Previous posts in this discussion:
PostAre the Democrats Attempting a "Soft Coup"? (George Aucoin, France, 11/21/20 4:26 am)
Thank you for allowing me to express these views on the WAIS Forum.
As I see it, the Presidential election of 2020 is a "Soft Coup" stopped in its tracks. Not by anything a counter-revolutionary did, but by the Democratic Party's own overreach. Let me explain.
Democrats cheat at elections like the sun rises in the East. Before moral indignation rises in response, ask yourself why there are no counter-claims that Donald Trump's Republican Party cheated to win this election? It's because all the anomalies we are seeing only inure to only one candidate: Biden.
I have argued on these pages that the number one issue for conservative American voters in the 2020 election was "corruption," and from the night of November 3rd onward everything about this election has reinforced that perception. In fact, an election this systemically fraudulent has never received, nor will receive, the type of exposure that the presidential election of 2020 is getting.
You will not like hearing that a "conspiracy" to defeat the will of the American electorate was in play through all the election dirty tricks you have ever heard of (and many that I hadn't) in addition to multi-state centrally coordinated electronic voting machine software that silently, and seamlessly, changed Trump votes to Biden votes on the basis of a progressive algorithm--until it became overrun with Trump votes.
"But, where's the proof?" I can hear you saying. The incurious news media, and Biden voters, would like these arguments tried in the court of public opinion. Of course, where they can be ridiculed and shamed without consequence. But, it's US Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court where consequence most likely resides as well as the fate of the election. I say most likely, because there is the chance that the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution may be invoked and a single vote per each of the 50 States may decide our next President--just like on Feb 17, 1801 on the 36th ballot for Thomas Jefferson.
In any case, former Vice President Joseph Biden is a pretender to the office of president today. How do we know? He does not have 270 Electoral College votes in hand (6 states are in recount or litigation and the Electoral College doesn't even meet until Dec 14th), nor has his opponent conceded the election. His "Opponent" is the sitting President of the United States with an overwhelming mandate from the voters in 2016 and Constitutional powers until January 20, 2021. The self-assured news media and political sycophants of Joe Biden would have you believe otherwise.
This will all get much worse before it resolves. There is no way around it. The Democrats jumped the shark on this election and the latest coup to unhorse the US 45th President was revealed to a clearly fed-up electorate.
JE comments: The counterclaims that Trump cheated to win this election are happening right now--via the reactions to the manufactured election crisis from Trump, Giuliani and Co. George, how do you interpret Trump's latest antics with my home state of Michigan? After Wayne County (the largest) certified its election results, the only way for Trump to "win" my state is through the Republican-controlled legislature. To this end, he invited Republican lawmakers from Lansing to the White House, urging them to forward a Trump slate of electors. Such an act may not be a coup in the sense of storm troopers and tanks, but it sounds close. It's certainly unprecedented in US history--and flies in the face of the "will of the electorate."
An editorial note: George Aucoin often uses "Democrat" as an adjective: "Democrat Party." This is not in accord with accepted journalistic practice, so I make the edit for WAIS. The adjectival "Democrat"-as-slur has a long history, with such adherents as Joseph McCarthy and more recently, Newt Gingrich. The Republican candidate-for-life Harold Stassen spoke of the "Democrat Party" in his 13 runs for the presidency. Trump is also a fan of the practice.
A Pennsylvania Court Decision, and a Question for George Aucoin
(Francisco Ramirez, USA
11/22/20 3:29 AM)
From the Wall Street Journal, we find out that a federal judge in Pennsylvania has dismissed a lawsuit alleging voter fraud. From this article I gather that the federal judge concluded that the lawsuit was marred by "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations... unsupported by evidence."
This leads me to read my earlier question:
Just a hypothetical for George Aucoin (November 16th): [I asked], If the courts conclude the there is no evidence of massive election fraud and uphold the election of Joe Biden, will you concede the legitimacy of the election and its outcome?
I wonder if I am not getting a response because:
1. The answer is an obvious one. I have written that the courts will decide. So, if the courts decide against the charges of massive election fraud, I will accept the legitimacy of the election and its outcome.
2. The answer is a shameful one: This election is legitimate only if the outcome is the outcome I want.
I assume option one is the correct answer.
JE comments: Undaunted, at least publicly, Giuliani and his colleagues have thanked District Judge Matthew Brann for his speedy ruling. Now, the legal team argues, they can fast-track their case to the Supreme Court.
On the other hand (and in this election circus isn't there always an "other hand"?), there are still allegation of software shenanigans. A. J. Cave explains, next.
With the Gravity of the Moment Before Us, No Hypotheticals, Please
(George Aucoin, France
11/22/20 2:08 PM)
So, in response to Francisco Ramírez (November 22nd), the "Conservative" in the Forum gets hypotheticals and "what about" questions from contributors and the editor that all boil down to the dialectic of moral relativism.
Here's how I take that. Liberals (progressives, Democrats--pick one, they are interchangeable) almost invariably argue objective findings (in this case election fraud 2020) with the dialectical ploy of encouraging a conservative's concession to an example of irredeemable immoral behavior within his/her own ranks so as to hoist said conservative on his own petard. The assumption in the exchange, of course, is the mutual reliance on the conservative's assurance of his own moral superiority. Boring.
The actual issue before us is truth. What is it? Where can we find it? Or, more cogently, did the registered American voter in 2020 cast their one true act of representative democracy, one vote for each registered voter, for the re-election of the sitting President or is the physical act of voting in the United States of America in 2020 merely symbolism?
Hypotheticals, or questions on the penumbra of the issue, trivialize the gravity of the moment before us.
JE comments: So we're in agreement here: let's get at the truth. But George, how can you reassure us that truth is the ultimate goal of Trump, Giuliani, and his confederates? Those of us relieved to see Trump go are not convinced: we view this legal wrangling as a desperate and cynical ploy to change the results of an election that by historical standards, was not even close (306-232 EC votes).
Trump's Pathology, Revisited
(Leo Goldberger, USA
11/23/20 4:16 AM)
In response to George Aucoin (November 22nd), the truth is very simple: The man--Donald Trump--is by all reliable account an unfortunate victim of some very serious and irreversible mental disorders, such a severe case of narcissism and sociopathy, that should have qualified for dismissal from the presidency under the 25th Amendment (if he hadn't feathered his cabinet with his buddies) or removal through impeachment and conviction, if he did not have the spineless support of the Republican senators.
Trump's attempt to challenge the obviously dominant victory of Joe Biden is yet another clear manifestation of his mental disorders. It is unfathomable to me--as a naturalized citizen, with much love and respect for my adopted country--to experience the current stressful period, allowing Trump's pathological symptoms to hold daily sway.
There surely must be some morally courageous Republican to call upon him to stop---as was the case with Nixon. Of course, Nixon was not mentally ill as Trump clearly is. In a way, Trump's inability to listen to anyone's advice or urgings is yet another clear sign of the severity of his illness. And also a reminder of the seriousness of his illness--though designated as "just mental," it is as real and serious as if it were "physical." The two are actually one and the same--at least in my philosophical view of the so-called mind-body problem.
JE comments: I don't have Dr Goldberger's resume, but I do own a copy of the DSM-IV (I haven't yet picked up "5"--yes, they've transitioned to Arabic numerals). Flipping through the bullet points, Trump definitely has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The description fits Trump to a T:
But here's the rub. Don't the rigors and public exposure of presidential politics almost require a massive dose of narcissism? My suggestion for a new entry in DSM-6: Presidential Personality Disorder.
Leo, when the dust settles, could you give us a psychological reading of President-Elect Biden? From a layperson's perspective, he's hard to pin down.
Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Politicians
(John Hesley, USA
11/24/20 4:08 AM)
I'm not willing to go public with a psychological appraisal of Trump, because I do think the Goldwater Rule has merit. (Apparently I'm not in the majority among psychologists.)
But a prominent psychologist in Washington DC had done a splendid job of diagnosing Trump sans interview, testing, and collateral information. His report is lengthy and written for laypersons; you may wish to skim it. But the bottom line is that while a number of politicians could meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Trump's case is unique. Dr. Greenwood adds Psychopathy to the mix. Without that, you only have a personality who is self-centered to the extreme. But psychopathy adds the dimension we are now seeing: a willingness to sacrifice lives in one's own interest.
I think Narcissism is half the correct diagnosis. Yes, he fits the criteria. But only by adding the Psychopathic element can you distinguish Trump from our local mayor.
JE comments: For a shorter take on the same phenomenon, see this essay from Psychology Today. It was distributed yesterday by a psychology colleague at the College. Author Joe Navarro wrote it back in July, but it's prescient: "When the Narcissist Fails." To my mind, Trump can partially redeem himself if in his final weeks he refrains from taking the nation down with him--by not following the example, as Navarro cites, of that infamous Austrian Corporal.
- Biden's Psychology (Leo Goldberger, USA 11/24/20 4:34 AM)
"Plagiarist of speeches, liar about his record, denier of 'women's truth,' sporter of hair plugs and dental veneers, there's almost nothing real about [Biden]. Mixed with his obvious mental impairment, Joe will need more than a 'kitchen cabinet' à la Roosevelt. He'll need a dining room, living room and bathroom cabinet."
Does the above recent quote from our fellow WAISer, David Duggan, really capture the personality of Joe Biden?
Well, of course not! It certainly would not qualify for anything but a misanthropic caricature--not worthy of more than a quick dismissal, as Biden has acknowledged and apologized for his relatively minor misdeeds as compared to Trump's thousands of lies and tons of actual sexual misdeeds. In fact, unlike Trump's personality characteristics, there are no personality disorder characterization of a Biden type to be found in the DSM--i.e. the Psychiatric Diagnostic Disorders--unlike that of Trump's serious case, so perfectly fitting the narcissist-sociopath diagnosis.
Were one to describe Biden's personality (without actually knowing or testing him in person), most of us in the psychological field would most likely agree that he would be characterized as a Conciliatory Extrovert, an outgoing, gregarious, emphatic and warm sort of fellow... as well as being ambitious along with a strong sense of self-competence.
JE comments: Biden is famously gaffe-prone and has been known to fly off the handle with expletive-laden tirades, such as in the first link below. We'll see many more of these in the next four years. The question is whether Biden's plain-spokenness will win over, or further alienate, the salt-of-the-earth folks who preferred Trump.
And who can forget Joe's 2010 "Big F-ing Deal" when signing the Affordable Care Act?
(David Duggan, USA
11/25/20 3:23 AM)
In response to Leo Goldberger (November 24th), I never opined as to Joe Biden's "personality." For all I know, he may be a "nice guy," one you'd like to have a beer with, talk about sports and women with, maybe play golf or tennis with.
I purely put out objective facts: liar as to his record (top half of his class when he was 76th of 85), plagiarist of speeches (Neil Kinnock anyone?), denier of women's truth (Tara Reade), and sporter of hair plugs and dental veneers (just look at the man). Consider too Biden's "over the top" petulance: "lying dog faced pony soldier"; "push-up contest."
Since I'm not a psychologist, and don't play one from the comfort of my armchair, I will only say that a man who persistently lies, gets aggravated, issues challenges or dares, and fakes his appearance has "issues." Within the cauldron of the presidency, these "character disorders" (character is a much more descriptive word than personality) will undoubtedly surface repeatedly.
Fortunately there's the 25th Amendment. And unfortunately we've come a long way from an era when character counted.
JE comments: Did character ever count in presidential politics, or did we just think it did? Look no further than to the legendary adulterers: FDR, Ike, JFK, LBJ. Scratch a bit deeper and you get the "love" children of Harding and Cleveland. Might I have discovered something with my back-of-the-envelope stab at psychology: Presidential Personality Disorder?
Biden should prepare for one thing: given the divided state of the country, he'll be the most scrutinized president in US history.
Biden, Trump, Psychology
(Francisco Ramirez, USA
11/26/20 2:14 PM)
Like David Duggan (November 25th), I also am not a psychologist.
But the list of objective facts in David's second sentence even better characterizes the outgoing president: persistently lies (from "I wanted to serve but my ankle spurs hurt," to "I really won the popular vote in 2016," to all the Covid-related lies). Also, Trump gets aggravated (in person and via Twitter), issues challenges or dares (in person and via Twitter), fakes his appearance (or do you think that is really the color of his hair?), and denies women's truth. (He is being sued by how many women?) Who can out-compete Trump for over-the-top petulance? How else do you explain the post-election sackings?
Trump is a man of sound moral character? You can defend voting for Trump on many grounds. Moral character is not one of them
David, you are right about plagiarism. You have to have read something of value to plagiarize. Biden has apologized for his plagiarizing. As a matter of principle Trump does not apologize. Why should he? The True Believers of the Golden Calf have mastered the art of pretending that he has nothing to apologize for, while declaring that they believe in forgiveness.
Here is an objective fact: We the people have voted, and the Golden Calf will not be in the White House for the next four years. I am not going to offer you Clinton's "I Feel your Pain," but I suspect your post-election posts are driven by the sort of pain that distorts judgment.
JE comments: To clarify, David Duggan has never praised Trump's moral character. Yet by his faint damn of Biden...?
Regardless, today is a day for thankfulness. We are thankful for our safe journey to Somerville, Massachusetts, and our son Martin's home. We'll be here for the next four days. Dinner is now served...
- More on Biden's, Trump's Character (Leo Goldberger, USA 11/27/20 6:43 AM)
My thanks to David Duggan (November 25th) for making the significant distinction between a person's character, an emphasis on his or her moral judgement and behavior, on the one hand, and personality structure, on the other.
I have to agree with David's assessment of Biden's character. Yes, it has on occasion been quite flawed, with obvious lies and self-promoting presentations, now and then, especially when provoked, challenged or angry. And, of course, he might also be in damnation via the Catholic belief system in terms of his views on abortion and such.
Yet I cannot imagine anyone could compare him, in regard to moral character at least, with someone like Trump--no matter their comparative personality profile. Trump is one of a kind! Thank God...
JE comments: WAIS has dissected the 2020 elections in countless ways, but Biden's religion has rarely come up. It's frankly surprising that in a nation that is one-quarter Catholic, Biden is only the second Roman Catholic to make it to the White House--assuming, still, that Biden makes it to the White House. Compare this with 6 and 1/2 Catholic Supreme Court Justices. (Gorsuch alternately identifies with Anglicism and Catholicism.) About as far as we've come are some commentators criticizing Biden for not following Church dogma, in particular on the hot-button abortion issue.
Might specific church affiliation no longer be an issue in US politics? Before I hear the outcry, consider this: how many fervent Trump supporters can name what church he identifies with?
Trump's Church Affiliation
(David Duggan, USA
11/29/20 3:59 AM)
John E recently asked how many of Trump's supporters can identify his church affiliation.
Trump was raised at Marble Collegiate 29th & 5th Avenue in NYC, re-re-married (to Melania) at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal in Palm Beach, Florida, and I believe self-identifies as a Presbyterian.
JE comments: Presumably Trump's Presbyterianism comes from his Scottish mother? One WAISly "factoid" I never knew until checking Wikipedia five minutes ago: Mary Anne MacLeod (Trump) was raised in a Gaelic-speaking home, and English was her second language.
Theology is not my strong suit, but might we draw some parallels between Trump's character and the Presbyterian/Calvinist tenet of predestination? Can anyone doubt that DT sees himself as a Chosen One?
- Joe Biden's Character (Paul Levine, Denmark 11/28/20 3:31 AM)
I am beginning to believe that David Duggan (November 25th) does not approve of President-elect Joe Biden.
First David attacked Biden's "casual Roman Catholicism" because he prized the US Constitution over the dictates of Rome on the matter of abortion. (Why anyone should believe that a bunch of geriatric bachelors and budding pedophiles should dictate what women should do with their bodies has always been a mystery to me.)
Now David attacks Biden's character in succinct terms:
"I purely put out objective facts: liar as to his record (top half of his class when he was 76th of 85), plagiarist of speeches (Neil Kinnock anyone?), denier of women's truth (Tara Reade), and sporter of hair plugs and dental veneers (just look at the man). Consider too Biden's 'over the top' petulance: 'lying dog-faced pony soldier'; 'push-up contest.'"
What a list of accusations! Biden is a liar, plagiarist, misogynist, narcissist, and petulant child. When I perused this list quickly I thought David was talking about Donald Trump!
Consider: "liar" (where do we start?); "plagiarist" (remember Melania plagiarizing Michelle Obama's celebrated speech?); "denier of women's truth" ("Grab them by the pussy"?); "sporter of hair plugs": (Trump's $74,000 annual bill from his hair stylist?), "over the top petulance" (his refusal to concede the election or allow the official presidential transition to take place for nearly three weeks?).
Is David kidding when he castigates Biden for possessing in smaller style what are some of Trump's worst character flaws?
Biden may have his limitations. He was not my first choice for the Democratic candidate. But David's cartoon version does neither the subject nor the author much credit.
Instead I recommend WAIS members read a complex portrait of Biden by the superb Irish journalist Fintan O'Toole in NYRB. It's called "The Designated Mourner." Happy reading.
JE comments: In 2016, Trump supporters "defended" their man by going after Hillary. In 2020 it was Biden's turn. As an educator, my biggest grievance with Uncle Joe's character is his plagiarism of the Kinnock speech. (He also got in trouble for "borrowing" while in law school.) Shouldn't wife Jill's teacher ethics have rubbed off a bit?
At least, in Google age, plagiarism has become easier to detect. It's also far easier to actually do.
- In Our Changing World, Rush to Judgment is the Only Constant (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 11/23/20 7:54 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
In response to John E on George Aucoin's post of November 22, yes, the gravity of the moment is upon us--though perhaps in ways that none of us, nor either side, can quite discern.
I've dug deeply into two previous rounds, first China-as-Lab-Source-of-Covid (finding that many questions are left dangling, but promised proofs have failed to materialize), and Joe-Biden-as-Sharer-of-Hunter's-Bribes (finding that many questions are left dangling, but promised proofs have failed to materialize). And on a third round, the George Floyd controversy that rocked the nation, my early attempt to go with the flow of prestigious opinion turned out to be quite wrong, and upon finally rousing myself to do real digging, I found that indeed, in that case, there was a national delusion.
So maybe now the counsel that remains is to wait and watch and see, as the present tone of WAIS might suggest many are cautiously doing. It would be ironic if the pitfalls in the phrase "rush to judgment" were to be one of the few enduring constants left in a supersonically changing world.
JE comments: We have no choice but to wait and see, although Trump's 0-22 record so far in the courts is not promising for the True Believers. Trump's trump card (sorry for this): a Battle of the Bulge-type dice throw that his friendly Supreme Court will overrule the American voters. Can our legal experts weigh in--is there any way an "originalist" jurist can justify support for the Trump team's imaginative and unprecedented legal arguments?
- Democracy is Fragile: An Appraisal of Trump's Legacy (Carmen Negrin, France 11/24/20 5:53 AM)
In response to George Aucoin (November 22nd), both Democratic and Republican officials certified that the US election process went well.
I have no reason to doubt them, nor to doubt the validity of the results. In contrast, I do have many reasons to doubt Trump and Giuliani. They have lied so often and openly that I have no reason to believe them and no motivation to listen to their self-victimization.
Why would the machines be perfect when DT is the winner and not when Biden is? The same machines were used in more than 30 states, all over the country.
On the other hand, offering reward money for accusations, inviting lawmakers to pressure them, is unethical. Announcing fraud before it has even taken place is pure fiction, and all this put together is more than suspicious, perhaps even illegal.
George made a list of points by which DT would be remembered.
My list is quite different from his:
--Trump is the first self-admitted rapist president who gone as far as saying that he grabs women by the pussy (sorry for the wording, but I am just quoting our future ex-president's language; no wonder so many parents don't want their kids to listen to the news);
--He is the first president who doesn't know how to speak or write properly and doesn't care about it, nor does he care about culture or science;
--He is the first president with zero empathy for people (children in cages, Sars Cov 2 deaths);
--He is the only president under which over a quarter of a million Americans have died because of his incompetence and lack of interest;
--He is the only president who will leave with more unemployment than before his arrival;
--He is the only president who got rid of everything his predecessor did, not in the interest of the country, but simply for his own ego: Iran deal, Paris agreement in particular, Asian agreement (China is far better off with the new deal!);
--He is the first president since WWII who doesn't care about world security (including the US): withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, or about world health: withdrawal from WHO;
--He is the only president having no moral issues in dealing with dictators (North Korea) or murderers (Saudi Arabia-Khashoggi and Yemen);
--In fact he is the only president without any political perspective other than his own: the transition period has been a perfect example. He is more worried about his future than about the US death toll. If Evangelists are useful for his (re)election he will praise them, if it is the supremacists or anti-abortionists, he will flatter them and support them;
--He is the first president who openly betrays his allies (Kurds in Syria) with no remorse;
--Thanks to him, Iran has a greater nuclear capacity than before his arrival, so does North Korea, and Russia is more influential than ever before;
--Under him, the food lines have been the longest ever;
--And last but not least (of a list that could be much longer), he is the only president who has succeeded in profoundly and dangerously dividing his country, perhaps even more so than during the Vietnam war.
His only merit is that his mere presence, has proven, if needed, that democracy is fragile. All the mechanisms that exist in the US to protect democracy, such as keeping a mentally unfit person out of office, have failed. The only lock that seems to have resisted is the electoral process, which, contradictorily, is not so democratic because of the Electoral College system.
JE comments: Carmen, I'm sure there were several US presidents who left office with higher unemployment than when they came in. What about GW Bush? Certainly Hoover...
Historians, always up for a challenge, will search for positive Trump legacies. The biggest is no new wars. Another legacy may pay dividends for Republicans down the road. The next GOP candidate by default will seem moderate, mainstream, and (yes) sane. It's like when you stop whacking yourself in the head: it feels really good.
- Joe Biden's Character (Paul Levine, Denmark 11/28/20 3:31 AM)
- More on Biden's, Trump's Character (Leo Goldberger, USA 11/27/20 6:43 AM)
- Biden, Trump, Psychology (Francisco Ramirez, USA 11/26/20 2:14 PM)
- Biden's Psychology (Leo Goldberger, USA 11/24/20 4:34 AM)
- Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Politicians (John Hesley, USA 11/24/20 4:08 AM)
- Trump's Pathology, Revisited (Leo Goldberger, USA 11/23/20 4:16 AM)
- With the Gravity of the Moment Before Us, No Hypotheticals, Please (George Aucoin, France 11/22/20 2:08 PM)