Washington, Nixon, and Trump

cherry tree

So, here is a follow up on the immediately preceding post, that shared some observations by Trump’s ghostwriter. And a thought for the evening.

I believe I heard this from David Brooks on last night’s PBS Evening News:

Washington: the President who could not tell a lie.

Nixon: the President who could not tell the truth.

Trump: the President who cannot tell the difference.

You know, it must really suck to be Trump. Think about it. Without empathy. Without self-confidence and a strong ego, only empty bluster. Without a conscience. Without the ability to distinguish between truth and delusion. Without the ability even to tell a consistent lie. Without the attention span to learn the things he needs to know for his job. Without the ability to predict the consequences of his actions.

Disabilities far worse than the loss of your eyesight, the loss of your legs, the loss of your balls. Utterly incapacitating.

I feel sorry for the man.

What I feel for the empty suited, traitorous cretins who enabled him to achieve his present position, when they knew or should have known of his mental disabilities, is nothing but utter contempt and cold, unforgiving hatred.

The Man Who Never Grew Up

tantrum

From Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal:

Early on, I recognized that Trump’s sense of self-worth is forever at risk. When he feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others. …

To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it — as he thought his older brother had. This narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,” he told a recent biographer, “I’m basically the same.” His development essentially ended in early childhood. …

I never sensed from Trump any guilt or contrition about anything he’d done, and he certainly never shared any misgivings publicly. From his perspective, he operated in a jungle full of predators who were forever out to get him, and he did what he must to survive.

Trump was equally clear with me that he didn’t value — nor even necessarily recognize — the qualities that tend to emerge as people grow more secure, such as empathy, generosity, reflectiveness, the capacity to delay gratification or, above all, a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong. Trump simply didn’t traffic in emotions or interest in others. The life he lived was all transactional, all the time. Having never expanded his emotional, intellectual or moral universe, he has his story down, and he’s sticking to it.

A key part of that story is that facts are whatever Trump deems them to be on any given day. When he is challenged, he instinctively doubles down — even when what he has just said is demonstrably false. I saw that countless times, whether it was as trivial as exaggerating the number of floors at Trump Tower or as consequential as telling me that his casinos were performing well when they were actually going bankrupt. In the same way, Trump would see no contradiction at all in changing his story about why he fired Comey and thereby undermining the statements of his aides, or in any other lie he tells. His aim is never accuracy; it’s domination. …

[T]he reassurance he got from even his biggest achievements was always ephemeral and unreliable — and that appears to include being elected president. Any addiction has a predictable pattern: The addict keeps chasing the high by upping the ante in an increasingly futile attempt to re-create the desired state. On the face of it, Trump has more opportunities now to feel significant and accomplished than almost any other human being on the planet. But that’s like saying a heroin addict has his problem licked once he has free and continuous access to the drug. Trump also now has a far bigger and more public stage on which to fail and to feel unworthy.

From the very first time I interviewed him in his office in Trump Tower in 1985, the image I had of Trump was that of a black hole. Whatever goes in quickly disappears without a trace. Nothing sustains. It’s forever uncertain when someone or something will throw Trump off his precarious perch — when his sense of equilibrium will be threatened and he’ll feel an overwhelming compulsion to restore it. Beneath his bluff exterior, I always sensed a hurt, incredibly vulnerable little boy who just wanted to be loved. …

In neurochemical terms, when he feels threatened or thwarted, Trump moves into a fight-or-flight state. His amygdala is triggered, his hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activates, and his prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that makes us capable of rationality and reflection — shuts down. He reacts rather than reflects, and damn the consequences. …

Over the past week, in the face of criticism from nearly every quarter, Trump’s distrust has almost palpably mushroomed. No importuning by his advisers stands a chance of constraining him when he is this deeply triggered. The more he feels at the mercy of forces he cannot control — and he is surely feeling that now — the more resentful, desperate and impulsive he becomes.

 

Humpty Dumpty Explains Glass-Steagall to Elizabeth Warren

humpty dumpty

Elizabeth Warren: You said we need a 21st-century Glass-Steagall at your confirmation hearing. And now you’ve just said the opposite. In the past few months, you and the president have had a number of meetings with big-bank C.E.O.s and lobbyists—is that the reason for the reversal on Glass-Stegall?

Steven Mnuchin: Not at all; there actually wasn’t a reversal.

Warren: There wasn’t a reversal?

Mnuchin: Let me explain.

Warren: I’m ready.

Mnuchin: The Republican platform did have Glass-Stegall. . . . The president said we do support a 21st-century Glass-Steagall, that means there are aspects of it that we think may make sense. But we never said before we support a full separation of banks and investment banking.

Warren: Let me just stop you right there, Mr. Secretary—

Mnuchin: You’re not letting me finish—

Warren: Yeah, I’m not, because I really need to understand what you’ve just said. There are aspects of Glass-Steagall that you support, but not breaking up the banks and separating commercial banking from investment banking? What do you think Glass-Stegall was if that’s not right at the heart of it?

Mnuchin: Again, I’m well aware of what Glass-Steagall was, as you may know the original concern of Glass-Steagall was about conflicts not about credit risk, and if we had supported a full Glass-Stegall we would have said at the time we believed in Glass-Stegall, not a 21st-century Glass-Stegall. We were very clear in differentiating it.

Warren: I still haven’t heard the answer to my question; what do you think Glass-Stegall was if not separating commercial banking from investment banking, from ordinary banking?

Mnuchin: Again, the fundamental part of Glass-Stegall was, as you just outlined, it was separation of investment banking from commercial banking because people were concerned about conflicts.

Warren: And how do you separate without breaking up the big banks that have integrated these two things?

Mnuchin: Again, the integration of commercial banking and investment banking has gone on for a long time, that’s not what caused the financial crisis, and if we did go back to a full separation, you would have an enormous impact on liquidity and lending.

Warren: So let me get this straight. You’re saying you’re in favor of Glass-Steagall, which breaks apart the two arms of the banks, except you don’t want to break apart the two parts of banking. This is like something straight out of George Orwell. You’re saying simultaneously you’re in favor of breaking up the banks— that’s what Glass-Steagall is—

Mnuchin: I never said we were in favor of breaking up the banks. If we had been, it would have been very simple .

Warren: Let me try one more time—what does it mean to be in favor of 21st-century Glass-Steagall if it does not mean breaking apart these two functions in banking?

Mnuchin: I’d be more than happy to come see you and follow up—

Warren: Just tell me what it means. Tell me what 21st-century Glass-Steagall means if it doesn’t mean breaking up those two parts. It’s an easy question.

Mnuchin: It’s actually a complicated question—

Warren: I’ll bet.

Mnuchin: There are many aspects of it. The simple answer is we don’t support breaking up commercial and investment banks. We think that would be a huge mistake, but, again, I’m more than happy to listen to your ideas on it, you obviously have strong views.

Warren: This is just bizarre. The idea that you can say we’re in favor of Glass-Steagall but not in breaking up the banks.

Mnuchin: We never said we were in favor of Glass-Steagall, we said we were in favor of a 21st-century Glass-Steagall. We couldn’t be clearer.

Warren: Thank you . . . this is crazy.

Props to Lobo Loupe. Transcript from Bess Levin.

 

Peace Be Upon Him, and On His Twitter Account

religious court

It is the morning of May 19, 2017. Our President is headed to Saudi Arabia this afternoon.

Trump advocated for a total and complete ban on Muslim entry into the United States. He is reliably reported to have considered a registry of US Muslims. He believes “there is something going on with Muslims.” He has surrounded himself with Islamophobes. His asshole buddy, General Flynn, views Islam as a malignant ideology and a cancer, not a true religion. One of his current advisors has declined to comment on whether Islam is or is not an actual religion.

Let us hope that, during his time in the desert, Trump manages not to defame Prophet Mohammad, Peace Be Upon Him, or to blaspheme against Islam.

The folks in Saudi Arabia take these matters very seriously.

Morning News from the Inmate in Charge of the Asylum

inmates

Though he is not an actual psychiatrist, Aardvark did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. So here is how it is (on all the available evidence).

Seriously, seriously weak ego and big self-esteem problems. Constant need to prop up ego. As a coping mechanism, will interpret ambiguous evidence in a self-aggrandizing way. When negative facts are revealed, will call them lies. Will actually perceive them as lines, most of the time,

As things go from bad to worse, there comes a time when coping mechanisms no longer work. Total breakdown ensues.

Not quite yet at the denouement.

But the fat lady is warming up. We are near the last act in the opera.

Trump calls appointment of special prosecutor ‘the single greatest witch hunt’

President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted the appointment of Robert Mueller to be the special prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election, calling the probe “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

He also accused former President Barack Obama’s administration and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of committing “illegal acts,” complaining that his campaign will now face the scrutiny of a special prosecutor while neither his predecessor nor 2016 opponent never have.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed!” the president wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, without elaborating further on the illegal acts he accused the Clinton campaign and Obama administration of committing