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:

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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)


On Impeachment

On Impeachment

On Impeachment


2/18/17


Each day, many of us watch slack-jawed as we witness further evidence of President Trump’s potential corruption, ties to Russia, mental instability, administrative chaos, lack of knowledge of political basics, divisiveness, and extremism. Many of us consider at least some of these things to be cause for impeachment, and we wonder why the wheels are not being put in motion for a removal from office. There are a number of explanations.

First, and most obviously, Congress needs to initiate and follow through on any impeachment proceedings, and both houses are currently controlled by Republicans. Those Republican Congresspeople are, by and large, getting exactly what they want right now – and more: Trump is doing all of the most extreme and unpopular things that they have wanted to do for years, and is taking all of the public heat for it. All that the Congressional Republicans have to do is keep their mouths shut, look the other way and whistle a happy tune. What could be better?

Second, many Congressional Republicans are the kind of politicians that Trump voters couldn’t stand: politically cowardly, insincere, ready to change positions whenever they believe that doing so is politically expedient. They see a lot of unrest in the streets and at their town halls right now. But they also know that Trump voters were silent before they elected Trump, and are quite possibly being silent right now. Politically, that is a very smart observation, and is an important thing for people on the left to be aware of as well: despite the impression that the left’s echo chamber might create for itself, the lack of vocal support for Trump right now does not mean that that support may not still be widespread. Congressional Republicans do not want to outrage this “silent majority” (realistically a minority), because Trump’s people are much more likely to vote Republican in future elections than are the masses who are swarming out into the streets.

Third, like many other Americans, Congressional Republicans watched the Presidential debates, where Trump effectively used aggressive, simplistic, elementary-schoolyard-style branding to inescapably trample each of his opponents – Republican and Democrat. They know that opposing him could be politically disastrous. They also know that the time will eventually come when they have no choice but to do so.

Right now is the honeymoon period for Congressional Republicans. Trump has behaved more like a king than a President. As the former top decision-maker for his own companies, that is how he is used to operating all his life. His main Presidential actions have been to sign his own executive orders. There has not yet been much of the usual back-and-forth that takes place between a President and the Legislature. That kind of interaction will eventually come, but for now, Congress is happy to have the President do what he wants and let him experience all of the flack for it.

Fourth, Congressional Republicans have made the political calculation that the impeachable things that Trump can be proven in a court of law to have done thus far do not yet rise to the level of public outrage that would prompt them to impeach. Realistically, all that is provable is that Trump has conflicts between his Presidential duties and his financial interests – bad, but not bad enough. Arguments about his mental instability could result in impeachment under the 25th Amendment, but such mental instability is difficult to prove in court. His divisiveness and extremism are part of what appealed to his most enthusiastic base, and that base is generally pleased with what they have seen from him so far. His lack of knowledge of politics is something that could be fully expected from a political “outsider,” so there is little surprising there beyond perhaps his seeming willful determination to flaunt that lack of knowledge internationally, offending America’s traditional allies and adversaries alike. Similarly, his Administration’s inner chaos and incompetence could be expected from a Washington novice, and he has dismissed reports of disorganization as “fake news” from the “lying press” – a characterization that his supporters likely believe.

That leaves us with his ties to Russia. Despite the seething anger of Congressional Democrats after a confidential briefing several weeks ago from FBI Director James Comey, I am of the belief that Comey’s FBI and other intelligence agencies are in the process of diligently investigating these Russian connections, and that any silence from the FBI and others is out of a desire not to jeopardize those investigations by tipping off the Administration about what leads they are pursuing. I also believe that the law enforcement and intelligence communities are investigating Trump’s business interests as they relate to corruption of his position as an elected public official.

Until one of these two investigations is complete, we are unlikely to see any serious moves toward impeachment. However, I do believe that at that point, there will be ample and irrefutable evidence, it will be made public, and Congress will have no choice but to take action.

In practical terms, such action will be far from undesirable for Congress: they will have in Mike Pence a mentally stable, cooperative President with whom they are ideologically in perfect step; all of the really ugly, controversial measures will already have been put in place by Trump; and people on the left will be jumping for joy at their “victory” and breathing a sigh of relief that there is no longer a lunatic in the White House with one finger on the nuclear button and one finger on his Twitter account.

And that’s the way that I believe the American Constitutional system will ultimately force/empower a dysfunctional political system to remove a profoundly unfit leader from office in the year 2017. If we can get there without a nuclear war, major financial collapse, or the irreversible implementation of an authoritarian state along the way, I’ll be happy. Yeah, I’m setting the bar pretty low.

– rob rünt


Sunday, Jan 8, 2017


Welcome to the first installment of “The Week in Trump.”

This Sunday blog is for people who wish to avoid gawking at the Trump train wreck for the other six days of the week, but who also believe that it is healthy and important to stay informed on matters that can significantly affect them. Here you will find a summary of the week’s most essential news and ideas (with links to the best reporting on the stories), artwork, videos and my personal thoughts. Once you’ve been thoroughly bludgeoned into despair, I will then restore hope, with info on the latest actions and upcoming events that you can participate in, as well as helpful resources and relevant organizations that you can support to make a positive difference.

I have long been obsessed with justice and the free flow of complete, accurate information. Now that both appear to be in peril, I consider it my civic duty to help others get the information that they need in a quickly and easily digestible form. It is my promise to you that I will provide the most accurate, factual information that I can. That does not mean that I will be objective. It means that I will be factual. If you think that this can be a useful weekly resource for you, please bookmark it or subscribe. Remember: we get to decide what the light at the end of the tunnel will be.

     – rob rünt

 

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Articles & Editorials


Take It From A German: Americans Are Too Timid In Confronting Hate
(Full Article – The Daily Beast)


On Monday, in one of the first acts of the new Congress, Republicans attempted to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent oversight group with a track record of sending Congresspersons to prison when they violate the law. (Full Article – MSNBC)  After media attention and a swift and strong negative public outcry, Congress quickly undid the measure before noon the next day. (Full Article – MSNBC)  Shortly before Republicans backtracked, President-Elect Trump tweeted that the “timing” of the move was distracting, leading some news outlets to attribute Congress’ reversal of course to his strong leadership. (Full Article – CNN)


In recent weeks, President-Elect Trump has chosen not to avail himself of most Presidential daily intelligence briefings – something that most Presidents want to get as much of as they can in order to get up to speed on important matters about which they will need to make decisions. He has also been dismissive of US intelligence agencies’ assertion of Kremlin  interference in the U.S. election, leading to concern among legislators and members of the intelligence community that our next President will not make his decisions based on the best information.  (Full Article – The Guardian)

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This unexpectedly led to a development that is likely to be a pattern with the Trump Administration, either out of poor organization, poor internal communication, or a deliberate strategy of floating an idea publicly without having to commit to it (or some combination of the above): someone from Trump’s inner circle told the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Trump planned to overhaul and cut staff in the nation’s intelligence agencies – a story which was then repeated by other news outlets (Full Article – The Hill), but which Trump later denied when asked directly.

Trump remained dismissive of the Russian hacking story even after a full report (declassified version here) from US intelligence officials. (Full Article – CNN)  However, he is interested in finding out who in the intelligence community made public the information about the Kremlin’s interference in the election.

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In other news, Russians appear to have just hacked into accounts of Arizona state lawmakers. (Full Article – AZ Central)


An analysis of “Putin’s real end game.” I agree with much of the assessment of Russia’s involvement and what we’re up against, but disagree with much of the proposed response to it. Your thoughts? (Full Article – Politico)


Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’ (Full Article – The Guardian)


“Having studied authoritarian states for over a decade, I would never exaggerate the severity of the threat we now face. But an American kleptocracy is exactly where president-elect Trump and his backers are taking us. That’s why I have a favor to ask you, my fellow Americans….

… I want you to write about who you are, what you have experienced, and what you have endured.

Write down what you value; what standards you hold for yourself and for others.

Write about your dreams for the future and your hopes for your children. Write about the struggle of your ancestors and how the hardship they overcame shaped the person you are today.

Write your biography, write down your memories. Because if you do not do it now, you may forget.

Write a list of things you would never do. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will do them.

Write a list of things you would never believe. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will either believe them or be forced to say you believe them.”

– from the blog of Sarah Kendzior


A general overview of the election results, what they mean, and where to go from here. In my better moments can live up to the “where to go from here” part, but snark is a definite weakness for me. (Full Article – Charles Eisenstein Blog)


 Cartoons, Images & Videos



Cartoon by Will McPhail, New Yorker:
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Posted by Americans Against Trump:

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Cartoon by Paul Noth:

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Posted to Instagram by Alec Baldwin:

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 Personal Thoughts & Experiences


On Monday, I had lunch with a friend – a very thoughtful Jewish man and one of my favorite people in the entire world. The conversation eventually turned to politics. Having had relatives who were caught up by the Holocaust, he has visited the concentration camps in Germany as well as the Holocaust Museum in Germany and in Washington DC. He said that the most chilling thing for him in those places was not the photos or the artifacts. It was a video screen at the Holocaust Museum in DC. It showed no graphics or photos, just text, slowly scrolling through the small, incremental changes – small lines drawn and then crossed and then redrawn and crossed again – that took place in what came to be known as Nazi Germany. Each change was undesirable, but ultimately tolerated. The cumulative effect was the extermination of six million human beings.


 Events & Actions


Resources & Organizations