Morality and Michael Cohen

Wednesday’s testimony and the crisis of American conscience.

I often wonder who didn’t love Donald Trump. I often wonder who left an affection void that he has tried to fill by winning attention, which is not the same thing. He’s turned his life into a marketing strategy. As Michael Cohen said in his testimony on Wednesday, even the presidential campaign was a marketing campaign to build the Trump brand.

In turning himself into a brand he’s turned himself into a human shell, so brittle and gilded that there is no place for people close to him to attach. His desperate attempts to be loved have made him unable to receive love.

Imagine what your own life would be like if you had no love in it, if you were just using people and being used. Trump, personifying the worst elements in our culture, is like a providentially sent gong meant to wake us up and direct us toward a better path.

Nonetheless, his kind of life has an allure for other lonely people who also live under the illusion that you can win love and respect with bling and buzz. Michael Cohen was one of these people. He testified that in serving Donald Trump he felt he was serving a cause larger than self. Those causes were celebrity and wealth.

.. Getting arrested seems to have been a good education for Cohen. He now realizes that Trump will not provide him with the sustenance he needs. I believe that Cohen basically told the truth in his testimony on Wednesday, but I don’t believe that he is a changed man.

There is none of the purgation of self and transformation of spirit that happens among people who have truly been altered. He’s just switched teams and concluded that the Democrats can now give him what he wants, so he says what appeals to them. That may be progress, but it is not moral renewal.

Cohen has left the Thugs for Trump club and passed that baton to certain House Republicans. I would have loved to have been in the strategy session when the House Republicans decided to be incurious about Trump’s sins and crimes but to rip the skin off Cohen.

Normal people have moral sentiments. Normal people are repulsed when the president of their own nation lies, cheats, practices bigotry, allegedly pays off porn star mistresses.

Were Republican House members enthusiastic or morose as they decided to turn off their own moral circuits, when they decided to be monumentally unconcerned by the fact that their leader may be a moral cretin?

Do they think that having anesthetized their moral sense in this case they will simply turn it on again down the road? Having turned off their soul at work, do they think they will be able to turn it on again when they go home to the spouse and kids?

Chaos? A Trump Specialty

As Congress sees a shutdown as increasingly inevitable, the president sees a chance to show more swagger.

Mr. Trump’s embrace of a shutdown has given lawmakers on both sides the freedom to throw up their hands and claim this whole mess is beyond their control. The mood around the Capitol is less one of urgency and activity than of fatalism. Last week, Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Congress looked to be “headed down the road to nowhere.

.. Not only did Speaker Paul Ryan fail to mobilize lawmakers for a vote on Mr. Trump’s $5 billion, but many lame-duck members couldn’t be bothered to show up for work at all. (Nothing like an electoral rout to take the starch out of a conference.) Counting, much less whipping, the vote became all but impossible. By Thursday, House leaders gave up and sent members home for a six-day weekend.

.. On the Senate side, Mr. Schumer’s office is insisting that everything depends on whether the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, can persuade the president to embrace a deal that Democrats can live with. The latest offer on the table is for a one-year “continuing resolution,” or C.R., that would delay the fight by temporarily funding parts of the government at current levels.

Shutdowns are especially fertile ground for Mr. Trump because they pit him against a political establishment that, as he sees it, obstinately refuses to pay proper deference to his genius. He has repeatedly voiced frustration at Congress’s unwillingness to lie back and let him run things as he sees fit.

Threatening to throw the government into chaos — to furlough, or in the case of personnel deemed “essential,”withhold paychecks from hundreds of thousands of workers, includingFood and Drug Administration inspectors, Transportation Security Administration inspectors and, paradoxically, Border Patrol agents — lets him exact a bit of cathartic payback, reminding lawmakers just how uncomfortable he can make their lives.

Chest thumping and trash talking remain central to Mr. Trump’s brand as a disrupter. His followers thrill to him precisely because of his pugilistic, vaguely unhinged personality. The more he rails against politics as usual, the more his base swoons.

As for those who see Mr. Trump as behaving like a petulant toddler, he doesn’t have to face their electoral judgment for another two years — an eternity in politics.

For now, the president can relish playing the tough guy. Even if he winds up folding, he’ll doubtless toss out some alternative facts and declare victory. As usual, he has ensured that this holiday season’s drama is all about him.

Have you ever met Donald Trump in real life? Is he the same person that the media portrays him to be? How is he different when not seen through the eyes of the media?

Yes, I have. Several years ago, I was invited to be a tag-along at a dinner with The Donald by some very influential friends in the Boca Raton area. I wouldn’t say I was particularly excited, but hey, who doesn’t love a little dinner theatre every now and again?

He. Would. Not. Shut. Up. About. Himself.

The entirety of the two-hour dinner (amazingly, in retrospect, not at a Trump-branded establishment) was devoted to a single speaker and a single subject: The Donald, as narrated by The Donald. His business acumen. His latest coup of a deal. His fabulous lifestyle, his plane, his prowess with the ladies (Melania was not in attendance, and he leered at any server with a skirt). Any time anyone tried to get a word in edgewise to perhaps discuss a business deal or a point of common interest, he would immediately turn it back onto himself, with phrases like “Oh, that reminds me of when I…”

He is exactly the man I met years ago. The media portrays him as a self-absorbed, narcissistic buffoon, and that is who I found him to be. He did actually speak entirely in complete sentences during the dinner; I believe that when he takes the podium, he is actually terrified, and his brain leaps from topic to topic, attempting to gain applause. Perhaps that’s why he seems so scattered. He was less so at dinner, but then again, there were only 12 of us in total, and most at the table were ardent fans from whom he had to win no approval. I was not. He probably hated me for it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I found him to be a cravenly self-seeking yet painfully ordinary man. Were it not for his “pedigree,” he would be the guy permanently seated at the far end of the bar that nobody wants to talk to. Yes, money talks, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen. I did, but I wouldn’t have missed anything had I not.

I think Donald Trump is amazing. What would you say to change my mind?

I like Chris Oleary’s answer best. I don’t think I can top that, but there are few behavioral points I would like to point out. I myself am an independent. I have voted both Republican and Democrat in the past. I am, however, anti-Trump. I disagree with almost all of his policies, but that isn’t why. It is because of his behavioral patterns:

ANTECEDANT: A popular comedian or actor goes on record making a joke about the president

BEHAVIOR: Trump publically insults that person in a way that is opinion based and can’t be proven

CONSEQUENCE: Trump gets a ton of attention in the media; behavior is reinforced.

A: Policies of a non-democratic leader come into question

B: Trump declines to weigh in or makes a public suggestion that if the US makes money off those actions then they will not be condemned

C: Trump gets more support by non-democratic leaders and more media attention. Behavior is reinforced.

A: Migrants walk toward the US for whatever reason

B: Trump blames it on democrats

C: Trump gets more media attention and validation from his base. Behavior is reinforced.

A: Racial issues come to light that incite violence in the US

B: Trump calls himself a nationalist and makes comments about home countries of minorities

C: Trump gets more attention from the right wing extremists. Behavior is reinforced.

These behaviors are not democratic or republican. They do not serve republican ideals. There are many responses he could come up with that further the goals of the Republican party. These behaviors are designed for self gratification only.

You may be saying- ok, what’s the point? The point is that in order for Trump to continue to receive the attention that he seeks, he has to continue to publically react to events that are highly non-democratic in a way that invokes an extreme reaction from the public. As the presidency goes on, these behaviors will become more and more extreme. He may have to create situations himself just so he can react to them.

At some point he will grow bored of validation from his base and require a new set of situations that will bring about the reinforcing consequence of extreme attention. Eventually, he will have to one up himself every time he interacts with the public.

Because his need for attention greatly out ways his ability to create stability, he is a ticking time bomb. His suppors think that he is a loyalist. He is not. He will grow tired of their praise and require more attention from the American people and the world. When that time comes he will put things like civil liberties, amendments, laws and even his own base supporters aside in order to get that reinforcement.

No one is curbing his behavior. Since he is the most powerful man in the world, maybe no one can. It serves you now, but eventually it won’t. When the rights of hard working Americans like you start to be an afterthought for Trump, don’t say no one told you so. He goes where the attention and the deal is. Believe me, if he decides his base is not that, he will utterly betray you AND the party. THIS is not a man you should trust. He wants to be on the loudest and most victorious team. Period.