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Archive for October, 2019

The Psychology of the Narcissistic Personality and the

Trump Core Supporter:

Their Relationship to the True Believer and Identity Fusion

Introduction

     This Blog article builds on my last one, The Fall of Donald Trump that was posted October 1, 2019. The basic question I posed in the last blog was: What is it about the Trump supporter that makes him or her so in line with such an authoritarian leader that causes them to unwaveringly support him? This is what I said in my last Blog:

“I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now, it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, education, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper psychological look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.” Back in the early 1950s this was President Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite author and book. In fact, Ike shared Hoffer’s book with many in his cabinet.

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will soon become much clearer as you read on. Why does such an identity issue lead us to yet another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.”

Both explanations may provide answers to why there is a Trump supporter in the first place.”! However, one must look to first explaining what the Trump supporter is identifying with in order to understand The True Believer and Identity Fusion. Low and behold, I will now share with you an important article on the psychology of early childhood and the development of the narcissistic personality. Gee Whiz, guess who I am referring to?

On January 29, 2017 and article was posted titled “Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Nipping a toxic mental illness in the bud.” The authors were:

Brian D. Johnson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and training clinic director at the University of Northern Colorado. Laurie Berdahl, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and speaker on parenting and adolescent wellness.

“It’s estimated that up to 6 percent of the U.S. population has narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism for short), which is more common in men and has its roots in childhood. Extremely resistant to treatment, this severe mental condition leads affected individuals to create chaos as they harm other people. Before discussing how demands for support of ego and desires can go off the rails, let’s start with an overview of pertinent normal child development.

Small children are naturally selfish as a normal part of development in which they work to get their needs met and can’t understand other people’s needs and desires. Then as teenagers, kids are still typically self-centered as they struggle for independence.

As opposed to self-centeredness that should gradually decline, children need to develop healthy, lasting levels of self-esteem to be able to protect and care for themselves while caring about others, to resist dangerous influences, and to stay connected to family and society. Healthy levels of self-esteem indicate a child’s belief that he or she is loved and worthy as a person in the family and in society, and thus doesn’t deserve and is more resilient to mistreatment. In a nutshell, self-esteem isn’t self-centeredness because it doesn’t lead to putting oneself first to the detriment of other people’s needs and rights.

Typical childhood self-centeredness must change to pave the way to mental health in adulthood. To grow up able to function well in families and society, kids must gradually gain both the ability to see other people’s viewpoints and empathy for other people’s suffering. So, healthy kids should gradually show sincere signs of caring about the well-being of others. Not developing empathy while growing up is a warning sign of developing a serious personality disorder as an adult, including the narcissistic type.

How do people with narcissistic personality disorder (narcissists for short) act? Besides showing lack of empathy (as judged not by words but by actions), narcissists filter information and react on the basis of the effect on their egos. Their actions reflect grandiose beliefs of superiority and uniqueness as well as their need for admiration and worship.

Narcissists are arrogant and preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited self-importance, success, and power (including that they alone can do something) and exaggerate their accomplishments and popularity. They exploit or take advantage of people for personal gain including feeding their egos and thus require excessive admiration. They pit people against each other to get what they want—they divide people to conquer and gain power over them. They manipulate others by influencing emotions like fear and anger, and with threats and lies. Another manipulation technique used is redefining reality by repeatedly fabricating fiction and arguing about it as if it were fact (such as presenting alternative facts), which leads listeners to question their own understanding of reality. Victims often experience a “twilight zone” sensation that is accompanied by anxiety.

Narcissists make others miserable and get aggressive with people who won’t give them the agreement, admiration, and respect they feel entitled to, expecting automatic compliance. These traits are often found in dictators. Like most personality disorders, narcissism is very difficult to treat because people affected aren’t able to understand that anything is wrong with them and thus are not motivated to change.

A narcissist is toxic to situations and people, except perhaps to an inner circle of supporters—at least for as long as they continue to support the narcissist’s agenda.

Now let’s go back to youth. Preteens aren’t developed enough to manipulate and given that teenagers are typically self-centered, clinicians are reluctant to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder before age 18. Still, you might notice one or more of these warning signs in teenagers indicating risk of developing narcissism:

Persistent bullying behaviors such as making fun of, threatening, degrading, or scapegoating people (including parents and other adults)

Persistent need to win no matter who is hurt

Persistent lying to benefit oneself (will lie about lying, turn lies into someone else’s fault, deflect accountability by attacking messengers who point out lies)

Egotistical view of extraordinary self-worth

Preoccupation with getting own needs met over other people

Entitled attitudes which lead to acting as if they deserve special treatment and to get whatever they want, no matter the circumstances

Aggressive responses to being criticized, wronged, or upset

Repetitively blaming others for bad outcomes

And being much more competitive than cooperative.

If your child or one you know behaves this way, you can save your family and society from harm by focusing on doing the following:

Teach empathy

Value character traits like honesty and kindness over being tough or dominant

Change entitled attitudes and stop entitled actions

Squelch greed (say, “You’re acting selfishly and that’s not okay”)

Insist they put other people first routinely, remembering that actions speak louder than words (narcissists often say they are doing something to benefit others when they are really doing it for themselves)

Build healthy self-esteem (low self-esteem can also lead to entitlement and using others to support one’s ego)

Don’t allow false blame of other people for one’s own problems and failures.

Also avoid parenting styles linked to developing narcissist personality, such as neglecting, indulgent (spoiling with privilege and possessions, and promoting entitled attitudes) and cold, over controlling authoritarian methods which insist on perfection, winning, and toughness from a child.

On the flip side, you can also help teens and young adults learn to recognize narcissists so they can avoid their toxic harm or survive it. A necessary foundation for this is the ability to think critically about what someone says or does, which starts to develop during adolescence.

Critical thinking skills help us tell lies from truths and determine when someone is manipulating to take advantage of or scam us. Parents and mentors can help teach these empowering life-skills that protect against deception by con artists and abusive bosses, friends, and partners.

You can give your child life-long protective gifts of healthy levels of self-esteem and critical thinking skills while squelching entitlement and narcissistic traits to benefit you, your child and family, and all of us. And don’t forget that there is no shame in seeking help to get it done—seeking knowledge and help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Trump’s childhood was terrible. He suffered from the neglect of his lawyer mother and a domineering father who was also a racist (Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 for attending a KKK riot in New York.) Later in the 1970s Donald was charged with racial discrimination (surprise surprise) against blacks in Trump housing properties. As an adolescent Donald Trump was shuttled off to military school.

Now we get to the psychology of the Trump supporter. Here is an excellent review of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer.

The True Believer

 

“Summary of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents … Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer’s book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance …

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain… (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that “appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.” (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves.” (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the “new poor,” those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated—those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves—and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people—those who experience creative flow—aren’t usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a “total surrender of a distinct self.” (p. 117) thus a follower identifies as “a member of a certain tribe or family.” (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and “loathe the present.” (p. 74) by regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as they decry the present and its entire works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more—and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation … (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.” (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude … presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine … simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources … but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength … He sacrifices his life to prove his worth … The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned—they are regarded with certitude—and they are spread through “persuasion, coercion, and proselytization.” Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow “the frustrated to … hear the echo of their own musings in … impassioned double talk.” (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.” (p. 106) the urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.” (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner.” (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the “hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing …” and “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure.” (p. 85) through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: “men of words”, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” Men of words try to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and create a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don’t find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the “practical men of action” take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant’s findings in The Lessons of History.) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: “All mass movements … irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance.” (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2.

 

Identity Fusion

Identity fusion is a unique form of alignment with groups to which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group. This construct relies on the distinction between the personal self and the social self. The personal self refers to the characteristics that make someone a unique individual (e.g., tall, old, intelligent), while the social self pertains to the characteristics that align the individual with groups (e.g., American, fraternity brother, student council member, etc.). As the name suggests, identity fusion involves the union of the personal and social selves.

When fusion occurs, both the personal and social selves remain salient and influential but the boundaries between them become highly permeable. Although the personal and social selves are joined together they remain independently salient and agentic. In addition, fused persons come to regard other group members as “family” and develop strong relational ties to them as well as ties to the collective. Therefore, fused persons are not just bound to the collective; they develop a bond that ties them to the individual members of the collective.

The potency of the personal self and relational ties distinguishes identity fusion from other forms of alignment with groups, such as “group identification”. In group identification, allegiance to the collective eclipses the personal self and relational ties to other group members. Given the lack of involvement of the personal self and relational ties in identification, it follows that measures of identity fusion should be more predictive of extreme pro-group behavior than measures of identification. In fact, there is growing evidence of this idea. Measures of identity fusion are particularly powerful predictors of personally costly pro-group behaviors, including the endorsement of extreme behaviors such as fighting and dying for the group.

Theoretical Foundations

The identity fusion construct builds upon earlier work by emphasizing aspects of the relationship of people to groups that were deemphasized within the social identity perspective (i.e., social identity theory and self-categorization theory. Like social identity theory, identity fusion theory rests on the distinction between the personal and social identities. However, the social identity approach assumes that there is a hydraulic relationship between personal and social identities, such that increases in the salience and influence of one diminish the salience and influence of the other. One important implication of this assumption is that as the group identity becomes salient and apt to guide behavior, the personal identity becomes less salient and less likely to guide behavior. In contrast, within identity fusion theory, both the personal and social identities can be salient and influential simultaneously.

Social identity theory also suggests that group members are only linked to one another through their allegiance to the collective; theoretically, personal relationships between group members do not foster identification with the group. In contrast, fused individuals feel deeply connected to other group members as individuals, as well as to the larger group as a whole. This is reflected in measures of identify fusion. For example, the verbal measure of identity fusion taps feelings of reciprocal strength between the individual and the group (e.g., “I am strong because of my group”; “I’ll do more for my group than any other group members would do”) as well as feelings of oneness with the group (e.g., “I am one with my group”; “My group is me”). Also a threat to the group is highly likely to produce a perceived threat against the personal self.

The unique characteristics of Identity Fusion Theory have been summarized in the form of four principles: Agentic-personal self-principle, Identity synergy principle, Relational ties principle, and Irrevocability principle. If you’re interested in these principles I recommend you do a little research. Limitations of space dictate I move on in this Blog.

This month, in the journal Nature: Human Behavior, Kunst and Dovidio examined fusion specifically involving Donald Trump. In a series of seven studies using various surveys, including Swann and Gomez’s “identity fusion scale,” the Yale and Oslo team found that Americans who fused with Trump—as opposed to simply agreeing with or supporting him—were more willing to engage in various extreme behaviors, such as personally fighting to protect the U.S. border from an “immigrant caravan,” persecuting Muslims, or violently challenging election results.

The fusion might explain some apparent contradictions in ideology, Dovidio says. Even people who typically identify as advocates of small or no government might endorse acts of extreme authoritarianism if they have fused with Trump. In fusion, those inconsistencies simply don’t exist, according to Dovidio: Value systems are only contradictory if they’re both activated, and “once you step into the fusion mind-set, there is no contradiction.”

Fusion seems most likely to happen when there is a charismatic leader, particularly of an authoritarian bent. “Humans are social, and the individual person has a power over us that abstract thought doesn’t,” Dovidio says. “The leader is a concrete manifestation of ideas, but allegiance to individuals will trump allegiance to ideas.” In that sense, the idea of fusion might help some people explain how family members or colleagues whom they view as fundamentally good people might seem to suspend their typical sense of morality and do things like downplay Trump’s bragging about groping women; enriching himself at taxpayer expense; defending white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia; or failing to release his tax returns despite multiple promises to do so.

Read: The deepening crisis in evangelical Christianity

The idea of identity fusion is not, the researchers assure me, some effort to use science to overlook or excuse bigotry or racial hatred, which are distinct elements in the formation of identity. Though fusion tends to happen with authoritarian leaders, the fusion is not itself antisocial or bad. It can be seen in political movements of all sorts; Kunst cites followers of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Fusion might have arisen as a psychological adaptation to facilitate cooperation among kin in the face of extreme adversity, explains Harvey Whitehouse, chair of social anthropology at Oxford. Even so, Whitehouse warns, “social institutions could hijack the fusion mechanism in novel ways.”

A sense of deprivation—real or perceived threats to socioeconomic status—also seems to leave people inclined to fuse. “When we primed people to think of relative deprivation, this increased their likelihood of fusion with the leader,” Kunst says, noting that economic recessions have often preceded authoritarian movements. The findings from Kunst and Dovidio’s study suggest that Trump’s continued emphasis on the relative deprivation of his base—and his promise of the power and resources presumably under his control as an apparently wealthy Manhattan real-estate developer and reality-TV star—probably helped his election by increasing his followers’ fusion with him.

Even if this personal enrichment didn’t come to fruition for his voters, the researchers found that fusion with Trump only increased after his election. The presidency itself made him more powerful, and hence a more attractive target to fuse with.

Fundamentally, fusion is an opportunity to realign the sense of self. It creates new systems by which people can value themselves. A life that consists of living up to negative ideas about yourself does not end well. Nor does a life marked by failing to live up to a positive self-vision. But adopting the values of someone who is doing well is an escape. If Donald Trump is doing well, you are doing well. Alleged collusion with a foreign power might be bad for democracy, but good for an individual leader, and therefore good for you. “Fusion satisfies a lot of need for people,” Dovidio says. “When you fuse with a powerful leader, you feel more in control. If that person is valued, you feel valued.”

The process of de-fusing, then, might involve offering alternative systems of creating consistency and order. If people who are inclined to fusion have the option to fuse with entities that do not wish to exploit them, and that are generally good or neutral for the world, they might be less likely to fuse with, say, a demagogue. “But, of course,” Dovidio says, “that’s hard.”

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General Comments

In my opinion Identity Fusion is a structural construct, or larger framework for understanding mass movements. Eric Hoffer’s book by comparison defines the motivations underlying how individuals become swept up in a mass movement, and his explanation fits into the notion of letting your personal self becomes a social self-unrestrained by normal conventions of decency and personal responsibility.

Donald Trump is expeditiously on his way out of the White House. The country is in shambles as a result of his presidency. I think after reviewing the research literature on the Narcissistic Personality, The True Believer and Identity Fusion, there is now a real plausible set of explanations that define the Trump core supporter. Not all Trump core supporters may be true believers or be pathologically tied to Trump through Identity Fusion. However, as a social scientist interested in empirical data, I’d have say that the convergence of existing data strongly suggests that too many Trump core supporters have fallen into the abyss and have become a real member of a mass movement. A large chunk of Trump core supporters may be near-do-well fanatics and true believers.

The evidence provided by these theories is psychologically provocative. And, they are very telling. As Eric Hoffer pointed out in his book,” What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless. This is certainly a sad commentary on American life that so many Trump supporters manifest feelings of incompleteness, self-doubt, alienation and estrangement from the larger culture.

Post Script

When this nightmare with Trump is over, all of us as a nation have to put the democratic policies and protections back into place. Politics is not the all-end-all of a society. Politics can be defined as the art of compromise or, setting policies to help the common man by judiciously handling the nation’s scarce resources. But more importantly, as a nation, we should endeavor to always strengthen our nation in terms of its democratic principles as reflected in our U.S. Constitution. Whether left, right or center that is our most important responsibility.

My politics are always upfront; I am an ultra-liberal and I value human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and complete acceptance of all people on earth as having more similarities than differences. We basically all have the same human needs, whether you live in the United States or elsewhere around the world.

But I do have my conservative moments. I am a U.S. Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War. I support a strong military and national defense, veterans and wounded warriors and I am a bit of a hawk. For the moment what I think we ought to do about the Russians and North Korea I’ll keep to myself.

One of my closest friends is an ardent Trump supporter. Although we are very different politically, we don’t let our politics get in the way of our 36 year friendship. Friendships are very important in life; politics by comparison can shift with the wind at any moment. Ellen DeGeneres said the other day she had a genuine friendship with former president George W. Bush. She was accused of being a hypocrite. And she was praised by many for her honesty and even an inspiration to some who saw what it takes (courage) to go beyond the simplicity of political thought where the mantra is always “us or them.” Ellen certainly knows how to think outside the box.

Unfortunately, there are too many people, left and right politically, who are not capable of doing what Ellen has done. I think it is important to be upfront as to whom you are as a person. Said another way, just be honest and not show disingenuousness about your political self as well as your true self.

As Fusion theory demonstrated, it can be very difficult to stand outside your social self (whether fused or not) in deference to your individual self. I know. I think there is nothing wrong with being a conservative Republican; after all, nobody’s perfect. Sorry—couldn’t resist my social self!!

In a few weeks or months the pantywaist mafia style degenerate in the white house will be gone. Then maybe this democracy can return to normal. Then perhaps real leaders can tackle the problem of the Turks and our abandonment of the Kurds. This country needs real leadership, not Republican cowardice, dishonor and disgrace!!!

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The fall of Donald Trump

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.

Bob Marley

Introduction

It’s been a long 2 years and eight months for the American people to have endured and suffered from a degenerate mafia style miscreant in the White House. President Donald Trump has turned out to be the worst President and lowest rated President in American History. Nancy Pelosi, ever the political pragmatist, finally saw the light of day when she came to support the Congress in opening an official and formal investigative inquiry into Donald Trump’s behavior while President.

No less than five congressional committees are charged with some aspect of Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry. If there is some kind of irony here, it is that Donald Trump turned out to be  his own worst enemy. His narcissistic personality, his complete lack of knowledge, and his failure to respect the rule of law, has now put himself in great jeopardy of being removed from office.

This is not to say that he doesn’t have some supporters, such as the “Grand Old Ostrich Party” soon to be replaced by more moderate, liberal and progressive democrats in 2020. The trouble with the Republican Party goes back to the 1994 mid-term elections with their Contract with America. All their ideas and proposals failed to materialize. As President Bill Clinton said at the time, the Republican’s contract with America was in reality more like a contract on America. Donald Trump missed the mark; he should have drained the swamp of Republicans, whom since 1994, have seldom contributed anything substantial in terms of policy for the American people.

Dante once said, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Republican leadership is a real misnomer; in the modern era they have yet to show any real leadership that wasn’t self-serving. This was supposed to be the frugal political party. Yet over several decades they turned out to be the real big-spenders. Cowardice is their creed and denial is their plan of action for keeping their head in the sand. Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio is a master of denial. After all, he denied awareness of a sexual predator that molested eight of his own wrestling team members while he was an assistant coach at Ohio State University.

The Republicans also have no basis for criticizing democrats. If you remember, Republicans tried to “Deep-Six” Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi Investigation. They spent and wasted over 4+ million dollars of the taxpayer’s money ironically, as a “Witch Hunt,” in order to cast aspersions and crucify Hillary Clinton as she was running for President. This inquiry resulted in no charges at all, although Republicans were not above character assassination of the country’s first female presidential candidate. This was the real purpose of their inquiry. They could care less about the truth.

 

What areas for charges are there against Trump?      

A few days ago I was talking with a close friend and realized we were both on the same page when it came to Donald Trump. We collectively thought that an itemized listing of criminal charges was needed so that the American people could see, in black and white, the extensive number of criminal acts he may have committed while in office.

But above all, it must be remembered that impeachment is a political act or process, whether or not criminal acts are involved. Even though quid-pro-quo may have, or may not have, been part of the phone call to the Ukraine President, it is not necessary for impeachment. His intent is more important than any other consideration. Criminal charges are only part of the process if they are warranted.

Most Americans don’t fully understand the politics of impeachment. That said, they do understand the meaning of someone committing a criminal act. For that reason, I think it would be helpful to enumerate a listing of the possible criminal charges Donald Trump might be charged. And Trump friends along with Trump Administration people, need to be cognizant of the fact that aiding and abetting someone who has engaged in criminal behavior leaves them open to facing criminal prosecution as well as the President. Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsay need to stay as far away as they possibly can from Donald Trump as the country goes down the road of impeachment.

One might ask, why is it the Republican Party feels it doesn’t have other options if Donald Trump is impeached. Whether you like him or not, Mike Pence would make a good lame duck president until he too is removed from office in 2020. However, since he was aware of Trump’s crimes, he too may be removed from office shortly after Trump is removed. Say hello to President Pelosi.

This president is really unhinged. In the whistleblower controversy he is threatening those who supplied him with information with being treasonous spies deserving of the death penalty. His thoughts are eerily similar to Republican President Richard Nixon who once said, in an interview with David Frost in 1977, that a president is above the law.

The fact that the President tried to solicit a favor from a foreign government was and is a very serious violation of his oath of office. Some might say where Russia is concerned, Trump is treasonous as well. As more is learned in the months ahead, more information on the Trump/Putin connection may well actually lead to charges of Treason against President Trump, the Benedict Arnold of our time.

Does anyone really believe Donald Trump wasn’t involved in soliciting help from the Russians in 2015-2016? You’d have to be the most naïve person on the face of the planet to believe collusion with the Russians didn’t occur.

If you think back to the days Trump was building his real estate empire, evidence such as civil lawsuits showed he cheated contractors and others left and right. He also engaged in much fraud in his business dealings. Trump University was a real boondoggle! of fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit.

Independent Counsel Muller is not at fault for failing to prove collusion. This is because any prosecutor will tell you proving conspiracy is one of the most difficult crimes to prove. In fact there is no legal crime of collusion; it is legally called conspiracy. Mueller did his best; he was nonetheless certainly very successful in laying out charges of Obstruction of Justice leveled upon Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s admission of wanting a favor from a foreign government is technically violating the Emolument Clause of the United States Constitution. “The emoluments clause, also called the foreign emoluments clause, is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives.”

Donald Trump right now is in real deep Do-Do over violating the Emoluments Clause in areas beyond just the Ukraine scandal and violations. Trump is already facing two lawsuits, both as the president and as an individual, for allegedly violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bans elected officials from financially benefitting from foreign governments.

The Whistleblowers complaint is now available for inspection; it can be found online. However, the Inspector General’s official review report has yet to be released. More information is also needed on Rudy Giuliani and his role in this impeachment inquiry. In addition it has now been revealed (as of September 30, 2019) that William Barr, the Attorney General and confidant of Donald Trump, sought help from foreign governments to probe of CIA/FBI activities related to 2016 election.

If that isn’t Treason I don’t know what is. William Barr needs to be taken into custody by agents from his own department, or taken into custody immediately by The U.S. Secret Service. Either way will work.

Possible Trump charges under Investigation

I first want to say such a listing of charges at this point in time is probably pre-mature. But here is a possible initial list subject to change: Some of these offenses cited are interwoven with others. For now, these offenses include:

Extortion

The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

This includes demanding money with menaces. Other synonyms include: · exaction · extraction · blackmail · shakedown

 

Bribery

Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. Bribery is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

Essentially, bribery is offering to do something for someone for the expressed purpose of receiving something in exchange. Gifts of money or other items of value, which are otherwise available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is not bribery.

Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other residential electric customers. Giving the rebate to influence them to look favorably on the electric utility’s rate increase applications, however, would be considered bribery.

 

Conspiracy to Commit Extortion

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 701; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

 

Ten counts of Obstruction of Justice

Here are the 10 events Mueller investigated for potential obstruction of justice charges:

  1. The firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. At the time he was dismissed, Comey was leading the bureau’s probe of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  2. Trump’s efforts to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions take control of the Russia investigation. After Sessions recused himself, Trump expressed anger at the fact that Sessions was unwilling to “protect him” from the probe.
  3. Trump’s attempt to have Comey go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had made false statements about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. The president had a one-on-one meeting with Comey during which he asked him to think about “letting Flynn go.”
  4. The campaign’s response to Russia’s outspoken support for then-candidate Trump. According to the report, Mueller focused on the campaign’s reaction to Russia’s involvement in the WikiLeaks release of damaging Democratic Party emails and the president’s denying he had Russian business contacts.
  5. Trump’s attempts to remove the special counsel. Trump reacted to Mueller’s appointment by telling advisers that it was “the end of his presidency,” according to the report. Then, in June 2017, the president called White House Counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to remove Mueller over conflicts of interest. McGahn refused.

President Donald Trump at an Opportunity Zone conference with state, local, tribal and community leaders on April 17. On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s final report on the Russia investigation. Before the report was released, Barr cleared the president of obstruction of justice.

  1. Trump’s efforts to “curtail” Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel investigated several instances where Trump attempted to affect the course of the probe. In one instance, Trump told his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell Sessions to publicly say the investigation was “very unfair” to the president.
  2. The president’s efforts to “prevent public disclosure of evidence.” Specifically, the special counsel took issue with Trump’s attempt to mislead the media about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian lawyer at Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
  3. Trump’s denial of having directed McGahn to remove the special counsel. When the press began reporting in early 2018 that the president had told McGahn to get rid of Mueller, Trump directed White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the stories.
  4. Trump’s conduct toward Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. When Flynn began cooperating with prosecutors, Trump’s personal counsel asked Flynn’s attorney for a “heads-up” if Flynn had damaging information on the president. Then, when Manafort was found guilty, Trump defended him as a “brave man” and declined to rule out a potential pardon.
  5. Trump’s attacks on his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. After Cohen implicated Trump in campaign finance crimes and began cooperating with Mueller, the president publicly attacked him as a “rat” and a fraud.

 

Violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause

The following information was obtained from Wikipedia sources:

Emoluments Clause may refer to the following clauses of the United States Constitution:

  • The Foreign Emoluments Clause, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, also called the Title of Nobility Clause.
  • The Domestic Emoluments Clause, Article II, Section 1, Clause 7, also called the Presidential Emoluments Clause.
  • The Ineligibility Clause, Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause

The Title of Nobility Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution,[1] that prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility, and restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the consent of the United States Congress. The Clause is subject to interpretation.[2] Also known as the Emoluments Clause, it was designed to shield the federal officeholders of the United States against so-called “corrupting foreign influences.” The clause is reinforced by the corresponding prohibition on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and more generally by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.

The Domestic Emoluments Clause

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

The president’s salary, currently $400,000 a year,[11] must remain constant throughout the president’s term. The president may not receive other compensation from either the federal or any state government.

The Ineligibility Clause

The Ineligibility Clause (sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause,[1] or the Incompatibility Clause,[2] or the Sinecure Clause[3]) is a provision in Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution[4] that makes each incumbent member of Congress ineligible to hold an office established by the federal government during their tenure in Congress;[5] it also bars officials in the federal government’s executive and judicial branches from simultaneously serving in either the U.S. House or Senate. The purpose of the clause is twofold: first, to protect the separation of powers philosophy (upon which the federal frame of government is built); and second, to prevent Congress from conspiring to create offices or increase federal officials’ salaries with the expectation that members of Congress would later be appointed to these posts.[6][7]

Paying Hush Money to three women

What crimes were committed by a President paying hush money to three women? Here are four legal opinions on 1 aspect of it:

On Trump arguing that the money didn’t come from his campaign:

FOLEY: It doesn’t matter where the source was; what matters is intent. The fact it came from personal funds doesn’t immunize him from criminality, but it could be a subsidiary fact to the ultimate question of what was done for campaign purposes? Cohen asserts that Cohen made the payments at the candidate’s direction for “purposes of influencing the campaign.” If those facts are true, that would be a violation.

SPIES: If it wasn’t the candidate’s money but somebody else’s personal money, it would have to be reported. And if corporate money were used, it would be an impermissible accepted corporate contribution that should have been reported.

TOKAJI: Regardless of whether they were from Mr. Trump’s personal funds or from some other source, there’s an obligation to disclose. To report expenditure or contributions, as the case may be. That wasn’t done.

SMITH: If they’re not campaign expenditures, they’re not subject to disclosure. My view is that this is not campaign expenditure, and once you hit that point, it doesn’t matter how you paid for it.

Final Comments

It’s my value judgment that all of us need to show more kindness to our fellow human beings and lead a life worth living by helping others. What I’ve just said about myself is a value. And values, whatever they constitute, are the cement that holds communities, states and countries together.

Where ever they appear, values are a product of culture or learned behavior in small social groups (like the family). The differences or similarities we see in other people are also a product of culture. In our culture now we are a divided nation. Our actions are different and so are our values. Said another way, most of our actions or behaviors are dictated by our values and beliefs.

And yet we all strive to be individuals not just members of a group. What makes America so great is that our founding fathers saw democracy as a good way of handling our differences. Explaining the origins |of democracy as a concept is beyond the scope of this Blog.
.

I have been covering this President and his behavior since 2015. At times I’ve felt compassion for a fellow human being so mentally disturbed. It’s really sad that some people suffer in life this way. Life’s tough enough without having the additional burden of illness, either mental or physical.

At other times I’ve felt nothing but repulsion for a man that has done so much harm to people. At this level of angry feeling I’ve found myself thinking the president is a wretched human being. His core followers raise even more problems for the country, and have generated much alienation among the populace. All of this consternation is occurring because a “psychiatrically challenged” President is running the country. This has happened for four years now ever since he announced he was running for the nation’s highest office. And yet he received, and continues to receive, unconditional support from many in the public, especially Republicans.

Not all conservative Republicans are bad people; it’s just that there aren’t many good ones. I’m not talking about the GOP of long ago whose congressmen and senators had honor and respectability. I’m talking about a gaggle of misfits (Tea Party and Freedom Caucus) that invaded the government and Congress in 1994 and later in 2010. Like Donald Trump they have no place in a modern forward-looking democracy.

I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.”

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will become much clearer. Why does such an identity issue lead us to another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.

Both explanations may explain the existence of the Trump supporter. However, a more detailed explanation of Hoffer’s book and the theory of Identity Fusion will be explained in a later Blog. Limitations of space dictate I not cover these topics right now. However, stay tuned!

The bottom line for me is this. I don’t care whether President Donald Trump resigns from office or is removed by congressional impeachment. He just needs to be removed from office, plain and simple. You can think of the last 2 years and eight months as a national nightmare or temporary excursion and detour from our sanity as a nation.

It’s about time we all get back on track as a nation. There are real problems out there, worldwide and domestically. Our future survival as a country and as a species may well depends on what the country does over the next 25 years.

In this connection It is my belief that the young with courage and moral determination (like 16 year old Greta Thunberg) will lead us out of the valley of climatic death that lies ahead. Always the optimist, I hope I’m right. I also hope Donald Trump is impeached shortly or resigns from office.

 

                                                              

 

 

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