Category Archives: Trump

You’re Wonderful, Mr. Trump, But War is a Really Bad Thing.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I apologize for being so obsessed with Donald Trump but with the doomsday clock being closer to midnight than ever before, with a rekindling of cold war tensions, with Noam Chomsky worried, the arid lands expanding, the oceans rising, this one incompetent man is in a position to do extraordinary harm to our planet.

However, an aspect of his personality seems to be emerging that I had not guessed would be there. Despite his bluster, his threats, his word salad provocations, when someone meets with him face to face he quickly backs down, changes his “mind”.

General Mattis convinced him that maybe torture was not a good thing. Someone else explained to him that health care systems are complicated. Someone else explained NATO to him and that perhaps it is not so obsolete after all. Trump meets with the President of China and China is no longer a currency manipulator. And now phone calls from Justin Trudeau and Enrique Pena Nieto have caused him to pass on withdrawing from NAFTA.

Which means several things:

  1. That bluster of confidence and narcissism is a thin veneer.
  2. A very insecure man lies beneath.
  3. Above all he wants to be liked, loved, respected.
  4. Face to face he quickly backs down.

So this means to keep our world safe and secure, the adults in the room need merely take him aside and talk to him. And others not in the room should finagle an invitation to Mar a Lago.

Unfortunately it also means that when his bluster and off-the-cuff proposals align with the self-interest of the only adults in the room they are unlikely to have that talk with him.

So America is stuck with a massive increase in military spending, fewer regulations, much less environmental protection, more tax breaks and benefits for billionaires, some fracking here and there, a little more oil and coal, a little less wild life, a few more guns – and those boys in uniform we call The Military, well, they may get to play with a few of their favorite toys. (Such as the MOAB and Tomahawks)

Then I watched “At Issue” on CBC. And although the panel on CBC is so much more gracious, thoughtful, and polite than any counterpart on CNN, they still seek meaning and planning in the words of Donald Trump. Like he actually thought these things out. Like he actually plans his flip-flops. As if he might actually be two moves ahead on the chessboard. NO. Just listen carefully to any extended interview. He knows almost nothing. He has no plan. He has no convictions. He cannot sustain a thought of any complexity.

He’s like a kid who once took an angry swipe at his pile of blocks, causing them to break the jar on the counter, which then poured chocolate jellybeans upon him. He spends his life trying to repeat this. I think the shrinks call it repetition-compulsion.

But here is the silver lining and my advice to all sane, sensible, reasonable, liberal, thoughtful leaders in this world. Don’t react to his tweets, his bluster. Don’t engage through media. Meet him face to face. Show him respect. Then tell him, respectfully, what he should do, and why. And smile all the while.

Justin, I think you are just the right man for this assignment.

Please Stop Listening to Donald Trump

By Dr David Laing Dawson

There was a point in my mother’s dementia when she could engage in a ten minute conversation with an acquaintance or stranger without the person discovering that she, my mother, could not tell you her address, age, the date or day of the week. She was adept at the speechisms, the smiles, the nods, the all-purpose declarations of pleasantness, of good weather, of well being, of the “So nice to see you again”, “lovely weather we’re having” kind of remark.

In a perverse sort of way it reminds me of Donald. Though his fill-ins, rather than being pleasantries, are a rather random assortment of extreme declarations: bad, very bad, terrible, horrible, disastrous, disgraceful to wonderful, terrific, great, best, like you’ve never seen before.

Note that both “lovely weather we’re having” and “like you’ve never seen before” work adequately no matter the reality.

Donald probably knows his addresses (they are easy to remember), the date, his handicap, the names of his children, but he clearly knows little else. His throwaway statements of “big league” and “disaster” stir his audience, but they also hide a chasm of knowledge and a lack of any detailed understanding.

We can be sure that when he rants about the dairy industry, Canada, and NAFTA, he knows nothing about these subjects. When he tells Fox News interviewer Maria Bartiromo about the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” and how he leaned across and told the President of China that he had just launched 59 missiles “at Iraq”, it wasn’t a slip of the tongue in a rapid conversation. Maria corrected him, simply saying, “You mean Syria?” He repeated her “Syria” without blinking, and went back to talking about dessert.

But he is POTUS and so the pundits, politicians, reporters, experts, panel members all try to find meaning, thought, policy, and direction in his utterances. Beside my own mother’s dementia it conjures images of courtiers, earls, and nobles trying to find wisdom in an idiot king’s sighs and passing of gas.

I think Trudeau and Merkel understand this. Let’s hope Kim, Xi, and Vladimir do as well.

Analyzing Trump Gibberish

By Dr David Laing Dawson

When speaking to someone, perhaps answering a question, most of us occasionally go off on a tangent, we find the first clause of our thought and sentence has triggered a parallel thought. Many of us find at times that the thought, the idea we were expressing, requires a change of format, a change of sentence structure in the middle of the utterance in order that it make sense. At that point we pause, and then either find a link such as “about which” that will work, or we start over and restructure from the beginning. Sometimes we realize what we said was not clear, and then reformulate the thought with, “What I am trying to say is…”. Sometimes the whole sentence is verbalized before we realize that it doesn’t quite work as a logical thought.

But always, or almost always, we notice this ourselves, during the time we are talking or immediately after. That is, we listen to ourselves.

And this is one of the things perplexing about Donald J. Trump. He either doesn’t listen to himself or he doesn’t care what comes out of his mouth.

A recent New York Times article called it gibberish and indicative of some sort of derangement.

We are all capable of gibberish at times. What worries me is that Donald Trump does not seem to notice he is speaking gibberish. This may explain the ease with which he lies and contradicts himself.

I don’t really understand this. His narcissism, yes. His short attention span, yes. His lazy grandiosity, yes. But what does it mean when the President of the United States does not listen to himself when he speaks? What does it mean when he does not listen to himself and notice the inconsistencies and contradictions in his speech, when he loses his way mid-sentence? Apart from being dangerous for the rest of us?

In a state of mania a rapid stream of consciousness occurs, a flight of tangential thinking, “pressured speech” as we call it, random thoughts and exhortations, sometimes linked only by rhythm and rhyme. But President Trump is not manic.

I have spent many years listening to delusions. Clear, simple, “fixed” delusions (as we call them) contain an inner logic. Trump’s speech patterns do not contain an inner logic. By inner logic I mean that if one accepts the hypothesis that the Martians are controlling me, then all else that I assert on this subject is plausible, if I can logically link it to the central idea.

Fractured, unsettled, probing, scanning, disorganized delusional thinking is different. It is a brain frantically looking for an organizing principle. This comes closer to Trump speak, but he does not appear in any other way to be psychotic.

Sprinkling random observations into the middle of an exchange and then forgetting you have done this can be a sign of dementia.

“The snow is on the ground.”

“Mother, it’s July.”

“I know that.”

“Then why did you mention snow?”

“I didn’t say anything about snow.”

This is probably not the problem afflicting Donald Trump, but time will tell. If it is some form of dementia it will get worse.

And then, just recently in the Oval Office while holding a conference with some members of Congress, he announced, in relation to the battle for Mosul, and specifically the involvement of American troops, “they are fighting like they’ve never fought before.” He said this with a particular tone and prosody, and a smile of pleasure, of good news and high expectations.

It is an interesting phrase in that context, rather meaningless and perhaps somewhat insulting to the veterans of the Iraq war and many other wars. Except if you take the phrase and the contextual information together, the unspoken portion of this thought ends with, “because I am an inspiration to them.”

It is similar to other favorite phrases of his, such as “like you’ve never seen before”. “It will make your head spin.”

It is empty salesmanship, a promise of nothing really, and a way of taking credit if something good happens, a way of congratulating himself in advance.

And it shows a paucity of complex thought beyond that of a 14 year old.

Linguists point out that the ability to compose and utter a sentence consisting of several clauses, with a premise supported by observations, leading to a logical conclusion, is a product of reading. Prior to written language all we required was something like, “Lion come, run.” But Trump’s performance with the teleprompter demonstrates that he can read, he just doesn’t read much. This leads some pundits and scholars to point out that we are in a post-print age. That much of Mr. Trump’s base do not read either.

Still, one would think Mr. Trump would notice when he is talking gibberish. And I would think it is the moral duty of all those who get to interview him, to point it out.

We live in a new age, when the spoken words (and tweets) of one man are instantly shared with the world, and because of his position of power, they have impact, they have weight. But while the world is listening to this man, he is not listening to himself.

The silver lining to this is, I think, that the Merkels, Mays, Trudeaus of this world have figured it out: that all his utterances, lies, contradictions, illogical constructions, and gibberish, can be translated as, simply, “I am great and you are not.”

But this also means he can be easily manipulated by the Putins and Bannons of this same world.

 

“Last Night in Sweden”

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Donald Trump’s reference to Sweden at his rally in Florida has been met with much astonishment and satire. He has tried to explain that he meant to reference more of a trend of refugee crime in Sweden than a single recent event. His supporters repeat this. His detractors roll their eyes.

But what he actually said and how he said it and the manner in which he absorbed the source material are, as usual, very telling. They speak to his attention span, how he is influenced, how he formulates thoughts, his limited vocabulary, and the superficiality of his cognitive processes. Here is his statement: “..you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

The source of this remark is a Fox News report he watched the night before. Hence the “last night”. His thinking process collapses the time he watched the report and the time of supposed “events.” The television screen that he watched was split screen. On the viewer’s left a talking head reports an immigrant inspired crime wave in Sweden. This information was apparently gleaned from particular face book rants. But on the right half of the screen we watch videos of unidentified violence and crime: fires, vandalism, assault, riots.

The spoken information is not sourced from government data or first hand reporting but from Facebook tirades and a filmmaker with an agenda. The visual information (always more potent than words as we know) is of unknown origin and time frame.

This makes an impression on Donald Trump. He says, “You look at what’s happening…who would believe this?” So he has not taken in words and images and formulated and judged them, thought about them, considered them, reflected on their meaning – no, instead he simply excitedly points to them, “You look…”

“They took in large numbers.” He conjures an image of swarms of refugees rather than any considered look at numbers, programs, origins, and the problems of integration and settling.

And then, using a kind of vague hyperbole, “They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

Trump frequently falls back on these kinds of qualifiers and exaggerations. They create an emotional impression without any kind of actual description, identification, or assessment. His favorites are: “You wouldn’t believe.” “Unbelievable” “Like they never thought possible.” “Like you never thought possible.”

Of course I may be wrong. Such speech patterns may not reflect the patterns of his thought; they may not indicate he has the cognitive processes of an excited 14 year old. Perhaps it is an act, a ploy, a strategy. Perhaps in private he can think and talk as a responsible adult.

Now that is a really frightening thought.

Time, Gentlemen, Time

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Open letter to all the sane and sensible Republican lawmakers who wish to see their children and grandchildren grow up in a safe world.

It is time to huddle with sane and sensible Democrats and figure out how to remove Donald Trump from office. Perhaps you are doing that already. God speed.

Thursday this past week, for almost 90 minutes, Donald Trump gave us what has been called “vintage Trump.”

And in that almost 90 minutes, once again, Mr. Trump demonstrated that you have elected for your president a man who is:

  • A world-class narcissist
  • A man with a very short attention span (unless he is the subject of praise, and adulation)
  • A careless liar. A very careless liar. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.”
  • A man with a teenager’s vocabulary and the conceptual abilities of a 14 year old.
  • A man for whom everything (and I mean everything) is about his own greatness.
  • A man with very poor impulse control.
  • A man with a level of knowledge of the world equivalent to that of a bright 12 year old from a good public school: “I’ve been briefed…and I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say …because anybody who ever read the most basic book can say it…nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”
  • A man with no sense of the complexities (and safeguards) of governance in a democratic system. “The FAKE NEWS media (failing , , , , ) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
  • A man who, strikingly, does not notice, does not seem to understand or care about, the meaning and inferences of his own words. “You will never meet a person less anti-Semitic (less racist) than I am.” “I’m not calling it fake news anymore, I’m calling it very fake news.”
  • A man who always blames others, who cannot take responsibility for any failures or mistakes or even oversights. “I was given that information. I don’t know. I was just given it. We had a very, very big margin.”
  • A man still obsessing  about the woman (Hillary) who almost beat him, and the black man more loved than he.
  • A man who lives for adulation, excitement, winning, not working, not actually doing a job. Hence the constant replay of the November election, and the reprise in Florida last Saturday evening.

Dr. Francis rightly points out that we should not diagnose from a distance, and that a criterion for the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder is that the patient be suffering, not merely wreaking havoc on others.

On the other hand, Typhoid Mary was healthy, yet few would disagree with removing her from the kitchen.

And we have lately seen glimmers of the rage within, the rage that will be unleashed when he is cornered, trapped, and finally undone.

Please read my manual for undermining democracy and note the progress to date.

Trump’s grandiosity.

by Dr. David Laing Dawson

I have been watching too much CNN. I must control this new addiction. It is bad enough to find oneself compelled to watch a train wreck or a car accident, to have to slow down and gawk, but now I’m following the ambulances into the ER and waiting to hear the pronouncements of the doctors and nurses and next of kin.

Each evening several panels comprised of both political persuasions dissect the president’s tweets and statements, seeking substance, direction, and meaning, seeking precedent for his personal attacks, sometimes deftly skipping past his actual words to re-frame and reword the proclamation in question. They are often concerned about the political advantage or disadvantage his words might have. As George Orwell and Mark Twain and others have told us, when the outrageous lie becomes commonplace it loses its ability to outrage us. It becomes “strong opinion”. It may even become “alternative fact”.

But none of these panelists seem to pay attention to a part of Donald Trump’s speech that I think they should. Perhaps they need a linguist on one of their panels. Like a child
Trump calls the judge a “so-called judge”; like an envious teenager he revels in the low ratings of Arnold Schwartzenegger; he demonstrates every day he has no boundaries, personal, professional, or ethical.

But this is the kind of sentence I find most frightening:

“I comprehend very well, better than I think almost anybody.”

Without irony or a wink he begins to tell us that he comprehends better than anybody, that he is smarter than everybody else. Then as he is forming the words he catches a glimpse of how this will sound to others, and he squeezes in the phrase, “I think almost”.

He did the same when he said, “I am very smart.” He squeezed in the word “like” to soften the statement a tad, even if it ended up sounding adolescent.

I can analyze this as a grandiosity that is really an over-compensation for insecurity, but it is, nonetheless, grandiosity: A belief in his own powers, in this case his intellectual powers, that far exceeds reality.

As President Kirkman said last season: “There is nothing more dangerous than a pawn that thinks it’s a queen.”

It is this grandiosity that will bring down the house, or some day implode in rage.