USA Tops COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Map from Johns Hopkins

The Speech I Wish President Trump Would Have Delivered at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic

INTRODUCTION by EshrinkBlog.com Author, Darell J Smith, M.D.

It was not until the death of my parents many years ago that I realized how little I knew about their childhood, and set out to write some vignettes for my grandchildren (and children) about what growing up was like for me.  These stories morphed into one story about a year in my life as a 12-year-old during WWII.  Imagine my surprise when I was presented with a book [link to Reflections for the Future book. Free download. On-demand printing of hard cover book] with my name on it containing a bunch of the stuff I had written.  This was the doings of daughter number four, Maggie, the journalist.  I was so pumped at the sight of my name on a dust jacket that when Maggie signed me up for a blog, I jumped right in, convinced that I was to become the Grandma Moses of essayists.  She has remained involved as my editor, but rarely makes any changes in the copy always insisting that it is good even when it sucks.  

Now you have the opportunity of reading Maggie’s marvelously comprehensive and detailed treatise as to how the COVID-19 pandemic should and could have been handled.  It begs the question as to how many lives might have been saved and how much suffering could have been averted by the exercise of such leadership.  The format, as the speech which should have been made, is a very creative means by which to deliver the message, and is a very typical Maggie approach. 

Although this type of critical thinking should not have surprised me, I still have difficulty at times reconciling myself to the realization of the talents exhibited by this once skinny shy little redhaired girl.  Since we now have less than a month until the election, it is too late to mount a write in campaign to elect Maggie, but I am certain that after reading her speech, you will agree that she should be sitting behind that big desk in the oval office.  


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—The speech I wish the President of the United States of America would have given in February. As the leader of the free world, the President of the United States had the opportunity and the responsibility to inform Americans. Time and again throughout history, great leaders have emerged due to their unselfish sacrifice, character, compassion, strength, and communications skills during a time of crisis. Americans don’t panic, as Trump said regarding his rationale for not telling us the real score. I wrote this speech in an hour after hearing the tapes of President Trump being interviewed in early February by Bob Woodward.  This is the speech I wish the President of the United States, Donald Trump, would have given in February. The USA accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population, but has 20% of the world’s cases of COVID-19 and 20% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19.

Words matter. Leadership matters. We, as Americans, deserve more than a president who hides information because he thinks we are a bunch of panic-stricken cowards who can’t handle the truth. We deserve a president who cares more about the country, all Americans, and the future and well-being of our Republic than he does himself, politics, his image, and celebrity status. Please read the following and see if it you think our country would be in a better place today if we had a president who would have been willing to put his ego aside and give us the following information. I’m just a normal American, with a normal job, two children, who loves this country and the opportunity it represents. We’re not perfect. No human is perfect. No government is perfect. No system is perfect, but our founders certainly built an exceptional form of government for the people and by the people. It’s our job to do our best each day to build upon that foundation to learn, improve, and get better. It’s our responsibility to make sure we build upon that foundation and elect people in all branches of government that showcase the best attributes and characteristics we possess as Americans.

THANKS FOR READING:
Maggie Smith

The SPEECH I WISH OUR PRESIDENT WOULD HAVE GIVEN at the ONSET of the CORONAVIRUS

Fellow Americans:

We have a challenge in front of us that is unlike any other we’ve faced in our lifetime. COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is an invisible threat to our health and welfare. Together, we will find the best way forward and we will prevail. We will remain calm but also vigilant.  As Americans, we have overcome crises before and we will use that same dedication to hard work, sacrifice, ingenuity, focus, and teamwork to overcome this crisis.

Today, I will outline what we know, the steps we have taken. What you can expect from this administration, resources you can use, and what you can do to help.

Now, is the time to put politics aside. Now, is the time to put divisiveness aside. Now is the time to rely on the brilliant scientists who are dedicated to learning about this new virus and finding the best ways to treat it with the ultimate goal of developing a safe and effective vaccine.

We must work together as Americans and citizens of the world to navigate this viral threat in order to minimize the damage and stop the spread as quickly as we can. This will require vigilance from all of us. We want to contain this virus and stop the spread in order to save lives.

Here is what we know:

As of today, we know that a new coronavirus has infected Wuhan, China. I have Dr. Faucci, who is one of our nation’s top epidemiologists with me and he will share medical information about the virus when I’m finished, but in broad terms, coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans. They often circulate among camels, cats, and bats, and can sometimes evolve and infect people. You might remember SARS that affected many in Asia back in 2004 and there was MERS, the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, that affected many countries in 2012. Both of these were coronaviruses. The origin of this coronavirus is still being investigated. As I mentioned, we know the first recorded case was in WuHan, China, but again we will learn more as scientific investigators amass information. You’ll also hear the term COVID-19, where the CO stands for corona and the VI stands for Virus, the D stands for Disease and 19 is the year this particular virus was identified when China reported it to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019). The World Health Organization has provided the following information about testing, symptoms from the people infected so far, and how the virus spreads. [LIST ALL THE INFORMATION THAT WE KNOW WITH EACH SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION LISTED. (How many people infected worldwide, how many in the USA- for instance, in early February, we only had 12 cases and they were people who had returned to the US from China but some had not been in the Wuhan province, the CDC’s guidance that was published February that urged all people who had travelled to the US from mainland China since January 19th to self-quarantine and report their status to health officials, etc., just the facts and who is providing the information. Who What When Where and Why. Back to the speech

What the U.S. Government has done so far to prepare:

Here are the steps our administration has taken to combat the pandemic as of today.

We’ve set up a governor’s task force to help each state get the information and resources they need. Each member of the task force has been assigned 5 governors. They start their day with a meeting with each governor and then again at the end of the day to identify progress on action items established during the morning meeting. I am briefed at the end of each day by the task force members. We know that each state will have different needs and different levels of outbreak. The best way to minimize the spread of COVID-19 right now is for us to stay ahead of it and minimize contact with one another.

I have daily meetings with the leadership of both parties in Congress in conjunction with the Surgeon General, CDC director, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, FDA, and FEMA. This is a time for transparency, not politics. This is a time for scientists and epidemiologists, not conspiracy theories or snake oil cures. Please be especially careful of sharing inaccurate information. We know we will learn more each day, each hour about this virus. Therefore, truth and transparency is critical, but an understanding that information may change as doctors, epidemiologists, and scientists learn more about how the virus spreads, what treatments are the most helpful, and how it affects different populations.

The World

That brings us to the world. This pandemic doesn’t know any boundaries of country. We’ve organized a global COVID-19 task force that is comprised of each branch of government here in the United States and key members of my cabinet that will be in constant contact with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and our allies to get key updates. This is a time when it’s helpful to have relationships around the world, especially the 80 years we’ve partnered with NATO. This Global Coronavirus Task Force is working to find the source of this novel coronavirus, COVID-19, to gain as much information as possible about the virus in order for us to understand it so we can combat it effectively. Again, information sharing and coordinated research efforts will help us be more effective to stop the spread of this virus, find the most effective treatments, and to identify the most accurate tests to diagnose coronavirus.

Accurate and reliable tests to know who has been infected with coronavirus is step 1 right now. The World Health Organization has provided testing information. Obviously, since this is a new virus, tests are limited. Therefore, we will work with the private sector and our government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control to find the most efficient way to increase the number of accurate tests. We will need to triage based on real data that shows where contagion is the greatest. Just as manufacturing ramped up during World War II, converting factories of all kinds to make much needed supplies such as tanks, airplanes, etc., that were critical to our success during the early war effort, our brilliant and dedicated scientists and doctors are critical to our success during this early part of the pandemic. Together, they will find the best path forward to get accurate and reliable tests while also working on treatment for this who are sick and also working with the world health community to find a safe and effective vaccine. But you are a critical part of our success to mitigate the spread of this virus, too. We all must do our part and there might be some short-term sacrifice involved, but as Americans, we play the long game and are willing to make sacrifices today to create a better tomorrow.

ACCURATE INFORMATION IS KEY

When crises are unfolding, it’s easy for inaccurate information to be distributed. Sometimes, it’s because the information appears correct but later is proven to be incorrect as we learn more. That’s why I encourage you to be extremely careful about your information sources and be responsible in what information you share. In short, always cite your sources. You should know where you are getting your information and let people know where you read it, heard it, or saw it.

One good source of information is the Johns Hopkins Hospital website. They have created a COVID-19 tracker that the entire world is using to track the virus. Their statistics and data input have been vetted by my administration and those in the scientific and medical community.

IMPORTANCE OF THE MEDIA

In talking to you about information, I must include the media. I know I have talked about FAKE NEWS and ALTERNATIVE FACTS in the past. However, this type of rhetoric is not useful during a time of crisis. Responsible reporting and distribution of the facts by the journalists in the media is imperative. While I’ve continuously called out reporters and news outlets during specific examples of what I think is an inherent bias during my term as president, the majority of reporters are dedicated to truth and responsible reporting. My personal opinions and popularity are not important during a crisis of this scale. Therefore, I implore each American to follow the truth, follow the facts, and I pledge that my administration will lead by example and be transparent with the media and with you. With that said, please know that information and data will most certainly change as WE LEARN MORE. This administration will work very hard to release information that has been properly vetted through reliable sources. All of us must work together to stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of each other.

I pledge that our administration will address the American people each night at 7 pm with the latest information. My team will provide access through every available channel, whether it be online, social media, streaming, network TV, or radio.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

So, what can you do as an American in the face of this crisis. First, remain calm. Secondly, do the normal things to stay as healthy as possible, including good hygiene and hand washing, getting enough sleep, watching for the symptoms we know are part of this virus (especially loss of smell and taste). If you have a fever, please call your doctor. Tests are limited and you want to minimize exposure to other people, but you don’t want to ignore symptoms. Please contact your doctor’s office and have them help you figure out the best option for your situation. Finally, accurate information is important. Please know that we are doing everything possible to find the right answers, minimize the negative impact of this virus, fight this pandemic with all of our resources. You can help by making sure you are responsible and careful with the information you share. This is a time for us to work together as Americans. We have faced challenges before and as a country we have succeeded by working together and bringing out the best in each other. I pledge to make sure I lead by example. I will not allow politics, rhetoric, and conspiracy theories to take center stage during a pandemic. We need everyone right now to be at the top of their game and that means you. Republicans, democrats, independents, and everything in between…party doesn’t matter, politics don’t matter…we are all in this together! All of our energy must be focused on minimizing the impact of coronavirus on the lives and health of Americans.

Please tune in for updates each day. If you have specific questions, you can contact the coronavirus hotline (it is a partnership between the federal government, state governments, and the private sector). You can call 1-800-555-1600, email info@cornonavirus.org, and get information at that website www.coronavirus.org.

Finally, please thank the nurses and doctors and all the healthcare workers. They stand ready to take on this virus. We appreciate their service and sacrifice. Obviously, we hope the protocols and planning we are putting into place now won’t be needed, but we must hope for the best while we prepare for the worst.

Please stay strong. Stay safe. God bless you and God bless the United States of America and the world.”

Final Note from Eshrink Editor and Daughter of Eshrink
When I wrote this speech, I wasn’t trying to Monday morning quarterback as they say…I was trying to illustrate how leadership makes a difference, especially in a crisis. Below are some resources I hope you find interesting and informative.

First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States

What Is Coronavirus from Johns Hopkins University

The World Coronavirus Tracker by Johns Hopkins University

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases – a non-profit founded in 1973 to provide dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan.

Daily Updates for the Month of February to MIT staff regarding COVID-19

List of Deaths Per Capita (the USA is – Click here for the full list

  • Peru
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Spain
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico
  • USA

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Brain of Trump Voter

An Attempt to Understand Trump Fans (a.k.a. Trumpsters | Trumpers)

LOYAL TRUMP FANS

An enduring puzzle for we anti-trumpers is why the President’s support never wavers in spite of his behaviors or the direction of the political winds at any given time.  Rarely have we seen in this country such loyalty to a political figure.   It seems as if weekly we see another book published with more information about this man, any one of which would scuttle or at least diminish the stature of any other political figure, yet he remains unscathed.  The fact that he was elected with the help of women voters in spite of a widely distributed video of him bragging about his position providing him with license to sexually molest women is unfathomable.  There was also the issue of his fraudulent Trump University, history of multiple bankruptcies, along with unethical and dishonest business practices.  His so-called charitable foundation was closed down due to its illegal dispensing of funds, and the list goes on.

Since Trump’s election, the new cottage industry of fact checking has sprung up, and his record of lies has eclipsed by thousands that of any other politician past or present. While I don’t have the time to provide a comprehensive list of all the unethical, sometimes illegal, and often immoral things Trump has done (afterall, I just turned 90), I’ve listed some of the highlights as a reminder:

  • He has used his power as President to free or lessen the sentences of colleagues, and refuses to hold himself accountable for his actions by ignoring lawfully executed subpoenas.
  • He has taken extreme measures to keep secret the contents of his meetings and phone calls with Putin, his favorite dictatorial leader, and is chummy with most of the others.
  • He admits to never having broached the subject with Putin of his bounties on U.S. soldiers.
  • He gives a wink and a nod to the Saudi Prince who ordered the assassination of a U.S. resident friendly to us (a reporter who wrote articles about the Saudi government that were unflattering).
  • He rewarded the Kurds, who fought beside us and played a major role in defeating Isis, by abandoning them to be slaughtered by another of his fascist buddies – Erdogan.
  • He regularly insults our friends and sucks up to our enemies around the world.
  • He seems determined to destroy NATO, the longest lasting successful peace maintenance organization in the history of the world.
  • His policies are also on track to promote more pollution and enhance climate change.
  • He denies facts and the expertise of scientists on a routine basis.

But his most recent outrageous ploy is to only provide the Congressional Intelligence Committee with written reports in order to prevent them from asking questions…and allow him to keep more secrets from Congress and therefore keep more secrets from us: the people (remember that “government for the people, by the people” deal?).  But this is only a very small part of the lists of my complaints about this guy for a more complete one would fill several books and it has! Nevertheless, when I get on a roll I find it hard to stop!

Why Do Intelligent People Continue to Support this Flawed Individual?

Back to the question at hand – why do intelligent people continue to offer unwavering support for this flawed individual?  According to the latest Gallup poll, his approval rating has not budged from 42%.   Although this has troubled me for some time, it was brought to the fore recently when a fellow anti-trumper brought up the question by mentioning a disagreement he had with one of our mutual friends.  We agreed that this person was extremely intelligent, nevertheless, he was quoted by my friend as saying regarding Trump: “While I would not choose Trump for a friend, I will vote for him again”.  He also saw Trump as a victim and praised Barr for defending him.  It was not clear why he felt Trump was worthy of a job as the most powerful man in the world, yet not as a friend, but I assume this attitude may reflect the thinking of many people.

Does Character Count for Anything?

It would appear that to our friend, issues of character were not very important in a leader.  Likewise, we have the incongruous situation in which evangelical Christians are said to be in general very supportive of Trump.  Regarding his moral deficiencies, they respond that their faith requires them to be forgiving. However, my understanding of scripture leads me to believe that in order to be forgiven, one must show contrition, and ask for forgiveness…not exactly the style of the Donald.

As I watched Trump give his address on that desecrated White House lawn to this group of unmasked people sitting shoulder to shoulder obviously ignoring any policies designed to prevent infection with a potentially fatal virus, I wondered how such a group of very intelligent people could do such a stupid thing, and put themselves and their families at risk.  Trump’s strategy was of course obvious in that with a death occurring from COVID every 80 seconds, and the world’s worst record in containing the virus, perhaps it was wise to ignore the facts and emphasize the minor efforts he had put forth to contain the illness no matter their ineffectiveness.  Granted, many in that audience may benefit in a personal way from such a relationship with the President, yet these people have not been living under a rock, which makes it hard to believe they don’t question some of Trump’s rhetoric.

The Road to The White House via Reality TV | The Greatest Con Ever

Much has been written about the psychological make-up of Trump, even by people like me, but perhaps it would be more helpful to understand the thinking of those who are loyal to him.   Trump spent several years honing his skills as a reality TV host.  Of course, most reality TV has little to do with reality, but a lot to do with feigning reality.  Undoubtedly, this was very helpful in the development of a certain amount of charisma.  Acting is all about pretending to be something you are not.  The professional actor is able to step out of his role and display his real self when the show is over, but the antisocial personality presents his act to be who he really is, which is the secret to the success of any con man.  Since he lacks a superego, the anti-social Trump is unencumbered by the feelings of guilt or concern for others and is therefore, very believable and ingratiating.  Add to this, the pseudo-confidence of the narcissist and the con is complete.

Personal Freedom? 

We humans insist that we treasure our freedom, yet the idea of personal freedom has only been prevalent for  200 to 300 years.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we are by nature tribal or herd animals, and a herd must have leadership to function.  Our founders are said to have been concerned as to the susceptibility of their citizens to a charismatic leader with nefarious intent, which is one of the reasons they are said to have settled on the bizarre system of an electoral college. On the other hand, a certain amount of charisma is necessary in order to become a leader.

The First Act

Trump’s entrance into the run for president in 2016 was largely seen as a publicity scheme, and the pundits mostly treated it as a joke.  As he descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, he was cheered on cue by a group of recruits who had been paid to participate in the production.  We will probably never know if he actually felt he had a chance to be president, but to most people’s surprise his “unconventional” approach to campaigning provided him with a great deal of free publicity. That part was not surprising since his career, indeed his whole being, had been devoted to being noticed.  His outrageous behavior and utter contempt for the traditional decorum of the Republican debates left his adversaries helplessly babbling, and a large group of voters who were fed up with Congress began to take him seriously.

The Second Act

With his nomination, Trump’s message to middle class Americans who had felt neglected by their government for 30 years was that he could fix it.  With Congress’s approval in the teens and on occasion even below 10%, his tough guy persona definitely appealed. Consequently; his “make America Great Again” slogan resonated and his entertaining rallies were met with a great deal of enthusiasm.  As a matter of fact, his core supporters became rabid in their belief that he alone could and would “drain the Swamp” even if that’s not the way the founders designed our system of government.

Trump thrives on mass political gatherings and his disciples crowd into them with the enthusiasm of fans attending a rock band concert.  He offers little in the way of policy commitments, but directs them as to who they should blame for whatever problems trouble them.  There are also lessons as to who they should fear and why.  He arrives on stage with his signature baseball cap assuring them he is just one of the guys while at the same time convincing them that he is the only one tough enough to solve their problems.  His continuous use of twitter keeps that theme alive along with the continual drum beat as to whom they should beware.

He makes liberal use of projection, i.e., accuse others of whatever wrong doing you are guilty of, and when caught in a lie, deny, distract, divert, or double down repeatedly since persistent repetition eventually mimics truth.

Michael Cohen Trump's Fixer Pleads guilty

 

Loyalty or Brainwashing?

In a recent interview, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer turned informer, indicated that the Trump organization was like a cult.  Indeed, Cohen had once said that he would “take a bullet for him (Trump)”.  The apparent fanaticism of many of his followers, their unwavering loyalty in spite of his lies and irreverent behavior, along with their refusal to even hear negative comments about their hero are cult-like qualities, but it would be a stretch to consider Trump devotees as cult members.

 

Fear and Anger Trump the Day

It appears to me that the glue which unites his followers is the combination of fear and anger.  Trump has exploited their anger with his own tirades.  The message in his speeches are not nearly as important as the way in which they are communicated.  The sarcastic, belittling, and insulting characterizations are particularly effective against those belonging to what Trump refers to as the “liberal elite.”

This led the so-called common man to believe that Trump understood their feelings of disrespect by those of a higher socioeconomic standing – quite an accomplishment since those of a liberal persuasion have always seen themselves as champions of the working class while Trump’s career is replete with examples of his scamming them.  He also validated their conviction that their needs and opinions were ignored by their government.  He espoused his own brand of patriotism with outrage that our government has allowed ourselves to be disrespected and cheated by other countries, and that the U.S. has been signatories to a variety of bad deals.  There was also anger over the movement of industries off shore and subsequent loss of jobs, and as a matter of fact about anything that was wrong real or imagined.  Nothing unites a people like a common enemy and the raucous cheers of “lock her up” that erupted with his campaign rallies were effective in stirring up the crowd.  They went wild when Trump dealt with hecklers by promising to pay the fines of anyone who would “punch them in the nose.”

The following email, allegedly sent by Steve Harvey, explains the reasoning of my Trump supporting friend in addition to the anger. It also explains why disclosures of Trump’s character defects have no effect on his supporters.  They already know that he is a jerk, a liar, and grossly lacking in integrity.  They not only don’t care, but actually admire his obnoxious behavior.

HOW I FEEL ABOUT TRUMP: By Steve Harvey

Editors Note: The following communication was NOT by Steve Harvey, the comedian and host of Family Feud…just another lie. Every single fact checking organization has debunked it as well as Steve Harvey himself.   FactCheck.org | Snopes.com | PoliticiFact.com

You’ve been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons.. Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement.. You want them gone immediately!.. You call the city and 4 different exterminators, but nobody can handle the job.. But there is this one guy, and he guarantees to get rid of them, so you hire him.. You don’t care if the guy swears, you don’t care how many times he’s been married, you don’t care if he has a plumber’s crack, you simply want those raccoons gone!..

You want your problem fixed!.. He’s the guy.. He’s the best!

Here’s why we want Trump: Yes, he’s a bit of a jerk; Yes, he’s an egomaniac; but we don’t care!..

The country is a mess because politicians suck, the Republicans and Democrats can be two-faced and gutless, and illegals are everywhere.. We want it all fixed!.. We don’t care that Trump is crude, we don’t care that he insults people, we don’t care that he’s been married 3 times, we don’t care that he fights with Megyn Kelly and Rosie O’Donnell, we don’t care that he doesn’t know the name of some Muslim terrorist.. This country became weak and bankrupt, our enemies were making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegals, we are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo, and Hasid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born and raised in; “AND WE JUST WANT IT FIXED”..

And Trump is the only guy who seems to understand what the people want..

We’re sick of politicians, sick of the Democratic Party, sick of the Republican Party, and sick of illegals!.. We just want this thing fixed.. Trump may not be a Saint, but we didn’t vote for a Pope.. We voted for a man who doesn’t have lobbyist money holding him back, a man who doesn’t have political correctness restraining him.. We all know that he has been very successful, he’s a good negotiator, he has built a lot of things, and he’s also NOT a politician, NOT a cowardly politician.!..

And he says he’ll fix it.. And we believe him because he is too much of an egotist to be proven wrong, or looked at and called a liar.. Also, we don’t care if the guy has bad hair.. We just want those raccoons gone, out of our house, NOW!!!

You are welcome to copy/paste/share this.. Thousands of people who haven’t voted in 25 years seem to be getting involved.. And the more people get this message, the more that will understand why Trump was elected.. The raccoons have got to go!!!

Willful Ignorance

It appears that some people are not so worldly and choose to believe what the President says. For example, I recently saw an interview with an unmasked Trumper at a rally in which he was asked whether he was concerned about the virus.  He replied that there was nothing to worry about because “that whole pandemic thing” was a hoax, and that all those alleged casualties from the virus were actually people who were dying from causes unrelated to COVID.  Trump had given up the use of the word “hoax” to describe the pandemic several months ago, but this guy had apparently heard nothing more on the subject after Trump’s original pronouncement.   This is a feature which I call willful ignorance, i.e., when a person accepts something as fact, then closes their mind to consider any information that might debunk or contradict their belief.  This effect is maximized when as is the case of Republicans, they have their own personal propaganda machine, Fox News, or the democrats with their left leaning MSNBC.  (This is why I occasionally hold my nose and tune into Fox in order to reassure myself that I am not totally in the grip of confirmation bias.) Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to search for confirmation of our beliefs, which of course contributes further to our divisiveness.

Fear Mongering

The incitement of fear has been a consistent strategy throughout the Trump campaign and his time in office.  His initial focus was on immigration, in which he assured us that hordes of thugs, criminals, rapists, murderers, foreign agents, and other undesirables were invading our country, and must be stopped at all costs.  One of Trump’s strategies that some find appealing is his ability to simplify complex problems.  Consequently, his solution to the immigration problem ignored those knotty issues like murder of innocent citizens, mayhem, and mob rule against immigrants (legal or illegal), which were the norm in the countries of origin for those seeking asylum.  His solution was simple – build a fence, and better yet, have Mexico pay for it.  Studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of those seeking asylum are law abiding people who fear for their lives and the lives of their families, but Trump pulls out the fear mongering tactic with stories about MS13, a vicious gang, which he falsely attributes to having infiltrated the ranks of those seeking asylum.

With the the COVID-19 pandemic and the word out that immigrant kids were being separated from parents and kept in cages, border crossings were down and a new boogie man was needed.  The George Floyd murder with the resulting demonstrations arrived just in time.  Soon rioters arrived on the scene, and Trump’s right-hand person, Kelly Ann Conway, confirmed that she thought the broken windows, fires and looting would be good for the reelection campaign.  Always alert to a new opportunity, our President immediately went into law and order mode.  He championed the couple who were pictured guarding their home in a high-end gated community with an AR15 and hand gun.   He promised to straighten things out in minutes by sending in troops, although local mayors and governors insisted this made things worse.  Just in case those suburban “housewives” who voted for him the last time around missed it, he reminded them in a speech that he was protecting them by preventing any subsidized housing from being built in their neighborhoods so they would need not fear any invasions from the rif-raf.  Meanwhile, he was telling them they had nothing to fear from the one thing which deserved their fear: COVID-19.

Now that Biden appears to be leading in the polls, it appears Trump strategists are back to milking conspiracy theories.  Trump is once again referring to the “deep state” as a group of conspirators who operate within the government to undermine the democratic process and perpetrate all kinds of dastardly deeds.  The more recent version is that Biden is a closet socialist – this one designed to court the Cuban Latinos who fled Cuba’s Castro a generation ago, but all the dark state theories are designed to stoke fear of all democrats, and to undermine confidence in institutions.  However; if one looks at how the administration uses the awesome power of government to flout our laws, politicize our institutions, punish Trump’s adversaries, and reward his friends, one might easily conclude the “deep state” actually resides within the bowels of the White House.  Remember that thing I said about projection?

EDITOR’S NOTE:

As I talked with my 20-year-old daughter during a road trip to her grandparents’ house, I wondered if it was coincidence or genetics when she declared, “I’ve been trying to figure out how the Trump people think.” After all, she does possess some eshrink genetics! She said something like: “It seems like their thought process starts and ends with specific beliefs instead of processing information by evaluating the facts.” They think all democrats want to have abortions, are socialists, want to take their guns away, are unpatriotic and want a bloated government that is inefficient. 

For my part, I go back to the revisionist history and the bizarre inability to accept or process REAL EVENTS (videos of Trump; Trump Tweets) that show the hypocrisy that these people profess to hate about Washington. While Trump had been talking about the rigged system ramping up to the election when polls showed he would most likely lose, he kept denigrating the Electoral College (which was never meant to be a perfect system, but a compromise: read About a week before the 2016 election when Trump thought he was going to lose, his rhetoric was about the idiocy of the founders Electoral College process. Once he won the election via the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote, all the sudden it wasn’t such a bad idea ???

Now, as we get ready for another election, he starts again: the system is rigged (maybe he was right…maybe it is rigged and that’s why he won). What just baffles me is that these Trump supporters don’t see a problem with his type of bizarre thinking. If he professes our elections are rigged and he won, then he shouldn’t be our president. If he doesn’t think the election was rigged, then he was lying “playing them” and is doing the same thing now. If he does think the 2016 election was rigged, then he’s had four years to do something about it…so how can this one be rigged? How in the hell is this con man running as if he hasn’t been the guy in charge for four years? It is so bizarre, it baffles my brain. But I think it’s supposed to be that way. I’m supposed to be so confused that I think I’m the one that’s crazy…they call it gaslighting and I think the entire country is suffering at some level.

Below, are articles I found that might be of interest.

NOTE: Five times a candidate has won the popular vote and lost the election. Andrew Jackson in 1824 (to John Quincy Adams); Samuel Tilden in 1876 (to Rutherford B. Hayes); Grover Cleveland in 1888 (to Benjamin Harrison); Al Gore in 2000 (to George W. Bush); Hillary Clinton in 2016 (to Donald J. Trump).

Here’s what Trump said to Lesley Stahl about the Electoral College and a national popular vote for President on Sixty Minutes on November 13, 2016:

Link to full article

Stahl: Now for months you were running around saying the system is rigged.  The whole thing was rigged.  You tweeted once that the Electoral College is a “disaster for democracy.”

Trump: I do.

Stahl: So do you still think it’s rigged?

Trump: Well, I think the Electoral College.  Look I won with the Electoral College.

Stahl: Exactly.  But do you think it’s rigged?

Trump: Yes. Some of the election locations are. Some of the system is. Ah.

Stahl: Even though you won, you’re saying that.

Trump: Well, I mean, I’m not going to change my mind just because I won.  But I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win.  There’s a reason for doing this.  Because it brings all the states into play. The Electoral College. And there’s something very good about that.  But this is a different system.  But I respect it.  I do respect the system.

Although Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton rarely agree, Clinton said in 2000,

“I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people … and move to the popular election of our president.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37673797

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-calls-electoral-college-a-disaster-during-2012-tweetstorm/

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-100-days-226850

https://www.history.com/news/electoral-college-founding-fathers-constitutional-convention

Article by Psychology Today
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201812/complete-psychological-analysis-trumps-support

Opinion Piece by The Street

https://www.thestreet.com/opinion/what-it-looks-like-inside-the-brain-of-a-donald-trump-voter-13554000

 

A Republic. If You Can Keep It.

Is Our Republic in Jeopardy?

During the recent impeachment hearings, frequent reference was made to the quote by Benjamin Franklin when he was asked when leaving the Continental Congress in 1787 what type of government had been devised: a monarchy or a republic. He is alleged to have answered “A republic if you can keep it.”

We are once again in a time when many feel our ability to “Keep It” is in jeopardy. For over 200 years, such a thought would have seemed ludicrous, but recent events lead many of us to believe that our government is now at risk.

Politicians talk a great deal about public service, but the nature of that service involves the need for power. In a democratic republic such as ours, we elect people to do our bidding, and cede power commensurate with what is needed for them to do the jobs we hired them to do.

Unfortunately, power is intoxicating, and can be addicting. As with all forms of addiction, such a lust for power can overwhelm moral and ethical prohibitions and result in corruption – thus the oft quoted saying: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


As is commonplace with all addictions, once power is conveyed, it is never enough. A taste merely whets the appetite for more. History is replete with examples of elected heads of governments progressing from employee to ruler, sometimes accomplished by means of violent overthrow, but in more recent times by the subversion of institutions designed to limit power. In order to stay in power, it is necessary to maintain control over those governed, thus information, the most powerful freedom of all, must be controlled. Since secrecy is important, terms such as “national security and executive privilege” are often used to prevent the masses from becoming well informed.


Truth. Facts. Confusion.

With the advent of what has been called the “information age” secrecy has been difficult to sustain leading to the use of misinformation as a tool to keep the masses confused and/or unaware. Unfavorable news can be effectively buried by diverting attention to something more dramatic…either real or imagined. Our news media has become as biased as our political parties, which makes truth ever more elusive. There seems little attempt to separate fact from opinion especially now that we see more people getting their news from TV or online. Trust in our institutions is faltering. Conspiracy theories abound and effectively obliterate truth.


The Rise of the Executive Branch

Presidents have become progressively more powerful since the beginning of our nation. This has culminated in our witness to a President who not only evades oversight, but whose power so completely dominates his party that he has been able to trample long-held traditions and the Constitution itself without a whisper of dissent from a Republican controlled senate. It appears that his failed impeachment has resulted in an extension of his reach for power.

Trump and the RNC Convention

I did suffer through his acceptance speech last night although I cringed at the sight of his continued violation of the Hatch Act while presenting himself as the purveyor of law and order. Mark Meadows when questioned about this responded that: “No one cares about that (the Hatch Act)”, and sadly that seems to be true for many if not for everyone as it is for most of the administration’s other transgressions. Nevertheless, I was sickened by the desecration of that hallowed residence as I watched it being used as a backdrop for a political carnival.


Fact checkers have apparently given up on their usual chore, the distortions partial omissions, half-truths, and downright lies presented in his acceptance speech are well beyond the scope of this little ditty, but the one I found most disconcerting was the realization that during the 70 minutes he was pontificating about how well he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, 47 Americans were dying. In ICUs across the country, wires were removed, tubes were extracted, oxygen valves were closed, bodies were covered, and transferred from beds to gurneys. 47 families would receive the dreaded phone call, denied the option of that final kiss or squeeze of a hand. Yes, over 1,000 people still die of this scourge in our country daily while Nero Trump fiddles and pretends it is “under control.” Whatever happened to the term: negligent homicide?

 

A Brief History of Campaigning and Elections

With Trump’s survival of impeachment, the only recourse left for those of us who are convinced that he is unfit for office is to replace him by voting him out. It didn’t take long after the birth of this republic for people to start looking for ways to game the system. The founders were a bit skittish themselves about who they should trust with the power to hire people to run things. Half the population was eliminated from the start for everyone recognized that women were much too emotional and illogical to be allowed such awesome power. However, it is interesting to note that there were already signs that rebellion was afoot, for Abigail Adams wrote her husband to suggest to him that it was time for women to have their say. John of course realized this was ridiculous (sorry Maggie). Native Americans and slaves were among other groups who were automatically denied voting privileges.


Although there was general agreement among the founders that self-government was the ideal, there was no precedent as to how this could be accomplished as monarchies and theocracies had been the rule for centuries. There was concern as to the ability of the masses to make informed decisions due to their lack of literacy and their perceived naivete leaving them more vulnerable to charismatic leaders. I found it interesting to note that many, John Adams in particular, were also concerned about the formation of political parties which he felt could lead to divisiveness. There was prolonged debate as to how elections could be done, but they finally arrived at the compromise we call the electoral college.

 

Initially it was considered unseemly for one to campaign for the Presidency for it was felt to be an honor to be chosen and not solicited. It was not long however until campaigns, especially for the highest office, became competitive and efforts to cheat began. Buying votes with money, booze, food, or privilege was common. Following the Civil War with masses of former slaves having won the right to vote emphasis shifted to finding ways to prevent voting with poll taxes, literacy tests, vagrancy laws, requirements to own property, or threats of bodily harm, largely initiated by democrats who were a majority in the south. With the civil rights movement headed by a democrat, the south rapidly switched parties and took over the voter suppression business.


In 1965 the voting rights act became law consequently; efforts to suppress voting have become much more sophisticated. There has been gerrymandering, shortened hours to vote, fewer polls in selected districts, increased difficulties in registering, purging of rolls, and more complex ID requirements. Since nationwide, democrats outnumber republicans, and a larger percentage of republicans usually vote, a lower vote total usually favors the republicans. Now we have a unique problem in that we are facing the challenge of conducting a national election in the midst of a serious pandemic.


Voting Today

In the midst of a time when it is advisable to minimize human contact, the most obvious solution would be to enhance voting by mail. Several states have had very favorable experiences with such plans including a significant increase in voter turnout which from the republican point of view may not be such a good thing. Fortunately for Republicans our genius President has implemented a plan. He appointed a buddy to run the postal department with instructions to dismantle or at least disable the entire system in order to prevent a millions of ballots from being counted. He has also promised a backup plan to intimidate disadvantaged voters by dispatching police or armed troops at polling places throughout the country (guess which ones?).

Trump using White House as prop and military saluting at the RNC political event held at the White House. Right: Putin

RED FLAGS Anyone? | Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You! 

For the first time in our country’s history a sitting president has suggested delaying a national election. He has also refused to agree to abide by the results of the upcoming election, and appears to be setting the stage to invalidate it by predicting that there will be lots of fraudulent votes and that it is “rigged.” He characterizes the press as “the enemy” and has set an all time record regarding the number of associates and staff members who have been found guilty of felonies. He meddles in court decisions and constantly finds ways to subvert constitutional oversight. He has congratulated and expressed envy of those world leaders who have been given lifetime terms in office. He alienates our nation’s friends and coddles our enemies. I have written in previous blogs as to how I believe his insatiable ego needs prevent him from experiencing any concern about right, wrong, or the effects his behaviors might have on others. In ordinary circumstances Trump’s braggadocio, bullying, lying, impulsiveness, and impaired judgement would be laughable, and indeed it was before he became president, but now that he has become the most powerful man in the world these qualities make him the most dangerous man in the world.


Trump and I Agree on One Thing

There is one statement made by Trump in which I am in total agreement: this is indeed the most important election in my long memory and perhaps the most important in the entire history of this nation. We must spare no effort to assure this election is not stolen and that every vote is counted. That includes making a lot of noise about this attempt to cripple the postal service.
Meanwhile, be alert, stay healthy and vote early.

Barr's unmarked militia in DC during protests

Let’s Learn from the Past

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing”

Edmund Burke

Editor’s Introduction: These two quotes are important preludes to Eshrink’s latest blog post. My father’s knowledge of history, his expertise and experience treating mental illness, and his skill to communicate via the written word means he truly understands the importance of DOING SOMETHING in the face of evil…even if it’s just taking the time to stand up and speak your mind. Additionally, his nine decades on this earth have provided him with the wisdom we need in times like these.

HISTORY

Adolph Hitler’s rise to power was facilitated by a paramilitary group of ex-soldiers from the first World War colloquially referred to as the Brown Shirts. They were so named because they wore surplus army shirts which were cheaply available. They initially were used as bouncers at Nazi meetings, and to disrupt the meetings of Hitler’s adversaries. They became increasingly violent, culminating in “Kristallnacht” the night in which Jewish homes, businesses, synagogues, and schools were ransacked and looted. Jews were forced to wear a star of David with the word Jude (Jew) emblazoned on it. 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and untold numbers murdered. This marked the beginning in earnest of the persecution which would come to be known as the holocaust. Initially, those arrested would be housed in so-called concentration camps, later the even more horrible “final solution” would be implemented by Hitler and his followers.

Hitler’s genius lay in his use of propaganda. He had been so successful in convincing the country that Jews were the source of all the country’s problems that there was no resistance from local law enforcement. As a matter of fact, it has been said that hundreds of civilians joined in with the Brown Shirts. Earlier in the year, 1938, Nazi troops had annexed Austria and the Nazis were off and running to create an “Arian Nation” which would rule the world. The leaders of the Brown shirts were not deemed to have been sufficiently loyal to the Fuhrer so they had been executed and the Brown shirts were superseded by the SS who would prove to be better organized and more efficient at persecuting and killing those deemed enemies of the state.

 

TODAY in AMERICA | 2020

As is my usual habit, this morning I tuned into Fox News for my usual dose of Trumpisms. They were featuring a news conference in the Oval Office with Trump, Barr, and a group of other law enforcement types. The topic was law and order, and the failure of democratic mayors to control the recent rise in crime in their cities. Of course, there is nothing new in this, for Trump’s most recent attempt to divert attention from his failures, especially with the pandemic, has been to go with the tried and true law and order spiel. I flipped channels to the other cable news networks, and was pleased to see that they had ignored this latest dog and pony show and were proceeding with their regular programming, for I have been critical for of them for showing him on the tube every time he chooses to open his mouth.

My joy was short-lived however. Trump introduced the unmasked group who surrounded him as a task force headed by his personal defender and hatchet man Bill Barr, who would be tasked with apprehending and prosecuting his favorite group of boogey men, MS13. He proudly announced the arrest of “key figures” in New York and Nevada. No doubt these are very bad guys and their arrest is good news. It is also timely since Trump is in desperate need for some good news with his approval ratings in a precipitous decline. In addition, since this gang originated in El Salvador, it fits nicely into his anti-immigration policies. But the thing that disturbed me was a statement he made about how he planned to rid those cities mentioned as crime ridden by whatever means necessary since local law enforcement was not doing the job. He even mentioned the use of national guard troops.

The mere idea that our President was considering the idea of federal enforcement of state and local laws made my hair stand up. Our system of justice is organized with the principle that only federal laws are to be enforced by the feds. There has been a proliferation through the years of many different agencies that have been granted such police power, and the Patriot Act has further blurred the distinction between federal and local crimes.*

Barr's unmarked militia in DC during protests
My immediate reaction was to hearken back to those images of Barr’s anonymous uniformed armed militia guarding the White House grounds. When questioned, they refused to answer any questions as to their identity, by whom they were employed who paid them or the nature of their mission. To the best of my knowledge we still do not know who these guys were, who ordered them there or why, although it is generally assumed that they were a motley crew recruited by the Attorney General from various federal agencies who had some kind of police power. At the time there were serious questions as to why they displayed no badges or other means of identification. Even more disturbing was the fact that they were so secretive.

THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN ON EARTH

The idea of a secretive group assuming police powers without specific authorization by a deliberative arm of government is antithetical to a democracy. As with most of the weird stuff occurring in our government these days this incident and the President’s promise in today’s TV show to send in his own forces to replace local police has produced scant reaction from the press or Congress. In previous blogs I have commented at length on the instability of this president. I have also predicted that as he becomes cornered his behavior will likely become even more erratic and perhaps dangerous.

 

There are rumors of an increase in the severity and frequency of his temper tantrums. The diatribes against his perceived enemies have become more intense and less rational as his poll numbers decline, and his incompetence is exposed.
His defenses of denial, divert, and blame are no longer effective and I am concerned as to what he might do next. The subtext of the most recent Trump tell all book which labels him “The Most Dangerous Man on Earth” is not hyperbole in my opinion, and I am not alone. Thousands of mental health professionals have agreed that our country is now presided over by a man with very serious mental health problems. His fragility increases the likelihood of further decompensation and of his becoming desperate and totally irrational. Unfortunately, some of the same situations which exposed his deficiencies are the same ones which divert attention to his potential to do impulsive, crazy stuff.

At the risk of sounding like an off-the-rails conspiracy theorist, I would remind you of our fearless leader’s admiration of the world’s dictators. His Attorney General shows signs of being like-minded, his current Secretary of Defense refers to American cities as “battle spaces” to be dominated, and Trump has surrounded himself with a group of yes-men and women who are likely to support whatever crazy idea he pursues. Thus, his avowed intention to usurp the power of state and local police coupled with the apparent trial balloon of Barr’s secret police scares the Hell out of me, and the lack of any note of this by the press or congress makes it worse.

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing”
Edmund Burke

Editor’s Note: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Trump’s emboldened threats (and use) of military force against civilians started once the Generals advising the Trump were summarily dismissed or “resigned.” For those living outside the USA, it might seem ironic that the departure of military Generals from the President’s cabinet would be promote Trump’s emboldened threat to use military force on U.S. citizens, but General Mattis and General Kelly had military training and education that focuses on the core purpose of the military and the responsibility to protect and defend The Constitution of the United States of America NOT the President. Sadly, it seems most rabid Trump supporters haven’t even read the Constitution, let alone grasp the importance of that oath.

Article John Kelly criticizes Trump threat to used armed forces on protesters

Article Former Defense Secretary Mattis’ Statement on Trump’s Handling of Protests

*Editor’s Note: This isn’t the first time Trump has tested the waters in threatening to use federal troops against civilians. 

June 1, 2020: “If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said, referring to himself as “your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”

He said he was already dispatching “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” to Washington to stop the violence that has been a feature of the protests here.

Watch the video of his announcement at this link.

 

No Filter | Straight Talk from Eshrink | Pandemic Unplugged

Updated 9:03 PM to correct COVID-19 Numbers.

Editor’s Note: All pertinent links are at the bottom of this post so they don’t interrupt Eshrink’s Straight Talk. Eshrink confided in me that he was concerned this post might be too sarcastic, it might offend some people, it might be too negative. I reminded him that sarcasm is a powerful literary device that has been used by scores of Pulitzer Prize Winning authors. I reminded him that Eshrinkblog.com is a censorship-free zone. I reminded him that he has earned the right to write whatever he sees fit.  So fasten your seat belt loyal eshrink readers, this retired psychiatrist who dedicated six decades to a career in medicine is unplugged and uncensored.

Pence and White House Task Force on Coronavirus COVID-19

Yesterday, I tuned into the latest White House dog and pony show.  The big dog was absent.  Apparently, keeping him away was the only way to prevent Donald Doofus from screwing up this latest campaign event masquerading as a report by the White House COVID-19 task force.  However, the ass-kisser-in-chief, Mr. Pence, did an admirable job in explaining in great detail what a wonderful job the president has done in managing the pandemic and saving “thousands” of lives.  He outlined in great detail how the administration has provided the leadership responsible for the control of the pandemic.  He touted the marvelous job done by federal agencies in providing needed medical equipment and protective gear.  Even more amazing was the “tremendous” success in providing COVID-19 testing.

All in all, the Veep’s chat was very reassuring (unless you are person who dares to look at the facts).

Johns Hopkins Map illustrates COVID-19 Data Pandemic Worldwide

  • The United States accounts for about 4.3% of the world’s population, but has 25% the worldwide COVID-19 deaths.
  • We are #1 in COVID-19 Confirmed Cases. 2.6 million.
  • #1 in COVID-19 related deaths. 126,493 in the USA out of 507,166 worldwide
  • We are #1 in COVID!

No wonder I didn’t feel reassured.  Having years ago, read a bit about the risk of world-wide pandemics, I likewise was not reassured when Trump early on minimized the seriousness of the “Kung Flu.”  Furthermore, I doubt that those who have survived this illness, lost loved ones to it, or witnessed their last breaths, would see the humor in that term.  It was not until the very end of Pence’s lengthy introductory remarks that he spoke a truth when he said: “We still have more work to do.” Talk about an understatement!

 

Dr. Birx

Next up was Dr. Birx – the lady of the $600 Hermes neck scarves.  She serves as one of the experts on pandemics.  Back in the days before all the world’s information was available on the internet, physicians attended a lot of conferences in order to stay on top of the latest poop in medicine.  We laughingly defined an expert as someone 50 miles from home with slides.  In addition to her scarves, Dr. Birx proved her bonafides as an expert with an array of slides, which were dazzling in their quantity and complexity.  She flipped through them in such rapid succession that even if I were smart enough to understand them, it wouldn’t have helped.

Dr. Fauci at White House Press Conference COVID-19 briefing press conference

Next up, the always sensible and understandable Dr. Fauci, who usually leaves me wondering as to what he thinks about the crap he hears coming from the mouths of Doofus and his sycophants.  Dr. Redfield, the CDC director was next up.  He was all in favor of Motherhood and Apple Pie.  There has been some suggestions that he has been muzzled by the great one, but how could anyone even consider that all these elite scientists who have dedicated their lives to learning about science, infectious diseases, and medicine, could know as much about this stuff as our own very stable genius President.

The Veep’s closing remarks and “question-no-answer” session was blessedly brief, generally following the maxim: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”  The Q & A session ended rather abruptly when the press corps insisted on real answers.  In the absence of the big dog who would have been courageous enough to confront them about their audacity to seek information for the public by asking questions, the only option for the little dog  (Pence) was to walk away.  After watching to the bitter end, I took a few minutes to calm my raging anger, and attempted to make a list of all the distortions, half truths, and misinformation spewed out by Pence to be used in this blog, but I was soon overwhelmed by the sheer volume.

While watching the performance, this tired old brain did light up with an insight.  It suddenly occurred to me that therein may lie the answer to a question which has bothered me for some time i.e. how in the world did this COVID thing become politicized.  After all, the virus does not belong to a political party and we are all equally susceptible to infection, yet red state and blue state responses seem to be different.   Charades like this “press conference” along with Trump’s insistence that everything is under control and his constant assertion that the “fake news media” is exaggerating the seriousness of the pandemic must be factors which lead to the false sense of security which is so often seen in those who proudly wear their red baseball caps.  The message is undoubtedly enhanced by Trump’s own propaganda machine – Fox News (not to mention his own tweets).

Trump at Tulsa Rally during COVID 19 Pandemic

Loyal Trumpers show up by the thousands to watch their hero’s one man shows.  They are absolutely fearless and crowd in shoulder to shoulder.  Their naked faces are a testament to their disdain for all that overblown scientific stuff and they insist, as does VP Pence, that they have a constitutional right to refuse a face mask.  I did not realize the constitution said anything about a right to disseminate disease, but what do I know?  However, the “breaking news” today was that not only was Pence seen wearing a mask, but he announced that everyone should follow his lead and wear face masks.  The pundits made a big deal about this being a break with Trump, but I can’t imagine Pence having the gonads to challenge his highness.

This was the first White House production by the task force in more than a month, but was improved only due to the absence of Trump.  Fauci did provide useful and straightforward information, but I was left wondering how many more lives may be lost as a result of the failure to adequately portray the seriousness of the situation in which we face with this highly infectious serious illness for which we have no effective treatment.  Without a treatment, our only hope is to contain it until a treatment or preventative vaccine is available.

As Fauci pointed out, such strategies require sacrifices on the part of people to which they are unlikely to adhere if they are not appraised of the danger we face.  Self aggrandizement can wait.  For now let’s focus on solutions please.

 

Link to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map

Link to White House Task Coronavirus Task Force Briefing June 26, 2020, with video

Blast from the Past: Editor’s Pick | The Priceless Video of Dr. Birx when Trump wants her to confirm she is looking into injecting disinfectants into the human body and or inserting a powerful light into human beings to fight the pandemic

 

The Values Series | HUMILITY

HUMILITY
Since it has become clear that we are currently facing a serious pandemic, my first inclination was to make this an “I told you so” essay and refer to a previous blog in which I quoted epidemiologists who assured us that future pandemics were inevitable. However, my self-righteousness was dimmed with the realization that I belonged in the high-risk category for serious complications from this bug. It also occurred to me that a time of crisis may be an appropriate time to examine our values as such times put them to the test. Thus, I decided to proceed as planned with a look at humility, which Confucius said was “the foundation of all virtues.”


As I mentioned in the first post of this series, the purpose of values is to allow us to get along with each other and thereby accomplish things. Alone we are relatively helpless, together we can and do move mountains. Those with particular expertise in the management of pandemics emphasize the importance of our helping each other since our best weapon for containing the disease lies in quarantining those who are infected, leaving them dependent on others for life’s necessities.


United We Stand. Divided We Fall.

It seems to me that during those major crises which have occurred during my lifetime, there has been a tendency for us to come together as a nation although; there have always been a few looking to exploit any such situation. Most would agree that the country is now more divided than it has been for the past 150 years, and I was struck by the timeliness of the subject of today’s blog when I ran into a quote from Socrates: “Pride divides the men, humility joins them.” I believe it safe to say that few of those faithful fans of our President would suggest that he oozes humility, and indeed his attempts to reassure have left us even farther apart. I can’t help but wonder if that humility deficit contributes in some way to our widening breach. 


Much of my career was spent dealing with patients who suffered from a poor self-image. In some cases their dislike of themselves had resulted in lives of misery and even self-destructive behaviors. Such problems are often confused with the concept of humility. As a matter of fact, some dictionaries list words such as meek, shy, and submissive as synonyms, but humility has nothing to do with wimpiness or poor self-esteem. It is on the contrary a mark of strength. In that regard, Rick Warren’s quote from C.S. Lewis that appears in Warren’s book (The Purpose Driven Life) is most helpful:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself…it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis

Rick Warren is quoted as saying:

“Humility isn’t denying your strengths, it’s being honest about your weaknesses.”


Humility offers a kind of freedom not accessible to the braggart, for humble people have nothing to prove. One person has anonymously defined humility as synonymous with the word “Truth” and the long-held maxim that a good liar must have a good memory still holds true. But the comfort offered by humility is best expressed by Mother Teresa:

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

Humility is after all an expression of concern for one’s fellow man.


Pride: The Opposite of Humility

Pride on the other hand is the opposite of humility, and its symptom is arrogance, which masks insecurity. My Father who was well known for his pithy comments referred to those who he thought were arrogant with the phrase: “He thinks his shit don’t stink.” Ezra Taft Benson, Politician/Mormon leader said “Pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right. We read in Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Without humility, one can hardly ever know what others feel, for when empathy is lacking, relationships are apt to be superficial. When we are self-absorbed, the needs of others go largely unnoticed.
It is of course natural to feel pleased with our accomplishments and to be admired for them, but we humans are often prone to toot our own horn too loudly.

There is a Chinese proverb which gives the best advice:

“Be like the bamboo, the higher you grow the deeper you bow”

The Muslim prophet Muhammad said:

“The best of people is the one who humbles himself the more his rank increases”

Although history suggests he did not always follow it, Theodore Roosevelt advised: “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” When bragging about ourselves, we will often find ourselves treated with disgust rather than the respect which we are seeking. We are more likely to find respect when we let our deeds do the talking.


To prepare for this blog post, I noted a lot in the literature which associated humility with both leadership and wisdom. As you may have noticed, I am particularly fond of those one-liners which say a lot in a few words. For example Socrates, who most people think was a bright fellow, said:

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”

A few centuries later, Einstein would echo the same sentiment by saying:

“A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”

However, some wise quotes also originate from non-genius types such as Mike Tyson who allegedly said: “If you are not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you,” thus seeming to echo the previous mentioned quote from Proverbs. There was also Pauline, part time philosopher and full-time cleaning lady who once informed me: “They ain’t no bird flies so high that he don’t have to come down for a drink.”


The Humility/Wisdom Connection

Initially, I was puzzled by those attempts to link humility with wisdom until it occurred to me that if wisdom is the possession of truth coupled with the ability to interpret it, it follows that pride might get in the way of finding it. Then I discovered that someone had defined humility as “staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know.” So much for those guys/girls who “know it all.”


Leadership

It is in times of crisis that leadership becomes our most valuable asset. Indeed, without it, failure is likely, if not inevitable, and humility has time and again shown itself to be a prerequisite for leadership. Now we are facing a crisis with the potential to create havoc worldwide. Leadership requires the ability to analyze, organize, plan and implement, but of equal importance, is the ability to inspire and empathize. A good leader must adhere to the truth no matter how dire the circumstances. Hollow reassurances or sugar-coating undermine confidence and respect. Our greatest fears are of the unknown, and there is much we don’t know about this pandemic. Unchecked fear without hope leads to panic. A good leader will validate the fear while offering hope.


An oft quoted example in which those criteria were satisfied was in Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech. The country was in the midst of a depression so severe that people were going hungry and the very survival of the country was in question. It began with that most famous line: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It marked a turning point leading the country from the depths of despair to a newfound sense of hopefulness. A second speech heard during my lifetime was Churchill’s never surrender speech in 1940. It also gets high marks by satisfying all the previously mentioned criteria for humility. It succeeded in motivating the entire English citizenry in a time of extreme fear and uncertainty.


In both these addresses you will find few first-person singular pronouns for as is always the case with humility the focus is not on oneself, but concern for others. Its opposite, which we call narcissism, is concern for self only. With that in mind, little wonder that our malignantly narcissistic leader is unlikely to go down in history as the humility President. During the past week, I have spared myself the agony of watching the Donald’s daily briefings on the alleged progress on dealing with the corona virus. In any other context, they would be laughable, but with the seriousness of this pandemic they prompt me with the desire to take my 12 gauge to the TV.


The Poster Child for Failed and Flawed Leadership

Yesterday, I relented and watched one of our dear leader’s ego massages disguised as a news conference. I endured this disgusting production in spite of the nausea produced by watching that pathetic group of ass kissers pay homage to the person who has once again demonstrated his incompetence by doing a Nero impersonation. The group stands shoulder to shoulder, ignoring admonitions from epidemiologists to maintain six feet of separation. The diminutive Dr. Faucci stood with arms folded on his chest, a clear message that he was not receptive to this charade.


Trump began with one of his classic truthful but not wholly truthful statements. He proudly announced that the U.S. had now done more tests for the virus than had South Korea, failing to mention that our population is 5 times larger, which means our per capita rate is much lower. This was followed by a series of self-congratulatory remarks about how he had now brought the situation under control in spite of having inherited a totally dysfunctional CDC, failing to mention that he had recently proposed draconian cuts to their budget. There was the usual litany of blaming for any of the pandemic associated problems. (NOTE: Trump’s budget proposals called for 17% cut to the CDC for Fiscal 2018; a 19.6% cut in Fiscal 2019; $750.6 million cut in Fiscal 2020; and $693.3 million (9%) cut for 2021, which Trump sent to Congress o Feb. 10, after the COVID-19 outbreak began and the first U.S. case was confirmed on Jan. 20. However, these were the President’s proposals to cut the budget. We are fortunate our founders understood the balance of power. Check your Civics lessons. The Congress is in charge of the country’s budget. Fortunately, they rejected these drastic cuts. Here is link where the eshrink editor retrieved that information.

His concerns about the pandemic were mostly about its effect on the stock market, but he was most reassuring, saying he expected the worst to be over in a couple of weeks so that people could go back to work and the economy would bounce back bigger and better than ever. This was followed by a parade of his adoring sycophants, who one by one heaped praise on the great one for having saved thousands of lives through his tireless efforts (must have cut into his golf game big time). Then comes scrawny Dr. Faucci who steps up to the mic to heroically speak truth to the power that towers next to him, by contradicting much of what the Donald has just said. The show ended with the President rudely accusing one of the reporters of being rude for asking a seemingly benign question, then continuing on with a rant about the poor guy’s competence, objectivity and other shortcomings, barely stopping short of a commentary about his mother’s lineage.

Link to Trump’s March 29th Rant on Reporter

Link to Compilation Video of Trump’s Recent Attacks on the Media during COVID-10 Press Conferences (MUST WATCH)

Link to Trump’s March 20th Attack on Reporter at Press Conference


Portraits of Successful Leadership

Today I watched the reports by both the New York Governor and my own governor. In both cases, the governors and their staffs were assembled in chairs with the recommended distance between them.  They were both effusive in their accolades for those involved in dealing with the crisis, but thankfully not for themselves. They acknowledged our distress and fearfulness, but were brutally honest about what lay ahead. There were facts galore (actually more than I needed) and a plan of action was laid out along with what was already being done.  We were given assurances that we were not alone. I was still worried, but more hopeful.  I gained a new respect for my governor who I previously labeled as a doofus (he is a republican after all).  He gained not only my vote, but my confidence in his ability to deal with the threat, and left me feeling as if we really were in this thing together.

Yep, humility definitely works better than bluster.


Next topic in the values series will be respect if I can find some examples.

WHAT ABOUT VALUES?

I recall reading a quote from Madeleine Albright several years ago in which she expressed concern regarding what she thought was a deterioration of our values, which she saw as the most serious of all the threats facing our nation. With that in mind, I decided to have a go at looking at what values are important to us and why. The first ones that came to mind were courage and truthfulness since they were the ones most often alleged deficient during the impeachment trial.

 

It never occurred to me that I might see two presidents impeached in my lifetime. As a matter of fact, I am not sure I fully understood the meaning of that word until Nixon was threatened with one.

The outcome of this latest effort was entirely predictable since the person directing the show guaranteed that Mr. Trump would not be removed from office, and proudly announced that he would be working on the defendant’s behalf (it really does help to have the right people on your side).

 

Is Anybody Watching?

As you might expect, an old retired dude like myself with nothing better to do, other than write stupid blogs, spent a fair amount of time watching the impeachment trial. There were lots of redundancies which allowed me to walk away for long periods of time knowing that whatever I missed would be repeated several times.

 

Unfortunately, the camera angles were fixed therefore; not conducive to monitoring the proceedings, and essentially shielded the senators, other than the presenters, from being observed. It would have been interesting to have a camera panning the senate jurors’ faces to see if there was any sign of interest or emotional response to the proceedings. We were told that many of the senators appeared to be attentive and that some were even taking notes. I was surprised to hear of such signs of interest since the verdict had been determined long before the trial began, and that the only audience who might be interested would be people like me who sat watching the spectacle on TV.

Stay Calm and Be Senatorial

It is apparent that the guys on opposite sides of the aisle don’t like each other very much. Consequently, McConnell had spared no effort to minimize the possibility of violence, and to project an aura of proper senatorial decorum. Jail time was promised for any raucous behavior, attendance was mandatory, and spontaneous commentary was forbidden, as were any efforts to leave the chambers during proceedings, regardless of the status of senatorial prostates.

 

Such precautions did turn out to be wise for it did not take long for the presentations to become personal with each side accusing the other of dishonesty. The Republicans accused the Democrats of engaging in a witch hunt and a sham motivated by their anger over their defeat in the 2016 election, while the democrats characterized the democratic defense of the President as a cover-up, and even worse, that republican senators lacked the courage to risk becoming the target of Trump’s anger. And of course, each side accused the other of being untruthful. It occurred to me that there was a time when such values were so important to one’s self image that to suggest one was a coward or a liar would likely provoke an assault, at times even resulting in a duel.

 

 

As I listened to the exchange of insults, I wondered if we have become more civil than we were during other times of divisiveness in our country, or is it that our values have changed? There have been a few episodes of serious brawls in Congress proving that debate has not always been genteel.

Image result for mitt romney speech

As I was writing this, Mitt Romney in a senatorial address, explained his vote to convict the President. He acknowledged that as a result, he expected to be subject to ridicule and worse by many of his fellow Republicans, but insisted that the president’s behavior, which he considered “an assault on our fundamental values” left him no choice. As expected, he is now hailed as a hero by Democrats and vilified as a traitor by the Trumpsters, i.e., heroic for the courage to follow his conscience and a traitor by being disloyal to the President. Click here to watch Romney’s Speech

 

Therein lies a problem when establishing a set of preferred values. While loyalty is generally an admired value, unfettered loyalty can lead to undesirable or even evil results depending on the recipient.

History and Misplaced Loyalty

History is replete with examples of the disastrous effects of misplaced loyalty. We ordinary citizens “pledge allegiance to the flag and to the Republic for which it stands………” The military, civil servants, and those elected to public office pledge: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same………”.Click here to read the Senate’s Oath of Office and its history.

Note the emphasis is not on loyalty to a person or office, but loyalty to the Constitution. Such is not always the case as in North Korea where loyalty is to “our dear Leader.

Same with Hitler:  “I swear to God this sacred oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to the Leader of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath.”

Those are just two examples, but pick any authoritarian leader in history and you will most likely find a demand for personal loyalty rather than loyalty to an ideal. Former FBI director Comey accused Trump of demanding his personal loyalty, which if true, is indeed frightening.
Courage on the other hand is defined in the Oxford dictionary as:

COURAGE: the ability to do something which frightens one

Since fear is a universally human feeling, we generally admire those who have been able to overcome it with exceptions for those whose fear is of their own doing or whose fear results from doing harm to others. For example, I imagine a bank robber must overcome his fear in order to do his thing. However, I don’t ever recall hearing Willie Sutton referred to as courageous, nor were the Kamikaze pilots of World War II.

Bill Maher was fired by ABC for objecting to Bush’s comment that the 911 attackers were cowards. Thus, it would appear that society’s definition of courage should include a qualifier indicating that the means one uses to overcome their fear is socially acceptable. Or, is it that courage, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.
Fear has evolved to become the most powerful of the emotions because it is necessary for our survival. Without fear, our earliest ancestors would have become meals for critters who were stronger and faster than they were.

Fear and Anxiety

However, we all know  that fearfulness is also stressful. Phobias are fears on steroids, so exaggerated as to be irrational and often debilitating. Most anxiety disorders have at their root some type of fear, even though we may not be able to identify its source. Those afflicted with psychoses may in some cases experience delusions and hallucinations so intense as to produce abject terror.

 

The severity of the pain I witnessed such patients experience often left me in awe of the courage required for them to face each day. They also suffered fears of alienation by friends and discrimination in the workplace due to the stigma of mental illness, which often leading to a reluctance to get help. It was not unusual for my patients to ask if they could come in through the back door. Imagine the courage it must take to endure mental illness, which is only trumped by the courage to seek help despite discouragement and disdain from family, friends, and work associates.
In his speech Romney described the torment he felt in coming to his vote to convict, not only due to his religious beliefs, but also the effect it would have on his relationships. Events over the last couple of days indicate that his fears in that regard were warranted. In the days that followed the moment he strayed from the party line he has been vilified by many “friends” and colleagues. Even more disturbing is the news that he has been uninvited from a major Republican meeting due to “fears for his safety.”

Courageous Patriotism

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman testified before a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Nov. 19, 2019, as part of the impeachment inquiry. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Meanwhile, Lt. Col Vintman, who testified at Trump’s impeachment, has been fired from his job at the White House and walked off the grounds. This is the same guy who in his opening remarks commented on his pride to have become a citizen of a country where he would not be jailed or executed for speaking truth to power as would be the case if he was still in Russia. Click here to read a transcript of his opening statement.

As the purge continues, Gordon Sondland finds that a million bucks donated to the Trump cause does not give one job security, for he has been fired from his ambassadorship, presumably for testifying. Click here to read Sondland’s opening statement. All those who defied orders to refuse to testify are now paying the price for their courage.
If any of you have read my previous blogs you may recall mention of my favorite quote from Lao Tzu

To be loved deeply gives us strength. To love deeply gives us courage

Patriotism

Patriotism is defined as love of one’s country. Every person involved in this investigation and impeachment procedure has taken the same oath, yet opinions regarding the outcome are almost entirely dependent upon one’s political party affiliation. Those with nothing to gain, but much to lose, who chose to answer the call and tell their story under oath, are the heroes. They are the ones demonstrated courage.

 

What Values do You Value?

While writing this, I found myself wondering if our values have changed and if so why. I would be interested in your feedback as to what you think, and especially what values you feel are most important.  In my next blog I plan to explore the concept of truth, since it has become so elusive, and at times difficult to define.

Please let me know what values are most important to you.

Thanks for reading!

Editor’s Note: While doing research for links and pictures on the internet as the proud editor of eshrink’s blog, a tagline I had never noticed before, jumped out of me. I thought I would share:

“Democracy dies in darkness”

Keep shining the light ESHRINK!!!

SLOW LEARNERS?

ARE WE SLOW LEARNERS?

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. – Edmund Burke

Winston Churchill paraphrased Burke thereby reminding us that a much less painful education can be gained by learning about the mistakes of others rather than: “learning the hard way.”

 

The Repetition Compulsion
When it comes to governing, it seems clear that we continue to replicate the same stupid mistakes of the past. Freud described this as an inherently human characteristic which he named the Repetition Compulsion, arising from “the desire to return to an earlier state of things.” It seems more likely to me that our government often makes poor decisions as a result of a lack of historical perspective, which brings up the question as to whether they choose to ignore lessons of the past or simply “do not know history.”

 

Who Needs History?

According to the American History Association, there has been a recent and significant decline in the number of college students who opt for a major in history. This is not surprising when one considers the soaring student loan debt in this country. These kids (anyone under the age of 40 is a kid to me) are primarily interested in finding a way to make a quick buck, and there aren’t many companies recruiting historians.
There is also the massive technological change which has occurred in the space of one generation, apparently leaving many to feel the old rules are no longer appropriate and that we old folks are “stuck in the past” and one should strive to live in “the here and now.” Further evidence of the lack of interest in what has gone before, is seen in the near collapse of the antique market. Nearly all the shops in my area that used to hawk old stuff are gone. The PBS TV program Antique’s Roadshow frequently mentions the decline in value of items treasured by many of my generation. Many of us who have collected and admired such things often find little interest on the part of our inheritors. Even family heirlooms sometimes take a hit and no tears are shed as so called “time honored” traditions are discarded. There is a bright spot however, as there seems to be renewed interest in genealogy largely due to interests in DNA, the more ready availability of records due to digitization, and companies like Ancestry.com. Hopefully, this interest in genealogy may provoke more curiosity about what has gone before, and help us avoid repeating some of our ancestor’s screw ups.

One thing that history can teach us is that democracy is fragile. In my generation alone, we saw Germany, Italy, Spain, and multiple south American and African countries become dictatorships. And now we see that truth is played out again as democratic governments throughout the world become more authoritarian: witness Turkey, Poland, and Venezuela. Yet, we Americans naively think it could never happen to us. As students of history, the dangers were evident to our country’s founders, exemplified by Franklin who responded to a question as to what kind of government had been formulated by saying: “a republic if you can keep it” (popular usage has caused us to use the word democracy as synonymous with republic).

Beyond Rationale Debate to Divisiveness and Polarization
We live in a time when Americans are more divided than at any time in the past 200 years. Many believe this divisiveness presents a grave threat to the republic, for divide and conquer has long been the mantra of those who desire to subjugate others. Gone are the days of rational debate, conciliation, and the search for truth among our lawmakers and the public at large. Respectful dissent by our politicians is frequently replaced by character assassination and name calling. Allegiance to one’s political party is paramount consequently; independent thinking is frowned upon. As a matter of fact, members of each party are given “talking points” to regurgitate whenever questioned about issues.

john_adams.jpgBut the desire to be re-elected is the most powerful motivator of adherence to the party line. Oh yes, group think is alive and well in the halls of congress and the deliberations of elective officials throughout the nation. Perhaps John Adams had a point when he described the two-party system as: “…the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

 

Too much information. Not enough knowledge.
There are obviously many other factors that contribute to our divisiveness, such as social media which allows false accusations and conspiracy theories to be promulgated without consequence (hence, the term “keyboard courage”). Our President’s friend, Mr. Putin, has made good use of the internet with his targeted bots designed to sow confusion and fear in the electorate. Of course, we will never know to what extent those activities affected the outcome of the past presidential election. Meanwhile, we seem to have learned little from that experience for there appears to be little effort being put forth to interfere with future election tampering.

 

News vs Propaganda
There are also problems with those in the media who behave more like propaganda machines than honest brokers of the news. They no longer even pretend to lack bias, and routinely extol the virtues of one party while trashing the other. This results in their gaining a loyal audience of people, who as a result of this confirmation bias, will rarely hear the other side of any story, i.e., they are only told that which is consistent with what they already believe. Those in the news business know conflict sells, and no one is better at promoting conflict than our President. This was noted early in the Trump campaign by the former president of CBS, who said of Trump: “He is damn good for CBS.” Little wonder that he seems to have had unlimited access from the beginning of his campaign. As a candidate, Trump must have been very aware of this, for his approach was to exploit divisiveness rather than to promote unity.

 

Image result for trump with his maga hat

The essentials of good stagecraft are followed carefully by Mr. Trump. He utilizes such tactics as always keeping audiences waiting for enough time to make grander entrances, with carefully choreographed “spontaneous” news conferences that occur on the walk to the helicopter where there just happens to be a cadre of reporters waiting to pay homage to the great one. Everyone knows that costuming is important in any show and Trump’s genius came into full flower with the Make America Great Again trucker’s cap. The ball cap has become a nearly essential part of the working-class uniform of people who had become disaffected and felt left behind. The message printed on them harkened back to a time when living wages were the norm and labor unions were powerful. When Trump donned his cap, he became as one with them. Quickly forgotten was his history of paying starvation wages to immigrant laborers, stiffing tradesmen who worked on his projects, and his privileged “silver spoon” childhood that allowed him to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War and only “get a small loan of $1 million” from his dad to start his business.

Editors Note: Just a few articles to support eshrink’s statements above regarding Trump’s history of hiring and exploiting immigrant works, stiffing contractors, and using his privilege to avoid military service.

Business Insider: Donald Trump avoided the military draft 5 times, which was common for men from influential families

A Brief History of Trump Swindling Small Business Owners including a cabinet maker from Philly, a paint seller and servers in Florida, a drapery business in Vegas…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Fortune: Trump Got a Tax Break for Stiffing Contractors

USA Today: Hundreds allege Trump doesn’t pay his bills

Reuters: Trumps Art of the Deal: Dispute Your Bills. A review of 50 court cases brought by workers and contractors against Trump

Nothing Unites like a Common Enemy
Trump has made good use of his showmanship skills to appeal to his supporters who nearly all remain loyal no matter what. They obviously like him and want to believe him consequently, when something unfavorable is written, and he tells them the press is “the enemy of the people”, they switch to Fox News to get the straight scoop where they will likely never hear the other side of the story. Mr. Trump has united his “Trumpsters” with the time-honored strategy of inventing an enemy, in this case immigrants, and convincing his followers that they are a menace.

 

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
Although I continue to believe Trump is significantly impaired as the result of a serious personality disorder, he continues to demonstrate his genius at self-promotion, with adherence to the Public Relations dictum that there is no such thing as bad publicity. With that in mind, he immediately sensed the value of Twitter, an instrument by which one can instantly reach millions with a few key strokes. It is also an effective tool to transmit any message repetitively for it has been proven that when something is repeated often enough, it eventually is believed. If there is any doubt about the success of his strategy, consider this: even though Trump is a serial divorcee who paid hush money to hide his adulterous relationships, used bankruptcies as a business strategy to line his pockets at the expense of others, is known for his casual relationship with the truth, paid $25 million dollars to settle a lawsuit over the Trump University fraud case, and was filmed bragging about his sexual assaults on women, he received 71% of the white evangelical Christian vote!

 

We now live in a shrinking world with enlarging problems, including perhaps the most pressing one of all, namely climate change, while our energies and attention remain focused on fighting with each other. We ignore the wisdom of our ancestors who when faced with monumental problems coined phrases such as “united we stand, divided we fall” and “we must hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.” Our current problems are unlikely to be solved in an atmosphere where we have no respect for each other’s point of view and only react to disagreement with anger. The polarity is so complete that even on a personal level, politics is a taboo subject. Gone are rationale debates, a desire to ensure opinions are based on facts rather than confirmation bias, and a basic interest in seeking the truth.

 

Impeachment
As I write this, we are in the midst of impeachment proceedings against the President. Although I feel he should be removed, I am fearful that regardless of the outcome, the proceedings may further increase the divisiveness and rancor that pervades the country. Senator McConnell has guaranteed the President will be found not guilty regardless of what evidence is brought forth, but no matter the outcome we can be assured that half of the country will be angry. I even wonder if the words of a hack like myself who enjoys writing about this stuff may in some small way simply harden opinions and inhibit discussion.

 

Power: The Wisdom of our Founders
This impeachment is in the final analysis about power. History teaches us that power is for most people like money in that we never have enough. That is especially true for those who aspire to positions of leadership. Those who risked their lives in order to found this republic were students of history and well aware of that trait. They also had first-hand knowledge having suffered the consequences of authoritarian rule. They wanted representative government to chart the course of the ship of state, but needed someone to steer it in the prescribed direction. With people being the way they are, I suppose it was inevitable that the guys at the helm would vie with the Congress for power, and it seems clear that Presidents have been gaining in that quest for a long time.

 

Presidents had been chipping away at the restraints placed upon the power of the executive branch for decades. In my lifetime, Roosevelt defied a predominantly isolationist Congress which was still recovering from World War I to finagle a way to send war materials to England during WW II in spite of their objections. Prior to that, he had been credited with reviving the U.S. economy from the Great Depression. He was elected to four terms and died in office while still immensely popular. Out of concern that others might become “president for life” a Constitutional Amendment was passed by Republicans in 1951 that set the current term limit for the presidency. Ironically, in 1987, Ronald Reagan suggested rescinding the rule.

 

So far, watching this impeachment thing has been a grueling experience. Nevertheless, I have suffered through a few hours of it. I’ve come away convinced that if there is no conviction, certainly the most likely outcome, Trump will have wrestled more power for the presidency than did even FDR. I find this very frightening for tipping the scales too far on which that balance of power rests would send us to a very gloomy place. Ben Franklin’s answer to the question that was posed at the Constitutional Convention “Do we have a republic or a monarchy?” should be a rallying cry for all citizens:  “A republic if we can keep it.”

 

We are the stewards of this republic: the great experiment of democracy. Most of us did nothing to earn the right to grow up under the freedom, opportunity, and liberty this great nation provides, except to be born here. Our founders and our ancestors did the heavy lifting so we could enjoy the privilege that freedom provides. At the very least, we owe it to the country’s founders and our ancestors, to learn about history, to read the Constitution, read the Declaration of Independence, and to refresh our memory of the basic lessons in civics. Get informed. Get involved. Seek the truth.

 

While it is the sworn oath of those serving in Congress, the President, the Supreme Court, to follow the Constitution of the United States of America, it is ultimately up to each of us to own our part of that responsibility.  To quote President Lincoln who led this country through arguably the most divisive period in our history:

“…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” 

 

Trump Potus Tweet bullying Greta Thurnberg

DON’T MESS WITH GRETA!

If any of you are regulars on this beat, you may have noticed that in deference to our increasing susceptibility to Trump fatigue, I have suspended my analyses of the Donald’s behaviors. You may rest assured however that they have not gone unnoticed, and that I have watched with great interest the current fruitless attempts to remove him from office.

 

It is appalling that, though judged obnoxious by most, his behaviors have been accepted and even admired by a large segment of the populace. His extreme repetition of lie after lie overwhelms truth. His cozy relationships with authoritarian rulers of the world is worrisome as is his impulsive and inconsistent decision making. He seems to find The Constitution to be inconvenient, and probably feels that without it, those pesky democrats could be forced to shut up and do as they are told. Meanwhile, those who praise him are granted the keys to the castle no matter their political leanings.

Those issues and others were bad enough, but now he has really pissed me off by attacking my heroine Greta Thunberg, a bona fide 21st century Joan of Arc. Although the Nobel Prize committee did not follow my advice by awarding the prize to Greta, she was named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine.

Upon learning of that, Trump the tweet master, posted as follows: “So ridiculous, Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old-fashioned movie with a friend. Chill Greta, chill.”

Trump Potus Tweet bullying Greta ThurnbergAs one perfectly willing and able to take on the most powerful man in the world, Greta responded by changing her twitter profile to read:

“A teenager working to resolve her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old-fashioned movie with a friend.”

He obviously did not know who he was “messing with.” When asked if she would consider discussing her views on climate change with the president, Greta replied that in his case “It would be a waste of time.”

Mr. Trump was named “Person of the Year” upon his election in 2016, and has complained that he was not similarly rewarded in subsequent years. He does have a valid point as Jim Kelly, managing editor of Time, has defined an honoree as: “the person who most affected events of the year for better or worse.” For example, Hitler and Osama Bin Laden have been named in past years, so perhaps we should consider our dear leader for the dubious honor. I doubt he would care much as to which category he belonged as long as that magnificent head of hair was accurately depicted on the cover.

To be jealous of a teenage girl must be particularly difficult for a malignant narcissist. However, now that he has rid himself of those who did not always suck up and has surrounded himself with sycophants, he should recover. Meanwhile, in spite of my dismay, there is also some relief in hearing Senator McConnell guarantee that Trump will not be removed from office. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am concerned as to the effect his being cornered could have on his already precarious mental state. The down side is that a not guilty verdict may well reinforce his conviction that Article II of The Constitution gives him the power to: “Do anything I want.”

Since I was a latecomer to the “Greatest Generation,” I confess that I have not always been enthusiastic about turning the keys over to today’s crop of teenagers. However; I am in awe of the activism of Greta’s generation (Click here to read Business Insider’s definition of Gen Z). The movement she started was inspired by the “March for Our Lives” movement to end gun violence, which was organized by survivors of the Parkland Florida High School massacre. Their march on Washington produced a crowd rivaling the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration (I trust he hasn’t heard of that comparison).

Only months after Greta began her protests alone with a hand-made sign in front of the Swedish parliament building, this petite 16 year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome has millions of followers in 150 countries, and is now the most recognizable climate change activist in the world. She has also been recognized in NATURE magazine as one of the 10 most influential people in science.

That millions of kids who chose to protest the inaction of we adults on the issues of gun violence and climate change could hardly be explained as simply an excuse to skip school. I have listened to excerpts from the speeches of several of these kids and have been incredibly impressed by their knowledge and vision. They demand action in place of platitudes. One of those high school kids from Parkland in an address at the D.C. rally made that clear when he stated in his speech: “Stand for us or beware. The voters are coming.”

March for Our Lives Protest in Washington D.C. prompted by Parkland High School Massacre

It all leads me to think the world will soon be in good hands. Go get em’ kids! The Greatest Generation is counting on you!

How the Media’s 10 Rules of Hate Sow Discord and Make Us Despise One Another

Hello dedicated “eshrinkblog” followers. This is eshrink’s editor (and daughter) writing a quick post to share an article with you.

When one goes to the mailbox and instead of junk mail (see eshrink’s post “Looking for Trees. Check my Mailbox), finds an envelope from eshrink with an article inside, you stop and read it.

This article about the state of media and how we got here is a must read. For my part, I guess I saw it happening but didn’t realize that I had gotten suckered. For background, I was motivated to earn a degree in journalism because I saw being a reporter as a noble profession that was part of a functioning democracy. Inspired by “All the President’s Men” and “The China Syndrome” and “Absence of Malice” I thought a reporter’s job was to report the facts in an objective fashion and let the public decide their opinion. I saw our job as important to keep politicians accountable and the public informed.

During my junior year, a statement by one of my professors struck me (and stuck with me). This was 1984. He said the biggest threat to journalism would be business (follow the money) as in media conglomeration. I don’t recall the precise numbers, but at that time, there were numerous independently owned newspapers and radio stations. Even local TV affiliates were common.

Another thing that struck me when I was a reporter was a book I read written by David Brinkley. In his book, he talked about how select reporters would meet in the Oval Office with President Roosevelt and decide what the news would be that day. I was shocked. Propaganda!! I had such respect for Brinkley. I couldn’t believe they were using the public airwaves to brainwash the public.

I could go on and on, but it’s more important for you read this article.

How the Media’s 10 Rules of Hate Sow Discord and Make Us Despise One Another