June 1, 2023

Does the GOP choice boil down to being between a psychopathic fascist or a sane one?

 By Hal Brown, MSW, Caricatures by DonkeyHotey

Click above to enlarge. 
The DoneyHotey caricatures show DeSantis looking sane
 and Trump looking more or less unhinged.

I use Creative Commons DonkeyHotey (pronounced Don Quixote) caricatures for many of my blogs. You can read more about him here and look at his website here.

Of course because I am one of the less acclaimed experts on Trump's psychopathology (scroll down to bottom of page for some of my articles), I was going to write about this Salon article which says what I've been writing about Trump since 2016:

Trials and triggers: Psychiatrists warn Trump's psychosis will grow "as he becomes more desperate"

The article is by Chauncey DeVaga, a Salon columnist who has written about Trump's psychopathology numerous times, and interviewed mental health professionals on the subject. He has, as far as I'm concerned, earned himself an honorary advanced degree in a clinical mental health profession.

His article begins with the Memorial Day Trump Truth Post:

I wrote about this post in "The malignant megalomaniac's Memorial Day message" here. Below is the DonkeyHotey caricature I superimposed over Trump's post for my illustration

In the current article, DeVega interviews two prominent psychoanalysts, Justin Frank and Lance Dodes, both of whom he has interviewed previously, and who have themselves published articles or books about Trump's dangerous psychopathology.

Here's the warning from Lance Dodes:

When a person has a chronic illness, we all know to expect recurrence of symptoms of that problem. Donald Trump is a permanent, chronic psychopath who has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to be empathic with other human beings, a frightening need to dominate, control and destroy others, an inability to tolerate criticism or accept any defeat, an utter disregard for facts and the truth, endless lying, and clear delusions, insisting things are true that are demonstrably and unquestionably false. As with other permanent conditions, these aspects of his psychopathic personality will not change.

Trump's behavior is worse now but that's only because we're seeing a peeling away of his façade as he becomes more desperate; his actions and speech will continue to show more of what he really is. He's already saying he will call out the National Guard to suppress dissent, as dictators have done forever, and it would be no surprise if eventually, like Saddam Hussein when he was finally put on trial, he shouts that he is the one true ruler and any effort to hold him accountable is illegal and immoral.

Unfortunately, nations being taken over by psychopathic dictators is common in human history. It happened in Germany, in Iraq, in Russia, and for centuries earlier all over the globe. It could certainly happen to us unless enough people recognize that Trump is psychologically just another Hitler, Stalin, Saddam or the other malignant tyrants throughout history.

It is important to consider, as DeVega does in the conclusion to his article, the following points, with my bold added for emphasis:

  • The picture is clear: As the 2024 presidential campaign begins in earnest, Donald Trump will become more dangerous, violent, threatening, unhinged, and his true horrible self, further unmasked and unleashed if such a thing is even possible.
  • Unfortunately, because of its horse race coverage and other failed norms and approaches to the news and politics in a time of democracy crisis and ascendant neofascism, the American news media will continue with its failed fixations on the "heroes" and "villains" and "winners and losers" of the week, month, and election cycle. In practice, this means that the American mainstream news media will desperately try to find a "normal" Republican character to juxtapose with Donald Trump's increasing extremism and radical threats to American society and democracy.
  • As of now, the mainstream news media has decided that the more "reasonable" and "sane" and "traditional" Republican is Gov. Ron DeSantis. In reality, DeSantis is as least if not more dangerous than Donald Trump. Both are neofascists who want to destroy America's multiracial pluralistic society. The choice between them is a false one because the outcome will be the same: the American people will be made to suffer even more as the fascist fever dream nightmare and its culture of cruelty takes hold even more and threatens to become permanent.

As national candidates there are two opposite personality rather than policy factors which would make it difficult for Trump and DeSantis to defeat President Biden. 

  1. Trump is crazy
  2. DeSantis is boring

While Trump and others want to depict President Biden as doddering and dull he is really anything but. His embracing the moniker Dark Bandon really reflects who he is. Read NPR article.

I think Biden in his Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, the same glasses Tom Cruise wears in his Top Gun movies, makes him look like the badass he is.

With Trump it is what is described in the DeVega article. He is, to use colloquial terms, unhinged, unmoored from reality, and a tantrum throwing toddler. He is more likely to behave in increasingly abnormal ways as the primary season progresses. If this happens it will gradually lead some of his current supporters to see DeSantis as less risky choice fearing Trump will decompensate even more especially if he feels he is losing what he thought was his iron grip on the nomination. 

DeSantis will pounce of this weakness and try to out-Trump by adopting a vicious manic style of grandiose narcissism and braggadocio. He is well aware that Trump is a showman adept at riling up his cult with what passes for performance art.

DeSantis knows he comes across and stiff and unlikable. I predict he won't bother trying to change this because he knows that while personally boring his war on woke is the most exciting thing he has to offer. 


In the psychological weeds, explaining sociopath and psychopath, the two words often used to describe Trump and DeSantis.

The current official diagnosis for those who used to be called sociopaths and psychopaths, and still are by most people, is anti-social personality disorder. In common usage psychopath is used to describe someone worse, more brutal, than a sociopath. The current definition of antisocial personality disorder is as follows. I put a T for Trump and a D for DeSantis after the deceptions I think are applicable to each off them.

  • Clinical criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersFifth Edition [DSM-5])

For a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, patients must have

  • A persistent disregard for the rights of others (T and D)

This disregard is shown by the presence of  3 of the following:

  • Disregarding the law, indicated by repeatedly committing acts that are grounds for arrest (T)

  • Being deceitful, indicated by lying repeatedly, using aliases, or conning others for personal gain or pleasure (T)

  • Acting impulsively or not planning ahead (T is impulsive)

  • Being easily provoked or aggressive, indicated by constantly getting into physical fights or assaulting others (With T using verbal aggression)

  • Recklessly disregarding their safety or the safety of others (T and D)

  • Consistently acting irresponsibly, indicated by quitting a job with no plans for another one or not paying bills (T not paying bills)

  • Not feeling remorse, indicated by indifference to or rationalization of hurting or mistreating others (T and D)

Also, patients must have evidence that a conduct disorder has been present before age 15 years. Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed only in people  18 years.

Patients with antisocial personality disorder may express their disregard for others and for the law by destroying property, harassing others (T, in writing and verbally), or stealing. They may deceive, exploit, con, or manipulate people to get what they want (eg, money, power, sex). (T) They may use an alias. (T did this)

These patients are impulsive, (T) not planning ahead and not considering the consequences for or the safety of self or others. As a result, they may suddenly change jobs, homes, or relationships (T with marriages and affairs). They may speed when driving and drive while intoxicated, sometimes leading to crashes. They may consume excessive amounts of alcohol or take illegal drugs that may have harmful effects.

Patients with antisocial personality disorder are socially and financially irresponsible. They may change jobs with no plan for getting another. They may not seek employment when opportunities are available. They may not pay their bills, default on loans, (T) or not pay child support.

These patients are often easily provoked and physically aggressive; they may start fights or abuse their spouse or partner. In sexual relationships, they may be irresponsible and exploit their partner and be unable to remain monogamous. (T)

Remorse for actions is lacking. (T and D) Patients with antisocial personality disorder may rationalize their actions by blaming those they hurt (eg, they deserved it) or the way life is (eg, unfair). (T) They are determined not to be pushed around and to do what they think is best for themselves at any cost. (T)

These patients lack empathy for others and may be contemptuous of or indifferent to the feelings, rights, and suffering of others. (T and D)

Patients with antisocial personality disorder tend to have a high opinion of themselves and may be very opinionated, self-assured, or arrogant. (More T, but to a lesser extent D)  They may be charming, voluble, and verbally facile in their efforts to get what they want. (T)

You can see that Trump meets the criteria more than DeSantis does.


Click images to read a sample of articles I published from Capitol Hill Blue (list) where I was a columnist, from Daily Kos where I was a community poster (list of some 1700 posts not all about Trump), and from my own blog.

Daily Kos, June 16, 2020

May 31, 2023

Mirror mirror the wall who has the most charisma of them all, Christie or Trump?

 By Hal Brown

Chris Christie scores a knockout against Trump out when it comes to having entertainment value by himself and pitted against Trump it will be a Thrilla in Manila with Chris as Ali and Donald as Joe Frazier. Trump will probably win the primary but Christie will make the race exciting.

The expected formal announcement from Chris Christie that he will run for the GOP nomination has been discussed on MSNBC today (below) and elsewhere in the media (here).

Click to enlarge

All of the other announced or potential GOP candidates are treating Trump with kid gloves. It's become a cliche to say they treat him like Voldemort, he whose name must never be uttered. To use this comparison, Christie hopes to be Harry Potter. Fans know whose wizardry ultimately prevailed in the battle between good and evil.

Both Donald Trump and Chris Christie are larger than life. I mean this figuratively, not literally although Christie, who revealed in 2013 that he secretly underwent lap-band surgery for the sake of his wife and kids, if Trump feels threatened by his candidacy will bear the brunt of Trump's bullyish jabs about his being overweight. Trump might call him "corpulent Christie" although corpulent isn't a commonly used word and Trump isn't exactly svelte himself. More likely Trump will just call him fatso.

Although like everyone I know I find it difficult to grasp why so many people think Trump is charismatic. On the other hand in his own unique way I do think Christi is charismatic although outside of New Jersey where he was elected governor twice by decent if not overwhelming margins I am not sure people in the rest of the country find him as engaging as New Jerseyites.

Charisma is defined as a personal quality, evident in the way an individual communicates to others, that makes someone more influential. This power to attract attention and influence people can be embodied in the way someone speaks, what someone says, and how someone looks when communicating. Reference.

Trump is a showman. More than anyone else running to be, or rumor to be considering running, for the GOP nomination Christi is a showman. Like Trump, he is quick with the quip. He thinks on his feet. He is animated. Using boxing as a metaphor, Trump is Mike Tyson and Christie is Muhammad Ali. Trump wouldn't hesitate to bite an opponent's ear, Christie for all his heft would float like a butterfly and make every jab sting like a bee. 

There was a time not long ago when Christie didn't show any signs of taking on Trump, let alone taking him on aggressively. For example consider this from an August, 2022 Salon article describing him as a lapdog for Trump in 2016:

How Chris Christie's 2016 "lock her up" speech fueled Trump's rise — and brought us here

Former New Jersey governor may want distance from Trump now — but he was happy to be Trump's 2016 attack dog

Christie has not only wanted to be president since he realized that it might be possible.  In 2012 he ran in the GOP primary. He has also opportunistically played the long game by attached himself Trump because he thought this would benefit him down the road.

Christie is a veteran of down and dirty New Jersey politics. His Bridgegate scandal showed how far he'd go to punish those who crossed him. I'd consider his politics middle-conservative rather than far-right extremist. Rather than analyze them you can read them on Wikipedia.

For sheer entertainment I find Christie fun to watch. While he may not met the rules for being in the GOP primary debates because he won't poll high enough, if those in charge of deciding who makes the stage want a larger audience they will make sure Christie is there.

Not that many people would watch a cage match between a 900 pound gorilla and a bunch of capuchin monkeys. Put a second 900 pound gorilla in the cage and it would be must-see TV.

Wait a New York minute, Trump may have a case that his hush money trial should be moved to federal court

 By Hal Brown

I just read about this:

Click above to read article

Trump’s lawyers called District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution politically motivated and argued that the federal courts have so-called “protective jurisdiction” to prevent state hostility to a federal officer. This is a legal maneuver, but wait a New York minute, let's analyze this from an entirely different perspective. 

If Trump is correct in his belief about grabbing women, that is that if you're a star you can do it, or anything else that is illegal for that matter, then it stands to reason that if a president does it, he can do it too. Or, to quote Nixon, when a president does it, it's not illegal.  

From shooting someone on Fifth Avenue to sexually assaulting women, to the comparatively minor crime of paying hush money to someone who could upset your political aspirations if they went public with what they knew, to making false and misleading financial statement to get better loan deals, Donald Trump believes that he is so far above the law that he'd need the Hubble telescope to even see where the law was.

Click images below to enlarge them

Let's remember that Richard "I'm not a crook" Nixon set a precedent for getting away with being a criminal.

Here's the famous phrase in context:

...because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got. 

Nixon was saying he legally earned everything he had. Today Trump is not only facing charges that he tried to steal an election and stole documents, but that in the New York civil case that the Trump organization basically stole money.

Thanks to Gerald Ford, Nixon never was tried and convicted, let alone indicted for Watergate.

Not that Geraldo Rivera should be worth a thimble full of digital newsprint, but his proposal that Biden should pardon Trump was greeted by presidential laughter and Twitter mockery (read HUFFPOST article).

These are the most snarky tweets in the HUFFPOST article:

You can predict how Trump, the most psychoanalyzed world leader since Adolf Hitler, will react in given situations. On the one chance in a gazillion that Biden would issue a preemptive pardon for Trump I think we can speculate that Trump wouldn't accept it. 

It remains to be seen whether Trump will end up playing with his little putter in a prison yard, let alone be indicted and tried in criminal court for any felonies which carry a prison sentence. However if flop sweat had a stink to it I'd say that even if Trump was normal and not in narcissistic delusional denial being around him would be worse than being on the wrong end of a threatened skunk.



Does the GOP choice boil down to being between a psychopathic fascist or a sane one?

 By Hal Brown, MSW, Caricatures by DonkeyHotey Click above to enlarge.  The DoneyHotey caricatures show DeSantis looking sane  and Trump loo...