MENTAL STATES: Donald J. Trump let his crazy flag fly!


But so did everyone else:
Is it even possible that Jeffrey Epstein actually killed himself?

After Epstein's death was announced, stampeding minds wanted to say and suggest that the answer just had to be no. But in this morning's editions, dear God:

In this morning's editions, the New York Times breaks every rule in the book. It publishes a letter from a specialist—from a person who actually seems to know what he's talking about!

We can't vouch for what the writer says. But if true, his statements are highly relevant concerning one of the topics which quickly swirled all around:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/19): The death by hanging of Jeffrey Epstein while in federal custody may have been preventable, but not by closer monitoring. By protocol Mr. Epstein was supposed to be checked every 30 minutes, but reportedly was not.

Although it is a standard protocol for inmates and inpatients deemed to be at suicide risk, close monitoring by observers every 30 minutes, or more typically every 15 minutes, cannot prevent a death by asphyxiation that takes a mere four to six minutes to occur. Studies have documented that a large percentage of individuals who died by suicide in institutional care (36 percent in one study, 51 percent in another) were on 15-minute checks or even one-to-one observation at the time of death.

Many suicides are preventable by a variety of other methods, but not by close or frequent monitoring.

The writer is past president of the American Association of Suicidology.
According to Berman, that 30-minute monitoring regime can't, and frequently doesn't, prevent suicides in these prison settings.

Berman's letter doesn't address every question which has arisen in the wake of Epstein's death. But he seems to know what he's talking about, and his letter does address one part of the puzzle.

Sadly but typically, Berman's letter plays third fiddle in this morning's Times. It appears beneath two other letters—letters which are perhaps a bit more "conspiratorial" in their outlook and tone.

At the top of its hard-copy letters page, the Times has published four letters under this heading: "Questions Raised by Epstein's Death." For unknown reasons, this is the letter the Times chose to place at the top of the page—the letter it chose to highlight:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/19): The death of Jeffrey Epstein is stirring up conspiracy theories on a vast scale. Consider the rich and powerful people, often of dubious character, who surrounded him; his inexplicable path to wealth and social connections; the strange miscarriage of justice in his 2008 nonprosecution agreement in Florida; the odd circumstances of his conveniently timed death; an attorney general tainted by unseemly fealty to President Trump in charge of investigation; and the countless sexually exploited children that touch all aspects of his story.

Any official conclusion is doomed to be unsatisfactory. You needn’t be paranoid, or subscribe to implausible scenarios, to believe that some people will escape justice and that the public will never know the full truth.

J— F—
This overwrought writer already seems sure that we the people "will never know the full truth" about the matters at hand.

Also, some people will escape justice! You don't have to be paranoid to leap to such conclusions, he says.

The second letter on the pile also tilts toward the joys of prejudgment. The writer puts scare quotes around the word "mistake," and he's quick to advance the pleasing idea that this was all William Barr's fault:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/19): Six days after his first suicide attempt, Jeffrey Epstein was “taken off the suicide watch for reasons that remained unclear on Saturday.” For one of the largest pedophile cases in history involving high-profile politicians and individuals of enormous wealth and power, this “mistake” is an insult to the victims, the public and the justice system of the United States. This is the ultimate in corruption at the highest levels of law enforcement, and if Attorney General William P. Barr is so “appalled to learn” about Mr. Epstein’s death in federal custody, why didn’t he do his job to make sure this never happened?

There has to be a thorough investigation that confirms that this was in fact a suicide by hanging, and not another nefarious event that has surrounded the Epstein criminal case from the beginning. The investigation must continue against him and his co-conspirators even if he did take the easy way out.

P— T— C—
This writer asks a sensible question—why was Epstein taken off official "suicide watch," a regime which is much more stringent than the mere twice-hourly look-in. But instead of simply asking his question, he suggests that this was no mere "mistake," and he pleasingly singles out Barr.

This is the way the New York Times plays, at least on today's letters page, in the matter of Epstein's death. The paper starts with a pair of excited, know-nothing letters which shouldn't have been published at all. Only then do we see a letter from someone who seems to have something of value to offer—some actual information about one of the matters at hand.

Inside the paper, we actually move beyond speculation and excitement. A news report offers remarkable background information about the operation of the federal prison where Epstein died.

Ridiculously, the report is buried on page A17, inside the (local) New York section. Those excited letters were given a much more visible platform than this remarkable news report.

Why does the Epstein case seem to involved bad decision-making and procedures observed in the breach? Like those excited letter writers, we can't answer such questions at this point—but the information in this news report is stark and illuminating:
WATKINS, BENNER AND IVORY (8/13/19): One of the two people guarding Jeffrey Epstein when he apparently hanged himself in a federal jail cell was not a full-fledged correctional officer, and neither guard had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was discovered, prison and law-enforcement officials said.


No correctional officer had checked on Mr. Epstein for several hours before he was found, even though guards were supposed to look in on prisoners in the protective unit where he was housed every half-hour, a prison official and two law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the detention said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In addition, only one of the two people guarding the Special Housing Unit—known as 9 South—normally worked as a correctional officer, according to three prison officials with knowledge of the case. The officials did not say what sort of job the other employee usually worked.

A New York Times investigation published last year detailed this practice, under which federal prisons are so strapped for correctional officers that they regularly compel teachers, nurses, secretaries and other support staff members to step in. The practice has grown at some prisons as the Trump administration has curtailed the hiring of correctional officers.

Many of these staff members only receive a few weeks’ training in correctional work, and, while required by contract to serve as substitutes, are often uncomfortable in the roles. Even workers who previously held correctional positions have said that the practice was unsettling because fewer colleagues were on hand to provide backup if things turned ugly.


Union officials said that for more than a year officials in Washington had been made aware of a severe staffing shortage at the facility in the wake of a federal hiring freeze. One of the guards on the unit where Mr. Epstein died had been working overtime for five straight days, while the other had been forced to work overtime that day, a union official said.
Why wasn't the 30-minute protocol followed by the two guards on duty?

Try this: One of the "guards" on duty that night wasn't an actual guard! He or she may have been a nurse or a secretary—one who'd been forced to work overtime in a position for which he or she lacked training.

Meanwhile, the guard who was an actual guard was working overtime for the fifth consecutive day (and night)!

Were either of these staffers awake when they should have been checking on Epstein? In this report in The Daily Beast, a union official describes the astonishing lay of the land:
DALY (8/12/19): “Things just didn’t change,” Serene Gregg, president of AFGE Local 3148, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “They just do not have enough officers in the facility.”


Gregg reported that officers often complete a double shift totaling 16 hours only to find that their relief has not yet arrived. They then have to work another hour or two, for a total of 17 or even 18.

“That is our normal,” she said.

Anybody who refuses what is termed “mandatory overtime” faces disciplinary action, whatever their responsibilities at home.

“You’re choosing to feed your family,” Gregg said.

She added, “At some point, people are going to break.”

She noted that fatigued officers have had traffic accidents coming to and from work. Sometimes they get off duty with so little time before the next shift that it does not make sense to go home only to turn around.

“We have employees who sleep in their cars,” she said.
Gregg is describing an astounding state of affairs. But so it went as two "guards" failed to keep their appointed rounds on the night Epstein died—and here's an additional question:

Do you feel sure that the official who took Epstein off suicide watch was qualified to make such judgments? Do you feel sure that that official was both alert and awake?

Michael Daly's report in The Daily Beast gets worse as it continues. With regard to the New York Times, it's amazing that the report we've quoted was buried inside the (local) New York section, while the high-profile Letters page opened with a pair of know-nothing missives from a pair of excitable readers.

Donald J. Trump let his crazy flag fly in the immediate wake of Epstein's death. He returned to "The Clinton Body Count," a place where many mainstream journalists have lingered down through the long, destructive years.

Those years ended with a person in the Oval who seems to be out of his mind. We'll review the history of that craziness tomorrow.

For today, we'll link you to another report in this morning's Times—a report in which a wide array of mainstream and liberal figures let their freak flags fly, raising obvious questions about their mental states.

Professor Tribe lets his freak flag fly; so does Rep. Al Green, advocate of impeachment. Mayor de Blasio is way out over his skis. So, of course, is Joe Scarborough, though he's still saying he isn't.

This report was also buried in the (local) New York section.
It really belongs in today's Science Times, under a heading marked Anthropology—Mental States of the Human Race.

Aristotle is said to have said it: "Man [sic] is the rational animal." In a similar vein, "The American people are pretty sharp," star pundits constantly tell us.

Donald J. Trump went crazy again in the wake of Epstein's death—but the Clinton Body Count has been with us forever. Tomorrow, we'll review the history of that affair, which involves the pitiful mental states of top liberal stars.

We'll suggest again that it's long past time to experiment with the possibility of seeing the duck as a rabbit—to rethink the basic mental culture of our floundering human race.

Tomorrow: Trump is just the latest nutcase to play this crackpot game


  1. "The paper starts with a pair of excited, know-nothing letters which shouldn't have been published at all."

    Oh really, dear Bob? A newspaper should never publish letters from the ordinary people, only the bullshit produced by their phony 'experts' - is that it?

    Good to know.

    Oh perhaps they should only publish the revelations from the enlightened and brilliant future experts living inside your head?

  2. They found videorecording equipment on Epstein's island so there may be tapes of what occurred there. There may be no need to speculate.

    Somerby is irate about the speculation. He doesn't seem to care much what happened to the victims and he doesn't seem to care much about justice against the perpetrators. But when has Somerby ever cared about what happens to women?

    1. Why do you believe everything you hear in the news?

    2. 1. News isn't rumor or gossip.
      2. There are standards for accuracy at newspapers.
      3. There are procedures for vetting information, checking it and making sure it conforms to standards.
      4. Journalists get fired if they screw up.
      5. The reputation of the paper depends on the accuracy of its reporting.
      6. Over time, corroboration emerges and the public has a chance to determine the accuracy of past reporting and can form its own opinion.
      7. Readers support papers that are consistently accurate and avoid those that are not (if not individually, then as a group), so accurate papers prosper.
      8. Competing papers challenge the inaccuracies so there is a kind of vetting as information becomes public.
      9. The reputations of individual reporters also depend on the accuracy of their stories, as does their personal success and financial prosperity.

    3. "Journalists get fired if they screw up." ...blah, blah, blah.

      Dear dembot, on which planet are all these things happening? Certainly not on this one.

      Indeed, journos get fired when they screw up, and occasionally murdered (typically suicided, like poor Gary Webb, who shot himself in the head. twice).

      It all depends on what you mean by "screw up". And what it means is being disobedient and challenging the official 'narrative'.

  3. It's Trump's troll flag and he never stops flying it.

  4. But there isn't a person alive with a triple digit IQ that wouldn't say Bill Clinton didn't rape the little girls on Pedo Island if their life depended on the right answer.

    1. So that means there IS a person alive with a triple digit IQ who will say that Bill Clinton didn't rape the little girls. Double negatives cancel each other out and make positives. Unclear whether you are meaning to accuse Clinton or not, but he has submitted evidence he never went there and he has submitted evidence that he didn't take most of the trips where he is listed on manifests. Clinton can prove his innocence, if anyone on the right cared sufficiently to seek out facts.

      Clinton was involved with Epstein to get donations to his foundation and to attend conferences they were both invited to, not to hang out and chase girls, like Trump did. No one has said that Clinton didn't want rich people to donate to his Foundation. The right's careful construction of their womanizer image of Bill Clinton makes this slur semi-plausible to right-wingers, but people on the left know Bill Clinton and do not regard him the same way.

  5. “Do you feel sure that the official who took Epstein off suicide watch was qualified to make such judgments? Do you feel sure that that official was both alert and awake?”

    High profile case. Federal custody. Federal prison. The director of the Bureau of Prisons? An acting director, as is typical for the Trump administration. Official in charge of this acting director? William Barr, Attorney General.

    Did Barr oversee this case and the custody of Epstein properly? Did he make sure to stress to Bureau of Prisons the importance of the case/prisoner? Which underlings’ heads will roll to spare Barr? Why did Barr recuse himself, then un-recuse himself from the case, given that Barr’s father hired the unqualified Epstein to teach at a tony Manhattan school years ago?

    Unfounded conspiracy theories are bad, but we cannot trust this administration, so what’s a country to do? Does Somerby really have confidence that the full truth will be told? We can hope it will be, but how will we know if it isn’t?

  6. Suicide watch at that jail in NYC means they are constantly being watched. Not just checked on periodically.

    That was the problem -- formal suicide watch only lasts a short period of time because they can't spare the manpower.

    1. Who determines how much manpower there is at federal prisons? Why is the US government unable to keep a high profile prisoner alive? The problem goes deeper than what you suggest.

    2. The Trump administration cut their budget. This is the fallout when you try to "starve the beast" of government.

    3. I wish Trump would "starve the beast". In fact, from 2018 to 2019, federal spending grew from $4.11 trillion to $4.50 trillion.

    4. Now cite the figure allocated for Federal prisons. I'll bet dollars to donuts it didn't grow.

    5. David,
      Fortunately, Trump made up for the increased spending by giving massive tax cuts to Mao's pals in the Establishment, who were sitting on piles of cash.

  7. Late comment from prior thread:

    While Trump-haters are discussing anti-semitic slurs based on obscure dog whistles, Jews are being physically attacked.

    Three Men Attacked On Their Way to Synagogue, As Renewed Spate of Assaults Targets Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn

    The string of assaults in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn came on the heels of what is being treated as an antisemitic assault on Friday night in Crown Heights for which one man was arrested and charged with a hate crime.

    These attackers are almost surely black. The attacks can't be blamed on Trump or on the right wing, so they're not national news.

    1. What are the obscure dog whistles?

    2. @1:31 The dog-whistle I'm referring to was the word "internationalist" being interpreted as an antisemitic slur, rather than its ordinary meaning -- the opposite of a nationalist.

    3. Why can't these "almost surely black" attackers be Republican Trump fans? Are you saying all black people adhere to the same ideology?
      That kind of thinking got us to this point, where white supremacists are in positions of governmental power.

    4. @5:47 Sorry, black attacks on Jews have been occurring in Brooklyn since long before Trump. E.g., in 1991, a black mob was egged on by Al Sharpton. During the riot, Lemrick Nelson stabbed Yankel Rosenbaum to death.

    5. Meh. There are way more instances of cops shooting unarmed black men than that, and you waived those away as a statistical blip.

    6. Where was the "internationalist" dog whistle blown if I may ask? I apologise for not being plugged in to the news.

      This sentence seems curious to me:
      "While Trump-haters are discussing anti-semitic slurs based on obscure dog whistles, Jews are being physically attacked."

      Jews are always being physically attacked. All religious groups are always being physically attacked. It seems like a lazy construction.

  8. Great comments! Mow and Dave in Cal. ALWAYS smart and on point. LOL. I don't MISS ANYTHING reading the comments 4 times a year... same bull that is worthless. I would tell you, if I could, NOT to leave the comments section here ANGRY... just LEAVE.

  9. In case anyone forgot, Barr’s department lost another high profile prisoner fairly recently:

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