.”
Gledhill said it may have been enough to avoid the conviction if the administrators had made their best endeavors to comply. “Had they done that in any subsequent criminal proceedings they would have had a defense … They didn't even try at all.”
He said that would have been easy: “What was there to prevent the administrator from sitting down with Mr. Nix or Mr. Wheatland” and asking what they remembered about where the vast swathes of data on up to 200 million American voters had come from?
Catherine Addy QC, representing the administrators in court, said her clients had cooperated as much as they could with the regulators. She said it was impossible to track down Carroll’s personal information amid 700 terabytes of data that has been seized by the Information Commission. She also insisted that the administrators had no idea that there was an ongoing process to access that material when they were appointed.
She claimed Carroll’s legal team was “using the media and political storm cloud” to try to hold up the normal procedures of the court.
The judge has reserved his judgment on whether Crowe should be dismissed as the administrator. He is expected to rule in the coming days.
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|Is Franky Boy Cali killing by Anthony Comello a warning to Bratva: do not cooperate with the Mueller Investigation (like Franky did?) or else? | Look for your New Abwehr on your New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn: Aunty sent a postcard.|
Is Franky Boy Cali killing by Anthony Comello a warning to Bratva: do not cooperate with the Mueller Investigation (like Franky did?) or else? And also the timely and signifying change of leadership within the Gambino family.
Look for your New Abwehr on your New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn: Aunty sent a postcard.
M.N. - 3.18.19
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|Suspect in mob boss hit flashes pro-Trump slogans on hand | Region|
TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — The man charged with killing the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family wrote pro-Donald Trump slogans on his hand and flashed them to journalists before a court hearing Monday.
Anthony Comello, 24, was arrested Saturday in New Jersey in the death of Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali last week in front of his Staten Island home.
While waiting for a court hearing to begin in Toms River, New Jersey, in which he agreed to be extradited to New York, Comello held up his left hand.
On it were scrawled pro-Trump slogans including "MAGA Forever," an abbreviation of Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again." It also read "United We Stand MAGA" and "Patriots In Charge." In the center of his palm he had drawn a large circle. It was not immediately clear why he had done so.
Comello's lawyer, Brian Neary, would not discuss the writing on his client's hand, nor would he say whether Comello maintains his innocence. Asked by reporters after the hearing what was on Comello's hand, Neary replied, "Handcuffs."
He referred all other questions to Comello's Manhattan lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, who did not respond to two messages seeking comment Monday.
Comello sat with a slight smile in the jury box of the courtroom Monday afternoon as dozens of reporters and photographers filed into the room. When they were in place, Comello held up his left hand to display the writings as the click and whirr of camera lenses filled the room with sound.
During the hearing, Comello did not speak other than to say, "Yes, sir" to the judge to several procedural questions.
Cali, 53, was shot to death last Wednesday by a gunman who may have crashed his truck into Cali's car to lure him outside. Police said Cali was shot 10 times.
Federal prosecutors referred to Cali in court filings in 2014 as the underboss of the Mafia's Gambino family, once one of the country's most powerful crime organizations. News accounts since 2015 said Cali had ascended to the top spot, though he was never charged with leading the gang. His only mob-related conviction came a decade ago, when he was sentenced to 16 months in prison in an extortion scheme involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was released in 2009 and hasn't been in legal trouble since then.
Police have not yet said whether they believe Cali's murder was a mob hit or whether he was killed for some other motive.
The last Mafia boss to be rubbed out in New York City was Gambino don "Big Paul" Castellano, who was assassinated in 1985.
Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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The proposed budget, which contains a 6 percent increase, covers expenses as diverse as spy satellites, cyberweapons and the C.I.A.'s network of overseas ...
|Man Arrested in Killing of Gambino Crime Family Boss Flashes Pro-Trump Slogans on Hand During NJ Court Appearance - NECN|
Man Arrested in Killing of Gambino Crime Family Boss Flashes Pro-Trump Slogans on Hand During NJ Court Appearance NECN
The 24-year-old man arrested in connection with the killing of Francesco Cali, a reputed boss of New York's Gambino crime family who was gunned down in a ...
|Suspect in mob boss hit flashes pro-Trump slogans on hand - Sunbury Daily Item|
Suspect in mob boss hit flashes pro-Trump slogans on hand Sunbury Daily Item
TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — The man charged with killing the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family wrote pro-Donald Trump slogans on his hand and flashed ...
|Democrats request FBI investigation into massage parlor founder who met Trump – live - The Guardian|
Democrats request FBI investigation into massage parlor founder who met Trump – live The Guardian
Four House committees asked FBI to investigate 'credible allegations of 'potential human trafficking' and 'unlawful foreign lobbying'