The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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.

My stack is stacking up

Too many things to read before lunchtime:

Now, back to work.

Retrenchment; or, remember the 1950s

On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court handed down Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which ended "separate but equal" education after finding that the two concepts are antagonistic. Also on this day in 1954, the City of Chicago announced plans for the Stateway Gardens housing project, which eventually replaced an African-American slum with a high-rise hell-on-earth housing African Americans. As historian John R. Schmidt comments, "Maybe the new public housing projects were an attempt to keep Black people on 'their side of the tracks.'" (They were; he's being sarcastic.)

A similar pattern exists today. Despite historic, unprecedented support for the LGBT community throughout most of the U.S., the right has taken on the non-existent issue of predators in bathrooms to win votes in an election year. The small minority of people who (a) care about this issue and (b) are afraid of gays nevertheless has support from latter-day Sheriff Clark figures like Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republicans.

Progress is never smooth. I just wish people on the wrong side of history would get out of the way sometimes.

An inability to think coherently

New Republic's Brian Buetler reports that the wing-nuts in the Republican Party (i.e., about half of them) are already laying the psychological groundwork for the increased reporting on Donald Trump's past coming out now that he's the presumptive nominee:

The Republican primary campaign revealed (or rather reestablished) that Donald Trump is a bigot and a sexist and a creep. In fairness, this was not entirely a testament to fearless journalism; Trump happily exhibited all of these behaviors in front of live television cameras week after week. But reporters and campaigns did bring incidents of bigotry, sexism, and creepiness from his past to light, which helped feed the public’s exceedingly negative impression of the GOP’s new standard-bearer.

Despite months of digging, though, they may have only scratched the surface of Trump’s public and private sordidness. Now that he’s effectively secured the Republican Party nomination, we can expect the full details to pour out in the weeks and months ahead.

Before he dropped out of the race, Ted Cruz predicted this would happen. He attributed it to a liberal conspiracy: The media would sit on their most explosive Trump exposés until he’d won the nomination thanks to the invaluable free airtime they’d given him—and then destroy him with a series of damning revelations they’d been waiting to unleash.

It goes without saying that Democrats have none of those perverse incentives to worry about. They will unearth what Republicans missed; they will find what reporters can’t, if they haven’t already. And to the extent that their dossiers overlap, they will release what Republicans withheld. Reporters will happily field this opposition research, run it to ground, and publish it. It isn’t the media that’s been strategically holding fire—it’s the Democrats. They even boast about it.

And it's not like this guy doesn't have a whole load of dirty laundry to air. But such is the pathology of the Republican base right now that any bad news about their candidate must be part of a larger conspiracy, because the cognitive dissonance otherwise would be incapacitating.

Wow, this is going to be a long campaign.

Obama at Howard University

Via Daily Kos, the President gave the commencement address at Howard University Saturday, giving a clear rebuke to Bernie Sanders' central message throughout:

The president was not attacking Sanders’ ideology of fairness. But he was clearly separating himself from Sanders’ dogmatic insistence on revolutionary transformation.

If you want to make life fair, then you have to start with the world as it is.

The balance between idealism and pragmatism was clearly at the forefront of the president’s mind.

Democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100% right. This is hard to explain sometimes. You can be completely right and you still have to engage folks who disagree with you. If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral security, but you will not get what you want.

This is one reason there has been somewhat of a class divide between Bernie and Hillary supporters. The “moral security” Obama refers to is an emotional and intellectual luxury if it doesn’t contribute to substantive change.

Here's the whole speech:

Presidential decisions

Five years ago yesterday, President Obama announced to the world that U.S. forces had captured and killed Osama bin Laden. Earlier that night, after making one of the biggest decisions of his presidency, he did this:

Back in September, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik made the same observation:

What was really memorable about the event, though, was Trump’s response. Seated a few tables away from us magazine scribes, Trump’s humiliation was as absolute, and as visible, as any I have ever seen: his head set in place, like a man in a pillory, he barely moved or altered his expression as wave after wave of laughter struck him. There was not a trace of feigning good humor about him, not an ounce of the normal politician’s, or American regular guy’s “Hey, good one on me!” attitude—that thick-skinned cheerfulness that almost all American public people learn, however painfully, to cultivate. No head bobbing or hand-clapping or chin-shaking or sheepish grinning—he sat perfectly still, chin tight, in locked, unmovable rage. If he had not just embarked on so ugly an exercise in pure racism, one might almost have felt sorry for him.

Then, this weekend, Andrew Sullivan said that the U.S. has never been so ripe for tyranny. I haven't digested his article yet, and I'm probably more optimistic than he, but all of these things are related.

But hey, if you think Donald Trump has the temperament and nuance to be president, you go right ahead and vote for him.

CJ Cregg returns to the White House

Well, not really; but this is worth a view.

NPR explains:

Posing as her character C.J. Cregg, who was the press secretary in the critically acclaimed show that ran from 1999 until 2006, actress Allison Janney took a surprise turn on the podium to the delight and surprise of the real White House press corps.

Janney ended the spoof by revealing the real reason she was at the White House: to talk about opioid addiction and what was being done to combat the problem. Her current show on CBS, Mom, deals with drug addiction and its struggles.

"This is a disease that can touch anybody, and all of us can help reduce drug abuse through evidence-based treatment, prevention and recovery. Research shows it works, and courageous Americans show it works every day," Janney said.

This comes on the heels of Bradley Whitford (who played opposite Janney on The West Wing) endorsing Hillary Clinton as "by far the most qualified candidate to run for president in my lifetime."