Tag Archives: Donald J. Trump

vengeance

 

 

If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.

— Deuteronomy 32:41

 

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

— Isaiah 53:3

 

The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.

— William Blake, “Jerusalem”

 

A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.

— William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”

 

 

 

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This post is about yesterday’s news stories about the sentencing of “monster doctor” Larry Nassar to a term of 40 to 175 years for sexual abuse.

Before I get to my main point – actually, points — I would like to mention some of my deep feelings about human suffering and sympathy.

My mother used to say to me that she had always wished one of her children would become a doctor. She used to say how much she admired our pediatrician, Dr. Cohen, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was the type of caring, humane physician she most admired. He was the type of doctor who was always on call.

I would always say to her, “I couldn’t be a doctor. I can’t stand the sight of blood.” And, indeed, the sight of people or animals suffering, just the thought of it, was something that deeply upset me. Once, I observed boys torturing frogs in a local reservoir with their pocket knives. This greatly upset me. It also struck me that there was no reason for such cruelty, and I couldn’t understand what motivated the boys or why they enjoyed it. I had such feelings about suffering in general, including emotional pain, even minor emotional hurts.

To repeat, I hate to see needless suffering: inflicted upon others; experienced by them.

 

 

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Yesterday, on January 24, 2018, Dr. Lawrence Nassar was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of from 40 to 175 years by Ingham County (Michigan) Circuit Court judge Rosemarie Aquilina for molesting young girls and women. Larry Nassar, D.O., is a 54-year-old former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics team physician who has also been sentenced (in November 2017) to 60 years in federal court on child pornography charges.

Judge Aquilina, who had opened her courtroom to all the young women victims who wanted to address Dr. Nassar directly, forced him to listen when he pleaded to make it stop.

“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” she said yesterday, and noting the length of the sentence, added, “I just signed your death warrant.”

Given an opportunity to address the court before sentencing, Dr. Nassar apologized and, occasionally turning to the young women in the courtroom, said: “Your words these past several days have had a significant effect on myself and have shaken me to my core. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”

Just before sentencing Dr. Nassar, the judge read parts of a letter that he had submitted to the court last week, in which he complained about his treatment in a separate federal child pornography case and wrote that his accusers in this case were seeking news media attention and money. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he wrote in the letter. There were audible gasps from the gallery when the judge read that line.

Dr. Nassar was accused of molesting girls as young as six, many of them Olympic gymnasts, over a period of many years under the guise of giving them medical treatment. In November, he had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing seven girls.

Judge Aquilina was a fierce advocate for the victims, often praising or consoling them after their statements.

“Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice,” Aly Raisman, an American gymnast and Olympic gold medal winter, said in court. “Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only just beginning to use them. All these brave women have power, and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve: a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.”

 

 

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I hate to see anyone suffer. And that includes Larry Nassar. I wish he could be given some hope.

I hope I do not appear to be minimizing the horrors of what the girls who were abused by Nasar experienced. Perhaps I am. I don’t know what it was like.

 

 

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A sad story. Horrible. So what do I think? And why should anyone care what I think?

That I wonder: is anyone completely beyond redemption?

Should the purpose of punishment be to humiliate and make an example of the victim? To make a statement? I think that that is what the judge was doing. The trial has given her the stage, a platform; she is in the spotlight. She is making the most of this opportunity to impose a draconian sentence on Nassar.

Is anyone so horrible that they cannot still be considered part of the human race? Perhaps amenable or susceptible to making amends and reforming themselves? Nassar is clearly a pedophile. The evidence of his guilt is overwhelming. Is there treatment for such persons?

To repeat: I hate to anyone suffer, and that includes the worst of the worst, the most lowly and depraved.

 

 

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The Nassar trial was like an orchestrated Orwellian “hate,” with the judge the conductor. Public outpourings of hate seem to be common nowadays. Consider the Women’s March 2018.

I was looking at some photos shared with me by an acquaintance who attended the march on January 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Here’s what I saw:

A woman holding a poster aloft with what appears to be a doctored close up photo of Trump. Two arrows are pointing to Trump’s mouth. Trump’s lips have been altered and colored brown, so that it appears that his mouth is an anus. On the sign, in big letters, “‘THE ONLY SHITHOLE” is written.

A woman with raised fist, a tattooed forearm, half closed eyes, and pursed lips holding a sign that reads “Kicking Ass & Taking Over the World” with a cartoon Rosie the Riveter type flexing her muscles.

A woman holding aloft a sign that reads “the EMPEROR HAS NO TAX RETURNS.” There is a cartoon drawing of a fat man’s midsection. Where his penis would be, a blank piece of paper is covering it up, with only “1040” written on it.

A young woman with a pink knit cap holding aloft a sign that reads “HELL hath No FURY LIKE SEVERAL MILLION PISSED OFF WOMEN” with the female gender symbol.

Two women sitting on a low stone wall (with another woman between them). Both have large signs on their backs. One sign reads: MY SUPER POWER IS THAT I CAN LOOK AT SOMEONE WITH GETTING A BONER.” The other sign reads “I’D CALL HIM A CUNT BUT HE LACKS BOTH DEPTH AND WARMTH.”

Two guys with broad grins standing on top of a stone wall. They are holding aloft a sign that reads “THE ONLY xxxHOLE IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.”

An elderly man with a funny hat and aviator sunglasses, holding aloft a sign reading “TRUMP: Racist. Sexist. Fascist. PSYCHO”

Most of the hate is directed at President Trump, and, by extension, to sexual predators.

Much of it seems crude and uncalled for. And, actually, disrespectful. Yes, I do think public figures deserve some kind of respect. As was true of authority figures and adults when I was growing up.

There is a swell — threatening to become a tsunami — of meanness, and a lack of a modicum of decency, in our culture nowadays, in the public square.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

  January 25, 2018

 

 

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In an up email to close friends on February 28, 2018, I wrote:

I wrote on my blog last month: The Nassar trial was like an orchestrated Orwellian “hate,” with the judge the conductor. Public outpourings of hate seem to be common nowadays.

That’s what I disliked about the trial. I know Nassar was guilty of doing awful things.

To know what such a “hate” is, you have to have read “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Aquilina & Nassar

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina; Larry Nassar

prevarication; institutionalized cruelty

 

 

Two news stories caught my eye this morning.

 

“This way madness lies”

by Dana Milbank

Washington Post

January 16, 2018

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-way-madness-lies/2018/01/16/0b627fe2-fb0a-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.3b24634fb0e1

 

and

 

“Michigan Father Deported After Living in U.S. for 30 Years”

By Christina Caron

New York Times

January 16, 2018

 

 

 

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Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank is a good and perceptive writer. He states:

I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.

Nielsen … was now under oath, and she wiggled every which way to excuse Trump without perjuring herself: “I did not hear that word used. … I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language.”

[Senator Patrick] Leahy moved on to Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants. “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” he asked, rhetorically.

“I actually do not know that, sir,” Nielsen replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

Milbank goes on to say:

Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president’s whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign — protecting the immigrant “dreamers” while also providing funding for his border security “wall” [italics added] — but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.

That’s what brought to mind the second article, in The New York Times, and the whole topic of Trump’s wall.

 

 

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Here’s what I would like to know.

Why is a “bipartisan deal” under consideration to provide funding for Trump’s wall? Have Democrats lost their spines or minds?

We don’t need it! As I explained in a previous post:

 

“Walt Whitman, immigration policy, and Donald Trump’s wall; or, the Berlin Wall redux”

https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/01/25/roger-w-smith-walt-whitman-immigration-policy-and-donald-trumps-wall/

 

It’s not in any sense just a matter of the wall being unnecessary or too expensive, or an eyesore. Or whatever. It’s bad policy and it smacks of Iron Curtain style statism verging on totalitarianism.

The Times article concerns Jorge Garcia, an immigrant from Mexico who has been living in the United States for a period of slightly less than thirty years. The basic facts: he is married to an American citizen; he and his wife have two children; he has no known criminal record and was employed (until a day or two ago) as a landscaper; he has cooperated over the years with immigration authorities. You can read the rest of the sad story and about the bureaucratic quagmire he got caught in over technicalities.

On Monday, immigration agents put Garcia on a flight to Mexico, with his wife and 15-year-old daughter (both in tears) and his 12-year-old son standing by and looking on. “We’re devastated. We’re sad, we’re depressed,” his wife, Cindy Garcia, said.

 

 

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Here’s what I think, and I know I’m right.

Ours is a country of immigrants. We are all descended from immigrants. God knows how they got here and what they underwent (both emigrating and in making a life in The New Land).

To pursue and harry immigrants (regardless of their immigration status in the eyes of the law, which is at best imperfect) who are law abiding and hardworking and have done no harm – in fact, the opposite — is cruel and, in fact, unjust. It belies and betrays our foundational and civic principles. If the purpose is to prevent terrorists and malefactors from entering our country, what is the point behind expelling immigrants such as Mr. Garcia and “dreamers”?

You know what actions such as this particular one remind me of? When slaves, who were considered property, were sold away and separated from their families — spouse, parents, or children – by being sold to a different master.

We have so much to gain from immigrants, as I see every day in New York. If they were allowed to come, economic and other factors, such as possible overcrowding, allocation of social services, etc. would take care of themselves, naturally. Things reach their own level and will adjust themselves without government intervention. They always have.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   January 17, 2018

 

 

 

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addendum:

 

A quote from William Blake comes to mind: “He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars. General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer. … .”

— William Blake, “Jerusalem”

 

Looking at this from another angle — or from several — what Blake is saying is, don’t try to ameliorate the human condition by instituting policies designed to achieve this or to rectify some perceived flaw, say, in the law or policy, but pay attention to the effect of actions taken upon individuals. How does an initiative towards improving the human condition (or preventing adverse consequences, so deemed) affect them?

Or, better yet, don’t even think about generalities; think about the effect upon actual living, breathing people. If you’re harming them, it’s a certainty that you are doing no general or larger good.

 

 

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addendum:

 

My friend from high school days Jan Brady posted the following on Facebook on January 18:

QUOTE: “All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” [Khaalid] Walls [a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] said in a statement.”

Where is the rationale?

I’ve lost sight of the “Why”. What greater good is gained by this action?

a better, stronger country?

 

 

re

“As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction”

 

By David M. Halbfinger

The New York Times

January 5, 2018

 

 

 

 

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The article states:

The Israeli right, emboldened by President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, is not the only faction arguing for a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Palestine Liberation Organization has also begun to ask whether that might not be such a bad idea, though it has a radically different view of what that state would look like.

As momentum ebbs for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides are taking another look at the one-state idea. But that solution has long been problematic for both sides.

For the Israelis, absorbing three million West Bank Palestinians means either giving up on democracy or accepting the end of the Jewish state. The Palestinians, unwilling to live under apartheid-like conditions or military occupation, have also seen two states as their best hope. …

Palestinian supporters envision one state with equal rights for Palestinians and Jews. Palestinians would have proportionate political power and, given demographic trends, would before long be a majority, spelling the end of the Zionist project. …

Under that idea, the Palestinian movement would shift to a struggle for equal civil rights, including the freedoms of movement, assembly and speech, and the right to vote in national elections.

 

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As noted in a Wikipedia entry, “Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic [italics added] state. Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage.”

 

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I am not well informed about Arab-Israeli issues. But, perhaps one might say (although I would disagree) that the so called “Palestinian territories” and “occupied Palestinian territories” — i.e., the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip — since they are occupied or otherwise under the control of Israel, should perhaps be “talked about separately” in this context, meaning, yes, Israel is a democracy, etc., but political issues and solutions with respect to the occupied territories are not the same as those applying to the Jewish state. But, to explain what I mean by “this context,” it seems to me to be worth noting that Palestinians are struggling for (in the words of the Times article) “equal civil rights, including the freedoms of movement, assembly and speech, and the right to vote in national elections.”

Isn’t that what the Civil Rights movement in the US was about? Yes, blacks already had such rights under the US Constitution, but they were struggling to be allowed to exercise and be granted them de facto.

I have — politically naive as I am — been harboring a thought. As follows: That if Israel absorbed the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and became a true democracy, notwithstanding the fact that Arabs would predominate population-wise, something miraculous would happen. (I have a dream, one might say.) A better, stronger country would eventually emerge. I feel intuitively that diversity is always better. It is what has made the US such a great country, which, sadly, President Trump does not realize.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   January 7, 2018

Sic semper tyrannis

 

 

Have you noticed? On cable news stations now, it’s all Trump, all the time.

Trump and his administration should be covered closely and his actions, statements, and claims scrutinized.

But, in my humble opinion, it’s way too much. It’s as if there were nothing else to talk about. It almost seems addictive or unhealthy, like compulsive snacking.

Isn’t there anything else important?

 

 

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I started thinking about the Mueller probe. It is entering a new phase, with the special counsel announcing three indictments at the end of last month — including the indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Investigators are interviewing people close to the president’s inner circle.

And running through my mind thoughts about how this might be viewed in comparison with past investigations and scandals.

For instance, Watergate. I devoured each morsel of news that was divulged, piece by piece, as members of the Nixon administration and Nixon himself got ensnared in the scandal. As Nixon’s lies were shown to be lies.

As Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed the first report of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel as a “third rate burglary attempt” and then, as the investigation into Watergate deepened, admitted that his previous statements had become “inoperative.” (Shades of false claims made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer and what Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said, in defending Spicer, about “alternative facts.”)

I hated Nixon, thought he was a crook. The consummate practitioner of political dirty tricks: he and his administration. I not only felt that Nixon deserved to be impeached, I couldn’t wait to see it happen. If it could be brought about. Because it was, until the very end, by no means certain. To bring down a president who had been reelected in 1972 by the widest margin in popular votes of any US presidential election.

But, I see now in hindsight that the reason Nixon was forced to resign (facing impeachment) was that enough people — especially the establishment — didn’t LIKE him. The establishment turned against him and, ultimately, the diehards in his own party did.

The Watergate affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in June 1972. The actual damage done by the break-in was negligible. But, the deepening scandal revealed a pattern of abuses of power by the Nixon administration and a subsequent cover up.

In the case of the Mueller probe, the proximate cause that has led to an inquiry was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign’s involvement in it. Again, the damage done does not seem serious enough to bring down an entire administration.

 

 

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So, what causes leaders to lose power?

Most will say, perhaps rightly: ABUSES of power.

But, I would say: With all the committee hearings and all the twists and turns. With the probes designed to trap and ensnare officials in their own lies, like someone all twisted up in a coat they’re trying to take off. That leaders lose power when they fall out of favor. When not enough people support them any longer. When they are considered, perhaps, as pariahs: an embarrassment or offensive to good taste. When the establishment doesn’t support them. It has been this way since ancient times.

If they lose support, it is only a matter of time before they’re gone. They and their administration will collapse like Humpty Dumpty or a house of cards. All sorts of investigative probes and hearings and rationales will be held and advanced to justify to the public’s satisfaction, and to provide a supposedly legal foundation for, the removal of the officeholder. But what really counts is whether the leader is still liked. By the RIGHT PEOPLE.

 

 

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What is really going on with the Mueller probe is the following: A lot of people, including practically the entire liberal elite, want to see Trump gone. By any means. For and using any reason. The probe and the committee hearings are a sort of play acting, a choreographed dress rehearsal for what they hope will be the president’s downfall.

The Watergate hearings: Senator Sam Ervin, Samuel Dash. Great political theater.

President Nixon: an anathema to the liberal establishment.

Donald Trump: a bull in a China shop, darling of the “deplorables.”

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   November 2017

philosophy class

 

 

 

 

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a press conference on November 17, 2017, asked about why President Trump tweeted ridiculing and criticizing Al “Frankenstein”

(but had no comment about Roy Moore)

was asked to elaborate on this in view of the fact that more than a dozen women have accused Trump of groping.

Sanders: “Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t. I think that’s a very clear distinction.”

Sound reasoning?

What would Socrates say? … I. F. Stone (a worshipper of Socrates)?

Where did Sanders go to school? What was her major?

Does it matter?

 

 

– Roger W. Smith

November 18, 2017

 

 

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Addendum: Press Secretary Sanders, asked in December to comment re allegations by women that Donald Trump made inappropriate, unwanted sexual advances over the years, to wit:

such charges were made before the 2016 election; Trump denied them

Trump was elected … ergo: the American people believed the charges were false

Trump denies the charges; therefore, they are false

(Donald Trump is a man. Trump is mortal. Therefore, all men are mortal. … Don’t ask me to get this syllogism straight.)

 

 

 

 

 

is Trump mentally ill?

 

 

re:

“Is Trump mentally ill? Or is America? Psychiatrists weigh in”

Review of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” by Bandy X. Lee (ed.), “Twilight of American Sanity” by Allen Frances, and “Fantasyland” by Kurt Andersen

By Carlos Lozada

The Washington Post

September 22, 2017

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/book-party/wp/2017/09/22/is-trump-mentally-ill-or-is-america-psychiatrists-weigh-in/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.827230047f9d

 

 

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He’s not even close to being mentally ill. Common sense could tell one that in less than 60 seconds of reflection.

There are some things one doesn’t need to be an expert on to be able to see clearly.

I do not deny that Donald Trump often exhibits what, if he were an acquaintance, one would probably say is disagreeable behavior and that he appears to have undesirable personality traits. Narcissistic? Self centered?

But, he has actually functioned at a high level in many areas of his personal life. He is sane. Does not have hallucinations or lack the ability to distinguish between what is real and a lunatic belief. Is not a danger to himself or others, meaning possessed by demons as a serial killer might be or about to commit suicide. In other words, doesn’t exhibit any of the “rule of thumb” indicators of insanity.

How many people have you encountered in the course of your life whom you just couldn’t stand and, from your experience with them, seemed to have horrible personalities and traits which may have driven you to distraction: arrogance, conceit, selfishness, bossiness, boorishness, lack of discernment and good taste, rudeness, insensitivity, lack of consideration, self centeredness?

Perhaps you had to put up with such people, deal with them on a regular basis in a school, work, or other settings. A boss, coworker, authority figure such as a school official, teacher, or coach.

I have had bosses and coworkers whom I couldn’t stand. I could have written a whole chapter enumerating their “bad” qualities. I could have and perhaps did sometimes speculate on what psychological defects or demons drove them to act the way they did. But I wasn’t their psychiatrist.

But, you will say, there is a difference between a boss or coworker, Mr. Smith. Donald Trump occupies a position which, if he uses it for ill, shows poor judgment, or goes off the deep end, can affect the population en masse as well as nations.

True. But then one should oppose Trump’s policies, his actions, his administration.

No one says that one must LIKE him. Or that one should not be permitted to talk, enumerate, and analyze his faults (glaring ones). But that doesn’t entitle one to make extravagant, unfounded claims about his mental health.

Sometimes less is more when it comes to such discussions … the less said the better when the premises of the discussion are idiotic.

The “experts” are full of hot air.

They’re making fools of themselves.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

  September 2017; updated January 2018

 

 

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addendum:

Several commenters have said that Trump has been acting “crazy,” proving that he is insane. There is a difference between acting crazy (as actions may be viewed or characterized) and being insane. I responded to one commenter as follows: “[Trump] may act crazy, sometimes, just as Nixon seemed to do near the end of his presidency, or when he was bombing Hanoi and invading Cambodia, but that did not mean that Nixon was crazy in the clinical sense of the word.” The same qualifier applies to Trump.

 

 

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addendum:

 

 

To the Editor:

As a psychiatrist, I deplore the idea that psychiatry itself may become a tool to get President Trump out of office. The American Psychiatric Association has issued clear guidelines that a psychiatrist cannot diagnose a person whom the psychiatrist has never personally assessed. So the news that Dr. Bandy X. Lee — who has not personally evaluated the president — may be telling members of Congress that the president could be delusional or narcissistic or incapacitated is highly disturbing to me.

The Trump administration currently faces several different allegations, any one of which — if proved — could lead to Mr. Trump’s impeachment. If one wants to remove Mr. Trump from office, one should do it by proving him guilty of an impeachable offense. With an eye toward my profession’s checkered history, our psychiatric expertise must remain completely apolitical as we continue to treat mental illness across this great country.

 

— Paul Campion, Bronx, NY; letter to editor, New York Times, January 9, 2018

 

 

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addendum:

 

See also:

 

“Maybe Trump Is Not Mentally Ill. Maybe He’s Just a Jerk”

Op-Ed

By Jeffrey A. Lieberman

The New York Times

January 12, 2018

 

 

Jeffrey A. Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, writes: “I feel strongly that my fellow psychiatrists, and any psychologists or therapists, should stop speculating publicly about President Trump’s mental fitness and stop trying to diagnose possible mental conditions based on their armchair observations. … It’s entirely possible that he simply has certain personal qualities we don’t find ideal in a leader, like being a narcissistic bully who lacks basic civility and common courtesies. That he is, in a word, a jerk. But that alone does not make him mentally unfit to serve. … We can raise an index of suspicion, make back-seat observations of someone’s behavior to express our concerns and even speculate as to whether illness may be the underlying cause. But those observations, coming from physicians — even psychiatrists like myself — are merely public opinion. They are not reliable as evidence for definitive diagnosis and removal of a sitting president from office. Mr. Trump’s public behavior will never be enough for us to determine his mental fitness because a diagnosis requires a thorough and nonpartisan examination.”

This is essentially what I said above.

 

— Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith, review of “Trump: The Art of The Deal” by Donald J. Trump

 

The attached downloadable PDF file contains a book review by Roger W. Smith of Donald J. Trump’s bestseller Trump: The Art of the Deal.

The review was written in May 1988 as a journalism school assignment.

(My favorite phrase — of my own, that is — in the review was one I used to describe Trump and his book: “relentlessly prosaic.”)

 

roger-w-smith-review-of-trump-the-art-of-the-deal

Trump vis-à-vis Hitler

 

 

 

“Anyone who thinks Trump is Hitler never studied European history.”

comnet posted by a reader of an op ed piece, The York Times, May 9, 2017

 

 

 

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An acquaintance of mine posted a comment on Facebook last evening — following up on comments arising from a blog post of mine yesterday — saying that Donald Trump is “worse” than Hitler was. He then followed up with the comment that there are “many parallels” between Trump and Hitler.

He means it; he was not trying to be cute.

I was astonished by such a comparison having been made. After a brief check of the Times, however, I learned that others have been saying the same thing.

Another Facebook commentator, responding to the first person’s comments, wrote:

“Agree.

“And more recent history, Milošević: not only narcissism, popularism, support of white nationalists, but disturbingly parallel in terms of the belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories.

“Have you read Mein Kampf? Distorted, disordered thinking, stream of consciousness writing. If Hitler had twitter, he would tweet like this man [Trump]. And if this man could write (a book for himself rather than paying someone to write for him), his writing would likely be similar to Hitler’s.

“Except, Hitler had ‘grander’ visions … this man is indeed an idiot who has no thought beyond ‘winning’.”

 

 

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After pausing to catch my breath, I would be inclined to say:

There may well be something to these comparisons in alerting us to current political developments in the USA and Western Europe, where the politics represented by figures such as Trump and Marine Le Pen in France, both of whom only recently did not seem to be taken that seriously, are in the ascendancy.

There may be instructive parallels with 1930’s-style Fascism.

Historical analogies can be useful.

But, in the case of such claims, it is necessary to maintain a truly historical perspective; to avoid “reverse presentism,” so to speak (interpreting current developments in terms of past ones); to maintain some degree of objectivity and balance.

I believe that the left has become unhinged over the Trump candidacy and election and has lost all sense of proportion and reason.

 

 

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Donald Trump has been called “a monster” by another one of my close acquaintances.

And, God knows what else (by others).

Trump does not have an appealing personality in many respects. (I can hear Trump haters saying to me, “you just discovered that?”)

I have not studied him closely, nor would I be qualified to develop a psychological profile.

But, he appears, more often than not, to be

an egomaniac

a male chauvinist

a groper, at least – I don’t think his several accusers, who all of them tell pretty much the same story, are making it up; I don’t believe his denials

an adulterer; probably — it would appear, undoubtedly — at various times in his life — a philanderer (in which categories I would suspect that he would be found to have a lot of company if a modern day Kinsey Report were compiled and published)

crude — at least sometimes; coarse and vulgar

given to puffery, braggadicio, and egregious self-promotion

given to distortion and playing loose with the facts when it suits his own purposes, in his public pronouncements

stiffs businessmen and women whom he or his firm has dealings with

his firm scammed students of the bogus Trump University

has to be the center of attention and has always acted as if he was God’s gift to mankind and womankind

espouses truly reprehensible policies

wants to dismantle Obama’s signature achievements

insults, trashes, or smears political rivals and those he disagrees with

can be demeaning to persons and groups who have suffered or appear disadvantaged

intellectually shallow

 

 

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Are there any pluses?

is not an intellectual or an Einstein, but seems to have a quick grasp of issues and exhibits problem solving skills

does seem to have an ability to get things done

says what’s really on his mind instead of hiding behind politico-speak

he does have business experience and savvy, and he has shown an ability to cut through red tape and deliver results

 

 

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Politicians then and now have exhibited a wide range of traits and abilities (name your own), including:

high minded

principled

moral

venal

corrupt

duplicitous

eloquent

demagogic

highly intelligent

borderline stupid

and so on

 

 

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TRUE MONSTERS

 

Stalin

Hitler

Pol Pot

Idi Amin

 

not Donald Trump

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

It would take quite a lot of butchery from our new president – he would have a long way to go — to match the track records of the above named historical figures and be classed among the worst of recent history’s tyrants.

An old friend of mine, whom I like and admire, marched with her extended family in an anti-Trump protest in Washington yesterday (January 22, 2017) and proudly posted a photo on Facebook.

One of her friends posted as follows: “Give me a break, _______. Trump hasn’t done anything yet and you guys are protesting. This is ridiculous.”

Well put. (Although I do not feel that protestors do not have the right to engage in a “counter inaugural” and to demonstrate on this or other occasions.) Hitler has a track record whereby history has indicted him. Trump’s remains to be seen.

 

 

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I wonder. Is the left most incensed about Trump the “sexist pig”?

If so, I wonder why more fuss wasn’t ever made and as much outrage shown over:

JFK (had White House interns procured for him — one recently wrote a book about it that was respectfully reviewed; and, his girlfriend, the moll Judith Exner)

Ted Kennedy (Chappaquiddick)

Bill Clinton (Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and countless others; probably Denise Rich, to whose husband Clinton issued a scandalous eleventh hour pardon; apparently forcing himself upon Juanita Broaddrick)

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

     January 23, 2017; updated May 9, 2017

 

 

 

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Addendum: The following is my response to a reader of this post who criticized it.

 

__________,

 

Your feelings are shared by many of your and my relatives and friends and are well expressed by you.

A couple of comments by way of explanation.

I do not necessarily think Trump is great businessman, and he certainly is not a genius. I have read articles over the years critical of his business dealings and articles which point to weak links and question the financial soundness of businesses and holdings in in his corporate empire. I was trying to point out that, when assessing Trump in the round, he does appear to have business acumen and some of the mental abilities that go along with that.

As far as the implication that I am wasting my time writing about Trump goes, I think that the anti-Trump hysteria (as I view it) is symptomatic of something deeper and is an illustration of a zaniness on the left these days when it comes to things that offend them, Trump being their current bête noire. Which Lionel Shriver talks about. See:

 

 

I don’t like it when I see intolerance from either side, and when the public is in a frenzy, I find often find myself questioning it.

I could probably explain myself better if I took the time. But, one should not be faulted for writing what one honesty thinks, or for having an opinion that does not accord with others’. Nor is it a waste of time to point out what seem to be excesses by liberals.

It’s kind of like I’m being told, there is no point in even discussing Trump or any issues that might arise because of the controversy over his candidacy and election and revelations regarding him; that I am not allowed to even think or write about him, unless my view conforms and supports others’. But, for example, as was the case with my previous posts about the Billy Bush tape and the “Hamilton” cast’s remarks made to Vice President elect Pence, there were issues that arose that, aside from the news flashes, are worthy of consideration and, in my case, of reflection upon broader issues and concerns. Why should I steer away from controversial topics for fear of being disagreed with?

Many people became disillusioned with the Great Soviet Experiment, but were afraid to say anything. George Orwell saw that what was supposed to be an egalitarian, liberated society had actually become totalitarian and repressive, and wrote about it. I feel, as Lionel Shriver recently wrote, that “the left in the West [has] come to embrace restriction, censorship and the imposition of an orthodoxy at least as tyrannical as the anti-Communist, pro-Christian conformism [we] grew up with.”

Criticisms of Trump notwithstanding, it is not a waste of time to weigh in on such issues. They often arise when the person attacked is among the least popular and most reviled.

“Trump Takes Manhattan”

Trump Tower, post election.jpg

 

re:

“How Fifth Avenue Is Coping,” by Matthew Schneier, The New York Times, November 23, 2016

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/fashion/fifth-avenue-holiday-shopping-donald-trump-tower-protesters.html

 

 

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The above referenced New York Times article is about the massive traffic headaches that have already been created – and which are looming – mainly on Fifth Avenue and on streets and other avenues in Manhattan in the vicinity of Trump Tower. Trump Tower, the main residence, for the time being, of President-elect Donald Trump, is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets.

A couple of points that I would like to make before discussing the contents of this particular article, which thoroughly describes the problem.

— New York City, it goes without saying, has always attracted people with star power: celebrities and magnates. Yet I have always thought and felt that it’s the sort of place which nobody can dominate. It is such a huge and such a great city that it cuts everyone down to size. I know that when I first moved to New York, as a young adult, I was awed by it. It seems to have that effect on everyone. It’s a welcoming place in many respects in that the atmosphere is so tolerant, of different races, lifestyles, ethnicities, persons high and low, and so forth. It’s welcoming, it’s also overwhelming. It seems to have that effect on everyone. It attracts; it excites; and, it intimidates. It has a way of cutting people with big egos down to size.

— New York is one of the world’s greatest cities for walking. Fifth Avenue is among the best places to walk. Stretches of Fifth Avenue include some of the most expensive residences in the world and luxury stores. Yet, the avenue is accessible to all. The sidewalks are wide, the pedestrian traffic is not limited by any means to one social class, and it’s a just plain fun avenue to stroll on. It is aesthetically pleasing, rarely gets overcrowded (to the point where passage is difficult; an exception might be right in front of Rockefeller Center, where there is a giant tree on display during Christmastime; crowds are found there at this particular time of the year at certain times on certain days). The glamor, elegance, and upbeat quality of the avenue and its denizens from around the 30’s to around 100th Street seem to rub off on everyone; the pedestrians always seem to be cheerful and unstressed. You rarely seem to see something depressing.

It looks like this is changing. It makes me very unhappy. Actually, angry.

 

 

*******************************************************

 

What the Times article says:

— The “festive spirit” normally observed on Fifth Avenue during the holiday shopping season has been “dampened a bit by the long guns of stationed police officers and the regular presence of bomb-sniffing dogs.”

— Famous stores on the avenue have been blocked by police barricades.

— Anti-Trump protests have shut down traffic. (Perhaps the protests are abating now.)

— Gawkers loitering on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower have presented a problem, both for pedestrians and security.

— Pedestrian access to the east side of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, where Trump Tower is located, has been restricted.

— When Trump moves to the White House, the situation is not likely to ease. It is expected that he will still be spending considerable time at his Trump Tower residence. And, Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, and the couple’s son, Barron, are to stay in New York in the near term.

 

 

*******************************************************

Last week, I had an appointment at the Apple Store at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street to have my iPhone battery checked. It was raining hard. I was doing a shopping errand for my wife at a department store at Fifth Avenue and 39th Street.

I love to walk in Manhattan, and having to go from one place to another gives me a reason and incentive to walk. So, I headed north on Fifth Avenue, my preferred route and the most direct one. An alternate route would not make sense, and I much prefer Fifth Avenue to Madison or Park.

But, I had to make a detour at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. There were barriers on both sides of the avenue (east and west) which served the purpose of a sort of funnel. Pedestrians were lined up on either side of the avenue, awaiting an ID check that would enable them to pass. A depressing sight. I have never seen this before in New York.

I was thinking what are they lining up for? It’s not worth it. Probably they wanted to be able to walk past Trump Tower and get a glimpse of it. Big thrill!

 

 

*******************************************************

 

I was reminded of an experience I had somewhere between fifteen and twenty years ago. I was walking during midday in Bryant Park, which is right behind the New York Public Library. The park runs between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets.

I was on a gravel pathway right behind the library which abuts the park. There were few people around, and my path crossed that of ex-mayor Ed Koch, who was strolling the other way on the same pathway. Neither of us was in a hurry.

We made eye contact.

I did not speak to Mr. Koch. I probably should have said, “Good day, Mr. Mayor.” But I kept going without speaking.

I had the distinct feeling that he knew that I knew who he was – in short, recognized him.

He peered at me. I had the feeling, intuition that he was thinking to himself, looks like an interesting face, an intelligent person (me).

We exchanged congenial glances.

I was reminded about something I read about Walt Whitman when Whitman was working and living in Washington, DC during the Civil War. Whitman often spotted President Lincoln riding by on horseback for business or pleasure. “I see the President almost every day. We have got so that we exchange bows, and very cordial ones,” Whitman wrote in 1863.

Mayor Koch, when I encountered him on my stroll, similar to the experience Whitman had when he saw President Lincoln riding by, seemed to be an ordinary citizen, no different than any other New Yorker. That’s the way it should be. Donald Trump is not larger than life. He should not be allowed to shut down Manhattan.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     December 2016

 

 

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Addendum: See also

 

 

“With Trump Using Tower as Base, Fifth Avenue Grinds to a Halt,” The New York Times, November 16, 2016

 

 

“Donald Trump Loves New York. But It Doesn’t Love Him Back,” The New York Times, December 9, 2016

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/nyregion/donald-trump-new-york-protests.html

 

 

“Businesses Near Trump Tower Say Security Is Stealing Their Christmas,” The New York Times, December 23, 2016

 

“One-Man Traffic Jam Will Hit City When Trump Visits,” The New York Times, January 27, 2017

an election related anecdote (apropos The Donald’s upset win)

 

 

 

I had an outstanding high school English teacher, Robert W. Tighe, who was full of worldly wisdom as well as being erudite. He was a World War II veteran and was a man of few illusions.

He told a story once – I think it was about the Kennedy-Nixon election in 1960.

Mr. Tighe said that on the day after the election, the teaching staff were in the teachers’ room (no doubt, smoking furiously, as was the custom then) and were discussing the election. He said about half of them were happy and the other half were extremely depressed, rueful, with their heads in their hands; gnashing their teeth, so to speak.

The teachers on the “losing” side were beside themselves with despair. “The country is going to the dogs,” they said.

“The situation wasn’t really that bad,” Mr. Tighe, told us. “Nothing really changed.”

It seems it never really does.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   November 9, 2016