Yet Another Reason to Impeach

Yet Another Reason to Impeach

Yet Another Reason to Impeach

The September 5th New York Times Op-Ed by an anonymous senior White House Official confirms what many have long believed about the President and his leadership capabilities. President Trump is described by the senior staffer as amoral, anti-democratic, ill-informed, erratic, reckless, “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” While these character traits are about as undesirable as one can imagine in a President, it is the response that they inspire from his staff that gives a very clear reason to seriously consider impeachment.

The senior staffer describes efforts by those around the President to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” and “preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” It is hard to find precedent for this, particularly as a long-term daily dynamic within the White House.

That things have come to this point is evidence of how truly broken our government system has become, particularly under Donald Trump. The staffer and his/her allies within the White House apparently (and rightly) have little faith in the Trump-intimidated, Republican-led Congress to respond appropriately to protect the nation from an unstable President. This particular staffer has thus instead chosen to go to the media, and the others have resigned themselves to grimly serving as an internal “resistance” to the Commander in Chief.

This is a risky situation under normal global conditions, which thankfully is all that our nation has thus far been confronted with during the Trump Presidency. But what happens in a crisis – particularly a military crisis? We have seen nations like Russia and China taking note of the global leadership vacuum left by Trump’s erratic and isolating approach. Such a void of steady, trusted leadership – which the United States and its western allies have imperfectly provided since World War II – can cause unscrupulous and power-hungry adversaries to test the boundaries, to try to fill the void.

So what happens if a foreign adversary were to launch a nuclear missile at the United States? In a normal White House, the President would have a scant few minutes to verify that the threat is real and decide how to respond. After that decision, it is imperative that the system operates smoothly, and that smooth operation is dependent on trust in the President’s judgment.

But what happens with this President under such a scenario? Do his staff respond by immediately rallying to his side, or do they reasonably write off his commands as the latest delusion or impulse? They have only minutes to choose the right path through their justifiable uncertainty.

If the pictures painted in the Op-Ed and the upcoming Bob Woodward book are accurate, we have a President who is incapable of leading his staff, and who, in his ineffectiveness, poses a danger to the country. There are two remedies for this.

One is to view the senior staff as the problem. In this case, the solution is to weed out these disobedient bad apples and replace them with senior staff who are more comfortably aligned with amoral, anti-democratic, ill-informed, erratic, reckless leadership. It is hard to see how this would benefit our nation.

The other is to use the impeachment process to remove the President and replace him with a leader whose judgment can be trusted by White House staff and the military. In general (Trump excepted), this would be anyone who has risen to the level of being elected to high-level national public office. In this case, of course, that replacement would be Mike Pence.

I personally disagree with Mike Pence on virtually every issue. I have disagreed with the policies of many Presidents. However, Mike Pence fits the bill as someone who can be trusted (as much as most Presidents in our nation’s history) by his White House staff and the military to show judgment that is within the spectrum of “reasonable,” and to make decisions accordingly – particularly on military issues. In short, he can lead. Trump cannot.

The New York Times Op-Ed on its own may not be sufficient justification to impeach Donald Trump. However, it absolutely warrants confidential, closed-committee House and Senate hearings to determine how widespread the apparent chaos and “resistance” within the White House actually is, and to learn what some of the President’s thwarted impulses have been. If what is revealed matches the White House described in the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed, impeachment is appropriate and necessary for the security of the nation.

– rob rünt

America’s Cult Culture

America’s Cult Culture

Cults absolutely fascinate me: Scientology, the Manson family, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Zendik Farm, Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, the Branch Davidians, Warren Jeffs, Heaven’s Gate. Part of the draw is marveling at the wacked out belief systems and blind loyalty, and part of it is a lingering question in the back of my mind: could I ever be susceptible to something like that? I have thrown myself passionately into causes and felt a strong loyalty to charismatic individuals. What separated those periods in my life from the kind of personality capable of joining a cult has, in retrospect, at times seemed like a very thin line.

Things that cults tend to have in common include:

  • Passionate and unquestioning loyalty to the leader
  • The leader’s words and beliefs are seen as the absolute truth, even when evidence is presented to the contrary
  • Doubt or dissent are discouraged
  • Members are isolated: communications with friends and family who might raise questions about the new beliefs are ended or severely limited
  • Members have a sense of superiority over nonmembers and outsiders, often viewing them through an us-versus-them filter
  • Leadership is unaccountable
  • The cult’s goals and beliefs can be used to justify actions and events that members would otherwise see as unacceptable or unethical

Looking from the outside at the bizarre beliefs and practices of a cult, it can be easy to dismiss cult members as dumb, gullible, crazy, or weak in character. Yet many intelligent, well-educated, reasonable people join cults. What would cause an otherwise sane person to come under the sway of something so illogical?

Nearly every human being is motivated by a desire for belonging, significance, and meaning. A cult fills those needs, and provides something else that can be intoxicating for many: a sense of moral, spiritual or intellectual superiority. Cult members believe that they are privy to a level of understanding and truth that the rest of the world is oblivious to. They are special. And challenges to that truth are by extension challenges to their specialness. When self-esteem is low, such challenges can feel deeply threatening and cause cult members to double down on the beliefs that have given them such a self-satisfying feeling of being special.

American politics has evolved into something that powerfully and dangerously combines many traits of the cult mentality – on both sides, but particularly for Trump supporters. In a recent CNN interview, a very articulate entrepreneur stated emphatically that if Jesus Christ came down from the cross and told him that the President had colluded with the Russians, he wouldn’t believe it unless Donald Trump verified that it was true. While this is an extreme example, Trump’s “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue” statement is not far off base for many of his supporters.

The information age promised to enrich our minds, offering us whole worlds of knowledge and ideas previously inaccessible or difficult to access. Instead, what we have ended up with is a country divided into factions, each of which has largely chosen for itself one “world,” where they stay firmly cloistered within their own silo of information and ideas. Cable news shows, talk radio shows, blogs, social media connections, and personal connections can all be selected to provide daily tailored reinforcement for the ideas and facts that we already want to believe – and deselected to shut out contrary views and information. Spiked by the interpersonal animosity towards differing views that intensified during the 2016 election, many of us have evolved the same sort of self-selected isolation from “outsiders” (i.e., differing views) that takes place in a cult, but on a mass scale, and in a context that feels like we are simply continuing about our normal lives.

That isolation and us-versus-them feeling is bolstered by a smug sense of superiority. Many who oppose Trump look down their noses at Trump supporters as ignorant, racist, hypocritically possessing a warped and selective moral compass, willfully blind to the dangerousness, corruption and self-centered motivations of the President, and easily duped by a compulsively lying charlatan. Trump supporters feel a sense of snickering superiority to those who oppose the President, seeing them as completely disconnected from any meaningful awareness of the hardships endured by rural and working class Americans, willfully blind to the deep systemic flaws that are crushing the American dream for so many, gullibly guzzling fake news from the mainstream media, and hypocritically preaching love and tolerance in the same breath as they hate and shun those who dare not buy into every nuance of their increasingly rigid and narrow liberal ideology. Both worldviews nurture an uncompromising sense of being “better than the other side” – and a growing belief in an inferior, less-than-human mass of “others” living in the same country.

We are in the midst of a perfect storm for something potentially very frightening in America: a powerful, nuclear-armed nation technologically wired for totalitarianism as never before, with a weak-kneed political class of corporate sycophants and a dimly recalled set of Constitutional rights, checks and balances being the only things standing in the way of losing our democracy entirely. Our charismatic leader is seen by his followers as irrefutably having “the truth,” and his reckless, dangerous and impulsive behavior is met with an uneasy shrug from a timid Congress, rather than being met with any real accountability. His supporters seem willing to rationalize anything that he says or does, even if it clearly and directly conflicts with values that they claim to hold dear. The President hardens their faith in him by discounting any uncomfortable facts as “fake news.” Relatives and long-time friends are disconnecting socially and online in favor of those whose beliefs are more in line with their own. Large segments of the population now consider themselves superior to the out-of-touch “others.” And unlike all but the most insulated cults, most Americans immerse themselves daily  in multiple channels of information and ideas that all confirm the chosen reality they want to believe in. In short, many Americans are now part of the foundations of a massive, potent, and self-contained cult.

Lest those who oppose Trump start feeling too smug about all this, look no further than that smug feeling to realize that, under the right circumstances and with your own self-selected relationships and channels of information, you are just as susceptible to this mentality. You are not superior. You just didn’t fall for this particular dogma and misinformation.

There is no easy answer to the situation in which we find ourselves. Attitudes and beliefs have become largely solidified. Impeachment looks unlikely in the near term, and realistically would not address the conditions that have landed us here. A large number of bloggers and news outlets have found a reliable money stream from churning out appealing misinformation, selective facts and innuendo. And our culture and political system are so massive and clumsy as to be capable of changing course with the nimbleness and speed of an ocean liner.

But the path that we are on is unsustainable. If we continue to isolate from one another and dehumanize one another, it can lead nowhere good.

When a loved one is in a cult, one solution is “deprogramming” – kidnapping the cult member, holding them against their will, educating them about the techniques used by cults, encouraging and praising them when they engage in critical thinking, and working to restore an emotional connection with people from their past outside the cult. Given the large swath of the country under Trump’s spell, a deprogramming approach is not practical – much less ethical or legal.

What little solution that I can visualize to America’s current plight is this. Reconnect with people with whom you disagree. Listen to their concerns, their fears, their dreams, and try to understand what in their life experiences make that so important to them. Be humble. Assume the best of them as your fellow human beings, and avoid judging or shaming them, even as you hang on firmly to your values. Frequently and continuously seek out news sources that you know you’ll disagree with – not because they will give you facts, but because they will help you understand what is animating the passions of others, and because it will help you in your conversations with them. And remember that there are many flavors of Kool Aid out there: be sure that you aren’t drinking any yourself.

– rob rünt

Are You “Over-Sharing?” Leaking in the Age of Trump

Are You “Over-Sharing?” Leaking in the Age of Trump

Are You “Over-Sharing?”
Leaking in the Age of Trump

There are some things that cannot be undone. You cannot un-have a bad experience. You can’t un-lose your virginity. And you cannot un-say something that you have already said. That last one is particularly important for journalists and people in government right now. Our right to freedom of speech needs to be brought back into balance with the responsibilities that come with it.

We live in extraordinary times. Each day, bright, flashing signs indicate that our President may be incompetent, corrupt, compromised by a foreign power, mentally unstable, and/or have authoritarian tendencies. World leaders are responding to this situation in various ways, most of them not positive for the United States. Fake news is now a daily part of our information landscape. Our world feels increasingly chaotic.

As our alarm bells go off, it is reasonable to want to alert others to the dangers that we see. But decades of norms and protocols have developed for how certain information should be handled. Now more than ever, it is important to remind ourselves of, and adhere to, those protocols. This is especially true for the press and those in government, because their words can have the largest impacts.

Government Employees

For many in government, there are already very clear ground rules in place for the disclosure of information. They involve labels like “Confidential,” “Classified,” “Secret,” and “Top Secret.” Those labels have been attached to the information for a reason.

Government employees considering sharing such information online or with the press should think twice. The potential consequences are not just the legal problems related to getting caught. There are potential unintended consequences of that information going beyond its specified reach, including one or more person’s lives being put in danger, a vital relationship with an international ally being damaged, an enemy nation gaining advantage against the United States, terrorists accessing useful information, or other severe and unforeseen problems.

Even information that is not classified and seems very important for the public to know may be more appropriately communicated through different channels. Given the craziness of our current government situation, many public employees may feel that they are being patriotic and serving an essential role in our democracy when they contact the press or Wikileaks with a piece of incriminating evidence about the President or someone in his Administration.

In reality, however, that information, while certainly interesting and essential, may compromise important investigations. when shared publicly For example, if the President, his Administration, or those who were involved in his campaign are guilty or corruption or treason, it may tip them off as to what is currently known about their activities. This can help them have a better sense of what not to lie about when questioned by the FBI or Congress. Such public disclosures therefore do not serve the investigation or the public, even though the information may seem like it is important for everyone to know right away.

A more appropriate way to handle incriminating information related to Donald Trump, his campaign, or his Administration is to contact the team of Independent Prosecutor Robert Mueller, make a detailed record of what the information was, when you disclosed it and to whom, and try to keep some piece of proof of the information so that if they do not take proper action, you can move the information credibly through other channels later.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement can be thankless work. When months of hard work has resulted in the apprehension of a suspect, it may be gratifying to tell the press the specifics of the incredible police work that was involved. And the work truly is impressive, it is interesting, and we the public are grateful for it. But the public does not need to know about it. Leave us with some mystery, let your work have a bit of a mystique: tell the press that the arrest was the result of “fantastic police work,” “diligent officers,” and “lots of long hours,” and leave it at that: we don’t need any more detail.

Disclosing the sources and methods provides valuable information for other criminals and terrorists to adjust their tactics to be more effective and avoid being caught. There is little if any benefit to the public knowing exactly what evidence or techniques resulted in the capture of the serial killer, what technology was used to uncover the pedophile ring, or what clues led to the arrest of the terrorists.

The only time that we need to know details about your sources, methods, and creative investigative insights is if you used potentially illegal or unconstitutional tactics. The public needs to know this in order to collectively decide if laws need be expanded to aid law enforcement, or if government power is creeping in ways that need to be put in check.


The field of journalism faces many pressures today. The 24-hour news cycle, the perceived need to be first with the story, the constant flow of information to the public from a range of sources, the demands of corporate media owners, and the periodic major catastrophes where news anchors are placed in the bizarre position of having to discuss the same event for hours on end while saying enough new things to keep people’s attention – all force journalists at times to betray their better instincts.

When people in law enforcement, the intelligence community, other government employees and White House staff become so concerned about something that they feel the need to contact the press, the news media are faced with the additional burden of being the grown-up in the room, exercising the essential judiciousness that their sources are not using regarding what information should or should not actually be passed on to the public. The press can turn an unfortunate indiscretion into a global incident.

An example is the recent terrorist attack on Manchester, England during the Ariana Grande concert. US government sources leaked to the news media photos that had been part of the investigation, as well as the name of the suspect, which British authorities had not yet wanted to disclose. Some US news outlets then included that information in their stories about the event. That decision in this situation caused the British government to temporarily suspend sharing of critical intelligence with the US government related to terrorism. Repeats of such blunders by other US media in future could result in a slow or even a complete stoppage of the vital flow of intelligence to our government.

Journalists should apply similar guidelines to those recommended for law enforcement and government employees. US news media are rightfully protective of their own sources, tot the point where “anonymous sources” have become commonplace in stories about matters of the highest magnitude. But at times, the press seem to have little discretion when it comes to disclosing the methods used by law enforcement, or revealing information that could compromise investigations such as the ones into the Trump campaign.

The President

What can be said here, Mr. President?


Despite your frequent campaign scoldings of Hillary Clinton for e-mailing classified information using a private server, you clearly seem absolutely clueless as to how to handle sensitive information. In the span of two weeks, you shared highly classified information with the Russians – apparently in the course of some off-the-cuff boasting – and then told the not-particularly-stable President of the Philippines that we were stationing two nuclear submarines off the coast of North Korea. You enraged a Middle East ally, Israel, and our other international allies are losing their patience  as well– and losing their desire to share vital intelligence with us.

During the campaign, World War II/Korean War veteran and former Virginia Republican Senator John Warner repeated the old military maxim “Loose lips sink ships,” adding for emphasis “got that, Trump?” Mr. President, either you must want to put the idea to the test, or you did NOT get it.


The items below might seem obvious, but the past couple weeks have shown that they must be said. The following are the things that the President of the United States, with extremely rare exceptions, should not say publicly or even to foreign leaders who are not our closest allies and who do not have a need to know:

  • Information from your briefings – particularly intelligence briefings
  • Information about impending military operations, including troop numbers, troop locations, timing, weapons to be employed, locations of the weapons, or possible ways that the enemy can make the weapons less effective
  • Weapons technology
  • The nuclear codes
  • The identity of the person carrying the “nuclear football”
  • Names or other identifying information or locations of US spies, intelligence personnel, Navy SEALs, Special Forces Officers, or similar people in our allies’ forces
  • Business secrets
  • Military or other key vulnerabilities of the United States or our allies
  • Methods used by the United States or our allies for tracking or apprehending terrorists
  • Gossip or catty comments about America’s international allies
  • Any information that has not been confirmed by a credible source
  • Information that others could potentially use to blackmail you, your staff, or those who held high positions in your campaign (you should instead report this information immediately to Independent Prosecutor Robert Mueller)

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and as absurd as it is, it still assumes a minor degree of common sense. Mr. President, you may yet demonstrate your tremendous skill at finding something outrageously inappropriate to do that nobody would have considered a possibility until you did it. Oh hey, here’s one now: apparently it’s been discovered that you have been encouraging other world leaders to contact you on your cell phone rather than on a secure government line. Nice work.

– rob rünt

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 3 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 3 of 3)

Photo by Michael Vadon (Own work)
Usage via Wikimedia Commons

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 3 of 3)

There is no question that Season 2 of the Trump Presidency is shaping up to be far more exciting than Season 1. In this past week’s episode alone, the President said “you’re fired” to the very same FBI Director investigating him over Russia ties, met the next day in the Oval Office with two Russian officials (allowing  only one reporter to be present – from Russian state news), there was riveting testimony before Congress from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates (“you’re fired”), and poor Press Secretary Sean Spicer hid in the bushes from reporters.

But really, for the good of the nation, the show needs to be cancelled – ideally before Season 2 is over. It is not healthy for Americans to wake up wondering if, while they were asleep, their President might have tweeted out the start of World War III, launched nuclear weapons, or haplessly brought on a major economic collapse.

Below are seven ways that the show can be brought to an early close and we can get on with our lives.

Ending #1

Trump’s profits as President are found to violate the STOCK Act.


Somewhat Likely


The STOCK Act was written to prevent Congress from profiting from their legislative decisions. Frustrated that this restriction did not also apply to then-President Obama, legislators added the provision that “no executive branch employee may use nonpublic information derived from [or acquired through] their position as an executive branch employee as a means for making a private profit.”

Relevant Facts:

  • When President Trump chooses to spend another weekend at his for-profit Mar-a-Lago resort (he has done this most weekends since his Inauguration), some of his security and staff must also stay there. If he or his family profit from that, it would be a violation of the STOCK Act. As a side note, after Trump was sworn into office, Mar-a-Lago resort doubled its membership fees.
  • The President has chosen to have his wife and son live at Trump Tower instead of the White House. An on-site Secret Service detail is required to provide security for them. If Trump or his family profit from that arrangement (rent, etc.), it would be a violation of the STOCK Act.
  • As a President with for-profit businesses, Trump has numerous conflicts of interest (see a partial list here). Many of these have potential to be seen as violations of the STOCK Act. When you hear the phrase “conflict of interest” on the news in regard to Trump, think “STOCK Act.”
  • Because the STOCK Act applies to “executive branch employees,” it may also apply to many of Jared Kushner’s and Ivanka Trump’s business activities, because  those businesses may now represent conflicts of interest.

Areas of Uncertainty:


Potential Action:

  • Congress can commission an investigation into Trump’s business activities, and whether Trump is profiting from them.
  • The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should each be provided at least ten paid full-time staff with strong backgrounds in the law and finance to work solely on investigating the many questionable issues surrounding President Trump.
  • Congress can ensure that the FBI has adequate resources to investigate.
  • If Trump is profiting from any of his businesses in a way that is positively impacted by nonpublic knowledge that he has as President (including the decisions that he makes as President), he is in violation of the STOCK Act.

Implications of Inaction:

  • Donald Trump can use decisions that he makes as President to enrich himself and his family – sometimes with government (i.e. our tax) money.
  • Decisions made in President Trump’s best personal/financial interest may not always be in the best interest of the United States. That is why it is called a conflict of interest.
  • The legitimacy of Congress as a trusted check on the Executive Branch will be put into question.
  • Americans’ belief in the integrity of our democracy will be further eroded.

Ending #2

Trump’s Presidential profits from foreign entities are found to violate the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution.




Written in the 1700s to prevent US ambassadors abroad from being influenced by wealthy Europeans, the Emoluments Clause in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids a President from taking gifts or payments from foreign leaders. Exact text: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” An emolument is defined as a salary, fee or profit.

Relevant Facts:

  • Foreign officials are believed to be paying to stay in Trump properties in order to curry favor with the President of the United States.
  • A New York hotel owner has joined a lawsuit alleging that the President owning nearby hotels is creating unfair competition for other hotels.
  • Trump rents his properties to foreign businesses and individuals as well, such as the Chinese government-controlled Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Areas of Uncertainty:

  • Even among Constitutional scholars, there is disagreement about whether the wording of this clause definitely applies to Trump’s situation. Do the profits nonetheless smell of bribery at worst and disregard for ethics at best? Absolutely.

Potential Action:

  • Congress can commission an investigation into money paid by foreign governments to Trump’s businesses, and whether Trump or his family are profiting from those payments.
  • Congress can ensure that the FBI has adequate resources to investigate.
  • The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should each be provided at least ten paid full-time staff with strong backgrounds in the law and finance to work solely on investigating the many questionable issues surrounding President Trump.
  • If Trump and/or his family are making a profit from those payments, it is possible that a case could be made that the Emoluments Clause has been violated. That case would depend upon a specific interpretation of the law and would almost certainly end up in the Supreme Court, to be decided at their discretion.

Implications of Inaction:

  • Foreign governments and leaders may be able to influence the President in ways that are not in the best interests of America.
  • The legitimacy of Congress as a trusted check on the Executive Branch will be put into question.
  • Americans’ belief in the integrity of our democracy will be further eroded.

Ending #3

Trump is found to have colluded with Russia in their interference with the 2016 Presidential Election, or he is found to be currently under Russia’s influence.


Somewhat Likely


Title 18 of the US Code, Section 1, Chapter 115,  § 2381 states “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Relevant Facts:

  • Russia President Vladimir Putin is no friend of the United States. As a former officer in the KGB (the then-Soviet Union’s equivalent of the CIA), Putin considered it an affront to national pride when the Soviet Union collapsed – a situation for which he blamed the US. He has harbored a grudge ever since, and has dreamed of one day reuniting the Soviet Union and restoring what he considered its former glory – by force if necessary. That is why it was so worrisome when Putin annexed Crimea in the Ukraine on March 18, 2014: the act was likely one of many steps that Putin has in the works to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. In order to achieve his goals, Putin understands that he needs to weaken western countries (and their alliance, NATO) so that they cannot be a potent counterforce. So Russia has recently been trying to politically destabilize western countries like Germany, France, the UK, and the United States, in part through interfering in their elections.
  • Eric Trump allegedly boasted about his family getting enormous amounts of money in loans from Russia – a claim that he now denies.
  • Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, while doing “opposition research” for one of Trump’s Republican political opponents and later for a Democratic client, claims to have discovered evidence that Russia could be blackmailing Trump. Disturbed that what he had found was of grave concern to both the wellbeing of the US and UK, Steele bypassed his client and presented this findings to the US intelligence community in a dossier before the 2016 election.
  • All of the evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia is currently circumstantial, but there is a lot of it (too much to list here). Here are a few links to sources that have compiled or are compiling the information:

Areas of Uncertainty:

  • Given the 2016 Trump Campaign’s many Russian connections, it seems quite possible that someone in the campaign may have coordinated in some way with Russia to help or encourage Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 US election. However, for Trump to be implicated in any way in the Russia scandal, there would need to be evidence – testimony, documents, e-mails, recordings, financial records – showing that Trump himself either actively participated in or at least knew about cooperation between his campaign and Russia. That may be a high bar to reach.
  • FBI Director James Comey, who appeared to be doggedly investigating these connections and was beginning to ramp up his efforts significantly, has been fired. It is currently uncertain whether the person appointed by Trump to investigate Trump will be as bright, diligent, nonpartisan or trustworthy.

Potential Action:

  • A special prosecutor and an independent committee, both agreed upon by a majority of both parties in Congress, should be appointed by Congress to investigate the possibility of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia, as well as the possibility of any current influence that Russia may have on the President or his Administration.
  • The special prosecutor and independent committee should be given all the funding and resources that they need to conduct a thorough investigation.
  • The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should each be provided at least ten paid full-time staff with strong backgrounds in the law and finance to work solely on investigating the many questionable issues surrounding President Trump.
  • Congress can ensure that the FBI also has adequate resources to investigate.
  • If sufficient evidence is found that Trump collaborated with Russia in any way in their interference, was aware of collaboration in his campaign, or is currently being influenced by Russia, appropriate legal action (including removal from office) should happen immediately.

Implications of Inaction:

  • Putin may be able to overtly or covertly influence Trump to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the United States or its allies. Some of these decisions could have profound negative implications for the wellbeing and future of the United States. It would give Putin no greater satisfaction that to see the US fail, to become the object of international ridicule or hatred, and to become as relevant on the world stage as a third world banana republic.
  • Putin will likely become more aggressive toward countries of the former Soviet Union, testing western powers to see what we are willing to do to stop him.
  • If Trump is believed by our allies to be in collusion with Russia, our allies – relationships that the United States has cultivated over decades and even centuries – will begin to shift their alliances to more trustworthy partners than the United States, putting the US in danger of having less support in military conflicts, among other situations.
  • The legitimacy of Congress as a trusted check on the Executive Branch will be put into question.
  • Americans’ belief in the integrity of our democracy will be further eroded.

Ending #4

Trump is found to have been involved in criminal activity before his 2016 Presidential run.


Somewhat Likely


  • Money laundering is the act of processing tainted money in a way that makes the money appear “legitimate” It is an illegal activity that is often associated with organized crime.

Relevant Facts:

  • According to Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston’s recent book “The Making of Donald Trump,” businessman Donald Trump occasionally worked with individuals involved in organized crime.
  • In 2006, former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort paid an enormous amount in cash to buy a condo at Trump Tower in a transaction that had the appearance of money laundering.
  • In 2008, Trump sold a Palm Beach mansion to a Russian oligarch named Dmitry Rybolovlev – at a 150% profit from his purchase price two years prior – in a transaction that had the appearance of money laundering.
  • While money laundering would obviously not be reported as such in one’s taxes, Trump’s tax returns and those of his businesses could show other questionable transactions worthy of investigation. Trump has thus far refused to release his tax returns.

Areas of Uncertainty:

  • A pattern of activity as well as criminal intent would likely need to be established in order for this activity to be considered something worthy of impeachment.

Potential Action:

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee has recently requested documentation on Donald Trump from the US Treasury’s financial intel unit as part of its Trump-Russia probe. This is an excellent start toward getting at the truth of Trump’s financial dealings.
  • The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should subpoena Trump’s tax returns and those of all his businesses.
  • The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should each be provided at least ten paid full-time staff with strong backgrounds in the law and finance to work solely on investigating the many questionable issues surrounding President Trump.
  • Congress can ensure that the FBI has adequate resources to investigate as well.
  • If Trump is found to have knowingly been involved in criminal activity, appropriate legal action should be taken.

Implications of Inaction:

  • If Trump has been knowingly involved in criminal activity, he could potentially be blackmailed by anyone who has proof, and could therefore be influenced to make decisions that are not in the interest of the American people.
  • If Trump has been knowingly involved in criminal activity, and is allowed to remain in the highest political office in the land, our children will learn a horrible message about crime and its consequences.
  • The legitimacy of Congress as a trusted check on the Executive Branch will be put into question.
  • Americans’ belief in the integrity of our democracy will be further eroded.

Ending #5

Trump is found to have interfered with a federal investigation.


Very Likely


Relevant Facts:

  • In 1974, US President Richard Nixon was forced to resign not so much because of the crimes that he had committed, but because of his attempts to cover them up afterward, which was also a crime.
  • On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of investigating him.
  • Days earlier, Comey had asked for more resources to intensify the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia – an indication that evidence was increasing and was worth pursuing more vigorously.
  • Explanations coming from White House spokespeople for Comey’s firing lacked credibility, because they contradicted Trump’s past statements about Comey. Two days after the firing, however, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump himself connected the firing with the Russia investigation, saying “But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
  • After the interview, upon hearing that Comey had described a January dinner conversation between Trump and Comey in a way that conflicted with Trump’s story of the event, Trump tweeted something that sounded like a threat:
  • If President Trump is guilty of any kind of illegal behavior, what we have witnessed of his personality thus far indicates that he will attempt to cover it up, and his attempt will likely be quite clumsy, easily proven, and illegal in itself.

Areas of Uncertainty:

  • Specifically regarding Trump’s statement to Holt, while it sounds somewhat incriminating, it is still not a direct, unequivocal statement that “I fired Comey because I was concerned that his investigation of me would result in my impeachment and/or imprisonment.” With the evidence currently available to the public, Comey’s firing alone is unlikely to rise to the level of an impeachable act. It is very suspicious and raises a lot of questions, but it is also within the President’s legal authority.
  • The assessment that Trump’s impeachment for interfering with a federal investigation is “Very Likely” is based on an expectation of future actions by the President.

Potential Action:

  • As Trump is being investigated, Congress, journalists, law enforcement, federal employees, and the American people should be paying attention to any attempts by the President or his associates to destroy evidence, fire/reassign investigators, or otherwise interfere with the investigation.

Implications of Inaction:

  • America will be thrown into a Constitutional crisis.
  • The power of the Executive Branch will outweigh the other branches of government, with the potential for a shift in America’s form of government toward authoritarianism.
  • Americans’ belief in the integrity of our democracy will end.

Ending #6

Trump willingly resigns.




  • The 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, Section 3, provides for the President of the United States to be able to resign. He must provide his written resignation to the Senate majority leader (in this case, Mitch McConnell) and the Speaker of the House (in this case, Paul Ryan). Exact text: “Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.”
  • Nixon resigned to avoid the embarrassment of an almost certain impeachment. As impeachment of the current President becomes increasingly likely,, Trump may choose the same path in order to save face.

Relevant Facts:

  • There are several investigations into Trump that are heating up and appear likely to bear fruit.
  • Trump would not want the embarrassment of impeachment. A way to avoid that is for him to resign.

Areas of Uncertainty:

  • Trump has a history of denying facts even when presented with irrefutable evidence. He may just hang in there no matter how bad things look for him.
  • It is unclear if the communication can be done via tweet. If that were possible, Trump could make history by being the first to do it. His tweet could be something along the lines of:

@SenateMajLdr @SpeakerRyan The #FBI and #fakenewsmedia are making it impossible for me to do my job. I hereby #resign. America’s loss. Sad.

Ending #7

Trump is found “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”


Somewhat Likely


  • The 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, Section 4, states that the President of the United States can be removed if he or she is deemed unable to do his or her job. Exact text: “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

Relevant Facts:

  • Mental health professionals have broken with tradition and publicly expressed their conclusion by the tens of thousands that the President is mentally ill or mentally unstable, offering diagnoses that include everything from malignant narcissism to cocaine use to alzheimers. However, the idea that there must be a specific clinical diagnosis muddies the waters. The behaviors that lead to those diagnoses are what matters.
  • The President regularly makes statements that are easily proven false, indicating that he is either boldly and willfully lying or he is frighteningly disconnected from reality. Among his false statements are:
  • The President behaves with the impulsiveness of an eitght-year-old child. This is not a trait that we want in the person in command of our military and our nuclear arsenal.
  • The President is not competent to run the country. Evidence would include his chaotic White House, the hundred of key positions that he has not yet chosen to fill, and the slap-dash way that his first Muslim ban was rolled out, among many others.
  • The President is profoundly gullible. His claim about Obama wiretapping him, for example, was the result of a conspiracy theory that he heard expressed by a guest on Fox News. Trump immediately tweeted the conspiracy  theory rather than consulting the people who could actually tell him if it was true or not. What if Fox or Breitbart ran a story that North Korea had just launched missiles at us? What if he hears a rumor on Twitter that China is thinking of invading us?
  • The President is erratic in his policy positions. One minute NATO is outdated and needs to be disbanded, then it’s a vital international organization. One minute Mexico is paying for his wall, then we are. One minute China is a currency manipulator, then it’s not.

Areas of Uncertainty:


Potential Action:

  • Vice President Pence and a majority of Trump’s Cabinet need to submit a written statement to the Senate majority leader (Mitch McConnell) and the House Speaker (Paul Ryan) that President Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” or
  • Congress can appoint a nonpartisan group with relevant backgrounds to assess the President’s ability to serve effectively. If that group determines that Trump is unfit for the office of the Presidency, that group and Vice President Pence need to submit a written statement to McConnell and Ryan that the President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Implications of Inaction:

  • Allowing President Trump to continue in office while displaying the kind of impulsive, dishonest, disorganized and gullible behavior that he has shown so far puts America at risk. Among the risks to the nation:
    • He will not be believed by foreign leaders. Some degree of credibility and trust from other countries is essential to our international safety. If we are in a situation where we must legitimately go to war and we are asking our allies to commit the lives of their troops – their citizens – to help us, they need to believe in our President’s honesty and judgment 100%. That faith is currently shaky at best and getting worse by the day.
    • Trump’s erratic and impulsive nature and potential inability to distinguish reality from fantasy creates a risk that he might use nuclear weapons, an act which would certainly be reciprocated and which would usher in a worrisome international norm that we haven’t  had to live with for decades. As it is, he has put nuclear weapons back on the table in a way that many thought was a thing of the past.
    • A chaotic and understaffed Executive Branch makes us woefully unprepared to respond adequately in times of crisis.
    • It is questionable whether the President understands or has even read the Constitution that he swore to defend when he took the oath of office. A President who is ignorant of the US Constitution cannot defend it properly.
  • The legitimacy of Congress as a trusted check on the Executive Branch will be put into question.
  • Americans’ belief in the integrity of our democracy will be further eroded.

Necessary Conditions:

With the exception of Trump’s resignation, all of the above scenarios require a US House and Senate willing to seriously explore the possibility of the President being a risk to the country or having committed wrongdoing, and to pursue appropriate consequences based on the facts.

Given the highly partisan nature of the House and Senate, both of which are currently controlled by Republican majorities, action on their part will require massive and consistent public pressure.

Likely Negative Consequences of Removal from Office:

While one would hope that America could simply scrape Trump off the bottom of its shoe and walk away clean, removal of Trump from office will almost certainly have negative consequences.

First, Trump’s replacement would be Mike Pence, who may be even more disagreeable than Trump on some issues. However, Pence carries one powerful calling card that makes him a infinitely more desirable than President Trump: mental stability.

The more significant consequence of removing Trump from office is the response of his supporters, who have generally remained silent in recent months. While some might interpret that silence as shame or embarrassment, it is far more likely that they are simply tired of being called stupid and racist and having to justify their views to self-righteous hypocrites who don’t listen to them anyway. A recent poll by ABC News/Washington Post shows that 96% of Trump’s supporters have no regrets about their vote. Let that sink in.

The more that Trump’s removal from office is seen by them as unfair, unjust, partisan, or the work of the “establishment,” the more outraged his followers are likely to be. Under the wrong circumstances and if not addressed thoughtfully, removing Trump from the Presidency could make the current divisions in the nation look blissfully peaceful in comparison. Decades of silenced and sidelined bitterness that had been given voice via Trump and which was being channeled through the system will suddenly be left with no clear appropriate outlet.

Thus, anyone wishing to pursue the impeachment of Trump should devote equal energy to doing something that may be new to them: listening.

Trump voters are not going away. They are a part of America. They need to be heard respectfully and with humility, rather than being shut down before they have time to express a complete thought. Their statements need to be responded to with questions to gain deeper understanding rather than with judgment. Their viewpoints must be scanned meticulously for areas of common ground, places from which a unifying political agenda can be built, and places from which long-damaged personal relationships can be rebuilt. Their sources of ideas and information should be listened to on an ongoing basis in a mutual exchange of ideas. When facts are presented to counter fiction, it should be done so respectfully.

The awfulness and nonstop crisis presented by Trump’s Presidency has been an understandable but potentially disastrous distraction from the Democratic Party’s ability to engage in any genuine introspection to discover and meaningfully address their own blind spots. If Democrats come through this experience without learning to listen, look at themselves, and stop judging people, they will have failed as much as the Republicans, and, worse yet, will leave the door open for another Trump-like monstrosity to take office in the future.

You Get to Choose How the Show Ends!

Trump’s Presidency will no doubt have an exciting conclusion with lots of drama – we would expect nothing less from our President – but it’s absolutely time for an intervention in Washington DC. Here’s what you can do:

  • Contact your US Senators and US Representative, especially if they are Republican, and tell them why you believe that Trump should be removed from office. You can get their contact info here and find dates and locations of town halls here. Constant pressure on them is important.
  • If you don’t see your legislators taking the action that you want, get involved in political campaigns in 2018 to get Democrats elected to the US House and US Senate.
  • Reconnect with Trump supporters that you stopped talking to or unfriended on Facebook. Tell them that you’d like to start over and to hear them out. Start slow. Listen. Suspend judgment. Don’t bail. When you want to express an opinion, ask an open-ended question instead to better understand their views and the reasons behind them. Keep asking questions. Whenever you want to judge, remind yourself that your best political instincts and your best thinking about how to handle people with different ideas has resulted in the situation we’re in now. Look for opportunities to feel empathy and compassion, to see a human being, and to find common ground. Has the person experiencing real pain, injustice, hardship or loss, and has merely misidentified the cause? Take the time to really listen to that pain until you can feel it as if it were your own. Hold firm to your values but trust that instantly squashing ideas with which you disagree is not the only way to change them.
  • Start paying attention regularly to sources of news and opinion that you would ordinarily reject. Listening does not mean that you support or agree with what is being said. It merely means that you are trying to get a better grasp of what is influencing people that you don’t understand.
  • Share this article on social media or via e-mail.

– rob rünt

May 1 – 6, 2017

May 1 – 6, 2017

(Banana photo by Darkone)

Articles & Editorials:

Main Stories


Senate Committee Asks Carter Page to Reveal Russian Contacts
(NBC News – 5/5/17)

Comey Reveals Few Details About State of Russia Inquiry
(CNN – Updated 5/4/17)

Mental illness

Donald Trump Just Gave Two Incredibly Bizarre (and Fact-Free) Interviews
(CNN – 5/1/17)

“It’s something that I think is frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

President Donald Trump on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict


Republican Healthcare Pitch Built on a Foundation of Falsehoods
(MSNBC – 5/5/17)

Senate Won’t Vote on House-Passed Healthcare Bill
(Washington Examiner – 5/5/17)

What is in the Republican Health-care Bill? Questions and Answers on Preexisting Conditions, Medicaid and More
(Washington Post – 5/4/17)

50 Health Issues That Count as a Pre-existing Condition
(Time Magazine – 5/4/17)

Other Stories That You Should Know About:

Separation of Church and State

Trump Signs Order Aimed at Allowing Churches to Engage in More Political Activity
(Washington Post – 5/4/17)


Sen. Bob Casey Unleashes Tweetstorm at White House
(Pittsburgh Post Gazette – 5/3/17)

Relations with Dictators

Trump’s ‘Very Friendly’ Talk With Duterte Stuns Aides and Critics Alike
(New York Times – 4/30/17)

President Trump Says he Would be ‘Honored’ to Meet with North Korean Dictator
(Washington Post – 5/1/17)

“We’ve never lived in a Third World banana republic. I don’t mean that gratuitously. I mean the reality is he is governing as if he is the President of a Third World country: power is held by family and incompetent loyalists whose main calling card is the fact that Donald Trump can trust them, not whether they have any expertise.”

Jerry Taylor, President
Niskanen Center (Libertarian think tank)
(The New Yorker – 5/8/17)

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

Wilbur Ross Says Syria Missile Strike Was ‘After-Dinner Entertainment’ at Mar-a-Lago
(Variety – 5/1/17)

 Keeping Track of the Basics:


Trump has a Dangerous Disability
George F. Will, Conservative Columnist
(Washington Post – 5/4/17)

“His fathomless lack of interest in America’s path to the present and his limitless gullibility leave him susceptible to being blown about by gusts of factoids that cling like lint to a disorderly mind. Americans have placed vast military power at the discretion of this mind.”

George F. Will, Conservative Columnist
(Washington Post – 5/4/17)

When is it Okay to Say the President Might be Nuts?
Jennifer Rubin
(Washington Post – 5/2/17)

How Trump Could Get Fired
(The New Yorker – 5/8/17)

“He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. His drug is himself.”

Sam Nunberg
2016 Trump Campaign Adviser
(The New Yorker – 5/8/17)

Elizabeth Warren: Obama was Wrong. The System is More Rigged Than You Know.

(Vox – 4/26/17)

Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.

Meet the Evangelicals Who Still Love Trump
(Think Progress – 5/5/17)

Cartoons, Images & Videos

Fake Trump interview with Stephen Colbert:

Late Night host Seth Meyers rants about Trumpcare:

Posted on Facebook by Partnership for Responsible Growth:

Source –unknown:


Posted on Facebook by Alan Spindle:


Source –unknown:


Events & Actions

Resources & Organizations

April 24 – 30, 2017

April 24 – 30, 2017


Articles & Editorials:

Main Stories


Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses
(The Daily Beast – 4/23/17) 

Guess Who Came to Dinner With Flynn and Putin
(NBC News – 4/29/17)

UK was Given Details of Alleged Contacts Between Trump Campaign and Moscow
(The Guardian UK – 4/28/17)

North Korea

Senate Staff Perplexed by Unusual White House Private Briefing on North Korea
(Washington Post – 4/24/17)

North Korea Threatens Australia With Nuclear Strike Over ‘Toeing The Line’ With U.S.
(NBC News – 4/23/17)

Trump: ‘We’ll See’ if a North Korean Nuclear Test Would Trigger U.S. Response (Los Angeles Times – 4/30/17)

Mental Illness

Transcript of AP Interview with Trump
(CBS News – 4/24/17)

“It had 9.2 million people. It’s the highest they’ve ever had. On any, on air, [CBS ‘Face the Nation’ host John] Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It’s the highest for ‘Face the Nation’ or as I call it, ‘Deface the Nation.’ It’s the highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage.”

– President Donald Trump
   (Telling Associated Press about the ratings that he brings
    to the news media)

Fact-Checking President Trump’s Pinocchio-Laden Associated Press Interview
(Washington Post – 4/25/17)

Trump Proclaims May 1 as ‘Loyalty Day’
(Fox News – 4/29/17)

“I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country’s history.”

– President Donald Trump
  (Weekly radio address)


Trump Tax Plan

White House Unveils Dramatic Plan to Overhaul Tax Code in Major Test for Trump
(Washington Post – 4/26/17)

What’s in the Trump Tax Plan that Promises ‘Massive’ Cuts
(ABC News – 4/26/17)

Other Stories That You Should Know About:

Conflicts of Interest

Dow Chemical Donates $1 Million to Trump, Asks Administration to Ignore Pesticide Study
(Vanity Fair – 4/20/17)

State Department Website Removes Article Touting History of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate
(Washington Post – 4/24/17)

“It’s like we’re watching somebody reading a Dictatorship for Dummies book.”

– Christian Bale
(Actor: “The Dark Knight”) on Donald Trump
(Mashable – 4/24/17)


 Mar-a-Lago Ad Belongs in Impeachment File
(Bloomberg – 4/25/17)

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party …

Poll: Trump, Democrats and GOP All Unpopular
(CNN – 4/24/17)

100 Days of Democratic Rage: Trump has Enabled the Democratic Party to Overlook its Serious Problems
(Politico – 4/25/17)

Warren, Sanders Unhappy by Wall Street-Paid Obama Speech
(Washington Post – 4/28/17)


Trump Orders Easing Safety Rules Implemented After Gulf Oil Spill
(New York Times –4/27/17)

Climate March: Tens of Thousands Protest Trump Climate Policies, Demand Environmental Action
(Fox News – 4/29/17)

 EPA Website Removes Climate Science Site from Public View After Two Decades
(Washington Post – 4/29/17)

In Over His Head

Trump Now Agrees With the Majority of Americans: He Wasn’t Ready to be President
(Washington Post – 4/28/17)

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

– President Donald Trump
   (Interview with Reuters)

Exclusive: Trump Says He Thought Being President Would Be Easier Than His Old Life
(Reuters – 4/28/17)

 Keeping Track of the Basics:


I was the Target of a Neo-Nazi ‘Troll Storm’
(The Guardian – 4/20/17)

There are at Least Four Grounds to Impeach Trump
(Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton: Salon – 4/7/17)

Trump’s First 100 Days Destroyed the Myth That Government Should be Run Like a Business
(Vox – 4/28/17)

How Western Civilization Could Collapse
(BBC – 4/18/17)

Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.

Trump Voters Split on Unkept Promises (Part 1 of 3)
(CNN – 4/24/17)

Trump Voters Split on Unkept Promises (Part 2 of 3)
(CNN – 4/24/17)

Trump Voters Split on Unkept Promises (Part 3 of 3)
(CNN – 4/25/17)

Cartoons, Images & Videos

Posted on Facebook by The Simpsons:

Hasan Minhaj Full Speech at 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
(C-SPAN – 4/29/17)

John Oliver – Last Week Tonight:

Posted to Facebook by The Other 98%:

Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown


Posted on Facebook by Liberal America:


Source: Unknown



Source: Unknown:


Source: Unknown:



Cartoon by Pjil Hands for Wisconsin State Journal:


Source: New Century Times:


Events & Actions

Resources & Organizations

April 17 – 23, 2017

April 17 – 23, 2017


Articles & Editorials:

Main Stories


Exclusive: Putin-Linked Think Tank Drew Up Plan to Sway 2016 U.S. Election
(Reuters – 4/20/17)

Top National Security Official Leaving Justice Department in Middle of Trump-Russia Investigation
(NBC News – 4/20/17)

US Prepares Charges to Seek Arrest of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange
(CNN – 4/20/17)

North Korea

Trump’s Missing ‘Armada’ Finally Heading to Korea — and May Stay a While
(Washington Post – 4/19/17)

U.S. May Not Be Able to Shoot Down North Korean Missiles, Say Experts
(NBC News – 4/19/17)

Mental Illness

Donald Trump Insists on Golden Carriage Procession During Visit to UK
(Evening Standard – UK – 4/15/17)

An Ethical Dilemma: Donald Trump’s Presidency has Some in the Mental Health Community Re-evaluating Their Role
(US News & World Report – 4/21/17)

At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their ‘Duty to Warn’ About an Unfit President
(New York Magazine – 4/22/17)

Psychiatrists Claim President Trump has a ‘Dangerous Mental Illness’
(Yahoo News – 4/22/17)

Mental Health Professionals Call for Trump to be Removed from Office
(WTNH – Connecticut Affiliate of ABC News – 4/20/17)

Other Stories That You Should Know About:

March for Science

Historians Say the March for Science is ‘Pretty Unprecedented’
(Washington Post – 4/21/1/7)

The March for Science from Around the World
(CNN – 4/22/17)

Trump and the Press and the Polls

Public Gives Trump Low Marks for First 100 Days: NBC News/WSJ Poll
(NBC News – 4/23/17)

Trump at 100 Days: 96% of His Voters Say They’d Do it Again
(ABC News – 4/23/17)

Trump to Hold 100th-Day Rally on Same Night as White House Correspondents’ Dinner
(Washington Post – 4/23/17)

“In Watergate, in the two years of stories we did at the Washington Post and also at the New York Times, there was not a single quoted source. It was all reporting based on anonymous sources.”

Carl Bernstein, one of two reporters who broke the Watergate story

Conflicts of Interest

Trump’s Daughter Meets Chinese President, Receives Chinese Trademarks
(MSNBC – 4/18/17)

Taxpayer Money

Trump and His Aides Take Hard Line on Border Wall, as Threat of Government Shutdown Looms
(Washington Post – 4/23/1/7)

Sessions: We’ll Fund the Wall ‘One Way or the Other’
(CNN – 4/23/17)

 Keeping Track of the Basics:


US Unlikely to Have been Behind Botched North Korean Missile Launch
(The Hill – 4/22/17)

If a Nuclear Bomb is Dropped on Your City, Here’s Where You Should Run and Hide
(Business Insider – 3/18/17)

Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.

How Progressives Cherry-Pick Science They Like
(National Review – 4/21/17)

Cartoons, Images & Videos

Source: Unknown


Science March at Harvard, source: Unknown


Source: Unknown


Posted to Twitter by Steve Hoffman:


Science March in Berkeley, CA, banner artwork by Tina Banda:


Science March in Amsterdam – source: Unknown


Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown


Photo from Minnesota Public Radio of Science March in St. Paul, MN





… and I found out where you can get one! You’re welcome!









Posted to Twitter by Hend Amry:


Photo of Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and Sarah Palin in the Oval Offfice
Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown



From The Onion:


Source: Unknown


Posted on Twitter by McSpocky:


Source: Unknown


Events & Actions

Resources & Organizations

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 2 of 3)

Many Americans have witnessed the tragedy of chemical dependency – in a friend, in a family member, or even in themselves. Those in recovery from this illness are aware that it is not just the alcoholic or addict who is sick: it is a family disease. Those close to the addict often develop a behavior called “enabling,” in which they try to cope with the behavior of their loved one and maintain the illusion of normalcy by either denying their loved one’s illness or constantly picking up the pieces of the damage caused, making excuses for them, and trying to hide the evidence. Such enabling behavior can require as much of an intervention as the behavior of the addict himself/herself.

Less known to many Americans is that the same dynamic often develops in the family or friends of an individual suffering from a mental disorder.

Last week, I discussed how the clinically diagnosable mental illnesses of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder can co-exist in one individual –not uncommon in those who suffer from the DSM-listed “Cluster B” Personality Disorders. I also wrote about how numerous mental health professionals have broken from the traditional ethics of their collective practice to warn the public of their belief that the President suffers from at least one of those mental disorders.

Many of our legislators in Washington DC, particularly on the Republican side, are displaying enabling behavior. They are trying to act as if our President’s reckless episodes are normal, glossing over careless and damaging antics that are rapidly eroding our nation’s relationships and our credibility in dangerous ways.

Take, for example, the most recent drama, carried out over the past couple of weeks. On March 4, the President heard a news story (he says on Fox) alleging that his phone had been tapped at Trump Tower in October, 2016. Rather than reaching out to any number of bright, credible individuals to whom he has instant access 24 hours a day – the FBI Director, the head of the CIA, among others – to verify the validity of this wild claim, he immediately tweeted the first thing that popped into his head for the whole world to see, accusing former President Obama of a felony without any substantiating evidence:





Obviously such a claim from a sitting President would require investigation, because America operates on the assumption that the individual holding the office of the Presidency is responsible, sane, and understands the weighty implications and impact of his/her public statements – even when they are made on Twitter at 6am.

FBI Director Comey immediately asked his superior, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to deny the accusation, because it was untrue and Comey was concerned that it would reflect in a legally damning way on himself. The majority-Republican House Intelligence Committee investigated the matter thoroughly – at taxpayer cost, of course – and concluded that there had in fact been no surveillance of Trump Tower.

So the President then changed his story and claimed that Obama (the man whom Trump had spent years falsely claiming was born in Kenya – long after being given concrete evidence to the contrary) had actually enlisted British intelligence do the surveillance, because Obama wanted “no American fingerprints on this.” British intelligence uncharacteristically and angrily denied the absurdity of the accusation, yet as of this date, the President continues to cling to his story that Obama was tapping his phones at Trump Tower.

The entire scenario is consistent with the behaviors associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder, which include (among others):

A need to be the center of attention

Making rash decisions

Being easily influenced by others, especially those who treat them approvingly

Speaking dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up

(There are links to several full lists of the behaviors associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder in last week’s post)

In the world of reality TV, the wiretapping drama might be an entertaining sideshow, and one might debate the ethics and morality of making entertainment out of the unusual behavior of an individual suffering from mental illness. But this is the office of President of the United States – our nation’s highest visibility ambassador to the world, and simultaneously, the person in charge of our military and our nuclear arsenal. The wiretapping claim, like so many other examples of President Trump’s erratic and unstable behavior, contributes to a picture that increasingly puts our nation at risk. How?

Imagine for a moment a situation in which America must legitimately go to war, and needs the assistance of our allies. In order to commit their men and women to a battle in which their country’s citizens may lose their lives, those allies’  leaders need to feel confident that our President is telling the truth, and is basing his/her perceptions on facts, reality, and legitimate intelligence. If you were the leader of another country, would you send your people off to war based on the word of Donald Trump, as you have for other American Presidents for decades? Could hesitance of America’s allies to provide military back-up to the United States put American lives at risk?

Or consider the same scenario here at home. How many American parents would be confident that their sons and daughters currently in the military are being sent off to fight for a necessary, just cause that is not based on fantasy, overreaction, delusion, or some perceived slight to an overinflated but fragile ego? And how confident would those soldiers themselves feel that their lives are not being needlessly put at risk over a pipe dream or crackpot conspiracy theory? Would some disobey? Would doubts about the cause and about our President embolden our enemy? Would hesitance or uncertainty in some soldier likely put the lives of other soldiers – or of Americans overall – in danger?

These are just some of the implications – in one area alone – where a mentally unstable individual in the office of the President can pose a significant risk to our nation, and does not even look at the direct military scenarios that could result from “rash decision making.” There are countless other concerns: one need only consider an issue (particularly one that involves relationships, sober decision making, or foreign policy) and apply basic logic.

Yet most members of Congress – especially the Republicans – seem to want to pretend that everything happening is normal, that our President is just “unconventional,” that he’s “shaking things up in Washington just as he was elected to do.” Their only real concern seems to be that the taint of the odd behavior not cause too great a stain on themselves politically in the short term.

I believe that this denial – this unwillingness to look squarely at what is happening, acknowledge it for what it is, and take appropriate action – is either pathetic political cowardice, short-sighted partisanship, or willful enabling. Regardless of the motive, an intervention is needed for the majority of our Republican US Senators and Representatives to snap them out of their enabling and denial so that they can begin looking seriously at the need for impeachment/removal from office – before America experiences the consequences of Congressional inaction.

To be clear, this is not about policy. I disagree with Mike Pence as much on policy as I do Trump, and I would likely be vocal in my opposition to the policies of a President Pence. But my opposition would be in the communally understood context of democracy and my own sense of ethics, morality, and justice. My push-back on policy would be balanced with my ability to accept the relative soundness and stability of Mike Pence’s leadership, and the four year wait for a chance to elect a President that I consider “better.”

In the case of Donald Trump, however, I do not believe that we have anything close to four years for our political system to address the clear and present danger posed to the American people. Congress needs to act now.

– rob rünt

Trump’s Mental Health:“The Elephant in the Room”
(MSNBC, 2/23/17)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 1 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington DC (Part 1 of 3)

It’s Time for an Intervention in Washington, DC (Part 1 of 2)

By now, many Americans have seen the headline of at least one editorial (there are several) written by one or more mental health professionals proclaiming that Donald Trump is mentally unfit for the office of the Presidency, that he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Unfortunately due to the meaning of the term ”narcissist” among mental health professionals and the meaning of the term among the greater population, many people likely responded to such editorials with a shrug: “So he’s vain, what’s the big deal? He’s got a good track record in the business world, and we need someone in Washington who has some business sense to shake things up. Besides, anyone who runs for President is bound to have a big ego.”

So one thing that needs to be clarified is that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not the same thing as the character trait of being narcissistic: NPD is a serious and diagnosable personality disorder with significant negative implications, particularly when embodied in the President of the United States.

Mental health is an inexact science. It often requires an assessment of thoughts, which cannot be seen. Since there is no way to determine for certain what a person is thinking, their thoughts must be understood based upon their words and actions in the world. In order to bring some standardization to the diagnostic process, several decades ago the American Psychiatric Association developed the “DSM” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which is updated periodically based on new understandings. The DSM describes the behaviors and expressed beliefs that are associated with each mental illness. When a person is observed to fit most or all of the criteria for a particular illness, a mental health professional can diagnose the person with relative confidence.

What is it about Donald Trump’s behaviors and expressed beliefs that have led thousands of mental health professionals to break with the long-held traditions and ethical standards of their practice – potentially risking their licenses – to sign a petition warning the public about what they are seeing?

Below is a series of links to information about the “Cluster B” personality disorders listed in the DSM, of which “histrionic ” (code 301.50, F60.4) and narcissistic (code 301.81, F60.81) are the most worthy of attention. It is not uncommon for more than one Cluster B personality disorder to occur simultaneously in one person (a phenomenon referred to as “comorbidity”). Please read through the relevant sections of any or all of the links. It is rather staggering.

(Note: The actual DSM is not available online and may not be reprinted without permission from the American Psychiatric Association)

The Cluster B Personality Disorders (includes both Narcissistic and Histrionic)

Described by Mayo Clinic

Described by

Described in Psychology Today

Described by Psych.TheClinics

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Described on Wikipedia

Described in Psychology Today

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Described on Wikipedia

The top concerns with a high profile government leader who has narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, or both are the effects of the behaviors on their ability to form stable and positive relationships with other world leaders, the impact of their rash decision-making on policy and global relations, the potential for their weaknesses to be exploited by others within the US government, and the potential for their weaknesses to be exploited by foreign governments.

Let’s hope that the thousands of mental health professionals who have gone out on a limb to publicly diagnose President Donald Trump are wrong.

– rob rünt

“I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this. I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy President.”

Eliot Cohen
Former State Department Official under George W. Bush
(Full Article – Huffington Post)

March 6 – 12, 2017

March 6 – 12, 2017


Articles & Editorials:

Main Stories


Unexpected Deaths of Six Russian Diplomats in Four Months Triggers Conspiracy Theories
(The Independent – 2/27/17)

State Department Bars Release of Russian U.N. Ambassador’s Autopsy
(NBC News – 3/10/17)

Russia Investigation

US Spies Have ‘Considerable Intelligence’ on High-Level Trump-Russia Talks, Claims Ex-NSA Analyst
(The Independent – 3/6/17)

CIA Providing Raw Intelligence as Trump-Russia Probes Heat Up: Congress Has Entered a New Phase in its Investigation
(Politico – 3/7/17)

Trump’s Mental Health

White House Rejects FBI’s Denial of Trump’s Wiretapping Claims
(Huffington Post – 3/6/17)

McCain Calls on Trump to Clarify Wiretapping Claim
(CNN – 3/12/17)

Other Stories That You Should Know About:

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn Was Paid to Represent Turkey’s Interests During Trump Campaign
(New York Times – 3/10/17)

Preet Bharara

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Says He Was Fired After Refusing to Quit
(New York Times – 3/11/17)

After Firing Preet Bharara, President Trump Beware
(CNN – 3/11/17)

Keeping Track of the Basics:


Donald Trump’s Wiretap Tweets Raise His Risk of Impeachment
(Chicago Tribune – 3/6/17)

The Trump Experiment May Come to an Early Tipping Point
(E.J. Dionne Jr., New York Times – 3/5/17)

Hey, It’s a Problem the President Believes Things That Aren’t True
(Vice – 3/6/17)

Trump Knows the Feds are Closing in on Him
(Foreign – 3/6/17)

How to Escape Your Political Bubble for a Clearer View
(New York Times – 3/3/17)

Believe it or Not, Science Deniers Aren’t Stupid
(Big Think – 1/3/17)

A Philosopher’s 350-Year-Old Trick to Get People to Change Their Minds is Now Backed up by Psychologists
(Quartz – 9/11/16)

Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.

Listening to Trump Voters with ACA Coverage: What They Want in a Healthcare Plan
(Kaiser Family Foundation – 2/22/17)

Cartoons, Images & Videos

Chart on Trump’s Russia ties prepared by US Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA)


Source: Unknown


Events & Actions

Two major nationwide protests coming up:

  • Saturday, April 15, 2017: Trump Tax Day Marches nationwide to let President Trump know that it’s not just reporters who care about his undisclosed tax returns – find your nearest march here!
  • Saturday, April 22, 2017: Scientists and people who believe in and support science will be having marches nationwide to encourage the use of science and facts in creating government policy – find your nearest march here!

Resources & Organizations