The Daily Parker

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The Sociopath

Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal, has broken his silence about the experience:

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. ... It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

It's worth reading this article, since it discusses in detail the man who one of our two main political parties is about to nominate for President of the United States.

 

Too many browser windows open at work

Because I need to read all of these and have to do my actual job first:

I'll get to these this evening. I hope.

What happens November 9th?

Brian Beutler says Trump poses an "invisible danger to our democracy:"

In a country divided such as ours is, an election can help break impasses by providing reasonably clear guidance on what changes the majority of people want to make. But the strangeness of Trump’s campaign is sidelining that guidance. Rather than serving as an exponent of white working-class interests, advancing a policy agenda that would materially benefit his supporters, Trump serves merely as their id.

This has made collateral damage out of ideology. Not since 2000 has a U.S. election been so untethered from substantive questions about how to make people more satisfied with the ways the government serves them. Trump has made this election a referendum on our national identity—are we the kind of country that turns to a demagogue when enough people are frustrated?—rather than on our policy status quo. Once that identity issue is resolved, the question of what comes next won’t have a clear answer.

Even a happy ending to this election—a Trump defeat—will leave our governing institutions paralyzed or powerless to respond to the signals voters will have sent. If the public is already worryingly disaffected by gridlock and dysfunction in government, this election promises to worsen the trend.

And just today, he and Justice Ginsburg got into a spat. Awesome.

Partial agreement with Scott Adams

Scott Adams believes Donald Trump will be the next president, because of Trump's ability to persuade people. Adams claims not to want this outcome, but all evidence suggests he supports Trump more than he's letting on. So I was surprised to agree with parts of Adams' analysis of James Comey's presser Tuesday:

The folks who support Clinton are sheepishly relieved and keeping their heads down. But the anti-Clinton people think the government is totally broken and the system is rigged. That’s an enormous credibility problem.

But what was the alternative?

The alternative was the head of the FBI deciding for the the people of the United States who would be their next president. A criminal indictment against Clinton probably would have cost her the election.

How credible would a future President Trump be if he won the election by the FBI’s actions instead of the vote of the public? That would be the worst case scenario even if you are a Trump supporter. The public would never accept the result as credible.

Comey might have saved the country. He sacrificed his reputation and his career to keep the nation’s government credible. 

It was the right decision. 

I think Comey made the right call too. I disagree with Adams, however, that the FBI's recommendation was "absurd." But that's another post.

You're stuck with him now

Jeet Heer reminds Republicans that Donald Trump isn't going to disappear on November 9th:

[W]ill Trump really cease to matter in November? After all, no human being loves the spotlight more, and he’s chased after media attention since he was a young man. Being the nominee of a major party is a dream job for him, because it means people will hang on his every word. Even if he loses badly in November, Trump will likely cling to his status as the strangest “party elder” ever—and convert it into new, attention-grabbing and lucrative projects. He has indicated, for one thing, that he wants to monetize his ability to generate attention with his controversial views by creating Trump TV (whatever the election results). Don’t scoff: Sarah Palin was number two on a losing ticket in 2008 and embarrassed herself spectacularly in the process, but she still commanded millions of followers when the election was over—enough, in fact, that she became a precursor to Trump in her merger of politics and reality shows, as well as one of his key surrogates.

Donald Trump will not go gentle into that good night. Nor will he curse the dying of the light. Instead he’ll keep pursuing the klieg lights of the media circus, and through his televised antics continue to dominate the political conversation on the Republican side. He’ll be helped by his unusually loyal and rabid fan base. As Trump rightly said, even shooting someone in broad daylight on 5th Avenue wouldn’t warn them away. In order to maintain that fan base, Trump is, based on past precedent, likely to nurture a stabbed-in-the-back myth against the Republican and media “elites” if he loses.

It looks less and less likely he'll actually win the election, but he'll be around for many years poisoning the debate. Good work, Republicans.

The most corrupt presidential candidate ever

You guessed it:

Trump’s complete lack of experience in public office ought to provide him with the opportunity, which most novice candidates have, for a clean-slate résumé. Instead, he is already waist-deep in stench. Trump has not merely intermingled campaigning with his business interests; the two are one and the same. His entire political career seems to be an outgrowth of his efforts to build his personal brand, which Trump has endlessly used the campaign as a platform to promote. He has devoted speeches to attacking the judge in the fraud suit against his “university,” instructed surrogates to do the same, and promised to relaunch the enterprise if elected. He celebratedthe Brexit vote, which drove down the value of the pound, as helpful for driving visitors to his Scottish golf course. This sort of behavior is not anappearance of a conflict of interest but the definition of one.

Trump appears to be genuinely unaware, even at the conceptual level, that his business interests might complicate his ability to govern in the public interest. During the primary, when a debate moderator asked if he would put his holdings in a blind trust, Trump comically replied that he would, while defining a “blind trust” to mean his children would run his business for him, which is the opposite of a blind trust. Even if Trump wanted to distance himself from his business interests, the nature of his holdings would make it virtually impossible, as The Wall Street Journal explains today. A traditionally rich person could place their wealth in third-party hands without knowing what they were invested in; Trump’s business is his personal brand, making divestment impossible.

Fortunately, despite most pro-Trump voters not caring one way or the other about his corruption, millions of unaffiliated voters do. Here's hoping they care enough.

In the news

Once again, here's a list of news items I haven't fully digested but want to when I have a few free minutes:

There's another major story that I'm following, about which I'll post in a few minutes.

Another armchair diagnosis that doesn't change anything

Richard North Patterson, writing in Huffington Post, outlines one more time how Donald Trump's obvious personality disorder disqualifies him from political office of any kind:

There is only one organizing principle which makes sense of his wildly oscillating utterances and behavior - the clinical definition of narcissistic personality disorder.

The Mayo Clinic describes it as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.” This is bad enough in selecting a spouse or a friend. But when applied to a prospective president, the symptoms are disqualifying.

With Trump ever in mind, try these. An exaggerated sense of self-importance. An unwarranted belief in your own superiority. A preoccupation with fantasies of your own success, power and brilliance. A craving for constant admiration. A consuming sense of entitlement. An expectation of special favors and unquestioning compliance.

Yes. It seems unlikely that anyone who has observed Trump in the past 30 years could have missed this. But Patterson is really concerned about how major media outlets seem to be ignoring this:

It has been three weeks since this damning tape surfaced. The story vanished in a day. Confronted with the ["Miller"] tape on Today, Trump told an obvious lie - “it was not me on the phone” - wrapped in his ineradicable narcissism : “I have many many people who are trying to imitate my voice and... you can imagine that... Let’s get on to more current subjects.”

The media complied.

But there is nothing more “current” or important than Donald Trump’s psychological fitness to be president. All the hyperventilation of the media - parsing his “positions”, pontificating on his” strategy” and intuition- is a poisonous form of the “political correctness” he otherwise deplores, normalizing the abnormal by shoehorning him into the usual analytic boxes. And what it yields is, in great part, rubbish.

I really, really hope that logic and reason prevail in November. Because it's going to be a long-enough five months more of stories like this; I just can't take four years of it.

What a GOP government looks like, Southern style

New Republic's Joe Miller outlines how the Alabama Republican Party has made life worse for just about everyone in Alabama:

“There is nothing good that has come from the Republicans being in power in Alabama, and I’m a Republican,” says Arthur Payne, a former state representative from Birmingham. “Since the Republicans have taken over, we have borrowed more money than we ever have in the history of the state, and our budget is in worse shape than it’s ever been.”

That’s saying a lot for a state that for decades has ranked near the bottom of just about every socioeconomic measure. Nearly 660,000 Alabamians go without health insurance. The state has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, and ranks in the top ten in heart disease, cancer, stroke, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease. It has the seventh-lowest percentage of residents with college degrees, the fifth-lowest with high school diplomas, and the sixth-highest unemployment rate. The median income is $42,278, third-lowest in the country, a mere 3 percent increase over what it was in 2010, when Hubbard and the Republicans took control. Over the same period, the nation’s median income has increased 8 percent.

In the most recent legislative session, Alabama faced another budget shortfall, and instead of raising taxes or finding places to cut state programs, legislators took it all out of Medicaid’s budget.

They've also made it unlikely that any foreign companies will open factories there for at least a generation, in party by arresting executives from Honda and Mercedes-Benz on charges of giving food to illegal immigrants.

So when you say that Donald Trump doesn't represent the mainstream GOP, your definition of "mainstream" is awfully narrow.

Trump, Trump, Trump

These are the kinds of articles that make me want to go into exile:

  • A years-long investigation by journalist David Cay Johnston uncovered links between Donald Trump and key mafia figures, which would make Trump the most corrupt presidential candidate since Harding.
  • James Fallows warns us not to assume that even though because the U.S. has gotten out of previous political crises, we shouldn't complacently assume that we'll do it again if Trump gets elected. He draws on Madison's Federalist #10 to make his point: "It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
  • Finally, The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik comments on "The dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump," underscoring the point Fallows made: "[U]nder any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is."

It's going to be a long five months.