The fantasy of the normalization of Donald Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.
First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?
For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.
This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.
The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees continued
I have tried to explain character organization to people who keep expecting Trump to become more sober and statesman-like. From the beginning, I said he would never be different. There is a long, well-documented history that indicates that this isn't an act. If you really understand his character, you can understand why he is dangerous. At best, he will be a kleptocrat who makes decisions that primarily serve his own material interests while somehow managing to avoid an economic or military catastrophe. But the downside possibilities of a character like this are real and unthinkable. I hope our political institutions are solid enough to check the kind of dangerous populism and catastrophic irrationality this man could unleash.
From time to time I use systematic desensitization/exposure therapy to treat a phobia (example). Most often, I've used it with fear of public speaking. A bit of explanation for those unfamiliar with this treatment: First, I test an individual to see if they can experience anxiety or even panic by imagining the phobic situation. There are techniques that can be used to trigger the anxiety if the person has trouble recreating the phobic anxiety through imagination alone.
After we know that we can elicit the anxiety in the office, we create an anxiety hierarchy or scale. For example, for a person with a snake phobia, imagining that they are leaving their home to drive to a reptile house might rank at the low end of their scale. Arriving at the reptile facility might be at the middle range. Standing near someone holding a snake would be at the high end, while actually holding the snake would be at Defcon 1.
We create a hierarchy with small but increasing anxiety increments, perhaps ten or fifteen steps of increasingly provocative imagined situations related to the phobic situation. Next, I teach the person deep muscle relaxation, which is a technique that accomplishes exactly what the name implies. The person achieves a state of extreme relaxation.
Over time, the patient will work their way through the hierarchy, learning to maintain deep relaxation while vividly imagining the anxiety-provoking situation. This approach rests upon the principle of reciprocal inhibition, which means that one cannot experience two mutually incompatible inner states simultaneously. So if the patient can learn (incrementally) to maintain deep relaxation while imaging the feared situation, their fear level declines upon exposure to the phobic situation. Trust me, it works, although sometimes, rather than doing it in the office, it's more effective to do it in vivo, (in real-life situations). What I do when possible, is a combination of in-office, and in vivo treatment.
One additional modification is use of the drug propanolol (a beta blocker) in the treatment. Sometimes people who must periodically face the phobic situation (e.g. public speaking) while undergoing treatment, can benefit from taking propanolol shorty before a premature phobic exposure. The drug generally prevents panic, which is desirable while the person is undergoing systematic desensitization. Panic attacks in the phobic situation while we're working on systematic desensitization, can slow treatment progress.
All of this requires a great deal of work on the part of the patient. Typically, treatment requires 10 -20 weeks of sessions combined with daily practice. It's hard work for the patient, so anything that could accelerate the process would be welcome. Also, there is a small subset of patients who can't utilize this treatment because attempting deep muscle relaxation triggers panic attacks.
The new treatment, isn't actually a treatment yet, but it points to a way that treatment of phobias (as well as PTSD-related anxiety) may be possible with much less time and effort on the part of the patient. From The Guardian:
The new technique, called fMRI decoded neurofeedback (DecNef), was developed by scientists at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Lab in Japan.[...] The procedure uses a computer algorithm to analyse a patient’s brain activity in real time and pinpoint moments when their fears can be overwritten by giving them a reward. Continued
Richard Spencer, the man who coined the term "alt-right" as a rebranding of white supremacy, spoke at an alt-right convention cum Trump victory celebration over the weekend in D.C. Just so we're clear about this movement, here's Spencer speaking to the group in a 3-minute clip.
I've got the week off, except for a couple of reports to write, but today was mostly a play day. We had breakfast at my current favorite breakfast spot, followed by a trip to Costco to buy some Thanksgiving goodies, and then we decorated the tree. Some of that might sound like work, but it was fun.
We're seeing so many stories of people who are feeling free to let their bigot flag fly in the aftermath of the election. Nobody should be treated badly, but I find people who demean service workers particularly offensive, so I'm just going pile on this abusive creep.
CORAL GABLES, FLA. David Sanguesa said he was having a bad day.
But it seems Sanguesa has had many bad days. Wednesday was just the latest. That was the day he was captured on video angrily yelling “Trump!” and “I voted for Trump!” at a barista at a Coral Gables Starbucks when he felt he didn’t get his tall vanilla latte quickly enough because he is white. Then he demanded his money back, calling her “trash” and “garbage.”
Previous bad days: the one in 2008 when he was arrested on a DUI charge. The one a week later when he was again charged with DUI. And the day in 2014 in when he was charged with domestic violence, which was later dropped. And there were all those days, going back years, when he emailed the Miami Herald with rants against Cubans, women, immigrants, gays and lesbians, President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Sanguesa, 53, was identified Thursday after the video went viral. He told the Miami Herald he had apologized to Starbucks — then did a quick turnaround threatening to sue the company for discrimination and causing him to lose business.
“I had a bad day. I was wrong for screaming at her. I have since apologized,” Sanguesa said Thursday morning.
Yes, but then he took it back. He said he has a mental illness. He's still an a**h*le. He says he's going to sue Starbucks. Good luck with that. I hope the Barista is enjoying a little schadenfreude.
Automobiles built for the U.S. market must meet more stringent safety standards than cars built for sale in Mexico. This crash video of the lowest cost Nissan car available in the The U.S, versus the lowest cost Nissan car sold in Mexico, graphically illustrates the effects of those differing standards. The silver Versa is the car built for the American market. Of course, Americans pay for that extra safety in the price of the vehicle, which means that Americans with lower incomes must make trade-offs. They may be forced to give up other goods, or buy older cars or do without an automobile altogether.