Bible signing: Trump’s ego or worse?

There are lots of snarky comments about President Trump signing a Bible on Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey’s Twitter page. He was visiting a Baptist church in Opelika, Ala., that is serving as a disaster relief center. You can see a video of him signing a Bible on The Hill, here.

This is from The Hill:

Local volunteer Ada Ingram told reporters that Trump signed several hats and Bibles, including one for a 12-year-old boy, an action which drew applause from people who came to see Trump.

“I enjoyed him coming,” said Ingram, who said she voted for Trump and would again in 2020. “I think it’s a godsend. I’m sorry. The situation is bad. And there are going to be people who will say ‘why did he come to my town?’ I don’t know why. I don’t why the hurricane happened [either]. But there is a reason.”

This story was covered extensively in the news. This is a Google search of Trump Bible signing.

Politico puts this politely: “President Donald Trump on Friday extended an unusual gesture as he sought to comfort Alabama residents devastated by a tornado outbreak last weekend — he signed Bibles.” Unusual? How about outrageously unprecedented? Then they note the following:  “Trump said Federal Emergency Management Agency staff will stay in Alabama as long as needed as the state recovers. He took off from Alabama to head to Mar-a-Lago, Florida, for a weekend at his private club.” Mr. Sensitive? At least he didn’t throw rolls of paper towels.

I can see someone being caught up in the moment and not wanting to disappoint a fan who hands him a Bible to sign. However, the is the Holy Bible, more than just a book to millions of Christians and, for the Old Testament, for Jews around the world.

While this incident probably says a great deal about Trump supporters, consider the outrage among Republicans if President Obama had signed a Bible in a similar situation.

Can you imagine the uproar in the Muslim world if the leader of a Muslim country signed a Koran?

The president could have politely declined and offered to scrawl his famous, or infamous (depending on your point of view) signature on something else: a sheet of paper, for example.

There are garden variety narcissists and insufferable narcissists, narcissists who are amenable to change dragooned into therapy by their spouses or bosses, and there are those individuals whose narcissism knows no bounds and who revel in bullying others.  Clinicians like Dr. John D. Gartner, founder of the Duty to Warn group which is producing a documentary “#UNFIT” where some of the nations leading mental health experts will explain why the president has a combination of psychiatric conditions sometimes subsumed under the rubric malignant narcissism. Gartner writes “I don’t have to tell you that he flashes his disorders in plain sight daily. The CPAC rant was especially out there. The danger heightens.”

I wrote about Trump’s CPAC rant calling it a “Cornucopia for psychiatric diagnosis.”

While Trump’s rambling rant at CPAC was a blatant demonstration of potentially dangerous psychopathology,  the Bible signing is another indication that few days go by when Trump doesn’t demonstrate his self-aggrandizement, bad judgment, or lack of empathy.

In fact, since the Bible incident, there was another small but telling incident of Trump’s lack of empathy and consideration, this time involving his wife and Monika Babišová the wife of Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. Isabel Jones writes in Yahoo Lifestyle:

Once the visitors’ black SUV pulled away, the couples chatted for a moment before (seemingly without consultation of his wife or Babišová), Trump and Babiš turned to reenter the White House. And OK, I don’t typically alert my boyfriend every time I’m preparing to walk through a door, but what makes this so uncomfortable isn’t the act itself, but rather Melania and Monika’s reaction to it. As the men begin to walk away the women stand still for a moment, unsure of how to proceed, and then they share a mutual shrug (which we interpret as an exasperated exclamation of “MEN!”) and follow their husbands in.

These are comparatively minor examples of Trump’s psychopathology. If you want to be scared, really scared, about the consequences of having a president who is both a malignant narcissist and by all the evidence those of us not privy to what Mueller knows adds up to about the president:  He “is an elephant standing in America’s living room right now staring us in the face” and that he “may well be compromised by the Russians.”  from “A Rogue President: When The Commander-in-Chief Is ‘Unfit,’ What’s a General to Do? Jim Mattis’ Resignation Was Just a Beginning” in The Daily Beast.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

What if there were no presidential debates?

In retaliation against the Democratic National Committee for refusing to allow them to televise and host any Democratic Party primary debates or presumably actual presidential debates Trump responded in a tweet “Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!” on Wednesday.”

The Democrats, of course, would be justified in doing this even if Jane Mayer in The New Yorker didn’t just reveal that Trump was given at least two questions before the debate Fox News hosted. Mayer also wrote that after the Wall Street Journal broke a story about Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels Oliver Darcy, a senior media reporter for CNN, published a piece revealing that Fox had killed a Stormy Daniels story.

Regardless of the tawdry details of these specific instances of Fox News favoring Trump, and I suspect there are many more that have not been revealed considering the number of calls Trump has with their personalities, it is obvious Fox News has become Trump’s personal propaganda machine. It is ludicrous on the face of it that they should be allowed to host either a Democratic Primary debate or a presidential debate.

There are no problems with the Democratic primary debates. Between CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and PBS there are real news outlets who will be hosting them.

If there is a Republican primary it will be interesting to see if whoever runs against Trump is willing to participate in a debate if Fox News is the host. They may very well refuse to do so, and who could blame them? This would leave Trump no choice but to debate an empty podium on Fox News or go to a debate on one of the networks he has condemned as fake news.

This leaves us with the actual presidential debates. If the Democrats call what may be a presidential Twitter bluff and he refuses to participate in a non-Fox News hosted debate what would happen. If Trump dug in his heels and said, in whatever inimitable self-aggrandizing way we’ve become used to, that he didn’t need to debate this leaves us with a situation where for the first time since the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon race that there will be no presidential debate.

Let’s take this even further. Say candidate Trump refuses to be interviewed on any network he deems to be fake news. This could leave him only able to preach to the Fox News choir.

Even if the Democratic party candidates in the primary, and for president, whether by choice or not, ended up not giving interviews on Fox News, they would still have all the other networks clamoring to interview them.

This brings me to the Equal Time Law which specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. If a station provides a given amount of time to a candidate in prime time, it must do the same for another candidate who requests it, at the same price if applicable. The crucial part of the law is that to be granted equal time a candidate must request it. If Trump didn’t do so, the Democratic candidate could have all the time they wanted.

Debates are both informative and entertaining, and they often reveal sides of a candidate that doesn’t come out in softball interviews. They demonstrate how candidates respond when under the stress of sharing the stage with their opponent. For example, we saw Trump looming over Hillary Clinton trying to intimidate her with his sheer physicality. That should have been an early warning to the electorate that he was a bully who did not have the disposition to be president.

As we review the list of potential Democratic candidates we all must speculate about how they would handle an unrestrained Trump in a debate. Some would make mincemeat out of him. they’d chew him up and spit him out. Others would “merely” expose him with varying degrees of subtlety as the ignorant and arrogant blowhard he is. There are some potential candidates who would filet him like he’s a fish and others would symbolically depants him, exposing him as the emperor with no clothes.

I’d certainly miss seeing any of the pairings with the declared and likely candidates against Trump. However, if such a series of debates never comes to pass, voters will still get to know the eventual Democratic candidate through the long primary season.

If Trump opts out despite his lashing out at the Democrats blaming them for the ridiculous reason that they refused to debate on Fox News, a network even their less than brain-dead viewers know could never be fair to Democrats. Ultimately Trump will be blamed for being the president who cheated the country out of being able to see the presidential candidates debate each other.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

 

When a malignant narcissist negotiates with a psychopathic dictator and ignores expert advice.

The ill-prepared President Trump came back from his meeting with Kim Jung Un in Hanoi as a clear loser in everyone’s eyes except his own. I think it would be naive to believe that if given the 70 plus page report by experts on North Korea (scroll down for excerpts) he would open it let alone read it. He is a person driven by egotistical psychopathology, not intellectual curiosity.

Not only was Kim a winner, but Vladimir Putin was as well. Kim and Putin are ruthless dictators who would probably score high on the Hare Psychopathology Checklist, a screening test for potential psychopaths, but they are not malignant narcissists who ignore their expert advisors and are driven by their needs to glorify themselves the way Trump does.

Clinically malignant narcissism is a combination of psychopathic characteristics and severe narcissistic personality disorder. There have been many dictators who were psychopaths but only a few were extreme narcissists who wanted to be worshipped as gods and surrounded themselves with opulence, Caligula and the Mongol emperor Tamerlane, and the Bible’s Herod the Great for example. Vlad the Impaler (left) is also said to have been a malignant narcissist sociopath.

Hitler was a psychopath but I’m not aware of psycho-historians (see “Insane or Just Evil”) suggesting he was an extreme narcissist, but history suggests that Josef Mengele and Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the SD, Gestapo, and Kripo) may have been malignant narcissists.(from 10 Monumental Malignantly Narcissistic Sociopaths.)

The Russian foreign minister Lavrov “just happened” to be in Hanoi at the same time, and Putin got one thing (at least) that he wanted, the end of American participation in joint military exercises. The Washington Post reported that “Trump has given North Korea a valuable bargaining chip for free.” 

President Trump was right to walk away from a deal with the North Koreans last week. But he was wrong to walk away from annual military exercises with our South Korean allies. That move raises fears that walking away from our decades-long alliance could be next — something that would be disastrous for the United States.

The United States and South Korea have been allies since the start of the Korean War in 1950. With United Nations backing, U.S. troops rescued the South from a devastating invasion by the North. While the war ended in 1953, no final peace treaty has ever been signed. Our troops have stayed behind ever since, guaranteeing that a second invasion from North Korea would meet with a swift and massive U.S. response.

The training exercises are crucial to the alliance’s viability. They allow U.S. and South Korean forces to practice repelling an invasion by North Korea, ensuring that troops and commanders can work closely together in the event of an actual attack. They also signal continued U.S. commitment to the alliance itself.

SAN FRANCISCO — North Korean hackers who have targeted American and European businesses for 18 months kept up their attacks last week even as President Trump was meeting with North Korea’s leader in Hanoi.

The attacks, which include efforts to hack into banks, utilities and oil and gas companies, began in 2017, according to researchers at the cybersecurity company McAfee, a time when tensions between North Korea and the United States were flaring. But even though both sides have toned down their fiery threats and begun nuclear disarmament talks, the attacks persist.

In 2017, Mr. Trump mocked Kim Jong Un as “rocket man” in a speech at the United Nations, while North Korea tested missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States. The attacks began soon after that. Though the two sides failed to reach an agreement last week, Mr. Trump struck a conciliatory tone toward his North Korean counterpart.

“This renewed activity, taken just two days afterthe inconclusive Hanoi Summitbetween President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, may indicate North Korean plans to demonstrate resolve in the face of U.S. rejection of North Korea’s demands at the summit to lift five U.N. Security Council sanctions enacted in 2016-2017,” the analysts said. As NBC News reported, Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently identified 20 undisclosed missile sites in North Korea.

This is from an article on NPR:

Now, Bermudez  (a senior fellow for imagery analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies)says, the test stand appears almost completely reassembled, and the building has been rebuilt with all but part of its roof. The work happened sometime between Feb. 20 and March 2, when the commercial images were taken by the company DigitalGlobe. Given that the site has lain dormant for months, Bermudez believes the work probably took place after Feb. 28, when the Trump-Kim summit concluded unsuccessfully.

Even if Sohae is being rebuilt after the failed summit, Kim isn’t violating any agreement with the U.S., notes David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “There is nothing that restricts North Korea’s ability to do testing of its ballistic missiles,” he says. While Kim has maintained a voluntary moratorium on flight testing, ground tests at facilities like Sohae are unrestricted.

Donald Trump was desperate for a foreign policy win. He needed something, anything, to distract from the onslaught of investigations coming closer and closer to him and his family and his continued erosion in the polls.

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa writes that “Trump’s foreign policy is part nationalist, part conservative, part isolationist, part militaristic pageantry. He distrusts traditional alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and slaps punitive tariffs on adversaries and allies alike.” What does “military pageantry” have to do with diplomacy?  It is pure narcissism! Costa comes close to suggesting this in his next sentence: “In many ways, Trump’s worldview has been boiled down to a mantra lacking labels and ideology: It is what Trump says it is.”

The president is notoriously and dangerously inclined to ignore the advice of experts and rely on his impulses. He may call going with his finely tuned gut instinct, but he’s a malignant narcissist whose overriding need is self-aggrandizement.

This has no place in a leader making and certainly no place in a president making decisions that can have life or death consequences.


Afterword: If Trump was the president we wish we had he would study this 70 plus page detailed report on North Korean policy recommendations. The report covers An Evolving North Korea, Objectives & Strategy, Economic Policy, Human Security, and Diplomacy. He would meet with the authors and have them lay out the reasons they made their conclusions.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Report of the International Study Group on North Korean Policy, note the futility of trying to insist that N. Korea abandon its nuclear weapon program entirely and in fact say it has backfired. The scientists explain why a broader strategy is necessary in order to achieve success.

EXCERPT:

The pursuit of immediate disarmament has not only distracted from a range of pressing challenges; it has also exacerbated them. Allied deterrence and diplomatic policy has generated incentives for Pyongyang to expand, diversify, and conceal its nuclear arsenal. In its current form, the international sanctions regime has unnecessarily contributed to the suffering of the North Korean people from privation and infectious disease, and may have helped to enhance the regime’s overseas illicit networks.5 Attempts to isolate the regime have aided its attempts to isolate the North Korean people from the international community. The challenge of negotiations and a series of missteps have caused strains between Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo.

There is no mix of economic, diplomatic, or military pressure that can verifiably eliminate North Korea’s arsenal on accept- able terms in the next few years.6 The United States and its allies can no longer rely on the assumption that North Korea will rapidly eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

CONCLUSION:

North Korea has developed a credible nuclear capability in part because the United States and its allies were highly inconsistent in seeking a negotiated agreement with the regime. Now that the effort to prevent this capability has failed, main-taining political will and alliance coordination and devoting resources to managing and transforming North Korea has never been more imperative or challenging. Without the fiction of a proximate nuclear-weapon-free North Korea, policy successes are likely to be partial, gradual, or consist in the prevention of disastrous events. Even under the best of circumstances, failures will be commonplace—whether they are ongoing human rights atrocities or repeated attempts to break out of sanctions and deterrence restrictions.

Yet, a nuclear-armed North Korea makes it more important than ever that the United States and its allies continue to prioritize the issue. The regime’s ability to exploit technological changes to enhance its internal control and to circumvent international sanctions are unprecedented. The consequences of deterrence failure or accidental military escalation could be catastrophic. If North Korea policy is allowed to drift without a revision, the strategic and practical consequences could be grave.

The critical national security interests and moral responsibil- ities at stake require that the United States and its partners undertake a sustained effort to actively manage and transform North Korea. It is still possible to create a morally tolerable and stable Northeast Asia, provided that the United States and its allies craft a realistic strategy and devote to it the req- uisite time, attention, and resources to see it succeed.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Trump’s CPAC rant: Cornucopia for psychiatric diagnosis

Scroll down for updates.


Trump walked out at CPAC and hugged the flag, for a second he rocked it back and forth as if he was dancing with it. I could say as if humping it but that would be rude.
If Trump planned to hug the flag prior to his entrance this would have a benign psychiatric explanation. If he did it on the spur of the moment I would wonder about his impulse control. If it was something in between and he got carried away and began to rock it back and forth a few times I’d begin to be concerned. This may seem to be a small thing, however, this is what clinicians look at when they do a psychological assessment. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t move to a close-up until he had started to hug the flag. Watch the video and see what you think.
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The flag hugging and the bulls*it comment are making worldwide headlines. What must foreigners think of us?
As a clinician, I saw numerous signs of his deteriorating mental condition and this is just from the clips I watched. I can’t stand to watch the entire two hours.
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Knowing he won’t ever get the Nobel Prize maybe he wants to get himself on Mt. Rushmore. I made two images before I decided to write a column to go with them.
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Journalists watched the speech and selected choice segments to report on. They’re getting paid to do this. I’m not. So I admit my impressions came from the parts I’d seen and read about.
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There is a cornucopia of clinical riches here from word salad to the looseness of associations. In psychiatry speaking in word salad “may describe a symptom of neurological or psychiatric conditions in which a person attempts to communicate an idea, but words and phrases that may appear to be random and unrelated come out in an incoherent sequence instead. Often, the person is unaware that he or she did not make sense. It appears in people with dementia and schizophrenia.Wikipedia
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In psychiatry, loose associations (technically derailment, asyndesis, asyndetic thinking, knight’s move thinking, or entgleisen) is a thought disorder characterized by discourse consisting of a sequence of unrelated or only remotely related ideas. The frame of reference often changes from one sentence to the next.

“In a mild manifestation, this thought disorder is characterized by slippage of ideas further and further from the point of a discussion. Derailment can often be manifestly caused by intense emotions such as euphoria or hysteria. Some of the synonyms given above (loosening of association, asyndetic thinking) are used by some authors to refer just to a loss of goal: discourse that sets off on a particular idea, wanders off and never returns to it. A related term is tangentially—it refers to off-the-point, oblique or irrelevant answers given to questions. In some studies on creativity, knight’s move thinking, while it describes a similarly loose association of ideas, is not considered a mental disorder or the hallmark of one; it is sometimes used as a synonym for lateral thinking.” Wikipedia

I could go through the speech minute by minute and parse out examples of dangerous psychopathology.  I’ll never be put on an official panel to evaluate his fitness to serve on 25th Amendment evaluation because I’ve expressed too many public opinions about this, as have other mental health professionals like Bandy Lee, M.D., Lance Dodes, M.D., and John Gartner, Ph.D. the founder of the Duty to Warn group of mental health professionals, in which I was an early member.

If this speech doesn’t prompt a movement to invoke the 25th Amendment among Republicans I shudder to think of what has to do in order for them to recognize he is perilously close to making a decision that will have grave irrevocable consequences.


Afterword from Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: “What happens when a narcissist occupies the White House?

Most of our politics now consists of seeing the same horror from new angles. America has a president who respects no rule of morality, tradition or law that conflicts with his own immediate self-expression or gratification. His only self-limitation, apparently, is plausible deniability — a moral framework that seems to be based on old episodes of “The Sopranos.” This is narcissism that has slipped its leash, roaming wherever it wishes across the wide world, and in our heads.

Years ago, I posed the question: What happens when a narcissist who thinks he is at the center of the universe is actually placed at the center of the universe? We are seeing what happens. The whole apparatus of a political party — including its legislative and religious wings — is now dedicated to the defense of one man’s feral will.


Addendum 1: What may be the least unhinged and most strategic thing Trump may have said was that he had been joking when, at a press conference in July 2016, he encouraged Russia to find his rival Hillary Clinton’s missing 30,000 emails, and blamed the “sick” media for using it to incriminate him. Lame as it is, this is likely to have been a planned defense should he end up being impeached.


Addendum 2: What about the Goldwater rule which says it’s unethical for psychiatrists to publicly diagnose or assess a public figure?

I am not a psychiatrist and even if I were I would ignore this rule. The rule is from an association not a governmental body like a licensing board and is not binding. A psychiatrist who belongs to a professional organization has the option of quitting and it would be up to them if they did so to object to a rule they promulgated for their members. This would not affect their ability to practice.  I believe mental health professionals are justified in applying the duty to warn mandate they have with their actual clients to Trump because of exigent circumstances, i.e., his disorders make him unfit and dangerous to have the power of the president. I also believe mental health professionals are in a unique position by dint of their expertise to share their knowledge of psychopathology as it applies to a president like Donald Trump so laypersons can better understand what drives his behavior. Although I am not a psychoanalyst and not a member of their association I agree with their position on the Goldwater rule:

American Psychoanalytic Association Statement on “Goldwater Rule”New York – July 25th, 2017 – The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) seeks to clarify statements made in a recent article in STAT. APsaA is an autonomous mental health professional association which represents psychoanalysts from all mental health professions and academia. Our members include psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers. In an email to association members, our leadership did not encourage members to defy the “Goldwater Rule” which is a part of the ethics code of a different mental health organization, the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Rather, it articulated a distinct ethics position that represents the viewpoint of psychoanalysts. The field of psychoanalysis addresses the full spectrum of human behavior, and we feel that our concepts and understanding are applicable and valuable to understanding a wide range of human behaviors and cultural phenomenon. Our position statement regarding commenting on public figures is available here. Some of APsaA’s members are psychiatrists, and some of these psychiatrists are members of the APA and other professional organizations.  Any member of a professional organization is responsible for following the ethics code of every organization they belong to.  APsaA has not made any statement that would intrude in the internal rules and governance of another organization.


UPDATE: Capitol Hill Blue is decidedly not the mainstream media.

Donald Trump’s CPAC speech was completely unhinged. Why didn’t media cover it that way? Mainstream media is downplaying Trump’s bizarre two-hour CPAC rant. Have they seriously learned nothing from 2016? Salon, Amanda Marcotte

Trump unleashed a two-hour-plus rant that sounded at times, more like the delusional ramblings of someone hopped up on drugs or suffering a mental breakdown than anything resembling a normal political speech.

If that sounds like an exaggeration informed by partisan bias — seriously, it’s not. Trump kicked the thing off by hugging the American flag, and that might have been the least strange part of the whole spectacle.


UPDATE:

EXCERPT: Furthermore, assessing Trump’s psychology requires little speculation as we have available to us a life-long history of personal, romantic, business, and political relationships. With the exception of some of his predatory and criminal behavior, he has led his entire life in public. We know what he says and how he says it. Through his own words Trump has even let us in on what provokes him to act – primarily vengeance, vainglory, lust, greed, and an obsession with domination. It has been on this public stage, not behind closed doors, where we have witnessed him reward anyone who flatters him and punish those who fail to do so. His daily Twitter tantrums have constituted a kind of ongoing characterological EEG reading, as if the vicissitudes of his personality disorder produced brain waves that could be converted into a text form readable by all.

To discuss and explore his obvious psychopathology – a malignant narcissism and psychopathy that threatens us all – is not to adopt the Soviet-style use of psychiatric diagnosis in the service of political repression. Rather, as I will argue, it is understanding that can be put to emancipatory purposes. This is because knowing his psychology is central to the project of resisting his policies, and to the task of understanding his appeal to a significant plurality of Americans. If the central thesis of this essay is correct, that Trump’s pathology is isomorphic with his brand, then what may look to some of us as signs and symptoms of profound impairment is precisely what makes him the object of near delirious veneration on the part of his base. As he well understands, to them he can do no wrong. Or, rather, every wrong he commits is righteous.


UPDATE: Lawrence O’Donnell discussed Trump’s CPAC rant last night and quoted from the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” Video story “bullsh*t” segment 6 minutes – this is only the first half of the segment.

UPDATES Mar. 6, 2019

REMEMBER, THERE ARE multiple reasons why Trump might cry foul and refuse to concede come 2020, and why he might also believe he could get away with it.
First, there is his personality. Trump is a malignant narcissist who values himself and his own advancement over everyone and everything else. Using and abusing his presidential powers to protect his prestige and position would be “very tempting” for him, to quote professor Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the 2017 book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”
“When you have extreme narcissism,” Lee told me on my podcast, “Deconstructed,” last month, “the danger of it is that one can quickly go to resorting to violence and resorting to extreme measures to move away from the possibility of humiliation and to project force.”
Another article, this is from an Australian website owned by Rupert Murdoch:
Excerpt: “He’s become more aware of what needs to happen so he can continue to be what he is [US president].”
“And he’s just getting a little bit more wary of how he does that.”
She says Mr Trump, will always believe he is “Teflon man” because the malignant narcissist personality type always believes that it is the cleverest and is always right.
“Absolutely he thinks he’s cleverer than all of us, that he’s the cleverest leader of all and ultimately this will be revealed and shown,” she says.
Equally, the malignant narcissist goes on the attack with critics, and will “lie with ease” and reshape facts to suit themselves — hence, she says, Mr Trump’s term “fake news”, for anything he doesn’t want to hear or which paints him in a less than adoring light.
He believes he’s always right, and anyone who thinks otherwise is out to get him.
“Malignant narcissists are dangerous in that they say essentially say “it doesn’t matter what it costs, I’ll get what I want”, she said.
“They can be concerned and empathetic — as long as it benefits them.”

She says Mr Trump has his eye firmly on the next election.

Third: “Something is seriously wrong with Donald Trump: Let’s stop kidding ourselves about that” by Bob Cesca, Salon

Whether it was genuine madness or all an act, Donald Trump’s CPAC creepshow was evidence of profound crisis

TWO EXCERPTS: If you’ve only watched the clips and highlights from Donald Trump’s CPAC speech last Saturday, you’re not getting the full picture of the explosive horror show that is the worsening status of the president’s mental health. For reasons that defy comprehension, I decided to watch the whole thing live. At the outset, I tweeted that given the Michael Cohen testimony in the immediate rear-view mirror, Trump’s CPAC speech was going to be “next level crazy.” In hindsight, I feel like I low-balled it.
 
Before we continue, I’d like to emphasize that I’m not a mental health professional, nor am I an expert in the pharmacological effects of cognitive enhancers like Adderall or Provigil to make a judgment call on the specifics of what’s wrong with the president. However, I can say with confidence that something’s extraordinarily wrong with him, and it’s only getting more dangerous for the nation and by extension the world as time advances.
 
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The normalization of Trump’s unpredictable, spasmodic presidency, as well as the fact that so many of us don’t have the stomach to tolerate two-plus hours of watching him, are perhaps the only reasons why more Americans aren’t gathered as we speak, devising how best to legally remove him from office. For what it’s worth, I propose here and now that this conversation must begin in earnest.
 
Trump’s obvious mental instability and emotionally erratic behavior has reached a harrowing new depth. They need to be addressed by our political leadership with the same urgency as the myriad investigations into his crimes. This has to begin now before it’s too late. He will clearly do and say whatever it takes to secure his status, and it’s the presidency alone that’s keeping him out of federal prison. He’s at least competent enough to understand this, and he might be crazy enough to do anything to avoid accountability. We’re in new territory. There is no road map, and what we do now will determine whether Trump is the last Trump, or possibly the first of many Trumps along the not-so-lengthy journey into a permanent form of lunatic authoritarianism. It’s time to take his madness seriously now before he levels-up again.

FOUR:

Psychiatrist on Trump: “The president deserves medical standard of care, and he is not getting it”

Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee examines President Donald Trump’s recent outbursts

A member of the public asked, “When Donald Trump wrapped his arms around the flag, it evoked Lennie from Of Mice and Men squeezing the mouse until it’s dead. Is the president going to destroy our country?”

I didn’t tell her this, but my answer would have been that he is well on the way, as long as we let him. How are we letting him? By colluding on the most basic point: by telling ourselves that the mental unwellness we see is not what we are seeing. Allowing him to give as long a speech as he did, allowing him to continue on Twitter, allowing him to remain in his position, and allowing his staff to turn over so that he has no one left but those who enable his illness—all this is the opposite of the proper treatment that he needs.

Containment and removal from access to weapons, urgent evaluation, and then the least restrictive means of management based on the evaluation, is the medical standard of care.

Even the president deserves medical standard of care, and he is not getting it. The natural course of disease is that it will engulf the afflicted persons and lead them to destruction, if left without resistance.

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March 7, 2019: “Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election strategy: Scaring white people with threats of violence” by Chauncey DeVega in Salon

“Mentally unwell old man hugs American flag; rants about ‘socialism’ and ‘baby killers.'”

That’s not a headline from a local newspaper somewhere in rural America. Instead, it is an entirely factual description of Donald Trump’s speech last Saturday at the political rodeo and hate festival known as CPAC.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

There’s a new sheriff in town, Jared

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland gave the White House counsel’s office until March 4th to comply with a request to turn over documents and comply with interviews related to how the White House handled security clearances for some of the President’s closest advisers including, of course, Jared Kushner.
I hate to break the news to Jared Kushner. There’s a new sheriff in town. If he were a contestant on the popular TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” which ran in its first run from 1952 – 1967 his secret would be “I used my top-secret clearance to benefit the family business and spent 10 years in prison for it.”
(Layed image modified by computer)
Cummings wrote to the White House counsel Pat Cipollone “I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation with this investigation. I ask that you begin producing all responsive documents immediately, and I request that you begin scheduling transcribed interviews with each witness identified by the Committee. I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation with this investigation. I ask that you begin producing all responsive documents immediately, and I request that you begin scheduling transcribed interviews with each witness identified by the Committee.” Reading between the lines, it sounds like Sheriff Cummings is playing good cop while he stands with the power of his badge and the subpoena authority that goes with it in the holster on his hip.
This comes after the New York Times revealed that President Trump ignored the concerns of White House Chief of Staff General Kelly and White House Counsel, Don McGahn that there were serious questions about whether it was appropriate for Kushner to be granted high-level security clearances. Both felt that it was imperative to document their concern in memos to themselves.
Cummings went on to write “If true, these new reports raise grave questions about what derogatory information career officials obtained about Mr. Kushner to recommend denying him access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets, why President Trump concealed his role in overruling that recommendation, why General Kelly and Mr. McGahn both felt compelled to document these actions, and why your office is continuing to withhold key documents and witnesses from this Committee.”
According to a CNN report:
In one letter from White House counsel Cipollone, the White House argues they are willing to “make available for your review” documents about the White House security clearance process, but says the White House believes Congress doesn’t have the oversight authority to review individual security clearance decisions, given the belief Article II provides the President broad discretion about who he shares information with. Cipollone writes, “the President, Not Congress, Has the Power to Control National Security Information.” In another letter, he urges Cummings to make requests about security clearance information “narrowly focused” and “limited.”
In Cipollone’s letter, he also asks Cummings not to go around the White House counsel’s office to try to obtain information directly from White House staffers. He specifically cites efforts to talk to Kelly.
This is from the Washington Post

“It’s crucial for the appropriate congressional committees to find out the truth of what happened here, and getting hold of these documents it appears would be the best way to do that,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said.

Bookbinder said that House Democrats should try not just to obtain the memos but also to release them, albeit with appropriate redactions. “Ultimately the public needs to know if the president is overriding national security interests based on personal relationships that he has,” Bookbinder said, adding that Democrats should aim for public release of as much information as national security permits, “in the interests of accountability.”

It looks like a major confrontation is brewing between the two houses, White House and the House Oversight Committee. The Committee on Oversight and Reform, the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives which “has authority to investigate the subjects within the Committee’s legislative jurisdiction as well as ‘any matter’ within the jurisdiction of the other standing House Committees.
I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that and the Oversight Committee’s jurisdiction should give pause to Jared Kushner and his father-in-law. (from committee website)

Oversight Responsibilities

The oversight responsibilities of the Committee are set forth in House Rule X, clauses 2, 3, and 4.

House Rule X, clause 2(b), provides that the Committee shall review and study on a continuing basis—

(A) the application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of laws and programs addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(B) the organization and operation of Federal agencies and entities having responsibilities for the administration and execution of laws and programs addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(C) any conditions or circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting new or additional legislation addressing subjects within its jurisdiction (whether or not a bill or resolution has been introduced with respect thereto); and
(D) future research and forecasting on subjects within its jurisdiction.

House Rule X, clause 3(i), provides that the Committee shall “review and study on a continuing basis the operation of Government activities at all levels with a view to determining their economy and efficiency.”

House Rule X, clause 4(c)(1), provides that the Committee shall:(A) receive and examine reports of the Comptroller General of the United States and submit to the House such recommendations as it considers necessary or desirable in connection with the subject matter of the reports;
(B) evaluate the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government; and
(C) study intergovernmental relationships between the States and municipalities and between the United States and international organizations of which the United States is a member.


It seems to me, again as a non-lawyer, that the last paragraph in the list of oversight responsibilities ought to send chills up the collective spines of Trump and associates:
And House Rule X, clause 4(c)(2), provides that the Committee “may at any time conduct investigations of any matter without regard to clause 1, 2, 3, or this clause [of House Rule X] conferring jurisdiction over the matter to another standing committee.”

UPDATE:

A PRESIDENT enjoys a fair amount of discretion when it comes to designating subordinates for access to the nation’s secrets. But reports that President Trump personally intervened to get his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top-secret clearance raise serious concerns that Congress must investigate.

While Mr. Trump’s insular leadership style is hardly suited for the White House, nepotism is not the primary concern in this case. The main worry is that secrets may be shared inappropriately. Mr. Kushner’s clearance was reportedly granted despite the concerns of intelligence officials. The nature of their concern is not entirely clear, though The Post reported last year that the government had received indications that foreign governments were interested in taking advantage of Mr. Kushner’s complex family business arrangements, its financial needs and his lack of foreign policy experience.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

A 2022 Recovering Trump Supporters Anonymous meeting

I can see it happening, meetings across the country of RTSA, Recovering Trump Supporters Anonymous, a couple of years from now.

Mary: “Hello, my name is Mary and I supported the most corrupt president in American history.

Group: “Hello Mary.”

Mary: Thank you for the warm welcome. This is my first time here and I am so relieved to be able to talk about what my life was like when I was a huge Donald Trump supporter.

I went to his rallies. I proudly wore a MAGA hat and shouted ‘lock her up’ and cheered when Trump made racist comments and encouraged us to bully the press. I turned a blind eye to his predatory sexual behavior toward other women even though in the back of my mind I knew I’d be appalled if my daughter dated someone like him.

I saw some videos of children locked up in cages on Fox News but believed their commentators that the blame for this laid in their parent and not the cruel immigration policies of Donald Trump. I shut off compassion I should have felt for the children and parents who were only tried to save themselves from a life of fear.

I relied only on Fox News for information and never even heard about the many now proven financial crimes the president committed.

I assumed he had good reasons for cozying up to dictators like Putin and Kim and saying he believed them when they were so obviously lying. I refused to believe that the man I was so loyal to could be that gullible.

I blamed liberal Democrats for making up lies about Trump committing treason because Putin had compromising information about him even though there was no other plausible explanation for how he worked to further Russian interests over the interests of the United States.

I didn’t pay any attention to the actual qualifications of those who Trump appointed to high administration positions.

I read all of Trump’s tweets and never realized that no normal person would write the things he did. I was so blinded by my faith in him that it didn’t occur to me that Trump was a mean-spirited bully who wrote his 140 and then 280 character long Twitter diatribes at the level of a fourth grader who was failing grammar and spelling. I refused to consider that the president I loved was in need of professional mental health intervention and now here I am asking for help with my own mental health.

Perhaps the worst personal thing that my unwavering blind support of Trump led some of my best friends who tried to help me see the errors of my ways got so frustrated with me we ended decades-long friendships.

Finally, all I can say is that I am ashamed of myself for blindly supporting a man who brought our country so close to becoming a dictatorship aligned with Russia where our cherished constitutional rights were shredded and thrown away.

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Repubs act like mob lawyers, Dems let Cohen speak truth

The following is a running commentary on Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, 2019.

10:00 AM The Republicans claimed they didn’t get some relevant material early enough and thus wanted to postpone the hearing. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) demanded a vote to postpone the hearing because Cohen’s testimony was released Tuesday night without with 24 hours notice They knew this would fail. Still, they had to posture with feigned outrage.

You can read Michael Cohen’s written opening statement here.

These are the members of the House Oversight Committee.

I am viewing on MSNBC though I did check to make sure Fox News was also broadcasting the hearing. A friend watched the Fox commentary prior to the hearing and she told me they were spinning it like crazy. Here’s how the far right Washington Examiner put it in “Michael Cohen opening statement makes no sense”

Cohen will say he was in the room in 2016 when Trump took a call from his longtime adviser Roger Stone, who alerted then-candidate Trump that he had phone calls with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that a cache of hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton would soon be public. This claim implies that the FBI, House, Senate and all of the news media have been searching for clues that Trump knew about the email hacks, and yet the first we’re hearing about it is from Cohen, who is just about to go to prison?

The simpler explanation is better: Cohen is desperate and bitter. The media are trying to polish the turd of his credibility by noting he has “nothing to lose” in telling the truth. That’s true, but people who shoot themselves after committing mass murder having nothing to lose, either.

 

I will update this column with my impressions, in italics, throughout the day.

10:15 AM Chairman Elijah Cumming’s announced that they will not restricts Mr. Cohen’s statements,  even those related to Russia in that Cohen made some of this in his written opening statement.

10:20 Ranking Member Jordan personally attacks Rep. Cummings. Attacks Cohen as a convicted perjurer. Desperate, he brings up Steele dossier. Manages to attack Hillary Clinton. Attacks Cummings, “this is how you’re going to operate.”

10:25 Michael Cohen is sworn in. Reads opening statement which he notes includes confirming documents. Of Trump, he says “he is a racist, he is a con man, and he is a cheat.” He says he will include a copy of hush money check from Trump, copies of 2011-13 financial statements, a copy of the article with Trump’s handwriting on it related to a contribution Trump made, a threat he made against colleges and college board not to release his SAT scores.

“Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress, that’s not how he operates.” and “in his way he was telling me to lie.” He asked “how’s it going in Russia” referring to the Moscow tower project.

This obviously exposes Trump once again as a liar about having dealings in Russia.

Talking about covering up Trump’s evasion of the draft speaks directly to the president “I find it ironic that you are in Vietnam now.” This is about as timely as it gets considering Trump is probably watching this from Hanoi.

11:10 Jordan tries to undermine Cohen’s testimony because he worked for Trump for 10 years and is getting back at him because he didn’t get a job in the White House.

11:20 Mark Green (R) Begins by attacking Cohen as a convicted felon and liar. The Republicans pretend not to understand that it is common for criminals who once lied to testify credibly in later trails. Tried a gotcha question with “who paid your expenses to be here today?” Foiled, Cohen says he paid his own expenses. I thought good trial lawyer never ask a question they don’t already know the answer to.

The Republicans only have one line of attack. Not the facts. It is trying to impugn Cohen’s credibility. This gave me time to make this image:

 

11:40 Meadow’s trots out a black former employee of Trump, has her stand up, to prove that the president isn’t a racist. Cohen counters with “ask her how many top executives who are black worked for Trump?” Says “the record attests you are not a nice guy.”

Cohen obviously angry, doesn’t back down. He is well prepared. Give yes and no answers when appropriate. Shakes head in disgust at Meadow’s questions.

Hice (R) asks who he consulted with prior to the hearing. He says his lawyers Lanny Davis and Michael Monico (about) who are sitting behind him. Asked who is paying Lanny Davis. Cohen says “no one.”

Again, after two hours all the Republicans have is that Cohen was convicted of lying to Congress.

Ranking Member Jim Jordan is taking the lead in aggressively attacking Cohen. Let’s not forget that Jordan was accused of “turning a blind eye” to sexual abuse 20 years ago by the team doctor of wrestlers he coached at Ohio State.

BREAK

12:30  N.C. Rep. Foxx (left) who only has the fact that Cohen won’t commit to not writing a book, working on a movie, or being a TV commentator in the future to impugn his testimony. Cohen answered with one-word responses: “no” to each.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) reminds us that no RICO case ever is brought to trial without having testimony from mob witnesses who committed crimes but who are granted immunity.

Another Republican, Rep. Cloud makes Cohen recite what he’s been convicted of and when he has to begin his sentence. When Cohen offers more damning comments about Trump Cloud cuts him off. Do they know they are losing the optics battle with anyone who isn’t a Trump sycophant? He wants Cohen to commit to donating any remuneration from books or other deals to charity.

Is it just my own prejudice but do most of the Republicans look and sound like ignoramuses?

1:55 Jamie Raskin (D) has Cohen describe in detail how payoffs to Karen MacDougal were made. Raskin was a constitutional law professor who has said that if Trump is implicated in crimes committed while he was president he should be impeached.

2:10 Amazing! Rep Justin Amash is the first Republican who actually asks questions that allow Cohen to explain his testimony. If anything he is sympathetic to Cohen. Cohen thanks him for his questions!

2:20 Rep Bob Gibbs (R) suggests that Cohen shouldn’t be saying these things about the president while he is overseas trying to do what’s right for the country. He actually sounded tearful. Again the refrain, why if you worked for the president for 10 years, if you had any sense of integrity, didn’t you leave before now? He is trying to say Cohen is motivated by promises of future benefit for his testimony. Says this is political theater. Cohen “it is not” – I have worked with him for 10 years. Gibbs finishes that with all these deals Cohen will be doing pretty good in five years.

Talking about political theater, the smirking self-satisfied looking Jim Jordan, the cover-up former Ohio State wrestling coach, is taking center stage as GOP member yield time t him whenever possible. Cover-up seems to equal having been a liar.

2:45 No Republican bombshells yet, not even any effective gotchas. They are acting just like mob lawyers trying to discredit witnesses.

2:50 Rep. Jackie Speier gets Cohen to give a number of how many times he helped Trump make problems or potential problems go away by threatening people: about 500.

Rep. Mrs. Miller (R): Another political game for the purpose of discrediting the president, and to impeach the president. Ho Hum, but she reveals name of a book Cohen was working on “Trump Revolution from the tower to the White House.” Again, more about his perusing the book deal in the future says “anything to sell books” and calls him a man who has gladly exploited the president for his own profit.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D) gets Cohen to reveal Trump knew about and directed a company to use bots to rig a poll.

3:15 GOP Rep. W. Stuebe suggests that because he doesn’t have records of everything Cohen accuses him of means – well – something bad. He manages to effect a stern look of condemnation and disbelief. I wonder if he practiced in front of a mirror or if it merely comes naturally to him.

3:30 Republican Chip Roy condemning “this unbelievable circus” manages to give a Trump stump speech.

Democrat Stacey Plasket from the Virgin Islands has Cohen remind us that he was Vice Chair of the Republican National Committee. She gets Cohen to say a statement made by Rudy Guiliani was inaccurate, among other inaccurate statements made by Trump associates.

Rona Graff, Trump’s personal assistant, was brought up several times, probably assuring she will be called to testify.

The Big Reveal: Cohen can’t talk about open investigations in the Southern District of New York. The Big Apple may turn very rotten for Donald Trump and Company.

 

RECESS

4:30 California Democrat Ro Khanna questions about the possibility that Cohen knows about but can’t discuss matters about Donald Trump and the Trump Organization being involved in the investigation into a criminal conspiracy. Another California Democrat Jimmy Gomez asks about whether Cohen knows anything about whether or not Trump was being under audit for his taxes. He said he assumes that Trump was never under tax audit.

They are finishing up with questions about Trump financial transactions coming from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, for example “To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?” Cohen, who responded immediately, said “yes.” Slate suggests she may be laying the groundwork for a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns.

Then there was the sure to make the news comment by Rep. Rashida Talib who lambasted Rep. Mark Meadows for bringing in a black woman to act as a prop. She said “Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them, does not mean they aren’t racist and it is insensitive that some would even say it’s — the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”

Meadows demanded her comments be stricken from the record. Fireworks ensured. Meadows said he took the accusation especially personally because “my nieces and nephews are people of color. Elijah Cummings,  who noted he was the son of former sharecroppers and that he had slaves as ancestors tried to respond to Meadows. Talib eventually apologized for saying something that might have sounded like it could be construed to mean she was accusing  Meadows of being a racist. He eventually withdrew his request.

The Republican Jody Hice from Georgia and other Republicans then entered media articles which are highly critical of Cohen into the record.

Michael Cohen was asked for closing remarks. Looking tired and somewhat bedraggled with the start of a five o’clock shadow he read from his notes. He finished with comments made directly to the president calling him churlish. I expect these will soon be published in short order.

Jordan offered nothing new while claiming he had new matter to bring up. He read woodenly from his notes without looking up. He said he wanted to bring Rod Rosenstein in for questioning about (old news already) talking about wearing a wire to record the president.

Elijah Cummings spoke extemporaneously looking directly at Cohen. From what I could tell Cohen gazed back at him with a sad look on his face. They were classic, beautiful, and inspiring.  He finished with:

“I want to say thank you. I know that this can be hard. I know that you are facing a lot. I know that you are worried about your family but this is part of destiny and, hopefully, this portion of your destiny will lead to a better Micheal Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America and a better world.”

“I mean that from the depths of my heart. When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: ‘In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy in tact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”

“We can do more than one thing,” he said. “And we have got to get back to normal.” 

You can read them all here and watch the video.


UPDATE Thursday Feb. 28, 2019 Jenifer Rubin goes with the mob comparison:

The mob analogy got a whole lot stronger

Rubin lists examples from the hearing and writes:

…you might be a fan of mob movies. In Cohen’s telling, Trump sits atop a kind of crime factory mowing down red lines daily, operating above and beyond the law to enrich its top boss and depending on the ultimate loyalty of underlings. Reporters have often commented that Trump publicly speaks in language a crime boss would use (e.g., deploring “flipping”). That may not be a coincidence. Trump’s self-image and organization are very much styled after a Hollywood movie portrayal of a gangster and his crime family.

As in the movies, the organization breaks down when someone becomes a “rat,” a cooperating witness. You have to find someone deep in the organization to provide insight into the day-to-day operation, to break the code, as Cohen said. These people are criminals, which is why they have access to even bigger criminals. Saying Cohen is a convicted perjurer is like saying Sammy “The Bull” Gravano was a felon. Well, duh. How else were the feds going to catch up to John Gotti and dozens of other mobsters?

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Trump: Bested by Putin and an even-shorter fingered autocrat?

President Trump is notoriously overconfident, a trait that doesn’t work well when negotiating on highly complex and often nuanced topics with any country, let alone an adversary with nuclear-capable missiles. Donald Trump and N. Korean President Kin Jung-Un’s last handshake lasted 13 seconds (video), and the U.S. president may have been gloating inside thinking “and some people say I have short fingers.”

Considering the breaking news about Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who has shown up in Hanoi, we have to wonder whether Trump will be representing the best interests of the United States in negotiations, or those of Vladimir Putin. TASS says Putin and Trump did not discuss forthcoming US-North Korean summit, however, they don’t say that Lavrov didn’t convey Putin’s wishes to Trump. In fact, Lavrov contradicts the TASS report:

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday said that the U.S. asked for Moscow’s advice in approaching this week’s summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Associated Press reported that Russian state media revealed comments from Lavrov in which he said Moscow believes the U.S. should offer “security guarantees” to Pyongyang in exchange for a deal to abandon its nuclear arsenal.

Lavrov said the U.S. “is even asking our advice, our views on this or that scenario” ahead of the summit. From The Hill

We can’t be confident that the final handshake between Kim and Trump won’t be taking place with a Russian flag in the background.

Donald Trump is very sensitive about the fact that his shorter-than-average fingers have become the subject and in some instances derision and jokes. Republican presidential debate, Trump asked the audience Republican presidential debate asked the audience, “Look at those hands. Are those small hands?” and this joke from Vanity Fair “O.K., you, in the third row… Yes, you… I’m calling on you… Yes, that’s why I’m pointing… I’m pointing with my finger… My FINGER. This one… Why would you think I’m holding up a cocktail frank?” Here’s the Vanity Fair history of how the appellation “short-fingered vulgarian” was added to the list of pejorative descriptions of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump brings to his discussions with Kim the most overblown ego of any American president in modern history and the pressing desire to achieve self-aggrandizing goals first, political goals that will play well in the next elections second, and last and least to achieve goals that are both realistic and the best for the country.

Trump may probably didn’t run this tweet by North Korea experts:

Nothing like reminding the president of another country that they are an economic backwater in dire need to obtain American’s help in order to become an economic powerhouse and major player on the world stage. He might as well have told Kim that his country would always be a shithole nation without his help.

Trump also said on Sunday in remarks to the nation’s governors.“It’s a very interesting thing to say, but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship. We’ll see what that means. But he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country, and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.” True enough, but rubbing it in that Kim hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere isn’t particularly diplomatic.

Not known to be a deep thinker Trump may be under the misapprehension that a diminutive leader is not a strong leader to be reckoned with and to be approached as an equal. After all, the president had handlers who photoshopped an image of him to lengthen a finger and whose latest medical report lists him as being 6′ 3″ tall though as Rachel

Maddow proved with photo comparisons of Trump standing next to other world leaders, he is really an inch or two shorter. If you look closely at the photos of Trump and Kim shaking hands their fingers seem to be the same length and only the North Korean’s palms are obviously smaller.

This would all be a ridiculously irrelevant exercise if we had a president whose compulsion to be the biggest and best impinges on some many aspects of his reasoning and hence his governing.

This is some of what Phillip Rucker and Josh Dawsey said about the summit in The Washington Post:

He sees his summits with Kim as television-ratings gold, aides said.

Aides have discussed with Trump that Kim is not a rational actor, and that he could be mentally unstable, according to a person present for those private conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe them.

In 2017, when the two leaders traded insults, White House officials explained to Trump that there was no predicting or controlling how Kim might respond or possibly retaliate, the person said. At the time, Trump mocked Kim as “Little Rocket Man,” while Kim said Trump was a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” a word suggesting senility.

The president’s position then, according to the person, was “you have to deal with a bully by bullying them — and if someone is going to be tough, you’ve got to be more tough back.”

The last sentence here is not reassuring.

Neither is the last sentence in this quote from the OpEd by political economist and North Korea specialist Nicholas Eberstadt describing the challenge of this meeting succinctly in The New York Times: 

Mr. Kim bested Mr. Trump at their first meeting in Singapore in June last year. And he is poised to do so again.

The reason is simple: He has a strategy and the Americans do not. The United States hopes to somehow keep the world safe from North Korea. But Mr. Kim has an actual plan to make the world safe for North Korea.

Mr. Kim’s plan — the same as his father’s and grandfather’s, and one breathtakingly revisionist — is nothing less than unconditional reunification of the Korean Peninsula under the control of his government in Pyongyang. Nuclear weapons are indispensable to achieving his vision. And rational actors do not bargain away their core interests; only fools or traitors do.

This one should give Americans chills: “… rational actors do not bargain away their core interests; only fools or traitors do.”


Update 02/26/19 7PM EST

“A bad deal for the United States”: top South Korean official, Moon Chung-in, a special adviser for foreign affairs and national security to South Korea’s president slams proposed Trump-Kim pact – VOX

A proposed agreement for President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to sign during their Vietnam summit this week “is a bad deal for the United States.”

That’s not the view of a cynical expert, or a Democrat. It’s the view of a top national security adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.


For one of his (S. Korean Pres. Moon Jae-in) top advisers to trash the proposed agreement is more than surprising, because it could drive a major wedge between US negotiators and their South Korean counterparts. That matters for the North Korea talks as the South Koreans have proven to be important conduits in certain diplomatic moments.


Still, a top adviser of a critical ally in the US-North Korea talks just trashed the general outline of what Trump and Kim may sign in two days. And if South Korea isn’t happy, it’s possible Trump’s negotiators may have to scramble to either satisfy their ally or change the proposed deal altogether.


Final thought: “Why is everyone looking so happy” think a befuddled president.


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Michael Cohen Story: Beware the Lawyer Spurned

Next week it with be playing in a House of Representatives as near as your television: “The Michael Cohen Story: Beware the Lawyer Spurned.” It’s the riveting story of a president’s fixer turned felon.

Of the three hearings before House committees, two will be closed and one will be open. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the Committee scheduled its public hearing with President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. This is the briefing memo.

From: “Trump faces a legal reckoning – but are his worst troubles yet to come? Damning evidence revealed by Mueller or Cohen could set in motion proceedings that threaten Trump in new ways, in The Guardian:

The chairman of the House oversight committee, before which Cohen is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, has promised to interrogate him about “the president’s debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election”, Trump’s tax-paying and business habits, and other topics.

None of those topics has been publicly explored before by someone with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s actions. But as Trump’s guard dog and gofer for nearly a decade, Cohen is well positioned to shed light on those and other matters, including for example the question of who helped Cohen concoct a false story about a Trump project in Moscow, which Cohen previously admitted to lying about.

We will never know whether President Donald Trump ever considered offering his personal attorney Michael Cohen a White House job. We will never know whether if he did consider doing so, why he decided not to.

I wonder if Donald Trump is reading the news being reported on in The New York Times and elsewhere about Mr. Cohen, who currently faces three years in prison, having more to tell Congress about illegal activities engaged in by Donald Trump and The Trump Foundation which have nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

According to The Times “Lanny Davis, a lawyer and adviser to Mr. Cohen, would not comment on the investigations beyond saying that his client was ‘interested in cooperating with and assisting” the prosecutors ‘in any way they believe is helpful.'” Furthermore, and highly relevant to Mr. Cohen personal is that “Federal law allows prosecutors to seek — and a judge to grant — a reduced prison term for a defendant who offers ‘substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person’ within a year of being sentenced. The same rule would also allow the judge to consider assistance Mr. Cohen provided, before his sentencing, to the special counsel.”

We will never know whether Trump now regrets not assuring that Cohen was comfortably ensconced in a cushy high status and profile, albeit do-nothing,  position in order to keep him silent.

Michael Cohen famously said “I would take a bullet for Donald Trump.” Here’s the context of the remark which was made during the campaign:

That wasn’t long after Steve Bannon joined the campaign, and, on his second day, according to Cohen, accused him of leaking to a reporter. “I’m thankful I sat on my hands that day,” he said. “I’m the guy who stops the leaks. I’m the guy who protects the president and the family. I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president . . . and I told him that before he comes here with his anger and his conjectures, I strongly recommended he think twice before doing it again.” Vanity Fair

Now he is poised to become the man who, excuse the mixing of metaphors, dodged a boomerang and in doing so may be assured it will knock his former patron off his pedestal.


Michael Cohen is trying to raise money from his Twitter page, but he is also building anticipation for his appearance before the House committee by retweeting this, now on the top of his Twitter page:

 

Retweeted

Michael Cohen will come before the & Committees next week. Congress has an independent duty under the Constitution to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch, and any efforts to intimidate family members or pressure witnesses will not be tolerated.

BREAKING NEWS: Chairman announces the rescheduling of Michael Cohen’s public testimony for next week, despite efforts by some to intimidate his family members and prevent him from appearing before the Committee.

He posted this tweet himself:

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Dershowitz: 25th can be used when president is psychiatrically incapacitated.

Someone should remind Alan Dershowitz that the 25th Amendment is in the Constitution for a reason which may apply to the current president, and that having Department of Justice officials discuss whether it may be applicable with a president who shows signs of being mentally unfit is legitimate.  He is saying on Fox News that if Rod Rosenstein and Andrew McCabe and other FBI officials removed President Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment it would be an attempt at an unconstitutional coup d’état if they spoke to Cabinet members about it.

Dershowitz is smart and seems at times to play to two audiences at once. For example, on Feb. 15th he tweeted: Let’s assume the president of the United States was in bed with the Russians, committed treason, committed obstruction of justice. The 25th Amendment is simply irrelevant to that. It is unconstitutional to use the 25th Amendment to circumvent impeachment provisions. The 25th can be used only if POTUS is physically or psychiatrically incapacitated. Any other use is unconstitutional. I challenge anyone to argue differently.

The president hears what he wants to hear, as this Valentine’s Day tweet demonstrates:

It seems to me that when Prof. Dershowitz addresses Trump via Fox News his focus is on attacking Trump’s enemies. In his tweets, which Trump may only see if Fox News posts them, he states the legal facts. Perhaps writes some of them for a legally knowledgable audience, including his former colleagues at Harvard Law, graduates, and current students who have been wondering if he’s lost his mind as they only hear him defending Trump and attacking Trump’s enemies.

What is noteworthy is that he has interpreted the 25th Amendment as being applicable when a president is either physically or psychiatrically incapacitated. Of course, it is. Incapacitation is incapacitation.

Dershowitz is a frequent guest on Fox News which touts his bona fides as a Harvard Law School professor emeritus on the bottom of the screen chyron. I suspect Harvard Law faculty and students are as unhappy to have the Trump apologist associated with their name as were the liberal summer residents of Martha’s Vineyard who, much to the lawyer’s chagrin, stopped inviting him to their parties: watch “Alan Dershowitz slams Martha’s Vineyard liberals for ‘shunning’ him over Trump defense” on Fox News.

Dershowitz is lying if he is saying that the FBI could promote a coup. It wouldn’t anything near a coup since they’d have no ability to initiate the 25th. Talking about it isn’t the same as doing it. The real issue is that they saw indications that led them to consider the possibility that the president might be mentally unfit.

From “Dershowitz says talks to use 25th Amendment to oust Trump could amount to ‘unconstitutional coup'” published in The Hill:

Attorney Alan Dershowitz on Wednesday said it would be “tantamount to an unconstitutional coup” if it’s confirmed that intelligence officials discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.

“As far as the investigation is concerned, look, nobody’s above the law. You’re entitled to investigate anybody,” Dershowitz said. “So I have no quarrel with, if they think he did something wrong, conducting an investigation, and if they find grounds for that, opening an impeachment process.”

“It’s the 25th Amendment that should disturb every American because it wasn’t intended for this kind of conduct,” he continued. “It reminds me of the television show ‘House of Cards,’ where they invoke the 25th Amendment to make for an interesting series, but in real life the 25th Amendment is completely inapplicable.”

The 25th Amendment was and is intended to provide a mechanism to remove a president expeditiously, although temporarily, from office if he or she is unable to function with full use of their faculties. Although written with physical disability in mind, it must also be interpreted to apply to a president, not in full control of their mental abilities. Being mentally unable to make decisions rationally is the same as being physically anesthetized. In fact, it is worse, because when on the operating table a president is unable to make irrational and possibly dangerous decisions.

I am sure that the two top spokespersons from the field of mental health, forensic psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee, the editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” and clinical psychologist John D. Gartner (a contributor to the book), who both have been frequently quoted in the media would agree. This was published in The Hill Reporter on Feb. 20, 2019:

Following former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s declaration that he’d launched an investigation and President Trump’s response on Twitter that McCabe was a traitor and coup perpetrator, Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee weighed in with her opinion that Trump needs a psychiatric evaluation because he is a danger to the United States and the world due to his ‘severe mental impairment.’

“I am of the camp that believes that a full assessment is necessary to make a diagnosis—which is why I have been stating that we need an evaluation,” Bandy said. “The American people, who are his employers, have every right to demand one, most essentially a fitness for duty exam before he continues another day, another hour, or another minute at his job.”

This belief by Lee also has been backed up by renown psychologist John Gartner, who earlier this month told KrassenCast that President Trump suffers from multiple mental illnesses, including malignant narcissism, sadism, and psychopathy.

Bandy added that Trump exhibits “psychological dangerousness” that would “translate into an assault on democracy and human rights” and even “an existential threat to the survival of human species because of the technology he has at his disposal.”

This was published in Salon on Feb. 22nd:

Yale psych prof: If Trump weren’t president he would be “contained and evaluated” Psychiatrist and editor of “Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” says “a lot worse will happen” if Trump is not removed.

During the OJ Simpson trial when the law professor was an appellate adviser for the defense there was a joke I heard. It went something like this: “Where’s the most dangerous place to be in Cambridge?” The answer was “between Alan Dershowitz and a camera.”

Since the O.J. Simpson trial, which arguably made Derschowitz nationally famous and most would say infamous, he has said his support of Donald Trump has been personally more difficult: “Backing Donald Trump has been worse than defending O.J. Simpson” from Business Insider, July 7, 2018.

Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said backing President Donald Trump in certain cases has been harder than defending O.J. Simpson and other celebrity clients, according to an interview with The New York Times.

When asked, “Is this actually worse than when you defended O.J. Simpson?” of his defense of the president, Dershowitz replied:

“Of course. Or Claus von Bulow or Leona Helmsley or Michael Milken or Mike Tyson. This is much worse than all that.”

Dershowitz continued, “In those cases people were critical of me, but they were prepared to discuss it. They were prepared to have a dialogue. Here, the people that I’m objecting to want to stop the dialogue. They don’t want to have the conversation.”

The fact of the matter is that nobody knows what Dershowitz really believes because if he didn’t take the positions he did he would be just another obscure lawyer whose celebrity was long forgotten.

His rationale for joining the defense teams of celebrities was always that everyone, even the famous, deserved the best vigorous defense possible. He never said that those who defended celebrities frequently turned their lawyers into celebrities in their own right. Whoever heard of Johnnie “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” Cochran before O.J. Simpson?

Alan Dershowitz has no formal relationship with Donald Trump as does another Rudy Guiliani, another attorney who lust for the spotlight. He is a media shill for Donald Trump. Unfortunately for millions of Fox News viewers the legal opinions the former Harvard professor are taken as gospel.

 


In an earlier version of this column I suggested Alan Dershowitz wasn’t telling the truth about the Constitution. This was before I looked at his tweets from Feb. 15. I apologize for the misstatement. 

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