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April 18, 2019

Hal Brown's blog late April 2019

April 20, 2019

The White House Played ‘Edelweiss’ As Mueller Report Dropped

Because Of Course it Did - anti-Nazi song from Sound of Music, the irony wasn't lost on many reporters.

Editorial: (Coments are on Daily Kos)
Why I lean towards the House impeaching Trump

Click above to see video
I am strongly leaning towards the House impeaching Trump even though the vote count in the Senate isn't there to convict. I think the House should make certain it lays out a compelling case for impeachment, one that at a small but perhaps signficant GOP members of the Senate will find hard to ignore, especially if they face a tough reelection in 2020. The House hearings will be viewed by millions, even on Fox, especially when high profile players like Mueller testify. They should if possible subpoena members of the Trump family and his White House flunkies.

We should remember that in the Senate trial members of the House act as prosecutors. The president must have his own defense attornies, and I do not think that can be Barr. I don't know if he can use the White House counsel. Even though the GOP controlled Senate sets the actual rules and they would favor the president's side, they can't change who prosecutes the case.

This would give a second bite of the apple to the Democrats as they made their case not just to the jury, that is, the members of the Senate, but to the American people. Odds are Trump won't be removed from office but his base, angry as they are over the impeachment, would vote for him no matter what. It is his losing a crucial percentage of intelligent conservatives who haven't lost their ethical compass. There's a good article about this in The Atlantic: The Mueller Report Could Alienate the Voters Republicans Need -

Psychoanalyst Howard Covitz predicts Trump's "psychic collapse" because of his unstable mind, and this article addresses his angst.

The Memo: Mueller's depictions will fuel Trump angst

Excerpt: ... 

Robert Mueller painted a damning picture of the Trump administration, even as he handed the president a victory on the central issue of collusion with Russia.

The Trump White House, as portrayed by Mueller, revolves around an impulsive and angry president who issues orders that underlings often defy, ignore or seek to delay
The depiction will enrage a president who fixates on the concept of strength and is hyper-sensitive about any suggestion that he is not in absolute control of his administration.
“He will be livid to see this spelled out — and it is not clear that he is always aware when his advisers are doing this,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “For someone who is already a little bit paranoid about institutional opponents, it will create even more of a sense of distrust within the White House.”
But people who have served in the Trump White House told The Hill they heard the ring of familiarity — and felt no surprise — at the depictions offered in the special counsel’s report.
“I’ve personally been on the receiving end of a Trump broadside for trying to get him not to do something nuts,” one former White House official recalled ruefully.


Daily Beast
One can only imagine Putin’s delight when, a year or so into the IRA project, Trump entered the race for president and quickly gained a following. The man had a genius for discord, making Americans of all stripes feel bad about the country. Trump offered his supporters a litany of national weaknesses and failures, pledging, “I alone can fix it.” To his opponents, the leading symptom of civic decline was Trump himself.

Even better for Putin, despite the train wreck of Russia’s fortunes, Trump was an admirer. And he shared Putin’s goal of limiting the U.S. role in world affairs. It must have seemed incredible to Moscow that a candidate given to praising Putin and attacking NATO was, by the summer of 2016, on his way to the Republican presidential nomination.

As Mueller shows, Putin doubled down on his unlikely wins. The Russian military went to work hacking into the files of the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton campaign and election offices across the country, looking for ways to help Trump along. What mayhem and discord might flow from an actual Trump presidency!

I don’t see much in Mueller’s report to convince me that emails stolen by the Russians and published through WikiLeaks actually tipped the balance in 2016. Clinton lost, in my opinion, because her campaign was a lackluster exercise in entitlement. But Putin came away the huge winner, nonetheless, thanks to the deep-seated insecurity of the new president. by 

The Mueller Report Could Alienate the Voters Republicans Need The special counsel’s findings validate the concerns of anyone who feared how Donald Trump would wield presidential power. From The Atlantic

Conclusion: The Mueller report may not dislodge significant elements of Trump’s electoral coalition, some of whom thrill to his behavior and others who accept it in the same implicit bargain as do Republicans in Congress. But it seems highly likely to reinforce the doubts of the nearly 55 percent of Americans who expressed unease, if not outright revulsion, about him as president through their votes for other candidates in the 2016 election and for Democrats in the 2018 House races.

In 2016, many of Trump’s voters, uncertain of him but desiring change and dubious of Hillary Clinton, consciously took a flier: According to exit polls, about one-fifth of his supporters said they doubted that he had the experience to succeed as president, and about one-fourth said they doubted that he had the temperament. (Those numbers were even higher among ambivalent college-educated white voters.) Especially after the brutal bill of particulars that Mueller identified about Trump’s behavior, those voters now face a reckoning on their choice. No member of Congress, no potential executive-branch appointee, and, above all, no voter can claim any illusions about what a Trump second term might look like, especially if enabled by a Congress fully controlled again by Republicans.
Mueller sent many signals in his report that, given his own legal constraints, he expected Congress to assume responsibility for imposing accountability for Trump’s behavior. But his report also shows the limits of relying solely on courts and prosecutors to uphold the rule of law, or to defend basic standards of morality, in government. After Mueller’s detailed catalog of Trump’s unacceptable, if not indictable, behavior, that responsibility more clearly than ever rests with voters.

My comment: Trump won't be happy until we're in the black.

April 19, 2019
Click to enlarge

Click here for story: the first
 two 2020 candidates say impeach

Trump facing ‘psychic collapse’ after Mueller’s report puts more pressure on his unstable mind: Psychoanalyst Howard Covitz - (Covitz and I are co-administrators of a Facebook therapists group devoted to discussing Trump, and have been distant friends since this all started.)

 The next days and weeks should clarify which of these paths he chooses and how much and what kind of violence he chooses to promote. It is impossible to precisely predict the future actions of someone who apparently lives under the belief that après moi le deluge.
These are, in my estimation, the most dangerous times thus far in Trump’s presidency … Dangerous for the republic with dangers for the world and dangerous for my grandchildren.

Raw Story: How did you come, as a psychoanalyst to enter public discussion about a public figure? Isn’t there a rule against professionals speaking in psychiatric terms about public figures?

Howard H. Covitz: I am a staunch advocate of that rule in all situations when there is no risk of catastrophic danger to others. I have chosen to speak out because a man was elected President (and given unimaginable powers to do good and evil) who shows the signs of those people who are prone to doing others harm.

For him, if I take his words seriously, life is a zero-sum game, and he must win all the time. The Psalmist said not about Trump but about the God that so many of his followers devoutly worship: “To God belongs the Earth and all that it contains” (Psalm 24). That’s not the way God-complex Trump sees it…. Furthermore, I must say, that any armed person who is not President and who is doing and saying what Donald Trump says often and openly would be whisked off by the gendarmes to a psychiatric facility for testing.
He is being portrayed in the report as one who can be controlled – the Emperor, in the report, does indeed have small hands, so to speak. How someone like he will be able to integrate the public shaming that this brings forth for him is not predictable but should be a source for grave concern.
That having been said and, again, assuming again that his pathological behaviors are not all a show, we may presume either an increase in these disturbing behaviors (pulling out of NATO, declaring national emergencies for whatever he chooses to do, ramping up tensions with Iran, using the full-force of the executive branch to leash friends and whip foes, … ), or a psychic collapse.

William Barr couldn’t save them. In 448 pages, a deeply corrupt West Wing culture was revealed. And the real time bomb, says a Trumpworld insider, “is the S.D.N.Y.” --- A former West Wing official made a more prosaic case. “Trump stinks,” the person said. “The report gives everyone a better whiff of the odor.” Vanity Fair

I wonder if one of the members of the private Facebook group just for therapists which I am a member of is really a Russian psychologist working on Trump's profile. McLaughlin said he knows they must be pouring o the Mueller report. He thinks they must be especially concerned about why Trump's subordinates didn't follow his orders.

Welcome to the Fourth Reich: Donald Trump's assault on the rule of law will not end well - Chauncey DeVega

EXCERPTS: Donald Trump is not an ideologue or a person who possesses a coherent or sophisticated understanding of political theory, history or philosophy. He is all impulse and id, a man gifted in manipulating the fears of ignorant and insecure white people in the service of expanding his power and his fortune. Trump's enforcers, including Attorney General William Barr, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and the right-wing media machine, are then tasked with transforming the president's most base impulses into public policy.

As we have seen throughout Trump's presidency -- and as we see now in Robert Mueller's report, with its extensive litany of borderline corruption and its numerous instances of blatant obstruction of justice -- the president and his allies disregard the law whenever it is inconvenient, and enforce it with callous cruelty when it serves their goals.

This strategic arbitrariness weakens and delegitimizes the rule of law until, at some point, it can be totally rejected and dispensed with. The Trump administration's ultimate goal is a "permanent state of exception" in the service of racial authoritarianism.


The myth of American Exceptionalism will not save American democracy or its citizens from Trump's machinations and the global dystopia his agents are so feverishly working to create. In 1935, Sinclair wrote his famous novel "It Can't Happen Here" about the rise of authoritarianism and fascism in the United States. His warning was eight decades prescient about the Age of Trump. But unfortunately Sinclair's question is being asked too late, the tragedy is already unfolding and the answer is a plain and clear "yes". William Barr's distorted version of the Mueller Report is all just scribbling on the epithet of America's democracy and empire. The American people decided to be bystanders to their own history and destiny. This is very pathetic. It is also the truth and a tragedy.


The conservative publication The Bulwark was unsparing in its criticism of the president’s actions revealed by the Mueller probe, arguing that “The Mueller report reads like the indictment of a mob boss, not an investigation of a president.” Read here.


‘It’s as if he failed an Alzheimer’s competency test’: Chris Matthews says of Trump’s written responses

I think these are mutually exclusive. Either Trump is a bald-faced liar or he has full-blown Alzheimer's. I think there's a good case for pre-dementia, but not outright la-la-land dementia. HB

April 18, 2019

Somebody who is much better at photoshop than I am made this:

Click image to enlarge. You can see that the
 new photoshop has some flaws but I think
you will get the message. 
Most photos of Barr show him grinning or scowlingI had to find this photo of Barr and erase the microphone in front of his face.
I put this on Twitter: (130 people have seen it 😋)

N. Korea: Secretary Of State Should Be Replaced In Talks By Someone More ‘Mature’

“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” (senior foreign ministry official) Kwon said.
“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialog with the United States, I wish our dialog counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
Being talked about on MSNBC: 

Trump Tells Aides: ‘Keep an Eye’ on Fox News, Make Sure It Stays Loyal to Me Daily Beast

On a "lighter" note, you can get high
before you die if you eat this burger.
It was late March, and Donald Trump was preoccupied with the swirl of new investigations launched by House Democrats against him and his inner sanctum, and with the coming delivery of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on Russian election meddling and Trump’s possible obstruction of justice.
In the midst of all this, there was another question weighing heavily on the president’s mind: Was Fox News, his favorite organ of conservative media and pro-Trump messaging, being sufficiently subservient to him?
“Keep an eye on it,” Trump started telling aides, according to two people with direct knowledge of his directive, in conversations about what was going on behind-the-scenes at Fox, and if there was any cause for concern for even the slightest positive coverage of any Democrat.
To any casual observer of Fox News or the Fox Business Network, this might seem like a hilariously irrational fear. The networks’ ratings-driving primetime lineups are jam-packed with vociferous Trump defenders, and some of Fox’s biggest names—such as Pete Hegseth, Sean HannityLou Dobbs, Rupert Murdoch, to name just a few—have long served as sounding boards, phone-a-friends, and informal advisors to the president.
But privately, President Trump had been raising these questions of institutional loyalty, on-and-off, since at least the middle of last year. Several people who’ve heard him do this view it as more of a gutcheck than a loss of faith, and as yet another indication that Trump can interpret even the smallest deviations as a slight or a betrayal.

April 17, 2019

I have high hopes that if not tomorrow, in the next two or three weeks Trump and his protector won’t be standing in front of a bed of roses. Instead I hope they are standing disgraced and humilated, exposed as the inept corrupt clowns they are in front of a pile of steaming manure.

April 16, 2019 
The number is up to 29,000 more than the population of nearby towns like Tulatin and West Linn.

Click images to enlarge
High flying Trump and the Coulson Next Gen Airtanker fire fighting plane. Up, Up, and Away - PLEASE.
I put this on Twitter

Read about the airplane here.

The first and last tweets are batshit cray-cray! He wishes the Bernie audience wasn’t smiley and nice? And, BTW aasswipoe, the Russia story is BIGGER than Watergate but not for the reason you want it to be.

Excerpt: So another norm of public decency falls, like a historical building demolished to make way for one of Donald Trump’s tasteless towers. 
When the president of the United States goes after an American Muslim — in this case Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who came to the United States as a Somali refugee — using images of the 9/11 attacks, it is cruel, frightening and dangerous in new ways.

It is cruel because Trump essentially delivered his political rant while standing on desecrated graves. The images he employed not only included burning buildings but burning human beings, drafted into a sad and sordid political ploy. Is nothing sacred to Trump? When said aloud, the question sounds like an absurdity. Trump has never given the slightest indication of propriety, respect or reverence. His narcissism leaves no room to honor other people or to honor other gods. Both the living and the dead matter only as servants to the cause of Trump himself.

Best Bernie quote from his Fox News town hall:

Sanders was pressed on whether he’d personally volunteer the higher tax burden he’s proposing on top earners. This is a dopey conservative attack, and the answer is easy: The wealthy as a class must pay higher rates as an institutional matter, and by proposing this change, Sanders is of course including himself in the ranks of those who would pay more. There will be time to get this answer right.
This testiness aside, Sanders offered another good response, telling the Fox moderators: “Why don’t you get Donald Trump up here and ask him how much he paid in taxes?”

April 15, 2019

Trump schooled French fire fighters in how to best handle the conflagration at Notre Dame. Sorry Donald, French experts thought of the water drop (duh, like they wouldn't) and say it could collapse the rest of building. I am sure they appreciate your unsolicited advice.


Trump Spent His Sunday Night Hate-Watching Nancy Pelosi’s ‘60 Minutes’ Interview

April 9, 2019

Hal Brown blog on Trump April, 2019

April 14, 2019

The poll at 10 AM Pacific. Note this is from the very liberal Daily Kos

Trump in a Cantonese opera, watch two minute segment below:

This begged for my photoshop addition:

If it's not one thing, it's another dept: We have become inured to such pronouncements from Trump and Co. but really, can you imagine if a Democratic presidential press secretary said, in all seriousness (not as a lame joke) this: Sarah Sanders: 'I don't think Congress' is 'smart enough' to look through Trump's taxes
Does she know anything about Richard Neal's record in the House?

With several influential committee posts, Neal has made economic policy the focus of his career, although his success has been mixed.[2] He served his first two terms on the House Banking Committee, where he served on the Financial Services Subcommittee. As the banking reform law of 1991 was being drafted, he cautioned that President George H. W. Bush's proposal could negatively affect small businesses and minority-owned businesses. He introduced an amendment to require reports on lending to these businesses, which was adopted.[24]
In 1993 Neal moved to the House Ways and Means Committee, where he currently serves.[24] He has been chairman of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures since 2008 and is a member of the Subcommittee on Trade. Previously he served on the Oversight and Social Security subcommittees.[25] In the late 2000s analysts considered Neal a likely frontrunner for chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and in the wake of Charles B. Rangel's 2010 departure he began actively seeking the post.[3][26] In June 2010, while pursuing the chairmanship, he invited campaign contributors to a $5,000-per-person weekend fundraiser in Cape Cod. This drew fire from The Boston Globe, which criticized him for "[acceding] to the capital's money culture."[27]
According to Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America, one of Neal's longstanding legislative priorities is to simplify the tax code.[2] Neal has long advocated repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), believing its effects have reached unreasonably low income brackets.[28] He led an unsuccessful movement to reform the AMT in 2007.[2] In 1998 he successfully pushed to exempt a child tax credit from being affected by the AMT, and in 2001 Congress made the exemption permanent at his urging.[29] He voted against the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, saying they would force millions onto the AMT.[30] Another priority of Neal's is to eliminate tax "loopholes" that favor higher-income individuals.[2] He was the lead proponent of a bill to require federal contractors to pay federal taxes for workers hired through offshore shell headquarters. The bill, H.R. 6081, passed both houses of Congress unanimously and was signed into law in May 2008.[31]
On trade policy, Neal has a moderate record, supporting lower trade barriers.[32] He voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993.[11] In 1995 and 2002 he voted against fast track bills that gave the president the authority to negotiate trade deals without amendments by Congress. In 2007 he voted in favor of the United States – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement despite some Democratic opposition.[2]
Neal is a strong supporter of the Social Security program. He moved from the Trade subcommittee to the Social Security subcommittee in 2005 to challenge President George W. Bush's attempts to partially privatize it.[30] He pushed a proposal to automatically enroll employees in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and successfully lobbied President Barack Obama to include it in a proposed 2009 budget outline.[2]
In 2017 Neal and Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, played a key role in preserving the carried interest tax loophole lobbied by private equity, venture capital and Wall Street, against the election promises and legislative directions of President Trump.[33]
In February 2019 Neal came under criticism for failing to promptly exercise his authority as Ways and Means Committee chair to subpoena Donald Trump's tax returns.[34] Citing a need to build a strong case in a potential lawsuit, Neal delayed taking this step until April 2019.[35]

In 2019 the House Ways and Means Committee led by Neal passed a bill that would prohibit the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.[36] During his 2016 and 2018 campaigns, Neal received $16,000 in contributions from Intuit and H&R Block, two tax preparation companies that have lobbied against the creation of free tax filing systems.[36]

April 13, 2019
This story managed to get on the "recommended list" which means that an actual person reviewed it and decided to give it this additional exposure. As a result so more than 1200 people took the poll and there are over 180 comments.

Exclusive: By Howard Covitz, PhD, Psychoanalyst

Pope Alexander VI
Sheila Nielsen, one of our clearest thinkers and a hero of mine, just yesterday opined: "I wish our lawmakers had done a better job of cross examining Barr. Mostly they failed to pin Barr down sufficiently." I wish, too, Sheila but I wonder ... had the questions been tougher would there have been even one other defection from the Republican bloc ... One? 

The Republicans heard exactly what they wanted ... what The Leader openly declared that he wanted ... "My own Roy Cohn." It seems obvious that they've concluded that the odds of them going down in 2020 are higher, now, if Trump goes down than if they come out of this triumphant ... don't even matter if it's "triumphantly delusional" in what they say ... 

One sees this in many emotional disorders and diseases. The Obsessional-Compulsive-Prohibitive type who is potentially destroying body and soul responds to no "rational" explanation of the dangerousness of their behaviors. The anorexic? same. Even some folk suffering from hysterical psychoses, will learn that there is a less painful way to be ... if they're delusional, they may indeed know that there is a different way to parse their delusional thoughts ... but giving it up is not an option. I could go on. The majority of the person's power is in holding on ...

We who fear that another day -- nevermind another 5.9 years -- of Trump threatens the integrity of the Republic may pragmatically (and maybe Cummings and Pelosi and the others already know all this as obvious) need to recognize the strategy of the Republican Bloc ... Let's say it again ... Trump could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and lose barely a single vote in McConnell's Senate; he has already demonstrated this.

Indeed, that is the shift that happened in Weimar, in Cuba, in the Baltics, in Uganda, in Putin's Russia and Trump's Amerika ... ... the point, after they've made some initial unforgivable concessions to The Leader, when these Haves decide that they now have everything to lose by being in the opposition.

The Republican Bloc-- I think it is inarguable -- has passed this point of no return.

My version of the illustration from the Covitz essay:

Pope Alexander VI was known for his libertinism and nepotism. He fathered several children by his mistresses. His foreign policy was to be most advantageous for his family. Steve Bannon wants to make have Trumper replace Pope Francis so consider my version of the famous panting.

This must be the season for treason.

In the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon, President Trump gave a lesson on American justice to the visiting South Korean president. Speaking about the Mueller investigation and its origins, Trump said: “This is actually treason.”

This wasn’t offhand. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the probe was a “Treasonous Hoax” and that “what the Democrats are doing with the Border is TREASONOUS.” That same day, boarding Marine One, he reaffirmed that what Democrats and Justice Department officials did in the Mueller probe “was treason.”

On April 6, he declared it’s “about time the perpetrators . . . start defending their dishonest and treasonous acts.” He added an injunction associated with the Holocaust: “Never Forget!”

This has become routine. In the past few weeks, Trump informed the NATO secretary general that the investigation of him could be “treasonous” and let Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu know that “a lot of people out there” have done “treasonous things against our country.” Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity: “It was really treason. . . . We can never allow these treasonous acts to happen to another president. . . . you are talking about major, major treason.” Minor treason is a thing?

Trump has publicly invoked “treason” or “treasonous” on 26 occasions, according to the compilation of Trump utterances. That’s in addition to various and sundry “traitor” references. He began by accusing the likes of Bowe Bergdahl, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, then moved on to include the executives of Univision and Macy’s, Republicans who didn’t support him, Democratic lawmakers who didn’t applaud him, the failing New York Timesthe media generallypeople in his administration who leakand Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Eric Holder, Loretta E. Lynch, Huma Abedin, James B. Comey, James R. Clapper Jr., Rod J. Rosenstein, Robert S. Mueller III, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

Read: A good police chief in Houston
An infuriated Houston police chief blew up Friday on Twitter after an 11-year-old girl was ordered to be deported without her family. “This is heart-wrenching,” wrote Acevedo. “1,000 points of light? Family values? American values? Judeo-Christian values? If you’re a person of faith, speak out.”
When someone responded that the girl was apparently breaking the law, the police chief answered: “The Nazis enforced their laws as well. You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! You’d have to kill me to take my child from me simply because I was trying to get them to a better place for a better tomorrow. I am glad to be on the right side of history.”

April 12, 2019
My poll on Daily Kos

One of my Twitter followers suggested this addition to my Stephen Miller photoshop. Okay, it is a mixed metaphor, the devil and Dracula.

From The Washington Post, providing an excuse to use my photoshop of Stephen Miller, taking out the Dracula castle and adding a new background.

The latest Stephen Miller revelations require a tougher Democratic response

Positions like that of Miller — powerful but murkily defined White House advisory roles that don’t require Senate confirmation — tend to be beyond basic scrutiny and accountability.“Miller is effectively in charge of DHS,” Douglas Rivlin, the communications director at America’s Voice, told me. “If he’s running the show and pressuring agencies to take outlandish or illegal actions, he ought to face the same oversight that Cabinet secretaries face.” Democrats should use every single tool at their disposal to try to hold these people accountable.

When are Democrats going to try to summon Stephen Miller to Capitol Hill and grill him under oath about his direct role in so much of the chaos, incompetence and increasingly malevolent extremism gripping the Trump administration right now?

Miller, as the chief architect of President Trump’s immigration agenda, is a key figure behind Trump’s ongoing purge of the Department of Homeland Security and the president’s related embrace of ever-more cruel and radical policies. Miller’s views drew fresh scrutiny when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted that Miller is a “white nationalist” whose “influence on policy and political appointments” remains an “outrage.”

But, while Miller’s worldview has obviously been important in shaping Trump’s policies, his influence should be understood in another way, too: He is one of the leading figures pushing the Trump administration toward increasing venality, corruption and lawlessness.

Remarkable new revelations underscore this point — and the need for a tough Democratic reaction to it.

The (Washington) Post reports that White House officials “tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities” to release detained immigrants into “sanctuary cities” to “retaliate” against Trump’s “political adversaries.”

The toady toad idea isn't particularly original so I added the flies. What's left to write about what a disappointment Barr has been? He's at heart an institutionalist, my sweet Aunt Tilly's inedible rocklike fruitcake.  We should have known better. 

Wash. Post: Greg Sargent:
President Trump openly fantasized about the prospect of U.S. troops unleashing violence on desperate migrants, many of whom are trying to exercise their legal right to seek refuge in the United States.
At a fundraiser in Texas late Wednesday, Trump seethed that our military is constrained from getting “a little rough” at the border, because “everybody would go crazy,” preventing it from acting the way it would “normally act,” or how “another military from another country would act.”
In saying these things, Trump previewed an important component of his reelection strategy.

It’s worth noting that painting migrants as criminals, and creating the vague impression that military force might be required to repel them, were also key in 2018. Trump lied endlessly to criminalize them, and sent in the military as a prop to dramatize the supposed danger they posed. He even made this explicit by saying things like: “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”
Thus, it doesn’t look like an accident that at the Texas event, Trump also said that “I’m gonna have to call up more military,” while claiming that Central American countries are “sending” the “tough ones” and “the gang members.” This telegraphs we’ll likely see more of the very same lies and hate-mongering in 2020

Democrats are beginning to coalesce around such solutions. Trump obviously believes that the worse this gets, the more easily he’ll persuade swing voters that the migrants are a criminal “infestation” that must be repelled through cruelty or even force. There’s no need for Democrats to fear this argument, and one hopes they will engage it frontally.

Excerpts: George Conway has repeatedly questioned the president's mental state, tweeting that "Americans should be thinking seriously *now* about Trump's mental condition and psychological  state."

On Wednesday, after Trump's latest tweet, George Conway, posted a link to the diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality order, and wrote in response to Trump's latest missive: "You. Are. Nuts."

He also congratulated Trump Tuesday for having "guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism!"

"Great job!" he wrote.

A longtime chronicler of Washington's social scene, (Sally) Quinn couldn't recall a similar type of spat." People often will compare it to Mary Matalin and James Carville," she said, referring to the married political consultants from opposing parties. But she said it was not the same. "What they disagreed on was policy. I think this is a totally different situation. This is about morals and values and ethics."

 Ecuador rescinded Assange’s asylum at its embassy in London. British police arrested him, citing a request from the United States.

 Breaking years of silence on major church affairs, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (he resigned in 2013) has written a lengthy letter devoted to clerical sex abuse in which he attributes the crisis to a breakdown of church and societal moral teaching and says he felt compelled to assist “in this difficult hour.” 
The 6,000-word letter, published Thursday by a Catholic outlet and the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, laments the secularization of the West, decries the 1960s sexual revolution, and describes seminaries that became filled during that period with “homosexual cliques.”
The pope emeritus, in emphasizing the retreat of religious belief and firm church teaching, provides a markedly different explanation for the abuse crisis than that offered by Pope Francis.

“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” Benedict wrote, according to the Catholic News Agency, which published the full text in English. “Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God.”
April 10, 2019

I tweeted this story to the author of the OpEd. It included the photoshop I made of Steve Miller. She tweeted me back:
And then there's this.

I couldn't resist a little photoshopping - link above

‘Attempted coup!’ In Trump's own words on the South Lawn today. 

After $35 million with 13, increased to 18, angry Democrats, people that truly hated Donald Trump, truly hated Trump, they found no collusion whatsoever with Russia. After wasting all of this money and all of this time with people that were haters, people that worked on the Hillary Clinton Foundation, people that were absolutely haters of Trump, they found no collusion.

What has been found during this period of time are the illegal acts of getting this whole phony investigation started, and hopefully that is where people are going now. It was an illegal investigation. It was an illegal investigation. It was started illegally. Everything about it was crooked. Every single thing about it. There were dirty cops. These were bad people.

This was an attempted coup, this was an attempted takedown of a president. And we beat them. We beat them. So, the Mueller report when they talk about obstruction, we fight back. And you know why we fight back? Because I knew how illegal this whole thing was.

What I’m most interested in is getting started hopefully the attorney general, he mentioned it yesterday, he is doing a great job getting started on going back to the origins of exactly where this all started because this was an illegal witch-hunt. 

What they did was treason, what they did was terrible, what they did was against our constitution and everything we stand for. So, hopefully, that will happen. There is a hunger for that to happen in this country like I have never seen before.

Below: Re-published under Creative Commons, this article originally appeared in The Conversation

Why it’s hard to remove, or even diagnose, mentally ill or unstable presidents

In the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, members of Congress set out to update the procedures for handling an unable president. They soon realized that some situations would be far more challenging than others.

Famed political scientist Richard Neustadt emphasized one of the most ominous of those situations when he testified before the Senate. “Constitutions,” he warned, cannot “protect you against madmen. The people on the scene at the time have to do that.”

Congress’ reform effort culminated with the 25th Amendment. It provides essential improvements to the Constitution’s original presidential succession provisions. But a novel released in 1965, the same year Congress approved the amendment, makes a strong case that Neustadt’s insight was spot on. 

The recently reissued “Night of Camp David” by veteran D.C. journalist Fletcher Knebel illuminates the daunting challenges that arise when the commander in chief is mentally unfit and unwilling to acknowledge it.

Flexibility an important part of 25th

The novel follows the fictional Senator Jim MacVeagh, who concludes that a paranoid President Mark Hollenbach is “insane” after he witnesses the president plot to abuse law enforcement powers and to establish a world government. Unbeknownst to MacVeagh, Defense Secretary Sidney Karper reaches the same conclusion. Karper remarks, “Congress did its best on the disability question, although there’s no real machinery to spot mental instability.”

The framers of the 25th Amendment did intend for it to cover cases of psychological inability. One of the principal authors, Rep. Richard Poff (R-Va.), envisioned a president who could not “make any rational decision.” 

But the term “unable” in the amendment’s text was left vague to provide flexibility. 

Additionally, the 25th Amendment is intentionally hard to use, with procedural hurdles to prevent usurpation of presidential power. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress must ratify an inability determination by the vice president and Cabinet when the president disagrees. Otherwise, the president returns to power.

Some believe these protections create their own challenges. As Harvard Law Professor Cass R. Sunstein observes in “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide,” “The real risk is not that the Twenty-Fifth Amendment will be invoked when it shouldn’t, but that it won’t be invoked when it should.”

This risk is heightened when the president may be psychologically unfit. Psychiatric assessment is descriptive and less evidence-based than other areas of medicine. In the novel, President Hollenbach’s doctor reports no evidence of a mental ailment. And there is a reason for that: Psychiatric illness is not beyond conscious manipulation.

A deft politician, President Hollenbach knew enough to hide his paranoia. While he seems overtly paranoid in the solitude of Aspen Lodge at Camp David when he is sharing his delusions with MacVeagh, he appears completely sane, dare we say presidential, in public appearances. There is a long history of presidents hiding their ailments from the public, including Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, who both grew paranoid in private.

What psychiatry can contribute

To further complicate assessment, the more subjective nature of psychiatric diagnoses introduces potential political biases among clinicians who might be asked to evaluate a president. 

As critically, the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Ruleexpressly prohibits armchair analysis by psychiatrists who have not directly examined the president. Those who had the opportunity would be equally constrained by patient confidentiality. This creates an ethical Catch-22.

Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee and colleagues in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” eschew this prohibition and feel it their ethical obligation to share their professional insights, invoking a duty to warn responsibility. One of us (Joseph) has suggested that while psychiatric diagnoses cannot be made from afar nor confidences breached, physicians have a supererogatory obligation to share specialized knowledge. 

This is especially important when discussing psychiatric conditions, which may be hard to apprehend. The objective for mental health professionals is not diagnosis from afar but rather to educate the citizenry about these conditions so as to promote deliberative democracy.
Beyond these issues is the bias of any president’s advisers and allies. Their loyalty may blind them to presidential inabilities and have them protect an unfit president.

Then there could be the political disincentive to acknowledge what presidential incapacity means. After all, Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the president. Beyond that, it is just too frightening to imagine that there might be a madman in the White House in the nuclear age. So the tendency is to look away.

Officials hoping to avoid a direct challenge to presidential authority might engage in harm reduction, a concept drawn from public health where certain harms are accepted to reduce more harmful consequences: for example, needle exchange. This is the workaround that the fictional Defense Secretary Karper takes in “Night of Camp David.” Instead of attempting to convince the president’s allies of his concerns and invoking constitutional means to remove the president, he convenes a top secret task force to consider checks on the president’s power to use nuclear weapons.

Karper’s steps to limit the president’s unilateral authority have real-world precedent.

Amid President Nixon’s emotional turmoil during the depths of Watergate, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger instructed the military to check with him or the secretary of state before following orders from Nixon to launch nuclear weapons. More recently, former Defense Secretary James Mattis was reportedly among White House officials attempting to frustratePresident Trump’s impulses.

The fictitious Senator MacVeagh goes down a different, more perilous and isolating path. He seeks the president’s removal and, as a result, experiences retribution. Top officials view him as paranoid, prompting them to order his involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Instead of worrying about an impaired president, Washington’s political elite punish the young senator.

The bottom line: it is almost impossible to reverse the results of the electoral process and oppose entrenched power even when one is paradoxically trying to preserve the republic.
In “Night of Camp David,” the nation’s fortunes only begin to turn when MacVeagh and Karper overcome the collective action challenge and the compartmentalization of knowledge. Officials can overcome these obstacles by coming together and realizing their common purpose.

It was only after a group of senior Republican lawmakers, led by Sen. Barry Goldwater – ironically of the eponymous Goldwater Rule – banded together and confronted President Nixon during Watergate that the 37th president resigned.


More drama ahead?


The current White House drama is still in manuscript form, but the plot has thickened. Worrisome tweets are prompting fresh concerns about presidential fitness, even from prominent members of President Trump’s own party.

Are these warnings the real-life equivalents of those from MacVeagh and Karper? Time will tell. But in this national drama, we are more than readers of fiction; we too are characters.
Richard Neustadt had it right. The “people on the scene” must be ready to place the interests of the nation above their own. Constitutions cannot protect against madmen, as he warned, because they create rules and institutions that are only as strong as the people tasked with protecting them. 

Both the object of any intervention and its proponents are prone to human foibles, courage and timidity, grandiosity and prudence. When darkness descends, whether on Camp David or other halls of power, the nation is left to rely on the integrity and judgment of its leaders and its citizenry.

April 9, 2019

A few people pointed out that Stephen Miller is worse than Kirstjen Nielsen. I responded with another photoshop.
Some of the steps used to make this image

Trump's cognitive deficits seem worse. We need to know if he has dementia: Psychologist John Gartner

We see signs that the president's abilities are declining, but the only way to find out for sure is to give him a full neuropsychological evaluation.

If Donald Trump were your father, you would run, not walk, to a neurologist for an evaluation of his cognitive health. You don’t have to be a doctor to see something is very wrong. “He reminds me of Uncle Bruce in so many ways,” said my aunt, who nursed her brother through Alzheimer’s disease. Joe Scarborough, who has known Trump for years, said in 2017 that Trump's mental confusion reminded him of his mother, who had Alzheimer's for 10 years. “It's getting worse, and not a single person who works for him doesn’t know he has early signs of dementia,” he said of Trump last year on his MSNBC show.

We shall soon see whether a lot of
signs will have to be taken down in Israel.
Click above to enlarge

Max Boot: "Appoint Stephen Miller to run DHS," the paranoid style revisited, Miller as Rasputin by Hal Brown

Making these is a form of therapy for me. The parnoid image took many steps. This one was easy: with Kirstjen Nielsen image then find blood dripping from mouth & devil eye pictures and three steps to superimpose them.
According to NY Times: "Mr. Trump, who talks with members of his own Secret Service detail, had soured on Mr. Alles a while ago, convinced that as an outsider he was not popular among the agents, officials said. The president even made fun of the director’s looks, calling him Dumbo because of his ears. But a Secret Service ally of Mr. Alles disputed the notion that he did not fit in, saying that the director was well liked among the work force." Anderson Cooper's retort "we're not in kindergarten."

Anthony Scaramucci forward Trump lies because it's fun. Trump administration employee says that the reason Donald Trump lies so much, it’s because it’s fun. Here’s the exact quote he said on scene and this past weekend, uh, he does it because he thinks it’s fun and he also does it because he likes the fact that you guys are talking about it. So Trump lies one because it’s just totally wicked awesome and too, because if he lies, then the media talks about him. But here’s the thing. Whenever the media talks about him, he also goes to Twitter. It says, ah, the fake news media saying bad, stupid things about me again. Oh, they’re horrible. Donald Trump’s the kind of guy who needs somebody to hate. So I don’t doubt that he does say and do sometimes crazy stupid things because he wants to see the media’s reaction show that he has a reason to go after them with his attacks. But I’d also don’t think that he’s lying because it’s fun. I think that Donald Trump is lying because he has some kind of personality disorder that causes him to lie about everything. Okay. 
That’s the thing. These are not lies. Most of them are not lies that benefit him in any way. A lot of them are narcissistic lies like his lie about, no, my, my inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s photographs tell us otherwise. But sure. Go ahead and spread that lie. It doesn’t necessarily affect anything. We know you’re lying, but whatever makes you feel better. There’s other lies that serve no purpose at all.

We're About to See the First Picture of a Black Hole

A picture of a black hole is one of those great, self-negating concepts, like the sound of silence, the presence of absence or the lives of the dead. The nature of one refutes the other. But a picture of a black hole is set to arrive nonetheless — two pictures of two black holes, actually, on April 10, in simultaneous press conferences to be held at 9:00 AM EDT, in six different locations around the world.

At those events—planned for Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo—astronomers will give humanity its first look at the black hole that sits at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. We’ll also see a vastly larger one at the heart of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy, nearly 54 million light years from Earth. With that, astrophysics will have opened one more tiny crack in the wall of secrets that is the universe. 

True to the nature of the science, what will show up in the pictures will not be the black holes themselves. The defining feature of all black holes is that they are so dense, generating a gravity field so powerful, that nothing, not even electromagnetic energy—which, of course, includes visible light—can escape their pull. What the pictures will reveal instead will be the black holes’ so-called event horizons, the swirl of gas and dust and stars and light itself, circling the black hole drain, before they’re sucked inside never, ever to reemerge. Time Magazine

April 8, 2019

There has been a significant uptick in the number people looking at my photoshops on Twitter. This could be a precurser of some of the going viral.

Featuring the ghost of Pancho Villa peering over Trump's fantasy wall
421 people saw this on Twitter
fired Secret Service chief. Office of the General Counsel's John Mitnick expected to be gone soon too, and the White House is eyeing others to be removed. Has Trump gone clinically paranoid? As therapists, we have a if he has.
633 people saw this n Twitter and there were 13 media engagements. 

"In all seriousness, we have no competent, functioning president." George Conway tweet today

From the NY Times 

Albany lawmakers are seeking state tax returns, not the federal ones at the heart of the current  standoff in Washington. But a tax return from New York — the president’s home state, and the headquarters of his business empire — could likely contain much of the same financial information as a federal return.Under a bill that is scheduled to be introduced this week, the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance  would be permitted to release any state tax return requested by leaders of three congressional committees for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose.” (NY has a Democratic governor and legislature)

April 7, 2019