This is a blog with my opinions on politics, psychology, and other subjects. My posts are sometimes serious and sometimes snarky. I'm a retired MSW clinical social worker/psychotherapist and mental health center director who was also a cranberry farmer. Scroll archives on bottom of page to see previous blog stories. There are new ones added almost every day, although if I don't have anything original to say I try not to say anything at all.
Bandy X. Lee, MD, MDiv is well known among those who follow books, articles, and television coverage of how Donald Trump's psychopathology makes him, as the book she edited proclaims him, a dangerous case.
She is currently in the news.
Click above to enlarge image
This all began with her with a legal case which began with the following precipitated by the media hog par excellence and thin skinned Alan Dershowitz :
“I won’t stop,” said the psychiatrist, who had alleged wrongful firing over tweets about Alan Dershowitz and tied her case to broader issues of academic freedom.
This was reported, I suspect with some satisfaction, on Rupert Murdoch's NY Post as follows:
Click above for article. Note that the paper misspelled her first name.
One aspect of her association with Yale which has been reported I wasn't aware of. I thought she was a regular paid member of their faculty working at least as an adjunct professor not on the tenure track. I don't know if she had a formal teaching role but this was reported: The reason the school said she was eventually let go was due to lack of a formal teaching role, the New Haven Register reported. Importantly, Lee responded to this in this tweet:
(a) 80-90% medical faculty are voluntary; and (b) “no teaching role” was decided on after firing, not before.
I was disabused of my assumption about her role at Yale being more active after reading several articles about this. It was reported in The Hartford Courant (subscription required) but referenced by the NY Post:
While Lee wasn’t paid, she claimed the Yale gig was worth potentially tens of thousands of dollars in perks and exposure that allowed her to consult globally, the Courant reported.
In fact, Dr, Lee was the driving force behind a conference back in 2017 where mental health professionals presented on subjected related to why Trump represented a danger to democracy. See article:
Click above to article
Other prominent mental health professionals in the media include clinical psychologist John D. Gartner who (according to his Wikipedia page) was a part-time professor, until 2015, for 28 years at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Another is psychiatrist Lance Dodes, a training and supervising analyst emeritus of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
These credentials certainly lent substantial bonafides to their opinions especially compared to other mental health professionals like me who have published opinions whose educational backgrounds are more pedestrian. For example, I was a clinical social worker and the director of a small mental health center who received my MSW degree from Michigan State University.
Bandy Lee's website which has many informative links doesn't have any abut this ruling (at least not that I can find):
I don't know how much of a chance an appeal of this decision will have. I'll leave that to those with a modicum of legal expertise. My own off-the-cuff opinion is that the law favors the right of a university to fire any non-tenured member of the faculty whether an unpaid volunteer or a paid instructor or non-tenured assistant professor without cause. I wish it could be a free speech case and then I think she'd have a good chance of winning on appeal but I am afraid it isn't.
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Trump is not a lovable billionaire, at least not to any rational persons not a MAGA hat wearing member of his cult. He's not remotely like Huey, Dewey, and Louie's Great Uncle Scrooge the richest man in the world. Nobody really knows how much money the Lord of Mar-a-Lago really has although he wants everyone to believe he is a world class billionaire his real wealth has always been a matter of speculation.
I'm reminded of the Scrooge painting every time I see this photo of the classified documents spread out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago.
I am not a cartoonist. About all I can manage is a rudimentary photo manipulation like the one I made for yesterday's story so making the image I have in my mind would be a lot of work. So here's what I see in my mind. You can imagine it yourself. Picture Trump as Scrooge McDuck inside a giant vault-like room diving into a 90 foot deep pile of classified documents. Perhaps he'd have instead of Huey, Dewy, and Louie watching him he'd have autocratic leaders, the few celebrities willing to be anywhere near him (see 16 Celebrities Who Supported Trump In 2020 And What They Say About Him Now),and mere multi-millionaires watching him. A select few might be allowed to actually look at the documents.
There are numerous drawings of Scrooge enjoying his pile cash and coins:
In his first iteration Scrooge was depicted like this in "Christmas on Bear Mountain" -- like the Dickens character he was named after, he was quite Trump-like.
Unlike Trump and like Ebenezer Scrooge he was redeemed. He went from being a miser to being merely thrifty, and became an adventurer and explorer. He ended up as a lovable Disney character and dotting great uncle to his nephews. He eventually was given his own comic book which had 456 editions until 2020.
Nobody except Trump for certain, and possibly people he showed the documents to or offered to sell them to knows exactly why he took the documents and fought to keep them.
“I would not leave it beyond him to do something as insane as that," said Rep. Ted Lieu (DCA). "When someone is cornered, they make very bad decisions, and Donald Trump is in a very bad situation right now. We don’t know what he will do."
“You can’t just have this lying around at Mar-a-Lago -- this is crazy,” Lieu said. “Who knows who would have seen these documents in a public place like Mar-a-Lago? This is a resort where lots of people go.”
“Did the MyPillow guy spend hours in the office taking notes? Did Rudy Giuliani? We don’t know," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
“It’s hard to predict exactly what he’s going to do," Castro said. In the last few days, he’s been behaving very frantically. It’s very erratic and strange behavior — particularly from a former president.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) agreed Trump's social media posts presented an ongoing threat to national security. “Here’s what makes it truly scary: Trump is weirdly attached to all of this ‘Top Secret’ information, he constantly throws tantrums, and he has an insatiable desire for attention including on social media,” Huffman said. “Since he no longer has White House china to smash, his next tantrum might be blurting out sensitive national secrets on Truth Social, or calling his pal [Vladimir] Putin to divulge or even sell information. With anyone else these would seem like crazy scenarios, but not with Trump.”
it occurred to me that the most read and recommended Daily Kos story out of over 1,400 which I posted there as a member of the liberal website's community of what they call diary writers was about Jennifer Senior calling Trump a preening narcissist in a NY Times OpEd. As far as I could tell she was the first person in the media to call him this.
The least dangerous aspect of Trump's psychopathology is his obsession with this appearance. However, knowing this about him may help us gauge how much he is feeling the stress of the legal jeopardy he may be in. Although another part of his personality is that he engages in a lot of psychological denial, almost to the point of clinical self-delusional thinking that he is untouchable, nobody can turn off their subconscious.
People under stress often experience drastic changes in their eating habits. Readers may have experienced this in themselves or observed it with people close to them. At one extreme people may find their appetite diminished and may lose a lot of weight. At the other end people may experience the opposite and engage in overeating, often high calorie comfort foods, and gain a significant amount of weight.
If, as the RawStory article reports, Trump is eating to excess and gaining a lot of weight we may be able to ascertain this in several ways.
One is simply that he stops allowing himself to be photographed. We know how much the media hog likes to have his image plastered all over the place.
Another is that he doesn't even realize how much weight he's gained, maybe he just doesn't look in a full-length mirror or it he does so but is in such deep denial he doesn't see his "bigly" belly. (Apparently Trump never really used this word but it has often been attributed to him but really said big league, so we can say he has a big league belly.) If this happens and he tries to get his photo in the press everyone will see it and Twitter will go nuts with ridicule.
The third possibility is that he'll wear a man's girdle (see Amazon). He may decide to wear one marketed as a sports item and tell himself it isn't really a girlie girdle. It's quite possible he's already donned one. There's already been speculation about this:
If Trump has gained so much weight that if he appears in public it is readily visible you can expect a torrent of articles, snarky tweets, and cartoons.
While this will give his critics, me included, some perverse measure, it will also confirm that the stress of the beleaguered ex-president has increased, to use the term again, bigly. The more stress Trump is experiencing the more likely it is that he will make ill-considered, out outright self-defeating decisions. For example it's been widely reported that he seemed to have gone berserk with a storm of QAnon messages on his Truth Social website:
The more off the rails of rational thinking Trump goes the less likely it is that he will heed whatever good legal advice he receives from his lawyers and the more chances there are that he will do or say things that jeopardize his legal defense. Not only this, but the more, dare I say, cray-cray he seems the more likely it is that some of his reasonably mentally healthy supporters will realize that he really belongs not necessarily in the big house for his crimes (where he does belong), but in the figurative nuthouse, not the White House.
Bigly is a word popularly believed to have been made up and used by US President Donald Trump, meaning “to a large amount” or “with great intensity.” It is most often used in mockery of Donald Trump’s speech, mannerisms, and behavior.
Trump wants his supporters to die for him. He wants them to fight for his cause, but in reality his cause is him (or Him). Are they really ready to take a bullet for the person they consider a demigod (here’s a Google search for Trump and Jesus painting) and who they believe had the election stollen from him and think is the legitimate president?
Site Intelligence Group, which tracks online extremism activity, issued several threat alerts detailing calls for violence in response to Biden’s speech. The potential threats were posted in online forums tied to the Proud Boys, neo-Nazis and other extremist groups.
“Users on several far-right and ultranationalist venues made violent threats against President Joe Biden following his speech addressing political extremism on September 1, 2022,” said one of the alerts. “Users advocated for Biden to be murdered and predicted violence if he continues speaking about the topic.”
During Biden's speech, four current U.S. domestic counterterrorism officials told Yahoo News they were concerned the president’s words would further divide the nation and lead to increased threats against government and law enforcement officials.
The following New York Times guest OpEd prompted me to think about whether Trump's cult threatening violent civil war if he is indicted would be willing to die for him. If the Jan. 6 insurrectionist they knew they would risk getting shot if they breached the Capitol barriers would there even have been an assault on the building? How many of Trump's cultists would really engage in the violent civil war they threaten if they knew they had a serious chance of being killed or wounded?
Artem Chekhisis the author of this guest essay in The NY Times Opinion section. He wrote
“Absolute Zero,” an account of his time on the front line in the Donbas, and is currently a volunteer patrolling the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
Here are excerpts:
This is another kind of war (than the war in the Donbas where he served on the front lines for almost a year in 2015-16), and the losses are, without exaggeration, catastrophic. We no longer know the names of all the dead: There are dozens of them every day. Ukrainians constantly mourn those lost; there are rows of closed coffins in the central squares of relatively calm cities across the country. Closed coffins are the terrible reality of this cruel, bloody and seemingly endless war.
I too have my dead. In the course of the conflict, I’ve learned of the deaths of various friends and acquaintances, people I had worked with or people I’d never met in person but with whom I maintained friendships on social networks. Not all these people were professional soldiers, but many could not help but take up arms when Russia invaded Ukraine.
I read obituaries on Facebook every day. I see familiar names and think that these people should continue writing reports and books, working in scientific institutes, treating animals, teaching students, raising children, baking bread and selling air-conditioners. Instead they go to the front, get wounded, develop severe PTSD and die.
To quote Kurt Vonnegut, even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death. But encounters with death could be very different. We want to believe that we and our beloved ones, the modern people of the 21st century, no longer have to die from medieval barbaric torture, epidemics or detention in concentration camps. That’s part of what we’re fighting for, the right not only to a dignified life but also to a dignified death.
Let us, the people of Ukraine, wish ourselves a good death — in our own beds, for example, when the time comes. And not when a Russian missile hits our house at dawn.
This is my posted comment:
Thank you for your poignant and powerful essay. I wish it could be read by Russian soldiers dragooned into their army and being fed lies that they are liberating Ukraine and will be greeted as heroes.
I also think about members of the Trump cult here threatening a violent civil war if their messiah is indicted and wonder if they would be willing to lay their lives down for him. My sense is that only a tiny minority of them would be willing to die for him.
There's a saying here, all hat and no cowboy, which means that someone is all talk and no action. I think it applies to most of these people.
What Trump is saying here is that we have nothing to worry about as far as Russia goes. They are not our enemy according to Trump. By extension he is saying we shouldn't be paying attention to, let alone be concerned about, the thousands of Ukrainians that are being killed. If Democrats are enemies of the nation then Trump is as much as admonishing his supporters to be what he considers patriots and take up arms against them and to be willing to die to stop them.
Had I seen all of this when I posted my comment I would have elaborated on it.
Ukrainians taking up arms to fight the Russians aren't willing to give up their lives for Volodymyr Zelenskyy, they are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of their country. President Zelenskyy doesn't entreat Ukrainians to risk their lives and limbs fighting the Russian invaders. He doesn't have to.
I seriously doubt that the vast majority of members of the Trump cult clamoring for a violent civil war if Trump is indicted would actually be willing to die for the cause. In fact, if those who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6th knew they would risk being fired on and possibly killed or wounded I doubt many of them would have breached the barriers.
The majority of the Jan. 6th mob weren't mentally ill the way most people who have tried to break into the White House have been. If the Capitol was protected the way the White House is with the Secret Service protecting it ready to use lethal force to protect those they are charged with the mission of keeping them safe I think Jan. 6th would have been a large raucous crowd chanting slogans behind the barriers. No officers would have been injured and no bike racks would have been knocked over.
What if the rioters at the Capitol faced what peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors faced when they demonstrated in from of the Lincoln Memorial in June, 2021?
If one of the insurrectionists tried to go beyond the police line and was shot dead I suspect that most of the crowd who saw this would have turned and run in the opposite direction.
In some states home owners can simply shoot anyone, armed or not, who breaks into their homes, in others they have to flee if they can. If armed Trump cultists think of trying to break into a building, any building whether one housing a government office or not, I wonder if they would do this if they knew the police would shoot them. Do they think their Trumpian whiteness would protect them from the police who they with considerable justification think support their cause?
Then, on Sunday, Trump acolyte Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) didn’t bother with the disingenuous niceties. He went straight to the threat. “Most Republicans, including me, believe when it comes to Trump, there is no law. It’s all about getting him,” Graham said on Fox News, citing the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for having classified information on her private email servers. “And I’ll say this: If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle … there’ll be riots in the streets.”
Lest you missed his point, Graham said the phrase twice — and then Trump reposted his comments on his social media platform. A retired Air Force lawyer and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham said nothing to convey dismay over the prospect of violence; to the contrary, his clear meaning was that outrage would be justified.
Ruth Marcus concludes:
The Justice Department’s Principles of Federal Prosecution lay out the considerations: “Where the law and the facts create a sound, prosecutable case,” prosecutors are told, “the likelihood of an acquittal due to unpopularity of some aspect of the prosecution or because of the overwhelming popularity of the defendant or his/her cause is not a factor prohibiting prosecution.”
A sound, prosecutable case. That’s the test — not intimations of mayhem from Trump and his allies only too happy to summon the mob, once again, to his defense.
It could be argued that some of the QAnon believers are delusional but whether or not they are clinically delusional, or suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, can't be determined. It's possible a few of them hear command hallucinations, voices telling them they have to take up a firearm and join a mob. They might not consider, or even care, that they could be shot if they tried to engage in a violent protest where they went against law enforcement or National Guard with orders to shoot those who refuse orders to disperse.
Here's a part, in the last sentence below, that I was interested in:
Measuring misinformation on social media is complicated. With billions of posts per day on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it would be impossible to examine each one for misinformation. Instead, to approximate the level of misinformation shared by political candidates, we relied on NewsGuard, a nonpartisan organization that provides trust ratings for news sources online.
NewsGuard uses several point-based criteria to assess a site’s credibility and transparency, giving each site a score from 0 to 100 based on how well it adheres to those standards. NewsGuard considers those rated at 60 and above, which include such sources as The Washington Post, New York Times and CNN, to be reliable news sites. It considers those rated under 60, which include Breitbart and Daily Kos, to be unreliable.
Comparing Breitbart with Daily Kos is absurd. The former promotes nothing but lies and distortions from the far right including outright conspiracy theories. Kos is a mixed bag as a website because it has two types of articles, those by members of the staff, often reporting straight news, and those by community members. This later group is a mix of stories about news generally with excerpts from other publications and sometimes, but not always, with the opinion of the diarist included. The other group of community diarist stories are those that are mostly original ideas and thoughts and sometimes offering information about subjects like Trump's psychopathology which I have written about.
The assortment of news and opinion on Daily Kos enriches the website, but I think it can be confusing and seem like a hodgepodge.
I propose a change to the way Daily Kos is setup to clearly differentiate pure opinion and original information essays from posts from contributors which share news stories. I'd like to see Kos have an opinion section the way The New York Times and The Washington Post does. The Times and Post opinion sections include essays by staff columnists and guest contributors. There are also satirical columns some of which make me wonder why I ever try to write satire. Dana Milbank and Alexandra Petri, both Washington Post columnists, often mix in biting satirical pieces with their straight opinion columns.
(Click images of Aug. 29 websites from the Times and Post below to enlarge to see how their opinion columns appear.)
On Daily Kos original writing with sometime unique perspectives on issues compete for readers with hot topics in the news. Those who post stories just referencing a news story with several excerpts provide a unique and valuable forum for discussion among the readers of Daily Kos many of whom are familiar with each other. Typically an article or column on The NY Times and Washington Post can have between 1000 and 3000 comments. Stories on the same or other subjects on Daily Kos will have between 100 and 300 comments and they will include frequent commenters whose names often are familiar to regular Kos readers. On Kos stories, whether by staff or community members, one comment can have numerous replies. Unlike on websites like the Times and Post, on Kos the author of an article often adds their own comment and replies to other commenters.
The only other high readership progressive website I know of where you can post comments is RawStory (and it's sister site AlterNet) and frequently they have between 200 and 1000 comments to an article. I find RawStory to be a useful site to follow breaking news on because it is updated frequently, often not long after stories are published or covered elsewhere. For example they will often publish a story about a topic discussed on Morning Joe an hour or so after it is aired.
They have summaries of articles from sites like The Wall Street Journal which I don't have subscription to. Wiki says says it is hyper-partisan and quotes a source saying it is junk news. It may be very progressive but I hardly consider it to be junk news. Because they do this is is more than an aggregate news site like Google News or YaHoo News.
I don't see Daily Kos as being able to do this at least not with the staff they have, nor do I think they should. Kos is unique among website, at least among progressive websites (I don't follow right-wing site) in that it has a large community of diary writers and commenters. It is unabashedly progressive but I don't find a bias when they report on the news.
If someone wants to follow the political news shortly after a story breaks from a progressive perspective, I recommend RawStory. They not only cover stories form the mainstream media, they also cover news items on websites like Vice News, Axios, and Buzzfeed. These three website offer a potpourri of stories some of which are trivial, but sometimes they do investigative reporting and beat out the major media with stories. Google News and YaHoo News seem to post articles from more of the mainstream media.
I have a friend who follows news on a Facebook feed but don't know how this is done so I can't recommend or not recommend it.
So, back to having a discrete Opinion section on Daily Kos
If only for simplicity I advocate for those who post Community "dairies" (as they are often called) should be able to post them to an opinion section. That way those who want to use Daily Kos as their primary or a secondary news source can easily find those articles, and those interested in pure opinion pieces often with original perspectives and sometimes with attempts are satire and snark can easily find them. I would include diaries about personal experiences (like one about surviving Covid) and the much beloved Pootie diaries which are about Kos pets. This would by no means denigrate such diaries but lets face it they aren't news, but they chronicle way that our pets are vital in so many of our lives.
Since regular denizens of Daily Kos are often referred to with each other as Kossacks we could have a separate section called Kossacks and Kospets.
It could look something like this (image below) with the author having the choice as to where their diary would appear. I selected a few example form March 29 which I thought could be considered as presenting an original slant on the subject the author was writing about. Of course the diarist would decide where their story would go.