Nuts

The press wasn’t always the enemy of the people. Once, long ago, it was heroic, with heroic buildings like the 1929 Daily News Building at 220 East 42nd Street between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan. Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building are two blocks west. The United Nations complex is just down the street to the east. It’s in the middle of everything, designed by Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells – a massive Art Deco thing – “one of the city’s major Art Deco presences” – or so says the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Raymond Hood followed that with his even more impressive Rockefeller Center, but the Daily News Building was built for the New York Daily News – now not what it once was. Since 2017 the New York Daily News has been owned by Tronc – the news publishing company that almost destroyed the Los Angeles Times and then they gave up and sold the Times to a private party. The Chicago Tribune is next. That’s what they do. In July 2018, Tronc dismissed half of the Daily News’ editorial staff. It may not survive. The Daily News moved out of Raymond Hood building in 1985 – that building with a giant globe in the lobby – the model for the Daily Planet building of the first two Superman movies. The glory days were over.

But they’re still around. The New York Daily News is, of course, a tabloid, but that’s a matter of page format and layout. It’s not the National Enquirer. They do real reporting, about reality. It’s just that the Daily News is known as the “people’s paper” – on the side of those not in the One Percent. There’s no other political agenda. The Daily News endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 – so don’t go there to have your personal anger confirmed. Go there for news.

The Daily News can be trusted for that. The Daily News just reported this:

White House officials reached out to a noted Yale University psychiatrist last fall out of concern over President Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior.

Dr. Bandy Lee, who edited the best-selling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” told the Daily News Thursday the staffers contacted her because the President was “scaring” them….

A pair of West Wing representatives contacted her two separate times on the same day because they believed the President was “unraveling.”

“I had not mentioned this before because I did not want to confuse my role as an educator to the public,” Lee said when pressed about why she did not speak out sooner. “I thought I would be more effective by retaining my public role than getting involved in either the treatment of those who were feeling scared or in the actual intervention with the President.”

Around the same time, a Trump family friend emailed her over concern for his mental health.

This sort of thing is a worry:

Trump defended his mental fitness in January, calling himself a “very stable genius” and “like, really smart.”

He made the claim in response to the release of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which contained concerns from Trump’s senior aides about his mental fitness for office.

Now he’s dealing with Bob Woodward’s book – key players in the White house ignoring what Trump says to do, for the good of the nation – and the op-ed in the New York Times – one of those key players, who chooses to remain anonymous, saying that he (or she) is one of many doing this. They’ll hold the fort until the nation does something about this in the midterm elections and then in the 2020 presidential election. They talked about using the 25th Amendment – get the cabinet to declare the man is unfit and then get two thirds of the House and Senate to agree but no one in Washington can agree on anything. That won’t work. They’ll hold the fort for now. But, if the Daily News got this right, at least two of them had their staffers call Doctor Lee.

The Daily News reports that Doctor Lee is not alone:

Political psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi said it is clear that Trump has been exhibiting narcissistic behavior and it has been getting worse as the pressures of the office mount and the federal Russia probe stretches on.

“I see someone who has a real narcissistic problem,” Rossi told The News. “The problem is he is narcissistic to the extreme. He’s self-absorbed to the point where he’s only concerned about himself.”

“The other problem is that he has a thought disturbance,” Rossi added. “When Donald Trump says something he expects others to believe it is reality even if it is completely fabricated.”

Rossi said his analysis is based on Trump’s public statements and is made in the context of political psychology.

“We’re in very dangerous territory,” he added.

Bart Rossi may be right:

President Donald Trump insisted on Thursday that he wasn’t rattled by an explosive op-ed that shook his administration to the core this week, using a rally nearly 2,000 miles from Washington to try to quell mounting concerns that his presidency is spiraling out of control.

“The so-called resistance is angry because their horrible ideas have been rejected by the American people and it’s driving them crazy. Crazy. They’re the ones, honestly, that have been driven crazy,” Trump said during his hour-plus remarks in Billings, Montana, turning the tables on those who have questioned his temperament.

He’s not crazy, everyone else is:

In the president’s telling, it’s the media and the Democrats who have been sent into a frenzy over the back-to-back publication of damaging excerpts from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming insider account of Trump’s White House and an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times detailing an internal “resistance” among top administration officials. The president, Trump was happy to tell the cheering crowd, wasn’t bothered at all.

“They had me stomping around screaming with anger up in my area in the White House,” Trump said, mocking the news media’s coverage of his reaction to the op-ed. “They had me screaming, shouting like a lunatic.”

In contrast, the president said his staffers marveled at his composure in the face of the onslaught of negative news. “They said, ‘Sir, you’re not up there screaming and raving. You’re here talking.'”

His staffers marvel at his composure? Woodward interviewed them all. He has them on tape. He has memos and documents. One of them spilled the beans on the pages of the New York Times – a lot of them think he’s nuts, and dangerous, and are trying to mitigate the damage.

No, everything is fine:

During his Thursday speech, the president took direct aim at the anonymous senior administration official who wrote the Times op-ed, suggesting that the person committed “treason.”

“Unelected deep-state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself,” Trump said. The president again called on Times reporters to unmask the identity of the official, adding, “That would actually be a good scoop.”

Trump, citing no evidence, also argued that the op-ed “backfired,” rallying his base and even bringing in new supporters. “We’ve picked up a lot of support,” he said.

When Donald Trump says something he really does expect others to believe it is reality:

In the latest signal that the possibility of impeachment is on his mind, Trump argued it would be illogical to try to remove him from office since he’s “doing a great job.”

“How do you impeach somebody that’s doing a great job that hasn’t done anything wrong? Our economy is good,” he said….

Trump repeatedly used the speech to underscore his stable frame of mind, at one point saying he has an “intellect far greater” than his critics. “I stand up here giving speeches for an hour and a half, many times without notes, and then they say, ‘He’s lost it,'” he said.

Okay, he hasn’t lost it. The New York Daily News got it wrong. No one called anyone. His staffers marvel at his composure, but at Axios, Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen say they’ve asked around:

President Trump is not just seething about Bob Woodward. He’s deeply suspicious of much of the government he oversees – from the hordes of folks inside agencies, right up to some of the senior-most political appointees and even some handpicked aides inside his own White House, officials tell Axios.

He should be paranoid. In the hours after the New York Times published the anonymous Op-Ed from “a senior official in the Trump administration” trashing the president (“I Am Part of the Resistance inside the Trump Administration”), two senior administration officials reached out to Axios to say the author stole the words right out of their mouths.

“I find the reaction to the NYT op-ed fascinating – that people seem so shocked that there is a resistance from the inside,” one senior official said. “A lot of us were wishing we’d been the writer, I suspect … I hope he Trump knows – maybe he does – that there are dozens and dozens of us.”

Swan and Allen report what this senior official said. Swan and Allen have no way to verify that what he said is true – that he is one of dozens and dozens. Swan and Allen are not concerned with that. They’re concerned that he said such a thing. That’s the worry:

Several senior White House officials have described their roles to us as saving America and the world from this president. A good number of current White House officials have privately admitted to us they consider Trump unstable, and at times dangerously slow. But the really deep concern and contempt, from our experience, has been at the agencies – and particularly in the foreign policy arena.

Paranoia is the issue here:

For some time last year, Trump even carried with him a handwritten list of people suspected to be leakers undermining his agenda.

“He would basically be like, ‘we’ve gotta get rid of them. The snakes are everywhere but we’re getting rid of them,'” said a source close to Trump.

Trump would often ask staff who they thought could be trusted.

Trump is the issue here:

Officials describe an increasingly conspiracy-minded president:

“When he was super frustrated about the leaks, he would rail about the ‘snakes’ in the White House,” said a source who has discussed administration leakers with the president.

“Especially early on, when we would be in Roosevelt Room meetings, he would sit down at the table, and get to talking, then turn around to see who was sitting along the walls behind him.”

“One day, after one of those meetings, he said, ‘Everything that just happened is going to leak. I don’t know any of those people in the room.’ He was very paranoid about this.”

So it comes down to this:

The Times Op-Ed reinforces everything Trump instinctively believes – that a “Deep State” exists. It’s trying to undermine him and – in the case of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, in Trump’s mind – is trying to overthrow his presidency.

The Bob Woodward book, Trump believes, exposes that leakers are everywhere – and gunning for him.

Perhaps they are gunning for him. Perhaps they don’t want this world to blow up. Both things are possible. Both things may be the same thing.

That may not matter:

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, seizing on an explosive op-ed from an anonymous administration official, said Thursday that it’s time to use constitutional powers to remove President Donald Trump office if top officials don’t think he can do the job.

“If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job then they should invoke the 25th Amendment,” Warren told CNN. “The Constitution provides for a procedure whenever the Vice President and senior officials think the President can’t do his job. It does not provide that senior officials go around the President – take documents off his desk or write anonymous op-eds. Every one of these officials has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It’s time for them to do their job.”

Just do it:

Warren dismissed the contention that invoking constitutional remedies would provoke a constitutional crisis.

“What kind of a crisis do we have if senior officials believe that the President can’t do his job and then refuse to follow the rules that have been laid down in the Constitution?” Warren told CNN. “They can’t have it both ways. Either they think that the President is not capable of doing his job in which case they follow the rules in the Constitution, or they feel that the President is capable of doing his job, in which case they follow what the President tells them to do.”

Or do something else. Mary Papenfuss reports on this alternative:

Watergate investigation legend Carl Bernstein called on Congress to hold hearings to determine if President Donald Trump is fit to hold office.

Bernstein on Thursday pointed to troubling revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, about the president’s volatility, unpredictability, tenuous grasp of facts and impulsive decisions. A New York Times op-ed Wednesday by an anonymous writer described as a senior White House official said that Trump’s disturbing behavior is “detrimental to the health of our republic.”

“What’s really going on here is that Bob Woodward’s book, and the contents of what is in the anonymous piece in The New York Times, is that those closest to the president of the United States are saying we must save the country from the president,” Bernstein told Anderson Cooper on CNN.

“What we need here are, finally, I think, some congressional hearings in which, in executive session or open session, those around the president of the United States are questioned about the fitness of Donald Trump to be the president of the United States,” said the CNN analyst, who was Woodward’s reporting partner in uncovering the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration.

Bernstein wants everyone to slow down. Don’t assume Trump is nuts. Don’t assume Trump is a stable genius. Don’t assume anything. Ask questions. What’s really going on? What did he do? What did he say? Establish the facts of the matter.

But the facts are clear. He’s nuts. There was a movie about that. The second highest-grossing movie in America in 1954 was The Caine Mutiny – Humphrey Bogart as the unstable and periodically paranoid Captain Phillip Francis Queeg, brought in by the Navy to restore discipline on the Caine, a minesweeper in our Pacific war with Japan. The previous captain had been too loose and goofy.

Queeg was supposed to fix that but it turned out he was incredibly thin-skinned and saw conspiracies everywhere. When a crate of fresh strawberries goes missing from the officers’ mess, Queeg is convinced that some sailor has made a duplicate key to the food locker and orders the crew strip-searched to find it.

That’s the final straw. Queeg wasn’t that good at the actual Navy stuff anyway – so the officers, led by Fred MacMurray as Lieutenant Tom Keefer, relieve him of his command under Article 184 of Navy Regulations – mental incapacity.

The rest of the film is their court martial. Everyone gets cold feet and now says Queeg was fine, trying to pin this all on poor Fred MacMurray and save their skins – but then Queeg falls apart on the witness stand, blithering about those missing strawberries. No one is convicted of mutiny. Queeg was nuts after all – but the mutineers end up hating each other’s guts. This is no way to run a Navy and there is such a thing as loyalty – unless loyalty in this case was cowardice. Who’s to say?

The mad captain was finally gone, but the mutual recriminations and distrust among the officers who made that happen would never go away. That was the case on June 17, 2016 – all the worried Republican state party leaders trying to deal with the latest push by convention delegates to nominate anyone other than Donald Trump. What could they do? He was nuts. There were all his conspiracy theories. He was Captain Queeg, but all those delegates wanted to nominate him anyway, and finally did. That tore the Republican Party apart. It never recovered.

September 6, 2018 – Donald Trump is still Captain Queeg. This is the court martial proceeding in the movie once again. Article 184 of Navy Regulations – mental incapacity – is the 25th Amendment this time around. Trump, like Queeg, might break down, in a whirlwind of endless interlocking rage-tweets, not on any witness stand, or on a witness stand. That will tear the country apart. It will never recover – and all the while, the press, the enemy of the people, will doggedly report on what’s going on. They may be the only heroes here, even if the New York Daily News left that awesome Raymond Hood building years ago. Someone needs to report on what’s really going on. The guy is nuts.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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2 Responses to Nuts

  1. Rick says:

    What the hell is Carl Bernstein thinking?

    “Congressional hearings”? Really? Maybe he also thinks we should make Devin Nunes the Chairman?

    One problem is, everybody seems to think we’re headed for a “constitutional crisis”, rather than our already being in one! A constitutional crisis could be defined as a very serious problem of governing for which our Constitution offers no remedy, which is where we are right now!

    They keep suggesting our “constitutional remedy” is impeachment, but if so, why aren’t we trying that? For very practical reasons:

    (1) the Republicans running congress really don’t want to get rid of a president who, to their surprise, is pretty much delivering on the Republican agenda, and especially don’t want to do it over some wishy-washy claims that he’s “unfit”; and…

    (2) because to many of us Democrats, myself included, there are few scarier two words in the English language than “President Pence”.

    Same for that 25th Amendment thing, which has the added disadvantage of never having ever been tried, so we have no real clue on how to go about it.

    The solution? Not a lot of options right now.

    In the meantime, all we can do is leave the “Anonymous” crowd alone and let them try to protect the country in whatever way they can to keep the president from blowing up the world until a better plan comes along, simply because the rest of us can’t think of how to do that, and stop talking about how “unconstitutional” that is, since, if the constitution doesn’t like it, the constitution should offer up its own solutions — and real solutions, not just theoretical ones like impeachment and the 25th Amendment.

    The gridlock we’re in is exactly why the founders didn’t want us messing around with political parties in the first place. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any good way to avoid “factions”, as they called them, they just took a chance that, when problems like this would pop up, future Americans would muster the intelligence and mutual good will to solve them. In other words, they trusted us.

    Silly founders!

    Rick

  2. barney says:

    I don’t have as big a problem with trump being a low scoundrel as I do with him being an abjectly ignorant low scoundrel.

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