Lazy Saturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Today is Earth Day, and science marches are going on around the world. The Washington Post reports: Why people are marching for science: ‘There is no Planet B.’

Earth Day has arrived, and so has the March for Science — a global event on six continents (and cheered on by scientists on a seventh, Antarctica). Thousands of people have gathered on grounds of the Washington Monument for a four-hour rally that will culminate in a march down Constitution Avenue to the foot of Capitol Hill.

“We are at a critical juncture. Science is under attack,” said Cara Santa Maria, a science communicator who is one of several emcees of the rally. “The very idea of evidence and logic and reason is being threatened by individuals and interests with the power to do real harm.”

The article describes the DC march at length; you can read about at the link. A bit more on the rationale:

Some scientists in recent weeks have said they worried the march would politicize the broader scientific enterprise and signal an alignment with left-leaning ideologies. The march’s website offered an answer to that concern: “In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense? There is no Planet B.”

The Washington march may be the biggest gathering — organizers have a permit for up to 75,000 people — but there are similar events in more than 600 cities on six continents. Seven researchers in Antarctica went on Twitter to express their support for the march. Thousands of people gathered in Sydney, Australia, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Science advocates went on social media to post bulletins from marches in Austria, England, Malawi, among other places.

Dr. John Gartner is still trying to get the word out about Trump’s mental illness. The Independent: Donald Trump has ‘dangerous mental illness’, say psychiatry experts at Yale conference.

Donald Trump has a “dangerous mental illness” and is not fit to lead the US, a group of psychiatrists has warned during a conference at Yale University.

Mental health experts claimed the President was “paranoid and delusional”, and said it was their “ethical responsibility” to warn the American public about the “dangers” Mr Trump’s psychological state poses to the country.

Speaking at the conference at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday, one of the mental health professionals, Dr John Gartner, a practising psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, said: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump’s dangerous mental illness.”

Dr Gartner, who is also a founding member of Duty to Warn, an organisation of several dozen mental health professionals who think Mr Trump is mentally unfit to be president, said the President’s statement about having the largest crowd at an inauguration was just one of many that served as warnings of a larger problem.

Dr. John Gartner

“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was President. If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional,” he added.

Chairing the event, Dr Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, said: “As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.”

Yale issued a statement saying that Gartner was “not on the actual panel” but admitted that the organizer of the conference agrees with him that mental health professionals need to speak out about Trump’s dangerousness. Here’s a quote from another expert:

James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, told the conference he had worked some of the “most dangerous people in society”, including murderers and rapists — but that he was convinced by the “dangerousness” of Mr Trump.

“I’ve worked with some of the most dangerous people our society produces, directing mental health programmes in prisons,” he said.

“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognise dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.”

We’ve seen numerous signs that Trump is paranoid and delusional. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it at this point. He’s demonstrating it right now with his claims that he’ll get Congress to pass health care and tax bills soon even though Congress will be busy preventing a government shutdown. Apparently the tax bill is news to Trump’s staff.

The New York Times: Trump Vows to Unveil Tax-Cut Plan Next Week, Surprising Staff.

President Trump promised on Friday that he would unveil a “massive” tax cut for Americans next week, vowing a “big announcement on Wednesday,” but he revealed no details about what is certain to be an enormously complicated effort to overhaul the nation’s tax code.

Mr. Trump offered his tax tease in an interview and again during remarks at the Treasury Department on Friday afternoon as he raced to stack up legislative accomplishments before his 100th day in office at the end of next week.

His announcement surprised Capitol Hill and left Mr. Trump’s own Treasury officials speechless as he arrived at the Treasury offices to sign directives to roll back Obama-era tax rules and financial regulations. Earlier in the day, when reporters asked Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, how far away a tax overhaul proposal was, he said he could not give an answer. “Tax reform is way too complicated,” he said.

Mr. Trump told The Associated Press in the interview that his tax reductions would be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.” But he faces an enormous fight among clashing vested interests as Congress tries to rewrite the tax code.

Trump also has repeatedly claimed that he has accomplished more in his first 90 days in office than any president in history. Here’s Digby’s evaluation of that claim: President Trump’s glorious first 100 days: More frightening or more pathetic?

Back on the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump portrayed the nation as a desperate dystopian hellscape and promised his adoring followers that he would make America great again. But he he went beyond that. Decrying NAFTA and inner-city crime, vowing to bring back jobs and go after undocumented immigrants, undo regulations and fight ISIS, Trump promised to fix it all “very, very quickly.” Sometimes he’d add that it would “happen so fast your head will spin.”

Indeed, Trump’s pitch to his voters was that none of these were difficult issues and the problem had been our “stupid” leaders who just didn’t know what they were doing. He famously said in his nomination acceptance speech at the Republication convention, “I alone can fix it,” making it clear that he planned to do it all at once.

Just before the election, Trump released his plan for the first 100 days and it was extremely ambitious. He promised to reverse every Obama executive order he could think of and issue as many of his own as possible on the very first day. His ill-conceived travel ban was the most controversial and a few of his promises, like his pledge to “propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress,” have been quietly shelved. Others, in light of subsequent events, now seem mordantly amusing, such as “a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.”

Read the rest at Salon.

I highly recommend this piece by Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker: The Persistence of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Gopnik skewers both Trump’s cognitive problems as well as the longing of journalists for a “presidential” Trump. He systematically dismantles the arguments that we have to keep an open mind and support Trump when he does something that makes sense.

The problem is that it refuses to see, or to entirely register, the actual nature of Trump and his actions. Our problem is not Trump Derangement Syndrome; our problem is Deranged Trump Self-Delusion. This is the habit of willfully substituting, as a motive for Trump’s latest action, a conventional political or geostrategic ambition, rather than recognizing the action as the daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity that it truly is.

The bombing of Syria, for instance, was not a sudden lurch either in the direction of liberal interventionism, à la Bill Clinton in the lands that were once Yugoslavia, nor was it a sudden reassertion of a neo-con version of American power, à la both Bushes in Iraq. It was, as best as anyone can understand, simply a reaction to an image, turned into a self-obsessed lashing out that involved the lives and deaths of many people. It was a detached gesture, unconnected to anything resembling a sequence of other actions, much less an ideology. Nothing followed from it, and no “doctrine” or even a single speech justified it. There is no credible evidence that Trump’s humanity was outraged by the act of poisoning children, only that Trump’s vanity was wounded by the seeming insult to America and, by extension, to him. It may be perfectly true that the failure of the Obama Administration to act sooner in Syria will go down forever, in the historical ledgers, as a reproach against it; or it may be that the wisdom of the Obama Administration in not getting engaged in another futile Middle Eastern folly will go down in its favor. But it is self-deluding to think that Trump’s action was meant to be in any way remedial. It was purely ritual, and the ritual acted out was the interminable Trumpist ritual of lashing out at those who fail to submit, the ritual act of someone whose inner accounting is conducted exclusively in terms of wounds given, worship received, and winnings displayed. (Perhaps his elder daughter, Ivanka, did play some small part in the action, as her brother Eric suggested in an interview, but this is hardly a comfort; the politics of a mad king with a court are no more reassuring than those of a mad king alone.)

Please go read the rest. Gopnik really has Trump’s number.

The New York Times has an excellent article on James Comey: Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election. It’s a long read, so I’ll just give you a brief excerpt:

An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 30 current and former law enforcement, congressional and other government officials, found that while partisanship was not a factor in Mr. Comey’s approach to the two investigations, he handled them in starkly different ways. In the case of Mrs. Clinton, he rewrote the script, partly based on the F.B.I.’s expectation that she would win and fearing the bureau would be accused of helping her. In the case of Mr. Trump, he conducted the investigation by the book, with the F.B.I.’s traditional secrecy. Many of the officials discussed the investigations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Mr. Comey made those decisions with the supreme self-confidence of a former prosecutor who, in a distinguished career, has cultivated a reputation for what supporters see as fierce independence, and detractors view as media-savvy arrogance.

The Times found that this go-it-alone strategy was shaped by his distrust of senior officials at the Justice Department, who he and other F.B.I. officials felt had provided Mrs. Clinton with political cover. The distrust extended to his boss, Loretta E. Lynch, the attorney general, who Mr. Comey believed had subtly helped downplay the Clinton investigation.

Read the rest at the NYT.

I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?


29 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Donald Trump publicly endorsed white supremacist nationalist French candidate just as the French elections begin this weekend.

    The Telegraph: Marine Le Pen gets poll boost after Paris attack as Donald Trump says her chances of victory have improved.

    • dakinikat says:

      Are our presidents supposed to be doing that? Isn’t that unusual?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Of course it’s unusual, and it’s frightening that he only supports dictators and white supremacists and disses our allies.

        • Fannie says:

          That’s what he’s doing, and the public chalks it up like he is “unpredictable”…………….He’s hold a rally the same night as correspondence dinner………he’s mentally ill, not unpredictable.

    • Fannie says:

      He’s not going to have any East Indians either, he fired Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General.

      Conway is out promoting Sessions and Trump’s we are coming to get you Mexicans, we’ll fine you, they are looking in high places, and low places, in jails and prisons, everywhere, just take note “We are coming for you”.

  2. bostonboomer says:


  3. bostonboomer says:

    More Trump delusional thinking–threatening to shut down the government if funding for border wall isn’t in the budget.

    The New Yorker: The White House Seems Excited to Shut Down the Government.

  4. quixote says:

    About being delusional: I’m not sure that examples based on him selling something are useful. He’s a Chatbot, a carnival barker, and he’ll say anything. Words don’t mean anything to him. That’s not really delusion; it would be dishonesty in someone capable of understanding what honesty is.

    And other examples, such as his comments about what a great guy Frederick Douglass “is” (rather than was) can be a sign of vast stupidity rather than delusion.

    But that BS about what a great friend of his Pavarotti “is”? That sure sounds like dementia. Dump wasn’t palming off some scam on people with that one. It was a freebie. The guy lived during Dump’s own lifetime. If he knows enough to recognize his name, he should remember that Pavarotti died a while ago.

    And then that weird interaction where Melania has to nudge him to put his hand on his chest during the anthem. A senior moment at the very least.

    That bizarre way he has after something’s been explained to him in words of one syllable — China and Korea have a long history, health care is complicated (well, when it’s not single payer) — and then telling everyone like he’s the first one to realize it. That is such a complete, blank inability to see the state of mind of any other human on the planet that it really is pathological. And doing that doesn’t help him sell anything. It seems to be a genuine reaction.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It would be OK for him to make all these weird statements if he were just a carnival barker, but he’s the president. Frankly, even a used car salesman would get into trouble if he behaved this way.

      I think Trump has delusions of grandeur and that causes him to make these statement and to actually take dangerous actions like bombing Syria and threatening North Korea. I do believe that he is often out of touch with reality. It may be dementia that is causing it–I think it’s a combination of various cognitive issues. Nonetheless, it is dangerous for our country and the world.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Though I agree that Trump is mentally unstable I think we should all consider that he is also quite stupid which also may illustrate some of those “WTF moments” when he speaks off the top of his nested head.

        Pavoratti, long dead, is a “friend”. No idea about the North/South Korea history. Can barely pronounce names. ISIS was created by Obama and Hillary. Slavery was “bad”. Sent missiles to Iraq when he meant Syria because those countries are all the same to him. His delusions are bad enough but his grasp of history – even the present- is seriously lacking.

        This is also what you get when electing someone who does not read anything other than the National Enquirer. Someone who lacks even the basic curiosity of what is happening in the world. He throws out stupid comments to appear “involved” but they cannot cover up the fact that he fails the basic test of even general knowledge. Television is his bible and “go to” place which merely includes Fox News. The man is an imbecile!

        We have elected a disturbed talk show host as POTUS. He possesses the intellect of a teenager who is only eager to sign anything placed at hand in order to look “presidential”.

        It ain’t working. He is a slow witted dolt who couldn’t tell you what he stands for because he stands for nothing. No vision. No policies. No nothing.

        I doubt he could answer who is buried in Grant’s Tomb. (“A great guy. One of the best. I hear he is doing great things!”)

        • bostonboomer says:

          Oh, there’s no doubt he’s stupid too, and ignorant. He’s led his life in a bubble and has made no attempt to educate himself about anything.

      • quixote says:

        bb, I’m not saying it’s not dangerous to have a demented chatbot in the Oval Office. It’s enormously dangerous, and it’s destroying the country, and the list goes on. I’m only saying that’s what he *is*.

        Bit off-topic, but it annoys me to see people refer to his installation as a monumental mistake. (I was just over at digby’s, for instance.) It was not a mistake. It took a great deal of effort, money, and misogyny to actually pull off that fraud.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I understand. I want to point out, though, that having delusions is not a permanent state. It’s possible for someone to be out of touch with reality and then be put back in touch by reality testing from other people. Trump’s problem is that he has no self-awareness of how ignorant he is.

          Because of his narcissism, he is focused almost entirely on proving that he’s better than everyone else. When he’s forced to realize that he’s not, he immediately lashes out and fights to return to his grandiose delusional state. If he were not so wealthy, he probably would have been in treatment by now; but he’s protected by his wealth and by all the people around him who want to keep benefiting from his wealth.

          • quixote says:

            interesting point re permanent vs impermanent delusions. I mean, if your delusions are due to physical brain issues, eg senile dementia, no amount of reality testing will make a difference.

            On the other hand if it’s your own carefully constructed psychosis, then indeed, reality testing would lead to lashing out.

            Which means — and I hadn’t thought of this before — the fate of the world rests on the degree to which he suffers from stupidity/dementia vs grandiose narcissism.

            And that we have to hope for plain old dementia. 😯

            Now that you frame it that way, I’d bet the narcissism is by far the biggest component. (where’s the closest bomb shelter?)

          • bostonboomer says:


  5. dakinikat says:

  6. Earlynerd says:

    Very glad you covered the science march, BB.

    This was my favorite among all the clever signs on the news and Twitter:— SFU Archaeology (@SFUArchaeology) April 22, 2017


  7. Fannie says:

    Have you noticed that when Trumps says all kinds of bullshit about others, and then come face to face with them he backs down. He does that every damn time. What’s that’s all about BB?

  8. NW Luna says:

    Urgh, internet has been out. I may not be commenting much until I get things fixed. Miss you all!

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    I’ve been gone all day…so not sure if this has been posted yet: