Suskind, Schwartz, Lee comment on Trump!

THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2019

War and mental health:
On last evening' Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Ron Suskind to comment on Donald J. Trump's intentions regarding Iran.

Matthews was especially concerned with the role of super-hawk John Bolton as an adviser to Trump. Suskind, now of the Harvard Law School, said war could be part of a Trump re-election plan:
SUSKIND (5/8/19): Bolton in a way could play just as some of Trump's worst instincts in terms of getting into a conflagration with Iran. Especially during the election year, that's what we're fearful of.

We have been fearing that "wag the dog" opportunity for the president. Mind you, Chris, he's got either a second term or possible jail time. This is a bad set of circumstances.

And right now I think it seems like they're setting the table for many options, including potential military. I'm not seeing a full scale war. But any conflagration, even with some of the Shiite proxies of the Iranians, is going to be just what Trump will know he needs in the fall of 2020.
Oof. Suskind was doing a bit of mind-reading. But according to Suskind, next year's presidential election raises the likelihood that Trump could engage in military action.

If Trump fails to get re-elected, he face possible prosecutions, Suskind noted. He might therefore stage a distractive patriotic war as an electoral boost.

In his second statement to Matthews, Suskind mentioned a possible contributing problem—Trump's alleged recklessness:
SUSKIND: Look, Trump is a reckless guy. He acts recklessly. He shatters everything around him.

I mean, this is a situation where I think Trump is probably sitting and looking at options
and probably asking Bolton some of these same questions. How do we do something that's limited? How do we get involved in something that brings heat, shows our power, shows we're willing to fight, and maybe even uses some of that armament we're so famous for but doesn't get into a full scale conflagration with a real power in the region?

[...]

But even a little dance with the Iranians that might lead to something bigger where we get to shoot someone or do something is going to be very, very good for Trump just when he needs it. That's what I'd be watching.
A reckless man would be well served by war. That was Suskind's warning.

We've often wondered if Trump would be willing to start a war to help himself get re-elected. (Or even in the aftermath of an election defeat.) One hour after Suskind's appearance, Anderson Cooper spoke with Tony Schwartz about Trump's possibly impaired mental health.

Schwartz was co-author of Trump's 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. He isn't a psychiatrist, but he offered a stark diagnosis:
SCHWARTZ (5/8/19): If I had to...rename The Art of the Deal, I would call it The Sociopath. And I think that's a window into why he doesn't experience the kind of overwhelm and pressure and tension at the level you or I would or most people would, because he has no conscience, he has no guilt. All he wants to do is make the case that he would like to be true.

And while I do think that he's probably aware that more walls are closing around him than ever before, he does not experience the world in the way an ordinary human being would.

COOPER: You're saying he's a sociopath?

SCHWARTZ: Without any question. You know, I encourage people who wonder about that to simply Google "sociopath" and the first or second entry gives you like nine or 10 descriptive words about what a sociopath is.

It always includes a kind of pathological narcissism, which is what many people describe him as being, but it adds the element of absence of conscience and that changes everything.
We ourselves have googled "sociopath" during this age of Trump. It sounds bad every time.

Once again, Tony Schwartz isn't a psychiatrist. But Yale's Dr. Bandy X. Lee is.

Lee edited the 2017 book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Along with four other specialists, she has now written a mental health analysis of the behaviors described in the Mueller report.

She and two of her co-authors have now offered this related essay for the Boston Globe.

Under the direction of the New York Times, the mainstream press corps decided to take a pass on the discussion of Trump's mental health. Starting early last year, Lee's book and the thinking behind it were essentially disappeared. She's rarely published within the mainstream press.

Is there any way this age of Trump is going to end up well? You can color us somewhat skeptical.

We thought journalistic culture had gone disastrously off the rails as of 1997, when we started planning this site. Twenty-two years later, we agree with Lee's basic point:

We think we've reached a dangerous place. Journalistic, academic and political elites have been functioning poorly for decades now. The rewards have just been too damn high! For better or worse, our failing culture finally led to the rise of Donald J. Trump.

That includes the increasingly disordered elites of our own "liberal" world. By now, our cultural breakdown may have reached a point of no good return.

Would Donald J. Trump really start a war to serve his pre- or post-election interests? Might he start a conflagration through sheer incompetence?

Might he even nuke Nordstrom headquarters if they don't buy Ivanka's spring line?

We don't know how to answer those questions. It seems to us that we're at the mercy of a gaggle of distant gods.

On "cable news," they're still selling The Chase. The Chase is selling extremely well, and absolutely nothing else exists or needs to apply.

For example: At Slate, Susan Matthews keeps getting it basically right. Her current topic, the end of the world, is too trivial to make it to cable, where only The Chase need apply.

19 comments:

  1. Dear Bob, I seem to remember you definitely promising The Trump War and The Trump Fascist Takeover in response to the russiagate bullshit.

    The russiagate bullshit is over, case closed, so now it's the elections next year? Got it.

    My trust in your predictive abilities remains unshakable, dear Bob.

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    1. The intrigue about what President Cornered Rat will do next keeps building.

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  2. Somerby’s own views on Trump are muddled. He has called Trump “mentally ill”, and has argued both against his impeachment and also against the notion of even prosecuting Trump because of his supposed “mental illness”. Apparently Somerby feels that Trump is too mentally defective to even stand trial. But that is *not* the usual view of sociopathy. Sociopaths understand right and wrong, truth and fiction, and are routinely tried for their crimes.

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  3. If Trump is truly as dangerous as these people believe, and Somerby himself seems to believe, then “the Chase” would be the most important thing to be done right now.

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  4. “That includes the increasingly disordered elites of our own "liberal" world.“

    Yes our elites have gotten much worse since the days of Pope Bill and Saint Gore.

    Today’s elites such as Elizabeth Warren, and Hillary are “terrible politicians”, and “very poor candidates”, and candidate Harris has poor skills.

    Somerby is intent on trashing the only group that can lead us out of the supposed apocalypse of Trump.

    It is my hope that liberals will not read Somerby and come away discouraged to vote, for Warren, Harris, or whomever the candidate turns out to be.

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  5. There are partisans in the mental health community too. The ethics of the profession say that you cannot diagnose someone remotely the way Lee and others are doing. Not only might she be wrong about Trump, but even if she is right, she is damaging the profession by making psychology seem bogus and lacking in ethics. Many in the general public already have that impression, so this will just seem like using pseudoscience to attack Trump, especially to his supporters. Lee's book and article are a bad idea.

    If Lee shouldn't diagnose Trump, neither should Sommerby. You cannot read a checklist and say "that's our guy." That isn't how diagnosis works. It is how self-help books work and those are pretty much worthless, even if people feel like they've gained something from them.

    It doesn't matter whether Trump is a sociopath or not. Hitler was a sociopath too, as was Stalin and any number of other bad guys who were despotic leaders. You don't get them out of power via name-calling. If that worked, none of those historical figures would have stayed in power.

    We need to impeach Trump (my preference) or vote him out (second choice). Pelosi may be worried that attempting impeachment might entrench Trump's support, so that when he is not removed by the Senate, he wins the 2020 election. If Trump's supporters were going to be convinced by evidence of his wrongdoing, they never would have voted for him in the first place. I think we need to put major effort into preventing foreign interference. That can happen locally, not just in congress. GOTV efforts could have overcome the manipulations in WI, MI and PA, if supporters had known what was going on and worked to overcome voter suppression among Democratic voters. That means getting strongly behind whoever is the nominee. Along those lines, I believe that Bernie's current efforts to attack and undermine his competitors is wrong-headed. He should be running a more positive campaign, not weakening whoever will be nominated in the general election. This is true for all of the candidates, in my opinion.

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    1. > “GOTV efforts could have overcome the manipulations in WI, MI and PA, if supporters had known what was going on and worked to overcome voter suppression among Democratic voters.”

      In [totally-GOP-controlled] Wisconsin alone, where Trump’s margin of victory was just 22,000, voter ID was projected by a US circuit judge to block 300,000 legal registered voters“disproportionately African-American and Latino voters”. (After a determined GOTV effort, including trying to get voter IDs for voters who had none, the difference between Obama’s 2012 and Clinton’s 2016 totals in Wisconsin was only 231,740, suggesting that over 68,000 voters from that projected drop were regained.)

      Gov. Scott Walker had selectively closed DMV offices around the state, particularly in Democratic-heavy population areas like Madison and Milwaukee, to make it harder for those without the required state IDs to get them.

      Similar tactics were used in other states, e.g.:

      “October 2, 2015: Alabama has shuttered 31 driver's license offices…. ‘Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.’”

      Oh, but the Gov. relented, he did: 18 days later his office said “an examiner would spend at least one day each month in each of the counties” — not even, mind you, in each of the previously closed offices, if there had been more than one office per county.

      Good luck trying to be one of your county’s residents getting your voter ID in time to vote, from the one single examiner, on that one day in the month he’s available. You thought a long line to vote was a problem?

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  6. The buzz on various websites is that Trump is upset with Bolton over his aggressiveness toward Iran. That doesn't sound like Trump wants to be involved in a shooting war anywhere. I think he may be afraid of it. Remember that he wants to grift and enrich himself and his family, not cause real damage to our nation or get into situations he knows (on some level) that he is unequipped to handle.

    Trump is already at war with the Democrats (who he trusts not to do anything foolish) and immigrants (who he knows are not a serious threat). Those are safe wars. He may gin up another fake war, but I don't think he wants a real one. That's why he keeps appeasing North Korea.

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  7. ...more walls are closing around him than ever before

    I'd like to trust Schwartz, since he worked directly with Trump, but this comment makes he think that Schwartz is just another TDS sufferer.

    Trump was essentially exonerated of illegal collusion with Russia, and he was not indicted for Obstruction of Justice. Trump's popularity is slightly higher than Obama's was at the same point in his Presidency. A successful impeachment by the Senate is out of the question. It's unlikely that the House will even vote for impeachment. In short, fewer walls are closing in on Trump right now than there were before the Mueller result came out.

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    1. "Trump was essentially exonerated of illegal collusion with Russia..."

      If you really believe that, why wouldn't you also believe Trump has already essentially started a war with Iran? Both are essentially equally true.

      BTW, the House will vote for impeachment. Unfortunately, the Senate is full of Republicans (essentially traitors against the United States of America), and those dead-enders will waive away Trump's treason, because Republicans are who we always thought they were.

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    2. 6:31

      If there is any suffering from derangement, frankly it is you:

      Obama at this point was hugely more popular than Trump, a nearly ten point difference - Obama 51.5 / Trump 42.4 - this is actually a somewhat rosy assessment of Trump's approval, the higher rated polls have him at 39-40 which is where he has been his whole term, which is historically the lowest approval in history for a president.

      All evidence indicates the House would vote to impeach Trump, a somewhat empty gesture in and of itself, but the ongoing investigations are potentially damaging - already the Mueller report has influenced a significant amount of voters to indicate in polls that as a result they are more likely to now not vote for Trump.

      Mueller makes it clear that Trump should be indicted when he is no longer president; additionally, there are many cases against Trump currently ongoing, and the House is ramping up investigations into his corruption. We always knew Trump was a joke of a businessman, repeatedly failing and going bankrupt, and this was reinforced by his recently revealed tax shenanigans.

      Participation in the work force is at a near all time low. Real wages are also down to 1970 levels and trending downward.

      Gas prices are high and trending up.

      Hundreds of children of parents seeking asylum are still being kidnapped at the border under Trump orders.

      Nutty Trump administration officials are pushing him to engage in nonsense military conflicts. Trump continues to oversee one of the worst humanitarian disasters in history in Yemen, giving aide to his murderous Saudi buddies.

      Trump is bungling relations with China, causing widespread headslapping throughout Wall Street.

      Trump recently held a rally in Florida where he made many strange utterings and joked about shooting migrants - the strain is apparent.

      Progressive policies are overwhelmingly popular and trending up among Americans.

      Clearly the walls are tightening for Trump.

      Can't Stand The Strain

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    3. You should call Nancy The Chickenshit Pelosi immediately, and demand impeachment today.

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    4. I was wondering what the Establishment Elite wanted us to do. Thanks to Mao, I wonder no more.

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  8. I was glad to see Bob refer to "Trump's alleged recklessness." As I've said before, President Trump's talk has been reckless. His actions have not.

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  9. Off topic
    Trump again shifts course, says Mueller testimony is up to Barr
    The president told reporters Thursday that he would let the attorney general decide if the special counsel should appear before Congress, backing away from previous comments.


    Both houses have invited Mueller to testify. Barr has said he has no objection. At this point, the decision is Mueller's.

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    1. Trump should, instead, leave that decision up to someone who actually read the Mueller Report.

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    2. No, jackass. The decision is up to the House of Representatives. The absurdity of burying this report and never once hearing from the man in charge of the investigation and who directed the preparation of the report is beyond absurd. The arrogance of "Coverup" Billybarr not even permitting Robert Mueller to be with him in his pre-announcement release of the report is goddamned infuriating. And very telling. Who the hell does he think he's fooling, besides morally bankrupt idiots like David in sunny California?

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    3. It's cloudy in CA today

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