Apparently there are some people close to Donald Trump with the capacity for shame. Not decency or courage, of course, but at least furtive recognition that they’re complicit in something vile.
.. The New York Times reported on a mother deported to Guatemala without her 8-year-old son. In The Washington Post, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics described a shelter for toddlers where staffers aren’t allowed to hug or hold the bereft children.
.. ProPublica obtained a recording of small children wailing for their parentsin a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, while a Border Patrol agent joked, “We’ve got an orchestra here.”
.. several people associated with the White House stepped forward to dissemble. Kirstjen Nielsen, head of the Department of Homeland Security, sent out a series of tweets denying that the administration’s policy was in fact the administration’s policy. “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” she lied.
.. Melania Trump’s spokeswoman put out a slippery statement distancing the first lady from the president’s actions and sowing confusion about their cause. “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the statement said, as if her husband were not responsible for the separations.
.. Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, claimed that “nobody” in the administration likes the policy.
.. It’s hard to tell if these women are engaged in deliberate gaslighting or frantic reputation maintenance.
.. Perhaps Nielsen is worried about her post-White House prospects now that she’s best known for the systematic traumatization of children.
.. Maybe Melania Trump realizes that being the trophy wife of a child-torturer is bad for her brand. (#BeBest!)
.. no one should be able to squirm out of admitting that the evil practice of family separation is Donald Trump’s doing, abetted by everyone who abets him.
.. while some Trump apologists — as well as Trump himself — deny their role in tearing families apart, others in the administration boldly own it. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry, period,” Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller told The Times.
.. The only alternative to the current policy, they say, is what they call “catch and release,” a dehumanizing term borrowed from fishing
.. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, dispatched this argument in a Facebook post on Monday. “The administration’s decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice. Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong,” he wrote. Some in the administration, he added, “have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage.”
.. The administration’s justifications and denials are meant to obscure that fact. Consider Nielsen’s suggestion, during a speech on Monday, that the administration is worried about child smuggling
.. Officers separated them — according to a lawsuit, Ms. L could hear her daughter in the next room, screaming — and the girl was sent to Chicago while her mother was held in California.
.. When the A.C.L.U. sued on Ms. L’s behalf, officials claimed they’d taken the girl because Ms. L couldn’t prove she was her parent. The judge in the case ordered a DNA test
.. “The truth is they’ve been doing this all along for deterrence purposes, as sometimes they boldly said in the press,” Lee Gelernt, an A.C.L.U. lawyer who argued the case, told me. “But when confronted in a federal lawsuit, they tried to retroactively justify it by saying they couldn’t figure out whether it was the mother.” It’s hard to know who’s worse — the sociopaths like Miller who glory in the administration’s cruelty, or those who are abashed enough to lie about the filthy thing they’re part of, but not to do anything else.
The Office is not a random series of cynical gags aimed at momentarily alleviating the existential despair of low-level grunts. It is a fully realized theory of management that falsifies 83.8% of the business section of the bookstore. The theory begins with Hugh MacLeod’s well-known cartoon, Company Hierarchy (below), and its cornerstone is something I will call The Gervais Principle, which supersedes both the Peter Principle and its successor, The Dilbert Principle. Outside of the comic aisle, the only major and significant works consistent with the Gervais Principle are The Organization Man and Images of Organization.
one of the most telling documents might be a yellowed, four-page psychiatric evaluation from 1960 that details the father who raised Stephen Paddock until he was 7 and who loomed over the family even after he disappeared.
.. “I get the impression he enjoys being an interesting subject of examination,” the doctor wrote. He concluded that Mr. Paddock was bright, with no history of “mental defect,” and was able to stand trial. But, the doctor added, Mr. Paddock had a “sociopathic personality.”
.. Benjamin Paddock had boasted during his psychological evaluation that his run-ins with authority started early and rarely stopped. He was an only child, pampered by his mother and not disciplined by his father. “I got away with an awful lot,” he told his evaluator. “I went where I felt like it, disrupting everybody’s schedule.” By 12 he was driving his own car.
Jay Rosen, a media scholar at New York University, has been arguing for months that “many things Trump does are best explained by Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” and that journalists should start saying so. In March, the Times published a letter by the psychiatrists Robert Jay Lifton and Judith L. Herman, who stated that Trump’s “repeated failure to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and his outbursts of rage when his fantasies are contradicted” suggest that, “faced with crisis, President Trump will lack the judgment to respond rationally.”
.. . Philip Zimbardo, who is best known for his Stanford Prison Experiment, and his co-author, Rosemary Sword, propose that Trump is an “extreme present hedonist.” He may also be a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, borderline, on the bipolar spectrum, a hypomanic, suffering from delusional disorder, or cognitively impaired.
.. Lyndon Johnson was bipolar, and John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton might have been characterized as “extreme present hedonists,” narcissists, and hypomanics. Richard Nixon was, in addition to his narcissism, a sociopath who suffered from delusions, and Ronald Reagan’s noticeable cognitive decline began no later than his second term.
.. Alexander Esenin-Volpin, one of the founders of the Soviet dissident movement, receive his medical documents, dating back to his hospitalizations decades earlier. His diagnosis of mental illness was based explicitly on his expressed belief that protest could overturn the Soviet regime. Esenin-Volpin laughed with delight when he read the document. It was funny. It was also accurate: the idea that the protest of a few intellectuals could bring down the Soviet regime was insane. Esenin-Volpin, in fact, struggled with mental-health issues throughout his life. He was also a visionary.
.. at the same time, they are analyzing what we all see: the President’s persistent, blatant lies (there is some disagreement among contributors on whether he knows he is lying or is, in fact, delusional); his contradictory statements; his inability to hold a thought; his aggression; his lack of empathy. None of this is secret, special knowledge—it is all known to the people who voted for him. We might ask what’s wrong with them rather than what’s wrong with him.
.. the election reflects “a woundedness at the core of the American group Self,” with Trump offering protection from further injury and even a cure for the wound. The conversation turns, as it must, from diagnosing the President to diagnosing the people who voted for him. That has the effect of making Trump appear normal—in the sense that, psychologically, he is offering his voters what they want and need.