When the World Is Led by a Child

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President Trump in Washington on Monday. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist or a big business corporatist.

But as Trump has settled into his White House role, he has given a series of long interviews, and when you study the transcripts it becomes clear that fundamentally he is none of these things.

At base, Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif.

First, most adults have learned to sit still. But mentally, Trump is still a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom. Trump’s answers in these interviews are not very long — 200 words at the high end — but he will typically flit through four or five topics before ending up with how unfair the press is to him.

His inability to focus his attention makes it hard for him to learn and master facts. He is ill informed about his own policies and tramples his own talking points. It makes it hard to control his mouth. On an impulse, he will promise a tax reform when his staff has done little of the actual work.

Second, most people of drinking age have achieved some accurate sense of themselves, some internal criteria to measure their own merits and demerits. But Trump seems to need perpetual outside approval to stabilize his sense of self, so he is perpetually desperate for approval, telling heroic fabulist tales about himself.

“In a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care,” he told Time. “A lot of the people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber,” he told The Associated Press, referring to his joint session speech.

By Trump’s own account, he knows more about aircraft carrier technology than the Navy. According to his interview with The Economist, he invented the phrase “priming the pump” (even though it was famous by 1933). Trump is not only trying to deceive others. His falsehoods are attempts to build a world in which he can feel good for an instant and comfortably deceive himself.

He is thus the all-time record-holder of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the phenomenon in which the incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence. Trump thought he’d be celebrated for firing James Comey. He thought his press coverage would grow wildly positive once he won the nomination. He is perpetually surprised because reality does not comport with his fantasies.

Third, by adulthood most people can perceive how others are thinking. For example, they learn subtle arts such as false modesty so they won’t be perceived as obnoxious.

But Trump seems to have not yet developed a theory of mind. Other people are black boxes that supply either affirmation or disapproval. As a result, he is weirdly transparent. He wants people to love him, so he is constantly telling interviewers that he is widely loved. In Trump’s telling, every meeting was scheduled for 15 minutes but his guests stayed two hours because they liked him so much.

Which brings us to the reports that Trump betrayed an intelligence source and leaked secrets to his Russian visitors. From all we know so far, Trump didn’t do it because he is a Russian agent, or for any malevolent intent. He did it because he is sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.

The Russian leak story reveals one other thing, the dangerousness of a hollow man.

Our institutions depend on people who have enough engraved character traits to fulfill their assigned duties. But there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears. When we analyze a president’s utterances we tend to assume that there is some substantive process behind the words, that it’s part of some strategic intent.

But Trump’s statements don’t necessarily come from anywhere, lead anywhere or have a permanent reality beyond his wish to be liked at any given instant.

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

“We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him,” David Roberts writes in Vox. “It might give us some sense of control, or at least an ability to predict what he will do next. But what if there’s nothing to understand? What if there is no there there?”

And out of that void comes a carelessness that quite possibly betrayed an intelligence source, and endangered a country.

By David Brooks/NYTimes

Posted by The NON-Conformist


City of Cleveland charges Tamir Rice’s family $500 for killing him

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Image: MSNBC

And you thought Chicago cops had a lotta of nerve. And they do. But the City of Cleveland may have them beat.

The City of Cleveland filed a creditor’s claim against the estate of Tamir Rice, the black 12-year old who was fatally shot by police in 2014, for not paying emergency medical service fees, CleveScene reported Wednesday.

The $500 fee is “owing for emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense under Ohio Revised Code,” according to the report.

This is the most recent indignity to be inflicted on Rice’s family since his murder by Cleveland Police Officer Tim Loehmann in November of 2014.  Prior to this, it was the Cuyahoga county prosecutor who brought Loehmann before a grand jury but didn’t actually have the grand jury vote on indicting him.

More from Daily Kos

Posted by Libergirl

(LeBron James, please dig in your couch cushions and pay this stupid ass bill.)

10th-grader admits to murdering parents because they took away iPod

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Posted by The NON-Conformist


[ooyala code=”lkZHcybjree62XMLsthPqIZzLb5u_elY” player_id=”55ce3a06495346ddb20768902d1e991c”]Norfolk, Va. – A smart and talented Norview High School 10th-grader admitted in court today he killed his parents a week before Christmas because he was weary of their seemingly routine punishments, “like my dad taking away my iPod and stuff.”

Vincent Parker attacked his mother Carol as she emerged from an upstairs bathroom in their Bland Street home. He admitted to police he doused his mother with pepper spray, stabbed her in the eye, and then beat her in the face and head with a baseball bat and a crowbar “until she stopped breathing.” A medical examiner identified 25 separate smashes and stabs to Carol Parker’s neck, face and head.

When Vincent’s father Wayne Parker came home, Vincent struck him with a crowbar and stabbed him several times. Wayne Parker lived long enough to tell police what happened. After first trying to say his father was the…

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4 to be tried for attempted murder after Detroit crash

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AP Crash Mob Attack

Image: AP

Four men accused of punching and kicking a motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old Detroit boy were ordered Monday to stand trial on charges of attempted murder after a judge reviewed their statements to police and witnesses testified about the chaotic mob attack.

As Steve Utash continued to recover in a hospital bed, Judge Thomas Jackson found probable cause to move the case to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey introduced statements to police from Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all acknowledging a role in the April 2 attack. They were ordered to trial along with Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, who waived the hearing.

“I pray for the man every day. I hope him and the boy are going to be OK,” Cummings told police, according to Lindsey.

More from USA Today

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Florida teacher suspended for forcing kids to say pledge on Sept. 11 or ‘go to your home country

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Florida teacher suspended for forcing kids to say pledge on Sept. 11 or ‘go to your home country’ (via Raw Story )

A Florida teacher was recently suspended without pay for five days after school officials said that she forced a fourth grade student to violate his religious beliefs and say the Pledge of Allegiance. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the student, whose…


ACLU: Judge Can’t Change Child’s Name From Messiah

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is crying foul at a Tennessee judge who ordered last week that a 7-month-old boy’s name be changed from “Messiah” to “Martin.”

Image: AP, Heidi Wigdahl

Jaleesa Martin and the father of Messiah attended a child support hearing last Thursday in Cocke County, Tenn. to settle a dispute over their child’s last name. But Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew rendered a judgment on the first name as well, ruling that the boy can go by “Martin DeShawn McCullough” to encompass the mother and father’s name. Ballew told TV station WBIR that the “word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.”

Hedy Weinberg, head of the ACLU in Tennessee, told USA Today that Ballew “does not have the right to impose that faith on others.” Weinberg said the ACLU will offer to provide assistance to Martin, who has said she will challenge the ruling.

“Messiah” was one of the five fastest growing male baby names between 2011 and 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.

From Talking Points Memo

Posted by Libergirl

Mother Recounts Racial, Physical Assault Of Son On Plane

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Image: ktvu.com

Sixty-year-old Joe Rickey Hundley used a racial slur and then slapped a Minneapolis toddler on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta on Feb. 8.

From the time Jessica Bennett sat down in her seat with her 19-month-old son Jonah, the man next to her began complaining.

Jessica says he was drinking, and becoming increasingly belligerent. Hundley, an Idaho resident, behaved hostile towards the mother and son before take-off.

“I said ‘Oh, we’re sitting next to you,’ and he just basically rolled his eyes and growled at us,” Jessica said.

Jessica says Hundley was drinking and complained to the crew that Jonah was too big to sit on her lap.

“I could just tell that he was annoyed with his comments. He’s turning my light back on after I would turn it off, and constantly saying things to the staff in regards to my son. And so I took us out of the situation and we stood back by the bathrooms,” she said.

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