June 10, 2023

He's an innocent man. Just ask him. Can a regular guy who loves KFC be a criminal?


By Hal Brown

He says he got more votes than any sitting president by far in 2022. He also says he's an innocent man. He's innocent, he tells us, he's innocent. Soooo innocent!

Everything he was accused of doing wrong was a hoax, a hoax, all a big hoax... a big scam so the Democrats can win an election. 

Oh, and he's always putting America first. America, mind you, not himself.

I'm not making it up. You can hear him say these things here.

Come on unbelievers. Trump is just a regular guy. Sure he lives in a house with a big chandelier in the bathroom where he happens to store stolen secret documents...

... but then again he loves his KFC and Diet Cokes so he must be a regular guy just like you.

Click here if you don't see the Disquis comment section.

June 9, 2023

Don't call Trump's behavior inexplicable, Digby, when you wondered about this you gave the reason twice in your column

By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist

Heather "Digby" Parton is one of my three or four favorite columnists. She writes for Salon. Today she wrote:

The legal dominoes finally start to fall against Trump

Trump has lost the shield of the presidency that kept him safe for four years and the rule of law is coming for him

What I want to address here is just one word, emphasized below, in one sentence:

Trump has acted in inexplicably suspicious and self-defeating ways since he first ran for president in 2016. From calling on Russia to hack his rival's emails to his strange affinity for the worst dictators on the planet to his pathological lying about everything, Donald Trump has acted in ways that only cult members could excuse as normal.
Digby ends this paragraph writing that "Trump has acted in ways that only cult members could excuse as normal" which contradicts her saying the reasons for his behavior are inexplicable. They aren't inexplicable. Only cult members, who themselves aren't normal, think his actions are normal.

When I say normal in this context I mean mentally or psychologically normal. When I say I say abnormal II use it in the way it is used in abnormal psychology courses. I don't mean normal like, for example, saying that most professional basketball players are normally great if they make it into the pros while the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James are extraordinarily great, thus abnormal.

If I, who as a kid in when playing playground basketball game of HORSE, was so bad I think in my entire life probably only managed to sink one in 10 free throws, to go out for the basketball teams would be an inexplicable and self-defeating thing to do and especially humiliating considering the girls liked to watch the boys play. the 

Digby then goes on to express puzzlement by using the word "vexing" about the reasons he behaves in ultimately self-defeating ways:

This Mar-a-Lago case is especially vexing. When he decided to tell the government to go pound sand, he was not some naif who hadn't been in government before and didn't know the rules. He'd been president for four years by that time and knew very well that he was not supposed to keep classified documents at his beach club. And if they had been taken by accident in his chaotic move from the White House, he also knew very well that he should just give them back. But he refused, once again raising suspicions that he must be doing something nefarious with them. His behavior ever since then has done nothing to allay those concerns. Again, nobody normal would behave this way.
I highlighted several words above which provide the explanation. 

I propose that Digby and others flesh out such descriptions with modifiers, for example psychiatrically normal, or write things like no mentally stable person would act in ways that are so self-defeating.

I'd like to say I am writing this to bury the analysis of Trump once and for all since I've written about his psychiatric diagnosis so many times before. Between the minuscule contribution I've made to this body of work and what so many other mental health professionals have written I wouldn't be surprised if his personality has been analyzed by experts more than all other world leaders including Hitler, Lincoln, and Churchill.

Trump is now (see "Psychiatrists warn Trump's psychosis will grow as he becomes more desperate"), and Hitler was, a despot whose behavior many experts tried to understand though psychology Lincoln is said to have struggled with clinical depression . It has also be speculated that Churchill suffered from bouts of depression and mania. 

One of the most quoted sayings since Trump became a threat to democracy and mental health professionals began to write about how dangerous his psychopathology made him (a best selling book by mental health professionals was even titled "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump") was from "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu written in the 5th century BC. In it's various translations it means in essence that the best way to win at war is to know your enemy as well as you know yourself.

The best way to assure victory in a war or battle is to predict what your opponent will do before they do it. There are two way which work in tandem to do this. One is to look at past behavior as indices of future behavior and the other is to fully understand the personality of your opponent.

About the blog:

Here's a mystery. For unknown reasons all week the blog has had the largest percentage of readers logging on from Singapore. All I can think of is that this had something to do with this:

World's spy chiefs connect in secret conclave at Shangri-La Dialogue security meeting in Singapore

Perhaps this spy drama is a fantasy. There are expats from all over the world living in Singapore. Perhaps through word of mouth some of them have been following the blog. I'd appreciate anyone logging on from there comment and let me know who they are and how they discovered the blog, and what they think of it.

Was it an accidental moment of truth that Fox News online pictured Trump as most corrupt


By Hal Brown

My friend watched Fox News last night while we were watching MSNBC. I don't know why she subjects herself to this blood pressure raising torture. She said they were spinning the story as Biden prosecuting Trump to try to steal the election and that they had Steven Miller on (article and video).

While I never tune into Fox News, for the hell of it I thought I'd look at the Fox News website and above at the top of the blog is what I saw.

It struck me as a weird that Trump was pictured with the words "most corrupt" in caps and quotes under his photo. Could Fox News be editorializing that they had a sudden eureka moment of truth, justice, and the American way and were telling us that Trump was the most corrupt?

The clarification wasn't on the front page. It was in the first paragraph of the story that image was linked to:

EXCLUSIVE: Trump says indictment is 'election interference at the highest level'

 It, as shown above in my illustration, is:

Former President Trump said his federal indictment is "election interference at the highest level," telling Fox News Digital that the Biden administration is "the most corrupt" in history.

For a second I took the illustration literally at face value, i.e., the face that is pictured is of the most corrupt president in American history. Then I thought that it being on the main page of the Fox News website would be unprecedented. I had to check this out.

I discovered that what Fox News was trying to convey would be more accurately illustrated with a picture of Trump ranting that the Biden administration is the most corrupt in history.

They also could have found an unflattering photo of Biden to convey their meaning and used a photo like this:

This is what Trump and his MAGA mouthpieces want everyone to believe.

The article goes on at considerable length to attempt to paint President Biden as a bribery accepting criminal without evidence because supposedly Hunter Biden accepted $5 million from Burisma to get then Vice President Biden to make sure Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Slotkin, who was investigating the company, was fired.

According to the article:

The confidential source said the Burisma executive told him he "paid" the Bidens in such a manner "through so many different bank accounts" that investigators would not be able to "unravel this for at least 10 years."

The document then makes reference to "the Big Guy," which, has been said to be a reference to Joe Biden. 

It is believable that the troubled Hunter Biden was a grifter and took the money, but only someone willing to believe without evidence that Joe Biden was totally lacking in ethics, basically a illegitimately elected president, and a money-hungry criminal who would readily accept a bribe.

Of course, there are millions of Americans convinced that Joe Biden is an illegitimately elected president, a card carrying communist, and the Devil dressed in drag dragooning toddlers into changing their genders. 

About the blog:

Here's a mystery. For unknown reasons all week the blog has had the largest percentage of readers logging on from Singapore. All I can think of is that this had something to do with this:

World's spy chiefs connect in secret conclave at Shangri-La Dialogue security meeting in Singapore

There are expats from all over the world living in Singapore. Perhaps thorough word of mouth some of them have been following the blog. I'd appreciate anyone logging on from their comment and let me know who they are and how they discovered the blog, and what they think of it.

If you don't see the Disquis comment section below it is here.

June 8, 2023

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 the cart before the horse, only in this case the cart is a shopping cart. A ban of daytime camping just enacted in Portland, Oregon may make daytime scenes like this (above) more common.

Homelessness is multifaceted problem but not a particularly complex one to remedy. My intention isn't to elaborate on how to solve the problem. It should be a no-brainer. It certainly isn't the harsh measure of forcing people currently living in tents to wander the streets during the day in the hopes that this will force them to live in approved housing. 

Aside from the fact that there are not enough places for them to live, there are reasons that have to be addressed as to why those who don't avail themselves of such housing make the choice to live on the streets.

Here's the disturbing news for everyone who calls a tent their home in Portland, OR, and anyone with a modicum of empathy for them:

Click above to read article

I have a Portland (Oregon) street address although I really live a few hundred feet from the line between the city a suburban town that is on the terminus of one of the light rail lines from downtown. Low income passes are free or cost as little as $3. This is only relevant because Portland is banning daytime camping. More people will be able to head outside of city limits to find places to live on the street.

This may result in more homeless people deciding to set up camps in the town closest to me where we don't have resources to serve their needs.  Here's another article:

‘Inevitable’: Portland City Council passes daytime camping ban

The ban requires people living in tents to pack up and vacate between 8 AM and 8PM. It will go into effect on July 7th. Talk about a very unhappy Independence Day for the numerous people who live in tents within the city limits of Portland.

I appreciate Portland, the western part of Oregon, and our state government for being very progressive in numerous ways. Unfortunately, I am ashamed for the city because they are taking this inhumane and draconian measure before there are enough solutions in place so nobody has to be ejected from their tents to pay a fine they can't afford, and possibly end up in jail. Lest anyone forget, these tents are their homes and when in clusters they are their neighborhoods.


People living on the streets, business owners have mixed reactions to Portland daytime camping ban

June 7, 2023

If you watch all 10 mins. of Tucker Carlson's first Twitter show and are like me it will be 10x longer than you've ever watched him


By Hal Brown

This morning I went there and watched Tucker Carlson's Twitter debut show so I could write this blog. Until now the most I'd seen of Tucker Carlson were brief segments aired on MSNBC. 

I did this after finding out about his new "show" from HUFFPOST and clicking on the link to Twitter in their article 

Tucker Carlson’s New Twitter Show, Seen By Millions, Starts With Conspiracy Theories

Click above to enlarge image

I doubt you'll do it, but you can watch the Tucker's Twitter debut by clicking here.

I am too lazy to offer a complete summary of what he said though I want to share a few impressions.

I was surprised that some of his references went so far beyond sarcasm that I wondered if they would fly like the alien UFO's he said he were in possession of the US government (along with the bodies of alien pilots) over the heads of many of his viewers. Really, he spent about two  minutes on how the "fact" that alien UFOs exist and we have been studying them and their the bodies of their pilots is the covered up story of the century.

He also explained what using tautology as a  persuasion technique was, and he accused the mainstream media of using this technique of argument incessantly when I doubt most of his viewers know what the term means. In fact, Carlson's stock in trade is tautology. Having graduated from Trinity College (ranked 39 among US liberal arts colleges) and being one of their best known alumni he certainly is familiar with the concept. Of the hundreds of notable alumni listed on Wikipedia, alas (for him) he's only number four of the 10 who are pictured as select alumni in the sidebar. He is after Christine C. Quinn, David Cage, and Dov Zakheim who aren't household names. If he ever looks at this I assume he can beat his chest over being above George Will and the creator of MyTunes.

Click above to enlarge

He managed to get in references to trans women calling them skinny dudes in dresses. 

Unanswered questions apparently trouble Carlson. For example, who organized the BLM riots, what  really happened on 911, and who killed JFK?

Although Nikki Haley and Lindsey Graham got knocks, there were two primary villains in his 10 minute Twitter debut. One was the media and the other was Zelenski who he described with a string of insults saying that he was ratlike and a shifty dead-eyed man in a tracksuit.

Perhaps time limitations kept him from gushing or crushing over Putin, the dictator who likes to be photographed barechested. He didn't even mention his name.  He supports Russia in the Ukraine war. In fact, one of his segments was replayed on Russian TV:

He began his debut "show" explaining why he is sure they weren't responsible for blowing up the Kakhovka dam blaming it on Ukraine.

Describing the media toward the end of his show (I'll take the word out of quotes) he says they have stories like "here's a story about racism now go eat each other." I have no idea what he meant by now go eat each other.

How many of his regular viewers will follow him to Twitter and watch him on their Internet devices rather than on television remains to be seen. Unless Elon Musk decides to pay him I don't know how he can make much money off of this although his net worth has been estimated to be $30 million.

Of course with an ego like Tucker's maybe money isn't all that important to him.


Related blog from June 2nd: The unemployed TV personality who could beat Trump.

Here's a mystery. For unknown reasons all week the blog has had the largest percentage of readers logging on from Singapore. All I can think of is that this had something to do with this:

June 6, 2023

Reading how the magnificent in his own mind megalomanic was mocked by George Conway as nihilistic moron led me to think of what it would be like if Trump was imprisoned.


Click above to enlarge my photoshop of Trump
playing with his little putter in prison yard.

Trump in jail for the documents would be like Jack the Ripper
 getting caught and sent to a London gaol for filching a bicycle.
 For such a magnificent in his own mind megalomanic
 this would be the ultimate affront. In some countries
an attempted coup to subvert a legitimate election
a conviction could mean the death sentence.

By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist

George Conway mocked Donald Trump as a "nihilistic moron" for risking years in prison by hoarding classified documents at his private resort at Mar-a-Lago on Morning Joe this morning:

Click to watch video

This is some of what he said:

"We are approaching the very end. I kept hearing this ear worm in my head as I was coming to the studio this morning, 'this is it, make no mistake.' We're getting down to the final strokes of this race, and what's clearly really remarkable about it is that of all the things that this man has done, eight decades of lying and cheating and stealing, this case, this documents case, is probably the easiest, shortest, simplest and yet carries the most severe penalties, likely penalties, of any of the cases, any of the legal issues that he's ever faced."

"Now people will say, you know, he really, in a just world, he would go to jail for what he did on Jan. 6, the weeks approaching Jan. 6... And I kind of agree with that, but for this man who is basically a nihilistic moron, for him to go to jail potentially for a long time, these Espionage Act charges bring very heavy sentences to potentially go to jail for something so pointless and silly and useless as keeping these documents is actually kind of fitting."

Instead of being imprisoned among criminals who worked their way up to being crime bosses by making their bones by cutting the throats of their rivals in the underworld, he'd be with a bunch of pickpockets and and shoplifters. Sure, he'd be their king, but he'd be a rock star among ruffians. 

Seriously, though, it doesn't matter whether Trump goes to a county jail or a state or federal prison. While he may end up, if convicted of a felony, ending up in home confinement which would be a travesty considering that his home is a mansion where staff will wait on him hand and foot. He might even be able to entertain anyone he want to have there. 

For justice to be served he needs to be locked up where, while inmates may be thrilled to have him there, and correction officers may enjoy telling their friends and family stories about what he'd like, he'll still be subject to all the rules of the facility.

From having his freedom of movement dictated to and having to wear standard prison clothes Trump will have to suffer the indignity of no longer being in charge of his domain. I doubt he'd be able to wear a MAGA hat, let alone a t-shirt like this:

While there is no proof Trump uses a golden toilet obviously he uses a normal porcelain one. It would be an adjustment, to say the least, to find he has us one of these for his morning ablutions and must perch his prodigious posterior on this:

I've never being in jail, but I have been inside of two jails numerous times in my capacity as a mental health consultant where I assessed inmates who were thought to be suicidal. It was always disconcerting to go through the sally port, the double doored entry area where a corrections officer briefly had you in a small locked area. If they didn't know and like you they could make you wait as long as they felt like it in the locked area. 

Not surprisingly some of these CO's took perverse delight in keeping me waiting for a few minutes while they pretended to attend to some more important matter. I knew I would soon get in and be escorted to interview an inmate, again in a locked room. More importantly I knew I would be getting out, but even that short loss of freedom had an impact.*

Actual inmates are at the absolute mercy of corrections officers for everything. Even a former president would be compelled do what he is told to do.

* I have also been given private tours of the Bidgewater State Prison (MA) by the stress officer who worked with staff and who was a friend who referred many CO's to me for therapy.

June 5, 2023

Fearing for freedom's fate and feeling like the vexed man (or woman)? I grok how you feel. A shrink's advice.


By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist
More about the artist.

For those not familiar with the word grok, it was coined by science fiction master Robert Heinlein in his classic book Stranger in a Strange Land. It means  "to understand intuitively or by empathy.

I don't actually feel like this most of the time when I follow political news. I know people who do, if not most of the time, much of the time. I also know people who become so upset by it that they turn off and tune out the news. 

I was reading this optimistic Washington Post OpEd by Greg Sargent titled "Opinion Biden has a theory of MAGA that just might be working"...

The photo is of President Biden in his embodiment of Dark Bandon Badass wearing his 3025 Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses. Full-discloser, while I am not really all that superstitious, I have a pair on order which should come in a few days. I am hoping that by wearing them I can send good vibes to the president.

This ad was in the middle of the essay:

Sargent concludes his column this way:

Yet Biden also plainly believes that conducting the nation’s business on a bipartisan basis is inherently stabilizing. That sometimes requires treating the opposition — or a large swath of it — as a mostly conventional political party, which risks mitigating perceptions of the threat it poses.

In the debt limit outcome, that tension proved far more navigable than many, including me, expected. How this tension will play out in 2024 is hard to predict, but for now, the Biden theory of MAGA has mostly been vindicated.

I hope his conclusion, that the Biden theory of MAGA has mostly been vindicated, proves to be true. 

How does this relate to feeling like the Vexed Man? 

In general I see myself as neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I like to believe that I'm not a glass is half full or glass is half empty kind of person. I like to believe that I look at the glass and factor in evaporation rates of the liquid in the glass and based on the humidity and the likelihood of rain I determine whether the glass will fill up or be depleted. 

When it comes to the possibility that in the next election the United States will take an irrevocable step to becoming a fascist autocracy with a bigoted anti-woke America first agenda I eschew hyperbole and try my damnedest to be objective.

This isn't to say that from time to time I don't succumb to the shpilkes. I do. 

My recommendation to those who feel overwhelmed by anxiety about the future of the country is to be kind to themselves and make a concerted effort to spend some time every day to take a distraction break. 

Do the things that are likely to give you pleasure. Spend time with people you love, treat yourself to a meal at a favorite restaurant, if you don't subscribe to a streaming video service pick the one that most appeals to you and find movies, or better yet long running TV shows, to watch. 

Take a drive in the country or just go for a walk, plant a garden, hell, if it suits you go to the city dump and shoot rats with a .22 riffle.

If you can afford it, there's retail therapy. This involves the process of shopping and then the pleasure in getting what you buy.  You don't have to spend a lot. Shop for a pair of happy socks, buy some inexpensive costume jewelry, or if you like gadgets or tools go to an electronics or Lowes type store and buy something on impulse.

Consider redecorating a room or just getting rid of a worn out piece of furniture. The idea is to treat yourself.  You can always do what I did, buy a pair of Ray-Ban 3025's.

Click above to read
I am aware that these glasses are the same sunglasses worn by Tom Cruise in his Top Gun movies and that Ron DeSantis, referring to himself as "Top Gov", also wore them, or glasses that looked like them, in a 2022 ad pretending to be a tighter pilot.

About the blog:

If you are new to my blog, welcome. Scroll down here to see all of the tags I've used and all of my blogs since 2012. The blog only became totally political in the last two years. However if you are interested here's what I wrote about politics in 2016.

Weekly stats by country:

For some reason I had many readers from Singapore this week. Could it be that major country spy chiefs are meeting there this week in a secret enclave?  The international readership varies but usually after the US the most logons are from Russia.

June 4, 2023

How article about Jack Smith reconvening grand jury sent me a mystical message about justice's jigsaw puzzle

 How article about Jack Smith reconvening grand jury sent me a mystical message about justice's jigsaw puzzle

By Hal Brown

I read through this article (shown above):

NBC News: Grand jury in Trump classified documents case expected to meet this coming week after hiatus

A grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the case against former President Donald Trump is expected to meet this coming week in Washington after a lull.

It lays out in great detail how Trump is likely to be charged in the Mar-a-Lago documents case and what his various defense tactics could be. You can read the article above or a summary here:

After I read the NBC News article I scrolled through the names of the five reporters who are credited with the scoop.

(On halbrown.org and most platforms this is published on you can click the following images to enlarge them.)

 and came to the following:

It often happens that I open advertising websites accidentally because the trackpad on my laptop is very sensitive. If I touch it lightly when the cursor is over and ad the ad opens. By mistake I clicked on the animated ad from CRAFTHUB for jigsaw puzzles on the left above. This took me here:

Sometimes ads pop up in the middle of articles that seem to be there because some artificial intelligence was playing a joke or making a snark comment in reaction to the text surrounding the ad. In this case were the cybergods saying making a commentary about the evidence and aspects of the legal morass in this particular case, and even about all of the literal trials and testicle twisting tribulations facing Donald Trump.

Full Disclosure: I write the following as a secular Jew who doesn't believe in God and considers the Bible to be book of fables mixed with accounts of actual events.

There are lots of pieces to the judicial jigsaw puzzle, or puzzles, involving Trump, but eventually the American judicial system may have its come to Jesus moment.* Despite in significant instances from the ironically named Supreme Court to lesser courts having followed the Fallen Angel into his domain, it will have a  redemption of near Biblical proportions.

It is a sickly icky irony that the far right member of these courts wear the cloaks of Christianity while making rulings that if there was to be a Second Coming Jesus would be having a serious sit-down with them to enlighten them about the errors of their ways. Of course considering that John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are Catholic they don't have to wait until the End of Times. They could confess their transgressions to their priest.

Related article:

Compassion doesn't count ballots: Biden does the moral thing on immigration and it will hurt him with many voters. All Trump needs now is his own Willie Horton. by Hal Brown, MSW

In the news today a top story  (read article)  is that President Biden has once again demonstrated that he has a heart and good sense when i...