By John Stanton
“In the early 1800s, doctors who worked with mental patients began to notice that some of their patients who appeared outwardly normal had what they termed a moral depravity or moral insanity, in that they seemed to possess no sense of ethics or of the rights of other people. The term psychopath was first applied to these people around 1900. The brains of psychopaths have been found to have weak connections among the components of the brain’s emotional systems.” Psychology Today
“Psychopaths show a lack of emotion, especially the social emotions, such as shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Hervey Cleckley [one of the first to diagnose the sickness in 1941] said that the psychopaths he came into contact with showed a general poverty in major affective reactions and a lack of remorse or shame. The Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) describes psychopaths as emotionally shallow and showing a lack of guilt. Psychopaths are notorious for their lack of fear. They show blame externalization, i.e., they blame others for events that are actually their fault. Glibness, superficial charm, untruthfulness, insincerity, impulsiveness, outright pathological lying and devaluing speech by inflating and distorting it toward selfish ends [are character traits]. The psychopath [is adept at] conning others for personal profit or pleasure. Cleckley spoke of his psychopaths showing a pathologic egocentricity [an incapacity for love] and a parasitic lifestyle. Psychology Today
President Donald Trump’s pathological behavior at home is evidenced in his Tweets and speeches. His communication with the “outside world” is typically acerbic and vengeful. His recent “fire and fury” threat to North Korea was belligerent, foolhardy and dangerous. The president simply does not understand, or care, that his words matter. In this instance, financial markets around the world were rattled for a time. Moreover, Trump’s biblical sounding threat came a day before the US dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
Whether it’s slamming media reports as fake news or calling a sitting US senator a hustler, Trump always aims to debase. His closeted racist agenda towards Muslims, and, arguably, Blacks and Latino’s will nullify some of the gains America has made to achieve a measure of racial and gender equality. His ring kissing political appointees, with the exception of a couple of Marines, are buffoons whose only mission is the decimation of the US federal government which they hope leads to nationwide anarchy.
Fear and White Rage
Jeffrey St. Clair of Counterpunch digs deeper into the Trump psyche. He has written two must-read pieces. One spends a bit of time deconstructing Trump as a father and husband.
Another looks at some of Trump’s ignominious past. A gem from the latter piece is this:
“He sells fear and white rage, as if he has scented the rot eating away inexorably at the core of the System he helped construct. Of course, he still markets himself as the nation’s top stud, the only figure man enough to eradicate the gravest threat to the Republic: Mexican immigrants. [This] is certainly a grandiose hypocrisy. The family fortune was built on immigrant labor. His father Fred boasted that his empire of suburban shacks was constructed by laborers ‘right off the boat,’ untainted by union membership. Donald followed the same reasoning at his own construction sites and in the low-wage jobs at his casinos and hotels.”
Donald’s Political and Governing Psychopathy Infects Executive Branch
Trump’s political and ideological psychopathy is similar to the creature in the movie Alien.
That monstrous “thing” is implanted into the actor John Hurt by a horseshoe crab-like critter that attaches itself to Hurt’s face. It uses Hurt as a host, siphoning off his life for its own. Ultimately, the Alien explodes out of Hurt’s chest/stomach area and scoots off somewhere into the spacecraft leaving Hurt dead. In the end, most of the crew of the spacecraft is killed.
Trump and most of his cronies exhibit the psychopathology of the Alien. They are slowly being implanted throughout the executive branch of the US government. They seek to eat away the guts of America’s federal institutions, agencies and departments by spreading their acidic ideology into the Departments of Agriculture and Education. It acts on the morale and effectiveness of civil servants like the acid fluid that flows from the Alien, melting through metal and burning human flesh. Trump’s 2018 budget is similar in purpose to the Alien’s inner jaw that destroys it human prey. Trump’s draconian budget and his use of the Congressional Review Act to reduce the federal government’s regulatory powers, along with his appointees who, for the most part, are callous money changers, serve as the Alien’s inner jaw.
Take, for example, the Trump administration and the Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE is one of the most important units of the federal government. It is on the frontlines of protecting America from weapons of mass destruction and in securing the fragmented electrical grid that the country depends on. DOE funded Tesla with seed money early on through a program called E-ARPA when Wall Street would not.
Michael Lewis of Vanity Fair writes a chilling story describing Trump’s political and ideological psychopathy at work in the $30 billion a year organization.
“The Trump people didn’t seem to grasp, according to a former DOE employee, how much more than just energy the Department of Energy was about. They weren’t totally oblivious to the nuclear arsenal, but even the nuclear arsenal didn’t provoke in them much curiosity. ‘They were just looking for dirt, basically,’ said one of the people who briefed the Beachhead Team on national-security issues. ‘What is the Obama administration not letting you do to keep the country safe?’ The briefers were at pains to explain an especially sensitive aspect of national security: the United States no longer tests its nuclear weapons. Instead, it relies on physicists at three of the national labs—Los Alamos, Livermore, and Sandia—to simulate explosions, using old and decaying nuclear materials.”
“[There were a] handful of young ideologues [sent to the Department of Energy] who called themselves the Beachhead Team. ‘They mainly ran around the building insulting people,’ says a former Obama official. ‘There was a mentality that everything that government does is stupid and bad and the people are stupid and bad,’ says another. They allegedly demanded to know the names and salaries of the 20 highest-paid people in the national-science labs overseen by the DOE. They’d eventually, according to former DOE staffers, delete the contact list with the e-mail addresses of all DOE funded scientists—apparently to make it more difficult for them to communicate with one another. ‘These people were insane,’ says the former DOE staffer. ‘They weren’t prepared. They didn’t know what they were doing.’”
Lewis also noted in the Vanity Fair piece that the DOE was an agency that Rick Perry wanted to eliminate. Perry’s role as head of the department has been ceremonial and bizarre, Lewis added.
Over Here, Over There
National security extends far beyond the US Department of Defense and the nation’s intelligence agencies as a close study of the US Instruments of National Power show. The INP’s are typically broken down into sensible categories: Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military, Economic, Financial, Law Enforcement, Information and human capital. Any one of them is powerful in its own right but they all overlap. No nation can match the INP’s when they are used in totality. That said, severely weakening or abusing any one of them can break the links that bind them together.
Take the INP Diplomacy, for example. Trump’s sleepy Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seeks to eliminate many functions within the Department through a 30 percent budget cut. One example of those reductions would be direct funding for quasi- and non-governmental organizations that serve niche missions, the Los Angeles Times reported. One group that will be hit is The American Jewish World Service who said much of its work would be jeopardized, according to the report. The group fights poverty all over the world through 450 local organizations. Tillerson’s State Dept. budget is a paltry $37.6 (for contrast purposes, note that Trump signed a $110 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia in May 2017).
Not listed specifically in the INP’s is Education. Here too, Trump wants to cut out approximately 14 percent of the Department of Education’s budget. That’s just one salvo in the Administration’s quest to privatize public education. There is, perhaps, no more insidious program than the one to let public education systems die out across the land. If the Trump people get their way, the education system in the United States will become financially and racially segregated, again. All the INP’s depend on a solid system of liberal and scientific education if the nation is to prosper. If the US does not take care of its people, and its infrastructure, the INP’s weaken across the board as those left behind come to believe that there is no future for them (job, health insurance, roof over the head) in the American way of life, what’s the point of their participation in a system that has left them as road kill?
False Prophet: Trump
Trump is a false prophet. Those motivated to support him will come to understand that his psychopathy and his presence in the Oval Office will, if not checked, lead not to civil war, but a wicked malaise throughout the land. The nation will devolve into tribes: A military-industrial tribe, an evangelical tribe, a progressive tribe, tribes based on race and ethnicity, corporate tribes, or displaced tribes, wealthy tribes. In this scenario, tribes are stove-piped and rarely interact other than perhaps through trade. The tribes that make up the country become drug addled, not unlike the Opioid epidemic underway, due in large part to unemployment and existential despair, according to Governing.
“It’s not simply about the rise of a new class of addictive drugs that now take the lives of some 91 Americans every day. The opioid crisis is a jobs crisis; it’s an affordable housing crisis. The same forces that have reshaped the economy over the past decade have left a void that’s been filled, in many places, by opioids. A University of Pennsylvania study after last November’s election found that President Trump had over performed in counties with the highest rates of “deaths of despair,” which include suicide, drug overdose and alcohol poisoning. It supports the fact that there are many Americans who feel left behind by the changing economy, and who fundamentally don’t believe the current political and policy framework is helping them.”
Trump’s two pronged national security strategy for the world seems to be this: Fire and fury and trade wars abroad, and incite domestic unrest at home. It is not all President Trump’s fault, of course. He is what he is, a psychopath. In the end, Americans will come to realize they need to demand more of each other and those they elect to represent them. In times of crisis, the United States tends to produce great leaders. There is no one out there yet.
Jefferson always said he thought a little revolution now and then is necessary. That revolution is coming. Americans need to get their s**t together.
John Stanton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org