About Character

While Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the United Sates Congress, Representatives Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz sometimes stood and sometimes sat, toying with their cell phones.  Reputedly, the Colorado and Florida Republicans’ sit-down expressed opposition to spending additional dollars defending Ukraine from Vladimir Putin.

But, it’s not about money!  It’s about “character  .  .  . moral excellence and firmness”!  “Moral,” in turn, “conforming to a standard of right behavior sanctioned by or operative on one’s conscience or ethical judgement.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)  (My emphasis.)

Boebert’s and Gaetz’s antics demonstrate a shocking lack of character!  By contrast, two leaders, President Zelenskyy and Representative Jamie Raskin, exemplify the finest in Character, in “moral excellence and firmness.”

When Russia’s takeover of Kyiv seemed imminent, Zelenskyy’s life hung in the balance.  Offered safe passage out of Ukraine, the President famously responded, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”  With that statement, Volodymy Zelenskyy’s words and acts were widely viewed as reminiscent of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s during the “London Blitz.”  The Ukraine President’s continued courage, wisdom, and leadership bolster this analogy.   

Jamie Raskin, on January 5, 2021, buried his beloved son Tommy.  The following day, the Maryland Representative was caught up in Donald Trump’s seditious attempt to overthrow America’s Democracy and, despite losing the election, remain President.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on January 12, named Raskin Lead Manager in Trump’s second impeachment trial before the United States Senate.  In July, 2021, the Speaker asked Jamie to serve on the United States House Select Committee On January 6.  Over the subsequent year-and-a-half, Constitutional scholar and lawyer Raskin devoted invaluable expertise and prodigious effort to this assignment.

Representatives Lauren Boebert’s  and Matt Gaetz’s sad, sophomoric, stunt demonstrated an alarming lack of Character and failure to appreciate the awesome responsibility afforded them by their constituents, indeed by all Americans.  We can only hope that their act was an outlier, an aberration not reflecting the Character of the Grand Old Party or the United States Congress.  

Truth

Amid its joy and suffering, I understand nothing of the mystery animating “Life.”  This said, a few truths seem self-evident.

  1. Now, this instant, is the only “time” there is.
  2. I seem only to control my thoughts, muscles, and impulses.
  3. Worrying is wasted energy.
  4. Do what needs to be done.
  5. Don’t manufacture problems!

Trumped

Karen asked why I obsess on Donald J. Trump.  For the same reason she closes her eyes and plugs her ears when he appears on TV. 

I obsess over Donald J. Trump because our forty-fifth President represents a clear and present danger to the safety and lives of Americans and American democracy.  More egregious examples supporting this truism are the then-President’s abject, paralytic failure to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Americans, and his seditious attempt to overthrow our government.

Despite fiscal meltdowns such as the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Castle Hotel and Casino, Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Plaza Casino, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resort, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Trump University, and the Trump Organization being convicted of financial fraud and tax evasion, Donald J. Trump remains the World’s All-Time Champion Grifter!

Early on, melding Daddy’s fortune with his Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), young Donald had the ingenious notion of marketing his name “Trump”!  NBC’s “The Apprentice” took his brand public.  Reputedly, Trump viewed his fist presidential campaign as the World’s Greatest Infomercial.    

The TRUMP brand’s commercialization archived fruition with the flagship Trump Store in Trump Tower.  Those of us not favored to visit may view the   “TrumpStore.com, the official retail website of the Trump Organization” where a “COLLETIONS GOLF HOME & SPA MEN WOMEN SALE” includes MAGA and TRUMP caps, mugs, money clip, female and male apparel, necklaces, bracelets, bags, pouches, Christmas ornaments and more, much more!  Most of course, bear the trademarked and coveted “TRUMP” logo.

Donald continues scamming millions from MAGA minions.  His latest, for $99 suckers may purchase a card with Donald’s mug photoshopped onto characters ranging from a cowboy or Nasar driver to astronaut or Superhero.  According to the COLLECT TRUMP CARDS website, “There are hundreds of different cards featuring President Trump, each with its own rarity.”  Rarity‽

In the Greek myth, seeing his reflection in a pool, young Narcissist fell in love with his reflected image and stared at it for the remainder of his life.  I’ve pointed out, but it bears repeating, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as, “a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts in early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards,”

  • A grandiose logic of self-importance
  • A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty or idyllic love
  • A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
  • A desire for unwarranted admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonal oppressive behavior
  • No form of empathy
  • Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
  • A display of egotistical and conceited behavior or attitudes

For Donald that’s 9 for 9 folks!  Narcissistic Personality Disorder on steroids!  To make this call, you don’t need to be a board-certified Psychiatrist.  Just look and listen.

Psychiatrists labels Donald J. Trump as exhibiting a Malignant Personality Disorder.  DSM5 does not use “Malignant.” Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary describes Malignant Narcissism as combining characteristics of Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders with aggression and paranoia , making the patient not only delusional but potentially dangerous

Amid the hype, hiding in plain sight but curiously overlooked, is the transitive verb “Trumped  .  .  .  to get the better of: OVERIDE”!  (Merriam-Webster)  To date, Donald continues Trumping rationale and law  If he is not stopped, Donald J. Trump remains a serious threat to the wellbeing of the United States of America, to you and me, indeed to the World! 

The Question

Learning that a dozen-or-so official documents were recently discovered in Joe Biden’s former office and home, House Republicans ask for logs of visitors to the two locations.  Hearing this, Karen wondered if anyone, Republican or Democrat, requested logs of visitors to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home/hotel where a trove of official documents had been stashed?

I think not.

Intent

On leaving the Oval Office, President Donald Trump took thousands of government documents, some classified, to his Mar-a-Lago home/resort/hotel.  After a year-and-a-half of lies, stonewalling and finally a search warrant, from the basement to his office, Justice Department investigators recovered Trump’s trove.

Joe Biden’s attorneys, on November 2, 2022, reported finding “about” 10 classified documents in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center where the then-vice president occasionally worked.  Biden aids, on January 22, 2023, reported finding additional documents at Biden’s Delaware home.  These discoveries were duly reported, and the documents forwarded to the National Archives.

Contrasting Joe Biden’s mishandling with Donald Trump’s theft of government documents is analogous to contrasting Alec Baldwin’s tragically accidental shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with Payton S. Gendron’s methodically executing a Tops market surety guard and nine patrons, and wounding three.

It’s about intent!  Did vice president, now president, Joe Biden intend to steal government documents?  Did former President Donald J. Trump intend to steal government documents? 

What Now?

With a Democrat in the Oval Office and majorities in the Senate and House, 7 of 23 statutes enacted by the 117th United States Congress include the:

  • “American Rescue Plan” facilitating recovery from the COVID pandemic.
  • “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” to repair highways and manage hazardous materials.
  • “CHIPS and Science Act” bringing microchip production back to America.
  • “Respect for Marriage Act” protecting same-sex and interracial marriage.
  • “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” addressing mental health, school safety, gun safety, and hazardous materials.
  • “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” addressing inflation, prescription drug prices, energy, climate change
  • “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023” addressing electoral reform, funding for defense of Ukraine, defense, natural disasters, healthcare, and electoral reform.

After quarreling like six-year-olds through15 ballots, House Republicans elected Kevin McCarty speaker.  Now, beside harassing Hunter Biden, persecuting a physician who dedicated his life to fighting infectious diseases, and ginning up, tit-for-tat, attempts to impeach Joe Biden, what mean, mindless “policies” and “programs” do Congressional Republicans have planned for Americans?

Prejudice

I’m puzzled.  For me, puzzlement is nothing new, but this one seems like a no-brainer.  I’m puzzled by the emergence of blatant prejudice in America! 

Socrates’s axiom, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms,” points to the heart of prejudice: “a preconceived judgement or opinion  .  .  .  an adverse opinion or learning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge  .  .  .  an irrational attitude directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics  .  .  .  to injure or damage by some judgement or action.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) (My emphasis) 

We came by it honestly.  With the potential for injury and death forever lurking outside the cave, our Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon ancestors had reason to ascribe malevolent intentions to anyone who did not appear, speak, or behave as they did.  With the evolution of rational thought, the fallacy of prejudging others from insufficient evidence became obvious.  Despite their appearance, strangers are not necessarily a threat to my health and life. 

Donald J. Trump gave voice and permission for a subset of Americans blatantly to express xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and otherwise pre-judge others.  At a campaign rally, Trump mocked a physically handicapped reporter.  Asked to disavow racist Proud Boys, Donald replied, “stand back and stand by.”  Charlottesville “Unite the Right” white supremacist and neo-Nazi chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”  Trump called them, “very fine people.”  Acting from pure prejudice, he banned Muslims from America and labeled Haiti and Africa “shithole” countries.  Calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” Donald insulted both a United States Senator and native Americans.  He slandered George Bush’s secretary of labor and his own secretary of transportation Elaine Chao as “Coco Chow.”  President Donald J. Trump’s Malignant Narcissistic prejudice culminated, on January 6, 2021, in an armed attempt to seize control of our government. 

Nearer the grassroots, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gatez, Kanye West, and Nick Fuentes take pride in bigoted rants. Iterations of Trump-inspired Proud Boys include the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and others.  

Prejudice was always there.  Like the cork on a champagne bottle, reason and decency held it in.  Donald J. Trump popped the cork.    

Unfair? Political?

Learning that Attorney General Merrick Garland named Jack Smith Special Counsel to investigate: (1) the January 6, 2021, attack on our Capitol, Congress, and Constitution, and (2) Donald Trump’s taking government documents, to his Mar-a-Lago residence, Donald whined, “It is so unfair.  It is so political.”

Unfair?  Political?  Hummmm?  Let’s see.

The facts: In an aborted attempt to block certification of Joe Biden’s election as President of the United States, TV viewers saw Donald Trump order an armed assault on America’s Capitol, Congress, and Constitution.  A Department of Justice search found that, flaunting the Presidential Records Act, Trump ordering vanloads of official government documents, many “classified,” taken to his Florida residence. 

When someone attempts to hijack America’s democracy, and steals documents belonging to the people of the United States of America, rational citizens demand an investigation.  Donald J. Trump is irrational. 

The game is “Politics.”  Like so much of human life, Politics is unfair! Political discourse is rife with half-truths, lies, slander, ignorance, and meanness.  But, apart from Donald Trump, I am unaware of anyone labeling aspersions leveled against them “unfair.” 

People least sensitive to others’ feelings are the most thin-skinned.  Deeply offended by any hint of criticism, they view criticism as meanspirited, “unfair.”

Former President Trump might do himself a favor by considering the council of a Democrat.  Regarding the rough-and-tumble of Politics, President Harry Truman advised, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

It Worked!

Our 2022 midterm election tested and proved the mettle of America’s experiment in democracy.  Undaunted by groundless claims that the 2020 election was “rigged, on November 8, 2022, Americans voted, certain that every ballot would be fairly and accurately counted. 

Historically, in “off-year” elections the party “in power” loses Senate and House seats.  This year’s anticipated Republican “Red Wave” has been labeled a “ripple.”  Why?

Academic and wonks have erudite answers.  This armchair pundit’s belief is, the “Red Wave” barely stirred the beach sand because America’s democracy works!

With nearly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, Americans fret that nothing “gets done.”  In fact, two-party cooperation and compromise keep the wheels of government turning, cranking out new laws and regulations.  Some would argue that too many laws and regulations are the problem!

American’s close to 50/50 Democrat/Republican split, in Congress and at the grassroots, is a good thing.  Democracy depends on liberals and conservatives.  To feed the workers and disadvantaged, Democrats would mortgage the farm.  Republicans would deed it to the bankers.

A wave’s height is determined by the energy of currents and winds.  The obvious takeaway from failure of the 2020 Red Wave is, Donald Trump’s endorsing folks who Mitch McConnell and other Republicans described as poor “quality candidates”—like carpetbagger Mehmet Oz and Mental Superstar Hershel Walker—sapped its energy before the Wave reached the beach.

If the Grand Old Party does not regain its sanity and relegate Donald Trump to history’s backwater, its energy will be wasted in humoring a dangerous deranged mind.

About Love

Why do some people deliberately hurt others?  Why did the late Rush Limbaugh, why do Steve Bannon, Marjory Taylor Greene, Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and Donald Trump appear to take sadistic satisfaction in insulting and demeaning others?

Frightened, offended, in the heat of the moment, we say things that hurt other people.  Most of us regret these lapses, apologize, as best we can, make amends.  Regret, apology, making amends, are as foreign to the minds of Mean People as the dark side of the Moon. 

Since each of us is a collage of genes and environment, it is impossible to appreciate what makes other people “tick.”  This is true for Limbaugh, Bannon, Greene, Jones, Carlson, and Trump.  However, what we know of Donald’s formative years appears to expose some roots of his Meanness.  

In Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Made the World’s Most Dangerous Man niece Mary Trump affords first person details of the former president’s childhood.  When Donald was age two, a near-fatal illness left mother, Mary Anne, emotionally unavailable.  A famously successful New York real estate developer, father Frederick, was away from home six days a week.  By embracing Fred’s wealth and power, Donald bonded with Dad.

As a child, Donald J. Trump never experienced love!  As a man, Donald’s life is a plea for love!

Lacking any notion of how to give or receive love, this plea conflates symbols and trapping, i.e., fame and wealth, with love.  More blatant of these include three gorgeous wives, Czech media personality, socialite, author, and model, Maria Ivana; actress, television personality, and model Marla Ann Maples; Slovenian Model Melania Knauss; Trump Tower, other Manhattan real estate, Mar-a-Lago, and numerous private golf resorts.  

In addition, sensing its lack from outside, Donald morphed love into self-love, Narcissism.  More florid examples: A Savior descending the golden staircase.  Like a cardboard cutout for a Christian bookstore, posing in front of a church holding up a Bible.  I am: the “second coming of God,” “King of Israel,” “a stable genius.”  At MAGA rallies, adoring his image on the Jumbotron.  

In a rare honest moment, learning he is less popular among urban women Donald’s pleaded, “Please like me.”

On January 6, 2021, Donald’s warped yearning for love culminated in orchestrating and ordering an armed assault on our Capitol, our Congress, and our Constitution.  Who besides Donald saw rioters “hugging and kissing” police officers?  The President was clearly delusional.  Only after observing the pitched battle for more than three hours, President Trump called off his forces with, “We love you, you’re very special.”

Ironically, it is impossible to overstate the terrible consequences Donald J. Trump’s yearning for love has had, and continues to have, on our American democracy.