Monday, January 30, 2017

Cruel and Unusual

The President is mentally ill. No, seriously. Pundits and mental health professionals are throwing around the words "malignant narcissist" lately, and although our giant, man/baby Chief Executive fits that category like one of his baggy suits, there's another term that may be more apt in describing the president's bizarre behavior: psychopathy. According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (created by Professor of Psychology, Dr. Robert Hare) is a diagnostic tool used by professionals to measure "psychopathic or antisocial tendencies." There are twenty items on the list, each of which is scored zero to two, depending on how well it applies to the subject. A prototypical psychopath scores a forty, although a thirty score or above qualifies for the diagnosis. I'll just give you a sampling here, and since Donald Trump has proclaimed that "bullet points" are his preferred way of receiving information, that's how we'll do it.
  • Glib and superficial charm
  • Grandiose estimation of self
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning and manipulativeness
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Impulsivity
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Lack of conscience or sense of guilt
Hell, I count thirty points right there. Tea-Party conservative Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the scourge of the Benghazi committee, was so disturbed he has suggested that all presidential candidates undergo a thorough mental exam in the future. For the rest of us, the future is now.

With the possible exceptions of Attila the Hun or Napoleon, I can't recall a single historical figure who has done more damage in one week than President Trump. Millions of people are marching in the streets worldwide, there's chaos and confusion in international airports, innocent people have been detained, our allies are nervous, North Korea is preparing to launch an ICBM capable of reaching California, and Germany has replaced the United States as the world's moral authority. Trump's nocturnal tweets are causing nightmares for his staff and his obsession with crowd size and the popular vote is Nixonian in its paranoia. Other presidents have used their first days in office to lay out a plan of accomplishment. Trump's first week was all nullification. We've just said goodbye to our first black President and now, welcome to the Bronze Age.

Thrashing about like a harpooned giant squid, Trump stood in front of a memorial wall at the CIA and bragged about how many times he's been on the cover of Time Magazine. He sent his stammering spokesman, the hapless Sean Spicer, out to scold the press on their inauguration coverage, then criticized his suit. He approved construction of the XL Keystone Pipeline, despite owning shares in the company that oversees the project. He signed a directive to build a taxpayer funded wall on the southern border, The Great Wall Of Trump, while stripping funding for cities that shield undocumented immigrants. He launched a major investigation into voter fraud, even though he won, claiming three million illegal votes were cast, all for Hillary Clinton. He threatened to send federal troops into Chicago and fired the head of the agency which serves as landlord for Trump's new hotel. He stunned the National Security Council by giving a seat to his chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, the white nationalist and former head of the alt-right Breitbart News, while demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will now be informed on a "need to know" basis. And a new phrase has been added to the lexicon; "alternative facts." If these are signs of an administration that doesn't know what they're doing, just imagine the potential damage they can do when they figure it out.

I'm fortunate Trump wasn't president in 1900 when my grandfather immigrated from Russia or you wouldn't be reading this. The Muslim ban, whatever they care to call it, is blatantly unconstitutional, but that's beside the point. It's also cruel and heartless and preys on the helpless. The quarantined seven middle eastern nations are, co-incidentally, all places where Trump has no business interests. Because his own staff wasn't even notified, airports from Dallas to Seattle were caught unawares and in-flight passengers were unlawfully detained and threatened with deportation. In return, Iran banned all visitors from the U.S. just as the hard work undertaken by the Obama administration was beginning to thaw relations frozen for decades. Trump's translators were quick to note that the ban is temporary- not for Syrian refugees however. They are barred indefinitely. Trump likes to watch TV. Maybe someone should show him footage of the wretched people, mostly women and children, who are merely trying to escape from what Trump casually calls "carnage." In Trump's America, that poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty about "huddled masses yearning to breathe free," should be replaced by a big sign that says, "You're Not Wanted." Or better still, now that Rex Tillerson has been approved as Secretary of State, the sign should read, "Welcome to the United States, brought to you by Exxon/Mobil."