IS DONALD TRUMP Psychologically Unstable And Unfit For Office?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE INTERCEPT’ NEWS AND AL-JAZEERA)

 

 

IS DONALD TRUMP psychologically unstable and unfit for office? Does the president of the United States have a dangerous mental illness of some shape or form?

Ask his fellow Republicans.

During the GOP primaries, Marco Rubio suggested he was a “lunatic,”Rand Paul dubbed him a “delusional narcissist,” and Ted Cruz denounced him as “utterly amoral” and “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.” Mitt Romney opined, “His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader,” and Jeb Bush declared, “He needs therapy.”

In recent months, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has admitted she is “worried” about the president’s mental health, and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has warned that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” necessary for a successful presidency.

Ask the ghostwriter of his best-selling book, “The Art of the Deal.”

Tony Schwartz has called Trump a “sociopath” and has said “there is an excellent possibility” that the Trump presidency “will lead to the end of civilization.”

Ask the voters.

One in three Americans say they believe Trump’s mental health is “poor” while two out of three regularly question his temperament. Four in 10 voters in the swing state of Michigan — which helped deliver the White House to Trump — say they think the president is “mentally unstable” while a majority of them are worried that he has access to the nuclear codes.

Ask the experts.

In a new book published this week, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” a group of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts warn that “anyone as mentally unstable as this man should not be entrusted with the life-and-death-powers of the presidency.” Seemingly in defiance of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater rule,” which states “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement,” the various and very eminent contributors paint a picture of a president who has “proven himself unfit for duty.”

Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo — of the famous Stanford prison study — suggests the “unbalanced” Trump is a “specific personality type: an unbridled, or extreme, present hedonist” and “narcissist.” Psychiatrist Lance Dodes, a former Harvard Medical School professor, says Trump’s “sociopathic characteristics are undeniable” and his speech and behavior show signs of “significant mental derangement.” Clinical psychologist John Gartner, a 28-year veteran of Johns Hopkins University Medical School, argues that Trump is a “malignant narcissist” and “evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader.” For Gartner, the “catastrophe” of a Trump presidency “might have been avoided if we in the mental health community had told the public the truth, instead of allowing ourselves to be gagged by the Goldwater rule.”

“The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump” was conceived of and edited by Professor Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine, who writes of her profession’s moral and civic “duty to warn” the American public about the threat posed by their volatile, erratic, and thin-skinned president.

On the latest edition of my Al Jazeera English show, “UpFront,” I spoke to Lee about Trump’s mental state, the purpose of the book and the arguments put forth by her critics. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed.

Mehdi Hasan: Why did you write this book and what is your main message?

Bandy Lee: We are a group of mental health experts who have come to a consensus conclusion about an issue that is of vital interest to the public  and that the public has a right to know: basically, that Mr. Trump in the office of the presidency is a danger to the public and the international community. We are not purporting to make a diagnosis. Assessing dangerousness is different from diagnosing someone for the purpose of treatment. I’m speaking on my own behalf and not representing the views of Yale University, Yale School of Medicine, or Yale Department of Psychiatry.

MH: According to a study by experts at the Duke University Medical Center, around one in four presidents have had some sort of mental illness while in office. So why is Trump so special?

BL: Mental illness itself does not involve an incapacity to carry out a duty. It’s really the specific symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, and the particular combination of … impulsive, recklessness, an inability to accept facts, rage reactions, an attraction to violence, a proneness to incite violence — all these things are signs of danger.

MH: Allen Frances, the famous psychiatry professor who wrote a manual on diagnosing mental disorders, has denounced your book, saying: “Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness. … Psychiatric name calling is a misguided way of countering Trump’s attack on democracy.” What’s your response to him?

BL: Actually, I don’t think we’re that much in disagreement. We are declaring dangerousness, which is different from making a diagnosis. I am of the camp that believes it is necessary to do a full interview and to [have] all the information, including any medical conditions, any other disorders, that could explain behavior before making a diagnosis. So, again, we are not purporting to make a diagnosis. The conjecture is that he shows signs of severe mental impairment. We are concerned enough that we are calling for an urgent assessment.

MH: A lot of presidents were narcissists, egomaniacs, incited violence, suffered from conditions such as depression. People didn’t question their fitness for office, did they?

BL: That is right. Very few conditions are dangerous. Very few conditions would make one unfit for duty. In this particular situation, we are declaring a danger to the public and to international security. I can tell you as an expert on violence that he has shown many signs of dangerousness. The most obvious ones might be verbal aggressiveness, history of sexual assault, incitement of violence at his rallies, attraction to violence and powerful weapons, [provoking] hostile nations, and, more recently, an endorsement of violence, during [the protests in] Charlottesville, and sparring with another nuclear power that has an unstable leader. All these things are signs of dangerousness.

MH: There’s been talk of setting up a commission of mental health experts to evaluate every future president and perhaps advise Congress on a president’s fitness for office. Should Donald Trump be removed from office based on his mental state? Should the 25th Amendment, which discusses how to remove a president if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” be invoked?

BL: Well, we’re merely recommending that procedures be put in place to evaluate every presidential candidate and every president, in the same manner that every military officer and every civilian service person is put through. That the commander-in-chief is not put to the same test is a glaring omission. Currently we are advocating the setting up of an expert panel to advise a commission and we’re recommending that the panel consist of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and neurologists.

MH: But you’re of the view that there is a case for removing Trump from office based on his mental state?

BL: There are many signs pointing in that direction and so we’re calling for an urgent evaluation.

MH: How worried should we be that Trump has access to the nuclear codes?

BL: Well, that is our critical concern: that his condition is actually probably far worse than people are detecting now; that [his] mental impairment goes deeper and is far more pervasive than people can understand when they are untrained in psychological matters. And that the worst is yet to come.

Top photo: Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on day two of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30, 2014 in New Orleans.

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Puerto Ricans scramble for food and water 3 weeks after Maria !!!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Puerto Ricans scramble for food and water 3 weeks after Maria

Weeks after Maria, survivors scramble for food and water

Story highlights

  •  Ninety-one percent are without power on US commonwealth
  • More than 36,000 Puerto Ricans have gone to Florida since October 3

(CNN)Thousands have fled Puerto Rico in the three weeks since Hurricane Maria hit, but for the millions remaining the struggle for life’s basic necessities seems to be never-ending.

Many travel hours in search of food and bottled water, only to find empty shelves at most grocery stores.
“I’ve never seen this in my life, never in my life,” Emma Ramirez told CNN affiliate WAPA.
Fuel shortages made it difficult to deliver food in the first days after the hurricane, forcing many stores to close. They have since reopened, but supplies of food remain low.
The food supply chain has emptied, and “resupplying it (will) take some time,” Manuel Reyes, vice president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Distribution of Food, told the TV station.
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Still no power, no water

Food shortages are among the myriad challenges facing Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents in Maria’s aftermath.
Power outages and a shortage of drinking water have plagued the US commonwealth as well. Many communities remain cut off from the world, with no phone service and roads blocked.
Ninety-one percent of Puerto Ricans were without power Friday, rising from 83% the previous day. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, attributed the drop of those with power to a failure in the central system. There is no Internet, no way to get cell phones working, and limited ways to communicate or get information.
More than 1.2 million people are without potable water. Some people line up daily to fill up buckets with water from tank trucks, while others collect water from mountain streams.

Dead animals in Puerto Rico water, mayor says

Dead animals in Puerto Rico water, mayor says 01:27
The US Environmental Protection Agency recently revealed that some desperate Puerto Ricans are trying to break into wells at hazardous waste sites just to get water, even though it’s unsafe to drink.
Two people have died of leptospirosis, a disease that spreads when the urine of infected animals gets into drinking water. This public health threat won’t be fully mitigated, the EPA said, until waterways and infrastructure are repaired and power is restored.

What is the government doing?

The US House of Representatives approved a $36.5 billion disaster aid package Thursday for victims in Puerto Rico as well as resources for those in Texas, Florida and the US Virgin Islands still recovering from Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey.
On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan will lead a bipartisan delegation visiting Puerto Rico, according to the speaker’s office.
Some 19,000 civilian and military personnel are supporting the federal relief mission, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Army Corps of Engineers is installing power generators and temporary roofs to damaged structures.
This week, FEMA also approved a $70 million assistance package for the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority for emergency repairs.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, the target of President Donald Trump’s ire after she complained about the federal response, told CNN on Thursday she doesn’t still have all the help she needs but that recovery has improved.
“Ever since last week when a new chain of communication was given to us by Homeland Security, accountability has improved and things are starting to improve,” Cruz said. “I can now see the light. Imagine the light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t see it yet, but I can imagine it.”

Thousands flee to Florida

More than 36,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October 3, the state’s Division of Emergency Management said.
Representatives of FEMA and local charities as well as loved ones are welcoming evacuees at airports.
The state has set up disaster relief centers to help evacuees get medical attention, shelter, clothing and food.
Authorities have estimated that 100,000 Puerto Ricans will arrive in Florida in the storm’s aftermath, Ana Cruz, a coordinator with the Orlando’s Hispanic Office of Local Assistance, told CNN affiliate WKMG.
“I know what they’re going through. That’s why we’re here — to help, to assist and to guide,” Cruz said.
High unemployment, along with better job opportunities on the US mainland, already had pushed Puerto Ricans to pick up their bags and move, mainly to Florida and Texas, according to the Pew Research Center.
The island’s population declined to 3.4 million last year from 3.8 million in 2004.
Florida schools are already seeing an influx of students.
At least 90 students have enrolled in Miami schools, while about 128 students have done so in the Fort Lauderdale area, CNN affiliate WPLG reported.
“They’ve been quickly adapting to our schools,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told WPLG. “We are working to transition the kids into the South Florida community.”

China threatens U.S. Congress for crossing its ‘red line’ on Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Josh Rogin

China threatens U.S. Congress for crossing its ‘red line’ on Taiwan

 October 12 at 6:00 AM

President Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on April 6. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

In a rare pressure campaign, the Chinese government is demanding that the U.S. Congress back off passing new laws that would strengthen the U.S. relationship with Taiwan. Beijing’s efforts are the latest sign that it is stepping up its campaign to exert political influence inside countries around the world, including the United States.

In response to proposed legislation in both the House and Senate, the Chinese Embassy in Washington lodged a formal complaint with leading lawmakers, threatening “severe consequences” for the U.S.-China relationship if Congress follows through. China’s tactics have angered lawmakers and staffers in both parties, who call them inappropriate and counterproductive.

In an August letter from Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai that I obtained, the Chinese government expressed “grave concern” about the Taiwan Travel Act, the Taiwan Security Act and Taiwan-related provisions in both the House and Senate versions of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

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The measures represent “provocations against China’s sovereignty, national unity and security interests,” and “have crossed the ‘red line’ on the stability of the China-U.S. relationship,” the letter stated.

The letter was sent to leaders of the House and Senate’s foreign relations and armed services committees and called on them to use their power to block Taiwan-related provisions in the bills. Lawmakers and aides told me the Chinese threat of “severe consequences” was unusual and out of line.

“The United States should continue to strengthen our relationship with Taiwan and not allow Chinese influence or pressure to interfere with the national security interests of the U.S. and our partners in the region,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the sponsor of the Taiwan Travel Act, which calls for more visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan and by Taiwanese officials to the United States.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s ranking Democrat Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.) told me Cui’s letter stood out because of its threatening tone. “China carries out this kind of heavy-handed behavior with other countries around the world,” he said. “It’s interesting to me that they now feel that they can get away with these kind of threats and vague pressure tactics with the U.S. Congress.”

The issue is coming to a head as the House and Senate Armed Services committees negotiate over the must-pass defense policy bill. The Senate version has several strong Taiwan-related provisions, thanks to amendments added by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). It would authorize Taiwanese ships to make port calls to U.S. naval bases and vice versa, invite Taiwan to the “Red Flag” international military exercises and provide for increased supply of U.S. defense articles to Taiwan. The House version of the bill contains softer versions of those provisions that give the administration more flexibility.

When the two chambers go to conference, lawmakers and aides will have to reconcile the two versions. It’s a delicate negotiation, and aides resent the blatant Chinese efforts to influence it.

“Making these sorts of threats and laying down ‘red lines’ on domestic legislative action is neither helpful or constructive to build the sort of relationship needed between the United States and China,” a Senate Democratic aide said.

By stating that the “red line” had been crossed by the mere introduction of legislation, the Chinese government seems to be saying it believes that Chinese interference in U.S. domestic political processes is appropriate, the aide said.

Other congressional aides said that no other embassy uses threats as a tactic to influence Congress, especially not via an official communication. Most embassies try to build relationships and persuade U.S. policymakers to support what they believe is in their national interest. But not China.

Beijing’s worldwide strategy to exert political influence inside other countries’ decision-making processes has been expanding for years. It’s just now getting noticed in the United States.

“It’s a concentrated, long-term, political-warfare influence operations campaign that has been going on for a long time but has definitely become more brazen,” said Dan Blumenthal, a former Pentagon Asia official now with the American Enterprise Institute.

Chinese pressure on domestic institutions in other countries takes many forms, he said. For example, Chinese government delegations routinely pressure U.S. governors by threatening to withhold economic benefits if they, for example, meet with the Dalai Lama.

In Australia, there’s a huge debate about Chinese pressure on universities to alter curriculum to match Chinese propaganda. In Spain, the government controversially changed the law to curb prosecutions of foreign leaders for human rights violations, under Chinese government pressure.

“We don’t really recognize the Chinese efforts to coerce political influence in other countries. That’s not even on our radar,” said Blumenthal. “It’s part of Chinese grand strategy. It’s a big, big deal.”

Congressional action over the next weeks and months will be a test of the legislative branch’s willingness to stand up to Chinese bullying and continue a long tradition of seeking improved engagement with Taiwan. Even if the House and Senate compromise, they should send a clear message that China’s tactics won’t work.

“It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(Title quote is from Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee)

Photo

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, last week in Washington. CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Sunday laced into Senator Bob Corker, a Republican whose support the president will need on tax reform and the future of the Iran nuclear deal, saying on Twitter that the senator had decided not to run for re-election next year because he “didn’t have the guts.”

“Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee,” Mr. Trump wrote. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement).”

Mr. Trump also said that Mr. Corker had asked to be secretary of state. “I said ‘NO THANKS,’” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Corker offered a barbed response. “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center,” he wrote on Twitter. “Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Continue reading the main story

The Tennessee senator has been a favorite target of Mr. Trump’s for months, after the senator, who was once a campaign supporter, became increasingly critical of Mr. Trump’s performance in the White House.

After a report last week that Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson had once referred to Mr. Trump as a “moron,” Mr. Corker told reporters at the Capitol that Mr. Tillerson was one of three officials helping to “separate our country from chaos.”

In August, Mr. Corker had told reporters in Tennessee that the president “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

Mr. Trump’s feud with Mr. Corker is particularly perilous given that the president has little margin for error as he tries to pass an overhaul of the tax code — his best hope of producing a major legislative achievement in the coming months.

If Senate Democrats end up unified in opposition to the promised tax bill, Mr. Trump would be able to lose the support of only two of the Senate’s 52 Republicans in order to pass it. That is the same challenging math that Mr. Trump and Senate Republican leaders faced in their failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Corker, who is outspoken about the nation’s mounting debt, has already signaled deep reservations about the Republican effort to pass a tax overhaul, saying he would not vote for a tax bill that adds to the deficit.

In addition, Mr. Corker, who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could play a key role if Mr. Trump follows through on his threat to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal, kicking to Congress the issue of whether to restore sanctions on Tehran and effectively scuttle the pact.

(Playing Nuclear War Game With A Game Show Host As Prezz?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Donald Trump is treating a potential war like a reality show cliffhanger

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump hosted his top military brass and their spouses for dinner at the White House on Thursday night. The group posed for a photo. Then this exchange with reporters happened:

Trump: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
Reporter: “What’s the storm?”
Trump: “It could be … the calm, the calm before the storm.”
Reporter: “Iran? ISIS? What storm, Mr. President?”
Trump: “We have the world’s great military people in this room, I will tell you that. And uh, we’re gonna have a great evening, thank you all for coming.”
Reporter: “What storm, Mr. President?”
Trump: “You’ll find out.”
What. The. Hell. Is. Happening.
To be clear: Trump didn’t have to say anything. Reporters shout questions at these photo-ops all the time. Presidents ignore them all the time. So he did this on purpose. He wanted to say this — so he did.
And then he did it again! On Friday afternoon, at another photo op, a reporter asked Trump what he meant by his comments Thursday night. According to the pool report, Trump winked and said “you’ll find out.”
Now as for what he said: When you say “maybe it’s the calm before the storm” when surrounded by the top military leaders in the country, it doesn’t take much of a logical leap to conclude there is some sort of military operation in the offing.
That’s especially true when you have two situations — North Korea and Iran — that appear to be coming to a head.
In regard to North Korea, Trump tweeted last weekend that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man” — the latest verbal provocation between Trump and the North Korean dictator. That rhetorical back-and-forth comes amid Kim Jong Un’s repeated testing of missiles and refusal to stop his nuclear program.
When it comes to Iran, Trump is expected next week to “decertify” the Iranian nuclear deal crafted by President Barack Obama. Trump has been a longtime critic of the deal, insisting that Iran had not kept up its end of the agreement. (The decertification process will allow Congress 60 days to adjust the pact.)
Which situation was Trump talking about with his “calm before the storm” remark? Both? Neither? We don’t know, because Trump wouldn’t say.
That, too, was on purpose.
Why? Because the bulk of Trump’s experiences directly before running for president was as a reality TV star and producer. (In truth, Trump has been performing in a reality show of his own making for his entire life.) And, in that role, the goal is always to stoke drama, always do everything you can to keep people watching — through the commercial, through the hour, through to next week’s episode. Cliffhangers are the best way to do that — stoking speculation, reversing expectations and, above all, ensuring people feel compelled to just keep watching.
“Dallas” fans in the 1980s spent months waiting to find out who shot J.R. “Game of Thrones” fans waited with bated breath to find out whether Jon Snow was alive or dead.
Stay tuned! Who knows what will happen next!
Or, in the words of Trump on Thursday night, “you’ll find out.”
The thing is: The stakes of a reality TV show are roughly zero. The stakes of diplomacy with rogue nations pursuing nuclear weapons are incredibly high.
What’s not clear at the moment is whether Trump understands that difference. Whether he gets that by saying things such as “maybe this is the calm before the storm,” he is flicking at the possibility of an armed conflict — and the world is paying attention.
The “does he know what he’s doing or is he just doing it?” conundrum sits at the heart of virtually every move Trump has made as a candidate and now as President. What’s more dangerous with this latest loose talk, however, is that even if Trump is just saying things to hype up the drama rather than to warn of an actual impending military action, he (and we) have no way of knowing if Iran, North Korea or any other potential target understands that.
This is no reality show. And Trump isn’t the producer, controlling all the players. His words — whether he means them as a tease, a threat or something in between — can have very real consequences.
Does Trump get any of that? We’ll find out.

Trump’s Ego Is Now “Playing” With The Safety Of The Whole World

Trump’s Ego Is Now “Playing” With The Safety Of The Whole World

 

The man with no ethics and no morals is the ‘Leader’ of the free world, may God have mercy on us all. The man is a self-absorbed habitual liar who keeps telling the people of the whole world “trust me” then lies to you in his next sentence.

 

For the folks who 9 months ago when Donald Trump took the Oath of Office who were thinking, how bad can he be, he has to be better than these career politicians, right? Wrong!  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Hillary would have also been a disaster as President, just a different kind of disaster. Hillary may have been the most qualified person in American history to have become President, it was her long line of personal demons that kept her out of Office. Trump has just as many or more personal demons that Hillary, it’s just that most of the American people were not aware of them yet, in this past year we have been learning.

 

Donald Trump is all about ego, the whole world is about him. I could live with the ego as it is a reality that few people can reach great heights in the political world without a great belief in themselves. Trumps constant lying is also difficult for me personally because of how I feel about liars, as you should know, there is no way to trust them on anything that they say. Yet today, the issue I am going to talk with you about is the fact that this man is clueless on basically everything except on how to screw over everyone he deals with.

 

Mr. Trump is all about being a winner, no matter what the cost to others. The past few days there have been constant news articles about how Mr. Trump is planning to scrap the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Doing this he is going against the advice of basically every expert in this field within his administration. The top leaders within the Republican and Democratic Parties have come out against trashing the current agreement as well as basically all of the leaders of the European Nations. All leaders of the Nations who helped create the agreement have told Mr. Trump not to scrape it, that it is not in the best interest of the world to scrap this deal. May folks besides Mr. Trump think that this is not a very good overall deal with Iran, yet they do say that this deal is a whole lot better than no deal at all. The experts in the field say that if he scraps the agreement that Iran could have a nuke within a year, under the current deal most articles I have read on the issue say that under the current agreement it will take them at least 10 years. So, the current agreement is a lousy one yet the experts around the world say we can build on this current agreement to try to create peace with the Mullah’s in Tehran.

 

Now, concerning the crazy little fat boy in North Korea and his missile programs. Mr. Trump has acted like a first grade bully who meets another on the playground who is just as ignorant as he is. Usually in cases like this they send in proxies to fight for them, just like the big Nations tend to do. Mr. Trump has behaved like a little spoiled brat (that he actually is) toward another little spoiled brat in Mr. Kim. Thing is that these two over grown children both have nuclear weapons, so the question now is, who blinks first?

 

Mr. Trump want’s a ‘win’, he is willing to make his own party in Congress/Senate look bad on these Nuclear issues, as long as he feels like he wins. I sometimes wonder who the biggest idiot is in the realm of global leaders, I now know how I would answer that quiz question if it were asked of me. I used to think that the biggest idiot that I personally had seen in the Oval Office was George W Bush yet he is a genius compared to this total idiot sitting in that chair now. The world is filled with very dangerous people who are the rulers of Nations as well as leaders of Terrorist organizations. We the American people need a level-headed, honest person in the Oval Office who truly does, put America first. I do not know if we the people will ever be allowed to vote for an honest intelligent person for our President, but it is totally obvious that this egomaniac we have in Office now, is not such a person. Folks, this mans ego could cost several million lives, this is not a reality TV program and it is not a board game, it is a very deadly game that requires intelligent leaders and we do not have one of those sitting in the Oval Office.

Senator Bob Corker Lets Us Know What He Thinks Of Donald Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker suggested Wednesday that Gens. John Kelly and James Mattis as well Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the “people that help separate our country from chaos,” a stinging criticism of President Donald Trump from a man once considered an ally in Washington.

Asked directly by a reporter whether he was referring to Trump in using the word “chaos,” Corker, who announced last month he would retire in 2018, responded: “(Mattis, Kelly and Tillerson) work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration that don’t. I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.”
Stop for a second and re-read that last paragraph. The sitting Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee is suggesting that if Tillerson was removed from office (or quit), the national security of the country would potentially be in danger. And he’s refusing to knock down — and thereby affirming — the idea that Trump is an agent of chaos who pushes policies that are not always “sound” or “coherent.”
That. Is. Stunning.
Corker also blasted Trump for undermining Tillerson — most recently with a weekend tweet suggesting that the secretary of state’s diplomatic work to solve the North Korea crisis would fail.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
Corker said that Tillerson is “in an incredibly frustrating place,” adding: “He ends up not being supported in the way I would hope a secretary of state would be supported. … He’s in a very trying situation — trying to solve many of the world’s problems without the support and help I’d like to see him have.”
Those comments land amid reports that tensions between Trump and Tillerson are worse than ever. They also come on the same day Tillerson held an impromptu press conference to dismiss that he has ever considered resigning his post, but also refused to deny that he had called the President a “moron” during a moment of pique over the summer.
This is also not the first time that Corker, who was once mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick and was on the short list for secretary of state, has been overtly and harshly critical of Trump. Corker drew national headlines in August when he suggested that Trump“has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
Trump responded back via Twitter: “Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18. Tennessee not happy!”
Trump and Corker eventually huddled at the White House to make amends and, according to reports, Trump asked Corker to run for a third term. Less than two weeks later, Corker announced he was retiring.
Corker’s comments Wednesday are rightly read as a continuation of his August remarks. Then, he openly questioned Trump’s stability and competence. Now he is making clear that if not for Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly, Trump would be leading the nation — and the world — into chaos.
There’s no question that Corker feels freer to speak his mind without the worry of angering the President and potentially stirring up a serious primary challenge. But what’s even more important/scary to contemplate: If this is Corker saying what he really thinks about Trump, what must the rest of Republicans in the Senate and House think of their President? And when will they speak out?

Should Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Tell President To “Take This Job And Shove It?”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO MAGAZINE)

 

In our combined 50-plus years at the State Department, neither of us ever witnessed as profound a humiliation as a sitting president handed his secretary of state Sunday morning.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” the president tweeted. “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

Even if they’re playing good cop-bad cop, this is a shocker: Donald Trump is basically announcing that any negotiations with North Korea are worthless. This not only undercut Tillerson personally, but also undermines U.S. interests and the secretary of state’s sensible decision to talk to the North Korean regime. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring while Tillerson is in Beijing to prepare for the president’s trip to China next month—so the president kneecapped his own top diplomat in front of America’s chief rival in Asia.

Is this the final straw for Tillerson? The secretary of state clearly has not helped himself. Through his budget cuts, his focus on departmental reorganization at the expense of appointing assistant secretaries, his reliance on a tiny inner circle of outsiders and his maladroit use of the press, Tillerson has isolated himself within his own department. The Beltway foreign policy blob has already written him off as the worst secretary of state in history, and clearly others are hovering (U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley says she doesn’t want the job, but if you believe that, or if John Bolton make similar protestations, we have an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to sell you).

But in all fairness, the former ExxonMobil chief has never been empowered by his president. He’s been undercut repeatedly by this White House—see Kushner, Jared—and by Trump personally, even (especially) when he’s making the right diplomatic moves. And there’s no sign that any one of the vultures circling around Tillerson would be able to change or transcend this dynamic.

So for those of you calling for Tillerson to resign after Trump’s latest humiliation, we suggest you lie down and wait quietly until the feeling passes. Sunday’s tweets—and the past nine months, frankly—are exhibits A-Z that in Trump land, it might not matter whether Tillerson resigns or who replaces him. Here’s why:

***

Who speaks for America?
There are many peculiarities about how foreign policy is made (or not) in the Trump administration. Trump is the first president in our memory who has not at least gone through the motions of making it clear that his secretary of state is the sole repository of authority and the administration’s public voice on foreign policy. Not every secretary of state carries the same influence with the president. But never have the world and Washington faced a situation where there was no single go-to address (below the president, of course) to understand what U.S. foreign policy is, who’s articulating it and who to turn to for guidance or direction in trying to interpret it.

In Trump land, either by design or default, a cacophony of multiple voices are not just competing for the president’s time, attention and favor in private (which is very normal)—they’re actually carrying out the policy and shaping it publicly (which is not so normal). Kushner, for instance, grabbed or was given the primary lead on the Arab-Israeli issue and has played a major role in shaping U.S. interactions with China and Saudi Arabia. Gary Cohn seems to have the lead on Trump’s climate policy, such as it is. Wilbur Ross is playing an unusually substantive diplomatic role for a commerce secretary. Foreign capitals listen closely to Pentagon chief James Mattis, whose pronouncements are often interpreted as brushbacks of the president. And over at the U.N., the hawkish Haley has emerged as the nation’s loudest voice on foreign policy, largely by speaking unscripted about everything from Syria to Iran to North Korea.

And then of course there’s Trump, the ultimate blooming flower who in tweets, phone calls and speeches makes his own foreign policy on the fly, frustrating and confounding his top advisers. On issues from Qatar to North Korea to Iran, Trump contradicts his own secretary of state or ignores what is almost always his sound advice—for example: urging the United States to stay in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord, taking a hard-line on Russia, advocating negotiations and dialogue to defuse the mounting crisis with North Korea, advocating for continued U.S. adherence to the Iran nuclear deal, taking a neutral position in the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and reassuring jittery allies, from South Korea and Japan to our NATO partners, that America still has their back.

The painful reality is that should Tillerson depart, his successor would likely confront the same series of problems, and a president who is unwilling to send a clear signal on where his secretary of state stands in the foreign policy pecking order. There are three keys to success for a secretary of state: opportunities abroad to exploit; the negotiating and political skills to do it; and, most important, the backing of the president. Sure, Tillerson has made some rookie mistakes and unforced errors in running the State Department. But his credibility and effectiveness have largely been undermined by his treatment by Trump.

A world in chaos
No matter how capable a secretary of state may be, success also turns on a cooperative world. Without the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, there would have been no opportunity for Henry Kissinger to demonstrate his formidable mediation skills and to produce three disengagement agreements within 18 months. Had Iraq not invaded Kuwait, James Baker would have been deprived of the opportunity to pull off the Madrid peace conference. Sure, secretaries of state can make some of their own luck. But the truly big diplomatic breakthroughs really do require consequential changes in the neighborhood first; then, a talented negotiator backed by a willful president can exploit them.

Sadly, the world in which America operates today has many serious problems, but almost none that offer opportunities for transformative or heroic outcomes. Even successful transactional outcomes, such as managing the Iranian nuclear issue, seem improbable. The cruel reality is that Tillerson has inherited a set of extraordinarily difficult problems that can only be managed and not solved. Just as Tillerson has reportedly come to hate his job, his successor would come to see going to the office—or the White House—the same way most people feel about a trip to the dentist.

Take a look around: From North Korea, where only somebody completely unhinged from reality would be talking about military options and denuclearization of Kim Jong Un’s regime; to managing an aggressive and crafty Vladimir Putin with a president who either has a blind spot for or is beholden to Russia; to an Israeli-Palestinian conflict trapped between a two-state solution too important to abandon but too hard to implement and a clueless president who likens a deal to buying and selling real estate in New York City; to a divided Europe that finds Trump mercurial, erratic and incomprehensible (and that’s on a good day); to an Iran that is expanding its influence in the Middle East and sitting atop a potential nuclear program one screwdriver’s turn away from a weapon while the president seems bent on making this problem infinitely worse.

These are forbidding challenges. Even if you had a secretary of state in a class of a Kissinger or a Baker, we’re far from certain the outcomes of any of these problems could be shaped in a way that were determinative, let alone favorable to the United States. We don’t have a secretary of state of this caliber, and we’re not going to get one if Tillerson leaves. What we do have is a president who has compounded the degree of difficulty of even managing these issues and created longer odds for whoever sits on the seventh floor at Foggy Bottom.

A hollowed-out Foggy Bottom
Those who are calling for Tillerson’s scalp miss another important point: The State Department, institutionally, is only a shell of its former self, and it’s not just because a few good men and women have bolted over the secretary’s reform and reorganization plans. The problems run much deeper than what the department’s org chart looks like. Over the past couple of decades, dozens of missions and authorities have steadily migrated from State to other agencies of the federal government, or disbanded altogether; at one time, the department housed the U.S. Information Agency, the foreign agricultural service and the foreign commercial service. More recently, the Defense Department has been given increased authorities—to go along with its massive resources, which State cannot match—to run its own security assistance programs, seriously encroaching on State’s statutory authorities for controlling the allocation of resources to help other countries train and equip their forces. Adding to the loss of the department’s clout has been the Balkanization of U.S. foreign assistance, as more and more domestic agencies run their own boutique foreign aid programs. Whether Tillerson stays or goes, these missions, authorities and programs are long gone—and they ain’t coming back.

Even more importantly, the State Department is no longer primus inter pares in the foreign policy and national security cosmos, and it has been this way for some time. No matter who is in the Oval Office, the National Security Council staff and the president’s national security adviser now run all the most sensitive foreign policy issues out of the White House. Foreign economic and foreign trade policy, though larded with foreign policy implications, are also managed either out of the White House, in the Treasury Department or elsewhere. Mattis and the Pentagon are the big dog on the block, running three major wars and a host of lesser military operations with a budget that makes State’s puny appropriations look like chump change. The war on terror, the preoccupation with homeland security and keeping out what the White House considers undesirables, and the need for actionable intelligence to prosecute all these enterprises has moved DHS and the intelligence community toward the top of the national security food chain. And above all this sits a president who has shown nothing but contempt and lack of understanding for the State Department, its mission and the dedicated men and women who work there.

***

So, belittle poor Secretary Tillerson if you must; close your eyes and make a wish that after T. Rex we’ll get another secretary who has the vision of Dean Acheson, the toughness of George Shultz, the diplomatic panache of Kissinger or the political and tactical instincts of Baker. But it’s magical thinking to believe that Tillerson’s successor could fundamentally alter the downward trajectory of the State Department or do much more to fix the world’s problems. As long as Donald Trump is president, more likely than not, the Department of State is going to remain closed for the season.

Aaron David Miller is vice president for new initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center, and the author of The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.
Richard Sokolsky is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former member of the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning.

America’s new world order is dead:—China And Russia Are The New World Order?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAPAN TIMES)

 

America’s new world order is dead

China and Russia have derailed the post-Cold War movement toward U.S.-led global integration

BY 

BLOOMBERG

American foreign policy has reached a historic inflection point, and here’s the surprise: It has very little to do with the all-consuming presidency and controversies of Donald Trump.

For roughly 25 years after the Cold War, one of the dominant themes of U.S. policy was the effort to globalize the liberal international order that had initially taken hold in the West after World War II. Washington hoped to accomplish this by integrating the system’s potential challengers — namely Russia and China — so deeply into it that they would no longer have any desire to disrupt it. The goal was, by means of economic and diplomatic inducement, to bring all the world’s major powers into a system in which they would be satisfied — and yet the United States and its values would still reign supreme.

This was a heady ambition, one that was based on the idea that Russia and China were heading irreversibly down the path of political and economic liberalization, and that they could eventually be induced to define their interests in a way compatible with America’s own.

Yet that project has now unmistakably reached a dead end. The new goal of U.S. strategy won’t be to integrate rival great powers into a truly global world order, but to defend the existing international system — successful yet incomplete as it is — against their depredations.

This conclusion may be difficult to accept, because it flies in the face of the enormous optimism that characterized the post-Cold War era. As the superpower contest ended, democracy and free markets were spreading like wildfire, walls were falling and geopolitical divisions were disappearing.

Even Russia and China — America’s longtime geopolitical rival and the next great power looming on the horizon — were showing interest in greater cooperation and integration with the U.S.-led international community. It seemed possible that the world was moving toward a single model of political and economic organization, and a single global system under American leadership.

Encouraging this outcome became a chief preoccupation of American policy. The U.S. sought to deepen diplomatic ties with Boris Yeltsin’s Russia and to encourage democratic and free-market reforms there, even as it hedged against potential Russian revanchism and European instability by expanding NATO to include the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.

Similarly, Washington pursued “comprehensive engagement” toward China, focused on integrating Beijing into the global economy and encouraging it to take a more active role in regional and international diplomacy. The theory of the case was that a richer China would eventually become a more democratic China, as the growth of the middle class produced pressures for political reform. America’s integration policy would simultaneously give Beijing an equity stake in the existing, U.S.-led liberal order and thereby deprive Chinese leaders of reasons for challenging it.

As President Bill Clinton’s administration described it, this approach was one of “seizing on the desire of both countries to participate in the global economy and global institutions, insisting that both accept the obligations as well as the benefits of integration.”

This strategy, which was summed up by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in 2005 as the “responsible stakeholder” model, reflected an admirable aspiration to permanently leave behind the intense geopolitical and ideological competition of the 20th century. Yet, as has become increasingly clear over the last decade — first in Russia, and now in China — that approach was based on two assumptions that have not withstood the test of reality.

The first was that China and Russia were indeed moving inexorably toward Western-style economic and political liberalism. Russian reform ground to a halt in the late 1990s, amid economic crisis and political chaos. Over the next 15 years, Vladimir Putin gradually re-established a governing model of increasingly undisguised political authoritarianism and ever-closer collusion between the state and major business interests.

In China, economic growth and integration into the global economy did not lead inevitably to political liberalization. The ruling Communist Party instead used dizzying economic growth rates as a way of purchasing legitimacy and buying off dissent. In recent years, the Chinese political system has actually become more authoritarian, as the government has assiduously repressed human rights advocacy and independent political activism, and centralized power to a degree not seen in decades.

The second assumption was that these powers could be induced to define their own interests the way the U.S. wanted them to. The trouble here was that Russia and China were never willing fully to embrace the U.S.-led liberal order, which emphasized liberal ideas that were bound to seem threatening to dictatorial regimes — not to mention the expansion of NATO into Moscow’s former sphere of influence and the persistence of U.S. alliances and military forces all along China’s East Asia periphery. And so, as Beijing and Moscow obtained, or regained, the power to contest that order, they increasingly did so.

Russia has, over the past decade, sought to revise the post-Cold War settlement in Europe by force and intimidation, most notably through the invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Putin’s government has also worked to undermine key institutions of the liberal order such as NATO and the European Union, and it has aggressively meddled in the elections and domestic political affairs of Western states.

China, for its part, has been happy to reap the benefits of inclusion in the global economy, even as it has increasingly sought to dominate its maritime periphery, coerce and intimidate neighbors from Vietnam to Japan, and weaken U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

American officials hoped that Moscow and Beijing might eventually become satisfied, status quo powers. Instead, as Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution has written, they are behaving in classic revisionist fashion.

The age of integration is thus over, in the sense that there is no realistic, near-term prospect of bringing either Russia or China into an American-led system. This does not mean, however, that America is destined for war with Russia and China, or even that it should seek fully to isolate either power.

For better or worse, U.S.-China trade remains vital to American prosperity and the health of the global economy; cooperation between Washington and Beijing — and even Washington and Moscow — is important to addressing international diplomatic challenges such as nuclear proliferation and climate change.

What this does mean, however, is that the U.S. needs to become both tougher and less ambitious in its approach to great-power relations and the international system. Less ambitious in the sense that it needs to set aside the notion that the liberal order will become truly global or encompass all the major powers anytime soon. And tougher in the sense of understanding that more strenuous efforts will be required to defend the existing order against the challenge that revisionist power represent.

This will require taking difficult but necessary steps, such as making the military investments needed to shore up U.S. power and deterrence in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific, and developing capabilities needed to oppose Chinese coercion and Russian political subversion of their neighbors. It will require rallying old and new partners against the threat posed by Russian and Chinese expansionism. Above all, it will mean accepting that great-power relations are entering a period of greater danger and tension, and that a willingness to accept greater costs and risks will be the price of meeting the revisionist challenge and preserving American interests.

In short, the goal of achieving a fully integrated world is no longer achievable today. Successfully defending the existing international order that the U.S. has successfully constructed and led over the years will be challenge — and accomplishment — enough.

Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1 percent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1 percent and uneven benefits for the middle class, report says

 September 29 at 2:03 PM
The analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a leading group of nonpartisan tax analysts, challenges President Trump’s promise about the effects of the plan.The top 1 percent would see their taxes drop by more than $200,000 on average, the analysis found.

But nearly 30 percent of taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see a tax increase within a decade — despite Republican promises that the plan is designed to provide relief to middle-class Americans, according to the study.

The majority of those making between $150,000 and $300,000 would also be hit with higher taxes.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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