Understanding Donald Trump Means Understanding Mental Health

Vanity Fair was on it last year. - promoted by Bob_Neer

“So it was really important that I do it, for myself … I mean I really considered it strongly last time” 

Donald Trump

A few weeks ago, I commented that Donald Trump had narcissistic personality disorder. My assertion was dismissed as “smug,” not “a good road” for political discourse, and “a pretty good way to cheapen and stigmatize people with mental illness.”One partisan claimed that Barack Obama could be diagnosed the same way. My goal was to improve our understanding and then prediction of the Republican nominee’s behavior. Diagnosing the mental health of the opposition’s candidate is not a viable political strategy because it’s rarely warranted (or effectivae, at least not since Nixon). Because his behavior makes no sense, a psychological analysis is warranted. And at this point, it’s too late to stop people from questioning Trump’s mental health for discussion to stop.

(CNN) New York Times columnist David Brooks says the Republican candidate for president appears to have “multiple personality disorders.” Michael Bloomberg prefers to imply that he is not “sane.” And on Sunday the billionaire Mark Cuban called Donald Trump “bats**t crazy.”

Though hardly a term of art when it comes to mental health, Cuban’s comment reflects widespread concern about the stability of the Republican nominee for president.

Eugene Robinson and Robert Kagan have also commented extensively. In fact, Trump’s behavior has been so weird in the last 72 hours that ”Top Republicans and political allies to Donald Trump have been talking about an “intervention.”

What’s missing from these discussions is a useful framework and vocabulary. Mental health problems are many, varied, and complex, and colloquial descriptions oversimplify them and shortchange people who suffer from them. Words like “crazy” and “sane” are descriptively useless, not to mention offensive to the mentally ill. There is still enough stigma about mental health issues that we struggle to discuss them in public. Intellectually, we may accept the mental illness as a health issue, but we still discuss it as if were something at the very least slightly shameful. As a society, we need to do better. We can’t do so when we’re afraid to talk about mental health.

That’s not to say that we need psychological diagnoses to understand the vast majority of people, including politicians. Biographers, like Robert Caro, do a good job of conveying the psychological complexity of politicians without referring to the DSM. Psychological diagnoses aren’t requisite for understanding complex personalities, but if a politician is likely to have a psychological disorder, there is no reason to use it to describe him. In the case of Donald Trump’s case, the amount of evidence and commentary about his mental health warrants a discussion. Crude, colloquial terminology has limited explanatory power and does an injustice to people who are mentally ill. If Trump suffered from alcoholism, we wouldn’t hesitate to discuss it. It’s not any different to discuss the fact that he exhibits the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder explains his behavior better than anything else.

Most people are familiar with mood disorders, depression and bipolar disorder. Few people, however, are acquainted with personality disorders:

a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and to people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social encounters, work and school.

Some people may have heard of Borderline Personality Disorder, which has been a trendy diagnosis. Most people have heard of psychopathy, though not by its clinical term anti-social personality disorder. Psychologists and a congresswoman have suggested that Donald Trump has narcissistic personality disorder.

Trump has the symptoms of a personality disorder. He has “trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people.” He’s the guy who tells a mom that he loves babies. He tells her not to leave, then changes his mind. He knows it’s right to say nice things about babies, and in my opinion, he was actually being honest about liking the baby. But then he changed his mind about the baby staying. Trump doesn’t admit to mistakes, so he made a joke about the mother not taking him seriously the first time he spoke. It wasn’t his fault that he told her to stay–it was hers–but he was forgiving her without admitting he was wrong. It was also bizarre that he told the veteran who gave him his Purple Heart that “I always wanted one of these.” An appropriate comment would have been reflected the veteran’s sacrifice, but Trump really has “trouble relating to situations and people.”

Honored To Have Congressman Moulton's Support

You're welcome! - promoted by Bob_Neer
“If there’s one thing I can tell you about Jen— beyond all her energy, her enthusiasm— it’s that she gets public service. She really gets public service. And anyone who is represented by Jen ought to know that.”
–Congressman Seth Moulton
I was honored to have been joined by my Congressman, Seth Moulton (MA-6), local officials, and supporters from across the district and beyond to discuss political courage and new leadership at a recent event in Wakefield.
Wakefield Selectwoman Ann McGonigle Santos, School Committeeman Tom Markham, School Committee Chair Greg Liakos, and former School Committee Chair, Anthony Guardia also attended the event. I appreciated the opportunity to see them, and to engage with them about the issues that matter to Wakefield.
My campaign is about what we’ve focused on from the start– fighting for progressive change to move us all forward together with heart and hard work.
My platform will champion :
  • Strengthening our public schools.
  • Addressing the opioid crisis.
  • Revitalizing our crumbling infrastructure.
  • Protecting our vital environmental resources.
I want to thank all of my liberal friends at Blue Mass Group for your continued support and encouragement.
Jen Migliore
Candidate for State Representative
Ninth Essex District 

Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen is eloquent:

Short-Fingered Vulgarian


Scientific studies prove Trump is in the 15th-25th percentile for hand size.

Hounded for decades by accusations that his fingers are less than average length, Donald Trump has repeatedly used the 2016 presidential campaign as an opportunity to defend his digits, calling his hands “fine,” “normal,” even “slightly large, actually,” and insisting that he frequently buys “a slightly smaller than large sized glove.” On Wednesday, a bombshell report threw those claims into doubt.

The Hollywood Reporter obtained a verified copy of Trump’s handprint, cast from his own hands by the expert sculptors at Madame Tussauds. The famed waxworks museum had measured Trump for a life-sized sculpture, which was removed from their New York City location in 2011. But Trump’s handprint itself, which was cast in bronze, has for the entirety of the presidential election been displayed prominently in front of the Tussauds museum in Times Square.

Their official discovery: measured from wrist to the tip of his middle finger, Trump’s hands are 7.25 inches in length.

According to several scientific studies, this is a definitively below-average hand length for a man, especially for his height of 6 feet 2 inches. A 1980 study commissioned by the U.S. Army indicates that Trump’s hand length of 7.25 inches hovers around the 25th percentile of hand length among military men. A meta-analysis of studies from the Georgia Tech Research Institute places Trump’s hands below the 50th percentile. And the 1988 Anthropomorphic Survey of U.S. Personnel, used frequently by the Ergonomic Center of North Carolina, places Trump’s hands at the 15th percentile. Trump is, medically speaking, short-fingered.

Now you know.

"There's no excuse" -- Sen. President Rosenberg absolutely rips House, committee system

If you follow politics at all in Massachusetts — especially from the progressive angle, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this edition of the Sacred Codcast, in which Stan Rosenberg dishes on the stupid, rushed way that legislation gets worked on in committee. And he lays it squarely at the feet of the House. Legislation emerges way too late from committee; merging the bills is a mindless “swap meet” of provisions; there’s no transparency; legislation is rushed to pass at the very end of the session; and it’s all completely unnecessary.

For instance, this is why the energy bill that was passed was so weak, especially compared to the excellent Senate version: No Renewable Portfolio Standard increase; no ban on the hugely unpopular pipeline tax; etc. Rosenberg cites the obvious, which is that the Governor must have backed up DeLeo on these provisions.

House progressives should know that this is an embarrassment to them. House leaders, including and especially the Speaker, are making them look weak, marginalized, and ineffective. Most of them try to play an inside game, keeping disagreement under wraps so that they can get some scraps thrown their way. And since they voted to keep him Speaker-for-Life, they have very, very little leverage.

That energy bill was a huge missed opportunity. There are rumblings in the Senate that they’ll revisit energy next year. They should.

No seriously, click “play” and listen to Rosenberg.

First the Missouri Compromise, then Paul LePage

After reading the American Prospect’s profile of Maine Governor Paul LePage (written by Commonwealth Magazine alumna Gabrielle Gurley), I’m starting to have second thoughts about our state’s decision two hundred years ago to let Maine go its own way.

I mean, think about it: the first consequence of that decision was the expansion of slavery by way of the Missouri Compromise. And now, by way of Maine’s curious habit of electing governors who enjoy only a plurality, not a majority, of support, there’s two-term Governor Paul LePage, whose political success is largely the result of pitting one group of Mainers against another, with overtones of both class and racial warfare. Portland and southern Maine, Gurley reports, are contemptuously denoted as “northern Massachusetts” — that is, “a region full of rich people, socialists, immigrants, welfare recipients, and other unappealing types found in or near urban areas.”

The good news: the Governor’s office in Maine is term-limited. The teachable moment: LePage’s tenure in Maine gives us a glimpse of what a Trump presidency might be like. Check it out when you’re feeling brave.

August BMG Stammtisch TONIGHT!

Sorry to miss this one, but have a beverage for me! - promoted by david

The Saloon

The first Stammtisch of the real campaign season. Come, enjoy some libations, and talk politics. This is the first Stammtisch after the conventions.

Our now-regular monthly BMG Stammtisch will happen tonight — 3-August — at The Saloon in Davis Square at 7p.

Hope to see you there!

First Congressional domino falls for Trump. Will others follow suit?

The GOP is fracturing before our eyes. - promoted by Bob_Neer

It is being reported that US Rep. Richard Hanna of New York has become the first sitting GOP member of Congress to publicly state that he will vote for Hillary Clinton this November, saying that Trump is unfit to serve.  He represents the 22nd district (R+3), which is smack in the middle of NY and is not seeking re-election.  Since first elected in 2010 he has been known as a bit of a maverick, notably with his vocal support for marriage equality according to the linked article.  I can only wonder if there are others, especially in marginal districts, who might decide this is either the politically smart or morally correct option.


Whatever the content of Trump's tax returns, he should release them. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The recent brouhaha over Trump’s relationship — or lack thereof — with the Russian dictator Putin raises interesting questions.  The Donald now claims he never even met the megalomaniac in a way reminiscent of Peter’s denial of knowing Christ just before His execution.  Now to be clear.  I’m not accusing the Trumpster of being a megalomaniac.  The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact he wishes to be powerful rather than charming and seeks to be feared rather than loved.

But something smells fishy here and I think the answer lies in Donald’s unreleased tax returns.  I’ll bet my pension those returns are going to show Trump’s corrupt business connection with Russia.

If proved, that corruption could be a violation of the Logan Act which defines sedition and treason : ” Private correspondence with foreign governments.  Any citizen of the United States, whoever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measure or conduct of any foreign government, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Verrrrrrry interesting.  No ?

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

How does a month in jail because you could not pay a fine sound? Like debtor's prison, maybe? Happens every day in our state.

Absolutely obscene predatory behavior against the poor -- directly by the state itself. This is the kind of thing which kept Sandra Bland, a woman of so much promise, in a Kafkaesque cycle of debt, poverty, and imprisonment. Not in Massachusetts, not anywhere. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

State Senator Jamie Eldridge wrote:

“Just leaving the State House, after a fairly long day. I joined Senator Mike Barrett, in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, in his oversight hearing today to look into the fees and fines imposed upon Mass residents convicted of crimes, both in the court process, and in prison. The hearing was nothing less than disturbing. Senior judicial branch leaders who did not have basic data about the kinds of fines and fees imposed on the accused (the vast majority of whom are poor), prisoners being charged for making phone calls, and then the DOC taking a commission from the calls, while also paying $170 for a small TV that would cost $40 at Best Buy. People who surrender themselves to court for an unpaid fine, being sent to jail for over a month because they could not pay the fine (often over $500) right then and there, without legal counsel. There are so many layers of criminal justice reform that must happen in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it’s mind boggling. After I left the hearing, a member of EPOCA told me of how the DOC froze his personal prison bank account (from working in the prison) because he hadn’t yet paid for some drug testing, preventing him from sending money back to his family for MONTHS. I am beyond outraged, and eager to take up massive, bold legislation change to break through the destructive status quo that is the Massachusetts criminal justice system, that puts even greater obstacles on poor people, communities of color, and people suffering from mental illness. Thank you, Senator Barrett, for shining a light on these injustices.

Well, there’s more.  Do not forget that the Courts had 20% of their funding slashed under Romney and Winslow, and were told to make it up by collecting fees. Thus turning judges into bill collectors and the court system into a debtor’s prison pipeline.  I was appointed to represent a destitute mentally ill woman who was hit with two $150 counsel fees, one for herself and one for her two year old.["Counsel fees" don't go to the appointed attorney, they go to the State]  I had to mark up motions and fight the fees to get them waived.   All so that line item 0321-0330 [Non employee court funding] could recoup money and shift costs to line item 0321-1510 [which funds appointments to attorneys from representing the indigent - as happened when I had to draft, schedule and argue my motion to waive those fees then bill for my time to line item 0321-1510] while my client disregulated. It is more than disturbing – it is shameful and destructive.  Nursing mothers are separated from their kids for unpaid fines, this way – or for OUIs and locked detox.  Because there are no treatment beds they are put in Framingham Prison.  The human suffering is huge, wrong, and intolerable.

Trump teaming up with Russia against America?

Bumped, for glory. Yanukovych was forced out of power by the Ukranians in 2014. - promoted by Bob_Neer

An explosive article leads The Guardian:

A key figure at the Republican national convention where Donald Trump was nominated for president has strong business ties with Ukraine, the Guardian has learned.

The party platform, written at the convention in Cleveland last week, removed references to arming Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russia rebels, who have received material support from the Kremlin. Trump’s links to Russia are under scrutiny after a hack of Democratic national committee emails, allegedly by Russian agents.

The coordinator of the Washington diplomatic corps for the Republicans in Cleveland was Frank Mermoud, a former state department official involved in business ventures in Ukraine via Cub Energy, a Black Sea-focused oil and gas company of which he is a director. He is also on the board of the US Ukraine Business Council.

Mermoud has longstanding ties to Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who in 2010 helped pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych refashion his image and win a presidential election in Ukraine. Manafort was brought in earlier this year to oversee the convention operations and its staffing.

And what about those hidden tax returns of Trump’s?

Chomsky on Lesser Evil Voting

In short: vote for Clinton. - promoted by Bob_Neer

I just came across this and don’t remember seeing it posted or discussed here, so thought I’d post it:


An Eight Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting)

By John Halle and Noam Chomsky

JohnHalle.com, June 15, 2016

(Note: Professor Chomsky requests that he not be contacted with responses to this piece.)


Among the elements of the weak form of democracy enshrined in the constitution, presidential elections continue to pose a dilemma for the left in that any form of participation or non participation appears to impose a significant cost on our capacity to develop a serious opposition to the corporate agenda served by establishment politicians. The position outlined below is that which many regard as the most effective response to this quadrennial Hobson’s choice, namely the so-called “lesser evil” voting strategy or LEV. Simply put, LEV involves, where you can, i.e. in safe states, voting for the losing third party candidate you prefer, or not voting at all. In competitive “swing” states, where you must, one votes for the “lesser evil” Democrat.

Before fielding objections, it will be useful to make certain background stipulations with respect to the points below. The first is to note that since changes in the relevant facts require changes in tactics, proposals having to do with our relationship to the “electoral extravaganza” should be regarded as provisional. This is most relevant with respect to point 3) which some will challenge by citing the claim that Clinton’s foreign policy could pose a more serious menace than that of Trump.

In any case, while conceding as an outside possibility that Trump’s foreign policy is preferable, most of us not already convinced that that is so will need more evidence than can be aired in a discussion involving this statement. Furthermore, insofar as this is the fact of the matter, following the logic through seems to require a vote for Trump, though it’s a bit hard to know whether those making this suggestion are intending it seriously.

Another point of disagreement is not factual but involves the ethical/moral principle addressed in 1), sometimes referred to as the “politics of moral witness.” Generally associated with the religious left, secular leftists implicitly invoke it when they reject LEV on the grounds that “a lesser of two evils is still evil.” Leaving aside the obvious rejoinder that this is exactly the point of lesser evil voting-i.e. to do less evil, what needs to be challenged is the assumption that voting should be seen a form of individual self-expression rather than as an act to be judged on its likely consequences, specifically those outlined in 4). The basic moral principle at stake is simple: not only must we take responsibility for our actions, but the consequences of our actions for others are a far more important consideration than feeling good about ourselves.

While some would suggest extending the critique by noting that the politics of moral witness can become indistinguishable from narcissistic self-agrandizement, this is substantially more harsh than what was intended and harsher than what is merited. That said, those reflexively denouncing advocates of LEV on a supposed “moral” basis should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted to be the case.

A third criticism of LEV equates it with a passive acquiescence to the bipartisan status quo under the guise of pragmatism, usually deriving from those who have lost the appetite for radical change. It is surely the case that some of those endorsing LEV are doing so in bad faith-cynical functionaries whose objective is to promote capitulation to a system which they are invested in protecting. Others supporting LEV, however, can hardly be reasonably accused of having made their peace with the establishment. Their concern, as alluded to in 6) and 7) inheres in the awareness that frivolous and poorly considered electoral decisions impose a cost, their memories extending to the ultra-left faction of the peace movement having minimized the comparative dangers of the Nixon presidency during the 1968 elections. The result was six years of senseless death and destruction in Southeast Asia and also a predictable fracture of the left setting it up for its ultimate collapse during the backlash decades to follow.

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the “reasonable” alternative. A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.

A more general conclusion to be derived from this recognition is that this sort of cost/benefit strategic accounting is fundamental to any politics which is serious about radical change. Those on the left who ignore it, or dismiss it as irrelevant are engaging in political fantasy and are an obstacle to, rather than ally of, the movement which now seems to be materializing.

Finally, it should be understood that the reigning doctrinal system recognizes the role presidential elections perform in diverting the left from actions which have the potential to be effective in advancing its agenda. These include developing organizations committed to extra-political means, most notably street protest, but also competing for office in potentially winnable races. The left should devote the minimum of time necessary to exercise the LEV choice then immediately return to pursuing goals which are not timed to the national electoral cycle.


1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.

5) 4) should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.

6) However, the left should also recognize that, should Trump win based on its failure to support Clinton, it will repeatedly face the accusation (based in fact), that it lacks concern for those sure to be most victimized by a Trump administration.

7) Often this charge will emanate from establishment operatives who will use it as a bad faith justification for defeating challenges to corporate hegemony either in the Democratic Party or outside of it. They will ensure that it will be widely circulated in mainstream media channels with the result that many of those who would otherwise be sympathetic to a left challenge will find it a convincing reason to maintain their ties with the political establishment rather than breaking with it, as they must.

8) Conclusion: by dismissing a “lesser evil” electoral logic and thereby increasing the potential for Clinton’s defeat the left will undermine what should be at the core of what it claims to be attempting to achieve.


chomsky.info : The Noam Chomsky Website

chomsky.info : The Noam Chomsky Website

The Noam Chomsky Website.

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Photos I like from the DNC

I took a ton of photographs at the DNC – too many to include in a post.  Here’s a more or less random sampler of photos I like.  I’ll post a link to a bigger collection when I get them uploaded.  Hope you enjoy – and please let me know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see.

Bernie Sanders leaving the MA delegation breakfast

I’m pretty sure she’s with her

Seen on the streets of Philadelphia

The loneliest coffee cup. Wolf Blitzer was there a second before.