Stop Magnifying the Former President’s Incitement

After far too many mass shootings, commentators in the US have started to learn that when you immediately circulate the manifestos of mass shooters, you are making further mass shootings more likely. You are according the death wishes and death wish of that mass shooter value. You are often disseminating his (mass shooters are usually men) ideology to others who might be searching for some cobble of beliefs to make their own lives meaningful. And you are contributing to the spectacle of the mass killing, ensuring the focus will be on the horror of the act rather than the tragedy of the lives lost, much less the policies we could pursue to stop the epidemic of mass killing.

We have gotten so well-practiced with mass shootings in the US, we know well enough not to participate in the mass shooter’s actions by magnifying his manifesto.

But we don’t follow that rule about terrorism-in-process, at least not in the form of the former President’s own tweets.

With each new level of outrageousness — most recently in a Tweet inciting violence against the Senate Minority Leader and racism against his spouse — people who applauded Twitter’s decision to deplatform the realty TV show host and other forms of violent speech circulate that very same violent speech, often with little more than an expression of outrage to mediate it.

Not only does circulating the former President’s speech with no mediation magnify it, just like circulating the manifesto of a mass killer. But it accepts — willfully participates in! — the reality TV show host’s structure of power.

Every time one of his tweets goes viral, especially on a platform that has told him his incendiary speech violates the rules of the platform, he says — the actions of those who participate in it say — that the rules don’t apply to him. That he remains the center of attention. He remains the center of attention because the rules don’t apply to him. And that we all remain in the very same positions we did for the four years of his presidency: He commands by commanding attention, including the attention of those for whom our very scolding reinforces his value, because we are the “elite” a demagogue derives his power by opposing.

And because this economy works so well for him, because it is a way to retain his power long after voters acted to take it away, because it’s the only trick he’s got, he’s willing to ratchet up the outrageousness of his speech if that’s what he needs to do to remain the center of attention.

This is the same impulse that leads the networks to cover every single rally the former President stages (complicitly hiding the empty seats in the back), while ignoring historical speeches of the man who is, at least on paper, the most powerful man in the world, Joe Biden. If you hate it when the networks make such decisions stop making the equivalent decision yourself.

The former President continues to exercise power not via a rational calculus, not by an argument that he’s fit to govern. He failed to deliver on every single one of his campaign promises, and codified racism is the only promise that he consistently pursued. (Mitch McConnell and his White House Counsels, of course, never stopped their relentless efforts to stack the courts.)

The way to neutralize that power is not to observe, for the 1000th time, “my gosh he has said something outrageous” or even, “my gosh he’s going to get someone killed.”

Besides, he already did that.

If you choose to make the former President’s incitement  the center of attention — and many Twitter commentariat are voting with their attention to do just that every day — you choose to make spectacle, emotion, and fear the currency of politics.

So long as he dictates the political agenda through his expert deployment of spectacle, we will never have a rational conversation about politics. We will never get voters to listen when we describe how Rick Scott plans to cut their social security. We will never successfully point out the Republicans who are running on spending they voted against. We barely get voters (older, male voters at least) to listen to what the Sam Alito Court did to women’s autonomy. There is no “better argument” when politics is dominated by spectacle.

The way to neutralize spectacle is not to magnify it. The way to neutralize spectacle is to expose it as such, to help people see the theatricality of it all (and to point out the flimsiness of it along the way).

It’s not a perfect solution, but that’s why I use X-es anytime I screencap a tweet from the former President anymore. It makes it more work to read them, emphasizes that these tweets are stage-managed things, and interrupts the process of an immediate emotional reaction.

Better yet, don’t screen cap him: if you need to refer to something he has done — if he has actually done something that has any effect beyond ratcheting up emotion — then describe it without even using his name. Describe why he’s attempting to gin up emotion again — in this case, because Mitch McConnell has moved on to doing his job trying to help run the country without the guy who lost. If the country starts functioning quasi-normally again, then people might realize that the former President benefitted from and therefore encouraged dysfunction, which in turn fed the cycle of distrust in government. McConnell has taken baby steps towards helping the Senate to function normally again, and the former President needs to halt that process before the benefits of a quasi-functioning government become apparent.

The former President may be hoping that he’ll lead the Minority Leader to hesitate as he starts acting like a powerful Republican in his own right again, to worry about some crazed MAGAt with an arsenal. And yes, the former President might genuinely hope that happens, to show his threats are real. He’s undoubtedly hoping his own followers will continue to hate, in this case, Americans of Chinese descent. His power necessitates that Americans hate other Americans, because without that conflict, hate, and fear, their loyalty to him can’t be stoked.

The point is, the former President is ratcheting up threats because he can sense his own power, at least over Mitch, melting away.

Don’t help him renew that power.

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126 replies
  1. Roodude says:

    Brava! I’ve already provided BOB (Big Orange Baby – we try to no longer use his name in our household) with way too much mental real estate and am trying to wean myself off of, or better yet, fully avoid the click bait. I can’t totally ‘quit him’ because I insist on, and truly need to, come to your website every morning for the clarity of vision into the machinations of the various battles he and his forces are waging on our democracy. Thank you and Thanks to your team.

    • LeeNLP says:

      I second the ‘thanks’. And although I know the use of cutesy nicknames is discouraged here, in my household TFG’s name has become truly toxic, so that it’s hard to discuss many important topics. Having a handy nickname like Bob will serve a useful purpose for us. I like it!

    • Ralph H white says:

      The latest polling shows that the majority of voters do not want DT to be president again. However, the tabloid mentality of a large segment of the press and public in our culture is titillated by the type of dis-functional behavior the Count of Mostly Crisco, blame Colbert, constantly demonstrates. It takes willpower to resist the temptation to look away from the car wreck that is ever present on our media highway.

  2. Balifar the Lost says:

    Thank You!
    My personal shorthand that precedes any discussion of him- to be said out loud- is “The lying man is lying again.”

    On a less serious side ,I wonder if we could get a seance going to channel the ghost of Helen Thomas! It seems like she is needed.

  3. BROUX says:

    Right on. This should be the official protocol at all the editorial board of all the major newspaper in the country.

  4. Echo Layla says:

    Ignore narcissists who are not president of the United States.

    Ignoring narcissists’ false claims and irrational demands does not cite narcissism – but it does enable others who must operate in the narcissist’s “borderline” orbit to get on with productive life.

    It is impossible of course for the majority of humans to ignore the President of the United States. Cued by media, we continue to entrap ourselves in pathological sphere of the narcissist. It has emerged as risky to ignore him. This is going to be a very tough set of misunderstandings from which to break free.

    The 2016 election and aftermath have created a fishbowl, both positively and aversively reinforcing the pathology now rampant in what was already a narcissistic society. Vastly more easy to establish, whether or not deliberately, than to mitigate or extinguish.

    The fundamental

    • Echo Layla says:

      Apologies to all who encounter the hash above. As I was editing my post, the website suddenly cut me off.

    • Dorian M. says:

      I stopped watching video of the most extreme MAGA Republicans when I realized that I was enabling them to poison me with their toxic language.

      Sure, it makes it harder to understand where they are coming from, but for me this is a necessary act of self defense.

  5. ernesto1581 says:

    “He remains the center of attention because the rules don’t apply to him.”

    And he continues to churn clicks, page-turns, cheap hats, stomachs and bile.
    “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” (Les Moonves, 2/16)

    “Coco??”

  6. Peacerme says:

    Shame gets a lot of bad press. The purpose of shame is to be able to put pressure on unacceptable behaviors that are damaging to our group or tribe. Shame comes from the outside of us. Brene Brown says shame damage comes from others and is healed by others. As a therapist much of my work is helping people heal shame. Some of you have seen my rants on power and control and how using emotion to manipulate others causes damage to the brain. How shame doesn’t have to be linked to truth and how that causes harm.

    Everything on earth has a polar opposite. Shame also has its power and purpose. Dems need for self righteousness sometimes defeats the power that exists in truth and facts.

    It’s my humble opinion that Dems need to use the power of shame. Only as it links to the facts to shame trumps behavior. It’s a safety mechanism meant for the tribe. For protection against behaviors that damage the group. Slavery required Shame. Killing indigenous people requires shaming of the behavior. With Trump his behaviors should be shamed. His name calling and cruelty. His public out cries for Putin’s help. His Covid lies that killed people. Jan 6 violence. His big lies. People are afraid to offend. Afraid of the back lash but this is the purpose of Shame.

    Dems are often afraid to use it because it’s been used so often against Dems in ways not connected to facts. So then Dems don’t want to engage in that behavior. Republicans use shame non stop but do not connect it to facts. With facts behind us us we can ethically use shame.

    Shame on trump followers is a healthy use if shame to protect the tribe. Yes it’s power and control. There are times when power and control is necessary. Not raising fragile minds of children. But dealing with sociopathic personalities.

    Just a thought that shaming “the big lie” is ethically sound.

    • Dustbowl Observer says:

      Nothing would assure Democratic defeats as focusing on shame.

      Trying to shame others who themselves have no shame puts the focus, the power, and the attention on them and what they do. It makes them much stronger than they are. It yields them respect, admiration, envy, and the status of power.

      Successful political candidates grab the attention for themselves, for their ideas and initiatives, for their vision. They reframe debates in their own terms. They rouse emotion from followers for the things that are important to them. They do not outsmart, out-debate, or convince opponents and they certainly do not shame them. They flood the zone with their own framework, their own intentions, their own issues the way they see them.

      Unfortunately, anger and fear are strong emotions that can be quickly and easily aroused in the masses. They will drown out all rational debate. Skillful manipulators can channel these into hatred.

      This year Democrats should be running on “The Death of Social Security”, “The Death of Medicare”, “The Death of the American Way (free elections)” and “The Death of Women’s Healthcare.” Each of these themes should be accompanied with appropriate images: desperate old people homeless on the streets; people with terrible disabilities; a voter casting a vote with three soldiers pointing guns; and SWAT teams storming hospital rooms and dragging women out screaming and kicking.

      Are they doing it? No.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name; you’ve previously commented as “Dustbowler.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • Paulka says:

        The reactive cure to Trump’s actions is the one thing that Trump abhors-being mocked. Mock him at every turn, constantly, without let up. Humor shines a light on the irrefutable fact that objectively, the “man” is a joke. He hates truth because it reveals that his entire life is a lie, which causes him immense psychic pain. Laughing at him takes his power away.

        Mel Brooks understood this when he wrote the Producers.

        • Benji says:

          Yes Paulka – that might be a good avenue. Couple it with the indifference suggested by Eichhörnchen at 11:57 AM when the RWNJ heads go all ‘splody and it might be enough for some on the fence to see what a lot already do see.

          Unfortunately about (best guess here) 25% of the population will never see the buffoon for the threat he really is – so is there a way to thread the needle and mock him incessantly without magnifying the attention he craves?

          Would constant negative attention get under his skin enough to get him to stop/change, or is any attention ‘good’ attention to the moron?

          So maybe mocking him at the local level when any MAGAt lite tries to ‘own’ someone by going off with parroted lies and rote would be the way to make a small dent in the armor, try to get one MAGAt lite at a time see the truth.

          Bottom up organizing?

          “I am only an egg”
          Michael Valentine Smith

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          “Mel Brooks understood this when he wrote the Producers.”

          I think that Mo Brooks never understood that.

        • GWPDA says:

          Hunh. I guess that explains the number of Democratic Presidents, the frequency of Democratic control of the Federal Legislature and all those imaginary social policies which over the course of the last hundred years or so have made the United States a gradually more equitable and more decent place. Those lazy old Democrats.

        • Scott Wheeler says:

          “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

          WB Yeats 1920

    • Eichhörnchen says:

      Scolding from the left fans the flames like nothing else. Trump embraces shamelessness.

      His fear? Indifference.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        “Sticks and stones are hard on bones. 
Aimed with angry art, 
Words can sting like anything. 
But silence breaks the heart.”
        —Phyllis McGinley

    • Jimmy Anderson says:

      The trouble with this strategy is that the Republican party and especially the MAGA wing, simply have no shame.
      What they love is “librul tears”.
      The more that decent people are horrified at the casual cruelty, the racism, violence, misogyny, anti-semitism etc – and the more they express their repulsion – the further MAGAs provoke.
      The GOP doesn’t love Tr*mp, they just hate all the people he attacks, and they just relish all the liberal angst.
      You’re being played.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    Unfortunately we live in a “Brave New World” where the only thing that matters is the show.

    I applaud the attempt to normalize and hope zombies can be unzombified.

  8. Alexei Schacht says:

    I agree with all you say but he did deliver on one promise – to appoint justices who would overturn Roe.

    • Eichhörnchen says:

      At least 2 of those nominations were made possible by McConnell’s hardcore shamelessness vis-a-vis ramming through conservative judges and blocking non-reactionary nominees.

  9. Doctor My Eyes says:

    Thank you so much for this!

    During his presidency, so many searches on YouTube, for example, would result in a full page of results featuring Trump’s mug. It felt like a dictatorship with posters of dear leader plastered all over the place. The calm after his actual, real loss was palpable. The last few weeks, I’ve been watching the narcissist creep back into prominent view. There are diarists on dKos whose whole schtick is expressing outrage about the latest Trump quote, and they meet with success.

    This problem runs deeper as well. Virtually every major challenge facing us turns into a debate about personality–what some famous person said, what someone tweeted–and is “analyzed” in terms of human emotion, in terms of petty arguments between celebrities. The all-too-common headlines with phrases like “so-and-so BLASTS so-and-so” degrades discourse, making even the most complex and serious issues into metaphorical screaming matches.

    In the stolen documents case, as I keep saying, people seem unable to take seriously that the security of the US is a real thing and that when that security is compromised, we will see results that affect us personally. Instead, we see a fixation on one little man whose mental illness is obvious and whose behavior is boringly predictable. Wanting to stick it to Trump is a higher motivation for many than wanting to make our government work. In this way, the left has come to reflect the right, who have been shown to be motivated more by wanting to stick it to liberals than by any specific issue.

    This issue is part of an even more general problem: as a culture we no longer look to fix problems systemically. The average citizen considers even their own personal challenges in terms of their own psychology. They think in terms of Oprah’s The Secret, in which by changing their thoughts they can change their reality. I’m sorry I can’t link the study from Baltimore in which impoverished inner city young people spoke only in terms of how they needed to improve themselves with seemingly little awareness of the history and systems that were preventing them from improving their lives. It’s all psychology now. For example, the battle against racism is seen as a battle against racist individuals who need to be persuaded not be racist rather than as a battle against systems which hold people back. Dr. King saw the three-headed monster of racism, materialism, and militarism. These isms are systemic. Today we waste our time on scorn towards individuals we identify as racist.

    It’s fun to feel scorn. It’s fun to be right. It’s a childish, petty pleasure. But being right on the internet is not a path to creating positive, viable change.

  10. hester says:

    Thing is: his grievance laced diatribes resonate with a nontrivial number of Americans. He helped to unearth the subterranean hate harbored within. It allowed many people (as was described about Ginni Thomas) “to let their freak flag fly”. It is very disheartening to me.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s true!!

      But as I laid out above, these tweets are a critical part of how he sustains that. And one reason they work is because OUR outrage reinforces the polarization (and hatred) he’s trying to sow.

      If OUR outrage wasn’t a part of it, it would take one part of the power of them away.

        • curious blue says:

          Thanks Doc. Great advice. Excellent image depicting how we are active participants. Did s/he have suggestions what to do once you have dropped the rope?

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          That’s also how they got rescues to work for people stuck in rapids from falling into a flood control channel. People used to try and hold both ends of a rope across the channel and the victim was holding on in the middle.

          But this exhausted them and any rescuers who might try and brave the waters along that lifeline. Now they know when the victim has a solid grip on the rope to let go of one end—holding one side firmly makes them swing to that side of the channel. There, rescuers can pull them from the bank’s edge.

          I now think that’s a good metaphor for not letting your mind be poisoned. I live in Austin and lasted 10 minutes in the Beto/Abbott debate. I was feeling ill from listening to Abbott and Beto couldn’t do anything to relieve that feeling, no matter how good his technique. Three of my five granddaughters live here, all pre-teen, and the idea of them growing up in a state which doesn’t respect their rights fills me with dread..

      • hester says:

        ” If OUR outrage wasn’t a part of it, it would take one part of the power of them away”

        Absolutely true and good advice.

        • gmoke says:

          Turn “outrage” into “outage” and the Trmp light goes out.

          I keep wondering why that self-centered fool is still dominating the news nearly two years into Biden’s Presidency.

          • Rayne says:

            Because it’s easy to cover him, low hanging if rotten fruit. Media still doesn’t see him as an enemy to their business model, but then they also struggle with covering the GOP for the same reasons. They get clicks using Trumpage as clickbait; they don’t see the anti-democratic, authoritarian nature of Trump and the current GOP as threats to the free speech on which their business model relies for revenues.

            NYU’s Jay Rosen has been writing about this for years now and the media still doesn’t get it. On the other hand the media landscape has been increasingly occupied by fascist ownership, hollowed out of staff and bled dry financially, while the market is constantly under pressure to consolidate.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              Frank Bruni at NYT isn’t helping. His latest column (Trump Can’t Quit Maggie), consists of naked hagiography of his Times colleague Haberman, which I expected. Coupled with that, however, was a series of self-aggrandizing attacks on Biden, whom Bruni accuses (“fairly,” in his own estimation) of shutting out the press by not giving interviews, in contrast to Trump. That’s rich, coming from the paper that notably did not publish any of Haberman’s most damning observations at a time when they might have helped anyone.

            • gmoke says:

              You are actually talking about two different business models: the journos are trying to do their jobs but taking the easy way out by covering Trmp’s stupidities; the owners are just trying to make money and don’t care about abstract concepts of “free speech” and “democracy,” especially if such ideas diminish their bottom line.

              I keep on making the point to people that the media is almost entirely corporate and thus not your friend but “activists” still don’t get it.

              Back in the Clamshell Alliance days, I learned a profound lesson. We’d meet and work hard for hours to reach consensus and then retire to a university lounge to see whether we’d made the news that night. Never sat right with me. Were we trying to make change or the nightly newscast? Since then, I’ve tried to do real things instead of playing to the media for views and clicks.

              This is what I do, all for free:
              Energy (and Other) Events Monthly – http://hubevents.blogspot.com
              Zero Net Energy links list – quarterly listserv – https://zeronetenrg.blogspot.com
              City Agriculture links list – quarterly listserv – http://cityag.blogspot.com

              Not sure if it makes any difference but I’m always learning so that’s something.

      • christopher rocco says:

        That’s exactly correct. Starve the narcissist of fuel, the psychologists say. What they can’t abide is being ignored. Take away the outrage and one takes away the fuel. And that takes away the power. And then we have one tiny, inconsequential, man shouting into the wind and no one hears him.

      • Benji says:

        So no outrage, got that part long ago – but calmly mocking the foot soldiers who are semi-brainwashed by talk radio may turn a few to see some bit of what a danger that moron poses.

        Wish I had read this before I posted a few minutes ago, it probably belongs here in the thread.

        Thanks for all the work you put in here Marcy Wheeler.

    • Jenny says:

      hester agree with your statement.

      One has to be taught to hate. He is the poster child for bullying. As a bully he is a hate magnet. Hate filled followers bonded in the drug of hate supporting an immature and insecure man. They see themselves in him. His insecurities are taken out on others. His followers insecurities are taken out on others. Hate breeds hate.

      “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.”
      Maya Angelou

  11. Ruthie2the says:

    NB for Rayne/moderators: new 8 character username

    This is a no doubt naive hope, but I’d love to see this as an op-ed in one of the major national newspapers. It deserves to be read widely.

    • Clare Kelly says:

      Agreed.

      I’m going to suggest to Alexis Madrigal (now of @KQEDforum, fomerly of The Atlantic) that he do a show on this topic with Dr. Wheeler as his guest.

    • ThomasH says:

      I share your hope. I’m reasonably sure that non-stenographer journalists follow EW/Dr. Wheeler. There must be some pressure within editorial boards to try to approach dealing with narcissistic behavior on the national stage in a different way…I hope.

      Like Dr. B. F. Skinner’s rats, there’s a conditioned response that most of MSM needs to unlearn.

  12. Luis Diaz says:

    stop w/ the “brooding” pics. doesn’t help either. otherwise, you’re the best follow on the hellsite. ty

  13. Clare Kelly says:

    “Don’t help him renew that power.”
    Marcy Wheeler

    “The simplest way I can define the problem is this: who is being served by any individual article or an entire news report?”
    Adam Davidson

    Marcy,
    My tears over your timely and cogent essay took me by surprise this morning.

    Though I left Twitter in December, the past six years have felt like living in an abusive marriage, or being minded by a gaslighter while the adults are on an extended vacation.

    While I process your striking and impactful analysis, please know that I am grateful.

    I suspect there are many who feel the same.

    My current methadone is the WaPo comment section, even though my Gen Z bairn says “You know you can just read the article, right? Right?”

    Thanks for a way forward through what I suspect is collective trauma.

  14. teri mccomb says:

    finally. retweeted immediately. I saw you reply to one of the women I follow…well done! I feel we are way overdue for this to be stated and adapted. I mean damn, I’ve started muting folks who can’t seem to get away from constantly posting trumps shit.

  15. bidrec says:

    In the ’60’s there was a prohibition on broadcasting riots with the intention of not giving them publicity. I remember this because in Buffalo it was possible to watch riots on Canadian stations.

        • Tom-1812 says:

          The CBC would show classic films complete and uncut after the 11:00 pm national news with only a couple commercials in the first half hour of the movie. That’s how I saw “Citizen Kane” for the first time, watching it to the end and thinking, “Well, I guess Welles wanted to keep us guessing what ‘Rosebud’ meant.” And then (spoiler alert!) the camera zooms in on the burning sled in the furnace, Bernard Herrmann’s music wells up dramatically, and I felt such an emotional gut punch that I was glad the rest of my family was asleep in bed.

          But yes, the good old Swinging Sixties! Whatever happened to miniskirts, garter belts, and textured stockings?

      • Benji says:

        Great, now I cannot get that theme song out of my head….

        At one time I had the ’72 Canada/Soviet Union Summit Series on tape, wish I knew what happened to that.

        • Kevin Bullough says:

          As a born and raised Canadian, I would like to add two things if I may. Firstly, I laughed out loud at Tom-1812’s post about watching HNIC…thank you sir. And secondly, the 72 Super Series was an astonishing event in our history…our hubris in thinking that we’d clean the floor with the Commie bastards morphing into the realization that we weren’t as good as we thought, all finally turning into nationalistic pride when we pulled off the last-second victory. I was twelve at the time, and in an unheard-of act, my entire elementary school stopped and gathered around a radio for game eight, in Moscow. When Paul Henderson scored to clinch the series for Canada you could hear the cheers from coast to coast to coast. ‘Twas a remarkable time in this country.

  16. jaango1 says:

    The many here seemed overly focused on Trump’s Hate Performance, and despite our preference for our Citizenship.

    To wit, many years ago, the Chicano Veterans Organization established their belief in establishing the National Monument For Criminal Stupidity. Now, if you know a first-person veteran, ask what defines the appreciation of our past history, as well as this “new” history awaiting “just around the corner.”

    Thus, the J6 Committee’s sole recommendation should be focused on establishing the National Monument For Criminal Stupidity.
    .

    • Rayne says:

      I know you’re trying to crack wise here, but the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has a narrow mission constrained by its establishment under H.Res.503 – Establishing the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol:

      SEC. 3. PURPOSES.

      Consistent with the functions described in section 4, the purposes of the Select Committee are the following:

      (1) To investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex (hereafter referred to as the “domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol”) and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region and other instrumentalities of government, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.

      (2) To examine and evaluate evidence developed by relevant Federal, State, and local governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and targeted violence and domestic terrorism relevant to such terrorist attack.

      (3) To build upon the investigations of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts by reviewing the investigations, findings, conclusions, and recommendations of other executive branch, congressional, or independent bipartisan or nonpartisan commission investigations into the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, including investigations into influencing factors related to such attack.

      and further constrained in no small part by its role as a subset of a third co-equal branch of federal government defined by the Constitution’s Article I.

      A nonprofit organization would be better suited to a monument as you suggest. I’d rather the House J6 Committee stick to its purpose.

      • bjet says:

        The power of the spectacle of criminal stupidity is the extent to which it serves as cover for criminal intelligence that exploits it.

        I don’t think criminality is the right context though. In a national security & defense context, the intelligence that spectacle of stupidity —& spectacle of stupid reaction to it— serve as cover for, is antidemocratic intelligence. It is antidemocratic in the sense that it chooses to get its way (policies) by evasion of honest public argument over policies.

        Mitch McConnell, for example. It’s not like that intelligence doesn’t have honest arguments or we don’t know what they are and can’t speak directly to. That’s the bluff the press need to call. That’s what they’re afraid of. But they needn’t be.

  17. Paulka says:

    One thing to keep in mind-the human brain is hardwired to find patterns in chaos. That attribute developed through evolution as a survival mechanism-to be able to evaluate one’s surroundings to identify threats. The result therefore, is our brain is hardwired to assume, initially, that what we are seeing, hearing or experiencing is reality based (in other words truth). So, it takes psychic energy to find organization in the experience and if the experience contains falsehoods, then it takes more energy to find the pattern. As an aside, I think that pattern organization can be addicting in a manner of speaking-think the righteous outrage that accompanies calling out liars.

    This pattern finding is exhibited in such things as confirmation bias-where your brain finds solace in patterns that reinforce its preexisting belief structure or the “-isms” that permeate society-i.e. all black people or all women or all gay people must have certain traits.

    When Trump lies, he knows what he is doing-he is playing on this human trait. For many, the lies will agree with their preexisting beliefs and reinforce them-because to refute them requires more than addressing the simple lie it is to blow up their perceptions of the world. But, also for wiser people the lies come at a cost-it takes energy to refute them individually, even when the source is a known habitual liar.

    In other words, having to deal with the Trump’s of the world is exhausting.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      In support of your supposition that pattern-finding is addictive, I was fascinated to hear the theory that addiction to television may be the result of addiction to the decoding process involved in converting continually refreshed visual lines into reality. When we are sitting like zombies in front of the television, unable to bestir ourselves to go to bed, it’s because we are mesmerized by the visual decoding.

      Trump thrives on chaos. If Putin is losing a war, he blows up a pipeline, bombs civilians, and turns his society upside down with conscription. Trump’s MO is the same: throw out inflammatory BS and take advantage of the ensuing chaos. It does take a lot of energy to focus beyond that. It makes me sad when I see brilliant people like Marcy having to devote her precious energy to whole columns dissecting absurd claims made by the likes of Trump.

    • Rayne says:

      But there is a pattern in the chaos — it’s predictable as hell, and marginalizing the pattern only provides the wrong entity/ies with excuses.

      Trump’s obnoxious statements like the POS he posted in Truth Social are DARVO behavior — Deny the Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.

      This one is a bit more complex than Trump’s usual DARVO because he avoids direct denial of wrongdoing — like the Trump Tax Cut and his efforts to undermine CO2 reduction which he sees Democrats undoing through their legislation — while implying he and the products of his term in office are victims. He attacks Minority Leader McConnell directly and then indirectly with a racist smear against McConnell’s wife (and Trump’s transportation secretary), in addition to attacking Democrats.

      When he feels threatened, or when he feels his legacy is threatened, he will respond with DARVO again. It’s not confirmation bias when he does it over and over again.

      • Badger Robert says:

        OT: Its time to revisit Russia’s demographic problem.
        Low birth rate from 1980 to 2000.
        First max exit.
        Battle casualties.
        Chaotic mobilization.
        Second mass exit.
        Its going to affect their economy.

      • Krisy Gosney says:

        I like the use of X’d out tweets, etc. It is effective, to me, as a way of visually saying ‘reading the actual text I’m posting about is helpful as a reference but not as a statement of or as competing facts.’ It’s a wise invention. I hope it is adopted by many more reporters/commentators/etc.

    • PeterS says:

      “Having to deal with the Trumps of the world is exhausting”. Yes, and perhaps this can explain confirmation bias without involving pattern-finding? The pattern in “collecting” complementary opinions comes after their collection.

      I’m also unsure if “pattern organisation being addictive” is something different to confirmation bias.

      I do agree we are hard-wired to see patterns.

    • Lester Noyes says:

      Possible replies to the lies:
      1. Prove it.
      2. That’s not proof.
      3. So…you have no proof.
      If only reporters would do something like that.
      “Journalism is to politician as dog is to lamp-post.” H.L.Mencken

      • Tom-1812 says:

        We don’t even have to ask for as high a standard as proof; all we have to do is ask for evidence, because there usually isn’t any substantial evidence to put forth.

  18. Peterr says:

    Better yet, don’t screen cap him: if you need to refer to something he has done — if he has actually done something that has any effect beyond ratcheting up emotion — then describe it without even using his name.

    I like the way the DOJ is following your advice, as they adopt the framing “The Plaintiff . . . “

    • Jeffrey Gallup says:

      In order to deflate those who want to be famous (or notorious), we should minimize any attention given to them.

      I speculate that mass shooters are inspired by the fame given to previous mass shooters, often 24-hour a day national coverage for days on end. Better that they are treated like the ancient Greek Herostratus, who burned down a temple in order to be famous. Part of his sentence was that his name never be mentioned again. (Obviously not wholly successful, since we know his name.) Mass shooters’ names should be obliterated and their deeds briefly described. But the media would say: Ratings! the public demands information! Yes, we do, and people want various forms of pornography as well. That doesn’t make it helpful or right to supply this form of death porn.

  19. Jenny says:

    EW staff. I wrote a response at noon. Stated it was under review. Have yet to see it. How long is review?
    Thanks in advance.

  20. Spencer Dawkins says:

    Dr. Wheeler’s wisdom and insight are not limited to keeping track of details about the ridiculously complex attacks on our democracy, and explaining them to people like me. She is also wise and insightful about how we respond to those ridiculously complex attacks.

    Reading this post was like therapy for me.

    (I was stunned at a recent post, where she said, “oh, yeah, I meant to say this when Barr was neutering the Mueller report before it was released in any form” – my paraphrase. I don’t know how she does it)

    • earthworm says:

      “She is also wise and insightful . . . ”
      not to mention speedy beyond belief, pithy, and sometimes hilarious.
      thanks all

  21. Bay State Librul says:

    I agree with Rayne

    The one bright light that has kept this kid from walking off the ledge has been the work/effort of the January 6th Committee

    My main worry is that it gets watered down by the GOP.

    If they put the kibosh on the whole deal, I’ll be heading for skid row

  22. Thomas Paine says:

    Well said, Dr. Wheeler. Trump has used these techniques since his first temper tantrum as a toddler because it works for him. Shame on us for not acting like grown-up adults and NOT holding Trump accountable for over 70 years ! The Garland DoJ has the right approach and I am hopeful that once he is indicted, the Judge assigned the case will gag him, permanently.

    He is willfully inciting violence and pays no price – yet. I pray for the day the Republic can bury him and his sordid legacy and move back to enlightened adulthood.

  23. Mark says:

    Just came across this:

    “Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court interpreting the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court held that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”

    Anyway, You would think some of the more sensible observers would move on from Trump, but they can’t seem to quit him. likewise I guess, many of their readers. I find him utterly boring.

    Thanks very much

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Mark” or “Marc” or “Marcus/Markus.” Your unique name should contain a minimum of 8 letters. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • nedu says:

      I’m sorry. From my perspective, in contexts where I most-often encounter it, Brandenburg is often referred to as something like, ‘the well-known Brandenburg standard’ and then… maybe we listen to something from KeepsChangingHats… but I digress terribly, because you’ve probably never even heard of the distinction between StylishHat and IDunnooHat… where was I?

      Oh, I’m sorry, I just don’t quite get the connection or transition between the Brandenburg quote and your next paragraph about Trump. You lost me on deciphering what you meant to convey with your mosaic.

      Brandenburg is new to you, and Trump is old, fat and boring?

  24. LeeNLP says:

    I well remember CBS CEO Les Moonves’ comment on TFG’s 2016 campaign being not good for America, but good for CBS (or words to that effect). I think of that quote whenever I browse to a news site and see his face, and some story about something outrageous he has done or said, often in several places on the page. My belief is that regardless of the reporters’ intent, bottom line analytics must clearly show that doing so is good for business, and so it continues.

    I just wonder what would be the financial harm of the reporters, for instance, panning the empty seats at one of TFG’s rallies? What would be the harm of showing a story of one of his hate speeches, then immediately afterwards or below on the page showing his followers’ unhinged, ignorant and hate-filled reactions to that speech? In reporting, context is everything. Showing TFG (if they must) in the context of the hate and ignorance of the world his base inhabits could only be ‘good for America’; would it be correspondingly bad for the media’s bottom line?

    • bidrec says:

      It would be bad for the bottom line. Listen to the analysts’ questions on an earning call. They are monomaniacs on the subject of earnings.

  25. curious blue says:

    I love this thread. It takes a rare view of how we participate in the dynamic we abhor. I consider TFG to be an Ironic Guru. He has taught me many life lessons by being the antithesis of what I value. He has made me far more conscious of how I can be hijacked and pulled off center. It is a fascinating study of how the game is played and how I can be played and polarized. I know I have played more subtle and less deadly versions of the game he plays and he has helped me to see those dynamics and root them out. As a result, my own relationships are much fuller. I still have a long way to go, but I, (and we,) are getting more conscious by the day. Dialog like this helps enormously. Many thanks.

    • Tom-1812 says:

      “… the antithesis of what I value.” Yes, Donald Trump is the X-ray version of what a decent human being should be. There is absolutely nothing about him to like or admire. Who in their right mind would want to be like him? In a way, just being who he is and having to live with himself is a suitable punishment for Donald Trump.

      When I feel outrage, it’s not so much about Trump or his gullible followers, it’s for the talking heads at Fox News, the Freedom Caucus, and all the rest of Trump’s supporters and enablers WHO KNOW VERY WELL what a menace he is to democracy in America AND AROUND THE WORLD, yet continue to demean and abase themselves in his service because of some twisted, perverted belief that they have to stay ‘relevant’ and in the game in some way … BUT FOR WHAT?! Just to live to kiss Trump’s ass another day? Because that’s what it amounts to.

      I liked what Liz Cheney said at one of the Jan6 hearings when she told Trump’s supporters in Congress that their dishonour would live on long after Donald Trump is gone. Rather than talk about shaming Trump’s supporters, perhaps it would be more effective to talk about them as men and women without honour, rather than without shame. I’ll be curious to see what Josh Hawley’s book on masculinity has to say–if anything–about being an honourable man when it comes out next spring, though I’m afraid his ideal of a manly man will look a lot like Donald Trump.

      • LeeNLP says:

        I love your comment. I imagine there are many people who, finally facing the evil embodied in TFG’s twisted soul, are having some kind of personal moral reckoning. It brings to mind the description of a character in CS Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength, of a man who having lived all his life in the pursuit of power and “relevance” had his reckoning when he saw where that path would lead:

        “As the desert first teaches men to love water, or as absence first reveals affection, there rose up against this background of the sour and the crooked some kind of vision of the sweet and the straight… there it was solid, massive, with a shape of its own, almost like something you could touch, or eat, or fall in love with.. He was not thinking in moral terms at all; or else (what is much the same thing) he was having his first deeply moral experience. He was choosing a side…”

  26. LaMissy! says:

    Loosely quoting Sarah Kendzior:

    “He covers up crimes with scandal.” Or spectacle, same thing.

    (Slight alteration to user name for 8 characters)

  27. Alan Charbonneau says:

    I understand your point, but I’m guessing that while most people might think that not giving him attention is, in general, a good thing, they are likely not okay with being quiet in a case like this. They would feel “he threatened McConnell’s life and if we don’t condemn it, we are condoning it”.

    If it got no attention on Twitter but someone on Truth Social acted upon that threat and tried to kill McConnell, people would be outraged that nobody spoke up about this danger. I understand that bringing it up in Twitter may make it more likely for the threat to be acted upon, but if the lower-probability event occurs anyway, people are going to blame “those that failed to warn”. I am somewhat ambivalent and am not convinced they are wrong.

    You maybe right, but I am unsure that ignoring his obviously criminal threats is necessarily the best idea.

    p.s, I like the use of X-es with screencaps

    p.p.s. bmaz, you don’t need to bother telling me that my use of “obviously criminal” is not to the standard of evidence in court of law. 😁
    I’m talking about a common sense understanding, not something he can be prosecuted for.

  28. Zinsky says:

    Great advice, Marcy. I have let He Who Shall Not Be Named spend far too much time, rent-free, in my head the past six years. He isn’t worth it. I just need to feel some assurance that he will never, ever set foot in the White House again!

  29. Parker Dooley says:

    Perhaps the MSM style manuals should require that former presidents/officials be referred to as “Mr. Trump”, “Mr. Bush”, etc. stressing their Cincinnattian reversion to private citizenship.

  30. Sela says:

    While TFG likes to complain about the MSM, and how “unfair” they are to him, the truth is that they are responsible, more than anyone else, for making him the president. Even more than Fox News and other rightwing outlets. And it’s not just the enormous amount of free coverage he got from them. It is also a matter of HOW they cover him.

    I remember the coverage in 2016, before the elections. While most reports about Clinton deal with her so called “scandals”, echoing and inflating the stories about her emails etc., most trump coverage was mostly feigning shock and outrage about things he said, stories that could be summed up as “wow! We can’t believe he just said that!”. They treated him as entertainment, not as an actual presidential candidate who would affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

    If there were reports that are critical about things he did, like Trump University, his mismanagement and alleged fraud in his hotels etc., it got drowned in a tsunami of “we can’t believe Trump said that!” reporting.

    After the elections, I’ve read some mea culpa from some journalist, promising us they learned their lesson and would change the way they report about Trump. But it looks like not much have changed.

  31. Ralph H white says:

    The latest polling shows that the majority of voters do not want DT to be president again. However, the tabloid mentality of a large segment of the press and public in our culture is titillated by the type of dis-functional behavior the Count of Mostly Crisco, blame Colbert, constantly demonstrates. It takes willpower to look away from the car wreck that is ever present on our media highway.

  32. bg says:

    Detoxing from an Abusive Narcissistic Relationship requires NO CONTACT with the narcissist.. The problem with this ANR is the attention given by the press to all the dramatic toxicity. Of course, the lawsuits as covered here, are, it is hoped, going to lead to the end of the abuse, but it will not come soon. We are breadcrumbed constantly with the victimization of TFG (I do like how Biden started that right away) while he proclaims his perfection–all part and parcel of narcissism. And blaming others, as is also done with regularity, is again, from the same package. MM is just one more of the significant others that he is “breaking up with.” His opportunities for “supply” are shrinking as his audiences dissipate, and he is left with fewer and fewer new marks. Terrified of being alone, he can’t even buy friends any longer. Even though the $3M for Kise was not from his pocket, he is hurting from both the expense and the possible breakup, whatever form that is taking, whether he initiated the discard or Kise realized he was not going to have the influence he expected with that negotiation. Acknowledging the abuse/racism/etc. is necessary, but any attention feeds the endless vacuum within. There really is no great solution for us. Recovery is painful and begins anew every time we are sucked in. Salud!

  33. Ken_L says:

    Well said. And along the same lines, can Mediaite and Joe My God please stop posting daily reports of the latest outrageous things said by Tucker Carlson/Greg Kelly/Joe Rogan/other ignorant bigots in the Trumpropaganda network.

  34. joejim says:

    When people stop huffing and hyperventilating on his fumes, its possible to see a small man, (and not even fantastically, amazingly, or mythically so), unwholesome of mind and deed, immoral and cruel and with bullying instincts, who mostly does common and predictable things, that small and common criminals do, albeit on an uncommon scale and in uncommon venues and predicaments, with uncommon results and impacts, due to his position and power.
    Truth, compassion, and good are remarkable. Grift is as common as mud, as is theft, treason, lying, greed, hate, and racism. These things may be very dangerous, and require a watchful eye or intelligent engagement in response, but they are mostly deeply uninteresting. We imbue this common and dull man with fascination, when it feels to me as though we should be responding to him with a sickened boredom, much as we would a unwholesome cell mate we’ve been locked up with for too long, and in consideration of whom we’d simply plot to seek the most practical and speedy means to part ways, not in psychoanalyzing, glamorizing, and memorializing him.
    It seems to me that the way we really feel, when we aren’t caught up in the game, is demonstrated perfectly when we get on an airplane, and the person next to us wants to argue Republican politics. We pretend to fall asleep, or failing that, just ask them to please stop talking. We know, instinctively, what kinds of talk waste our time, or are likely to create conflict, and be annoying, unpleasant, and utterly unproductive.
    The knee jerk generation of excitement about this common and small man, gives him air and power, even to ourselves. This interferes with expediency. Every step in one of his legal cases generates a daily half dozen conjectures about what might happen next. And the same the next day when there is no news. Ugh.
    Same thing with so many of those around him. We act as though Tucker and Cruz and DeSantis and the other hundreds of the growing list of very small people whom we have helped to make household names are interesting when they say and do, cruel, ignorant, anti-democratic, and ugly stuff. It seems to me that we’d do a lot better to approach criminals and sociopaths as the common, distasteful, boring, dullards that they are.

  35. Paulka says:

    Oh, the irony of posting on a Trump thread that we (as a society) need to stop talking about Trump.

    The problem as I see it, is that the Trump era is the most important thing to happen to our country since Truman dropped the bombs. The coup and the ongoing efforts to literally destroy our democracy cannot be underestimated. And that is not hyperbole. It was by the skin of our teeth, primarily the disorganization of the plotters that the January 2021 coup failed. And one national party is moving heaven and earth to make sure that that failure doesn’t happen again.

    That is the story of our times, bigger than Iraq War, bigger than 9/11, bigger than Viet Nam, bigger than the civil rights era. Our nation is in a death fight with a political party that does not believe in democracy. And Trump is at the center of that story. So, yes, journalism fails by concentrating on the distracting circus. But to ignore what Trump is doing in a misguided attempt to starve him of air misses the story that needs to be told. That fascism has come to America.

  36. Carolyn B says:

    I think we (democrats) might be getting better at ignoring fg. I usually check trendings first when I get on Twitter, but didn’t see the narcissist’s post under “Elaine ____” and I surely wasn’t going to check out “T____ rally” so yay?

  37. Chris Papageorgiou says:

    He will become irrelevant soon …very soon.
    I refuse to look at his photos and avoid reading his lies.
    Shame on those who peddle his hate speech, intentionally or otherwise.
    We can and should do better for the sake of Democracy and self respect.

    Thanks !!!

  38. JonRamDo says:

    Also to be considered is that, in Internet algorithm logic, each click on or interaction with a thing might be in effect a validation of it, a ‘vote’ for it (for prominence rating purposes). According to Kurt Andersen’s book, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire—A 500-Year History” –

    “The way internet search was designed to operate … is democratic in the extreme. Internet search algorithms are an example of Gresham’s law, whereby the bad drives out—or at least overruns—the good.

    On the internet, the prominence granted to any factual assertion or belief or theory depends on the preferences of billions of individual searchers.Each click on a link is effectively a vote pushing that version of the truth toward the top of the pile of results.

    Exciting falsehoods tend to do well in the perpetual referenda, and become self-validating.

    … It will require a struggle to make America reality-based again.”

    I don’t know if screen capture is detectable or trackable for use in this prominence rating.

    • skua says:

      AIUI popularity is secondary to maximising profits. For example by showing search results that financially benefit Google or keeping the rube enthralled on Youtube and selling that fascination to advertisers. The second of these AIUI was highly effective in training up neo-Nazis, Q-anon believers and other fantacists, and I suspect continues to do so.

    • Rayne says:

      That was a particularly good piece, an interview journalists should read in order to analyze their role in perpetuating a mass psychosis, providing narcissistic supply, or feeding the delusion built upon perceived injury.

  39. Peacerme says:

    Ignoring someone IS shaming them. And it IS power and control. My point is shaming the behavior of believing the big lie. Supporting insurrection. Ignoring says you aren’t worth paying attention.

    Bottom line, Dems have been too careful to take the risk of not reporting, or saying that’s a lie, or that’s not legal or moral. My point was focus on behavior not the person. You can’t be a patriot and vote for trump. Period. Not putting attention on him but creating negative consequences for carrying the message. Trump voters are engaging in behavior that hurts our democracy and hurts all of us. Not referring to name calling. Shame is the act of pushing someone out of favor, out of the limelight and out of the tribe. Queen of England funeral not inviting trump. Perfect example. Quiet snubbing.

    But shame is required and often misused. Shame the behavior not the person.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s difficult to separate the person from the behavior when the person has BPD. If they make no effort to acknowledge and address methods to mitigate their BPD, shunning them may be absolutely necessary for their victims.

      • aduckisaduck says:

        [Note: I have twice before posted under a different UN. Having belatedly read the instructions that any UN should be at least 8 letters, I have selected the one above so as not to be subject to your threat to go all HAM over miscreants. Hopefully this move will ensure absolution.]

        While agree with your basic point that for some behaviors–particularly in any extended pattern–shunning is an appropriate response. No need to rehearse here all of the evidence of Trump’s longstanding toxic patterns of behavior. But, if I understand you correctly, BPD is the wrong diagnosis. Even given the many alterations and slipperiness of the Borderline Personality concepts over time, they have all included variable and unstable episodes of negative distortions in the sense of self: emptiness, dissociation, extreme depressions (often with episodes of self-harm), etc., along with the behaviors reflecting anger, grandiosity, lack of contrition, etc. Obviously I cannot accurately intuit Trump’s states of mind, but I see behavioral patterns that very much track with personality disorders conceptualized as malignant narcissism. And all those traits exacerbated by what are his obvious cognitive declines.
        Of course, no psychologizing his deficits–armchair or professional–should take away from the basic argument of how media coverage extends, excuses, or even creates the problems his behaviors represent in the social/political environment.

        [Thanks for the head’s up on username change. /~Rayne]

          • aduckisaduck says:

            Well, perhaps not given how much it has been observed in the breach. I claim to understand the origin and evolution of the Goldwater Rule: for one of the many erroneous violations, see e.g., Bandy Lee’s wild extrapolations about “folie à millions”. What I tried to suggest was that if we all, professionals or otherwise, wonder WTF is wrong with Trump there are better diagnostic categories than BPD. His behavior shows none of the swings to self-loathing or self-harming behaviors of that syndrome (whatever the variations in its definitions over time). He uniformly glories in his misbehavior.

            I hope it was clear that, diagnostic quibbling aside, I was seconding Rayne’s point that shunning the person as well as the behaviors is quite appropriate for such a prolonged pattern of toxic behaviors. And to MW’s argument, the media are enablers of its continued prolongation.

            OK–I note Rayne’s response (below) while I was composing my reply. Again, I agree.

            • bmaz says:

              No, it still holds. People doing diagnosis at a distance are either hacks or charlatans. Or both. Goldwater was a close family friend, and every bit of that garbage blithely said about him was a straight up lie. He was completely cogent and of sound mind until the day he died. And, yes, I personally know that right up to the day he died. Neither you nor anybody else blabbing on this blog knows any better today. So, please, don’t blow that “but…” bullshit up my ass. I will have none of that. Stop.

              • Rayne says:

                There’s one helluva difference between Goldwater and Trump. Clearly there’s a need for discussion about mental fitness for the presidency whether you believe Goldwater was sound.

                There’s also a crying need for discussion about deprogramming at scale, not limited to the effects a malignant narcissist with access to the White House’s bully pulpit. Between 500K-1M Americans have died because too many Americans were persuaded to believe bullshit anti-vaxx and anti-mask narratives, much of which was promulgated by the malignant narcissist in chief.

                • bmaz says:

                  If you knew what hacks were saying about Goldwater back then, you would realize there is pretty much no difference. The only difference is as to whether it is putatively true. Nobody here knows nor is qualified to blithely make statements in that regard.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Mental fitness is still a concern. If you didn’t find any of Trump’s behavior questionable — and I don’t mean from a legal perspective alone — during the last 6 years, you weren’t looking.

                    Think about whether you’d enter a contract with an employer/employee who did some of the sketchy things he did. That’s a legitimate avenue of discourse for a democratic republic, whether we should hire someone who doesn’t appear stable and let them have access to the keys of our national security.

                    Example: When Maggie Haberman says Trump is big on trophies, that’s a mental fitness problem if it means he’s going to take classified documents as prizes. And here the fuck we are.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Oh, I find his behavior beyond questionable. But you knew that. I just find the specific psychiatric diagnosing at a distance even more questionable.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Bandy Lee’s analysis is not concerned with clinical diagnosis or to provide therapy to a patient. Nor is it about the Goldwater Rule.

        • Rayne says:

          I should have more broadly said Cluster B personality disorders versus BPD since I wasn’t referring to Trump alone. There’s no cure for personality disorders which include BPD, only treatment assuming the person is adequately self aware.

          In Trump’s case he likely has a specific personality disorder — malignant narcissism. Separation and distance is recommended for those in toxic relationships with malignant narcissists. In other words, shunning.

  40. Scott Rose says:

    Where McConnell appears to be acting reasonably, that isn’t happening out of the goodness of McConnell’s heart. It’s happening because McConnell knows Trump’s misconduct hurts Republican candidates’ chances with certain key demographics, most especially college educated suburbanites.

    Therefore, wouldn’t minimizing Trump’s incitements at this time serve to create a false cover of reasonableness for Republican candidates?

  41. Clare Kelly says:

    I did not read Marcy’s piece, nor Rayne’s insight, as advocating to ‘minimize tfg’s incitements’, merely the direct attention he craves.

    SPJ code of ethics tenet:
    “Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.”

    I heard a snippet of an interview with Rick Scott (FL) today which came closer to the above. Sadly, the interviewer ended up being deferential, and focused solely on the xenophobia rather than the exceptions to The First Amendment regarding incitement.

    I had hoped she would ask something like: A member of your party engaged in stochastic terrorism today. Given the January 6th insurrection, will you denounce it here and now in order to thwart further violent acts by his supporters?

  42. JonRamDo says:

    It’s been alarming for me to hear ‘Psychologizing’, both for and against Trump.

    He throws his behavior – verbal ‘dirty’ bombs, verbal vomit – at the world, burdening others with the mental (moral) processing that is not their responsibility, but his.

    Both minions and critics, conditioned to presume that he doesn’t know his own motivation but that they do, assume responsibility for the mess. They step up and eagerly speak out to condone, justify, and explain, or to condemn, criticize and ‘diagnose’.

    “What he meant was…” – from associates.
    ‘Diagnoses’, labels, and outrage – from foes and critics (the system).

    Each a departure from objectivity and reason into its on version of mysticism – some notion of the subconscious that is unknowable, except to them. He seems to be a willing ‘victim’ to both. Symbiotic partnerships (Haberman?).

    Shouldn’t character and moral judgments be philosophical ones, about a person’s consciousness, ideas and behavior?

    And shouldn’t mental state evaluation – Psychopathology – about the person’s condition, medically, concerning the subconscious’, be left to the professional specialists?

    (I think that the Goldwater Rule is about Psychologizing, but by medical professionals.)
    ===
    “Psychologizing consists in condemning or excusing specific individuals on the grounds of their psychological problems, real or invented, in the absence of or contrary to factual evidence.” – A. Rand, “The Voice of Reason”.

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