Corruption For All To See (7/11/20)

Most of us can clearly see corruption in a persons’ actions, but corruption can be found in what a person fails to do. Trump pardoning Roger Stone is quite visible, of course. Even before spending a day in jail for his crimes. But what about the many hundreds in prison who really deserve a pardon? How many has Trump pardoned in this group? And why not?

The message, of course, is if you support and protect Trump, he will shelter you from the law. He will take care of you.

No matter if you break the law. If you want to understand Trumps’ behavior, simply rewatch the Godfather.

Trumps’ Vacuous and Dangerous Mt. Rushmore Speech 7/6/20

The speech (probably written by Stephen Miller):

“….We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample our freedoms…we will teach our children to cherish and adore our country so that they can build its future together, we will fight for the American dream”…..

Now think for a moment about these phrases. How do you “teach” your children to cherish and adore their country (and not the people in it)? Does Trump mean “properly” indoctrinating them, as done in communist China, or was done in Nazi Germany? And Trump non-supporters that “trample on our freedom” (like wearing a mask so as not to spread the virus to others?), or indulge in a legal protest?

And “fighting for the American dream.” What does that really mean? Big great sounding but meaningless words really.

One doesn’t “fight” for his/her dream. One strategizes, plans, invests, labors and visualizes their dream. And indeed, what is that dream really?

The most important thing is to define it in order to realize it. Otherwise it is just a fancy word Trump might have used at a Trump University workshop. Indeed, heaven forbid Trump defining and revealing his dream. This is yet another Stephen Miller vacuous speech and Ivanka probably helped him.

The Charade Continues, by Martin Westerman, 6/22/20

Once upon a time there was a kid standing on a street corner holding the strings to a bunch of helium balloons, and selling them to passersby. A policeman came along and said, “Kid, do you have a permit to sell those balloons?” And the kid opened his hand and said, “What balloons?”

In Steve Bennen’s new book Impostors, he describes how contemporary Republicans have quit governing and become a “post-policy party.” They may present themselves as officials who are ready to take problem solving seriously, but they only focus on pursuing and maintaining power. At war with expertise, evidence and data, they’ve basically embraced nihilism, gaslighting, and bait-and-switch scams to fool people into voting for them. In office, they avoid relying on anyone who knows about policy or can hold them accountable, work to pack federal courts with creationist-theocratic, anti-woman, pro-corporate judges, inject Christian theocracy into military and civilian affairs, make deals to benefit their wealthy supporters, and transfer public money into private pockets.

Let’s look at two examples.

Cutting the federal payroll tax to stimulate the COVID-depressed economy. Independent Media Institute reports that as COVID continues unabated, Trump & Rs’ are proposing to replace Social Security’s dedicated revenue with deficit-funded general revenue. It looks like a gift – middle-class tax relief, but instead undermines a dependable source of retirement income for working Americans. It’s “fiscal stimulus” bait with an insecurity switch, a stealth attack on Social Security. One should only give up something good to get something better. This isn’t the case here.

Tax cuts don’t solve coronavirus problems, robust public health responses do. The Trump administration isn’t providing those, but it’s gaslighting America by pretending it is. Better options to stimulate a COVID-depressed economy: provide paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, and treatment for all. Make a one-time, progressively-structured direct payment; restore and expand the Making Work Pay Tax Credit, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or provide greater economic stimulus – all more targeted and equitable, and none placing administrative burdens on employers.

Big winners in this proposal: large corporations and employers, CEOs, U.S. Senators & Representatives, and members of the Trump administration. Big losers: salary and wage earners. As wages go down, so do benefits. State and local employees who do not participate in Social Security also get nothing. By law, Federal Insurance Contributions Act payments (payroll taxes) can only be used to pay Social Security insurance benefits. Social Security has no borrowing authority, and it does not and cannot add even a penny to the deficit. As the late President Ronald Reagan eloquently explained, in his words, “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.”

Re-opening the economy: As Ayoka Karis Warren wrote on Facebook in April 2020, forcing the Georgia economy to re-open is a very calculated move by GA Governor Brian Kemp. He mandates that restaurants reopen, whether they do or not. “I file for business interruption insurance, it does not go through since I am “allowed” to operate at full capacity. My landlord can demand all his money, since I am now allowed to fully operate. Furloughed staff that is collecting unemployment insurance has to come back to work or I have to let them go. Their unemployment insurance then goes on my tab, and if things blow up again, they are still on my tab, not the state’s, since they are no longer employed. This is about screwing the working class and small business, not about helping them.”

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the job of Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, was to divert attention from the people who really ran the galaxy. Trump may see that as his Presidential role; as a reality show host, he is adept at it. And anybody who runs for President must be long on ego. But they must also appear to be personable, at which Trump is not adept. Any successful President must also play with interest groups and voting blocks, but with a sense of their effects on individuals. To succeed, they rely on advisors with their fingers on the pulses of people and events, so they can make the most equitable possible big decisions – about domestic & international economics, social, infrastructural, strategic and defense policies.

When we say we’re in a war for the survival of America’s institutions in 2020, we mean for the structure of what makes America a successful country: recognizable and dependable policies, supported by good research and experience. In 2016, America elected a clone of Loki, God of Chaos, as President. Chaos doesn’t work for governing 350 million Americans. Good policy does. Not un-policy.

The Psychopath in Chief by Tony Schwartz

The Psychopath in Chief
I spent hundreds of hours with Donald Trump to ghost-write ‘The Art of the Deal.’ I now see a deeper meaning behind his behavior.
Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz
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May 28 · 12 min read

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
“Imagine — if you can — not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken … You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences, will most likely remain undiscovered. How will you live your life? What will you do with your huge and secret advantage?”
— Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door
Among the accomplishments Donald Trump parades most proudly is that he has won 18 golf club championships. Like so many of his claims, this one is pure fiction. When the sportswriter Rick Reilly investigated for his book Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, he found that 16 of the claims were transparently false, and no evidence existed to support the other two. In one instance, Trump said he had won a championship at the Bedminster, New Jersey, club he owns, even though he was in Philadelphia on the day the event was held.
When Trump does play, Reilly reported, he takes “mulligans” (extra strokes that aren’t counted in one’s score ), throws opponent’s balls off the greens and into the bunkers, and kicks his own errant shots back onto the fairway so often that one of his caddies nicknamed him Pele, after the soccer star. “Trump doesn’t just cheat at golf,” Reilly concluded. “He cheats like a three-card Monty dealer. He throws it, boots it and moves it. He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and fluffs.”
How do we deal with a person whose core impulse in every part of his life is to deny, deceive, deflect, disparage, and double-down every time he is challenged? And what precisely is the danger such a person poses if he also happens to be the leader of the free world, during a crisis in which thousands of people are dying every day, with no letup in sight?
The first answer is that we must understand exactly who we’re dealing with, and we have not, because what motivates Trump’s behavior is so far from our own inner experience that it leaves us feeling forever flummoxed.
The trait that most distinguishes psychopaths is the utter absence of conscience — the capacity to lie, cheat, steal, and inflict pain to achieve their ends without a scintilla of guilt or shame, as Trump so demonstrably does.
In July 2016, shortly before Trump became the Republican nominee for president, I was interviewed by Jane Mayer for an article in The New Yorker that was eventually titled “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All.” Mayer described my experience with Trump over the 18 months it took me to write The Art of the Deal. During that time, I spent hundreds of hours with him.
Like many other Trump critics, I believed that he was driven by an insatiable narcissistic hunger to be loved, accepted, admired, and praised. That remains prima facie true, but it deflects attention from what drives Trump more deeply: the need to dominate. His primary goal is to win at any cost and the end always justifies the means. Ultimately, he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks or feels. For Trump, the choice between dominating and being loved — saving himself or saving others — is no contest.
The catalyst for my shift came after a friend sent me a long paper written by Vince Greenwood, a Washington, D.C.-based psychologist. Greenwood makes a detailed clinical case that Trump is a psychopath, a term that is now used nearly interchangeably with sociopath. Psychologists continue to debate whether it’s legitimate to diagnose anyone from a distance without the benefit of a clinical interview. In Trump’s case, his life history is so well documented that a thorough assessment does seem possible. As I once did up close, we can observe every day which psychopathic traits Trump manifests in his behavior. The highly regarded Hare Psychopathy Checklist enumerates 20 of them. By my count Trump clearly demonstrates 16 of the traits and his overall score is far higher than the average prison inmate.
The trait that most distinguishes psychopaths is the utter absence of conscience — the capacity to lie, cheat, steal, and inflict pain to achieve their ends without a scintilla of guilt or shame, as Trump so demonstrably does. What Trump’s words and behavior make clear is that he feels no more guilt about hurting others than a lion does about killing a giraffe.
“Let’s face it,” actor and Trump supporter James Woods tweeted recently, “Donald Trump is a rough individual. He is vain, insensitive, and raw,” to which Trump blithely responded: “I think that’s a wonderful compliment. Thanks James.” Absence of conscience gives Trump the license to invent his own rules, define his own reality, declare victory in any competition, and insist on his superior expertise on subjects about which he knows almost nothing.
What makes Trump’s behavior challenging to fathom is that our minds are not wired to understand human beings who live far outside the norms, rules, laws, and values that the vast majority of us take for granted. Conscience, empathy, and concern for the welfare of others are all essential to the social contract. Conscience itself reflects an inner sense of obligation to behave with honesty, fairness, and care for others, along with a willingness to express contrition if we fall short of those ideals, and especially when we harm others.
Repentance for one’s sins is a basic tenet of every major religion, but Trump adamantly resists seeking forgiveness from anyone for anything he’s done. “I have a very great relationship with God,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper during the 2016 presidential campaign. “I like to be good. I don’t like to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”
So long as we seek to understand Trump’s motivations and behaviors through our own lens, we will feel forever at sea. Viewing Trump through his lens helps clarify that his behavior is completely predictable, and why it has become more extreme during each year of his presidency. “When somebody’s president,” Trump declared on April 13, “the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to be. It’s total. It’s total.” When it became clear to Trump that total authority also meant personal responsibility, he backed off that claim. But Trump is akin to a battering ram. He just keeps coming at you. The only limitation on his behavior is whether he believes he can get away with whatever it is he’s trying to do.
“People with a strong sense of conscience speak truth to power,” Greenwood explains. “Trump speaks power to truth.” Since his election in 2016, Trump has told more than 18,000 lies without acknowledging or apologizing for any of them. The frequency of his lies has risen from five per day in the first year of his presidency, to more than 23 a day during 2020. For Trump, lying is second nature. Facts are simply are obstacles to be batted away when they contradict his preferred fictions.
It is a fact, for example, that Trump has been a defendant in nearly 1,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — by government agencies seeking to collect unpaid taxes on his properties, contractors trying to get paid for services rendered to him and his companies, and women charging him with sexual assault. As far back as 1973, Trump and his father Fred were sued by the U.S. government for refusing to rent to African Americans in Trump Village, a housing project built by his father Fred. The two Trumps fought the charges for two years but eventually signed a consent order that included agreeing to take a series of actions to end their discrimination.
In 2015, Trump settled two class-action lawsuits charging him with defrauding students at Trump University by paying $25 million in penalties, and agreeing to close down the business. In 2018, in response to a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general against Trump and his three oldest children alleging “persistently illegal conduct,” the Trumps agreed to shut the phony foundation, and to allow its remaining assets to be directed to charities chosen by the court.
The second quality that sets Trump apart is his lack of empathy. In the face of a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect leaders to feel our pain, and to respond with expressions of compassion and comfort. Not Trump. In 13 hours of comments he made over a recent three-week period, The Washington Post reported that he spent a total of two hours attacking others, including the media, 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, and a total of just 4.5 minutes expressing rote condolences for Covid-19 victims and front line workers.
Trump doesn’t appear to make heartfelt connections with anyone, nor to value relationships beyond the extent to which they serve his immediate self-interest. Turnover in his administration — 85% in the first 32 months — dwarfs that of his five most recent predecessors for their entire first terms. Trump treats even his relationships with family members as transactional. Consider the way he describes his relationship with his father, arguably the most important influence in his life. “I was never intimidated by my father, the way other people were,” he explained to me for The Art of the Deal. “I stood up to him and he respected that. We had a relationship that was almost businesslike. I sometimes wonder if we’d have gotten along so well if I hadn’t been as business oriented as I am.”
Trump rarely speaks with affection about Melania, his third wife, or any of his children — with the exception of Ivanka — or his grandchildren. “I know friends who leave their businesses so they can spend more time with their children, and I say “Gimme a break,” Trump once explained. “My children couldn’t love me more if I spent 15 times more time with them.” But his children have sometimes described a different experience of their father. In 2004, Donald Jr. told a reporter that “My father is a very hardworking guy, and that’s his focus in life, so I got a lot of the paternal attention that a boy wants and needs from my grandfather.” In 2006, Trump’s younger son Eric mused that he was largely raised by his older brother. “My father, I love and appreciate,” he said, “but he always worked 24 hours a day.”
Ivanka is the one child Trump has often praised, including for being “voluptuous and having the best body.” When she was 26, Trump told hosts of The View that “If Ivanka wasn’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” Trump’s most emphatic declaration of love during the past four years has been directed at North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, one of the most ruthless dictators in the world. “I was being really tough and so was he,” Trump said in 2018. “And we would go back and forth and then we fell in love. He wrote me beautiful letters. They were great letters, and then we fell in love.” What Trump especially admires in authoritarian leaders, among them Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, and Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro — all of whom he has lavishly praised — is their ability to exercise absolute power. “I wouldn’t mind a little bow,” Trump once said. “In Japan they bow. I love it. Only thing I love about Japan.”
Trump expects and demands loyalty, but it only goes in one direction. His mentor, Roy Cohn, served dutifully as his attorney for many years. “Roy was brutal, but he was a very loyal guy,” Trump told biographer Tim O’Brien. “He brutalized for you.” For The Art of the Deal, Trump described Cohn to me as “the sort of guy who’d be there at your hospital bed… literally standing by you to the death, long after everyone else had bailed out”
As for Cohn, he referred to Trump not just as his client, but also as one of his closest friends. Still, when Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984, Trump effectively ended the relationship. “Donald found out about it and dropped him like a hot potato,” explained Cohn’s longtime secretary, Susan Bell. “It was like night and day.” According to Bell, Cohn wasn’t surprised. “Donald pisses ice water,” he told her ruefully.
The third trait that most characterizes Trump is his need for dominance, and the evident pleasure he takes in exercising it. “I love getting even when I get screwed by someone,” he explains in his book Think Big and Kick Ass. “Always get even. When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder.” In the absence of a conscience to shape and limit his behavior, Trump defaults to a more primitive and predatory impulse. Life for him is a zero-sum game. He either wins or he loses, dominates or submits. This explains why Trump felt no compunction about lashing out this week at a frequent critic, Joe Scarborough, by falsely accusing him of murder, even in the absence of a shred of evidence to support his claim. Cruelty is second nature to Trump.
Perhaps nowhere is Trump’s need for dominance more evident than in his relationship with women, captured most vividly in his comments to Billy Bush on the Access Hollywood tape. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]. I just start kissing them,” he bragged. “It’s like a magnet. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.” More than 20 women have now publicly accused Trump of sexual assault.
Another tactic that Trump employs to assert his authority is declaring his unique expertise on virtually any subject. He instinctively disdains and dismisses the knowledge of experts, including scientists, and instead casts himself as the leading expert on anything and everything. Topics that Trump has claimed to “know more about than anyone” include ISIS, drones, social media, campaign finance, technology, polls, courts, lawsuits, politicians, trade, renewable energy, infrastructure, construction, environmental impact statements, nuclear weapons, banks, tax laws, income, money, and the economy. In fact, because he can never focus his attention for long, his knowledge about any subject tends to be superficial and severely limited. Trump has even felt free to contradict the health care professionals on his own team during the Covid-19 crisis, most notably in describing the potential healing power of injecting disinfectants into the body. “Every one of these doctors said, “How do you know so much about this?” he explained. “Maybe I have a natural ability.”
In order to protect our democracy and our shared humanity, it’s critical to push back, calmly and persistently
So what does all this tell us about how we can expect Trump to behave going forward? The simple answer is worse. His obsession with domination and power have prompted Trump to tell lies more promiscuously than ever since he became president, and to engage in ever more unfounded and aggressive responses aimed at anyone he perceives stands in his way.
In the end, Trump does what he does because he is who he is, immutably. The research now strongly suggests that the absence of conscience has a strong hereditary basis, even as it may also be activated by adverse childhood experiences. The genetic abnormality itself manifests in the limbic system, the set of brain structures involved in the processing of emotions. People without a conscience, it turns out, often have an undersized or under-active amygdala and less gray matter in the limbic area of the brain.
For four years, along with millions of other Trump critics, I have wrestled with the best way to respond to a president who is incapable of shame or empathy and cares only about his self-interest. There is no effective treatment for a person with these traits, and Trump wouldn’t seek one if there was, because he genuinely doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with him. The horrifying truth is that it’s precisely what he’s missing that gives him a permanent advantage over the vast majority of us who are guided by a conscience and concern for others.
Trump revels in attention, domination, and cruelty. “The sociopath wants to manipulate and control you,” explains Martha Stout, “and so you are rewarding and encouraging him each and every time you allow him to see your anger, confusion or your hurt.” Even so, in order to protect our democracy and our shared humanity, it’s critical to push back, calmly and persistently, against every single lie Trump tells, and every legal and moral boundary he violates. We must resist what Hanna Arendt has called “the banality of evil” — the numbness and normalizing that so easily sets in when unconscionable acts become commonplace. “Under conditions of terror, most people will comply,” Arendt has written, “but some people will not.”
Understanding what we’re truly up against — the reign of terror that Trump will almost surely wage the moment he believes he can completely prevail — makes the upcoming presidential election a true Armageddon.
Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.

Betrayal Trumps Trump, Martin Westerman-5/27/20

Marty blog contribution to Kaufman: Betrayal Trumps Trump #2

Following my last post – here’s more on how to create 2020 Democratic wins. The basics are to erode the Trump-Republican base, and attract independent middle and moderate right voters. Also:
• Arouse disgust w/independent & moderate voters vs. Trump & his radical Republicans,
• Push back against vote suppressors, and
• Turn red states purple – by using deep listening from Polics Is Power

The Trump-Republican minority is estimated at 30%-40% of the electorate, and shrinking. The elderly fear dying of COVID-19, and the military is offended by him violating their conventions.

Challenges facing Democrats include:
• Big money: most wealthy folk back the Republican party. They get most of their proposals enacted into law and regulation. Tom Steier, Andrew Yang, George Soros and their breed are outliers. The rich may personally despise Trump, but his Republican tax breaks have made them richer. And since March 28, billionaires are up another 15%, thanks in part to the “Zillionaire Giveaway,” a fine print addition to the 880-page March CARE package that handed $135 billion to wealthy real estate developers. The “Modification of Limitation on Losses for Taxpayers Other Than Corporations” has nothing to do with Covid-19, and offers retroactive tax breaks from before Corona arrived, says the Institute For Policy Studies. And another fortunate 16 Americans have become billionaires this year.
• Most large business groups, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, fossil fuel corporations, agribusiness, banks and financial companies, and health conglomerates appreciate the tax breaks and give-aways, and respond with hefty contributions to Republican candidates and causes.
• Thanks to Trump fronting for Republican Senate confirmations of two corporatist, anti-regulation, anti-abortion Supreme Court Justices (Gorsuch, Kavanagh), there’s doubt now that SCOTUS will render impartial decisions on these matters
• Knowing they can’t win if everyone votes, Republicans have turned to suppressing the vote as their only option for winning – falsely claiming that voting by mail invites fraud, creating obstacles to getting ballots, forcing voters to stand together and spread COVID-19 infection, and working to undermine the mail-in voting vehicle, the U.S. Postal Service.

So the 2020 elections are not about the candidates. The election is about Trump & Co., and reversing the American march toward authoritarianism. In her 2011 online op-ed in The Washington Post, Harvard political scientist Pippa Norris noted that 44% of Americans without college degrees approved of having a strong leader who “doesn’t have to bother with congress or elections.” She wrote that, for two decades, populist authoritarian leaders—appealing to nationalism and tradition, preaching hostility toward outsiders and elites—had attracted swelling support across Europe and the Americas, winning legislative seats and ministerial offices, gaining government power. Trump & Co. are part of the wave.

Our 2020 job is to throw them out, and basically, save The Union from authoritarian government. How do we tackle that list of challenges, regain power, and start reversing the damage? Take bold action.

Several Democrats suggest that after he finishes being sworn in as President, Joe Biden should display his first Executive Order, reversing all Trump executive orders. After that, he makes his acceptance speech.

We know negative advertising works – unfortunately. People react to both fear and love. So every Democratic and Independent candidate must hammer Trump’s broken promises and failures. What could be more repulsive than:
o over 100,000 U.S. virus deaths in three months, refrigerated trailer morgues, and
o no federal leadership to help get us out of this mess?

Next, to peel away the loyal base, add the promises Trump made at his inauguration and failed to keep:
o “…total allegiance to the United States of America,” and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.”
o To eradicate ISIS
o To give struggling families much to celebrate, and “make every decision on trade, taxes, immigration and foreign affairs benefit American workers and American families,”
o To stop enriching foreign industry at the expense of American industry, and protect America “from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,”
o To repair America’s decaying infrastructure.

And there’s more! Our Democratic presidential candidate – likely Joe Biden – must:
o keep a running tally of Trump lies – now nearly 100,000 (“That’s lie number 18,233, Mr. President”)
o name each of the government and private sector sycophants and cronies who enable him, and have used their power positions for profit from the government,
o remind voters that Trump’s swamp people, cozying with Russian hackers, and conservative judges Mitch McConnell helped install, are depriving us of the America we hold dear.

And we know the best way to counter money in politics and voter suppression are through
(1) grassroots organizing (we still change our government through the vote!)
(2) requiring that independent commissions set demography-based voting districts, and where that
can’t be done, bringing lawsuits to get it done.
(3) fight fire with fire, and bring money to campaigns to counter Republican money

So move off the couch, break free of treating politics as a hobby, and act however you can to help Democrats and Independents win the Presidency, control of the Senate and House, and offices in all states. There’s a plethora of possibilities to choose from. Here’s a menu of your options:
o Go to Changing the Conversation Together (CTC) – it offers training in “deep conversations, persuasive exchanges,” to build a national corps of deep canvassers who bridge political divides and help elect Democrats to take us forward.
o Change the Electoral College’s impact, and move the U.S. closer to deciding Presidential elections by national popular vote. We don’t need to abolish the Electoral College to do it. Contribute to changing the Read Politics Is For Power by Eitan Hersh – then take action
o Write postcards, and give all the business you can to the U.S. Postal Service! Join a writing campaign, such as Postcards To People,
o Contribute to the Congressional Progressive Caucus – working to pass The People’s Budget and The Green New Deal, hold our leaders accountable, and create an equitable U.S.A.
o Help voting rights organizations that fight gerrymandering, promote one person-one vote, and protect that vote from election tampering. They include Indivisible, Brand New Congress, Fair Fight, Supermajority, National Democratic Redistricting Committee, and others that fight and voter suppression, and work at the national and state levels to guarantee the vote as a Constitutional right that’s as hard to take away as a gun
o Help regain control of the media messages — from social media to radio and television, including flooding conservative and right wing databases with progressive messages
o Contact your state and national legislators – write, call, visit! – to set up social media security, in partnership with Google, Facebook, Amazon and others, so elections can’t be hacked, fake news can be debunked and erased,

According to our statistics watcher Tom Koch, the numbers look good for Democrats at this point. Biden will win all of Hilary Clinton’s states (232 electoral votes), and likely PA and MI, totaling 268. He will need one more state or both Maine (2) and Nebraska (2) to get the win. He is outperforming Hillary with white voters. She lost them by 20%, and Biden is down by about 9%; Hillary lost white women, Joe leads among them. The difference between Biden’s polling numbers and Clinton’s results shows that moderate whites make the difference.

In the final analysis, the 2020 election is about Trump. We’re in a war for the survival of America’s institutions – to keep them viable and independent, re-design them if necessary, and strengthen the three branches so they can check and balance each other, and make every citizen’s vote legitimately count.

Betrayal can break Trumps’ grip

Martin Westerman 5/21/20

The white Christian men in charge of our governments and corporations have failed the white Christian men who voted for them and bought their products. Now, those voters and buyers are angry with – people who aren’t Christians, and aren’t white Christians.

They’re proud to not connect cause and effect. Kelly Ann Conway introduced the world to “alternative facts” on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” January 22, 2017, when she defended Sean Spicer’s lie about the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Whether they’re in the Trump inner circle, Administration or Congressional sycophants and hangers-on, or MAGA hat wearers, they assert: “Trump didn’t say that. And if he did, he didn’t mean it. And if he did, he was just being sarcastic. And if you thought he was serious, you didn’t understand. And if you did, it’s no big deal. And if it is, others have said worse.”

“Trump’s tendency to deny his past statements has become more glaring during the coronavirus” reported CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and Christina Wilkie on May 1, 2020.
“Everything is an act for him,” tweeted Leah McElrath March 11, after Trump’s COVID address. “He has no sense of the gravity of the situation because he lacks the capacity for empathy.” He only seems able to mimic what is socially appropriate. Trump complains that he can’t lead rallies during COVID. “…apparently it hasn’t occurred to him that his cultists would be endangered if they were crammed into an arena shouting at the top of their lungs, and expressing micro-droplets all over each other in the process.” (Joshua Holland, Alternet, May 20, 2020)

Feb. 6, 2020, journalist Eric Black wrote he was horrified that “selective perception” and “confirmation bias” have replaced objectivity in official pronouncements and news reporting. “There’s a part of human nature that, rather than wanting to know what’s accurate and true, wants to believe certain things, whether true or not.” Black considers Donald Trump a genius “in understanding that feature (or bug) of human nature.”

From the moment Trump won the Republican nomination July 19, 2016, researchers have been analyzing conservative and Trump supporter brains and behaviors. They echo studies done all the way back to the end of World War II, about how “normal” people could have supported fascist and Nazi governments, let alone gone to war for them. All authoritarian governments since, including Trump’s have been morally- and ethically-challenged. But it’s not about politics or logic, it’s about values.

Trump’s base “recognizes his legitimacy and follow him not because of who he is or what he does, but because of what they think he believes — and what they think that says about them,” wrote Derek Newton (Feb. 11, 2018, NBC’s THINK). Studies show this attitude dates all the way back to the rise of fascists and Nazis in the 1930s.

Trump supporters are like members of religious and fraternal organizations, says Andrew Gray, emeritus professor of Public Sector Management, Univ. of Durham (UK). They operate in the “communion mode,” where people recognize legitimate authority “based on an appeal to common values and creeds, and shared frames of reference.” They only consider actions “legitimate” if they’re consistent with communal values.

In contrast, the “contractual mode” is based on an agreement that sets out obligations and rewards; the “command mode” is based on a rule of law “emanating from a sovereign body, and delivered through a scalar chain of superior and subordinate authority.”

Communion governance relies on regular in-person meetings, call and response rituals (like Trump rally “Lock her up!” and “Drain the swamp!” chants) and shared experiences. Their members tend to associate and bond only with people similar to them, and view outsiders with suspicion and hostility. Their group bonds are stronger than those between followers and a leader because, where politics are transitional, values are long-lasting.

That makes persecution a key unifier (e.g., “the war on Christmas,” attacks by the “deep state” or “fake news media”). When members face opposition, or see an attack on their leader, they take it personally, as an attack on themselves and their values, and on their values leader – whether it’s on Trump, or the pastor holding religious services vs. virus lockdown. Any threat or assault by larger, stronger forces on the group increases their commitment to both group and leader. When reporters ask, “Do you still support Trump?” they hear, “Do you still support your own values?”

How to break the communion cycle? Betrayal. When the group feels betrayed, they turn on the betrayers. Newton wrote that inroads to Trump’s base are more likely to succeed if they avoid the supporters’ values or symbols, and find ways to target Trump for betraying them. The Lincoln Project Republicans are taking this tack.

Gray notes that followers who no longer see their values reflected by a communion leader become receptive to finding a new one. So it’s pivotal to demonstrate that Trump no longer does (or never did) share his followers’ values.

Unfortunately, other leaders who emerge to pull supporters away from Trump’s base may have to reflect shared values more passionately, by showing that Trump isn’t tough enough on immigrants, or terrorists and/or trade. And any values-based replacements for Trump must come from within the structure, not outside of it, given the group’s insularity and resistance to outside criticism. Followers must believe that the leader believes in the shared values more than Trump.

Fortunately, even if the new leader(s) emerge, it’s unlikely that the replacement(s) could take over the Trump base as much as fragment it.

Betrayal can break Trumps’ grip.

5/20/20 Martin Westerman.

The white Christian men in charge of our governments and corporations have failed the white Christian men who voted for them and bought their products. Now, those voters and buyers are angry with – people who aren’t Christians, and aren’t white Christians.

They’re proud to not connect cause and effect. Whether they’re in the Trump inner circle, Administration or Congressional sycophants and hangers-on, or MAGA hat wearers, they assert: “He didn’t say that. And if he did, he didn’t mean it. And if he did, he was just being sarcastic. And if you thought he was serious, you didn’t understand. And if you did, it’s no big deal. And if it is, others have said worse.”

“Trump’s tendency to deny his past statements has become more glaring during the coronavirus” reported CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and Christina Wilkie on May 1, 2020.

In his Feb. 6, 2020, blog postm, journalist Eric Black was horrified that “selective perception” and “confirmation bias” have replaced objectivity in official pronouncements and news reporting. “There’s a part of human nature that, rather than wanting to know what’s accurate and true, wants to believe certain things, whether true or not.” Black considers Donald Trump a genius “in understanding that feature (or bug) of human nature.”

“Everything is an act for him,” tweeted Leah McElrath March 11, after Trump’s COVID address. “He has no sense of the gravity of the situation because he lacks the capacity for empathy.” As a malignant narcissist, he can only mimic what is socially appropriate. Of Trump’s complaint that he can’t lead rallies during COVID, Joshua Holland wrote, “…apparently it hasn’t occurred to him that his cultists would be endangered if they were crammed into an arena shouting at the top of their lungs, and expressing micro-droplets all over each other in the process.” (Alternet, May 20, 2020)

But Trump’s base “recognizes his legitimacy and follow him not because of who he is or what he does, but because of what they think he believes — and what they think that says about them,” wrote Derek Newton (Feb. 11, 2018, NBC’s THINK).

Kelly Ann Conway introduced the world to “alternative facts” on CNN’s Anderson Cooper in 20___. And from the moment Trump won the Republican nomination, researchers have been churning out analyses of conservative and Trump supporter brains and behaviors. But they only echo studies done all the way back to the end of World War II, about how “normal” people could have supported fascist and Nazi governments, let alone go to war for them. All governments since, including Trump’s have been morally- and ethically-challenged. But it’s not about politics or logic, it’s about values.

Trump supporters are like members of religious and fraternal organizations, which, says Andrew Gray (citation), operate in the “communion mode,” where people recognize legitimate authority “based on an appeal to common values and creeds, and shared frames of reference.” They only consider actions “legitimate” if they’re consistent with communal values.

In contrast, the “contractual mode” is based on an agreement that sets out obligations and rewards; the “command mode” is based on a rule of law “emanating from a sovereign body, and delivered through a scalar chain of superior and subordinate authority.”

Communion governance relies on regular in-person meetings, call and response rituals (like Trump rally “Lock her up!” and “Drain the swamp!” chants) and shared experiences. Their members tend to associate and bond only with people similar to them, and view outsiders with suspicion and hostility. Their group bonds are stronger than those between followers and a leader because, where politics are transitional, values are long-lasting.

That makes persecution a key unifier (e.g., “the war on Christmas,” attacks by the “deep state” or “fake news media”). Members see opposition to, or an attack on their leader as a personal attack on themselves and their values, and on their values leader – whether it’s the pastor holding religious services vs. virus lockdown, or Trump. Any threat or assault by larger, stronger forces on the group increases their commitment to both group and leader. When reporters ask, “Do you still support Trump?” they hear, “Do you still support your own values?”

How to break the communion cycle? Betrayal. When the group feels betrayed, they turn on the betrayers. Newton wrote that inroads to Trump’s base are more likely to succeed if they avoid the supporters’ values or symbols, and find ways to target Trump for betraying them. The Lincoln Project Republicans are taking this tack.

Followers who no longer see their values reflected by a communion leader become receptive to finding a new one. So it’s pivotal to demonstrate that Trump no longer does (or never did) share his followers’ values.

Unfortunately, other leaders who emerge to pull supporters away from Trump’s base may have to reflect shared values more passionately, by showing that Trump isn’t tough enough on immigrants, or terrorists and/or trade. And any values-based replacements for Trump must come from within the structure, not outside of it, given the group’s insularity and resistance to outside criticism. Followers must believe that the leader believes in the shared values more than Trump.

Fortunately, even if the new leader(s) emerge, it’s unlikely that the replacement(s) could take over the Trump base as much as fragment it.

Are We Doomed By The Narcisist-In-Chief?

5/6/20: (Bill Kaufman)

Trump is facing a massive recession/depression. Of course his real estate holdings, hotels, golf courses will do horribly. This will achieve a high point as we close in on the November election time. Not good for him, and he knows that.

While he has attempted to blame others for numerous blunders in managing the crisis, such as providing for adequate testing, needed equipment, personal protective gear, etc., he has, even worse, failed to unify the country, a critically needed preamble for success.

So now he knows that he is either on the losing side of the coming election or he pulls a rabbit out of his MAGA cap.

So he gambles. He feels he has no choice if he has any chance of getting what he wants, re-election. This reminds one of the Stormy Daniels saga. Recall that Ms Daniels said that Trump (married at the time) didn’t wear a condom. That was taking one big risk considering that Ms. Daniels was a porn star, and it was during the AIDS epidemic.

But Trump is a big gambler. In the past he has been lucky enough to avoid terminal disaster for himself. Trump has been enabled to gamble bigger than ever, and with other peoples money. Ours. Heads I win, tails, you lose.

For a narcissist, when you want something bad enough, or fear failing altogether, why not take a Hugh risk. Consider the downside, which for him is failing to be re-elected. For millions of Americans, they die. That’s not a bad bet for a narcissist.

Shame on us. We gave him all the chips for free.