July 13, 2017

Is Trump mentally ill? C’mon, you still need to ask?

Early July posts hereLate June Posts Here | Early June Posts here

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On the Psychopathology of Donald Trump: The Advanced Course - A YouTube channel of videos of interviews with noted psychotherapists by Dr. John Gartner. 

NEW: An excellent history of the Duty to Warn movement from its inception to the present time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Quote of the Day:

Trump believes laws are for the little people. Pardon power and absolute lack of morals make for a toxic, lawless cocktail.
All politicians lie and obfuscate, but it's rare to see an operator who cares not one whit about the appearance of impropriety. Ryan J. Reilly at the Huffington Post offers a laundry list of ways Trump ignores the laws that bind the rest of us, and presidents who came before:
Examples abound. Does Trump have massive conflicts of interests? Well, the president is exempt from conflict-of-interest laws. Do officials think Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, shouldn’t be given permanent security clearance? Well, Trump has the power to grant him clearance anyhow. Does someone want to sue Trump for his actions before he became president? Well, his lawyers say they can’t (a questionable claim). Did Trump violate the law? Well, the sitting president is immune from prosecution.

This is not a president who abides by the law or thinks it applies to him. So much investigation into pardons and mudslinging at this stage of the game suggests a tremendous wrongdoing may be revealed. It’s just unlikely we’ll be able to do much about it. From Alternet 

Point - Counterpoint on Goldwater Rule from July 20, 2017 Psychiatric Times

Just heard on MSNBC: What can Congress do if Bob Mueller is fired?
If the GOP inexplicably develops an ethical core, they pass a new special counsel law (link) and then can appoint him as a Independent Special Prosecutor, emphasis on independent.

Friday, July 21, 2017

He’s Trump’s new communications director. But his past tweets show contrary views.

By now I expect you’ve all heard Anthony Scaramucci’s gushing over how he loves Trump in the press conference today. Beyond over the top! Sounded like he could have been talking about Dear Leader Kim.
What gives? Does he really feel this way or is he playing into Trump’s narcissism for his own gain? 
I find it hard to believe a man with the massive ego of Scaramucci would bow down and publicly  kiss Trump’s ________________(fill in the blank) in an interview he knew would be aired repeatedly. 
(This begs for a segment on Saturday Night Live.)

I put this on Daily Kos. Check out the comments.  Here’s a creative one:

I see a little silhouette of a man
Scaramucci, Scaramucci will give Trump fellatio?
Thunderbolt and lightening,
very very frightening to me.
Gallileo Gallileo
Gallileo Gallileo
Gallileo Fellatio
Trump’s just a rich boy, Mooch really loves him
He’s just a rich boy, from a rich family
Give him some more love from Scaramucci
Easy come, easy go will you let Spicey go?
Bismillah! No, Trump will not let Spicey go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! Trump will not let Spicey go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! Trump will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Trump will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Never let Spicey go (Never, never, never, never let him go)
Oh oh oh oh
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let Spicey go.)
Trump has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article162993983.html#storylink=cpy

Spicer quits amid White House feud

The beleaguered press secretary resigns after Trump settles on Scaramucci (PHOTO ABOVE) for communications director, splitting aides.
On the latest revelations:
Duty to Warm (about Trump’s mental illness) events nationwide rallied for October 14th.

Of course the biggest news broke last night about Trump rare display of good manners uttering the words “pardon me.” But here's an article more along the lines of psychology, which is the primary focus of this blog.
Democrats and progressives turned to wider and more reputable sources.


As the campaign crested, right-wing media was churning out a fount of propaganda, CJR (Columbia Journalism Review) said, saying its disinformation epitomized “the paranoid” in our politics.
“What we find in our data is a network of mutually reinforcing hyper-partisan sites that revive what Richard Hofstadter called ‘the paranoid style in American politics,’ combining decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world,” CJR said. “‘Fake news,’ which implies made of whole cloth by politically disinterested parties out to make a buck of Facebook advertising dollars, rather than propaganda and disinformation, is not an adequate term. By repetition, variation, and circulation through many associated sites, the network of sites make their claims familiar to readers, and this fluency with the core narrative gives credence to the incredible.”
Needless to say, CJR believes the right’s fact-averse, hyper-partisan hate-mongering is extremely dangerous for American culture and politics. That’s because wide disinformation erodes the prospect of governing based on compromises. If there’s any silver lining to CJR’s analysis, it is that red and blue America still “pay attention to traditional media, following professional journalistic practices, and cross-reference what they read on partisan sites.”
But there is no going back to a simpler, pre-internet past. Today’s press must recognize “it is operating in a propaganda and disinformation rich environment,” CJR said. “Rising to that challenge could usher in a new golden age for the Fourth Estate.”
CJR ended its report on that upbeat note. For the rest of us, its research and reporting tell us it is no accident that Breitbart’s Steve Bannon is in the White House as Trump’s senior strategist. He helped put Trump there by fanning an unheralded wave of dark propaganda and opening a Pandora’s Box that is not about to be closed.

On the Lighter Side
More serious:

ExxonMobil blatantly violated U.S. sanctions on Russia when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson led the oil company, U.S. authorities alleged on Thursday. The Treasury Department slapped Exxon (XOM) with a $2 million fine -- the maximum allowed under current law -- and said the company had "demonstrated reckless disregard" for the requirements of the sanctions.

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Catch this on Rachel Maddow:

My Daily Kos story today:

Even Hitler Had Dogs Dept:

From The Economist:

Daily chartA key White House post remains unfilled: First Pet

It may be time for Donald Trump to find a four-legged friend (Or a two-legged friend, or a fish…. people are said to pick pets that look like them. Perhaps he should get a blobfish.)

Excerpt: The last pet-less leader in American history was Andrew Johnson, who left office in 1869 and is best-known for being one of only two presidents to be impeached (the other, Bill Clinton, had a dog and a cat). According to the Presidential Pet Museum, the White House has been home to over 300 animals, ranging from dozens of dogs, horses and birds to the occasional bear, tiger and alligator. Theodore Roosevelt had by far the most impressive menagerie: while in office, the famed outdoorsman and conservationist cared for some 50 animals, including a badger, a barn owl and a one-legged rooster. Although animals are beloved by Americans of all political stripes, their appeal in the Oval Office has not been quite so bipartisan: Democratic presidents have averaged six pets each compared with nine for Republican ones.

Latest updates

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Facing growing criticism for running a chaotic administration and for murky links between his campaign and election-meddling by Russia, the president could do with the companionship of a pet in a notoriously lonely job. For one thing, it would never leak secrets to the press (parrots notwithstanding). Harry Truman, the president from 1945-53, is often credited with saying “if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
On the news about Sen. John McCain’s cancer.

He has the kind of brain cancer which is what killed Teddy Kennedy, Beau Biden (and my mother when she was 44). McCain's prognosis for life expediency depends on whether it has spread or not: 
"Primary glioblastoma is the most common. It starts out as a grade 4 tumor and is very aggressive.Secondary glioblastoma starts as a grade 2 or 3 tumor, which grow slower. Then it becomes grade 4. About 10% of glioblastomas are this type. They tend to happen when you're 45 or younger. “ WebMd  

Despite maximum treatment, the cancer usually recurs. The most common length of survival following diagnosis is 12 to 15 months with less than 3% to 5% of people surviving longer than five years. Without treatment survival is typically 3 months. It is the most common cancer that begins within the brain and the second most common brain tumor after meningioma.
About 3 per 100,000 people develop the disease a year. It most often begins around 64 years of age and occurs more commonly in males than females. Immunotherapy is being studied in glioblastoma with promising results.(Wikipedia)
I don’t see him returning to the Senate anytime soon, though he can choose to remain a Senator and make his voice heard from a distance. He can also attend Senate votes in person if he is able. As the Washington Post said: "McCain’s absence would also deprive the Senate of its moral conscience on many key issues, particularly in the ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign’s potential involvement in Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.”My hope and hunch is that McCain won’t resign, most because he’s a fighter. He also may want to keep Gov. Jan Brewer from appointing an arch conservative Trump supporter as his replacement. 
It’s possible that his role model for assuring his legacy in the face of a terminal disease is that of Teddy Kennedy whose dying days are described here.

After Diagnosis, Determined to Make a ‘Good Ending’

Obama’s Anger Translator Is Back With A Blunt Message For Trump

“Everyone of you all in the White House has lost your damn mind.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Chris Mathews just played this 1936 speech by FDR. The last line is a classic.

Excerpt: "You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can't see through that wall—so it could be a steel wall with openings because you have to see what's on the other side of the wall," the president explained. "And I'll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw over the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don't see them—they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It's over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.”

So this is the problem Trump envisions: You're hanging out on the border, being a regular good American, enjoying the solar panels in the middle of the desert, or whatever, and some drug trafficker catapults (this part is real; ) a big bag of coke over the wall. You're dead! If only you could have looked through the wall! Oh well.

It's important to note that even in this insane fantasy, transparent border walls would not save you. What if the catapult was really far away? Or what if you were looking at your phone?

There are a lot of valid arguments to be made about why Trump is completely unfit for the presidency. But the most alarming one is that he really seems to have no idea about what's going on in the world. According to him, , Barack Obama has a mysterious past, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a "war zone," Obama wiretapped him, and he won the popular vote.

Trump could be lying about all these things, of course, but regardless of whether he's espousing his actual beliefs, what he says is still completely moronic. The more likely scenario is that Trump really believes most or all of these "facts," and is going around thinking about the dangers of opaque walls and ISIS hotels. It would be funny, except he's the president.  From VICE

He was an athlete, not now. 

All this scrutiny might seem like body shaming if it weren’t for Trump’s own obsession with appearances. This is a man, who at 71, has not lost his appetite for a good slap at someone else’s looks, whether it’s Marco Rubio’s stature, Mika Brzezinski’s chin-tweak, Kim Kardashian’s baby weight or the girth of one of his beauty-pageant winners. Only last week, he broke diplomatic protocol to tell Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, “You’re in such good shape … beautiful.”
“Here’s a guy who is constantly appraising other people and using that as a measure of social worth, but not taking care of himself,” Trump biographer Tim O’Brien told me. “That’s a revealing thing; there’s a little bit of self-loathing here.” Added O’Donnell: “You see the side-by-side pictures of presidents from the beginning of their terms to the end. They age, their hair turns gray. Think of what he’s going to look like.”
Donald Trump was once an athlete, a star first baseman, in fact. In high school at the New York Military Academy, he was, according to his coach, talented enough to be drafted. But Trump headed off to Fordham instead of pursuing a pro career because, as he put it, “there was no money in it.” At Fordham, he tried out for the football team as a punter, but quit after suffering an ankle injury and settled for a spot on the squash team (he later transferred to Penn). And despite his athletic background, Trump received a medical deferral from the Vietnam War for bone spurs in 1968.

DuckDuckGo news search is better than Google News when you search merely two words: Trump & unfit; check it out.

Monday, July 17, 2017
From the NYT Sunday Magazine (scroll left and right for full image)
Here’s a very good article about David Brook’s OpEd about Trump being an infantalist.

Do Trump’s Tweets show a continued mental deterioration? You be the judge.
"Trying to make lemonade out of lemons, President Donald Trump used Twitter Sunday morning to hype up a poll that showed him at a record-low 36 percent approval rate.
While most presidents might prefer to avoid bad numbers like that, Trump seemed to be quite pleased as his administration lurches from scandal to scandal with no real policy triumphs to show after six months in office.
Showing a flare for math, Trump also rounded his 36 percent approval rate up to 40 percent, writing: “The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40% is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!” Alternet

Sunday, July 16, 2017
Annals of Legal Mumbo-Jumbo:

In Interview, Trump Lawyer Jay Sekulow, blames the Secret Service

According to two sources familiar with Secret Service protocols, the lawyer’s characterization of the agency is misleading…. duh, they only screen for weapons not subversives.



In his interview with ABC White House reporter Jon Karl on Saturday, Sekulow, a longtime Trump ally and a member of his personal legal team, asserted that if Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin were such concerning figures, the Secret Service should have prevented them from entering Trump Tower. Sekulow made several misleading statements, according to current and former Secret Service officials who spoke to HuffPost.
KARL: But do you accept what we heard from the president’s pick to run the FBI, that what should’ve happened there, you know, a situation where you have representatives of a foreign government offering assistance to ― in an election, that what should’ve happened is that the FBI should’ve been notified?
SEKULOW: Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.

Donald Trump is a total love god — at least to his supporters. How does the left fight that?

Excerpt: The average American is not politically sophisticated. Moreover, Americans in general do not have high levels of engagement with or interest in politics and public policy. The average American also reasons backwards from conclusions he or she has already made about political matters, in essence selectively finding and processing information to justify decisions. Many Americans are also “siloed”: they self-select into groups and communities of like-minded people. This echo-chamber effect is especially pronounced among American conservatives and right-leaning independents.
Donald Trump and the Republican Party have mastered the use of white racism, white victimology and white grievance-mongering to win elections and shape public policy. Trump simply amplified the Republican Party’s “dog whistles” into an air raid siren. Republican voters are trained to follow its beckoning. 
There is an additional explanation for the slavish devotion shown by Trump’s followers toward their Great Leader that is often overlooked by more traditional types of political analysis. Trump’s followers may actually be in love with him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On the Messy Psychology of Trumpism: Deception, the Right, and Neoliberal Trauma

By Jeff Shantz
In fascism, the monsters of childhood come true.
– Theodor Adorno

Rumors swirling around Washington
that Kushner outed Donald Jr. to
divert attention from himself. LINK
EXCERPT: Trump is an agitator rather than an insurrectionist. The agitator focuses on groups who can be targeted. The agitator does not want followers to think too much.
There is an attempt to individualize the mob in the form of the figure. The figure will tolerate reality for them. What they cannot tolerate, the figure can and will.  He speaks to discreet self-identified groups who identify in terms of losers (in trade, globalization, internationalism, metropolitanism, etc.) but not as classes. Agitation uses emotional tools to reinforce the power structure. The agitator differs from revolutionaries and reformers.
Trump is an over-inflated narcissist. He appears, on surface, to have none of the insecurities his followers are trying to escape. He is the mirror they look into and wish to see themselves. He is appealing to people who otherwise feel powerless. Secondary narcissism stimulates feelings of belonging and loss. Trump, unlike his followers, exhibits no self-questioning, no self-doubt. This is a great relief to his supporters. He is shameless, he has no shame. Refusal to feel shame is a guide to people. Trump expresses a politics of shame and a politics of repugnance.
Fascism promises certainties. It promises a return to more easily understood or familiar conditions for sectors of the population who feel threatened with loss of standing or position (these are often middle strata groups that feel economically insecure or threatened with decline rather than the poor).
Regular folks who support Trump (even as he represents elite interests) can see Trumpism as making the country great again while they are largely able to continue on with their lives. It does not ask much of them but promises much (even if it never delivers on those specific promises). The imagined community or imaginary love of a powerful leader emerges as an outlet for repressed drives even if the program is not realized. Charismatic nationalism offers narcissistic gratification and an outlet for repressed drives against the externalized other.

Joy Reid, No. 1 (Video)

Joy Reid  No. 2 - Essay


So This Is What American Greatness Really Looks Like?

Another week of new low after new low. If this is what making America great looks like, God help us when it arrives.

This week, Garry Kasparov, former Russian chess champion and perennial critic of Vladimir Putintweeted about what autocrats do when caught: “1: Deny, lie, slander accusers. 2: Say it was a misunderstanding. 3. Boast and say ‘What are you going to do about it?’” CONTINUED

The Projection President The Atlantic

Months into his tenure, Trump still responds to controversies by lobbing the same charges at his opponents.

Fri. July 14, 2017

Once a  Russian Spy Always a Russian Spy - Does anybody with any sense believe there’s any such thing as a former Russian counter-intelligence officer?
Click divider images to enlarge

Thurs. July 13, 2017
This was the lead story n Rachel Maddow: 

Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Threatens Stranger in Emails: ‘Watch Your Back , Bitch’

After hearing Rachel Maddow discuss our recent story about Kasowitz, a man emailed the attorney urging him to resign. Kasowitz responded with threats and profanity.

Junior makes his first Time cover.

The main (cringeworthy) comment to come from Trump in Paris, to Mrs. Macron: 

"You're in such good shape, beautiful.” Video

Online critics of sexist woman objectifying Trump are coming up with responses they wish Brigitte Macron had made. Here’s my contribution: "Votre femme est aussi adorable, si sexy et à la mode, elle pourrait être un modèle ou une escorte."

Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? Part 2 - 5 Professors of Psychiatry Say Donald Trump is “unraveling” and Call on Congress “to remove him from office” HuffPost

The letter:

To Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives:

Since the election of 2016, each of us has warned against President Trump’s alarming psychological instability, which has been apparent in his repeated failures to distinguish between reality and fantasy and his erratic responses to stress and crisis. We were also concerned about his tendency to become enraged at the slightest criticism. 

The signs of the president’s unraveling are stark, and they are contributing to his inability to govern: his failure to guard against hacking of our elections and related threats to national security, his decimation of the State Department and other vital government agencies, his irrational, unilateral withdrawal from the world’s commitment to prevent catastrophic climate change, his intemperate exploitation of the presidency to enrich himself and his family, his unremitting threats against a free press, his vitriolic verbal assaults against anyone (especially any woman) who questions his actions or state of mind, and his imposition of false narratives whenever the truth casts him in a bad light.

The power of the presidency has accentuated Mr. Trump’s failings with devastating effects. His psychological isolation – including his tenuous relationship to reality – has led to the dangerous isolation of the United States from the rest of the world.

Our Constitution has provisions for removing any president who is unable to discharge the duties of office. For the sake of our country and the world, we urge our elected representatives to summon their courage so that lawful steps can be taken to end the Trump presidency.

  • Judith L. Herman, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., Professor Emeritus, CUNY, and Lecturer in Psychiatry, Columbia University
  • Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco (1988-2011)
  • Dee Mosbacher, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Community Health Systems, University of California, San Francisco (2005-2013)
  • Bandy X. Lee, M.D., M.Div., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine.

On MSNBC: "Why is the president of France waiting around for this amount of time for the president of the United State to arrive.” Trump is at the American Embassy. My thoughts exactly. Another power move by Trump. And, take a look at those 80 horses.
Not to be outdone: Walking into the museum Trump puts his hand on Macron’s back briefly, seconds later Macron puts his hand on Trump’s back and taps him two or three times.  

FYI: I’ve changed day by day page dividers to photos I’ve taken.

Weds. July 12, 2017
Excerpt: Let me make a statement that on its face seems farfetched but on closer inspection is the godawful truth: Donald Trump remains secure as president because Republicans have normalized his craziness in their own minds and would like you and I to do the same although the assault on American democracy by he and his family is beyond the pale.

The question of whether Trump is mentally ill is such well trod ground by now that the answer is beyond obvious. Of course he is. What may be less obvious, especially to the Make America Great sycophancy, is the reality that the pathologies that make him so dangerously unsuitable to be president — chief among them a malignant narcissism and inability to separate reality from fantasy — are manifestations of that craziness.

Trying to normalize Trump’s aberrant behavior has become something of a cottage industry, sometimes even among pundits and reporters who should know better, and nowhere more so than portraying his tweeting as merely pushbacks from a fighter who dishes out more than he gets as opposed to what they really are: Windows into a manifestly sick soul. Continued

All Andy needed was the title, but here’s an excerpt:

Even though he anticipates “just terrific” ratings for his impeachment, Trump said that he did not expect the media to provide an honest accounting of his audience size.

“They’re going to lie and say that a lot of people who watched my impeachment didn’t watch, and that’s going to be very bad and unfair, but it’s not going to change the fact that my impeachment will be a great impeachment, a really beautiful impeachment,” he said.
Just an observation:
The Daily Kos.reader comments on this are interesting.

A new perspective from Ireland:

Trump: Philosopher Mogul

Failed ideas and premonitions from Marcuse, Kant, Plato and Nietzche find a tremendous home 

A group of United States mental health professionals has expressed concern about the mental health of Donald Trump. Psychologist Dr John Gartner said: “We do believe that Donald Trump’s mental illness is putting the entire country, and indeed the entire world, in danger. As health professionals we have an ethical duty to warn the public about that danger”.

But what about duty to warn about his philosophy? Let us imagine that four famous dead philosophers, Herbert Marcuse, David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Plato, have been resurrected, and applied themselves to Trump. More unlikely, let’s pretend Trump opens himself to his philosophical side.


A group of United States mental health professionals has expressed concern about the mental health of Donald Trump. Psychologist Dr John Gartner said: “We do believe that Donald Trump’s mental illness is putting the entire country, and indeed the entire world, in danger. As health professionals we have an ethical duty to warn the public about that danger”.

But what about duty to warn about his philosophy? Let us imagine that four famous dead philosophers, Herbert Marcuse, David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Plato, have been resurrected, and applied themselves to Trump. More unlikely, let’s pretend Trump opens himself to his philosophical side.

Herbert Marcuse is very, very worried

In his famous 1960s book ‘One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society’, Herbert Marcuse described the Happy Consciousness, the amoral product of the technocratic age, in which “guilt feeling has no place”. A person with such a deficiency, Marcuse says, “can give the signal that liquidates hundreds and thousands of people, then declare himself free from all pangs of conscience, and live happily ever after”. Trump, No?

David Hume warns not only about Trump, but his followers too

David Hume, the apostle of scepticism, might also have something to say about Trump’s dangerous personality cult. In Hume’s essay ‘That Politics may be reduced to a Science’, citing the political vagaries of humanity, he declared “should be sorry to think that human affairs admit of no greater stability, than what they receive from the … characters of men”. In other words, Hume as a professional historian, would declaim the folly of Trump thinking that only he – just one leader – could fix America’s problems – an assertion that history tends to mock. And being an astute moralist, and observer of human nature, Hume would also have questioned why Trump’s followers were gullible enough to be fooled by overbearing bombast into heralding him as the master problem solver.

Kant: Donald Trump is my worst nightmare

Immanuel Kant would have been disgusted by Donald Trump, appreciating in him the philosopher’s worse nightmares. For Kant integrity, honesty and consistency were everything. Trump would be akin to a philosophical pornographic website (we assume that our reborn Kant is up-to-the-minute).
Kant had a dim view of an exclusive focus on sex. In his lectures “Duties towards the Body in Respect of Sexual Impulses”, he notes:
“Sexual love makes of the loved person an object of appetite; as soon as that appetite has been stilled, the person is cast aside as one casts away a lemon which has been sucked dry… Taken by itself it is a degradation of human nature…”.
Donald Trump, of course, engaged, as Kant would now be aware, in just such degradation: from beauty-contest-sponsorship to casual sexism and alleged real-life gropings. Kant might agree with Michael Moore, who noted that this predation explain why Trump rejects global climate treaties. Sexual predation against women and corporate predation against the environment are part of the same amoral game, which he characterizes as “crimes against humanity”.

Plato: how democracy evolves from oligarchy and into fascism

Plato steps in to remind us that he warned us in his Dialogues what would happen in a society that overvalued wealth, when its oligarchic rulers were unable to wield their power effectively. The people would first replace it with democracy but then, in an over-zealous pursuit of freedom to the extent of subverting democracy elect someone who played on their wishes, resulting in mob rule and/or tyranny. Plato would cite in evidence the “Make America Great Again” concept, wall-building and xenophobia.

Then the rest of classical philosophy jumps on the wagon

Of course cynical Machiavelli would find in Trump a soul-mate, with ethics suspended in the interest of means that justify the end. The Old Testament would provide backing for much of Trump’s unsubtle Schopenhauer pessimism and apocalypiticism (which may explain why some religious evangelicals surprisingly support him). In Hobbes, with his depressing view of humanity and life, Trump may find his champion: the problems of political life mean that a society should accept an unaccountable sovereign as its sole political authority.

But the most real prediction of Trump comes from Nietzsche. Nietzsche was particularly hostile to ‘Losers’ and would have appreciated Trump’s contempt as well as his perception of himself as a sort of ‘Superman’, buy act and birth. Trump and Nietzsche agree to promote the master morality over the slave morality. With the death of God, comes the loss of any universal perspective, of any coherent sense of objective truth. In ‘Daybreak ‘Nietzsche began a “Campaign against Morality”, identifying himself as an “immoralist. In Beyond Good and Evil, Trump finds justification for his view that evil is not the opposite of good. It impels his disdain for humanism. And Nietzsche grounds Trump’s sense of an Übermensch, of the superiority of the American, whose country he wants to make great again.
Trump agrees this philosophy stuff is for winners, and they hold a colourful party in one of his weekend retreats. The while history awaits the renewal of its worst mistakes.
By Thomas White

Do you know who Gob Bluth is? I didn’t. Now I do. If you’re an Arrested Development fan you already know.

As the hapless Don Jr. — the Gob Bluth or Fredo Corleone of a family conspicuously short on Michaels — protested in his own defense, the Russian rendezvous we know about came before (though only slightly before) the WikiLeaks haul was announced. So the Trump team presumably assumed that it involved some other Hillary-related dirt — some of the missing Clinton server emails that Trump himself jokingly (“jokingly”?) urged Russian hackers to conjure and release, or direct evidence of Clinton Foundation corruption in its Russian relationships. 

On drive from Boston to Portland using timer on my Nikon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
NBC News Exclusive

Russian Lawyer Who Met With Trump Jr.: I Didn’t Have Clinton Info They Wanted (video)


When asked how Trump Jr. seemed to have the impression that she had information about the Democratic National Committee, she responded: 
“It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted.” 
Trump Jr. has confirmed that the meeting occurred, saying in a statement to The New York Times that he attended "a short introductory meeting" with the lawyer, where the topic of conversation was primarily about adoption. 
On Monday, Trump Jr. seemed to confirm that he had been offered information about Hillary or her campaign but insisted that nothing untoward in the meeting had occurred. 
“Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent... went nowhere but had to listen,” he tweeted, seemingly sarcastic.

America hits peak anti-intellectualism: Majority of Republicans now think college is bad 

Republicans say no to college: It's the only institution viewed in more sharply partisan terms than the media… EXCERPT: Has America hit peak anti-intellectualism? 

Aside from the election of Donald Trump, a businessman born into wealth whose only notable expertise is in reality television, there is now more evidence that the right-wing’s long game of denigrating U.S. institutions to reshape political discourse is succeeding. A new Pew Research Center poll released on Monday revealed that there is one U.S. institution perceived through a larger partisan divide than even the media: It’s college. 
For the first time, a majority of Republicans think that colleges and universities have a negative impact on the country. Fifty-eight percent say that colleges “are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country,” according to Pew. In other words, the Wall Street banks are more popular with Republican voters than Stanford, Harvard or the University of Akron.

The light at the end of a tunnel 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Too clever, too true:

Sub-context. If the meeting was really about adoptions (which is wasn’t), this isn’t a a touchy-feely story for the Kremlin:


President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. initially defended his meetingwith a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign by saying that it was primarily about adoption — a seemingly innocent humanitarian issue.
Reinstating American adoptions of Russian orphans certainly seems like a far less serious matter than a meeting about, say, the removal of United States sanctions on certain Russian officials.
But from the Russian perspective, whether the younger Mr. Trump and his associates knew it at the time or not, the issues of adoptions and sanctions are so inextricably linked as to be practically synonymous. (Mr. Trump said in a later statement that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had also promised to give him compromising information about Hillary Clinton.)

Understanding the connections between adoptions and sanctions offers a lens into the worldview and foreign policy goals of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and into how even a meeting that really did focus primarily on adoption would also have been about much more.
What connects the two issues? Leverage.
It might not seem obvious what sanctions have to do with American parents’ adoptions of Russian children, which is the topic that the younger Mr. Trump initially said Ms. Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss. Their connection comes down to one word: leverage.
The context is the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 American law that freezes the assets held in the United States by Russian officials responsible for human rights abuses. The law also bars these officials from receiving American visas. It was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a young Russian lawyer who died in pretrial detention after exposing a $230 million tax-theft scam perpetrated by Russian officials.
To the law’s backers, the Magnitsky Act was a way to strike a blow for justice. But to Mr. Putin, it seemed like an intolerable attack by the United States government against the stability of his own presidency.
Mr. Putin, though powerful, depends on the support of a small circle of powerful elites, in and out of government, who both keep him in power and help him enforce his will. In exchange, Mr. Putin sees that they are taken care of. The Magnitsky Act, by sanctioning some of those elites, sent a message that Mr. Putin might not be able to uphold his end of the bargain. CONTINUED
This is important:

Why three White House advisers might have wanted to leak a fuller account of Donald Trump Jr.’s Russian lawyer meeting.


Roger CohenNew York Times: Donald Trump is a thug. He’s a thug who talks gibberish, and lies, and cheats, and has issues, to put it mildly, with women. He’s lazy and limited and he has an attention span of a nanosecond. He’s a "gene believer" who thinks he has "great genes" and considers the German blood, of which he is proud, "great stuff." Mexicans and Muslims, by contrast, don’t make the cut.  He’s managed to bring penis size and menstrual cycles and the eating habits of a former Miss Universe into the debate for the highest office in the land. 

Michael Arceneaux, The RootY’all’s president is one vacationing-ass bitch. It hasn’t even been a smooth full month into Tropicana Jong-il’s four-year term (insert laugh track here), and the man has taken every weekend off. To his credit, much like his racism, his xenophobia, his sexism, his narcissism, his creepy obsession with his daughter and his insecurities….

ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann, as described by Bronte Coy at News.com.au“It’s the unscripted Trump that’s real: a man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as President at war with the West’s institutions like the judiciary, independent government agencies, and the free press. Mr. Trump is a man who craves power because it burnishes his celebrity. To be constantly talking and talked about is all that really matters... and there is no value placed on the meaning of words, so what is said one day can be discarded the next.”

Rosa Brooks, Foreign Policy:  “….ethical concerns about the treatment of animals prevent us from literally installing a blindfolded monkey in the White House. With Donald Trump making decisions, however, we’ve got the next best thing."

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, in his foreword to Mark Singer’s 2016 book, Trump and MeThis was a gentleman who went on the radio to say of his former wife, “Nice tits, no brains.” His vulgarity was unstoppable and without limit. 

Paul Wood, The Spectator"The White House is not a happy place." Television images show Trump getting to the lectern in the West Wing to make an announcement, then forgetting to make it and walking out; Trump’s critics paint a picture of the President as rambling, confused, irritable and prone to tantrums: the madness of King Donald.

Me playing pickleball

Sunday, July, 9, 2017
Preview of what I expect will be the lead story on MSNBC tomorrow:


Is Donald Trump Jr.’s Meeting the First Hard Evidence of Collusion With Russia?

The president’s son admits a Kremlin-aligned lawyer offered dirt on Hillary Clinton last year, and he reportedly took the meeting with the offer in mind.

Now there appears to be some evidence supporting the thrust of the allegation.

In a scathing review of Donald Trump’s performance at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Australian journalist Chris Uhlmann says the US president managed to ‘isolate his nation, confuse and alienate his allies and to diminish America’. Speaking on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Insiders program, Uhlmann does not hold back his criticism of Trump, stating ‘we’ve also learned he has no desire and no capacity to lead the world’. He goes on to say Trump has diminished America and the world would miss it when it was gone

How Marco Rubio and other
Republicans use passages from
 the Bible, by Joel Baden,professor
 of Hebrew Bible at Yale
Divinity School. 

Quote: In the movie version, they would have talked for a few minutes and then found an excuse to dismiss their foreign ministers and interpreters. At long last, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump would be alone and in private. Putin would look the American up and down, as proud as a father gazing upon his grown son. “We did it,” Putin might say softly, almost to himself. “We actually did it.”

Trump would reply, “It’s your greatest achievement, sir. I am your greatest achievement.” But the time for self-congratulation would be short. Their aides would be back soon. Hurriedly, Putin would give Agent Trump his next set of instructions, then hand him the state-of-the-art microdot camera he would need to photograph the most sensitive documents passing his desk in the Oval Office. Glancing towards the door, Putin would whisper: “Everything you’re doing – the crazy tweets, the attacks on the press – just keep doing it. Every day you’re in the White House, you’re making America weaker. Don’t stop.” From “Why Putin Loves Trump.”

Sat. July 8, 2017
This may be the biggest Trump slap in the face to the rest of the world:

You never know what will happen next with Trump.

Right: I find all the recent placebo studies fascinating and applicable to more than medicine.  Recent experiments show that in several conditions people improve even when they are told they are taking a placebo. If eating a kale based diet makes you feel good, fine. If homeopathic notions and lotions ease your pain, go for it. If your health care provider is an acupuncturist, chiropractor, naturopath, or alternative medicine doctor, remember, there are still lots of diseases that will sneak up kill you even while your brain is telling you that you feel better.
Russia’s foreign minister on Saturday defended his account of President Trump’s closed-door discussion with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
After the two presidents met Friday, Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Trump, after listening to Putin’s denial that he had overseen a hacking and disinformation campaign, had accepted those assurances and dismissed the U.S. investigation into Russian interference. Tillerson said at a separate news conference that Putin, along with the denials, had nonetheless agreed to bilateral talks to address preventing future interference in U.S. elections.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Lavrov, asked about the differing accounts Saturday, said only: “Trust Lavrov. I don’t work for Tillerson.” Washington Post