On Friday, as the full weight of the Mueller report sunk in, proving far more damning that Attorney General William Barr’s memo, Trump dismissed the findings as “total bullish*t.”
That statement seems at odds with Trump’s earlier claim that the Mueller report exonerates him of all wrong-doing.
Raw Story spoke with Howard H. Covitz, Ph.D., a psychologist-psychoanalyst, about the President’s likely state of mind.
Covitz was for many years Director and Training Faculty of the Psychoanalytic Studies Institute and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies in Philadelphia, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. His Oedipal Paradigms in Collision was nominated for the Gradiva Psychoanalytic Book of the Year.
He’s also taught university-level mathematics and psychology in the past. His connectedness to his wife, grown children, and grandchildren motivates his activism.
He contributed his wide-ranging insights to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Professionals Assess a President,” edited by Bandy X. Lee, which was re-released last month alongside a major Washington conference on presidential fitness (dangerouscase.org).
Raw Story: How did you come, as a psychoanalyst to enter public discussion about a public figure? Isn’t there a rule against professionals speaking in psychiatric terms about public figures?
Howard H. Covitz: I am a staunch advocate of that rule in all situations when there is no risk of catastrophic danger to others. I have chosen to speak out because a man was elected President (and given unimaginable powers to do good and evil) who shows the signs of those people who are prone to doing others harm.
For him, if I take his words seriously, life is a zero-sum game, and he must win all the time. The Psalmist said not about Trump but about the God that so many of his followers devoutly worship: “To God belongs the Earth and all that it contains” (Psalm 24). That’s not the way God-complex Trump sees it…. Furthermore, I must say, that any armed person who is not President and who is doing and saying what Donald Trump says often and openly would be whisked off by the gendarmes to a psychiatric facility for testing.
Raw Story: The Mueller report appears to at least legally clear Trump of collusion with Russia, although obstruction is still an open question. How do you explain Trump’s extreme negative reaction?
Howard H. Covitz: Since Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, we in the mental health community noted in him, one, an inability to see others as people in their own right (subjects with their own needs and intentions) but rather to see them as instruments for his use. Two, a splitting of the world into with-me and against-me camps, and three, an apparent lack of impulse control. He also appears to have no respect for extant organizations, laws or accepted wisdom. He’s shown an absence of nuanced thought (in addition to any question of cognitive decline). He’s demonstrated having only one truth, namely what he wishes to be true. The fact that he has nearly unlimited powers that are not being checked by the Senate or anyone else leaves the values of the Republic and the welfare of the world arguably in grave danger.
Raw Story: How do you think this information will land on the President’s supporters, given Trump’s unique relationship with his base?
Howard H. Covitz: We know the power of the mob and its allegiances to tribal beliefs. But beyond this, we know that the Fourth Estate, to a significant extent, has been wittingly or unwittingly complicit in treating many of Trump’s positions AS IF they were reasonable … they have been complicit, that is, in normalizing the pathological as during the rise of authoritarian regimes.
Having said that, it is difficult to believe that there will not be defections from the Trump cult, if room is made for these people who saw in Trump hope for a better day. I expect there to be efforts (either from the Right or from Russian bots) to paint the progressive camp as seeing half or more in the MAGA camp as “deplorables.”
Speaking not as a psychoanalyst but as a citizen, father and grandfather, it is absolutely necessary for us to avoid any further alienation of the right, including the Religious Right.
Raw Story: Do you envision the President doubling down on his agenda, including severely restricting immigration? Plus, today the President called the report “total bullshit” even though he also claimed it exonerated him. Why can’t the President stop while he’s ahead?
Howard H. Covitz: If, indeed, the elected President’s publicly displayed behaviors are indicative of severe pathology (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), the likelihood of his responding to the pressure of being exposed in any constructive manner is essentially zero.
We have made inroads into treating some such people with success, but this is a lengthy process and is not accomplished under the type of duress that the President is being exposed to with the damning pictures in Mueller’s report. We see from even the redacted report that, without the likes of John Kelly and teams of legal consultants, the six characteristics mentioned above would have moved him to even more dangerous and illegal positions.
He is being portrayed in the report as one who can be controlled – the Emperor, in the report, does indeed have small hands, so to speak. How someone like he will be able to integrate the public shaming that this brings forth for him is not predictable but should be a source for grave concern.
That having been said and, again, assuming again that his pathological behaviors are not all a show, we may presume either an increase in these disturbing behaviors (pulling out of NATO, declaring national emergencies for whatever he chooses to do, ramping up tensions with Iran, using the full-force of the executive branch to leash friends and whip foes, … ), or a psychic collapse.
We saw a notable change in his behavior when he left the White House on Thursday for Mar-a-Lago and refused to take any questions. The next days and weeks should clarify which of these paths he chooses and how much and what kind of violence he chooses to promote. It is impossible to precisely predict the future actions of someone who apparently lives under the belief that après moi le deluge.
These are, in my estimation, the most dangerous times thus far in Trump’s presidency … Dangerous for the republic with dangers for the world and dangerous for my grandchildren.
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Critics Blast Hypocrisy of Attacking Fetterman’s Debate Performance While Supporting Herschel Walker
Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman‘s performance in Tuesday night’s U.S. Senate debate against Dr. Mehmet Oz was quickly praised by many supporters on social media, and quickly criticized by GOP voters and especially the mainstream media – the very same people, as some pointed out, who praise and embrace Herschel Walker despite his acknowledged mental illness and clear struggle with basic policy.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke just days before winning the Democratic nomination for that U.S. Senate seat for Pennsylvania, has been open about his challenges and the use of what is basically a speech-to-text, or closed-captioning instrument that allows him to read what others are saying in real-time. There is no indication he has cognitive impairment, and he and says the situation is temporary.
Fetterman’s physician, Dr. Clifford Chen, “said Fetterman exhibited no effects on his ‘cognitive ability’ or his ability to think and reason after the stroke,” the Associated Press reported last week. He is “recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve.”
The Nation’s Elie Mystal, who is also a popular guest on MSNBC, framed the debate.
“Sounds like Fetterman cleared the Herschel Walker bar. Don’t know why everybody else is complaining,” he wrote.
But as some pointed out, the lack of basic compassion for Fetterman has been striking.
“My God,” tweeted Pulitzer Prize winning USA Today columnist and New York Times best-selling author Connie Schultz Tuesday night after the debate, “the blue-check [high-profile] people here mocking John Fetterman during this debate, as if they are immune from the randomness of illness and infirmity. Time catches up with everyone, no exceptions. Few would have his courage to recover so publicly.”
Veteran “Saturday Night Live” co-head writer Bryan Tucker summed up some of the hypocrisy, just after the debate ended.
“There’s gonna be a lot of people criticizing John Fetterman tonight for occasional incoherence who also fully support Herschel Walker,” he wrote.
Walker has acknowledged he suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, which was once known as multiple personality disorder. Walker claims that thanks to God he has “overcome” it, a claim experts disagree with.
“You can get better,” Stanford University psychiatry professor Dr. David Spiegel told The New York Times. “But it doesn’t just evaporate.”
Steve Morris, a political journalist at John Heilemann’s The Recount, says, “Fetterman’s performance was objectively very bad but it’s a pretty big indictment of political media that it’s treated as worse than Herschel Walker revealing disconnection from basic reality – not knowing a federal minimum wage exists or that senators have government healthcare.”
He also posted video supporting his claim.
A reminder of Herschel Walker, sans stroke:
“If you have an able-bodied job, you’re gonna have healthcare. But everyone else have healthcare is the type of healthcare you’re gonna get. And I think that is the problem.”https://t.co/wubymzEZ2N
— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) October 26, 2022
Herschel Walker is not known to have been diagnosed with CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. But conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan earlier this month wrote, “it’s amazing that the possibility of CTE has barely been raised, even though he has shown classic symptoms — no impulse control, murderous rage, incoherent speech, and even multiple personalities — for decades.”
Last week Tufts University Professor of Psychiatry Nassir Ghaemi, M.D., M.P.H., wrote in Psychology Today about Walker’s Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis and about the possibility of CTE.
“The most salient feature of Walker’s biography is that he is a famous football player. As is well known, American football is associated with repeated concussions and very high rates of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),” Ghaemi writes. “Typical symptoms of CTE are depression, marked impulsivity, violence, suicidality, and, eventually, cognitive decline. Walker, as he has noted, has described some of his psychiatric symptoms, and they mostly represent impulsivity, violence, and suicidality.”
“CTE does not go away,” he adds. “It gets worse over time. So if it is present, it would be concerning.”
Meanwhile, what, exactly, is the “political media” saying about Fetterman’s debate performance?
Immediately after the debate, Axios posted an alert: “Fetterman’s painful debate.”
“Multiple sources wondered why Fetterman agreed to debate when he clearly wasn’t ready,” wrote Axios’ Josh Kraushaar and Alayna Treene – a claim that many disagree with. “Fetterman struggled at times to respond to the moderators’ questions, even with the assistance of a closed captioning device.”
Axios cited an unnamed “Democratic lawmaker and Fetterman backer” who told them, “Why the hell did Fetterman agree to this?”
“This will obviously raise more questions than answers about John’s health,” they wrote.
Compare Axios’ treatment of Fetterman’s likely temporary challenge to how it treated Herschel Walker’s debate against Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock.
Not a single word about Herschel Walker’s acknowledged mental illness, or, as Morris (above) wrote, his “disconnection from basic reality – not knowing a federal minimum wage exists or that senators have government healthcare.”
Axios’ Emma Hurt reported that “The two Georgians answered a range of questions about abortion, inflation, Vladimir Putin and student debt relief. But they also faced questions about various controversies in their personal lives.”
As if both candidates – one who suffers mental health challenges that have reportedly led to violent threats and was “alleged to have preyed upon veterans and service members while defrauding the government,” and one a sitting U.S. Senator and pastor – were pretty much the same in ability and cognition.
“So John Fetterman, who will recover his mental acuity, shouldn’t be a Senator, But Herschel Walker, who has no mental acuity and never will, should. Is that the Republican line today?” asked Joe Conason, Editor-in-chief of The National Memo.
Politico’s Ryan Lizza and Eugene Daniels took a similar tack as Axios.
“Let’s state the obvious,” they claimed. “John Fetterman struggled to effectively communicate during his one and only Senate debate with Mehmet Oz Tuesday in Harrisburg.”
“Fetterman failed to meet even the low expectations his own campaign set for him Monday,” they continued.
“Voters are not doctors. Many are myopic, distracted, and quick to make judgments with limited information. If there’s one thing everyone knows about campaign debates, it’s how superficial they are,” the Politico pair wrote. “The median voter in Pennsylvania is a middle-aged white person with a mid-five-figure salary who did not attend college. That demographic is perhaps the least likely to be following the Fetterman ableism debate on Twitter and MSNBC.”
Policy researcher Will Stancil responded to Politico’s take.
“Herschel Walker and Donald Trump are both a lot less coherent than Fetterman, who understands policy but jumbles his words. Somehow you don’t get long rationalizations in POLITICO about how voters could be surprised by their incoherence, though.”
“Meanwhile Fetterman just wasn’t very slick. But he wasn’t out there talking about invisible planes or injecting sunlight, like Trump, or saying ‘If you have a job you have healthcare’ like Herschel Walker said, incomprehensibly, on a debate stage last week,” Stancil added.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, also pointing to the same Politico piece, says, “This seems like a strangely insular way to read the politics of Fetterman’s condition. It doesn’t account for even the *possibility* that some swing voters might see it thorough the lens of their own struggles with adversity. Yet this very demographic does face such struggles.”
“The ‘median voter in PA’ doesn’t need to follow the ‘ableist’ debate to see Fetterman’s struggles through the lens of their own. Even if you think the debate cuts against him on net — which is unclear at best — this possibility needs to be at least part of the discussion,” Sargent adds.
Conservative attorney and Principles First Founder Heath Mayo objectively summed up the apparent hypocrisy.
“If you thought Fetterman’s debate performance suggests he should not be a US Senator… you can’t support Herschel Walker either. Period.”
Who Are The 33 House Republicans Sponsoring the Vigilante Federal ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill?
Thirty-three of the most extreme House Republicans are sponsoring blatantly anti-LGBTQ “vigilante” legislation that is so broad and so poorly written it could effectively ban any and all mention of gender to children under 10 in any federally-funded facility or program. LGBTQ activists and others are calling it a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but it’s actually far more encompassing.
Similar to anti-abortion legislation out of Texas and now other states, the bill could reward anyone who files a complaint.
The text of Johnson’s bill says it is is designed to “prohibit the use of Federal funds to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, and for other purposes.”
Under “findings,” the bill laments, “Certain school districts that receive Federal grants have implemented sexual education for children under 10 years of age,” and “Many newly implemented sexual education curriculums encourage discussions of sexuality, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and gender ideology as early as kindergarten.”
The bill does not put any numbers or specifics to these “findings,” but it does appear to equate sexual orientation solely with homosexuality, and gender identity only with being transgender.
Congressman Johnson’s bill also attacks libraries that have “sexually-oriented literature and materials that target preadolescent children and teach them about concepts like masturbation, pornography, sexual acts, and gender transition,” while calling drag queen story hours “sexually-oriented events.”
The legislation bans any federal funds from being used for “any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, including hosting or promoting any program, event, or literature involving sexually-oriented material, or any program, event, or literature that exposes children under the age of 10 to nude adults, individuals who are stripping, or lewd or lascivious dancing.”
It provides definitions that appear to be intentionally broad.
For example: “The term ‘sexually-oriented material’ means any depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.”
In other words, a man and a woman kissing in a play hosted by a federally-funded theater or college could by definition be banned – or children under 10 would have to be.
New York City’s Public Theater “Shakespeare in the Park” would have to ban any child under 10 from attending most productions. (Similar “Shakespeare in the Park” events are held each year in over two dozen cities across the country, any may or may not receive federal funds.)
The legislation specifically mentions federally-funded museums. Johnson’s legislation would force many museums to either ban children under 10 or place some works of art out of sight of children, say, in a back room or behind a curtain.
Harvard Law’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society clinical instructor Alejandra Caraballo, an attorney, this week blasted Johnson’s bill, exposing several disturbing aspects.
“Universities, public schools, hospitals, medical clinics, etc. could all be defunded if they host any event discussing LGBTQ people and children could be present. The way they define ‘sexually oriented material’ simply includes anything about LGBTQ people,” she writes.
Pointing to the vigilante aspect of the bill, Caraballo says it “includes a private right of action against any government official AND private entity for a violation. This is [Texas] SB8 style bounty lawsuits against anyone accepting federal funds. This will be a ban on all discussion of LGBTQ people in any entity that received federal funds.”
Caraballo goes on to liken the legislation to Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBTQ law, which led to horrific violence.
“This is the American version of Russia’s gay propaganda law passed in 2013. This is their end game. To censor and ban LGBTQ from all public life and force them back into the closet,” she says.
And while right wing news outlets are focusing on the drag queen aspect of the bill, as Caraballo notes, “In reality, the way the law is defined, it could apply to a school that has a screening of Buzz Lightyear.”
On a more personal note, Caraballo writes: “It is so incredibly dehumanizing and hateful for congressmembers to draft a bill that would define under federal law who I am as a queer trans woman as being “sexually oriented.” As if my very existence is harmful to children. It’s disgusting, heinous, and monstruous.”
Blogger Melissa Hillman, PhD, issues a similar warning.
“Republicans are planning to force LGBTQ Americans out of public life. They’re pretending any mention of LGBTQ people is ‘sexual content.’ It comes w a bounty hunter provision like Texas’ abortion ban. We could lose every American freedom in one election.”
So which Republicans re sponsoring this bill?
There are currently 33 original co-sponsors, including Congressman Johnson, who falsely claims that Democrats “are on a crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology at school and in public.”
Freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), who last year positively invoked Adolf Hitler, is one of the original sponsors. This week lauding Johnson’s bill she appeared to threaten anyone who opposes the legislation, tweeting: “Don’t mess with our kids!“
“We will not allow radical elites to use taxpayer dollars on perverted sex-ed curriculum and dangerous transgender policies that harm our children,” Miller said, adding she is “proud to join” Rep. Johnson “in signing onto the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act!”
The original cosponsors include: GOP Representatives Bob Good (VA), Brian Babin (TX), Jeff Duncan (SC), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Doug Lamborn (CO), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Lauren Boebert (CO), Greg Steube (FL), Debbie Lesko (AZ), Daniel Webster (FL), Ralph Norman (SC), Randy Weber (TX), Van Taylor (TX), Mary Miller (IL), Lance Gooden (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Glenn Grothman (WI), Bill Timmons (SC), Clay Higgins (LA), Steve Womack (AR), Tracey Mann (KS), John Joyce (PA), Scott Franklin (FL), Burgess Owens (UT), Matt Rosendale (MT), Russ Fulcher (ID), Tom Tiffany (WI), Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Andrew Clyde (GA), Michael Guest (MS), and Dan Bishop (NC).
(Links in bold above lead to NCRM’s coverage of those specific lawmakers.)
George Conway Exposes Three Games Trump’s Lawyers Are Playing With FBI Affidavit
Multiple media outlets have asked a judge to unseal the affidavit that justified the search, and Trump and his lawyers have publicly called for that evidence to be revealed — but Conway told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that it’s telling that they haven’t joined the request in court.
“Chances are good that while they would like to know the names of now two, possibly two people inside calling, you know — the call coming from inside the house,” said host Joe Scarborough. “Maybe there are two people now inside of Mar-A-Lago or inside of Trumpworld informing on him.”
“Donald Trump will do what Rudy does outside of courthouses and howl and make a scene,” Scarborough added. “But go inside the courtroom and stay silent. What Republicans in Washington, D.C. know, and I had friends tell me a couple days ago, it’s one of the reasons this IRS conspiracy theory started, is when they figured out how bad this is going to be for Trump. They’re trying to change the subject.”
Conway said Trump’s attorneys were essentially juggling three balls in the air.
“They’re trying to have it three ways,” he said. “They’re being mendaciously three-faced about it. First of all, they themselves would like to see the affidavit because, you know, Tony Soprano wants to know who is the rat. They want to see who is finking on them. That’s one. Two is, they don’t want us to see the affidavit because it’s bad. It’s a long affidavit, and it is going to have a lot of information about a lot of people saying a lot of bad things about the bad things that the president, the former president of the United States, did and how he squirrelled away these documents and refused to give them back when he was repeatedly told he had to give them back and was subpoenaed to return them. Then, third, they want an issue, a B.S. issue, so they can send out the fundraising grift emails to raise money by saying, ‘Oh, they’re hiding the affidavit from us.'”
Watch the video below or at this link.
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