November 12, 2022

Progressives should stop undermining President Biden

 



This is the essay by Norman Solomon about why Biden would be a disaster in 2024 which Salon, a Democratic website not known to be hyper-progressive, decided to put in the most prominent spot on their site:

When you put your cursor on the front page to read the article this is what you see:


Wait a New York minute, what election is the author talking about, I wondered. The Democrats stood no chance of keeping the House and the control of the Senate hasn't been determined but it is looking good for the Democrats. Just about every honest pundit and journalist is describing the election as a win for the Democrats.

So in what world was Biden a drag on the Democrats in the midterms? If anything he was a sail catching the winds of national sentiment that independent  voters had had it with far right extremism and lunatic GOP candidates. Boring Bidenism won over the election denying lunatics carrying the lunatic banners (and they are so many) of Trump and Trumpism.

I read the essay and then looked up to see who the author was. Here are his previous Salon articles. It was not a surprise that he is an outspoken progressive and former Bernie Sanders supporter.

The first paraprgraph is the gist of Solomon's argument:

No amount of post-election puffery about Joe Biden can change a key political reality: His approval ratings are far below the public's general positivity toward the Democratic Party. Overall, Democrats who won in the midterm elections did so despite Biden, not because of him. He's a drag on the party, a boon to Republicans, and — if he runs again — he'd be a weak candidate against the GOP nominee in the 2024 presidential campaign.
One additional thing, while Solomon links to the Politico article "The red wave that wasn't: 5 takeaways" in his essay he doesn't include a quote that goes against his attack against Biden.
 

Extremism is a Democratic issue, too

All year — and especially in the closing days of the campaign — Democrats cast themselves as a mainstream alternative to the excesses of the GOP. But despite the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the hundreds of election deniers Republicans put on the ballot, voters on Tuesday did not appear to see it that way.

In preliminary exit polls, about equal proportions of voters said Democrats and Republicans were “too extreme.”

I view Solomon as an example of one of people the voters consider to be an extreme Democrat.

Breaking this down further, and avoiding the slam aimed at Democrats about post-election puffery, his comment about the polls is true but his conclusion is opinion, not fact. He doesn't know that Democrats won despite Biden. The midterms were not a referendum about Biden. If anything they were a referendum significantly on both Trump and Trumpism.

Read the article and see what you think, or don't read it. Having read the first paragraph it may suffice to read it and analyze the last paragraph here.

What does all this mean for people who want to defeat Republicans in 2024 and to advance truly progressive agendas? Joe Biden should not be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. If he runs for re-election, representing the status quo, the outcome will likely be disastrous. Grassroots activism will be essential to create better alternatives.
First sentence above has two elements that are quite different. One is what the author's arguments add up to for those 99% of Salon readers who want defeat the Republicans in 2024 and the second is for those who want to advance the progressive agenda.

I consider myself a progressive, but I also know that there won't be a progressive agenda to advance if the Republicans win in 2024. 

Next, Solomon has a big "if" in the phrase "if he runs for re-election, representing the status quo..." Absolutely, he shows no signs he has so far in his presidency, or will represent the status quo, in the future. He hasn't been progressive enough for some but he isn't bullshitting when he touts his accomplishments so far and reminds people that they won't see the results for a period of months.

Instead of being doomed to failure his attempts to broker deals across the aisle in the Senate which has not become a Trumpian bastion has been effective. All hail the modest moderate who even when he tries to brag can't help having a self-effacing modesty. 

Now to Solomon's last sentence about grassroots activism. He should know about grassroots activism. He co-founded the online activist group Roots Action in early 2011.

He says that grassroots activism will be essential to create better alternatives, meaning I assume better alternatives to having Joe Biden run for president.

On the fact of it this may sound doable to progressives who want not only a candidate with a better chance of winning in 2024 but also leading a blue wave in Congressional and state election, but if they think they have a secret sauce for making progressivism the dominant force in American politics I have a bridge on the moon to sell them.

The only way for the Democrats to win national elections is to recognize that it was Biden who had the secret sauce and is was moderation both in policy and personality.








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November 11, 2022

Trump is ready to "rock and roll", will be do the Trumpty Dumpty?

Trump is ready to "rock and roll", will he do it to the Trumpty Dumpty?

By Hal Brown

Update on bottom of page



I think Rupert Murdoch who, more than any one individual, brought us the Donald Trump presidency, may have given us the name of his dance. In fact his NY Post illustration can easily be used to depict him dancing:

The following article prompted me to envision Trump actually trying to rock and roll. 


It is a summary of this Daily Beast article (requires subscription):

don't know about the political wisdom for his campaign of announcing now. Politics aside, this is the portion that got to me:

The former president intends to announce his third White House bid Tuesday at 9 p.m., even as a number of Republicans have said publicly and privately that the party should move on from him, but sources told The Daily Beast he's ready to "rock and roll."

Someone put together a compilation video so I could remind myself of his self-satisfied dance moves. 

Click above to view video

He no doubt thinks he's John Tavolta in Saturday night fever when in fact he's more like Elaine dancing on Seinfeld:


On consideration, I think Elaine, who like Trump believes she's an excellent dancer, is a better dancer if only because she is really letting go. I venture a guess that Julia Louis-Dreyfus really enjoyed doing these scenes. Here's a brief video of her explaining how she put together the well known Elaine Dance.

Sources supposedly who know of what they speak say that Trump is "ready to rock and roll" though I don't see any reports that he has said these words.

I don't really think it is in character for him to say those words, though perhaps he's heard them in a war movie before the good guys move out, as in "let's rock and roll." He may say this before he takes the stage in some of his rallies to "YMCA" or another rock song though I doubt it.

Having written this, I can't wait to see how he makes this announcement. Will he dance? Points for me if he does.

(Watch another video here).


Update:

It is official now that one of Trump's sleaziest looking sycophants, Jason Miller, announced Trump was going to announce his candidacy on the show of one of his other sleazy looking sycophants:

Trump’s ‘Fired Up’: Jason Miller Says Former President Will Still Announce 2024 Run on Tuesday Despite Midterms Backlash - MSN


Now the only question is whether he will come out to make his announcement dancing the new Trumpity Dumpity perhaps to a new version of YMCA sung for him by The Village People. He could use as a backdrop an image from the soon to be released video game Hellscape.
click above to enlarge


November 10, 2022

I managed to find good news for my friends in 10 states


Above are the states aside form Oregon where I have old friends who I keep in touch with.

In following the election results this year unexpectedly I ended up anxiously watching the returns from my newly adopted home state of Oregon since the race for governor was a nail-biter with the right-wing candidate having a good chance of winning. Thank goodness she didn't so I will have Tina Kotek as my governor for the next four years.

I also paid particular attention to the elections in the 10 states where friends live. 

Having lived in Michigan since college until we moved to Massachusetts I have lots of friends there. It was a relief to learn that not only did Gov. Whitmer win but so did all the Democratic statewide candidates. 

Then moving to the other state where I have the most old friends, Massachusetts, despite the misleading headline, this tells the story: 

Maura Healey wins Massachusetts governor's race, NBC News projects, as the first lesbian elected to lead a state

In fact this is literally correct since this election was called before the Oregon governor election was called on Wednesday, but Tina Kotek is also a lesbian.

One of my late wife and my closest friends lives is in Georgia. The good news from there is that Herschel Walker didn't win, but the final chapter will be written when he competes in a runoff with Sen. Warnock. Unfortunately Stacey Abrams lost the race for governor to Brian Kemp.

My best friend from high school and my first wife lives in California. The good news from California is that it is solidly blue thanks to the fact that most Republicans live in the less populated eastern parts of the state.

The race for mayor of Los Angeles is supposed to be non-partisan but it pits Rick Caruso and Karen Bass against each other because  incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti could not run for re-election due to term limits. "The New York Times' Jennifer Medina wrote that the race “has focused on voters’ worries about public safety and homelessness in the nation’s second-largest city” and could “become a test of whether voters this year favor an experienced politician who has spent nearly two decades in government or an outsider running on his business credentials." 

My impression is that billionaire Caruso is much further to the right than Karen Bass who was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Why it matters: A first place showing for Caruso would send shockwaves across the Democratic Party and provide another data point that midterm voters in deep-blue places are fed up.

  • But even a second-place finish would almost certainly keep him in play for November. With a dozen names on the ballot and some polling putting Bass, 68, a Black woman, and Caruso, 63, neck and neck, neither has an easy path to clear the 50% needed to avoid a runoff.
  • Some Democrats have even privately fretted that Caruso could win outright before anyone figures out what's happening. He has spent some $37.5 million of his own money. Bass‘ campaign has raised $3.5 million and received $1.1 million in matching contributions.

I have one old friend and a niece who lives in Washington. I don't know about local races there but the good news is that Democrat Patty Murray won 57% to 47% against her Republican opponent. The winners of House races will likely reflect the eastern red sections of the state where I expect there will be GOP winners.

I could even find one piece of good news from Florida where my dear toddler girlfriend lives.

Florida Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost made history after he became the first member of Generation Z to be elected to Congress. 25-year-old Frost won his race for Florida’s District 10 with a sweeping vote, pulling in 59% of the vote from his Republican opponent Calvin Wimpish, who only gained 40% of votes from Floridians. Frost will now succeed outgoing Democratic Rep. Val Demings. Of course Demings lost to Marco Rubio who won 58% of the statewide vote to Demings’ 41%.

I also found a smidgen of good news where my childhood best friend, the son of my mother's best friend, currently lives. He lives n the liberal enclave of Sun Valley, Idaho. Of course Idaho is deeply red, but Republican incumbent Gov. Brad Little won easily over his Democratic challenger. What is significant is that he survived a GOP primary challenge from his Trump-backed lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin.

I have two newly minted friends who live in Missouri. One of them is apolitical and I assume the other favors Democrats. I am not sure how they feel about the results from their state but while a Republican won the US Senate race of their two members of the US House the results were split with Democrat Cori Bush beating her Republican opponent Andrew Jones 72.82% to $24.38%. I think both of them are pleased  that voters approved recreational marijuana 53.11% to 46.89%.

One of my late wife's best friend from childhood lives in Maine where the important race was for governor. There Democrat Janet Mills will remain in office, beating GOP challenger Paul LePage. This is how The Guardian described LePage: 

Paul LePage: is Maine ready to welcome back the ‘Trump before Trump’?


In Virginia, while there were no major races for Governor or Senate, one House race made the national news where Abigail Spanberger won reelection in what is being called a bellwether Virginia district.

Now I am going to send this to the friends referenced here to see if they have anything to add from their home states elections.






November 9, 2022

Worst case Senate and House go Gop. but assume it is just the House.


Worst case Senate and House go GOP, but let's assume it is just the House. Here's what I think we should expect.

By Hal Brown

If the new House Speaker, who (hate to remind you) would be next in line for the presidency after Vice President Harris, is Kevin McCarthy as seems likely, can't control his caucus expect two years of gridlock as far as legislation and a revenge chaos clown show.

There will be a clamor among the Trumpainiacs like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Goetz to impeach Biden. They may have lost gun-totting Lauren Boebert who was armed and demented. (MSNBC has yet to call the election.)

Greene and Boebert, two classy women... remember this: 


Most of the lunacy won't be on the floor of the House  itself. It will occur in committee hearing rooms where we will see, unless Kevin McCarthy can control the maniacs, efforts to impeach President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Secretary of Homeland SecurityAlejandro Mayorkas. The only cabinet secretary to ever be impeached was under President Ulysses S. Grant. This was William W. Belknap. He was impeached on March 2, 1876, for his role in the trader post scandal.

Of course there will be a major committee  investigation into Hunter Biden although even Trump pretty much gave up trying to demonize him since attacks against him didn't turn out to be a rally crowd pleaser, and they will cheer him for just about anyone he attacks.. 

In a day or two when the final results are in, unless the Democrats hold onto control of the house in which case expect a plethora of lawsuits from losing Republicans all or most of which would be denied in court. It is possible a judge could stay the results of a crucial election for short period of time.

I wouldn't be surprised if Democrats boycott all of these revenge impeachments hearings. The results will all be predetermined and nothing but a chance for the GOP loonies to showboat for Fox News which I doubt would bother giving them extensive live coverage if only because the only breaks for advertisers are during recesses. That is unless the chair decides to cut a deal with Fox and break for commercials every 10 minutes. 

Once the House impeaches, as we all have learned, the determination as to whether or not to remove someone from office goes to the Senate for trial. Since a supermajority would be needed for conviction even if the GOP had a majority of a few votes there's no way any of these people would be convicted so I can't see the Democrats presenting an extensive defense, or even a defense at all.

If they did put together a defense team composed only of members of The Squad I thought this would stick it to the Republicans. While having AOC in the hallowed hall addressing them would really burn their butts, but she's isn't an attorney. The Squad member who is a lawyer is Rashida Tlaib who ironically went to Thomas Cooley School of Law, which is the same law school Michael Cohen went to.



No matter who controls the Senate, if the GOP controls the House and it becomes useless for working on a legislative agenda this would provide plenty of time for Democrats to muster their resources to assure that all of them get reelected. 

They can focus on constituent services, fund raising, planning strategy for the next election, and in districts where they might face major opposition making sure voters understand why they should be reelected.

A few representatives from safe districts where another Democrat would easily win if they didn't run and who would make good presidential, vice presidential, governor, or Senate candidates down the road could also work to elevate their national profiles.

The Democrats have a deep bench of such candidates  but some have negatives that might make a national run difficult, in part because Trump demonized them.  Anyone on the January 6th Committee would probably be ruled out. Others who weren't on the J6 Committee. There are lots to chose from. Katie Porter comes to mind as a standout. She could turn out to be a formidable candidate for national office.








November 8, 2022

Trump want's to imprison journalists if he's reelected. Would I make the cut?



This is a photograph taken of Freud, and some of his earliest followers.

Reading "Trump is hoping to jail ‘significant numbers of reporters’ in a second term: report" by Bob Brigham in RawStory I thought about whether I might end up on his radar. After all, he may go after anyone who criticized him publicly and while I am a mere blogger, not really a journalist, I am also among many mental health professional who wrote about why his personalty disorders made him dangerous and unfit to be president.

Trump might be vaguely aware that a very large group of mental health professionals called him dangerous, or more likely he's oblivious to this but some of his zealous minions might inform him, therefore in addition to putting journalists in prison he might want to round them up too. 

If he managed to lock up a significant number this would severely exacerbate the mental health crisis as therapists would be even harder to find than they now are.

One of the terms frequently used to describe Trump was malignant narcissist so his gestapo might get to web searching who wrote about him having this disorder.

If his lackeys Googled Trump malignant narcissist they'd have to go to page three to find something I wrote. Find me they would. Who is the guy they might say, never heard of him but what they hell let's show that nobody no matter how obscure they are can escape our reach.

I admit that I am pretty impressed with myself even making it onto page three of that Internet search considering who else's articles and publications precedes mine. 

My story is third from the bottom shown above.

This is what I wrote. It clearly makes both Robert S. Becker, whose article gave me the idea for mine, and me candidates for Trump's new gulag or an expanded Guantanamo Bay although Becker is actually well known.




Only as an irate “F-ck You” does the mystery clear: why Trump fiddled for 187 minutes while the Capitol burned

 Below are excerpts from Robert S. Becker’s (profile) “Nation of Change” essay which I recommend reading in its entirety.

When months later no plausible, tactical or rational explanation appears (for doing nothing to call off the rioters), must we not look to psychological derangement? Here was one profoundly sick puppy without a clue what served (or demolished) his best interests. When reasons evaporate, look to irrationality, thus I invoke pathology. Trump’s mob fulfilled his life quest to bellow forth the loudest “F-ck you” to as many people as possible from the greatest podium imaginable. And he was protected (he falsely schemed) by delegating the onslaught to moronic minions. The rampage against the Capitol was, to use Trumpian diction, the “perfect” volcanic explosion to suit volcanic rage. Finally, he found sufficiently cruel, destructive punishment against all “enemies” who ever injured his majesty, declaring “you are not lovable, even a monster; you are not the invulnerable, unstoppable world leader you fantasize; and your electoral temper tantrums will crash and burn.” These are unendurable messages for a deeply scared narcissist.

Thanks to Trump’s transparent parade of clinical deviance, those paying attention comprehend the basic dynamics of the malignant narcissist. It’s not that complicated: the sickest narcissist insists on being a big shot, though feels wounded (whatever the cause) and unworthy (terrified he’s just an ordinary putz). As a result, he (or she) cannot confront his internal contradictions (never therapy), defaulting to denial and self-deception. Trapped in this doomed dynamic, the narcissist tries every which way to fill the emotional (love) void but mistakenly with material success, status, treasure or fame. What Jan. 6 exposed is the malicious narcissist at the end of his rope: every phony election maneuver, from November through January, blew up in his face, doubling down the agony.

Becker concludes: 

Trump aside – and so past his pull date he’s morphed into a political pestilence for both parties – there remains a glimmer of hope for past supporters willing to escape their fruitless messiah trip. True, loyalty to Trump after his execrable performances remain shocking to this day – as sobering as all those misguided, aggrieved 2016 citizens who judged this unqualified TV reality star/con artist a positive, constructive leader. Even take down the secular, urban, coastal elitists and the fabricated, demonic deep state. That turned out well – in fact, reinforcing establishment forces now pooling resources to put an end to the Trump terror.

Over time, multiple indictments and multiple trials, even a conviction or two, must occur before America can close out the terrible Trump treachery. How much resolution happens depends on how effectively current leaders, prosecutors and juries confirm for all time and for all who will listen who Trump was and what he remains. If not, the future is not just darker than we imagine, but darker than we can imagine.

Once again we see that Trump’s behavior is easily understood, and is predictable, based on an understanding of the psychopathology of malignant narcissism. (See Unpacking Malignant Narcissism) 

A few readers of some of my diaries about Trump’s malignant narcissism have commented basically “so what, there’s no need for a diagnosis, he’s just pure evil, what are we going to do about him?” The answer I keep giving is that by understanding the dynamics of Trump’s we can predict what he will do, or try to do, and we can best develop ways to counter it.

We have already seen his rage directed at anyone or any entity he feels slighted or attacked by. We have seen him support lunatic fringe GOP candidates in some primaries who, if they win, stand little chance against their Democratic opponents. The enraged malignant narcissist often does irrational and self-defeating things.

These manifestations of a wounded ego, and indeed Trump as Becker puts it in his article, is a “profoundly sick puppy”, serve to vent some of his frustrations but they are not well thought out and many may be self-defeating. Consider most recently his trying to sue CNN over using the term “The Big Lie.” There’s no way this will accrue to his benefit, let alone end up in a legal win, but it will keep The Big Lie in the news.

His threat against CNN or something like it was predictable by understanding Trump’s malignant narcissism. 

Trump will always be Trump. He is the ultimate narcissist and I rather doubt he allows himself to consider the possibility that someone he probably considers a wimp (this man)...

Screenshot2022-07-28at10.24.12AM.png

can ever bring him down. He will never change his core self, and if anything will be his undoing this will be it. 


Some election day psychology: A primer on narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders

 

By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist


I have written numerous articles about mental health especially as related to Donald Trump. Many were published on Daily Kos. I was one of the first members of Dr. John Gartner's Duty to Warn group.

If you do this Google search for Trump Hal Brown this is what you come up with:

Click above to enlarge image

I'd forgotten that a letter I wrotewas published on Medium.

Donald Trump is not the only politician to have manifest deeply concerning signs he or she had psychiatric disorders which could endanger democracy. 

On Election Day I thought it was a good to time to put together a simple primer for those who are interested in assessing which other politicians seem to have personality disorders which may make them a danger to democracy.

This is how The Mayo Clinic describes personality disorders:

A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.

In some cases, you may not realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you. And you may blame others for the challenges you face.

Personality disorders usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood. There are many types of personality disorders. Some types may become less obvious throughout middle age.

Not all people with personality disorders actually are distressed by having them or even have an inkling that they do. They are broken down into three groupings called clusters as follows:

Cluster A: characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. They include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Cluster B: characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Cluster C personality disorders: characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

All of these disorders with the exception of two are treatable. The people who have them seek treatment because they are suffering. The two that are not considered by the majority of mental health professionals to be treatable are narcissistic personality disorder antisocial  personality disorder. Rather than suffering themselves they causes other people to suffer. Some of them even revel in making others suffer and would be considered sadists or bullies. They often build up themselves at the expense of others.

How many politicians meet the criteria for one or both narcissistic personality disorder and/or antisocial  personality disorder (which used to be called sociopathic disorder)?

Let's review the characteristics of each disorder.:

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) includes:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and with lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by at least five of the following:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
  • Believes that they are "special" and can only be understood by or should only associate with other special people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations).
  • Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  • Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes

Antisocial personality disorder:

 Disregard for and violation of others rights since age 15, as indicated by one of the seven sub features: 

  1. Failure to obey laws and norms by engaging in behavior which results in criminal arrest, or would warrant criminal arrest 
  2. Lying, deception, and manipulation, for profit or self-amusement,
  3. Impulsive behavior
  4. Irritability and aggression, manifested as frequently assaults others, or engages in fighting
  5. Blatantly disregards safety of self and others, 
  6. A pattern of irresponsibility and 
  7. Lack of remorse for actions 


It is possible for one person to have both narcissistic personality and antisocial personality. While not a formally recognized diagnosis this has been called malignant narcissism.

(Malignant narcissism is) a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissismantisocial behavioraggression, and sadism.  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.

Malignant narcissism is not a diagnostic category, but a subcategory of narcissism. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), while malignant narcissism is not. Malignant narcissism could include aspects of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) alongside a mix of antisocialparanoid and sadistic personality disorder traits. The importance of malignant narcissism and of projection as a defense mechanism has been confirmed in paranoia, as well as "the patient's vulnerability to malignant narcissistic regression".  

A person with malignant narcissism exhibits paranoia in addition to the symptoms of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Because a malignant narcissist's personality cannot tolerate any criticism, being mocked typically causes paranoia. Wikipedia


I do not believe we can dismiss the way some Republican politicians fit into one or both categories. History should warn us what happens when people like this end up in power.