THINGS HAVING FALLEN APART: Our Town is shocked all over again!


Disappearing what Mary Trump said: Yesterday, we were struck by Greg Sargent's analysis at the Washington Post.

Sargent even used a key word. He seemed to say that he'd found the commander-in-chief's recent conduct "shocking:"

SARGENT (1/12/21): As shocking new revelations emerge about President Trump’s depraved and malevolent response to the violent siege of the Capitol, it’s becoming clear that this event will require a much bigger reckoning than we may have first thought.

Impeachment may be only the beginning of what’s truly required, if we are going to come to terms with the enormity of this occurrence and what led up to it—and parcel out appropriate accountability for it.

This is thrust upon us by an extraordinary new report in The Post that reconstructs Trump’s actions during the assault, and by renewed discussion of the 14th Amendment as a tool for barring officials who incited the mob from ever holding public office again.

The meta-revelation in the Post piece is that Trump appeared to take solipsistic, even sadistic pleasure in watching a mob lay siege to our seat of government in his name, and as a result, refused to call for calm, potentially further endangering lawmakers’ lives.

Greg Sargent is a good, decent person. He was referring to this news report on page A1 of yesterday's Washington Post.

The front-page news report in question has been widely discussed. Relying on unnamed sources, it describes the behavior of Donald J. Trump as various aides and advisers tried to get him to stop watching TV—to make an appropriate statement instead—during last week's Capitol riot.

Borrowing from the ancient spiritual, Donald Trump would not be moved. According to Sargent, the Post had produced an "extraordinary" report, built upon "revelations" Sargent said he found "shocking."

As noted above, Sargent's a good, decent person. He isn't dumb at all. In part for those reasons, we think his description constitutes a highly instructive anthropology lesson. More specifically, it offers an instructive lesson concerning recent press corps conduct.

In Sargent's account, the Post's report said that Trump "appeared to take solipsistic, even sadistic pleasure in watching a mob lay siege to our seat of government."  

We wouldn't use those exact same words to describe the contents of the report, but Sargent is giving a perfectly reasonable account of what the Post report said. Having said that, it seems to us that the obvious question is this:

Why would anyone find it "shocking" to hear that Donald J. Trump reacted that way? As a subset of our species, are we completely unable to process, remember and understand what Mary Trump has said?

As you may recall, Mary L. Trump is a clinical psychologist; she's also Donald Trump's niece. In her recent, number-one best-selling book, she described her uncle's upbringing along with his "psychopathologies."

No, she isn't the oracle at Delphi. That said, Mary L. Trump said this:

MARY TRUMP (pages 12-13): None of the Trump siblings emerged unscathed from my grandfather's sociopathy and my grandmother's illnesses, both physical and psychological, but my uncle Donald and my father, Freddy, suffered more than the rest. In order to get a complete picture of Donald, his psychopathologies, and the meaning of his dysfunctional behavior, we need a thorough family history.

In the last three years, I’ve watched as countless pundits, armchair psychologists and journalists have kept missing the mark, using phrases such as "malignant narcissism" and "narcissistic personality disorder" in an attempt to make sense of Donald’s often bizarre and self-defeating behavior. I have no problem calling Donald a narcissist—he meets all nine criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—but the label only gets us so far.


[Clinical] experiences showed me time and again that diagnosis doesn't exist in a vacuum. Does Donald have other symptoms we aren't aware of? Are there other disorders that might have as much or more explanatory power? Maybe. A case could be made that he also meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, which in its most severe forms is generally considered sociopathy but can also refer to chronic criminality, arrogance, and disregard for the rights of others...

The fact is, Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he’ll never sit for. 

Elsewhere in her book, Mary Trump explicitly says that Donald Trump's father—her own grandfather—was "a high-functioning sociopath." In substantial detail, she describes the heinous way this sociopath raised his five unfortunate kids.

In Mary Trump's assessment, the greatest damage was done to the two youngest kids, one of whom is our commander-in-chief. The two youngest kids were still very young when their mother's physical ailments limited the role she could play in their upbringing. 

Donald J. Trump was very young when his mother's illnesses meant that he would be very heavily influenced by his sociopathic father. In that passage, you see Mary Trump's assessment of the commander's subsequent "psychopathologies," concerning which we'll only say this:

How quickly they forget!

After reading an account like that, why would anyone be surprised by the behavior described in the Washington Post's news report? Why would a journalist rush into print to call the behavior "shocking?"

To our ear, Mary Trump describes her uncle as a "sociopath plus." However you might want to describe it, the commander has been behaving exactly as a person with the described "psychopathologies" would. And, lest we further forget, let us also say this:

Way back in 2017, Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee published an earlier best-selling book. That best-seller carried this rather explicit title:

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President

In a later edition, the number of expert contributors jumped to thirty-seven. That said, our question is this:

More than three years after Dr. Lee's book; a full half-year after Mary Trump's book; why would anyone be shocked, let alone "shocked, shocked," by the commander's ongoing behavior?

We say "shocked, shocked" for this reason. Cable punditry concerning Trump has been a version of Groundhog Day cross-fertilized with Casablanca. 

Every morning, at 6 A.M. sharp, Joe and Mika are excitedly shocked all over again. They're shocked by whatever the commander-in-chief has said or done in the preceding ten minutes.

Joe and Mika set the tone, and their gang of sycophants follow. As the day proceeds, similar conduct will be seen all over the "cable news" press corps.

Each day, the monkeys agree to be shocked, shocked by the commander's latest insanity. In the course of this daily performance, they agree to pretend that the best-selling books of Mary Trump and Bandy X. Lee were never composed or published.

This press corps behavior is almost as strange as that of Trump himself. Ever so quickly, let's describe the history of this conduct, admittedly for the ten millionth time:

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump was published on October 1, 2017. According to the leading authority on the subject, "The book was an instant New York Times Best Seller, and high demand led to a second edition."

In that second edition, thirty-seven "psychiatrists and mental health experts" attempted to warn the nation about Donald J. Trump's dangerous psychiatric condition. Inevitably, the mental giants at the New York Times editorial board swung into action at this point in time.

For many years, this board has been about as fatuous and foppish as such boards can get. In this instance, they swung into action with an editorial in January 2018.

In their editorial, the board said that journalists shouldn't discuss the president's psychiatric state. As the children always do, the children fell into line.

Exactly as they always do, the children fell into line. If Ralph Kramden had sent Bandy Lee to the moon, she and the book she compiled could not have been disappeared further.

Needless to say,  similar behavior occurred when Mary Trump's book appeared. Reviewers tended to make glancing mention of the rather severe diagnosis she offered of her uncle's "psychopathologies" and personality disorders. 

Instead, they tended to focus on human interest nuggets—The time he regifted those presents! The time he commented on Mary Trump's breasts!—and they tended to let the author's diagnosis go.

The children tend to think with one brain, and they tend to be highly obedient. In recent months, Mary Trump has been a frequent presence on "cable news," but she's been turned into a standard pundit, making the standard pundit assessments.

Her diagnosis is rarely mentioned. She's never asked to revisit the remarkable diagnosis we've posted above. With regret, we're forced to say that she's been complicit in this.

This leads to us yesterday's state of affairs. In Sargent's essay, a perfectly intelligent liberal pundit seemed to say that he'd been shocked by the kind of behavior reported in the Post. He found the behavior shocking!

That said, unless you've been living on Neptune, there was nothing surprising—nothing at all—about that reported behavior. 

Mary Trump had described her uncle as something like a "sociopath plus." Dr. Lee's contributors had issued similar warnings about his "dangerous" condition. (According to Lee, the commander's condition would only be getting worse.) 

These warnings had come in a pair of well-known, best-selling books. But within the culture of the upper-end press, if it weren't for all the disappeared topics—if it weren't for all the topics the children agree they won't discuss—it sometimes seems that there wouldn't be any topics at all.

We told you, several years ago, that "it's all anthropology now." In part, we meant to say there would be no useful solutions to the disasters in which we're all encased. The only subject worth pursuing was the question of the mental wiring through which we've arrived at this place.

For ourselves, we'd start with the psychiatric profile of the commander-in-chief. Also at issue is the psychiatric profile, or other possible motives, of many of his high-level supporters.

Also this: What's the nature of the group dynamic which can produce a "tulip craze" among large groups of people? 

Finally, how do we explain the conduct of this nation's upper-end press corps, whose relentless group conduct has played a large role in getting us where we are? And how about the conduct we see right here in the streets of Our Town, where our own version of a "tulip craze" can seem to be occurring?

At any rate, every morning, at 6 A.M., Groundhog Day starts on cable. Joe is shocked all over again. Mika keeps saying, "I don't get it." (Truer words have rarely been spoken).

The cluelessness extends all through the day, as the children of the "cable news" corn agree to be thoroughly shocked all over again. 

In Casablanca, the willingness to be "shocked, shocked" was turned into one of Hollywood's greatest jokes. For at least the past thirty years, it's been a route to great danger here as things have kept falling apart. 

By now, things have massively fallen apart. This simple fact is plainly true, and things have even fallen apart right here in the streets of Our Town.

Tomorrow: Even right here in Our Town


  1. Maybe the billionaire owners of the corporate media and their millionaire on-air talent saw that their ratings/profits have soared since Trump came on the political scene. And for that reason, they secretly wanted him to win. This could explain their reluctance to use the crazy-card. They have never cared about the nation.

    Les Moonves said as much in 2016:

    1. Being "crazy" is not a disqualifier for being president. Many people who are mentally ill control their symptoms via medication and treatment and lead normal lives, including holding responsible jobs. It is against the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) to discriminate against the mentally ill.

      Based on his behavior and his lack of fitness for the job, Trump should never have been nominated by Republicans, much less elected. There are a lot of Republicans complicit in the actions that led to today's impeachment vote. Blaming this on mental illness doesn't fly. It is like the Twinkie defense.

      Then Somerby widens his attack to include liberals and all of humanity. He says things have been falling apart for the past 30 years, but 12 of those years were under Obama and I do not consider Obama mentally ill or a deterioration in governance in any respect. Somerby does though. Like the rioters do. Unlike them, he keeps his rhetoric vague while he tells us that our country has gone to hell, but it is the same white supremacist message and it is despicable.

    2. The billionaires who own these mass media corporations are cut from the same sociopathic cloth as Trump. They care only about what will bring them more profits. You can’t expect billionaire-owned institutions to challenge the evils of the same system that made them rich. They have no interest in having a system that works for everyone. What’s shocking is that Somerby keeps expecting anything good to come from these corporate scum. Sadly, too many Americans have those same expectations.

      Trump is the logical next stage for a nation dominated by a system that cares only for the rich and the corporations. Our corporate Plutocracy needs to stoke distractions, delusions, endless greed, disrespect for truth, disrespect for knowledge, and disrespect for critical thinking. And most of all, they must prevent a spirit of solidarity from arising among the people against them, which makes their endless stoking of divisions so essential. Trump is a blessing for them because he fulfills all of these goals for them.

    3. I don't think the plutocracy is our biggest problem right now.

    4. Plutocracy is the basis of all our problems.

    5. There are proximal and distal causes of problems. Plutocracy may be responsible for Trump in the long run, but in the near term, he is a bigger problem than the forces that put him into office. Similarly, plutocracy may be ultimately responsible for the bungled covid response (although it is hard to see how that benefits them) but Trump is the near-term cause of it.

      You need to fight plutocracy not by aiming for some nebulous evil, but by identifying the closer targets who are doing the dirty work for the plutocracy. Talking about plutocracy gets you nowhere, but addressing the people who perpetrated the coup or who are messing up the vaccine distribution is a better response. I think you fight plutocracy by fighting the evils you see around you.

    6. 2:46, I disagree.

      There is nothing nebulous about criticizing capitalism, and we need to fight back against the suppression of it while we also point out specific cases of corruption. The problem with individual corruption is that Republicans are unmoved by it, they do not care.

  2. "Why would anyone find it "shocking" to hear that Donald J. Trump reacted that way?"

    Trump's behavior is shocking not because it is unexpected but because it is such a huge violation of norms. Good people, much less our president, do not behave the way Trump behaved.

    Somerby's deliberate twisting of the word "shocking" is consistent with his own failure to condemn the insurrection itself and Trump's actions. Somerby hints that if we didn't see this coming and we didn't do anything about it earlier, then we too are complicit in what occurred. That is entirely untrue. Further, it is shocking to me that Somerby continues to defend Trump after he has done indefensible things.

    I am shocked but not surprised by Somerby's behavior during this crisis.

    1. "Somerby hints that if we didn't see this coming and we didn't do anything about it earlier, then we too are complicit in what occurred."

      Which is pretty rich, coming from the guy who said don't call the people who would soon try to violently overthrow the government because black people's vote count just as much as theirs "racists".

  3. tl;dr
    However: "As noted above, Sargent's a good, decent person. He isn't dumb at all."

    Thanks for laughs, dear Bob. We utterly enjoyed your endorsement of that dembot's mental powers.

    One humble request: less Orange Man Bad mantras (we can find more entertaining ones elsewhere, nay: almost everywhere), and more making fun of dembots in the goebbelsian media, please.

    1. Иди съешь тарелку дерьмового тролля.

  4. "Each day, the monkeys agree to be shocked, shocked by the commander's latest insanity."

    Who exactly are the monkeys?

    Using animal names to refer to human beings is called "dehumanizing" people. It is a step toward committing atrocities against people, first making them less than human so that you can treat them in inhuman ways.

    In this situation, Somerby is calling liberals (who are Mika & Joes's audience, not conservatives) monkeys so that it will be easier for the mob to treat violently those who oppose their actions. Just as it was easier for Trump to lock children in cages after first calling them a pestilence.

    Somerby thinks that if he calls himself a liberal, he can say such things and no one will notice or call him on it. Lately, he has displayed:

    1. Bigotry against black people (in his remarks about BLM)
    2. Misogyny
    3. Sympathy for Trump supporters
    4. Empathy for Trump (excusing his actions on grounds of mental illness)
    5. Lack of sympathy for attacks against Congress
    6. Lack of empathy for victims of mob violence in the Capitol (and also BLM)
    7. Sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse

    This doesn't add up to any kind of liberal. But it is a pattern found among those who support Trump.

    Just as the events of the past days are revealing who the Republican party is, those events and Somerby's reaction to them (or lack of reaction) are revealing exactly who Somerby is.

    1. anon 12:19 - I hesitate to respond; You almost have to be a troll or otherwise are dumb beyond belief. Virtually everything in your posts are dumb, foolish, wrong, and/or lacking in evidence. One example that stands out is TDH's "empathy" for Trump, excusing his actions on grounds of mental illness. I will agree - TDH goes overboard on the mental illness angle, and is a little dense to the extent he expresses sympathy for Trump based on his perceived mental illness. But you take this as part of "a pattern found among those who support Trump." Where do you get the idea that "those who support Trump" feel empathy toward him because he is mentally ill?

    2. "Virtually everything in your posts are dumb, foolish, wrong, and/or lacking in evidence."

      Somerby's empathy isn't just that he excuses him for his supposed mental illness. I think Somerby identifies with Trump at some level because he shares characteristics of Trump's personality and his attitudes. I think Somerby is narcissistic, dislikes women (as Trump does), envies Trump's following and his success in the public eye, identifies with his persecution by the left, and gets an emotional reward from being part of Trump's success, just as Trump's other followers do (of the same type that one gets a kick when their favorite sports team wins). I think Somerby is a Trump follower.

      You are right that Trump's followers don't think that Trump is mentally ill, and they don't think of themselves that way either, although some clearly are more deranged than Trump. But there is a lot more to empathy than excusing him based on "mental illness". It may be that Somerby recognizes this as a ploy to excuse Trump to the bleeding heart liberals and is deliberately manipulating liberal reactions here, not expressing his true views on Trump.

      All I know is that Somerby is dishonest. Because of that, anything of my suppositions about his motives could be true. As Somerby himself says, anything is possible once you abandon the concept of a knowable reality.

      Did you perhaps miss @3:31's sarcasm?

  5. There's only one or two places where all of his pathologies show up together on the genome. You just have to search. OCD, antisocial, social communication etc. There's also the fact that he's powerful/wealthy and powerful people have less empathy.

    But regardless, is someone with mental illness inherently dangerous, or if they hold hold power? or if they don't know it, don't care, don't have people around them who care? Maybe that should be settled too.

    1. I think this is an important question. No, being a narcissistic sociopath doesn't automatically lead to fomenting a coup to stay in office by violent means or inciting a riot and then deliberately withholding police support when the government is under attack. None of these actions automatically follow from any kind of diagnosis.

      How much restraint does Trump have? Well, he has never personally killed anyone during one of his rages. He most likely doesn't hit his child or Melania. He has been successful in his businesses (albeit breaking laws, but non-sociopaths in business do that too). These circumstances all suggest that he has some ability to control his actions. In that case, he is making choices (despite his poor impulse control in other situations). He knows what is right and wrong. That is all the law demands to hold someone responsible.

      None of us is free of labels in a psychiatric sense. Most people fit into one of the diagnostic categories for personality types, but most of us do not rise to the level of disorder because we do not get in trouble with the law or other people. That is true of Trump as well, although his ascension to the presidency may have placed him in legal jeopardy he wouldn't have encountered had he not been given such power and opportunities for self-enrichment.

      If Somerby wants to blame Trump's disorders for his behavior, then how does he account for the Republicans who have followed him and enabled him? What pathologies do they have -- I guarantee you can find some labels for them. And for his army of supporters.

      Freud said that we all make the best bargain we can with our id, but we all have some maladjustment. The goal is not perfect mental health. Our laws regulate behavior, not internal environment or subjectivity, and certainly not psychiatric pathology, which is way more widespread than Somerby imagines.

    2. Lol!!! Another good one. You're great.

    3. anon 1:08 - good post. TDH seems to think that if the media jumped on the Bandy band wagon, by calling into question Trump's personality disorder, somehow things would be different today. I can't imagine how that would be the case. It's one thing for Trump to be nuts (in the layman's sense) but the real issue is that so many millions of people, to one degree or another, deeply admire him or at least prefer him to the extent that they voted for him over his opponent, and they do this for all sorts of reasons, some of them bizarre, some not so much.

  6. From Daily Kos:

    "Footage emerged that shows the terrorists who attacked the Capitol and held it under siege had knowledge of the building’s schematics. Their ringleaders brought information and a plan with them.

    The footage adds to what Clyburn said about the terrorists finding his unmarked, unofficial office. Also, a staffer for Pressley said the panic buttons in her office had all been removed.

    Among the terrorists who appear to be ‘ring-leaders’ is a woman wearing a pink hat.

    This wasn’t a angry dumb mob, there were leaders directing the crowd’s movement and behavior."

  7. The point of the insurrection last Wed was to show muscle in order to put pressure on Republican house and senate members to do Trump's bidding. It has apparently put the fear of God into some Republicans, according to sources cited by Kevin Drum today:

    This is a legitimate fear. But more importantly, this is evidence of Trump's plotting to stay in power. The source of the fear is both orchestrated and wielded by Trump, who continues to pressure Republicans in Congress to do his bidding.

    The purpose of the insurrection may not have been to take over congress but to encourage Republicans to toe the line for a lame duck President who otherwise could be cast under the bus, as McConnell has been trying to do. Given the quotes, it sounds successful.

    Somerby wants to dismiss Trump as deranged instead of considering his motives and what he gains by his actions. That deflection prevents the full import of Trump's atrocity from being felt by the public. And that makes Somerby complicit after the fact in protecting the president from his crimes.

    1. correction: protecting the president from the consequences of his crimes.

  8. From Political Wire:

    "Ali Alexander, who organized the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally that let to a mob storming the U.S. Capitol, told the Washington Post that he hatched the plan — coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes — alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), all hard-line Trump supporters."

  9. Trump is not only the worst president ever, but now he is the first president to be impeached twice.

    Yay, yay, yay!

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