September 22, 2016

Sun, Sept. 25, 2016

Previous September Posts

All my Daily Kos diaries 

Monday, Sept. 26, 2016
Watch segment here

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016
Evening edition:\ Comments here

It seems like all of Trump’s critics write and talk about Trump being a pathological liar. We just can’t say this with any certainty.  In fact, if he was a pathological liar I think, were he not so deplorable in so many ways, we might just have some empathy for him.
Wait before you zoom down to the comments. Here’s why. “Pathology,” from the Latin “pathologia” is generally used to describe the causes and effects of disease. It can also be used to describe a mentalsocial, or linguistic abnormality or malfunction.  In other words, if that’s what Trump is, he’s sick. 
What then is the disease, abnormality, or malfunction that causes Trump’s incessant lying? We can say that he’s an inveterate or incorrigible liar.  We can even compare him to other public figures and say that he’d a world class liar


This morning I wrote about Trump and his lying from a psychological perspective in “Analyzing Trump’s Lies.”  There’s no particular reason to refer to it because I couldn’t draw any conclusions. After doing some research all I could come up with is that there’s no way of knowing why he lies. We don’t know whether he deliberately lies or believes his lies. Either way we have no way to discern whether his lies are an unabashed attempt to win, or an unconscious attempt to avoid psychological discomfort.  
I put a poll on that diary to see how readers came down on the deliberate vs. the delusional (so to speak). The results are on the right.
I wrote about how pathological lying was not currently a psychiatric diagnosis, and how it didn’t even fit into the symptoms of any other diagnosis. 
How can one deal with a politician about whose lies there is only one dispute: does he lie every 3 ½ minutes or every five minutes?  This is the topic all over the media. Should the debate moderators hold the candidates to a standard of truth telling? Should we rely on journalists and others to live Tweet fact checks. Should we count on the media to fact check after the debate? Or should we listen to Kellyanne Conway who said this evening on MSNBC that it wasn’t the job of journalists to fact check, leading one of the commentators to say something to the effect of “what does’t that make us, stenographers?”
What I’m left with is, as the King said in the immortal musical “The King and I:”


There are times I almost think 
Nobody sure of what he absolutely know. 
Everybody find confusion 
In conclusion he concluded long ago 
And it puzzle me to learn 
That tho' a man may be in doubt of what he know, 
Very quickly he will fight... 
He'll fight to prove that what he does not know is so! 
Oh-h-h-h-h-h Sometimes I think that people going mad! 
Ah-h-h-h-h-h! Sometimes I think that people not so bad! 
But not matter what I think I must go on living life. 
As leader of my kingdom I must go forth, 
Be father to my children and husband to each wife 
Etcetera, etcetera, and so forth. 
If my Lord in Heaven Buddha, show the way! 
Everyday I try to live another day. If my Lord in Heaven Buddha, show the way!
Everyday I do my best for one-more day!
[Spoken] But...Is a puzzlement!
Listen here.  Hopefully it will cheer you up if you’re stressed out over Trump.
Comments on Daily Kos
I ade this pic-toon this morning, thought about it, and came up with the following:
Another in my PSY-VU series, i.e. from a psychotherapist’s viewpoint.
Does Trump knowingly lie? Does he believe the lies he spins. Or, perhaps he wishes so hard that his lies are true that he believes them at the time he utters them. This is far more serious than the wishful thinking most people engage in. 
If he knowingly lies and feels not a twinge of guilt then he is engaging in a reprehensible behavior for which there is no excuse. He can’t even make the excuse that he lies because he suffers from anti-social personality disorder, because despite the fact that some have called him a sociopath, he isn’t. He has some traits of sociopathy, the guilt free lying for example while being charming, but that doesn’t support the diagnosis.
His lying seems may be a defense mechanism used to protect a fragile self-concept from truths that contradict what he wants to believe. 
I break down his lies into two rarely overlapping categories. The first doesn’t really impact on his fitness to be president. This are the lies of braggadocio: inflating his monetary worth, his business accomplishments, and so on. He has a lot of ego (self-image) invested in these lies as evidenced by how he lashes out at those who challenge him on them. For example, his war with fellow billionaire Mark Cuban.
The other lies are political. These are the lies reported on by many sources from the L.A. Times to Al Jazeera to the conservative National Review to websites from PolitFacts to Trump Lies.
These are the lies that should be judged as disqualifying for anyone holding the office of President of the United States. You know what they are.
What you or I can’t know is why he tell these lies. If you were hoping that I had some great psychological insight to this, I am sorry to disappoint you. I don’t. There’s nothing I can find in the psychiatric literature that helps explain Trump’s lying.
There’s no psychiatric diagnosis for this unless you count “trumpism”  which comes from psychologist William Doherty’s Citizen Therapist Manifesto: (my emphasis added)
What is Trumpism?
Trumpism is an ideology, not an individual, and it may well endure and grow after the Presidential election even if Donald Trump is defeated. (Variants can be seen all over Europe.) Trumpism is a set of ideas about public life and a set of public practices characterized by:
  • Scapegoating and banishing groups of people who are seen as threats, including immigrants and religious minorities.
  • Degrading, ridiculing, and demeaning rivals and critics.
  • Fostering a cult of the Strong Man who:
    • Appeals to fear and anger
    • Promises to solve our problems if we just trust in him
    • Reinvents history and has little concern for truth
    • Never apologizes or admits mistakes of consequence
    • Sees no need for rational persuasion
    • Subordinates women while claiming to idealize them
    • Disdains public institutions like the courts when they are not subservient
    • Champions national power over international law and respect for other nations
    • Incites and excuses public violence by supporters
Doherty claims this isn’t a diagnosis, something he refuses to speculate on publicly. In fact, this list of Trump’s characteristics is so extreme that it actually goes beyond the most common diagnosis which is being suggested applies to Trump by laymen and those professionals will to make an actual diagnosis, that of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)— 
But here’s the puzzlement. Does extreme narcissism really account for pathological lying? By now I expect most of you are familiar with the characteristics of NPD:
  1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
  2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
  4. Needing constant admiration from others
  5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  7. Unwilling to empathize with others' feelings, wishes, or needs
  8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  9. Pompous and arrogant demeanor
The closest to a mention of lying in the description of those with NPD is here: Associated symptoms: People with NPD tend to exaggerate their skills and accomplishments as well as their level of intimacy with people they consider to be high-status.…
Okay, then what about the whole pathological liar accusation? You may be surprised to know that there’s no psychiatric diagnosis for this. This is from Psychiatric Times, 2008. “Pathological Lying: Symptom or Disease?” by Charles C. Dike, MD, MPH, MRCPsych
Pathological lying (PL) is a controversial topic. There is, as yet, no consensus in the psychiatric community on its definition, although there is general agreement on its core elements. PL is characterized by a long history (maybe lifelong) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned. While ordinary lies are goal-directed and are told to obtain external benefit or to avoid punishment, pathological lies often appear purposeless. In some cases, they might be self-incriminating or damaging, which makes the behavior even more incomprehensible. Despite its relative obscurity, PL has been recognized and written about in the psychiatric literature for more than a century. The German physician, Anton Delbruck,1 is credited with being the first to describe the concept of PL. He observed that some of his patients told lies that were so abnormal and out of proportion that they deserved a special category. He sub-sequently described the lies as "pseu- dologia phantastica."
Isn’t it amazing that as recently as 2008 pathological lying was a controversial topic in the mental health field and there was no consensus as to whether it was a symptom or deserved a diagnostic category of its own?
According to Charles Dyke, here’s the controversy surrounding PL
The debate over the ability of pathological liars to recognize their lies as false has dogged this phenomenon for decades. Integral to the debate is the confusion emanating from questions about a pathological liar's ability to think logically. It has been observed that pathological liars believe their lies to the extent that the belief may be delusional. As a result, PL has been referred to as a "wish psychosis."1 Furthermore, PL has also been described as impulsive and unplanned.1 These observations have raised doubts about the pathological liar's ability to fully control his or her lying behavior. The relative purposelessness of the lies, including the intangible benefits of false accusations or self-incrimination, and the repetitive nature of the lies, despite negative consequences to the liar's reputation and livelihood, further encourage doubts about the liar's ability to control his behavior. On the other hand, it has been observed that vigorously and persistently challenging pathological liars may lead pathological liars to partially acknowledge their lies, an observation that suggests the presence of logical thinking. Such a presentation is consistent with a view of PL as a fantasy lie, a daydream communicated as reality, told solely for the liar's pleasure.
Although the fantasy lies may help the pathological liar escape from stress-ful life situations, or compensate for developmental traumas, there is evidence that individuals with PL show normal "guilty responses" when lying during a lie-detection test.7 It is perhaps an attempt at guilt reduction that motivates pathological liars to believe their lies, thereby creating a strange form of double bind.
The further observation that pathological liars usually have sound judgment in other matters and the observed association of PL with other criminal behavior in approximately half of the cases supports the notion of intact reality testing. The crimes associated with PL include theft, swindling, forgery, and plagiarism. It is worth noting, however, that some pathological liars are successful professionals without any public record of crime.
Now that I’ve explored what the mental health community thinks about Trump and about lying, unfortunately I can’t come up with an answer to my initial questions. My mind is boggled.
D-Day -1: Nothing to write about yet this morning except that I doubt there will be a “winner” in the debate, in that many people will have their minds changed because one candidate “won."

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
If you have a YaHoo! email account you’e already heard that there was a massive state sponsored hack, and have changed your email password to something like uT7&-hHH-r#-5-83-+~fuk-off. If you haven’t heard about this:
Yahoo Suspects Its Hack May Be State Sponsored, And Much Worse Than Originally Believed
"Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo's network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter," said Bob Lord, Yahoo's chief information security officer, in a statement on Thursday afternoon. 
The stolen account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and in some cases, according to Lord, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. 
The company is urging users to change their Yahoo password, and also to update their password and security questions if the same ones were used on any other accounts. NBC News


Now how an earth can this be a conspiracy?  
The answer can be summarized in one name: Michael Isikoff. He’s on “AM Joy” right now explaining the ties that Trump advisor Carter Page may have to Russian officials.


But U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News. That meeting, if confirmed, is viewed as especially problematic by U.S. officials because the Treasury Department in August 2014 named Sechin to a list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned over Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful actions in the Ukraine.” (The Treasury announcement described Sechin as “utterly loyal to Vladimir Putin — a key component to his current standing.” At their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page, the Western intelligence source said.
U.S. intelligence agencies have also received reports that Page met with another top Putin aide while in Moscow — Igor Diveykin. A former Russian security official, Diveykin now serves as deputy chief for internal policy and is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election, the Western intelligence source said.   Read YaHoo! News article
 Guess where Isikoff works. 
He’s the chief investigative correspondent at YaHoo! News.
Is this a co-incidence or a conspiracy? Is Russia trying to get into confidential Isikoff emails and covering it up with a massive hack? Or are they just trying to get revenge?
Seriously, here’s yet another piece of bad news for Trump. Take the hack out of the equation, it is the third “bombshell” in about a week. First we had the Newsweek cover story by Kurt Eichenwald, then Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold’s scoops about the Trump Foundation being a personal piggy bank for Trump. Then a still smoking bombshell, Eichenwald’s  reporting thet “Donald Trump committed perjury. Or he looked into the faces of the Republican faithful and knowingly lied. There is no third option.”…  

Friday, Sept. 23, 2016

The Many Times Donald Trump Has Lied About His Mob Connections

He apparently lied under oath to deny he associated with organized crime figures.

This is some serious shit:

I’ve watched the video many times. Unfortunately it cuts away at a crucial moment when it’s possible one of the two officers — the black one and the one in the red — could have dropped a gun. Also, there is a shadow which could obscure a gun in the first photo.

I don’t see a gun unless it’s in the shadow
The kneeling officer who was on the right gets up and walks around the Mr. Scott. Still don’t see a gun.

Seconds after the video cuts away there’s something on the ground later identified as a glove that was dropped and then picked up.

There’s a time gap here during which the police tape was put up and Mr. Scott’s trousers were pull down around his ankles. It’s possible the gun was under his pants, or was dropped there by the police. 

My psychotherapist co-conspirator, Dr. Howard Covitz, and I gave readers a chance to comment on how they are dealing with Trump stress yesterday.  Without getting deep into Freud-land and the various theories of humor, there is general consensus among sentient beings that humor is a great stress reducer. 

Part of New Yorker cartoon.

I saw the above photo of Trump (looking maniacal) and thought of a New Yorker humor essay by the estimable Calvin Trillin. It’s well worth a read. Here’s an excerpt:
People are asking—I shouldn’t be saying this, but a tremendous number of people are asking—why does Donald Trump always have on that floppy suit jacket? Why doesn’t he button it? Can he button it? Other candidates, when they visit a state fair, wear bluejeans and a work shirt. A work shirt. They want to show that they’re in good physical condition, because a President needs stamina. He has to be high energy. No work shirt for Doughboy Donald. He wears a floppy suit jacket and a baseball hat. What’s he hiding? And have you noticed that his neckties—wide neckties, really huge neckties, huge—come clear down to his belt buckle? How does that happen with a man who is six feet three? That’s all I’m asking. Is he malformed? Does he have a short upper body to go with the short fingers? Does he buy extra-long ties? Or are the neckties specially designed to hide the outlines of some stays around his midsection? I don’t know, but that’s what some people say. And why is his face that funny orange color? Could it be that he has to hold his breath because of a tight corset? I’m just passing along what some people are asking. These people don’t care whether a candidate is fat or thin. What they care about is whether or not they can trust the nuclear codes to a man who is deceptive about his own shape. From “A Trumpian Candidate on Trump’s Corset.”
I actually wondered about why Trump wore wide ties that were so long they folded onto his lap when he was sitting down, so now we have an answer.
We each have our own way to use humor when we write about Trump. Being a psychoanalyst, Howard has a style that some may find challenging, see for yourself in the diaries he moved over from a blog he calls “Nazi/Shmamzi…As long as Trump loves his mother” (us Jews can get away with some Nazi references). Howard posted his essays as diaries so they are now on Daily Kos.

Read more

As a frustrated cartoonist (one who wishes he could draw), I express my humor by captioning pictures like these. I call them pic-toons. 
We have our own wonderfully creative professional cartoonists here on Kos, Mark Fiore, Ruben Bolling, Matt Bors, Keef Knight, “Tom Tomorrow,” and others. I thought we could use this diary to lighten up and share our best jokes and cartoons about Trump. If you have an idea for a cartoon and can’t draw very well, scratch it out and take a photo of it.

Thurs. Sept. 22, 2016
Evening pic-toons by HB:
I took the top insert from a Daily Kos piece
I got the idea for the caption from Calvin Trilen’s New Yorker piece: 




No work shirt for Doughboy Donald. He wears a floppy suit jacket and a baseball hat. What’s he hiding?


People are asking—I shouldn’t be saying this, but a tremendous number of people are asking—why does Donald Trump always have on that floppy suit jacket? Why doesn’t he button it? Can he button it? Other candidates, when they visit a state fair, wear bluejeans and a work shirt. A work shirt. They want to show that they’re in good physical condition, because a President needs stamina. He has to be high energy. No work shirt for Doughboy Donald. He wears a floppy suit jacket and a baseball hat. What’s he hiding? And have you noticed that his neckties—wide neckties, really huge neckties, huge—come clear down to his belt buckle? How does that happen with a man who is six feet three? That’s all I’m asking. Is he malformed? Does he have a short upper body to go with the short fingers? Does he buy extra-long ties? Or are the neckties specially designed to hide the outlines of some stays around his midsection? I don’t know, but that’s what some people say. And why is his face that funny orange color? Could it be that he has to hold his breath because of a tight corset? I’m just passing along what some people are asking. These people don’t care whether a candidate is fat or thin. What they care about is whether or not they can trust the nuclear codes to a man who is deceptive about his own shape.  Continued
Daily Kos regularly uses this picture (without my captions) to illustrate stories.

How anxious or depressed are you over the prospect of Trump winning? Comment here.

Thanks to Daily Kos’ Hunter “Donald Trump: there’s a lack of spirit between the white the black.”  I couldn’t figure out what he meant by “spirit” until I realized he was referring to what he observes in his rally crowds. That’s when I thought of making the pic-toon below.

“It just seems that there’s a lack of spirit between the white and the black,” Trump said Thursday during a phone interview with “Fox and Friends.” “I mean, it’s a terrible thing that we’re witnessing. You’re seeing it. I'm seeing it, and you look at what went on last night in Charlotte — a great place — and you just see it.”
While I for one am doubtful of any conversation on race relations that begins and ends on Fox & Friends, let's see where this goes. All right, Donald, how do you propose we resolve this lack of spirit between the white and the black.

“Well, it really has to be — you have to have law and order at the time, you have to have, you know, you have to have a certain spirit, a certain unity, and there’s no unity,” Trump said. “You look at the level of hatred, the, you know, the rocks being thrown and everything happening. It’s so sad to see. You know, this is the United States of America. I mean, it’s so sad to see. But there’s just no unity. There has to be a unity message that has to get out, and it starts with leadership.”

Posted on Daily Kos, see comments

The results of the latest poll aren’t as big news as the breakdown. The numbers for now look good, but we all know how polls fluctuate.
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 6 points nationally, according to a new poll released Wednesday. Hillary Clinton has 43 percent support among likely voters, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found. Donald Trump is at 37 percent.

This is more important:

Fifty percent of Clinton supporters say they are voting affirmatively for Clinton, while 44 percent say they are backing her out of opposition to Trump.

In contrast, 51 percent of Trump's backers say their vote is primarily out of opposition to Clinton.

From The Hill

Here’s why.

Many of those who say they are backing Trump out of opposition to Clinton have a visceral dislike for her. It isn’t only the emails, they’d dislike her no matter what. Part of it is that she’s a woman who wants to assume a position they believe is only worthy of a man. Both men and women feel this both for overlapping and for distinct reasons. I won’t get into how women can be as misogynistic in their own way as men.

Here’s what’s important. Some of these voters dislike Trump too, and I believe just find Clinton off-putting because she can come across as medium cool (to take a phrase from the movie) and humorless. They don’t find her relatable, not they they find Trump more relatable. But they have a different standard for Trump because he’s a man.

They’d sit at a bar and (if he drank) have a beer with him, but never invite him to their table. They might say later “what an asshole that guy was."

We know that when Clinton shows her serious side it isn’t possible for her to be warm and fuzzy at the same time. Men can be serious and talk about serious issues and nobody cares that they furrow their brows. Hillary Clinton talks about grave matters and there are those who aren’t comfortable with her because, again, she’s a woman. It is entrenched sexism at play.

My thesis is that there are some who are open to abandoning Donald Trump, perhaps not many, but a significant enough number to add up to a landslide for Hillary Clinton. I suggest that there are more voters willing to change in the Trump camp than in the Clinton camp. 

This is because Trump is a foul potion to all those who aren't disciples. These are voters who would never want their daughters to marry someone like him. These people are mostly Republicans who wish they could have been able to support one of the other 16 Republicans from the primary, and would have voted for a Democrat like Bernie but for their negative feelings for Hillary Clinton.

The 44% of Hillary voters who say they are voting for her because of opposition to Trump are sometimes called the nose-holders (a horrible term), though that’s not fair to people who just disagree with lots of her policies but know Trump would be a disaster. Count George H. W. Bush among them. Some of them are the more avid of the Bernie supporters. All in all, this is a solid group and no changes in Trump’s behavior will sway them. They are, even with reservations, all in for Clinton

This next part is crucial.

The thankfully larger group of 51% of Trump backers who say they are voting for her in opposition to Clinton I see as being willing to change their minds between now and the election. 

There are things Clinton can’t control, like terrorist attacks which Trump has and will exploit. No doubt he is hoping there’s an attack in the United States attributable to an immigrant. This would hurt Clinton. There’s nothing Clinton can do to prevent this although she needs to have her response ready.

However there are things Clinton can control to lure away Trump voters who up until now are supporting him out of opposition to her.

The easiest is advertising. So far her ads have been good. She can make sure she has a balance between ads exploiting Trump’s unfitness for the presidency, and focusing on herself in two ways. One is easy, highlighting resume, because it is extraordinary. She must remind people that she has been engaged in the noble profession of public service since she was a young adult, and will be the most experienced president to assume office in history.

The harder one for the ads is to show her as warm and funny and relatable without the ad coming across as too slick, too saccharine. It can be done.

Next is her public appearances. She has proven to be really good at handling these but still needs to make sure she strikes the balance between seriousness and smiles. Clinton has a great genuine laugh, and I think is really relatable when she shows this side of herself. If she throws in a one-liner jab at Trump it has to be really, really good.

Trump’s teleprompter public appearances are snoozers. His ranting doesn’t gain him any new voters and puts him at risk of losing voters who finally admit to themselves he doesn’t have the the,percent to be president. As far as making himself more relatable, Trump only has a self-satisfied smirk. Combine that with how he always claps his hand for himself — I mean — who does that (except a germaphobe like Trump who is only comfortable touching himself and curvaceous women)?

Finally, the debates. Politico had a good article about what debate strategy would be best for Clinton. They suggested that the best advice would be to let Trump screw up. Here are some quotes:

  • "He’s going to say some cockamamie stuff. Give him the rope,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.). 
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said “inevitably, he’s going to say enough dumb things to dominate the headlines. He’s gonna make mistakes; the question is, how big are the mistakes? And I’m certain there are things she can do that would cause his mistakes to be bigger.”
  • “She has to be unafraid,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “He’s a bully; he can’t help himself. I don’t know how he’s going to use a teleprompter in a debate situation. And he can’t control himself. His attention span is nonexistent.”
  • “He’ll do it himself,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “There’s never been a time where he’s talked for longer than 30 seconds where he’s managed to say anything. He just says nothing. He’ll say the same empty phrases over and over again, and I think it will become obvious after an hour and a half.”
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said: “It’s important for people to see this side of him that is very much unpresidential and out of control,”  “It’s temperament, as much as anything. People want to trust that their president … is in control.”

It's a risk to follow the Politico advice, but Trump is a proven counter-attacker, so the rope-a-dope may be the best strategy. He comes across as almost somnolent when reading the teleprompter. He seems to be boring himself. I think he's addicted (literally) to the rush he gets by going off script into his usual venomous rants. The question is whether or not he can control the rants and come across as "presidential." Hillary has 90 minutes, so halfway through if Trump seems to be winning she can move into a plan B which would involve attacks calculated to provoke him to lash out at her in characteristic fashion and show his unhinged and nasty temperament.

Another unknown and unknowable is what egregious Trump pronouncement or revelation, or combination of the two will catch fire with the public and burn his hairy orange ass. The list of outrages that would derail any other candidate is historic. However you never know which revelation, or what new utterance, will be his undoing.

This election is such a shitstorm, with so much at stake, that it is a shame that in our culture so many people vote for the candidate they could see having a beer with. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment and want to listen to someone who doesn’t give a crap about you while they brag about themselves, Hillary Clinton is without a doubt the only beer-worthy candidate.

P.S. The pic-toon below may actually represent what Trump is thinking….

Take the poll here

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Homelessness: Daytime nightmare about to unfold in Portland

  Public domain, Creative Commons.. By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist This is a classic case of municipal decision makers putting t...