Trump’s wall of bullying baffling bullshit, a national embarrassment

 

‘Standing by sir’: Proud Boys praise Trump’s comment telling them to ‘stand by’ during first presidential debate

Shedding all semblance of decency, let alone public civility, a desperate Trump turned Tuesday’s presidential debate not only into a brawl but also a national embarrassment. Behaving like a petulant teenager, Trump rolled his eyes, constantly interrupted, hectored, tried to pick fights, and generally made a fool of himself as more than 80 million Americans tuned in, most of whom were likely thinking, ‘What have we become as a nation?’

It was clearly the worst presidential debate in American history, as Fox News moderator Chris Wallace got completely steamrolled by Trump’s bullying ways. And it was a debacle that Trump pre-planned. Allergic to debate prep and still seething about the blockbuster revelation about his massive tax evasion practices, Trump arrived with one goal — to make sure the debate was incomprehensible and that viewers learned as little as possible.

That’s why it’s time to call off the next two debates. Tuesday’s car wreck was a complete waste of time.

Months ago, I urged the Biden campaign to not show up for any of the debates this election season because I didn’t see the benefit of sharing the stage with a madman for 90 minutes. There’s no upside to normalizing his behavior with a presidential debate and the legitimacy it provides. Now everyone sees the results. Biden held his own last night, there’s no question, telling Trump more than once to “shut up,” which in the past would have been unthinkable for a Democrat to utter on a debate stage. And it was exactly what was called for.

But there’s no need to repeat the fiasco. There’s no need for Biden to show up again so Trump can smear Biden family members, make a mockery out of public discourse, and lie relentlessly about every topic discussed during the forums. Running for president is serious business, and Trump is a child.

And yes, the 2020 debates are already so much worse than the 2016 debates, when, in retrospect, Trump at least pretended to occasionally follow some of the norms of public behavior. But all of that is gone now. Lost in the authoritarian power that he craves in the White House, Trump deems it beneath him to share the stage, and the spotlight, with another politician.

Another reason for Biden to politely bow out is because while the press is going to correctly portray the Tuesday debate as a stunning failure, they’re going to couch it in Both Sides language, suggesting Biden was somehow at all responsible for the national embarrassment when it was entirely Trump’s doing.

That was apparent in real-time last night. From Politico: “The first Trump-Biden debate: A trainwreck.” New York Times: “Sharp Personal Attacks and Name-Calling in Chaotic First Debate.” CNN: “Pure Chaos at First Debate.” The Washington Post: “First Trump-Biden meeting marked by constant interruptions by Trump.” Technically those headlines were accurate, but all the news outlets presented the story as if both sides were to blame for the televised disintegration.

There’s also the simple fact that unless the Commission on Presidential Debates allows moderators to cut off Trump’s mic for the next two forums, it’s not possible for any moderator to keep control of the event. Wallace was completely humiliated by Trump, who ran over the Fox News anchor at every turn, making it impossible for there to be anything remotely resembling a revealing or intelligent debate.

Comically, Wallace told the New York Times he wanted to be “invisible” during the debate, meaning it was up to the candidates to engage each other. Commission officials actually thought Wallace would act as a “facilitator,” gently walking Trump through the evening’s topics. That makes sense if you think Trump is a rational, sane person. But Trump’s a nihilistic actor. And the Beltway’s refusal to acknowledge that — to think that protocols like presidential debates could still be adhered to — fueled last night’s disaster.

It also lends credence to canceling the next two debates, because it’s not possible to stage a two-person debate when one of them is a sociopath. The debate Commission can act quickly to try to save this format, by allowing Trump’s mic to be cut. But anything short of that would be a waste of time. It would be a waste of Biden’s time, and a waste of Americans’ time.

Trump has torn up so many norms and traditions with his radical behavior. So let’s add another one to the list — let’s cancel the next two debates. Nobody will miss them.

 

Eric Boehlert Press Run

 

The authoritarian cult of Trump explained

The Brain’s Attention System Is More Strongly Engaged by Trump
According to a study that monitored brain activity while participants watched 40 minutes of political ads and debate clips from the presidential candidates, Donald Trump is unique in his ability to keep the brain engaged. While Hillary Clinton could only hold attention for so long, Trump kept both attention and emotional arousal high throughout the viewing session. This pattern of activity was seen even when Trump made remarks that individuals didn’t necessarily agree with. His showmanship and simple language clearly resonate with some at a visceral level.

America’s Obsession with Entertainment and Celebrities

Essentially, the loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction to entertainment and reality TV. To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With the Donald, you are always left wondering what outrageous thing he is going to say or do next. He keeps us on the edge of our seat, and for that reason, some Trump supporters will forgive anything he says. They are happy as long as they are kept entertained.

“Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn.”

Some intelligent people who know better are supporting Trump simply to be rebellious or to introduce chaos into the political system. They may have such distaste for the establishment and Democrats like Hillary Clinton that their support for Trump is a symbolic middle finger directed at Washington. These people do not have their priorities straight and perhaps have other issues, like an innate desire to troll others, or a deranged obsession with schadenfreude.

The Fear-Factor: Conservatives Are More Sensitive to Threat

Science has unequivocally shown that the conservative brain has an exaggerated fear response when faced with stimuli that may be perceived as threatening. A 2008 study in the journal Science found that conservatives have a stronger physiological reaction to startling noises and graphic images compared to liberals. A brain-imaging study published in Current Biology revealed that those who lean right politically tend to have a larger amygdala — a structure that is electrically active during states of fear and anxiety. And a 2014 fMRI study found that it is possible to predict whether someone is a liberal or conservative simply by looking at their brain activity while they view threatening or disgusting images, such as mutilated bodies. Specifically, the brains of self-identified conservatives generated more activity overall in response to the disturbing images.

These brain responses are automatic, and not influenced by logic or reason. As long as Trump continues his fear mongering by constantly portraying Muslims and Hispanic immigrants as imminent dangers, many conservative brains will involuntarily light up like light bulbs being controlled by a switch. Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with offensive and divisive remarks.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Humans Often Overestimate Their Political Expertise

Some support Donald Trump do so out of ignorance — basically, they are under-informed or misinformed about the issues at hand. When Trump tells them that crime is skyrocketing in the United States, or that the economy is the worst it’s ever been, they simply take his word for it.

The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed; it’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed, which creates a double burden.

Studies have shown that people who lack expertise in some area of knowledge often have a cognitive bias that prevents them from realizing that they lack expertise. As psychologist David Dunning puts it in an op-ed for Politico, “The knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task — and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at the task. This includes political judgment.” These people cannot be reached because they mistakenly believe they are the ones who should be reaching others.

Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Others

Intergroup contact refers to contact with members of groups that are outside one’s own, which has been experimentally shown to reduce prejudice. As such, it’s important to note that there is growing evidence that Trump’s white supporters have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans. For example, a 2016 study found that “…the racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.” This correlation persisted while controlling for dozens of other variables. In agreement with this finding, the same researchers found that support for Trump increased with the voters’ physical distance from the Mexican border.

Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable

While the conspiracy theory crowd — who predominantly support Donald Trump and crackpot allies like Alex Jones and the shadowy QAnon — may appear to just be an odd quirk of modern society, the truth is that many of them suffer from psychological illnesses that involve paranoia and delusions, such as schizophrenia, or are at least vulnerable to them, like those with schizotypy personalities.

The link between schizotypy and belief in conspiracy theories is well-established, and a recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research has demonstrated that it is still very prevalent in the population. The researchers found that those who were more likely to believe in outlandish conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the U.S. government created the AIDs epidemic, consistently scored high on measures of “odd beliefs and magical thinking.” One feature of magical thinking is a tendency to make connections between things that are actually unrelated in reality.

Donald Trump and his media allies target these people directly. All one has to do is visit alt-right websites and discussion boards to see the evidence for such manipulation.

A study published last year in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found a direct link between national collective narcissism and support for Donald Trump. This correlation was discovered by researchers at the University of Warsaw, who surveyed over 400 Americans with a series of questionnaires about political and social beliefs. Where individual narcissism causes aggressiveness toward other individuals, collective narcissism involves negative attitudes and aggression toward ‘outsider’ groups (outgroups), who are perceived as threats.

Donald Trump exacerbates collective narcissism with his anti-immigrant, anti-elitist, and strongly nationalistic rhetoric. By referring to his supporters, an overwhelmingly white group, as being “true patriots” or “real Americans,” he promotes a brand of populism that is the epitome of “identity politics,” a term that is usually associated with the political left. Left-wing identity politics, as misguided as they may sometimes be, are generally aimed at achieving equality, while the right-wing brand is based on a belief that one nationality and race is superior or entitled to success and wealth for no other reason than identity.

The Desire to Want to Dominate Others

Social dominance orientation (SDO) — which is distinct but related to authoritarian personality syndrome (#13) — refers to people who have a preference for the societal hierarchy of groups, specifically with a structure in which the high-status groups have dominance over the low-status ones. Those with SDO are typically dominant, tough-minded, and driven by self-interest.

In Trump’s speeches, he appeals to those with SDO by repeatedly making a clear distinction between groups that have a generally higher status in society (White), and those groups that are typically thought of as belonging to a lower status (immigrants and minorities). A study published last year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that those who scored high on both SDO and authoritarianism were those who intended to vote for Trump in the election.

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome

Authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. Authoritarian personality syndrome —  a well-studied and globally-prevalent condition — is a state of mind that is characterized by belief in total and complete obedience to one’s authority. Those with the syndrome often display aggression toward outgroup members, submissiveness to authority, resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society. The syndrome is often triggered by fear, making it easy for leaders who exaggerate threat or fear monger to gain their allegiance.

Although authoritarian personality is found among liberals, it is more common among the right-wing around the world. Trump’s speeches, which are laced with absolutist terms like “losers” and “complete disasters,” are naturally appealing to those with the syndrome.

While research showed that Republican voters in the U.S. scored higher than Democrats on measures of authoritarianism before Trump emerged on the political scene, a 2016 Politico survey found that high authoritarians greatly favored Trump

 

Edited from Raw Story by Bobby Azarian is a neuroscientist affiliated with George Mason University and a freelance journalist.

In honor of RBG here’s what we propose:

Jail time for causing more than 200000 deaths from the Trump Enabled Coronavirus

 

Win back the Senate

Win back the White House

Solidify our hold on the House of representatives

Statehood for Washington DC and Puerto Rico

More judges for the Supreme Court so it doesn’t tilt right or left

Bill Barr should be charged with his crimes and stand trial

Mike Pompeo should be charged with his crimes and stand trial

The whole Trump crime family should be charged with crimes and stand trial

More than 190000 deaths! Put them all on trial

 

Nuremberg trials


Listening to the tapes recorded by Bob Woodward and hearing Trump’s confessions that he knew exactly what he was doing.
Given the soaring death toll from COVID-19 and the continuing public display of police brutality in the United States, it seems to us that it’s time to convene a Nuremberg style trial for the deaths that have been caused by the Trump regime.
Trump, Barr, Pompeo, Pence, McConnell the whole complicit crew should stand trial for the death and suffering they have willfully caused in this country.

Anyone else would be charged with manslaughter so let’s prosecute them. 

 

Trump and his Radical right vigilantes are preparing for a coup

Trump cult members and Boogaloo Bois are ready for the fight

 

David Atkins from the Washington Monthly,  explains: “Trump sees violence as politically beneficial, a useful cudgel against Democratic nominee Joe Biden — even though the violence is happening while Trump himself is in charge, not Biden.”

Trump’s election theme is that Americans won’t be safe in a Biden presidency. The opposite is true. Americans won’t be safe as long as a white supremacist tyrant is leading a movement of bigots to incite a civil war, and attempting to ensure that the majority of Americans with cosmopolitan, egalitarian values remain politically disenfranchised and under the thumb of those who fear and despise them.

Trump’s campaign of racial authoritarianism and stochastic terrorism, as well as overt threats of “law and order,” resulted in a group of his supporters driving into Portland last weekend, armed with mace and paintball guns, to seek out confrontations with Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protesters.

The protests were largely peaceful until Trump and acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf deployed federal police forces to the city in July. Their presence, as designed, escalated the tension and led to increasing levels of property damage and incidents of violence.

Previewing Trump’s plan for other parts of the nation, these federal shock troops made journalists and reporters a special focus of their violence. They also kidnapped protesters and other “enemies” of Donald Trump’s regime off the street as though they were operating in a banana republic.

Alexander Reid Ross is a doctoral fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. His most recent book is “Against the Fascist Creep.” Ross has also completed new research that documents more than 500 incidents in which white vigilantes and other right-wing extremists have confronted Black Lives Matter protests. This includes hundreds of acts of intimidation and other threats as well as dozens of examples in which right-wing extremists have assaulted or attacked Black Lives Matter protesters.

Reid warns that Portland, the right-wing vigilante killings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the hundreds of other attacks by right-wing extremists on Black Lives Matter protesters is just a preview of the massive violence that Donald Trump and his movement may unleash before and after Election Day — perhaps including the arrest or imprisonment of prominent Democrats, journalists, and others deemed to be enemies of the state.

After almost four years of Trump and his regime’s authoritarian, neofascist behavior, some voices in the mainstream American news media now use that correct and appropriate language to describe the reality of the situation. Why was there so much fear and denial about the obvious? Even when they use the correct terminology, the coverage is largely superficial and avoids serious discussion of the dire implications.

Donald Trump attempting to rise to the level of a right-wing political strongman. Donald Trump is using classic authoritarian tactics that one does not often see in a healthy democracy. Donald Trump is deliberately undermining the Constitution by using federal law to circumvent local governments’ control over their police forces.

Trump and William Barr’s de facto secret police are literally disappearing people off the streets of Portland and in other parts of the country where the Democratic Party is in power. How do you explain what is happening to people who do not live in those communities? Who are not being targeted by Trump and his henchmen?

The specific federal forces involved are BORTAC — the Border Patrol Tactical Unit — and the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and others, under the coordination of the Department of Homeland Security. BORTAC has been in Portland shooting at people and launching tear gas. BORTAC is not trained for crowd or riot control. They are trained to engage in raids against migrants and to separate children from their mothers. That is what BORTAC does. They pride themselves on being the most militarized branch and a group of the U.S. law enforcement community. BORTAC members are extreme Trump supporters. What is happening in Portland and other parts of the country is the border closing in on the citizens of the United States.

BORTAC is loyal to Donald Trump and that’s why he is using them. He’s not using them because they’re the most skilled and adept at riot and crowd control management. That also explains why there are so many incidents of people being shot in the face and otherwise abused here in Portland and other places where BORTAC and other such forces are being deployed by the Trump administration. They don’t know what they’re doing at all.

BORTAC is being used because Trump feels that they are his most loyal forces. That is fully in keeping with the tactics of authoritarian leaders who cultivate secret police whose main function is to serve as the government leader’s private force, one that operates outside of any restraints such as an internal review.

The [former] Chilean dictatorship is explicitly supported by Trump’s own supporters, who wear T-shirts that say, “Right-wing death squad” and “Pinochet did nothing wrong.” The American mainstream news media is far too charitable with its narrative that “Trump is playing to his base.”

During the recent protests in Portland, were there moments where you feared that the federal forces were going to start shooting the crowd with lethal rounds?

The fear is very real and it’s constant. The federal forces have assault rifles. They are loaded with live rounds. There are protesters who were throwing fireworks and things of that sort at the courthouse. What if one of the feds has an itchy trigger finger? What if a firework explodes and they then open fire on an entire group of unarmed people?

Trump and their defenders and other apologists will just say, “Well, these poor agents have been overworked for 60 days and look at all the things that have been thrown at them” and so on and so forth. We know what the narrative will be. All a person can do when protesting is to act accordingly and stay focused.

The idea of these right-wing protesters and militia types being “anti-government” — again, a narrative circulated by the mainstream American news media — is very uncritical, a total misnomer. They are really pro-government. They are entirely in favor of the United States government as controlled by Donald Trump. Their claim to be “libertarians” is a joke.

Those right-wing militias and others sympathetic to them are arming in opposition to Democrats, liberals, and progressives.

Right-wing extremists and other terrorists, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, are also coordinating at times with the police.

They actually say that they are at the protests to “protect the police.” Think about that claim: They are “anti-government” vigilantes who promise that they are trying to protect the police. In essence, these right-wing militias and the like are American citizens who believe it is their role not to become police, but to guard the police. Such a claim is ludicrous. It is a paramilitary force. These right-wing forces are coordinating and positioning themselves to be able to launch a coup against American democracy and the Democratic Party if the latter gains control of the presidency and government.

The closest parallel with what we are seeing with Trump’s movement would be the “massive resistance” by white people against racial integration in the South during the civil rights movement. I am of the opinion that the United States has not seen such a mobilization of violent, far-right forces to this extent since the 1960s.

Recently, a Trumpist and right-wing militia supporter traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and involved himself in the protests there. He’s accused shooting three people, killing two of them. He crossed state lines illegally with a weapon he was not allowed to own. He was only a teenager and was radicalized online into right-wing extremism. He is now being valorized by the right-wing media machine. Trump has defended this young man as a hero who was fighting against “criminals” and “looters.” This accused killer now has hundreds of thousands of dollars pledged to his defense.

Trump has defended Kyle Rittenhouse with the claim he was firing in “self-defense” at unarmed protesters. In essence, Donald Trump supports the right-wing vigilante movement, which represents the disintegration of the rule of law.

We are witnessing an erosion of democratic norms in this country by Republicans. They accept breaking the law as being viable if it supports “traditional values” — meaning racism. As a practical matter, Donald Trump is spearheading the movement of the Republican Party into a full-on violent racist organization that encourages vigilantism.

In terms of engaging in the worst type of “both-sides-ism” and false equivalencies that helped Trump win and now keep power, the American mainstream news media is now advancing a “mutual combat” narrative in its coverage of Trump’s supporters and the violence in Portland last weekend. How does that narrative contradict what really happened in Portland?

The “mutual combat” framing is inane, legally a non-starter, and obviously supportive of the aggressive party, which is typically the Trump supporters. Their strategy is to provoke fights and then call for “law and order” intervention from a corrupt president.

What do you want to warn the American people about? What do you think happens next?

I am worried about crackdowns by Donald Trump and his forces against their direct enemies. This would involve dragging Democrats in front of kangaroo courts and starting to criminalize dissent such that the average American who has a bumper sticker or other affiliation with the Democratic Party or liberal or progressive causes becomes a target for Trump’s zealots. I worry that Trump will find some way to round up the leaders of the Democratic Party and put them in jail or execute them.

That is the future that right-wing conspiracists such as the QAnon people want. They are the crowd that Donald Trump is signaling to. I do not believe that there is much stopping Donald Trump from following through on his extreme impulses. At this point Donald Trump is desperate. If Trump wins again it will just be more fuel on the fire for his followers. The right-wing will follow through on his cues and start attacking regular people, not just protesters, who they believe are Democrats.

 

 

Edited from Chauncey Devega in Salon by way of Alternet

 

The Terrible Trump Taliban coming to your town next?

Trump cultists rally in Portland Oregon to try and provoke as much trouble and violence as possible

Many officials including the mayor of Portland, Oregon, are accusing Donald Trump of encouraging violence after a reported member of a rightwing group was shot dead when Trump supporters confronted “Black Lives Matter” protesters. Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “…. Trump, for four years we have had to live with you and your racist attacks on black people. We learned early about your sexist attitudes towards women … we have listened to your attacks on immigrants … do you seriously wonder that America in decades has not seen this level of violence?”

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot by police and paralyzed, concern grew that the tense but currently peaceful situation could be inflamed by a planned visit this week from Bullyboy Trump, who appears keen to stoke law and order fears among voters heading into the election.

Trump Is Playing up Fears of Violence by inciting it.

Trump and his allies are trying to depict protests over racial injustice somehow as a law-and-order campaign issue, continuously attacking Democratic leaders, refusing to condemn deadly vigilante violence carried out by his cult members, and touting a fantasy of a “tranquil Trump’s America”.
Now former Vice President Joe Biden is accusing Trump of inciting the violence for his political gain.

All of this against a backdrop of a still-raging coronavirus outbreak, the White House has offered the clearest signal yet of a calculated GOP strategy of inciting violence and then exploiting voter fears of the violence as the campaign against Biden enters the final stretch and Trump badly trails in the polls.

This is an escalated version of the strategy Trump employed, unsuccessfully, in the 2018 midterm election, when he spent weeks warning of “caravans” of migrants fill with MS-13 gang members trying to reach the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump plans to try an incite more violence by visiting Kenosha, Wis., where protests have flared for the last week over the unjustified police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was left paralyzed, and where a teenage Trumpy gunman who idolized law enforcement has been charged in two deaths. Administration officials provided no indication that Trump wants to meet with Blake’s family, with whom Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, have talked at length.

Joe Biden excoriated Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden condemned the violence, “whether on the left or the right,” and has called on Trump to do the same, don’t hold your breath.

 

 

Sources: Guardian, raw story, Washington Post, LA Times 

Trump has infected his cult followers with his symptoms

A Yale psychiatrist who has sounded the alarm on Donald Trump’s mental health for years warns that the party’s attempt to stoke fear in the electorate at the Republican National Convention could lead to violence against his opponents.

The convention featured an unprecedented number of false claims and downright lies, unhinged conspiracy theories, and hours of racial fear-mongering. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine who taught at Yale Law School, told Salon that the stoking of fear was so coordinated that pushing back could provoke a violent response.

Lee has studied violence for years. She is the author of the textbook “Violence,” editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (Trump),” and president of the World Mental Health Coalition, which recently issued a “Prescription for Survival Refill” and is releasing a new collection of statements, conference transcripts, and columns called “Documents.” She recently interviewed Mary Trump on her new website about Trump’s mental health.

Lee said that the American Psychiatric Association, which warned against mental health professionals offering their opinions of the Trump’s mental health, had denied the public a full view of what is happening in the White House.

“The public has been deprived of expert knowledge for too long, as it misunderstood and normalized serious pathology to a level of profound danger,” she told Salon. “Professional institutions should not function as lackeys of the government but do their public function. I have criticized from the very start the way the American Psychiatric Association intervened to mislead the public into believing that they cannot hear from mental health experts about the mental health of a president (Dictator). Imagine the American Bar Association prohibiting all legal professionals from commenting on societally relevant legal matters unless they personally represent the public figures and obtain consent from them to speak about them. It is absurd, and it is about time we stop treating mental health issues so differently and esoterically, when science demands the exact opposite.”

Other experts suggest a cautious, precedent-setting approach. “I think the same way that candidates have their physical health scrutinized, they could have their mental health scrutinized,” Amy Barnhorst, a psychiatry professor and the vice-chair for clinical services at UC Davis, told Salon in January. “But we have to ask ourselves: What would we do with that information?”

Lee spoke to Salon about the convention and how it could affect the electorate heading into November.

As a psychiatrist who has been sounding the alarm on this presidency for years, what were your takeaways from the convention? Did anything surprise you?

It has not been surprising, but impressive in how well-orchestrated and coordinated the convention was, starting with holding the event on the White House lawn. No breach of rules or actual harm matters, as long as there is impression management, which is the key to psychological conditioning, manipulation, and control. Republicans understand this power of the mind and use it perversely. Democrats do not even inform themselves of it to achieve their political goals, let alone protect the population, as we learned from our attempts to obtain consultation. This election will be more difficult than 2016, since Donald Trump has infected his followers with his symptoms, by sheer duration in office. He will also no doubt use the full powers of the presidency now to choreograph his remaining in office, regardless of the means — and I believe people realize by now that there is no limit to what he will do to “win.”

Many of the speakers described a very different presidency than we’ve seen, one that successfully accomplished many things and beat back the coronavirus. Kamala Harris said the goal of the convention was to “soothe Trump’s ego.” Do you think that’s accurate?

That would be the most minimal description, falling far short of what the situation demands. Politics, without grounding in reality, seems to have become a circular enterprise that has to do with nothing but power: this side impeaching only because the other side has in the past, or hesitating with a valid intervention “in case” it backfires. Journalists need to offer grounding in facts, and experts must give evidence based on the best available knowledge. Politics should be based on facts and evidence. Our system is unusual in that we not have freestanding scholarly advisory boards or other means for scientists and other intellectuals to give independent input into governance. This was criticized in the 1970s, and now it is far worse: experts convene only when politicians invite us, for their purposes, and the end result for mental health is that administrations that need consultation the most will be the least likely to seek it.

Trump and other speakers repeatedly lied throughout the event. How does that affect the psychology of the overall electorate, to have a four-day stream of lies broadcast by all the major networks for four straight days?

This has now become a societal phenomenon. We do not think of mental symptoms as infectious, but they are potentially far more so than Ebola or coronavirus since you do not need physical contact for the symptoms to transmit to millions, as long as you have emotional bonds. The end result is dramatic, as we now see before our eyes.

In our individual-oriented culture, not even psychiatrists consider this phenomenon sufficiently, but contagion is well-documented in the literature, and especially my colleague at the World Health Organization, Dr. Gary Slutkin, has long advocated approaching violence as a contagious disease. [Editor’s note: Other experts have pushed back on this model.]

It is rather a mistake to believe that mental symptoms cannot transmit when we have set up the perfect conditions for it. Those who do not succumb also generally grow exhausted and acquiesce. The good news is, like the pandemic, we can contain it if we intervened intelligently and scientifically.

How can Democrats counter Trump’s lies? Is it possible to counter this non-stop narrative with facts and reality?

When lies are of a pathological degree, they may arise from delusions, which means they are resistant to facts and reality—all you will likely do is arouse defensive “doubling down.” This is what you see with the growing detachment from reality and the embracing of conspiracy theories like QAnon.  As evidence of Trump’s incapacity and criminal-mindedness mounts, increasingly outlandish explanations are necessary to hold onto cherished fixed beliefs: such as that the person one supports is a savior figure who can do no wrong. Donald Trump is masterful at cultivating and stoking this need since his (political)—or more importantly, his psychic—survival depends on it.  This level of denial can be dangerous, as challenging it could provoke a lot of violence.

How to intervene? The situation has gotten so serious, we are at a point where we need specialists. You would not order heart surgery by a politician, just because it is occurring in another politician, would you? And so why do we attempt to tackle a serious mental health problem politically? My colleagues and I have issued a “refill” to our “Prescription for Survival.”  People will see that what we issued in March of this year when we had about 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, is all the more applicable now.

Edited from a story by Igor Derysh in Salon / Alternet

Trump and his cult followers are stoking a race war

BuzzFeed News reported that the suspect in the Kenosha shooting attended a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa in January — and sat in the front row. It figures, we think he was clearly inspired to go out a shoot people after listening to “Dear Leader”

“Kyle Howard Rittenhouse’s social media presence is filled with him posing with weapons, posting ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ and supporting Trump for president,” reported Ellie Hall, Amber Jamieson, and Tasneem Nashrulla. “Footage from the Des Moines, Iowa, rally on Jan. 30 shows Rittenhouse feet away from Trump, in the front row, to the left of the podium. He posted a TikTok video from the event.”

“Seven months later, Rittenhouse went with his rifle to the third night of Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha,” continued the report. “Rittenhouse attended as an armed vigilante, supposedly assisting police and protecting property in an unofficial capacity but instead he prowled the protest with a gun. Videos captured him fraternizing with law enforcement and attempting to get their attention.” He is accused of opening fire, killing two protesters and injuring a third.

Rittenhouse, an Illinois resident, was arrested on Wednesday after allegedly fleeing back over the state line.

Trump has been sharply critical of the Black Lives Matter protests, recently threaten to stoke violence by sending the military to states with protests to supposedly keep order but really to provoke.

News source Raw Story

Using armed thugs to try to win the election

Trump is gathering up an ‘illegal’ army to send to the polls

It has been declared illegal, inappropriate, vague and not his job, but there was Donald Trump again this week promising to send an army of armed sheriffs, off-duty police, attorneys general to loom over physical voting – a hedge, he said, against the voter fraud he can never show.

Fantasy voter fraud

Until now, Trump’s been decrying the widespread fraud he thinks is possible – including foreign monkeying with actual votes – from mail-in ballots necessitated by the pandemic. Apparently, enough judges, postal officials past and present, and state officials have sufficiently debunked that idea that Trump has turned to the actual physical vote to intimidate.

The only thing clear to me in all this is that trashing everyone’s vote unless it is a guaranteed Trump vote is the mission for the season. When Joe Biden or other Democrats this last week were decrying an election that has put Democracy itself on the ballot, this is the stuff they were discussing.

As usual, even this bullying campaign comes with the thunder of words, but just a whisper of what actually is possible to achieve, though it actually appears that his team is taking it seriously.

You probably read his announcement as I did: What is Trump talking about? What would this army do, exactly, other than standing around staring at voters, particularly voters of color, to intimidate them? How would sending this army out actually prevent widespread fraud – are they going to check voter signatures (against what?) or fix voting machines that break during the night?

Don’t state officials run elections? Doesn’t the Justice Department and other independent of bi-partisan groups already checkup that, say, a precinct doesn’t report twice the number of tallies as registered voters? What fraud exactly does Trump expect to rebut?

Suppressing Votes

Last week, a federal judge in Pittsburgh, a Trump appointee incidentally, ordered the Trump campaign to produce proof of widespread fraud in its challenge of Pennsylvania’s plans to distribute mail ballot applications. The campaign turned in 500 pages, reflecting almost no fraud.

Other states are lining up behind the nine that have always sent out mail ballot applications, out of consideration of public health issues during coronavirus. Still, Trump has bleated about fraud, apparently unwilling to distinguish between ballot applications and actual ballots, which contain multiple confirmation signatures that are checkable against registration records.

Trump says, wrongly, that people may submit mail-in ballots and still show up to vote physically, effectively illegally voting twice. Again, since he votes by mail, perhaps he doesn’t know about checking in with poll workers with signature books.

Trump’s appointment of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general has resulted in upheaval over slowed mail, just before an avalanche of mail ballots. DeJoy faces Congress this week to explain that this isn’t raw politics at work to suppress votes.

This week too, Politico.com reported that in a private meeting days before his inauguration, Trump told a group of civil rights leaders that lower turnout among Black voters did, in fact, benefit him in the 2016 presidential election.

Now, we’ve arrived at an announced tactic of deploying a Trump army.

The Pattern

It’s a pattern to impede how people vote, with comments and flailing directives to undermine confidence in this election in which Trump is behind. Trump has made false claims about of mail-in balloting, has threatened to delay elections, to withhold money from states that send out mail ballots, to cut money for the Post Office.

As it turns out, Trump has limited authority to order law enforcement to patrol polling places. Sheriff’s deputies and police officers are local, of course, and a federal law bars U.S. government officials from sending “armed men” to the vicinity of polling places.

The Washington Post reminded us that nearly 30 years ago, a Republican Party program that dispatched off-duty police officers to patrol polling places in heavily Black and Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey triggered accusations of voter intimidation, particularly aimed at people of color. That practice resulted in a federal court agreement, expired two years ago, that restricted how the national GOP could observe voting. Trump apparently is reviving that idea,

Of course, Trump’s exhortations may prompt local officials to act on their own in states where there already are active voter suppression campaigns, like North Carolina and Georgia.

Officially, Matthew Morgan, general counsel for Trump’s reelection campaign, said that “Republicans will be ready to make sure the polls are being run correctly, securely, and transparently as we work to deliver the free and fair election Americans deserve.” The campaign apparently hopes to recruit 30,000 poll-watchers in battleground states.

The Voting Rights Act outlaws the intimidation or coercion of voters, including tactics to deploy sheriff’s deputies and police officers to the polls.

Under federal law, poll-watching has been done by bipartisan or independent civic groups, with a unit of the Justice Department at hand to enter where problems arise.

With all of this going on, both parties are recruiting lawyers by the dozen for the inevitable set of legal challenges that will come after Election Day.

Obviously, an outcome by a substantial majority will make resolutions easier than a close race.

Nothing about a Trump election is ever clear

 

Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport @ Raw Story Investigates

 

Racists bilking racists, it’s hard to stop laughing

 

Ha ha ha ha ha

 

Yet another ally of Crime boss Donald Trump is facing federal criminal charges: the U.S. Department of Justice has indicted former Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon — who, in 2017, served as chief White House strategist in Trump’s administration — for allegedly defrauding Americans who made donations to crowdfund a U.S./Mexico border wall.
Journalist Michael Harriot discusses Bannon’s indictment in a blistering and humorous op-ed for The Root, stressing that he has a hard time feeling sorry for “racists” and Trump supporters who were allegedly ripped off by a “white nationalist.”

“If a white nationalist robs a racist in the woods, can you hear me not giving a fuck?,” Harriot writes. “Should we applaud the fact that the bigoted propagandist who gave us Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump has been indicted for fraud? Or should we be happy that a bunch of xenophobic nitwits had their disposable income stolen? If ever there was a perplexing philosophical quandary, it is this.”

The crowdfunding campaign was billed as “We Build the Wall” and raised over $25 million. But in the indictment, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss (a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York) alleges that the funds raised by the 66-year-old Bannon and others were not being used for their stated purpose: the construction of a U.S./Mexico border wall. Strauss, in an official statement, alleged that Bannon, associate Brian Kolfage and other defendants “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage — which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle.”

Harriot obviously has a very low opinion of Bannon, but his op-ed makes it abundantly clear that he also has a low opinion of Americans who would make donations for a “racist” and “xenophobic” cause.

“Each of Bannon’s charges carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, which Bannon will never do,” Harriot argues. “So hurrah, the man who gave a voice to Cool Ranch racism has been charged with a crime for which he will be pardoned by Donald Trump just before he leaves office. Hopefully, the feds will recover some of the money so the racist wall-funders can do something productive with their 401KKK earnings, like donating it to the Trump 2020 campaign or bailing out the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. Oh, wait…”

Raw Story