September 23, 2023

Wash. Post exposed Jim Jordan as the Disinformation Devil

Hieronymus Bosch/The Last Judgment
If it's on Amazon and Red Bubble does this mean it's true?

By Hal Brown

There's a good lead article in The Washington Post (which unfortunately you need a subscription to read) which I posted a comment to.

An escalating campaign, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans, has cast a pall over programs that study political disinformation and the quality of medical information online

This morning this was the main story on the website:

The Post uses the term misinformation while I use disinformation mostly because it sounds better with Devil. There is a subtle diffeence between the two. Misinformation is defined as false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive while disinformation is defined as false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.

Here's my comment:

Critical thinking should be taught early in primary school. Children are exposed at an early age to lies and distortions in television advertising so when they become consumers themselves they will believe commercials which sell products with exaggerated or bogus claims. The tendency for people to believe what they want to believe, at its most benign is exploited by companies that want to sell their new improved product when hasn't really changed for 50 years. Societally the way this human characteristic is taken advantage of by people who want not only your money (which they do want) but your votes is far from harmless.  

In the Bible Jesus says about Satan, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

The Devil is in the details and when the details are distorted, twisted, turned upside-down and inside-out the Devil wins and truth and, dare I say, humankind is harmed.

(Full disclosure: I am an atheist so this is meant to be a metaphor, though if the Devil existed I think Jim Jordan would have made a deal with him.)

The three comments that preceded mine:

The Post article begins:

Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.

The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.

It includes a photo of Jim Jordan surrounded by reporterswith the caption: Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.

The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.

The authors of the article interviewed more than two dozen professors, government officials, physicians, nonprofits and research funders. Many of them spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their internal deliberations freely, describe an escalating campaign emerging as online propaganda is rising.

They note that "public health officials are grappling with medical misinformation, as the United States heads into the fall and winter virus season."

If you think it's hyperbole for me to call Rep. Jordan the Devil of Disinformation consider this:

In recent weeks, Jordan has sent a new round of record requests to at least two recipients of grants from the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The program, one of many run by the independent agency to promote research, awards funding to groups creating tools or techniques to mitigate misinformation, such as software for journalists to identify misinformation trending online.

The article concludes with the following:

Many academics, independent scholars and philanthropic funders are discussing how to collectively defend the disinformation research field. One proposal would create a group to gather donations into a central fund to pay for crisis communications and — most critically — legal support if one of them gets sued or subpoenaed in a private case or by Congress. The money could also fund cybersecurity counseling to ward off hackers and stalkers and perhaps physical security as well.

“There is this growing sense that there need to be resources to allow for freedom of thought and academic independence,” said one longtime philanthropy grant maker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

University academics are also mulling ways to rebrand their work to attract less controversy. One leader in a university disinformation research center said scholars have discussed using more generic terms to describe their work such as “information integrity” or “civic participation online.” Those terms “have less of a bite to them,” said a person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak on the private discussions. Similar conversations are occurring within public health agencies, another person said.

“This whole area of research has become radioactive,” the person said.

Literal radioactivity can kill whether it is gamma radiation from a bomb, lingering radioactive dust, nuclear plant meltdown like occured after the Chernobyl disaster, or polonium-210 which was used as an assassination weapon against Alexander Litvinenko. 

The kind of radioactivty described in the article can not only kill research it can also kill people whether it comes from convincing people they don't need to get Covid and other vaccinations or from thwarting climate and medical research and sharing factual information and stopping the promulgation of lies about science.


Apparently a MAGA troll has a subscription to the Post and posted this. Note the two replies.
The commenter "Lecrtius do good" in a somewhat different way said what I said:

When everyone decided "liberal arts" was useless and education just became a worker job factory to learn "skills" and "earning power" then the path was set.

Whoever thought philosophy in high school and university was useless, well this is what we got. Usually this was pumped by the Right because (according to them) money is a value in and of itself and truth isn't a value. The Left jumped in the fray promoting postmodernism at the expense of thoughts of objectivity.

When people learn to engage in critical thinking from an early age they are less likely to be taken in by the propaganda promulgated by pros whether they work in government or for advertising agencies. When children pester their parents to buy sugary treats it may seem harmless for them to give in, but as adults they will waste their money buying useless products like Prevagen which is selling well enough so they can afford to pay for commercials on MSNBC where I'd hope viewers are more adept at critical thinking than those who watch Fox News.

For more on this read my blog:

Gullible people who believe Donald Trump may also believe anti-vaxxers like RFK Jr. and Dr. Zach Bush, and snake oil salespeople pushing products like Prevagen

Related: This was my New Yorker daily calendar cartoon yesterday:

September 22, 2023

Trump dragged through the mud at Mt. Rushmore


I read this article in Raw Story:

First Georgia trial will cripple Trump's odds of escaping unscathed: legal expert

This is the portion I wanted to comment on:

My bold:

With Powell and Chesebro's trail expected to be televised, the former president and the public will watch his reputation, such as it is, dragged through the mud and there will be little he can do about it.

I wrote the following:

There are two elements to this.

One, the former president may or may not watch any of these trials so he may literally not be watching his reputation dragged through the mud. What we can assume knowing his personality is that he won't percieve this as a negative. As far as he believes he is the greatest president and the greatest human being to drive a golf cart on the Earth ever.

The second regards the phrase "such as it is" because those members of the public who have had an open mind (not in his cult) already consider him to have committed crimes and to be an inveterate liar. How many times can his reputation be dragged through the mud?

I think what the salient point here is that there's a small but electorally important group of people who may not follow politics closely but for will respond to a drip-drip-drip of accumulating negative information about Trump's lawlessness and his unsavory character coming from this and subsequent trials.

In the GOP primaries they may vote for another candidate. They may decide he isn't the best candidate to beat Biden. If Trump runs against Biden, I can more see them just not voting rather than breaking the habit of a lifetime by voting for a Democrat. That's not a direct vote for Biden, but also not a vote against him, so it obviously is an important factor in who wins.

Trump thinks he belongs on Mt. Rushmore. In truth, if there was mud in front of the monument, that's where he should be.

Then I decided th make the illustration on the top of this page. I figured why let it go to waste lost the comments section where at least two people saw and replied to it (below) of a RawStory article, hence this blog. If you want to have a comment seen by readers of Raw Story mine is near the top of the page when you click Best.


File this under the pinacles of narcissism for a Republican: 

 “ 'We liked Ronald Reagan, right?' Trump said to chants of 'We love you' at a rally in Michigan in the final days of his 2020 campaign. But nobody ever said, ‘We love you. We love you.’” from Politco

September 21, 2023

Morning Joe says Trump's "fretting" about prison, but is he even capable of fretting?


By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist

There was a discussion on Morning Joe where Joe Scarbourgh said that there were reports that Donald Trump was "privately frettiing" over the propsect of going to prison.

Click to view

There it is, Trump "fretting" actually made the chryon so those who had their sound muted could see it. If Trump had the show on one of several TVs in his bedroom he could see it. He might have decided to turn off the sound on Fox News and watch MSNBC.

Here's some of what Joe said:

"He's the most insecure guy on the face of the earth behind that facade. He has to know what his fiercest defenders on Fox News say. Ninety-one counts – if he goes 90-1, he's going to jail for the rest of his life, 90-1. He could win 90 and lose one, every one of those counts, basically, at Donald Trump's age, that equals a life sentence, so, yeah, the guy is worried.


"I mean, we'd be throwing people's names around – 91 counts, every one of them is a life sentence. The guy, obviously, is cracking. I think he's losing it, which is why the last thing he wants to do, the last thing his lawyers want him to do, is go out and debate. He may give admissions, and his political people don't want him to lose his mind onstage." 

Trump wants to consider himself to be a rock star. Havig a big article in Rolling Stone is a milestone in a performer's career. I rather doubt Trump is happy that he and is mugshot are here:

There it is, that pesky word again.

I've heard Joe mention that he was aware that Donald Trump sometimes watched the show. I wonder what he would have thought if he watched this segment. Joe, Mika, and the crew have called Trump lots of things but saying he's insecure and that he's fretting over the chance of going to prison may get to him more than being called a buffoon or a clown.

As one of the top 1000 mental health experts (but then who's counting) who has publically expressed their opnion about Trump's psychopathology I feel complelled to correct the Morning Joe panel. 

If Trump was fretting it would be a rare indication that he had lapsed, not into florid psychosis, but into the realm of mental health.

If Trump worked in academia he'd be the Dean of Denial and be in charge of assuring that students only were taught things that they were comfortable with.

This isn't the first time pundits have ascribed normal psycholgical reactions to Donald Trump. For example this was from March:

Plain and simple we don't know what Trump is experiencing. Is he anxious? Is he fretting? We just don't know. 

Denial is the most primative or basic psychological defense mechanism. Freud first postulated it as a way some people dealt with facing extremely difficult facts of their personal reality:

Denial is a psychological defense mechanism postulated by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

The subject may use:

You can see Trump using all three types of denial. The more he uses simple denial the more psychogically impaired he is. Judging a the capacity for reality testing is a measure used in psychology to determine how dysfuntional a person is. It is called reality testing and defined as follows:

Reality testing is the psychotherapeutic function by which the objective or real world and one's relationship to it are reflected on and evaluated by the observer. This process of distinguishing the internal world of thoughts and feelings from the external world is a technique commonly used in psychoanalysis and behavior therapy, and was originally devised by Sigmund Freud. Wikipedia

Most of you are familiar the Kübler-Ross model of grief, which describes the five emotions that people experience when they cope with death. (Wikipedia). The first stage is denial. Pyshologically healthy people go on throough the next three stages, anger, bargaining, and depression before reaching the final stage of acceptance.

Denial is the first because it is the very most basic defense. 

I wonder if we'll see Trump go through these stages if he is sentenced to prison. I have my doubts because he is far from being a psychogically healthy person.

If Trump is anxious, if he's fretting, it would mean reality is percolating into his conscious awareness. If he's repressing this thoughts and feelings he is at risk of them manifesting themselves in somatic ways. 

I'm a clinical social worker and not a physician but I think I am on firm ground in speculating that as the chance of being incarcerated increases Trump is at higher risk of succumbing to some of the stress related physical illnesses.


Far be it from me to dispute Mary Trump who is the only mental health professional who actually knows (or knew) Donald Trump up close and personal, buit I think she is describing him as if he was normal.

I doubt Donald Trump reads what his psychologist neices writes about him. If he reads this piece here's what I think would bother him the most (in bold)

"I’m sorry Donald, but calling Charles Koch a 'very stupid, awkward, and highly overrated globalist,; is a clear sign to me… You must be getting nervous that Koch has already raised more than $70 million to oppose you in the Republican presidential primary. And there’s more coming," she said. "I can only imagine how off-the-charts your anxiety is especially since you know there is so much more trouble coming your way. Your childish name calling can only take you so far."

Mary Trump added: 

"Even more transparent than your anxiety is your jealousy. Charles Koch is at least 24x richer than you. You really shouldn't let your emotions take over like this Donald. Your pattern of name-calling and grievance is wearing thin and it just makes you look like the weak loser you are.

Koch isestimated to be worth about $60 billion making him the 20th richest person in the world. Forbes estimates Trump's worth as a paulty $2 ½ billion.

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Prolonged stress puts your body in a continuous state readiness for physical action. When your body has no time to re-establish equilibrium, it becomes overworked and your immune system weakens, making you susceptible to sickness. Many essential bodily processes are disrupted and your risk of health problems increases.

Some common physical effects of stress include (reference):

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