Mitch McConnell, who suffered no political penalty for his cynical block of a middle-of-the-road Supreme Court nominee spoke out today on Senator Schumer’s promise to block any nominee extreme enough to pass Republican inspection. “Apparently there’s a new standard now which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all,” McConnell groused. “I think that’s… Continue Reading →
If you relate to movie villains, you might be a sociopath. Sociopathy is a condition that refers to a person’s antisocial behavior and ideas. Psychology Today aligns it with the features of antisocial personality disorder, a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychiatrists everwhere. “Antisocial personality disorder is… Continue Reading →
Seem to be doomed to stand by helplessly as it repeats itself:
The rise of right-wing populism in Europe and the United States, accentuated by the election of Donald Trump, has led to growing fears about the possibility of new forms of authoritarianism. In search of insight, many commentators have turned to a book published some 65 years ago — Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” Arendt was a German Jewish intellectual who fled Germany with the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933, lived in Paris as a stateless refugee and Zionist activist until 1941 and then fled to and settled in the United States.
“Origins,” first published in 1951, was based on research and writing done during the 1940s. The book’s primary purpose is to understand totalitarianism, a novel form of mobilizational and genocidal dictatorship epitomized by Stalinism in Soviet Russia and Hitlerism in Nazi Germany, and it culminates in a vivid account of the system of concentration and death camps that Arendt believed defined totalitarian rule. The book’s very first words signal the mood:
Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining superpowers. This moment of anticipation is like the calm, that settles after all hopes have died . . . Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena — homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth . . . Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest — forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.
How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and “Origins” raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.
Not-my-president-elect Donald Trump cannot handle criticism of any kind so he lashes out on Twitter where he has over 7.3 million followers. He’s just not the sort of guy you want having the nuclear codes. Vanity Fair is Trump’s newest target after a scathing review was published about Trump Grill. “Has anyone looked at the really… Continue Reading →
We know the next president of the United States uses his powerful platform to take revenge on individual citizens. He attacked Alec Baldwin for parodying him on Saturday Night Live, threatened to cancel a contract with Boeing because its CEO questioned his trade policy and called a union leader “terrible” for pointing out Trump lied in his characterization of the Carrier deal.
We know he doesn’t understand or care about the most fundamental constitutional rights, after he threatened to revoke the citizenship of anyone who burned a flag. We know he’s suggested using the power of his office to go after the press for vigorously reporting on what he says and does. (Quote him, and he’ll call you a liar.)
Add it all up, and what do you see? A child who reacts to the slightest perceived attack with vicious vitriol. A vengeful president who is willing to violate basic rights. A government run by incompetents, racists, bullies and conspiracy-mongers.
It’s a formula for tragedy.
No one can predict the future – we learned that lesson the hard way a month ago. But if you were to imagine what impending American fascism would look like, you couldn’t place the pieces on the board any more neatly than they’ve been placed in the last year.
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In a word, WTF? An Endicott NY firefighter allegedly set his house on fire in August, with his wife and two teenagers asleep, after setting an obstacle course of gasoline traps around the house. Written on the outside wall was an anti-police message that reads, “Lie with pigs, fry like bacon.” WBNG reported that the house… Continue Reading →
“A majority of voters saw Trump as a racist,” FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten tweeted. “They also found him to be one of most moderate prez nominees in a generation. Circle that square.” For George Lakoff, a Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley, this paradox is evidence of something he has been arguing for… Continue Reading →
Can Barack Obama manipulate him?
n addition to offering some hypothetical pointers to Obama, Behary also offered some thoughts on what we should expect from a Trump presidency based on how narcissists operate. They were dark.
One potentially underappreciated threat for these next four years, it turns out, might be boredom on the part of the chief executive. There isn’t really anybody in the world who thinks Trump will enjoy the day-to-day drudgery of being president — the meetings, the fat briefing books, the endless diplomatic visits. During the campaign, Robert Draper of the New York Times even reported that, according to a John Kasich adviser, Trump’s eldest son had indicated that “his father’s vice-president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy,” making him the most powerful veep in history. The Trump camp denied this, but it’s still reasonable to think Trump, in light of what we know about who he is and his lack of interest in policy, is going to do a lot more delegation than past presidents, especially on the many, many boring tasks inherent to the job.
“I think he’ll recede into the background and delegate as long as the people who are doing his job are doing it well enough so he can take the credit,” said Behary. “Then he can step out like the king and wave to the crowd.” But this won’t always be possible. “I’m more concerned that when narcissists step away from the adulation, the spotlight, the praise, the applause, they get bored,” she continued. “And then they have to find other ways to cook up a stimulating event or something that becomes interesting, stimulating, controversial, competitive, self-soothing. That’s what’s of greater concern — how’s he going to deal with the routine of day-to-day life, which becomes very demanding and not necessarily so stimulating every day of the week, and not necessarily filled with crowd applause?”
One immediate practical concern, Behary said, involves security. “I’ve often wondered how is he going to stay inside his Secret Service detail?” she said. “They don’t follow orders. Narcissistic people don’t take orders, they don’t follow orders — they may do it if it’s serving them and it’s convenient for them, but not when it feels uncomfortable. They’re not good with frustration. They don’t believe they should be able to follow the same rules as everyone else. There’s a lot of wonder and worry on my part and my colleagues who specialize in this area on how will he follow the detail of the Secret Service and stay within the boundaries?” As if on cue, shortly after I spoke with Behary, news broke that Trump had snuck out for a steak with his family without a member of his press pool — a potentially seriousbreach of protocol.
Overall, said Behary, she expected that Trump’s behavior will depend greatly both on how bored he is and how beloved he feels at a given moment. “If his favor goes up, it’s all good,” she said. “I still wonder what he’s going to do with the ants in his pants about needing a new shiny toy, because this type of person can’t stay still and follow monotonized routines, and so I can’t imagine — what’s he going to do without his celebrity-ship? That’s the part that’s really going to be interesting to follow. Will he have to create chaos and create situations and conditions so that he has to step forward? I don’t know. I just can’t imagine him staying still for that long.”
Seems that Anita Hill wasn’t the only person harassed by Clarence Thomas. But he is also the justice least likely to resign over a scandal:
The anticipation of meeting a U.S. Supreme Court justice for the first time turned to shock and distress for a young Truman Foundation scholar in 1999 when, she says, Justice Clarence Thomas grabbed and squeezed her on the buttocks several times at a dinner party.
On Oct. 7, a night dominated by the disclosure of Donald Trump’s audio-recorded boasts about grabbing women, Moira Smith posted on Facebook a memory of her encounter with Thomas. “He groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should sit ‘right next to him,’ ” Smith wrote. Smith, now vice president and general counsel to Enstar Natural Gas Co., in Alaska, was 23 at the time of the dinner party at the Falls Church, Virginia, home of her boss.
Smith’s claim came amid the outrage and ongoing national conversation about inappropriate sexual treatment of women by powerful men, male acquaintances and strangers. The disclosure of the Trump tape has spurred women in startling numbers to come forward publicly with old memories of unwanted touches.
Smith spoke with The National Law Journal/Law.com multiple times by email and phone after she revealed her allegation on Facebook. Her three former housemates during the spring and summer of 1999 each said in interviews they remembered Smith describing inappropriate contact by Thomas after she came home that night from the dinner or early the next morning. They also remembered their own shock and inability to advise her about how to respond. Another Truman scholar that summer, whom Smith would later marry and divorce, said in an interview he “definitely remembered” her sharing with him what had happened soon after the dinner party.
Donald J. Trump was emphatic in the second presidential debate: Yes, he had boasted about kissing women without permission and grabbing their genitals. But he had never actually done those things, he said.
“No,” he declared under questioning on Sunday evening, “I have not.”
At that moment, sitting at home in Manhattan, Jessica Leeds, 74, felt he was lying to her face. “I wanted to punch the screen,” she said in an interview in her apartment.
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