Another day, the 392nd since November 9, 2016. A morning like so many others. The news is grim. The US will recognize Jerusalem and throw the Middle East into violent turmoil. Trump has endorsed Roy Moore, a crackpot theocrat twice expelled from the Alabama Supreme Court for ignoring Federal courts (and an alleged pedophile to boot). In an act without precedent, Trump disposes of 2 million acres of permanently protected public lands. It takes an effort to make my way through the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. To my limbic brain it is like I am holding my hand over a flame; the neurons are begging me to pull back and walk away.
We are exhausted and discouraged. It’s an over-used word, but apt in this case: traumatized. And lethargy is one of the many perilous symptoms of trauma. It’s far too easy to allow moral indignation and anger to fade into a soothing malaise that excuses action.
With this in mind, I have forced myself back to my desk. We must not surrender to despair. We all must do what we can.
Trump First, American Last
Unless it threatens to drag us into war, the great American public tends to be uninterested in foreign affairs. It’s time to get interested. Domestic policy can be reversed. But Trump is well on the way to squandering the prestige, power, and moral authority built by this country over the course of the past century.
Trump has sought to personalize American foreign policy. He disdains the analysis of our intelligence and foreign policy professionals, refuses to consult or use our diplomats, and has replaced the entire apparatus of foreign relations with his personal impulses and illusions about his relationships with other leaders. And the result to date?
· Our European allies now treat us as a pariah state. Secretary of State Tillerson received a barely civil reception last week in Brussels. Even our “special relationship” with the UK is on the verge of collapse, thanks to the U.S. President's unthinkable endorsement of a pariah UK ultranationalistic hate group.
· The world chuckled in derision as Trump announced that the Middle East was “not so difficult as people thought” and dispatched Jared to make a deal. They’re not laughing any more. Every world leader, both parties, and every one of his predecessors understood why the US could not move its embassy to Jerusalem. So of course doing it was irresistible to Trump. Thousands will loose their lives in the ensuing violence, the cause of peace will be set back, perhaps by decades, and our friends in Europe will bear the brunt of invigorated terrorism. And for what? One man’s ego.
· By canceling the TransPacific trade deal (long championed by Republicans), pulling out of the Paris Agreement, risking millions of Asian lives by threatening North Korea with “fire and fury,” and kowtowing to China’s strongman (among many other sins of commission and omission), Trump has handed economic and political leadership of Asia to China. The first battle in China’s plan for global leadership, conceded by a blathering reality TV star without a shot fired.
· Republicans like to boast that Reagan won the cold war. They now need to wake up to the fact that Trump is reversing that victory. Even at the height of our enmity, the Soviet Union could not have dreamed of manipulating our democracy and installing a candidate guaranteed to weaken its enemy. Trump’s hero Putin achieved this, whether with or without Trump’s acquiescence or participation remains to be seen. But the result is clear enough. Putin has gotten his way in Syria and is pushing the US aside in its relations and influence in Turkey, Egypt, and elsewhere.
I could go on. I beg Republicans and conservatives to follow the lead of John McCain here. This is what he said in a speech on October 16:
“The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941. To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
In today's coverage of Trump’s endorsement of Moore, neither the Times nor the Journal referred to anything about his background or qualifications other than the sexual abuse. This is also the case with most other media coverage. This is a disaster. A growing number of Americans have an issue with the fairness of destroying careers based on decades old sexual misconduct charges that have not been thoroughly investigated or proven. The real issue with Moore is that he is as unfit for high office as any candidate in recent history. Moore is a fringe fundamentalist theocrat who has twice ignored federal court orders on the basis that the Bible trumps the Constitution, and twice was expelled from his seat on the court. Until Bannon/Trump turned the world upside down (and before the allegations of sexual misconduct), he was treated as a pariah.
My request. Please complain to your favorite media sources if they omit the relevant facts about Moore. Please write on-line comments on news reports and postings that focus on the sexual allegations to the exclusion of all else.
A Happy Thought
The obsession of every person afflicted by narcissistic personality disorder is to create a world where “it’s all about me.” Donald Trump is the first to have succeeded, where the relevant world is not the bubble of family, workplace or community, but – literally – the world. Since November 9, 2016, has there been a newspaper anywhere in the world without Trump on its front page? A newscast in which the man’s face did not appear?
Narcissism is an addiction. The obsessive desire for attention and affirmation created by the addiction cannot be satisfied, because feeding those desires – as it does with all addictions – just stokes the fire and results in an unquenchable appetite for more.
Two classic symptoms common to all types of addiction are the impairment of what psychologists call “inhibitory control over behavior” and “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” – that is, pathological impulsiveness, inability to focus, excessive activity, and inappropriate behavior; that is, Trump as he has been since childhood and will be until his death.
Here’s the happy thought. Giving the world’s most extreme narcissist the greatest amount of attention and power that a human being can have is like presenting the junkie with an unlimited life-time supply of heroin. There is only one way it can end: a spiraling descent to total self-destruction. The only question is the amount of damage he will do on the way down.