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May 13, 2018

May 13-14, 2018

Back: May 11-12, 2018

New: My essays from when I wrote a weekly political column for Capitol Hill Blue circa 2009. || Archive of Daily Kos articles || 

May 14, 2018

From Sri Lanka, a view of Trump (left) 

( May 14, 2018, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) People should no longer think nationally. We must unify and fight American threats if we are to sustain as a human race and not go extinct by self-destruction. Oppenheimer said, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” when he saw the power of the atom-bomb he had helped to create. Put a blindfold on, all you will be able to do is hear. No race, sexual orientation, or faith would be seen. We must learn to be blind to one another’s differences and get along peacefully or else the mathematical equation to our end will be extinction by our own hands. For what? Because we cannot accept each other’s differences? We teach our children better than that, why should we be any different as adults. The more people put a label on someone’s differences the further you actually divide us by labelling them as different.

US president Trump is the inflamer. He is the vain rhetorician. His speeches are all alarmist, fear-baiting and divisive, per usual. His eyes are hidden in shadows from the brim of a “Make America Great Again” ball cap. His grandiose and unbelievable claims are nothing new in the history of oration, though. In the 16th Century, the French writer Michel de Montaigne wrote an essay called “On the vanity of words” about the art of deceitful rhetoric. His first example concerns two figures of ancient Greece. Even when beat in wrestling, one man always persuades the spectators that he had no fall and carries away the prize.” Continued
 Trump’s surprising nominee to be EU Ambassador has an Oregon connection.

Comment on my Daily Kos story today:

Ambivalence about the summit.

Ambivalence can be a feeling a person has little or no control over and may not be a rational decision made out of weighing the pros and cons of something like the result of the Summit which I tried to do. This sadly is what has happened to me and lots of people I talk to who express fear and loathing as Trump makes more and more autocratic cruel decisions and fosters the worst angels in 40% of the country. Trump is bringing to the surface unspoken dark thoughts, fantasies, and wishes which are out of character for many people.

Is it morally reprehensible that I find myself having thoughts about wanting Trump to fail dismally in his so-called summit with Kim Jung Un?  I don’t want to be so hyperpartisan that I’m like the Republicans who reflectively voted against just about everything proposed or supported by Obama because they hated him with such vehemence. The GOP would have voted down funding for subsidizing new magic bullet cure for cancer so everyone could benefit from it.
I think I have stumbled into a moral morass. 
I want to see a rapprochement between North and South Korea, and it would be wonderful to see Kim Jung Un see the errors of his ways and become a humane and benevolent leader. I fail to see how anyone who fears another four-year term for Trump could not be ambivalent about rooting for the success of the summit. 
I think many liberals they feel the same way I do even though they will all say in public that they want the talks to succeed, and some may even bite their tongues and say that Trump would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize if he could take legitimate credit for ending the conflict on the Korean Peninsula. 
If the so-called summit fails, Trump is the loser.  If it fails, relationships between the countries may return to the way they were previously. It seems plausible that Trump could walk out in a rage and this would prompt S. Korea’ President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jung Un to craft a deal between the two of them.  The worst case I can come up with is that Kim might restart his nuclear militarization but even if he doubles or triples the number of deployed ICBMs this won’t change the international balance of power. 
On the phone, he and the president alternate
 between the “witch hunt!” and gabbing
like old girlfriends about media gossip
 and whose show sucks and who’s
getting killed in the ratings and who’s
 winning (Hannity, and therefore Trump)
 and sports and Kanye West, all of it sprink-
led with a staccato 
fuck … fucking … fucked
 … fucker.
 “He’s not a systematic thinker at
 all. He’s not an ideologue,” one person
who knows both men said of Hannity.
“He gives tactical advice versus strategic advice.”
There may be no strategic reason why Kim needs to continue his nuclear-armed missile program. He will never use his nukes for obvious reasons. I doubt he will discommission them, let alone, dismantle the stockpile he already has but he might. If he is a savvy negotiator he will keep Trump guessing about this.
If Trump sticks to this as an absolute demand he will have to find a face-saving excuselie to change his mind or pull out of the talks.
Kim has been diverting precious national resources to build his nuclear arsenal. He may finally be ready to start building his country's infrastructure, its educational, and its social programs before he has a North Korean Spring on his hands. It is impossible to determine if Kim is clinically paranoid and actually believes that the United States and its allies represent a military threat. My hunch is that he does not believe this and has been playing the long game, really the long con, to achieve his ultimate goal of negotiating with S. Korea and the United States from a position of strength.
It makes sense that Kim stands to benefit greatly by reaching a rapprochement with S. Korea and the United States. Not only will he be able to reallocate national resources to modernizing his country, but he will be able to have the sanctions loosened or eliminated, may have beneficial trade initiated, and although Trump railed against the cash Obama sent to Iran he may get monetary aid from the United States.
Click image to enlarge
If Trump tries to start a war against N. Korea because the talks failed, or concocts a reason a set of lies (click for example) to justify an attack on Iran I think that would lead to his impeachment because the ranks of the GOP know that most of their constituents would be outraged. I do not think he will do it. He will, however, rant and rave and try to scare the bejesus out of our adversaries with the notable exception of Russia.
Trump’s signature puffed out chest bullying is echoed by neoconservative John Bolton. Bolton is threatening our European allies with sanctions if they don’t bow down at the feet of Trump and support the Iran deal pullout is hardly going to go over big with the Nobel Peace Prize Committee: “White House national security adviser John Bolton warned on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the international agreement over Iran’s nuclear program could result in sanctions on companies based in European nations that are critical U.S. allies.” (HUFFPOST).
I think there’s a point where Trump threats of preemptive war based upon ginned up reasons (lies) will also scare the bejesus out of the majority of Americans, not to mention our allies. 
We can only hope.
What a cruel irony if two authoritarian autocrats, the despotic Dear Leader Kim and Trump who jokes about being president for life share a Nobel Peace Prize, and that this accomplishment propels Trump into his second term and further deifies Kim in his own country. 
I find myself not wanting to hope for any accomplishment on the world stage that will enable four more years with a president who is hellbent on turning our country into a cruel autocracy, make us into a white nationalist nation which is a pariah among our Democratic allies, and who supports the agenda of climate deniers to have four more years to do it.

What do you think?

On the subject of Trump bringing out ego dystonic dark thoughts, while watching Trump deliver a wooden sounding speech praising the opening of the Isreali embassy in Jerusalem, and Jared and Ivanka basking in Netahyahu's afterglow I read the news about the horrors being inflicted on the Palestinians who are being killed as they protest this.   Thousands of people are taking to the streets and risking their lives to send the message that they want to world to know. I am glad they are protesting, I am glad this provides counter-point to Trump taking a victory lap, but I am appalled at the violence unleashed by the leader of our close ally and a supposed Democratic light in the Mideast. 

May, 13, 2018

Satire that could be true: BY Steve Bouchard

Oh Mon Dieu! Transcript of President Trump’s French State Dinner Remarks

Transcript de Remarks de Dinner au Maison Blanche, du L’Homme Orange des Etats-Unis

Is it morally repugnant that I find myself wanting Trump to fail dismally in his so-called summit with Kim Jung Un?

 I may write a piece about this for Daily Kos tomorrow. Maybe that will get some reaction on the website. It is obviously politically incorrect, but what the hell. If the so-called summit fails, what's the worst that can happen? There's no reason Kim needs to continue his nuclear program. If Trump tries to start a war I think that will lead to his impeachment.

Happy Mothers Day Mister President:
Daily Kos readers don't seem particularly interested in Trumpology. I posted this story anyway.
The author of this Politico article is Peter Lovenheim. He “is an author and journalist whose articles and essays have appeared in the New York TimesNew Yorkmagazine, The Los Angeles TimesParade, Moment magazine, The Washington Post, and other publications.
His five previous booksinclude In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time, winner of a Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the First Annual Z√≥calo Public Square Book Prize, and Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf, a first-hand attempt to understand the food chain.
Lovenheim holds a degree in journalism from Boston University and in law from Cornell Law School. He teaches narrative non-fiction at The Writers Center in Bethesda, MD and splits his time between his hometown of Rochester, NY, and Washington, DC.” (From his website)

Whenever I write about Donald Trump’s psychopathology (see my Trumpolgy articles) the same one or two commenters often lambast me. See the first comment in yesterday’s story for a typical example. The commenter says: “ Sadly for Duty to Warn, Trump, and our honest political discourse, there is no possible way to “rule in” or “rule out” any of the things those associated with Duty to Warn say about Trump’s supposed mental illness: no possible way to ‘rule in’ or ‘rule out’ a diagnosis of Narcissism, Malignant Narcissism, Personality Disorder, Psychopathy, Anti-Social Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, etc.  That is because, despite 50 years of a dedicated effort to do so, neuroscientists have not been able to identify any physical or physiological pathology associated with any psychiatric illness”


Other critics of mental health professionals making clinical assessments of Trump based on their observations of behavior say that the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater rule prohibits making a public diagnosis of anyone without examining them and getting their permission. The well know psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton discusses this will Bill Moyers here.
I regularly discuss the psychology of Donald Trump with other psychotherapists, a half dozen in a private online group and about six or seven retired therapists in the coffee shop in the senior community where I live. While we sometimes get into the weeds debating the finer points of his diagnosis we agree that his psychopathology is severe and dangerous. Most of us think he fits the criteria for malignant narcissism laid out first by social psychologist Erich Fromm who is even more well known than Robert Jay Lifton who is prominent in the Duty to Warn movement, the association of mental health professionals and other concerned citizens who advocate Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is psychologically unfit.
Malignant narcissismis a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism.[1]Often grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.[2]
Malignant narcissism is a hypothetical, experimental diagnostic category. Narcissistic personality disorderis found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-IV-TR), while malignant narcissism is not. As a hypothetical syndrome, malignant narcissism could include aspects of narcissistic personality disorderas well as traits of antisocial personality disorderand paranoia. The importance of malignant narcissism and of projectionas a defense mechanismhas been confirmed in paranoia, as well as "the patient's vulnerability to malignant narcissistic regression". Wikipedia
I was trained as a psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapist. I view the psychiatric illnesses which used to be called the neuroses as having their roots in early childhood experiences. Now, these are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) under   obsessive–compulsive disorderobsessive–compulsive personality disorderimpulse control disorderanxiety disorderhysteria, and a great variety of phobias. Some depressive disorders may have both biological and psychodynamic causes.
Most of my friends and colleagues had similar training but, like me, adapted their approaches to fit their clients and would describe themselves as eclectic. Several of my online colleagues are psychoanalysts. Peter Lovenheim’s article should resonate with us because it looks at the psychodynamic causation of psychopathology. It does with me. In fact, I have said in discussions many times that I thought Trump’s psychopathology was caused by mommy issues dating back to his early childhood.
I have been thinking about writing about this subject for some time but it would have been a daunting task so I put it on my Daily Kos back burner. Now Lovenheim has saved me the trouble.
Here are the first three paragraphs of his article. I hope it intrigues you enough to read the entire piece and comment on it. I will respond to serious comments and questions throughout the day, but will not answer those who are bringing up the same old same old arguments and criticisms against diagnosing Trump.
Donald Trump is easily the most psychoanalyzed president of modern times. His decision-making style and behavior have been hotly debated by journalists, voters, politicians, world leaders and pundits who have bestowed upon him any number of fanciful, grave-sounding mental conditions, calling him, among other things, a narcissist, a sociopath, a psychopath and a paranoiac. Trump has said he distrusts mental health professionals, so we don’t have access to a formal assessment of his psychology. But colloquially speaking, perhaps the best explanation for the president’s behavior dates back to his earliest interactions with his mother.
Although I’m not a psychologist, I have spent years researching a major field of psychology known as attachment theory for a book. According to the science of attachment—developed in the second half of the 20thcentury by British psychotherapist John Bowlby—we’re hardwired at birth to attach to a competent and reliable caregiver for protection because we are born helpless. The success or failure of this attachment affects all our relationships throughout life—in the workplace, on the athletic field, with loved ones—and yes, even in politics. Children who bond successfully with a primary caregiver—usually this is the mom but it could also be the dad, grandparent, nanny or other adult—grow up with what is termed a “secure” attachment. As adults, they tend to be confident, trusting of others, resilient in the face of setbacks, and able to enjoy long, stable relationships. Children who fail to achieve a successful attachment, on the other hand, may as adults have a lack of comfort with intimacy, difficulty trusting others, a constant need for reassurance from relationship partners, and a lack of resilience when faced with illness, injury or loss.
The biographical record is fairly strong on Trump’s failure to development a healthy emotional attachment to either of his parents. It may have contributed to his tumultuous personal life, but it also endowed him with some traits that made him well-suited to his late-career entry in politics.  CONTINUED
In order to understand why Trump is Trump we must understand how he was raised. We have to have a grasp of the concept of attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety.
Finally, much of the president’s behavior, both before and since he took office, is clearly consistent with attachment avoidance: His powerful sense of self-reliance and near-inability to acknowledge self-doubt; his bragging about his sexual relations; his almost complete lack of close friends; his multiple marriages; and his unstable relationships with White House staff, Cabinet members and congressional leaders of both parties.
Trump’s almost compulsive need to be in the spotlight might be evidence of attachment anxiety if it were aimed primarily at needing approval. But in the president’s case, it appears to be more about needing admiration. Overt narcissism or grandiose self-regard, the leading attachment researchers Mario Mikulincer and Philip R. Shaver report, is associated with attachment avoidance.
Hopefully, this timely Politico article will help you gain a deeper understanding of what makes Trump tick.

Back: May 11-12, 2018

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