Trump

Trump and Authority Figures

Trump and Authority Figures

                        Robert A. Levine 8-22-22

The conflict occurring between Donald Trump and the Justice Department should not be surprising to anyone who has followed The Donald over the years. This narcissistic behemoth has had difficulty with authority figures all of his life, especially those who disagree with him or contest his authenticity or beliefs. Perhaps it can be traced back to his relationship with his father who provided the funds to start The Donald on his quest for success, and bailed him out at times when he failed. Like his father, Trump has never had any compunctions about bending the rules or ignoring them completely in actions that favor him financially or politically. His father Fred lied about his German heritage after WW II, claiming that he was Swedish. In his real estate dealings he was manipulative and deceptive, paying off politicians at times to get his way. He saw life as being continuous combat and his son followed in his footsteps. People were either successful or losers and both father and son never wanted the latter identification.

As a child, Trump was a disciplinary problem and loved to fight, getting into trouble with school authority figures. To bring him under control, his father sent him to the New York Military Academy, hoping to instill discipline in The Donald. He spent his first year of college at Fordham then transferred to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where it is rumored that he was admitted because of a donation from his father. Subsequently, he went into the real estate business with seed money from his father with a number of his projects going bankrupt. The same is true of his airline and online university, though he claims to have been a successful businessman.  

His ability to spout various claims and lies, and overt actions that conflict with the norms of society have frequently placed him in confrontations with various authority figures whom he tends to dismiss as lying or being beneath him. But while he may call these people names and label them in vicious and terrible ways, he has been unwilling to substantiate many of his claims in areas where they called him to task. Why has he never released his tax returns unlike every other presidential candidate? Trump says he’s a billionaire and it may be true but he’s never presented evidence of it. He calls himself a genius but has threatened to sue any institution that releases his grades or SAT scores. Of what is this “genius” afraid? Trump did not even know that Finland was not part of Russia according to some of his national security advisors.

He claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. However, aside from speaking in ambiguities, he and his minions have offered no proof of any significant fraud that could have altered the election. He continues to harp on the contention that he won the election because he doesn’t want to be labeled a loser and can use election denial to raise funds. But in multiple cases where he has gone to the courts for redress, he has been turned down for lack of any evidence. Even so, the majority of his base believes the lie that the election was stolen.

In the past when dealing with federal officials regarding violations and housing discrimination in the buildings owned by his firm, he has called them Gestapo agents. Similarly, he has labeled the FBI as Gestapo for searching his home in Mar-a-Lago for classified documents under court order. In keeping these documents, he did not believe that the rules applied to him. He constantly taunts the authority of the mainstream media, describing their information as fake news when it places him in a bad light. He dismisses the actions of the courts when they rule against him.

Trump is a malignant narcissist who believes he is above the law, can say and do what he wants and no authority can touch him. The sad thing is that the vast majority of Republicans believe him.

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The Loser

The Loser

       Robert A. Levine

The term “loser” has haunted Donald Trump since his childhood, but even moreso as an adult. To “The Donald,” the worst epithet in the world is loser. He has some deep psychological fear of people thinking of him as a loser. This need to avoid being labeled, or thought of as a loser has motivated a number of his actions, some of which have been illegal or ethically questionable. He has lied about his grades and class standings in prep school and his colleges, and has threatened to sue his schools if they released his grades or SAT scores. He has bragged that he is a genius when his general knowledge is known to be paltry (Finland as part of Russia?).

To provide extra protection for himself against others describing him as a loser, he has exaggerated his wealth and dismissed his bankruptcies and debts as the machinations of a smart businessman taking advantage of establishment rules. He has denigrated the elites when he has been unable to buy acceptance and has denounced and insulted institutions that have rejected him. Trump has always been a boor and a bully, his behavior keeping him from the status he so ardently desires. Discerning people see him for who is and want nothing to do with him.

Since he has been involved in politics, it has become even more important for him to cast off any suggestion he is a loser. Trump refuses to acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election and claims that it was stolen from him by Biden and the Democrats. (According to Trump, losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was because illegal immigrants had voted.) Even before the 2020 election, when the polls had him lagging behind Biden, he claimed that the election was going to be rigged, giving him an excuse when he believed he might lose.

Many people in America perceive Trump as a riveting orator and entertainer, particularly those leaning right. If those in his base lack knowledge of the facts, they readily accept what he tells them as the truth. They are unwilling or unable to independently seek out the facts and instead listen to those in the media and politicians who back Trump’s lies. Trump does not care about the damage he has done to America’s democracy and democratic institutions.

His actions since the election, with his initial efforts to overturn the results and the January 6th attack on the capitol at his behest, have been unlawful. Trump’s behavior has completely ignored past political norms in his quest to prevent his being labeled a loser. Asking Republican state officials to “find” votes for him to overcome his deficits in those states certainly sounds like a president pressuring people in lower government positions to do his bidding and cheat the voters out of their choice.  Is this not a criminal act for which he should be punished? Even at this late date, he is still pursuing ways to overturn the election. Trump’s continued unwillingness to accept his loss suggest a disconnect from reality and serious psychiatric illness.

Because he has been able to convince so many of his followers that the election was stolen, Trump has driven a deeper cleft between the right and the left, in elected officials as well as in the general public. This has made it difficult for governmental bodies on a federal level to pass necessary legislation because of increased polarization between the parties that he has further inflamed. Aside from a few brave souls, Republican elected to office at all levels have publicly backed Trump’s assertion that the election was stolen, afraid that Trump might turn his base of believers against them if they acknowledge that he lost. Privately, however, many of them recognize that Trump did actually lose the election.

In many Republican dominated states, elected officials and state legislatures have been changing the laws to make it more difficult for minorities and people of color to vote, because they tend to support Democrats. This is being done based on the lie that the last presidential election was stolen and to prevent it from happening again.

It is close to two years now after the 2020 election and Trump persists in spreading his lies and denying that he lost. He is willing to subvert American democracy merely so that he will not be known as a loser. But in fact, he is the ultimate loser, a traitor to his country, because of the harm he has caused to the American system of government. A loser is a loser and Trump has well earned his reputation as a loser by those Americans who are aware of the truth.

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A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?

A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?                                                                                                            

Robert A. Levine      

McConnell and Trump got what they wanted. A partisan Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority. McConnell prevailed by using unethical tactics, but he did not care. Though Trump and McConnell did not and still don’t see eye to eye on many issues, they both agreed that a conservative Supreme Court was a vital matter and any means that were necessary to reach their objective was worth it: by hook or by crook and they used both. No moral or ethical compass for either.

The unethical procedures began in the last year of Obama’s presidency when a seat opened up on the Supreme Court and the president nominated Merrick Garland, a centrist candidate who was well thought of in legal circles for the position. Disregarding precedent, McConnell decided that a nominee for the highest court should not be confirmed in the last year of a president’s term. This had never happened before, but McConnell proclaimed a new rule. He was hoping that a conservative Republican would next win the presidency and nominate a conservative candidate for the Court. His wishes were granted and Trump was elected president because of the arcane and undemocratic mechanism of the Electoral College, even though Trump lost the popular vote.

Trump’s initial nominee to the Court was conservative Neil Gorsuch who took the seat that should have gone to Merrick Garland. His second nominee was conservative Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of attempted rape by Professor Christine Blasey Ford when he was a high school student, and of sexual assaults on other occasions. He was also known in high school and at Yale as a heavy drinker. The FBI was not given permission by Trump and the Justice Department to look into all the complaints of sexual assault before Kavanaugh was confirmed by a Republican majority Senate. It was believed that Kavanaugh had likely lied to the Senate when questioned about the assaults.

The most hypocritical confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee shepherded in by McConnell came at the end of October 2020 when President Trump only had two and a half months left on his term. Amy Coney Barrett, another conservative was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate, 52-48. She rose from being a little known law professor at Notre Dame to the Supreme Court in three years. Mitch McConnell simply changed his mind about nominating a member of the Court in the last year of a presidential term when that person happened to be a staunch conservative. And it wasn’t in the last year but the last two and a half months. Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice who was held in very high regard in legal circles.

Prior to Trump’s presidency in 2013, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the main part of the 1965 voting rights act by a 5-4 vote, allowing nine states, mainly in the South, to alter their voting laws without obtaining federal approval in advance. The Court said that society had changed and federal supervision was no longer necessary. Since then, there have been major efforts to suppress minority voting in a number of states, by making registration and voting much more difficult. In fact, the Justice Department recently sued the state of Texas for their restrictive laws, a case that is certain to go before the Supreme Court. This term, the Court will also rule on a restrictive law regarding abortion passed by the state of Mississippi. Given the questioning by the Court of both sides, it is likely that Mississippi’s law will be upheld and Roe v Wade may even be overturned.

It is sad for our democracy that presidents who lost the popular vote have handed the Supreme Court over to conservatives who were confirmed by Senators who in total had less popular votes in being elected than their Democratic opponents. Is this the way democracy works? Unfortunately, it is. The only way this partisan Court can be changed is by Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and voting to expand the number of justices on the Court. Limiting the terms of justices so there is more frequent turnover would also be a sensible idea.     

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