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A psychopathological interpretation of Trump and trumpism

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“Social cohesion in all societies is based on authority, and the more rigid, unquestionable, or, politically-speaking, absolute authority becomes, the more hierarchical and repressive societies tend to be. Subordination to a strict authority, whether it be embodied in the stern father…or, analogously, in a powerful leader of an absolutistic state, makes tremendous demands on individuals, especially if obedience is elevated to the status of the primary moral obligation in private and public life. It does not allow an individual to disobey—that is, to ventilate the aggression or dissatisfaction that subordination routinely induces—in a socially or politically acceptable manner.”

Lonnie R. Johnson, historian

Johnson wrote that paragraph, in his book “Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends.” He was referring to the way in which absolute despotism, and its attendant horrors, routinely arose in Central Europe: from the witch hunts of medieval Germany to the pogroms of Ukraine to the dictatorships of the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns to Hitler’s gas chambers. But he might have had Trump’s regime in mind.

All U.S. presidents are authority figures, by definition. But none in our history ever aspired to the level of absolute authority like Trump. We witness his desire to repress all opposition in his repeated slurs of the media as “fake,” in his attacks on the Democratic Party, in his extortion of Zelensky, in his threats to annihilate Republicans who dare cross him, in his obstruction of the Congress by refusing to comply with lawful subpoenas, in his violent State of the Union address last night, and in a hundred other ways.

The subordination to him by his acolytes, which he demands, makes, as Johnson notes, tremendous demands on them. Some of these demands are psychological—indeed, psychopathological. The repression that the stern father imposes on the child shows up, years later, in all manner of mental imbalances, most especially rage and its hand maiden, violence. When the repressor has the vast powers of “an absolutistic state,” rather than a mere father, the demands are correspondingly greater: a stern father can make life unpleasant for a disobedient child, but a stern state can make life impossible for her—or end her life altogether. Nor can the repressed child ventilate her dissatisfaction: To do so risks being socially isolated and shunned. This is why so many Republicans repress their own reaction to Trump: they bury it beneath the purview of consciousness. For, if they admitted to themselves the horror to which they have abandoned all pretense of religion, decency and morality, they could barely live with themselves.

In psychoanalysis, the person who yields to an authoritarian figure is known as an “aggressive-subservient personality type.” Their subservient nature is expressed through the obedience with which they “obey orders.” The adjective “aggressive” is interesting; it implies that a resulting “reaction formation” occurs in the repressed person, which expresses itself in violence towards a perceived “enemy” who is—naturally—defined by the authoritarian figure. Trump has signaled his repressed followers to take their anger—which is really towards themselves—and aim it instead at foreigners, Moslems, Mexicans, gays, liberals, women, disabled people, the poor. When, as Johnson observes, the “absolutistic state” becomes ever more repressive and total, the violence towards perceive “enemies” moves beyond mere rhetoric into physical forms: the roundups, the street attacks, the cattle cars, the camps, the gas chambers.

Johnson, the historian, seems almost to describe the current state of the Republican Party in America, in this note concerning Hitler’s ideology. “[N]ationalism and racism, the idealization of the German nation…and the degradation of alleged enemies can be explained as psychological mechanisms. The device of negative integration was a characteristic of imperial German nationalism: the ability to portray ‘internal enemies’—Communists; Socialists; Catholics; Jews; and Polish, Danish and French minorities—and ‘external enemies’ as so subversive or threatening that ‘good Germans’ would close ranks against them.”

Sound familiar? It’s straight out of the Trump playbook, except that, in place of Jews and Catholics, you have Moslems, and in place of Polish, Danish and French minorities, you have dark-skinned people, especially Mexicans.

Roundups, camps and gas chambers is, obviously, the worst-case scenario with this Trump regime, but history teaches us that it’s not impossible. “It can’t happen here,” Sinclair Lewis warned us, satirically; but it did. Acquitted in the Senate, as Trump will be later today, unleashed from the yoke of Mueller and Ukraine and everything else, more beloved and feared than ever by the aggressive-subservient personality types who follow him, and more unhinged, Trump now is likely to brook no opposition whatsoever. And his Republican henchmen in the Congress, in for a dime, will figure they might as well be in for a dollar. There’s no reason to expect they’d stop him from doing anything he wants.


In the Bay Area, we like winners

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We’re sad in the Bay Area: The 49ers lost the Super Bowl on Sunday. That was heartbreaking enough, but it’s doubly tragic, because nobody even expected them to have a winning season, much less end up in the Super Bowl.

When the clock finally ticked out at Hard Rock Stadium, with the Chiefs winning 31-20, a deathly silence settled over my neighborhood (and over the entire region, I expect). Had the 49ers won, there would have been raucous cheering and applause. Instead—nothing. In every apartment and home, sadness infiltrated, like the Angel of Death. There would be no victory parade down Market Street in 2020.

We here in the Bay Area have a history of winning sports teams. The Niners have won five Super Bowls. More recently, the Warriors captured three NBA titles. And then there were the Giants, whose three World Series victories—2010, 2012 and 2014—made the city delirious with joy (and made a superstar out of Timmy Lincecum).

We’re a city of winners. San Francisco’s congressional representative, Nancy Pelosi, is the Speaker of the House of Representatives (second in the line of succession to the presidency, after the Vice President). San Francisco’s former mayor, Gavin Newsom, now the Governor of California, is a likely presidential contender in the future. One of our Senators, Kamala Harris, briefly caught the national spotlight when she ran for president; you’ll be hearing more from her. And our senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein, has been a famously effective Senator since her first electoral victory in “the year of the woman,” 1992.

It’s not just politics and politicians that make us winners. San Francisco itself is often considered the most beautiful city in America. It retains that status, despite its problems with homelessness. We have Silicon Valley just to the south, the greatest economic and technological engine on Earth. There’s wine country and Redwood forests to the north, the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, and, of course, the mighty Pacific Ocean, whose shoreline—in sharp contrast to the addled coast of the Atlantic—is protected from development because Californians had the wisdom to pass the requisite environmental laws.

All in all, we have quite a lot to be proud of here. Republicans, on the other hand, have spent decades trashing San Francisco, heaping every conceivable nasty insult on us. Whenever I hear them diss us, I’m reminded of their jealousy and vindictiveness. They come here every chance they get, to visit and dine in our restaurants and sightsee—and then they go home and babble about “San Francisco Democrats,” or “libtards, or “nuts and fruits.” Trump has even led his crazed rallies to chant “Lock Her Up!” about Feinstein!

Well, I suppose what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. After all, most of us Californians wouldn’t want to live in the trailer parks of rural Mississippi or the evangelical wastelands of Kansas. Not only do most Republican sanctuaries have terrible weather, but they lack the cultural amenities and intellectual vibrancy Californians love. Californians also appreciate inclusiveness, and the small-minded parochialism of Republican precincts is a turnoff for us. That’s not at attack on anybody’s religion; but it is to suggest that we don’t cotton to having others impose their bigotry upon us.

So we’ll mourn the 49ers loss for a few more days. It’s all good. There’s always next year. It would have been fun, had the Niners won, to witness many, if not most, of them boycotting a White House visit (as many of the Warriors did in 2017 and 2018). Trump would have aired his grievances on Twitter, while the rest of us chuckled. But, alas, it’s not to be. That’s sports for you: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Hopefully, you win more than you lose! Which reminds me: We are going to win in the November elections! We’re going to elect a Democratic president, we’re going to elect a Democratic Senate, and we’re going to increase our majority in the House.

I would be remiss if I didn’t get in a word about the chaos in Iowa. Even now, as I write—Tuesday morning—nobody knows who won. Trump will make much of this, of course: “The Democrat Party can’t even manage a caucus, and they’re asking you to let them run the country!” It’s a good line and will find traction among his MAGA hat-wearing droolers, but I don’t think most American will blame an app malfunction on the Democratic candidate, whomever he or she is. Right now, in the midst of the uncertainty, there’s some speculation that Mayor Pete may end up getting the most votes. If he does, I’ll utter the famous catchphrase of my boyhood—“How ‘about that?”—which the N.Y. Yankees’ announcer, Mel Allen, used to use, whenever Mantle hit one out of the park, or Berra made a flying catch. “How ‘bout that?” will perfectly express the surprise and satisfaction of a Buttigieg victory.


Putting the Left-Right divide into historical context

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The clash between Left and Right in America has been likened to our Civil War, with its north-south gradient hinged on the issue of slavery. Although the issues this time are different in detail and geography, this comparison is natural enough, since the internecine war of 1861-1865 remains a linchpin of our national (and emotional) history.

But a more apt analogy might be the collision of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation that marked the late 16th and 17th centuries. The Reformation, you’ll recall, supposedly began when Martin Luther nailed his famous “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenburg (Germany) church in 1517. Protestantism quickly spread after that, as popular dissatisfaction with the Roman Catholic Church sparked northern European countries, including Scandanavia but especially Germany, to bolt from the authority of Rome.

Rome, the world capital of Catholicism, and the Pope who headed the church were not about to sit back and allow their “universal, holy, Catholic and apostolic” church to be destroyed in their own backyard. The Church retaliated, launching the Counter-Reformation; a series of wars ensued that never wholly resolved affairs.

Both sides, as the historian Lonnie Johnson tells us, fought with “an apocalyptic sense of urgency” that “led them to see the world as a battlefield for the agents of God and the devil.” This was “a spiritual battle for souls, a psychological battle for hearts, and an intellectual battle for minds.” In the event, the two sides exhausted themselves into a stalemate: Northern Europe became primarily Protestant (with the exception of Poland) while Mediterranean-southern Europe remained Catholic. (Southeastern Europe, which had long been dominated by the Turks, also saw sizable numbers of Moslems.)

Religious wars tend to be the bloodiest. People imagine they are fighting for celestial ideals, not for mere booty. (The American Civil War was not specifically a religious struggle due to our tradition of the separation of church and state, but the passions on both sides were “religious” in the fury of their convictions.) In the Protestant-Catholic confrontations of the 16th and 17th centuries, both sides committed egregiously extreme acts of violence: German Protestants burned witches while Catholic Inquisitionists torched and tortured heretics. But one side has come to be viewed by historians as far worse than the other. “The doctrinal and organizational centralization of the Roman church,” says Johnson, “made the excesses of its crusaders qualitatively different from Protestant ones.” The Roman church was better organized, by far: it was unified (“Universal”), while numerous Protestant factions vied among themselves, at local levels, for leadership, an historical phenomenon known as “particularism.” Possibly for this reason, the unified Catholics were more brutal.

Viewed from this perspective—and taking into account that, in the long run, nobody “won” the Catholic-Protestant standoff—the current dispute between Left and Right in America can be analogized with some precision. The Reformation is the Left (Democrats), while the Counter-Reformation is the Right (Republicans). The Left became the Reformation because, since the heyday of Franklin Roosevelt, it stood for overturning the corporate-autocratic, conservative, artistocratic domination of American politics and culture, in favor of a popular reformation which took inherited rights away from the wealthy few and redistributed them among the people at large. A part of this revolution—not its central goal, but a consequence—was a diminution of the role of religion, and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular, in favor of what has been called “secular humanism.”

The Right became the Counter-Reformation. Just as the Roman Catholics of southern Europe were not about to permit their church—which was really everything they believed in, their entire way of life–to be assaulted, so too the reactionary Republicans who saw their power ebb away under Democratic “liberal” government decided to fight back. Their various professed motives (an end to abortion, “family values” and a definition of marriage as between man and woman, religious instruction in public schools, anti-“elitism”) were sincere, but in a larger sense, the Right was fighting for a “way of life” that encompassed all these themes, but was larger than all of them together.

If religious wars are bloody, so too are they confusing. Both sides always lay claim to the “truth,” and it can be difficult, even for historians, to discern whose “truth” is “truthier” than the other side’s. In the case of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation struggle, it’s safe to say that historical judgment, as least in the West, has tended to side with the Protestants. For all their many faults, they did stand for Western-style multiplicity, for tearing down the aristocracy (including an addled priesthood), doing away with the fossilized rituals of the Roman church, and handing self-determination and self-realization over to the people at large, while the Catholics seemed to stand for little more than an anti-democratic insistence on clerical (and often irrational) theocracy.

Likewise in our time, the view of history—of reason and common sense—is that the Left is more in keeping with “the moral arc of the universe” than the Right. The Left is humanistic, inclusive, encompassing, rational, and progressive, in the sense that history does seem to have a direction, and that is towards greater freedom. The Right, like the Catholic church of the 16th century, is intolerant and authoritarian, and its self-professed values (such as “family values”) are hypocritical (consider the sexual depravity of so many of their ministers, caught with their hands in the cookie jar of adultery and illicit fornication. Consider, also, the moral dereliction of the Republican president).

I reject the Right because I am American. We fought a War of Independence to free ourselves from the shackles of an outmoded, unfair, uncaring and insane religious authority. The Right now wishes to re-impose a theocracy on our country. This should be reason enough for Americans to rise up and resist it.


Wine Reviews: Lightpost

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I’ve been asked to review several wines from Lightpost Winery, a new brand headquartered on the California Central Coast. The winemaker is Christian Roguenant, whom I knew and respected as the guiding light behind such brands as Baileyana and Tangent—Central Coast wineries that produced excellent cool-climate reds and whites.

Here are my reviews.

Lightpost 2018 Albarino (Edna Valley); $37. Just what you want in an Albariño: bone dry, crisp, and lightly fruity. This is the perfect palate cleanser: it scours everything in its path, like a waterfall of melted snow. Savory, subtle flavors: tropical fruits, Asian pear, white flowers, and a delicate, sea-shelly minerality. And no oak! It’s not needed. The Edna Valley, a cool, Pacific-influenced growing region in San Luis Obispo County, is perfect for these white wine varieties like Albarino. With modest alcohol and searing acidity (a good thing), it’s absolutely lovely, and so food-friendly. Drink now and over the next few years. Score: 92 points.

Lightpost 2018 Pinot Noir (San Luis Obispo County); $49. Here’s a delicious Pinot Noir for drinking now. It’s translucent, with a clear ruby color that you can actually read through, which suggests the lightness on the palate. The tannins are delicately silky, the acidity as fine as a coastal climate can give. But it’s the flavors that impress: the most succulent cherries and raspberries, along with a nice earthy, spicy, mushroomy quality, and a rich vein of smoky, vanilla-tinged oak. Some of the grapes come from the Laetitia Vineyard, in the Santa Maria Valley. The remainder are from Edna Valley. So gulpable, you might want to drain the whole bottle. Score: 91 points.

Lightpost 2018 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $58. A blend of several vineyards in the cooler, western parts of the valley, the 2018 is made from classic Dijon clones: 667, 777 and 115. The wine shows the pure, clean fruitiness associated with these clones: raspberries, pomegranates, cherries and cola. The color is pale, suggesting a certain delicacy, and it does feel light and silky in the mouth. With official alcohol of 14.9%, there’s a trace of heat, but the right food will balance it. There’s also a lot of new oak, 50% new French, but it integrates nicely with the fruit. This is a vigorous, fresh, young wine. The acidity is perfect: stimulating and lively, while the silky tannins are what you expect from a Russian River Pinot. A lovely wine that drinks well now, but should gain a little more bottle complexity in three or four years. Score: 91 points.

Lightpost 2017 Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains); $45. At the age of 2-1/2 years, this complex Chard is a little tired, but it’s fine to drink now. It’s smooth and mellow, with apricot, tropical fruit and citrus flavors. Burgundian technique adds complexities: one-quarter new French oak aging for nearly a year brings the usual butterscotch and smoke notes, complete malolactic fermentation gives a creamy texture, and there’s a lovely touch of yeasty lees. I doubt if this ’17 Chardonnay has a future, but it will provide pleasure over the next year or two. Score: 90 points.

Lightpost 2017 Classic Red Wine (Central Coast); $65. This dark, deeply flavored wine is a throwback to the lusty field blends of the past. With thick tannins and robust flavors, it’s a good complement to pasta with tomato sauce, barbecue, pizza. Savory black pepper spice is the dominant note. Below that, an array of stewed blackberries and plums, a pleasant floweriness, and the chewiness of beef jerky. The finish is thoroughly dry, and while the alcohol level is fairly high (15.65%), the wine is free of excessive heat. A Rhône-style blend based on Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, its grapes were grown throughout the Central Coast, from Contra Costa down to Paso Robles and the Edna Valley. Oak aging, in the form of 50% new wood for 29 months, provides balancing sweet vanilla and toast. This is a solid wine for drinking now, although the price seems high. Score: 88 points.

Lightpost 2018 Spanish Springs Chardonnay (San Luis Obispo County); $42. Oak, oak and more oak is the overwhelming impression here. Buried beneath all that toasted wood, butterscotch and vanilla is a perfectly decent wine: citrusy, tropically and crisp, with a fine streak of minerality and a nice touch of lees. But the oak is so dominant, it’s hard to hear the song the grapes want to sing. Score: 84 points


Here’s the marketing message that’s saving wine

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My generation, the Baby Boomers, gets blamed for a lot of stuff, but one thing we got right was wine. We “made” the U.S. wine industry back in the 1970s and 1980s, when we were developing our esthetic and culinary tastes, and wine fit the bill quite nicely.

I speak of “esthetic” tastes, although I could have referred to “cultural” or “lifestyle” tastes. As a demographic—the largest in U.S. history–we Boomers understood by the late 1970s that we had changed the way America does things, and that anything we embraced en masse was likely to be a trend. Baby Boomers had been trendsetters since we were born, and embracing wine was simply another wave in the demographic tide we launched upon the country.

Wine suited our slightly outlaw sensibilities. It was alcohol, after all—a mind-altering drug, and Boomers knew a thing or two about mind-altering drugs. Alcohol, during the heyday of the Sixties, had a negative aura around it: Bowery bums, cheap bottles of Ripple, throwing up, that sort of impedimenta. No pot smoker or acid head with any self-respect would have been a drinker! But a new generation of vintner-entrepreneurs in California—not Baby Boomers, but older—was completely shifting wine’s rather tarnished image. Wine was no longer booze, but an upscale foodstuff, something you could talk about, study, appreciate intellectually as well as hedonistically, and it fitted in perfectly with our newfound appreciation of food. There was something authentic about wine—and Boomers prided ourselves especially for our authenticity.

It was always a question of whether we could bequeath that appreciation of wine on to the generations who came after us. The industry-wide conversation of the last twenty years, in fact, can in retrospect be viewed as trying to answer that question.

A new report by Silicon Valley Bank on the wine industry contains a mixed message. There’s good news: Yes, Baby Boomers continue to display “spending resilience,” which is a good thing for the industry, and “retiring baby boomers seem to have a long tail and fortunately aren’t quick to run to pasture,” which is also a good thing, especially if you’re a Boomer: it means we’re not all dying off!

But there’s also some bad news. Boomers’ “buying seems to be moderating, both on price and volume, as they age.” This makes sense to me: once we retire, most of us find ourselves on fixed incomes, meaning that we don’t drop $25 on a bottle as easily as we used to. (There’s also the reality that, for many of us, our doctors are telling us to moderate our alcohol consumption, if not eliminate it entirely.)

That means that the industry has “no choice except to market to them [i.e. a younger generation].” Unfortunately, “Millennials aren’t engaging with wine as hoped.” In fact, “millennials have made no move in taking share from boomers in several years.” This is really disappointing for producers. With crops continuing at record levels (meaning there’s plenty of wine in the supply chain), the industry is “at a position of oversupply…that extends through retail [outlets] and every growing region in California at every price point. For California,” the Bank’s forecasters warn, “this is the worst combination of market conditions for growers since at least 2001, and perhaps of all time.”

Scary words! But one of the benefits of advanced age is, perhaps, a more seasoned perspective on things, including disaster predictions. We’ve been here before! In the late 1980s and early 1990s, everyone was predicting the imminent demise of the California wine industry due to phylloxera. Didn’t happen. Similar dire prognostications were heard when lead wine capsules were implicated in human disease, when the dot-com collapse led to a recession, and certainly, when the Great Recession struck in 2008-2009. Then, too, the corporatization of wine signaled, to many analysts, the demise of the family winery. And even as recently as the 1990s, neo-prohibitionism still haunted the industry, as anti-alcohol forces, mainly in the Republican Party, threatened to bring back a [somewhat milder] form of Prohibition.

Happily, the wine industry survived all those threats. And here we are once again, facing another one: Baby Boomers eventually will die, Millennials will not take their place as wine drinkers in sufficient numbers to save the industry, and—the coup de grace?—these same Millennials are turning to craft beer and spirits, not wine, to satisfy their alcohol dreams.

What’s a vintner to do?

The Silicon Valley Bank forecast answers this question in an interesting way, by pointing out the truism that Baby Boomers consumed food “if it wasn’t bad for you,” while “the current generation wants to consume things that ‘are good for you.’” As a Boomer, I can confirm the accuracy of that statement concerning people born between 1946 and 1964. As for “the current generation,” I don’t know how much “what’s good for you” drives their food-and-beverage consumption. But when I see the droves of people in their 20s and 30s in the many wine bars in my neighborhood (many of which tout themselves as “natural”), I am struck by the fact that they’re leaner and apparently healthier than many of their generational counterparts, who so often are sadly obese. This suggests to me that younger wine drinkers are concerned about their physical health. They perceive wine, perhaps a bit inchoately, as somehow “healthier” than beer or spirits (or teetotalism). I’ve been critical of the hyperbole that attaches to the promotion of “natural” wine (which there’s no actual definition of), but I will give the naturalistas credit for this: they came up with a damned good marketing message that may, in fact, get wine through this current uncomfortable phase!


Will there be witnesses? We don’t know

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As I write this (Wednesday morning), we still don’t know if McConnell’s Repuglicans will let Bolton testify. The situation is vague. All we know for sure are (1) Trump doesn’t want any witnesses or documents, because any that come forward will hurt his case by exposing his lies, and (2) McConnell, his lackey, is doing everything he can to prevent a fair trial in the Senate.

Prediction: If the Repuglicans don’t allow witnesses and documents, there’s going to be an explosion of anger and disgust in this country, such as hasn’t been seen in a very long time. If these Repuglicans defy the will of three-quarters of all Americans, who are demanding witnesses, they will pay a severe price, beginning, but not ending, with losing the Senate.

One would hope that wavering Repuglicans know this. Senators like Susan Collins are getting besieged by emails and phone calls from their constituents telling them to heed the will of the voters! I certainly don’t feel sorry for Collins, Gardener, Murkowski or any of the other Repuglican Senators. They made a horrendous deal with the devil three years ago to stand by the perv in the White House, and now, I guess they figure, it’s “In for a dime, in for a dollar.”

Look: I don’t think that Bolton’s testimony will budge most of these Senate Repuglicans anyway. They’re beyond redemption, our American Nazis: “I was just obeying orders.” But I do believe that a Bolton testimony—at least, as we’re led to believe it would be—will change some minds, or at least embarrass some of these Trump enablers. Do they really want their grandchildren to ask why they lied to protect a lying, dangerous predator?

I’ve made something of a study about the children and grandchildren of the major Nazi war criminals. Their lives were effectively ruined by their association with their heinous parents. Sure, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler and their ilk enjoyed fabulous lifestyles during their lifetimes, due to their unflinching alliance with Hitler. But all of them died violently in service to that nightmare, and their progeny suffered immensely from the condemnation of a world that, perhaps unjustly but understandably, visited the sins of the father upon the children.

Do I wish suffering upon the children of Michael Pence, Michael Pompeo, Michael Mulvaney, Alan Dershowitz, Sean Hannity and all the others? Sometimes, the stakes are so high that you have to take sides. Someone has to answer for their ancestral sins. If these children publicly renounce their parents, I might wish them well. If they don’t…well, they deserve whatever comes their way, whether it’s career-wise, at their clubs, or from their friends and neighbors. We see, in the way Dershowitz has been shunned by his summer neighbors on Martha’s Vineyard, how these societal sanctions work.

Should there be a quid pro quo with respect to witnesses? John Bolton in exchange for Hunter Biden? Wouldn’t bother me, even though Hunter Biden (and Joe Biden) have absolutely nothing to do with Trump’s blackmail of Zelensky. It is a complicating factor, though, that Joe Biden has publicly stated he will not testify under any circumstance, and presumably, he speaks for his son as well. I’m not sure he can get away with it, if push comes to shove. The Repuglican talking point would overwhelm the politics: What are the Bidens afraid of? Why are they resisting the will of the American people, who want witnesses? Repuglicans could turn the whole John Bolton thing on its head—and Democrats would be hard-pressed to come up with a working reply. My own feeling, based on what we know, is that, with respect to the Bidens, “there’s no there there,” and so nothing to fear. Maybe Hunter finagled himself a cushy little sinecure with his father’s help. So what? At the very worst, it would tarnish Hunter Biden a little bit—but this fight isn’t about Hunter Biden, it’s about the worst president in American history. If we have to throw Hunter Biden under the bus to get rid of Trump, so be it.


TOP SECRET – PRESIDENTIAL TRANSCRIPTS RE: JOHN BOLTON

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President’s Daily Schedule

9:45 a.m. – meet with Director Secret Service

The President: Um, Phil, I need you to do me a favor, though.

Director SS: What’s that, Mister President?

The President: Well, this guy, John Bolton—a real bad one, trouble, if you know what I mean—I need for you to arrange for him to have an “accident.”

Director SS: Not sure what you’re driving at, Sir.

The President: You know, an accident: car crash, fall out of a window, something like that. I’m sure you’ve arranged for such things before.

Director SS: Mister President, the Secret Service isn’t in the assassination business.

* * *

10:15 a.m. – meet with Director, Central Intelligence Agency

The President: Um, Louis, we kill people, don’t we?

Director CIA: When we have to, yes, Mister President.

The President: I mean, like we killed Soleimani, right?

Director CIA: Indeed we did, Sir. On your orders.

The President: Right. Well, I’m ordering you to kill someone else.

Director CIA: Certainly, Mister President. Might I ask whom?

The President: This John Bolton. He’s trouble. Bigtime trouble. A threat to national security.

Director CIA: Actually, sir, that’s factually incorrect. He’s been a loyal American all of his life.

The President: Look, Louis, I know things about him you don’t.

Director CIA: I doubt that, Mister President.

The President: Anyhow, I need for you to kill him.

Director CIA: Sir, the CIA isn’t in the business of assassinating your political enemies. I respectfully decline, sir.

* * *

10:45 a.m. – Meet with top advisor, Jared Kushner

The President: Well, Jar, how’s it hanging?

JK: Good, sir. How are you?

The President: Look, lemme ask you something. You must have run into some mafia types when you were a developer in New York, right?

JK: Well, sir, there were people who were rumored to be associated with the mob. But I never really knew.

The President: Well, do you think you could find me a hit man?

JK: A hit man, sir?

The President: Yeah. There’s a little business I need taken care of.

JK: And that is–?

The President: Bolton. He’s out of control. Bad news. I can’t get any of my official government people to take care of him, so I want you to find me a mafia assassin. You know, a couple bullets right between his eyes—ka-pow! That would solve the problem.

JK: I dunno, sir. I’d have to talk that over with Ivanka.

The President: No, you don’t. Let’s leave her out of it, okay? Need to know! So, can you dig up, you know, someone who “paints houses”?

JK: Um, can we put that on hold for a while, sir? I have to bring peace to the Middle East first.

* * *

11:15 a.m. – meet with Vice President Mike Pence

The President: Mikey, Mikey, how’s my favorite evangelical today?

The Vice President: Very well, sir, glory be to God.

The President: Ah yes, God. My favorite deity. Say, Mike, you must know a lot of true believers.

The Vice President: Yes, sir, if by “true believers” you mean men and women who would do anything for Christ.

The President: Well, that’s what I’m driving at. I need someone who will do “anything.”

The Vice President: “He who would follow Me must be prepared to give up his own life, to become Mine.” That’s John, chapter 24, verse 12, sir—as you know.

The President: What I’m thinking is someone a little unstable. Someone who knows how to handle a gun.

The Vice President: I know many fine men who have been born again and who belong to the NRA, sir.

The President: That’s great, Mike. Can you set me up with a meeting?

The Vice President: Well, I’d need a little more information. What sort of task did you have in mind?

The President: To be frank, I want someone who will kill John Bolton.

The Vice President: Really, sir? Your former National Security Advisor?

The President: Yup.

The Vice President: Hmmm. I’m sure it could be arranged. But would it be right?

The President: Yes, it would be right, because I say so. And I’m entitled to do anything I want.

The Vice President: Yes you are, sir. All right, I’ll put in a call to Rev. Graham and see what we can do. Thank you sir.

The President: Thank you, Mike. And God bless!

The Vice President: And God bless you, sir. [extends hand for handshake, leaves]

The President [to his secretary]: Mary, bring in a bottle of hand sanitizer, will you? Oh, and tell Melania I’ll be coming back for lunch. A bucket of McDonald’s, 2 Carl’s Junior Cheeseburgers, and a Giant Gulp.


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