Killing Evil?

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White Supremacy Rally

White supremacy, America’s original sin, is demonic. Always has been. Always will be.

Rarely does evil show up as visibly as it did last week in Charlottesville, Virginia and in the days that have followed.

What does one do in the face of evil?

Banishing evil

In the fight of good with evil the first impulse is to kill it. Get rid of it. Banish it from from existence itself.

The snake’s aside in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden whispers anew its eternal invitation to self-deception: “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

You cannot kill a demon. If you try to kill it, you end up killing your brother, your sister, your neighbor as your enemy.

Killing the Memory

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Dismantling of Saddam Hussein statue, Baghdad, 2003

Statues like the one of Robert E. Lee on the public squares of the former Confederacy bear witness to the unfinished business of America’s Civil War, or, as it is known in the South, The War Between the States.

Should they all come down? Does right-mindedness — a new public consciousness beyond the evil of white supremacy — demand we do the same with them the people of Iraq and our troops did with the statue of Saddam Hussein to celebrate the end of the reign of terror: take them down?

Knowing how near the serpent of deception is, Dom Sebastian Moore, O.S.B, invites a more ambiguous response in The Crucified Jesus Is No Stanger:

“We have to think of a God closer to our evil than we ever dare to be. We have to think of [God] not as standing at the end of  we way take when we run away from our evil in the search for good, but as taking hold of us in our evil, at the sore point which the whole idealistic thrust of man is concerned to avoid.”

Preserving Memory

Pulling down the statues from their pedestals feels like a catharsis to many of us. To others it feels like an assault. But we do ourselves no favor by framing the issue as one of anti-racist versus racist, pitting the righteous against the sinners.

Historians, spiritual guides, and social psychologists know that societies and individuals that bury their pasts are doomed to repeat them in one form or another. The demons never disappear.  You cannot kill a demon. It always come back to haunt you — all the mores when you think you’ve killed it.

Channel Markers: not becoming what we hate

The statues serve as channel markers that keep us on the way to a consciousness beyond the America’s original sin of white supremacy instead of symbols of our reverence for what we have come to despise.

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Rev. Dr. Andrew Young and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is in this spirit that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s colleague Andrew Young takes the unexpected view that the statues should remain.

“I grew up in New Orleans, La., 50 yards from the headquarters of the Nazi party. Before I went to kindergarten, I was having to look in the window on Saturdays, and watch all these folks [shout] “Heil, Hitler!”

“In 1936.

“And my daddy said, those are sick people. They’re white supremacists, and white supremacy is a sickness. You don’t get mad, you get smart. You never get angry with sick people, because you’ll catch their sickness. That’s what I worry about with our young people. Anger and this emotional militancy will give you ulcers, give you heart attacks.

“Don’t get mad, get smart. Your brain is the most important thing you have.”

You cannot kill a demon. It’s always whispering in the shadows of our flight from the evil that lies so close. Don’t get mad, get smart.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 18, 2017.

 

No More Silence

JohnMBuchananPastor Emeritus of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and former publisher of The Christian Century John M. Buchanan shares his inner struggle following events in Charlottesville.

Other religious leaders’ reflections will follow here on Views from the Edge.

Hold to the Good

At first I thought that David Brooks was on to something in his New York Times editorial, August 8, 2017: “Getting Trump Out of My Brain.” I nodded in sympathy with Brooks’ observation: “For the past two years Trump has taken up an amazing amount of my brain space. My brain has apparently decided that it is not interested in devoting neurons to that guy. There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is degrading rather than informative.” I’ve abided by that sentiment for a while. I have been so overwhelmed by what I have seen happen to my country and its institutions that I simply haven’t known what to say. But I remembered whose I am and who I follow, and my own Christian saints and mentors, and I cannot remain silent.

After the violence and murder…

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GOP Leaders MUST Convince the President to Resign

“The Resignation of Donald J. Trump,” Part 3 by John M. Miller.

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GOP Leaders MUST Convince the President to Resign

Donald J. Trump is an extreme narcissist. As such, he is in the highest possible position to do the greatest amount of damage to the United States of America. Already he has thrown American government and politics into an unprecedented quandry.

The President must leave the presidency at the earliest possible date. More and more people in the news media, in Congress, and in the American public are stating this with undisguised candor and concern.

Neither an impeachment trial in Congress nor congressional action utilizing Amendment XXV can occur nearly quickly enough to evade the increasing and inevitable  chaos which awaits our nation and the world should the President continues in office for another three-plus years. America cannot afford to wait until the election of 2020 to resolve this crisis at the ballot box. It must be firmly addressed and terminated soon.

Mr. Trump is clearly so mentally debilitated that his continuation in office inevitably nourishes a rapidly-growing malignancy on the presidency. Our democracy simply shall not survive in its present form, because Mr. Trump is dismantling it far too quickly. His erratic behavior is undermining political structures that have taken decades or centuries to erect. For the healthy future of America, the President must resign, and as soon as possible.

But how can such a monumental step be arranged? Because of the nature of his mental condition, the President will not voluntarily resign unless he is subjected to such extreme pressure he realizes he has no other option. And there are no publicized concerted measures being taken to insure that herculean option shall occur anytime soon.

The Singular Historical Precedent and the Current Situation

Within a few days and weeks of his assuming the presidency, a few news pundits and others began comparing the Watergate scandal to the avalanche of Trump alleged illegal or unwise actions. Months ago, however, most students of political history said President Trump’s activities were of quite a different character from those of President Nixon, and the Watergate analogy was widely dismissed.

6401745-nixon-cover-upThe Watergate scandal is the only such abuse of presidential power in the nation’s history that forced the resignation of an American President. But as the Trump presidency has rapidly plummeted, it is painfully instructive to compare 2016-17 to 1972-74.

The full breadth of Watergate could not be evident when the July, 1972 break-in occurred at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington. What was described by President Nixon as a third-rate burglary actually seemed like a third-rate burglary at the time, a failed caper of an inept gang who couldn’t shoot straight. But then the story slowly began to grow.

Before the election of 2016, there were isolated rumblings about a dubious Russian connection in the Trump campaign. After Mr. Trump’s election, the rumblings grew louder. Investigative reporters in the news media kept bringing up stories that appeared to validate the suspicions of Russian skullduggery in the 2016 election, possibly encouraged by candidate Trump himself.

In a televised speech in August of 1973, President Nixon denied any White House involvement in Watergate. Most Americans believed him.

In a string of speeches and tweets since early 2017, President Trump has denied any Russian irregularities or illegalities. Initially, many American believed him, but many others were viscerally unwilling to believe anything he said. As personalities, Nixon and Trump are mentally and temperamentally more unalike than alike, even though there are many similarities.

In the fall of 1972 Nixon ordered the CIA to impede the FBI’s investigation. In the meantime, seven Watergate conspirators were indicted. Five pled guilty to avoid a trial, and two were convicted at trial in January of 1973.

In mid-2017 President Trump ordered FBI Director James Comey to stop the FBI investigation into the Russia connection and other potential irregularities or illegalities. When Comey refused, he was fired. A new FBI director was eventually approved. In the meantime, Congress appointed a Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, to begin an investigation of President Trump. The President has threatened to fire Mueller, but on the very strong advice of many White House and congressional counselors he has refrained thus far from doing so.

In the fall of 1972, the Senate formed its own committee to investigate Watergate. Judge John Sirica, who presided at the trial of the Watergate conspirators, began to demand more information as the trial proceeded.

In the spring of 2017 the Senate and the House Intelligence Committees began their own investigations into allegations regarding Russia and other potential improprieties in the Trump administration.

John Dean, President Nixon’s White House attorney, revealed under oath that President Nixon secretly taped every White House conversation he ever had with anyone. Judge Sirica demanded that the tapes be turned over. In the summer and early fall of 1973, Mr. Nixon postulated that executive privilege allowed him to refuse to do so. Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor who had been named, Judge Sirica, and the Senate Investigating Committee again demanded the turnover of the tapes.

In the summer of 2017, many people have asked whether all presidential conversations in the White House are taped. To date Mr. Trump has declared there are no such tapes, and even if there were, he said executive privilege would protect them from outside investigation.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAuMAAAAJGNlNzQ2NGEyLWI4YjMtNGJhZC04MzYwLTgwYzQyMDhlMWVmMAOctober 23, 1973 was the date of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre.” In it Richard Nixon fired Archibald Cox. Several high-ranking Republicans in the Justice Department resigned in protest.

Since he took office, Donald Trump has fired several key members of his administration. Regularly he hints at firing even more.

On March 1, 1974, after much legal wrangling, President Nixon finally turned over most, but not all, of the White House tapes. A grand jury also indicted seven White House aides, referring to the President “an un-named co-conspirator.”

In July of 1974 the Supreme Court ordered all the White House audio tapes to be released. Mr. Nixon resisted the order, and the House of Representatives initiated an impeachment trial against him.

On August 5, 1974 Mr. Nixon at last relinquished all the tapes. They proved his part in the Watergate cover-up beyond any doubt. On August 8, after consultation with his closest associates, the President resigned.

The English political philosopher Edmund Burke made a statement which has rung true ever since he said it almost three centuries ago: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

The Relationship of Donald Trump to the GOP

When there were seventeen people vying for the Republican nomination for the presidency, sixteen of those candidates declared in varying ways and with varying words that Donald Trump was not really a Republican. His behavior during the campaign and since his election has sometimes, but not always, proven them correct. Mr. Trump’s appeal is based on populism, not on traditional Republican principles, although many of his decisions in office certainly do reflect a time-honored conservative philosophy.

The Wall Street Journal has probably been a Republican-leaning newspaper as long as it has existed. During the primary campaign, their opposition to Mr. Trump was very obvious. Since his election, their support of his policy decisions has been squeamishly tepid at best.

Recently, WSJ published a story about the President’s remarks to a group of law enforcement officers in which he urged them, “Don’t be too nice” when arresting “thugs.” Other law enforcement officials took strong issue with the President’s get-tough remarks. The Journal article seemed to side with the more irenic observations of the executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association than with the President.

  Another WSJ story had the headline, “Trump Deepens GOP Divide.” It cited how the President’s attacks on the attorney-general, the collapse of the GOP health bill, the demand to bar transgender people from the military, and the White House staff shake-ups have caused serious fissures in the Republican Party. It quoted former Rep. John Jolly, a Republican from Florida, who said, “Particularly among some of my former colleagues in the House, there is a frustration and lament about opportunities squandered in what should be a prime time for the Republican legislative agenda.”

A recent USA Today story was entitled “War with his own party risks isolating Trump.” The writer, Susan Page, wrote, “(The President’s) ability to reach voters drawn by his personal appeal rather than his party affiliation has been a source of his political strength and possibility in a nation where allegiance to Republicans and Democrats has eroded.”

Therein lies a major factor in the unique political dilemma Donald Trump represents. He is as strong as ever with his base. But his base cannot be equated to the traditional Republican base. Instead it is solely the Trump base of support and not the wider Republican base.

Daily he tweets to his base. When under severe attack, he immediately stages a rally of his supporters to cheer him up and cheer him on, as he did recently in West Virginia. His tweet that transgender people should not be allowed into the military appealed to many of his most ardent followers. But because it was simply a tweet, and not an official presidential order, the military has very noticeably done nothing and apparently intends to do nothing to implement the mercurial twitter.

Mr. Trump’s erratic actions are enormously disruptive. They often represent no carefully-considered or official policies. Instead, they represent only the momentary mental meanderings of an unstable mind.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in PhoenixDonald Trump is a bully. Every objective biography of the man chronicles that he has been a lifelong bully. Narcissists usually exhibit that behavior. Typically, bullies are defeated only when confronted by the employment of overwhelming force or by the threat of overwhelming force. Before tanks surround the White House, there is a logical and increasingly obvious means of resolving the Trump Dilemma.

Donald Trump cannot be faulted for being an irremediable narcissist. No one with any mental disorder would ever choose it. But it is inadvisable, unpredictable, and unacceptable for any government, especially a democratic one, to enable someone who is mentally unstable to remain in its highest office.

No one knows Donald Trump’s long-range intentions, including Donald Trump. Probably he is mentally too flighty to have any long-range political plans. But his day-to-day decisions are so damaging that for the sake of American stability, he must quickly be removed from the presidency.

Very soon, a sizable coalition of Congressional Republican leaders plus some of the highest members of the Trump administration must confront the President, demanding his resignation. The nation cannot afford the lengthy time it would take to go through an impeachment trial or an Amendment XXV congressional hearing. And we certainly cannot risk waiting forty-plus months to vote Mr. Trump out of the White House.

Whether Donald Trump is a genuine Republican is, and always will be, debatable. But he ran for the presidency as a Republican, he won as a Republican, and, at least for the present, he has not disavowed the Republican Party.

Therefore it is only Republican leaders who can bully the bully into resignation. If they fail to do that, they shall irreparably damage their party in the 2018 congressional election and the 2020 presidential and congressional election.

This country needs two responsible political parties. Whether the Democrats are currently acting responsibly is also a debatable and ongoing question. But fact is this: The necessity for restoring the political health of our nation now rests primarily on the backs of the most influential Republican leaders.

Throughout the tumultuous Trump presidency, there has been a widespread sanguine opinion that the USA will survive Donald Trump, whatever might happen in the next three and a half years. We have managed to survive numerous other crises in our 240+ years of history. But when you consider what has happened in just the last seven months, it may be a very sanguine view that we shall inevitably muddle through once again.

It took more than two full years for Watergate to be resolved. The past seven months feel like seven years. If we wait nearly three and a half more years, it will seem like an eternity. Remember Edmund Burke.

A sanguine attitude toward the current crisis could be the correct one. If so, the dark musings of these three essays are all in vain. If such a view is incorrect, however, a laissez faire opinion may eventually be perceived to incur as much guilt and condemnation as the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

  • John Miller is a writer, author, lecturer, and preacher-for-over-fifty-years who is pastor of The Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head Island, SC

 

The Dumpster-Diver — Johnny Appleseed

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There are many ways to write a counter-narrative to America’s throw-away consumer culture.

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It could be this spoken narrative critique by Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann.

Or it could be the unpublished daily dumpster-diving exploits in a city’s back alleys by a 21st Century Johnny Appleseed, the dumpster-diver whose birthday today is worth a more public salute and a joyful celebration.

Chris’s narrative is written in the indelible ink of daily dives that rescue our society’s “junk” from trips to the maxed-out landfills of America’s throw-away consumer culture.

Chris is anything but a back alley throw-away in our family. He’s our Johnny Appleseed — our Walter Brueggemann!

Happy birthday, Chris!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 5, 2017.

The Resignation of Donald J. Trump, Part II

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The Unacceptable Risk of Impeachment

Second in a four-part series on The Resignation of Donald J. Trump by john M. Miller. Graphics and links have been added by Views from the Edge.

President Trump must be convinced it is in the nation’s interest and his own personal interest to resign the presidency. Having made that brazen assertion, it must be noted it is totally impossible under current circumstances that will happen anytime soon.

narcissism2As was stated in the first of this series of four essays, our President has a very serious personality disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the most commonly used sourcebook to designate and describe various mental diseases and abnormalities. Its enumeration of the symptoms of narcissism is clear and lengthy.

Donald Trump fits every single one of those symptoms in astonishing and easily quantifiable detail. He constantly exhibits severely narcissistic behavior.

One of the primary characteristics of narcissists is that they are fully convinced they are rarely and perhaps never wrong. Because of that terribly unfortunate characteristic, it is almost certain that Mr. Trump would never resign anytime soon. From his standpoint, why would he? Why should he? He is convinced has done nothing wrong. Any narcissist who does no wrong does not resign, ever, especially if he is Donald Trump.

If the nation refuses to recognize and affirm that the President must leave office, and soon, we place ourselves in grave danger. Do we consciously intend to do that?

Not long ago the columnist Charles Krauthammer renounced his membership in the Republican Party. He did so, among other reasons, because he finds it incomprehensible that the GOP itself has not renounced Donald Trump for his “pathological need to display dominance.” Charles Krauthammer has been a lifelong Republican and is a very gifted political thinker. If someone such as he takes a position such as this, it is a vitally important statement, whether or not anyone agrees with its essence.

By no means is there presently a sufficiently widespread resistance to the President’s conduct in order for any person or group of people to persuade him to resign. But what about impeachment? Might he be found guilty in a constitutionally-provided impeachment trial?

The Four Major Presidential Investigations

Section 4 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution says this: “The President, Vice-President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes or Misdemeanors.” A two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress is required for conviction in an impeachment trial.

There are at least four important investigations being conducted regarding potentially impeachable actions of the President before or after being sworn into office.

170608104254-07-comey-testify-0608-exlarge-169The FBI, under its then-director James Comey, was already conducting an investigation of activities by Mr. Trump before his election. It has not divulged the nature of that investigation.The President fired Mr. Comey precisely because of the existence of that inquiry, and a new director was named. The FBI is continuing its investigation. At some point, presumably, they shall publicize their findings.

In addition, within weeks of the President taking his oath of office, the Senate and the House Intelligence Committees started looking into what were alleged irregularities by the President with respect to his dealings with foreign governments, particularly Russia. Since each of those committees has a majority of Republican members, and since Donald Trump is a Republican, understandably neither committee is working at the swiftest possible pace. If they discovered and could prove that the President had violated any laws, it is difficult to imagine that they would immediately report their findings. For their own protection, The Republican committee members would drag their feet as long as possible.

170518_ASSESS_Mueller.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2In the meantime, Congress named Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to look into possible breaches of law by the President. As soon as Mr. Mueller was designated as Special Counsel ( not Special Prosecutor, as in the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton), Mr. Trump has threatened on numerous occasions to fire Mr. Mueller. Thus far the President has reluctantly followed very powerful advice not to do that because of the potentially disastrous political fallout it would almost certainly evoke.

It is unrealistic for any citizen or elected government official to imagine that any of these four investigations will rush to judgment. They might not be ethically inclined to do that if the one being investigated was a low-level clerk in a government department accused of wrongdoing, let alone the President of the United States. None of these investigations, as thorough as they may be, is likely to turn up anything of legally verifiable substance in the next several months or for the next year or more. The wheels of justice, with very good reason, grind exceedingly slowly.

Furthermore, if any of the four investigations were shortly to recommend an impeachment trial of the President, it would never succeed. Republicans, and perhaps some Democrats as well, would see to that. Such a result would further solidify the unshakeable conviction of the fiercely loyal Trump base that an evil cabal of enemies are conspiring to scuttle the attempts of a genuine reformer who is seeking to re-establish a true government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

lead_960If things are bad now, they would be infinitely worse in the event of a failed attempt for an impeachment trial. The uproar of the Trump base would be deafening.

Narcissism 165639-170250Unless or until key leaders of Congress and the most respected members of the President’s Cabinet convince him to resign, he shall not give up his office. His narcissism will surely prevent that. Meanwhile, every day everyone in the news media spends inordinate time and space covering the latest unpredictable actions of Mr. Trump. His huge (“’uge”) ego can never receive too much of this attention, negative as it may be. Why would the sufferer of such an extreme personality disorder voluntarily relinquish the continual coverage in which he luxuriates?

The Unacceptable Risk of the 25th Amendment

Ah, but what about the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution? Does it not offer an alternative means of removing a President from office, other than by resignation or impeachment?

Indeed it does. Its first three sections address a presidential vacancy by death or resignation, and how the Vice President constitutionally is then empowered to assume the office of President.

It is the Fourth Section of Amendment XXV that offers a Congressional alternative to removing a President if he neither dies nor resigns. Reading the Constitution can be fascinating, but it also can be befuddling. Section Four of Amendment XXV is one of those befuddling parts. After some mystifying, muddled language (you can read it for yourself), it says that Congress must “determine by a two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

164868-kjnsdvdgvIf the wheels of justice grind slowly, the wheels of Congress to remove a President for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” for medical reasons would grind inordinately slowly. And if extreme narcissism is the unfortunate condition which is purported to render Mr. Trump incapable of continuing as President, trying to employ Amendment XXV right now would be an unimaginable disaster.

Suppose that any of the ongoing four large-scale investigations into presidential wrongdoing were quickly to conclude that in fact the President had committed high crimes or misdemeanors. Even more unlikely, suppose they decided his criminal actions were the result of his mental derangement. There is far too little political or ethical support currently for Congress to initiate the politically treacherous procedure whereby the President might be found unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

There is an undeniable political polarization which has paralyzed Congress for far too many years. Any effort presently to remove the President by constitutional impeachment provisions or by Amendment XXV would be doomed to acrimonious failure, and would only further polarize the electorate. That would be particularly true among those who continue to support Mr. Trump to the greatest degree possible.

Many congressional Democrats would be delighted for partisan political reasons to seek the President’s removal from office on the basis of his being mentally unable to fulfill his office. They believe it could assist in their next re-election. For precisely the same partisan political reasons, many congressional Republicans would do everything they could to prevent the removal of the President by means of Amendment XXV, because they believe their resistance to the effort would enhance their own re-election. That indicates how partisan all of them are in their thinking, and how little they are considering what is best for the country.

Far too many professional politicians perceive the Trump presidency as a purely political issue. It is not. It is a constitutional issue. There is an increasingly rapid growing threat afoot to undermine American democracy.

Donald Trump, Abdel Fattah al-SisiUnder Donald Trump, we are all witnessing the USA turning into a dictatorship. However, too many of us are too distracted by the daily news cycle to admit that alarming truth. We are becoming a Russia, a China, a Syria, a Turkey, a Philippines, or a Venezuela. Yet we steadfastly ignore the obvious trend because of our daily distractions and our cowardly timidity.

How can we exit this potentially if not actually catastrophic situation?

  • John M. Miller, August 3, 2017

[John Miller is a writer, author, lecturer, and preacher-for-over-fifty-years who is pastor of The Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head Island, SC. For Views from the Edge readers, John is a personal friend, ministerial colleague, and author. We share the same alma mater.] 

 

The DOJ on BLACK Privilege

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Attorney General Jeff Sssions

Apparently the Trump Administration Justice Department led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions hopes to balance the scales of racial injustice in America where it believes white black privilege prevails.

“The Trump Administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admission policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants. . . .” (News Service, Aug. 2, 2017).

Enter the Rev. William Barber of Moral Monday and interviewer Charlayne Hunter Gault, the civil rights movement activist and award-winning reporter, in this PBS News Hour Special Report.

The Resignation of Donald J. Trump

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This first installment in “The Resignation of Donald J. Trump,” a four-part series by John M. Miller, is published without comment. The photographs have been added.

I. The Presidential Personality Disorder.

DSMThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is, if you will “parson” the expression, the Bible of psychiatrists and psychologists. Here is what it says about the narcissistic personality disorder:

“The essential is a Personality Disorder in which there are  grandiose sense of self-importance or uniqueness; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success; exhibitionistic need for constant attention and admiration; characteristic responses to threats of self-esteem; and characteristic disturbances in interpersonal relationships, such as feelings of entitlement, interpersonal exploitativeness, relations that alternate between the extremes of over-idealization and devaluation, and lack of empathy. The exaggerated sense of self-importance may be manifested as extreme self-centeredness and self-absorption.”

No one familiar to any American citizen could more completely fit that description than the President of the United States of America. Donald J. Trump has a serious personality disorder. He exhibits it on a daily, often on an hourly, basis. His actions are classic examples of narcissism.

Mental health professionals declare narcissism to be one of several personality and mental disorders. Not all psychiatrists agree that a personality disorder is a form of mental illness. However they do agree that narcissism is sufficiently abnormal that it can be classified as a mental disorder.

narcissus-caravaggio-300x363Narcissists seek attention. They crave attention. For them to feel fulfilled, full-blown narcissists believe everything going on around them must be about them. If anyone or anything else is the focus of attention, they feel diminished and thwarted. Because that behavior is so aberrant, it is categorized as a mental disorder.

The United States of America and the entire world are in a burgeoning crisis because of the increasingly erratic behavior of the American President. We are being led, and far more frequently misled, by an utterly unpredictable human being. His unpredictability is the result of his narcissism.

It is an extremely provocative statement for anyone to claim that the American President has a mental disorder. That is particularly true when an elderly preacher with little formal training in psychology is the one making the claim. Yet for more than half a century this elderly preacher has observed many parishioners and others who were narcissists. All of them were relatively harmless. Donald Trump is anything but harmless.

It is amazing that millions of American voices have not joined in a cacophonous chorus of citizens who also have unhappily identified the sober and somber condition of our President. His actions verify that he has a severe, and rapidly growing, mental disorder. Recently Charles Krauthammer wrote that the President has “a pathological need to display dominance.” Would that other widely-read columnists would also join their colleague in his accurate assessment.

Why isn’t there a much more widely acknowledged demand for steps to be taken to overcome the grave threat facing us? Many newscasters are concerned, and Democrats in Congress are nearly apoplectic. Yet the American people as a whole thus far are passive bystanders. The danger facing us because of the President’s flawed perception of reality is as great as it was in World War II or in the Cold War, although it is a very type of danger. But we are still a nation of Neros, fiddling while Rome burns. And remember: It was Nero himself who set Rome ablaze.

Every day the President lights matches and throws political bombs both large and small. His rants and tweets and insults indicate his instability, but there is no concerted movement to force him to resign. Why?

The basic explanation for our hesitation is that our nation has never been in a situation like this before. The President declares himself to be the greatest President since Abraham Lincoln. He claims to have passed more legislation during his first six months than any previous President. These and many other such statements are undeniably delusions. They are not the mere braggadocio of a television reality-show host; Mr. Trump honestly believes these statements. His most zealous supporters apparently also believe them.

During the past century, several other narcissistic men like Donald Trump crossed the stage of history, leaving a huge and bloody swath behind them. Four such fellow narcissists were Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein.

President Trump is determined to remake America in his own image. That is what narcissists with unlimited political power invariably do. Power goes to the heads of the all-powerful. Hitler became Nazi Germany, and Nazi Germany was Hitler. Stalin became the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union was Stalin. Mao became China, and China was Mao. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Saddam became Iraq, and Iraq was Saddam. People who seek complete political power may not have been narcissists before they initiated their lofty seizure of total control, but they become extreme narcissists during the pursuit.

Almost all narcissists are content to seek attention on small stages, because that is where they live. Gigantic narcissists seek attention on a huge stage. And in the process they require opulent palaces and dachas and country or city or beachside estates to keep them satisfied in their narcissism.

Let us be clear. This is no attempt at this point to equate President Trump to the aforementioned four infamous dictators. His behavior up to the present is not nearly as draconian as theirs. But I am suggesting it is inevitable that a particular kind of personality disorder when yoked with growing or unquestioned political power can exacerbate that disorder into an enormous and potentially disastrous mental imbalance.  That is the tragic and dangerous path our President is quickly traversing.

Dictators rarely begin their political careers as dictators. They are shrewd enough to realize that totalitarian power must be seized carefully and slowly. Eventually, however, care and a leisurely pace are jettisoned for a complete seizure of all the authority the state is able to command.

Any authoritarian who is utterly inured to the sufferings they cause their own people is, by definition, a severe narcissist. The history of totalitarian regimes is the history of unlimited narcissism in the pursuit of unlimited power.

Probably no two of the four autocrats herein cited had exactly the same kind of personality disorder as Donald Trump. By their very nature, personality disorders are likely completely individualized. Nevertheless, by their behavior authoritarian autocrats manifest a distinctive kind of illness which apparently afflicts only those who are given or who acquire unrestricted political power.

Donald Trump is no more to be blamed for his mental disorder than are people with physical illnesses to be blamed for their maladies. The President deserves compassion and sympathy. He is not an inherently evil man, though that is what many of his detractors think. Nor did he choose in his early years to become cantankerous and a deliberate promoter of chaos, though he is extremely cantankerous and chaotic. But he displays those qualities because of his personality disorder, not because of any carefully considered choices. In truth, it seems that few or none of his choices are carefully considered, which is another glaring index of his illness.

It is easy to denigrate Donald Trump, but one should not denigrate someone suffering from a serious personality instability. His daily behavior verifies the magnitude of his malady. However, when the most powerful man on our planet is afflicted with what clearly should be widely perceived as a dangerous mental imbalance, something must be done to rectify an intolerable situation.

To say that the President is mentally unstable is not to say that he is an unable person. He is incredibly able, amazing able, astoundingly able.

In a fairly narrowly circumscribed but very successful strategy, Donald Trump became a partisan political genius, like many other such previous narcissistic political geniuses. He is demonstrably a master salesman, having exhibited the art of the ultimate political deal by becoming President of the United States. He has astonishingly solidified what he loves to call his “base.” And he closed that “deal” over the year and a half that he campaigned for the Republican nomination as President, the three months he campaigned as the Republican nominee, and the six months he has served as President. Over eighty percent of those who voted for him are still extraordinarily enthusiastic about him.

That unflagging support is an enigma to the 60+ percent of the population who now disapprove of his performance as President. Still, it is the positive proof of his extraordinary political acumen that his base has scarcely lost one scintilla of their zeal for their man.

We need to remember, though, that the same phenomenon was observed in the millions of Germans, Russians, Chinese and Iraqis who were so committed to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Saddam during their bloody reigns of terror. No one can seek and maintain total power in an authoritarian state without strong endorsement from a sizable percentage of the population, even if the support is based on unmitigated fear.

The Multiple Firings, Dictatorial Decisions,

and the Beleaguered Jeff Sessions

The many people who have already been fired in the Trump Administration is an example of how serious his illness is. Literally no one in his right mind would fire so many key people in such a short span of time, and for such spurious peccadilloes, unless his judgment had become badly impaired. It is not a brain tumor which has caused this behavior, but it is surely the result of an impairment in his brain, namely, his major personality disorder.

The President demands complete loyalty from everyone serving “at his pleasure.” If he detects the slightest disloyalty, even if his assessment is completely mistaken, the “offender” is gone. There is no point in listing the names of the many people who have unceremoniously been ejected from the Trump administration. Nor is there any purpose in trying to guess the reasons for any of the political bloodletting. No reason was needed, and usually no plausible one was offered. If the President suspected disloyalty, the person was out.

No completely sane leader of any organization would dismiss so many key members of that organization in so short a time. It is obviously disruptive and demoralizing to everyone in his administration. Unfortunately, very talented irrational people often do become leaders of organizations, but irrationality and effective leadership are always in constant conflict. To allow such behavior in the chief executive of the United States government is politically and organizationally irresponsible. It is not a reality show the President is overseeing; it is the American government.

_93836096_037486020-1The number of presidential executive decisions, apparently made in consultation with no one, is incomprehensible. The volume of the rumblings in the White House and throughout the various federal departments is rapidly growing. The military have been caught off guard and have been deeply embarrassed several times by ill-conceived presidential orders. The entire federal government and bureaucracy are constantly forced to wonder what shall happen next.

Those who have remained loyal to the President firmly believe it is his carefully considered intention to act as he does. They imagine that he wants to keep everyone in suspense. His presidency is, he proudly informs us, “a new kind of presidency.” That is a statement no one would or could dispute.

But it should be obvious to everyone that Donald Trump does not carefully consider anything. He acts solely on impulse. By all accounts, he does not devote much time to study reports or recommendations, including his daily intelligence reports. Nonetheless, with cavalier disregard, he instantly makes decisions which affect not only the policies of the USA, but of our allies and the entire world. He has frequently undercut time-tested policies which have been in place for decades, without even attempting to explain why he did it. He just does it. It is what narcissists do.

When he was the CEO of his own corporation, living by his own rules, he had the authority and the unrestrained ability to do such things. As President of the United States, this bizarre behavior guarantees nothing but enormous political apprehension and uncertainty. It cannot and must not be tolerated.

Mr. Trump’s incurable narcissism is surely the subconscious explanation for his bizarre actions. He knows he shall be excoriated in the news every hour of every day on the 24/7 news networks, except on Fox, his and his base’s favorite news network. He loves Fox and detests the others, but if the others are decrying his every move, he is ecstatic, because they are criticizing him. He must be the center of every controversy in order for his giant, fragile ego to be nourished.

Bad coverage is always preferable to no coverage for a narcissist, and he guarantees himself bad coverage. If everyone is talking about him, he is happy, regardless of what is being said.

The President’s treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an incomprehensible example of the President’s skewed behavior. For weeks he has been berating him and accusing him of being disloyal. And he does this to the first major politician to endorse him early in the Republican primary campaign. It is inexplicable — except that it isn’t.

170720142106-26-jeff-sessions-life-and-career-gallery-super-169Mr. Sessions will probably refuse to resign. If so, the President may fire him. Mr. Sessions and the United States Congress are well aware that could foment a constitutional crisis. Apparently Mr. Trump does not understand that, nor does he seem to care.

No stable, even-tempered, thoughtful, rational person would do the things Donald Trump continues to do every single day. Only an unstable, ill-tempered, thoughtless, irrational person would do that. A mentally healthy person would never act the way our President acts repeatedly and frequently.

The man is mentally unstable. There is great peril for the nation if we allow the current situation to continue. Four years of this presidency are unimaginable. Mr. Trump must resign. We, and he, have no other alternative.

But Donald Trump being Donald Trump, how shall that ever happen?

  • July 29, 2017

John Miller is a writer, author, lecturer, and preacher-for-over-fifty-years who is pastor of The Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head Island, SC.

Future installments are:

The Resignation of Donald J. Trump: II – The Unacceptable Danger of Impeachment

The Resignation of Donald J. Trump: III – Only GOP Leaders Can Convince Mr. Trump to Resign

The Resignation of Donald J. Trump: IV – The Twitter-in-Chief

 

 

Elijah against the Establishment

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Elijah back to work“Grandpa, HELP! Mom’s taking me to day care! She’s going to leave me with a stranger!!!”

“I know, Elijah. Mom has to go back to work.

“What’s work? WHY?!!! She’s never gone to work before!!!”

“Well, work is what adults do. They can’t just stay home all the time.”

“What you talking about? You stay home all the time!”

“Yes, but Grandpa’s different. I’m retired.”

“What’s ‘retired’?”

“It means I’m older than Mom. I don’t have to work anymore. Mom is young. She has to go back to work. You’re nine weeks old now.”

“That’s not night! In Denmark or Croatia Mom could stay home with me for one whole year with full pay!”

“I know, Elijah, but we don’t live in Denmark or Croatia. We live in the U.S.A. Stop crying in your milk and get ready for day care.”

“No!! I’m not going!”

“Well, I’m sorry, but you don’t have much choice, Elijah. This is America and Mom has to feed you. She has to go back to work tomorrow — or you’ll be homeless.”

“Uhuhh! You’ll see! She’ll be sorry. I’m going to scream my head off in the car seat and all day long at the baby sitter’s! We’re in America, Grandpa. I’m sticking by my right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!’ You’re part of the establishment!”

  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, July 27, 2017.

 

 

Elijah back to work

Taking America’s Temperature

Video

Is America’s temperature changing, or is it about the same as Gore Vidal claimed 36 years ago?

“Americans understand that the game is rigged, and they’ve had enough of it. They’re ready to fight back. They want a Washington that works for them, I think that people are getting more engaged, politically, and they’re seeing through a lot of the rhetoric that politicians have been throwing out there for a long time. They want to see some real change, and I think that’s what we need to work on.” – Senator Elizabeth Warren, 2017.

 

ALERT! TURKEY LEAKS SECRETS …

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The world is really weird these days, as Marilyn Armstrong demonstrates here.

SERENDIPITY

So I saw this headline:


Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S.
Troops in Syria


and I thought — “What a strange business. Turkeys don’t usually have media ties.”

It took me a few minutes to remember that Turkey is a nation and not necessarily a gobbling bird trying to avoid Thanksgiving. This probably speaks to my overall loss of sanity regarding the world in which I live. I’m pretty sure that in earlier days, I’d have instantly recognized Turkey as the nation and not the bird.

Sanity is gone. What is left is a sense of being desperately short of sleep, broke … and holding a list of things I need to fix that exceeds any rational likelihood of doing them. Ever.

What to do next?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had more reality than I can handle. I’m going to read a book. Take me away…

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