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The historic election we just endured has many facets, as one might expect in hindsight.

No person is an island, nor could one ever be, in spite of what a hardened narcissist might think.

There were also too many elements in play for the voters, or even pundits for the most part, to even grasp as they played their roles in the 2016 election event. Individual and group psychologies were the immediate drivers responding to Globalization that relocated jobs world-wide. Globalism is the most immediate and prominent mediator of trends in economics and political discourse we now observe. Societies evolve, just as species do, by the survival of the fittest and luckiest in terms of the latitude and natural resources that provide extraordinary means for families, tribes, communities, and ultimately nations to compete and evolve. Like their species counterpart, societal evolution is continuous over time with nations instead of individuals acting. And like natural evolution, mutations occur. We now live in such a “mutant period” comprising populism where only time will determine our survival polity. And populism itself shows many faces, both Left and Right.

Populism as a democratic expression can work against itself. That happened when the POLITICS OF ILLUSION captured the fancy of otherwise good, thoughtful, citizens. Fear is a common emotional driver for populism. And the opportunistic narcissist soon-to-be installed in the White House, recognized he could employ POLITICS OF ILLUSION to promote himself by putting many such fears to bed. He realized that fearful citizens of any ilk will follow any charismatic leader the see offering then hope irrespective of his true veracity, hang-ups, or political persuasion. History is full of examples where exactly that happened. Religion was often involved historically, but is hardly a requirement

For those that have not yet bought into the “POLITICS OF ILLUSION” we have developed the following for your perusal.


Could America be on its way to a dictatorship? Can we even imagine that?
Globalism is an ogre in the closet, not because the idea is bad, but because Globalization has been and is being badly mismanaged worldwide. Populism, worldwide, has risen in consequence against the disparate dislocations globalization policies enabled. Policy makers, now commonly plutocrats, ignored the suffering by the middle and lower classes while directing profits of the world coin to top-dogs in far too many places. In a sense, it was and still is a failure of governance irrespective of political or economic system. If pure socialism fails to inspire, capitalism fails to adequately spread the wealth—at least so far.

It is a paradox of our times that a consummate capitalist, part of the system, will soon reside in the White House trying to fix it--If he can be believed. In fact his selections for department heads, include retired-military and billionaires. This looks more like nuking all trappings of diplomatic decorum, than fixing what ails us. A danger, discussed below, is that we the individuals COULD slowly acquiesce to the POLITICS OF ILLUSION. And ultimately, instead of making America great again—when it is already great—America could come to be viewed as the “The Great White Enemy” of civilization itself. The “swamp” in Washington is BIG MONEY.

How can the swamp of BIG MONEY be drained if those charged with the draining are themselves BIG MONEY?
“I alone can fix it”
Sounds like true narcissistic-speak (illusion) where the only goal is to make us believe it on emotion.
What can each of us do? For one thing, we can make some noise on any or all of the social media below, each with audiences of 50 million or more:

Log into: FACEBOOK
Display on: YOU TUBE
Visit: Google+
Peruse: VK
Check out: VINE

An important journal with the research and analytical power to make sense of it all, has taken due note of what this populist revolt portends. FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 2016/12/5, not only imagines that, but goes into the grim details. We bring you some excerpts:

“Populism is gaining ground. Around the world, economic hardship and growing unease with globalization, immigration, and the established elite have propelled such movements into power, leading to a groundswell of public support for parties and leaders viewed as capable of holding the forces of cultural and social change at bay. In Europe, populist parties dominate parliaments in Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Switzerland and are part of governing coalitions in Finland, Norway, and Lithuania. In Southeast Asia, the Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte is pursuing a populist agenda. And in the United States, Donald Trump has been elected president.”

Ed: As an example of populism, we would also include Brexit! It went counter to the expectations of the establishment in common with events in the US.

“Post–Cold War populists such as Chávez, Putin, and Erdogan took a slow and steady approach to dismantling democracy. These leaders first come to power through democratic elections and subsequently harness widespread discontent to gradually undermine institutional constraints on their rule, marginalize the opposition, and erode civil society. The playbook is consistent and straightforward: deliberately install loyalists in key positions of power (particularly in the judiciary and security services) and neutralize the media by buying it, legislating against it, and enforcing censorship. This strategy makes it hard to discern when the break with democracy actually occurs, and its insidiousness poses one of the most significant threats to democracy in the twenty-first century.”

“…In the last decade, however, populist-fueled authoritarianization has been on the rise, accounting for 40 percent of all democratic failures between 2000 and 2010 and matching coups in frequency. If current trends persist, populist-fueled authoritarianization will soon become the most common pathway to autocracy.”

“Even more disheartening, the slow and gradual nature of populist-fueled democratic backsliding is difficult to counter. Because it is subtle and incremental, there is no single moment that triggers widespread resistance or creates a focal point around which an opposition can coalesce. And in cases in which vocal critics do emerge, populist leaders can easily frame them as “fifth columnists,” “agents of the establishment,” or other provocateurs seeking to destabilize the system. Piecemeal democratic erosion, therefore, typically provokes only fragmented resistance.”

Ed: We would not be too worried about this one except for the fact that so many otherwise thoughtful and good Americans bought into this scenario after have opportunities to be fully for-warned. This must result from the psycho/social interactions that lead to rebelliousness at the individual level. ‘Things are so bad, we have to try something new, come Hell or high water.’ Chasing the almighty dollar (via globalization) necessarily leads to inequality. When there are no rational breaks on that process, populism seems like a natural result from a globalization that leaves them out.

“Data show that just under half (44 percent) of all instances of authoritarianization from 1946 to 1999 led to the establishment of personalist dictatorships. From 2000 to 2010, however, that proportion increased to 75 percent.”

“…the rise of personalist dictatorships is a great cause for concern. A robust body of political science research shows that such systems tend to produce the worst outcomes of any type of political regime: they typically pursue the most volatile and aggressive foreign policies, espouse the most xenophobic sentiments, are the most likely to mismanage foreign aid, and are the least likely to transition to democracy when they collapse. Today’s populist movements, therefore, could very well be fueling the proliferation of the world’s most problematic regimes.”

“Finally, populist-fueled authoritarianization is likely to put countries that we typically think of as stable democracies at risk.”

“The forces fueling populism aren’t going away anytime soon. If anything, economic underperformance, disillusion with corruption, and dissatisfaction with government performance will continue to fan the flames of populism across the globe. That is why the threat of populism to democratic development should not be underestimated.”

Ed: Trump has his work cut out for him. He can indeed become a hero of historic magnitude. Or he can pursue his present authoritarian course that has so many sad parallels in history. His psychological make up will be critical in his choice of direction. From his staff selections, as of this writing, 13 Dec 2916, we fear the worst.

“Mitigating populism’s threat to democratic norms and practices will require vigilance and coordination among broad segments of at-risk societies. Recognition of the tactics and approach that today’s leaders are using to expand their control is a necessary first step in developing strategies to counter this trend.”

That vigilance is driven by the hair-trigger he can exercise at will: A civilization-ending nuclear holocaust. There is no historic reference here aside from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we have a question: ‘Where would the world be today if Hitler had beaten the allies to nuclear weaponry? This shoe probably does not fit Mr. Trump. But it just might fit one of his adversaries! Then what?

It is true that developed nations with long-standing traditions should be more resistant to such an upheaval as a developing nation would. But that does not guarantee it cannot happen here. Indeed, it can. Complacency in managing globalization got us into a huge mess that spawned populism in the first place. Our following error was in not dealing with it at the grass roots level. And, of course we have to actually recognize something and realize its very real ramifications to believe it. The powers that be had little or no interest in looking for signs of populist anger. What were they anyway? Few editorialists reported, and too few economists did so. Too many of us took “the not invented here” or “It is not my job” sorts of denial.


A sampling follows for serious researchers in no particular order:

New York Magazine

This site has several references to the psychopathic personality type that includes prior presidents. Our review that follows provides a check list Joe and Sally citizen can use to make their own assessments. It’s author, Joe Navarro is a 25-year-veteran FBI profiler. His experiences relate unusually well to our every-day lives. His check list is for those who do not have time to peruse his many stories. He is not a psychologist. He is just an extraordinary person relating his life-time of experience with narcissistic and similar personalities that include the unstable, the paranoid, and the predator, as well as their combinations. Joe worked closely with his editor, Toni Sciarra Poynter; with her experience in publishing psychological works. Together they produced an important book written before Trump announced his candidacy!

His fly-leaf says it all:

”There are two kinds of people in this world: those that fill your cup and those who drain it.”

For each of the four dangerous personality types Joe Navarro identifies, he provides a check list. There is, as might be expected, considerable overlap. But here we highlight only those for the narcissistic personality. In browsing down the list, check off items that remind you of Trump’s behaviors. “Pronouns are used interchangeably, …Any statement may be applicable to any gender.” If Joe Navarro’s check list doesn’t blow you away, nothing will.

1 Projects self-importance beyond position, experience, or what has been duly earned or deserves.
2 Has grandiose idea of who he is and what he can achieve.
3 Often talks about his need to lead, to be in charge, to exercise power, or for immediate success.
4 Believes she should only associate with other “special”, “successful”, or “high status people”.
5 Requires excessive admiration from others.
6 Has a sense of entitlement, expecting to be treated as someone special or given priority at all times.
7 Is interpersonally exploitative of others of others and takes advantage of others for personal gain.
8 Lacks empathy and is unable to recognize the needs or suffering of others.
9 Is often envious of others, or believes others are envious of him.
10 Is arrogant and haughty in behavior or attitude.
11 Has tendency to see her problems as unique or more acute than anyone else’s.
12Has an exaggerated sense of privilege that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
13 Is excessively self-centered to the point of alienating others by being so “I” or “we” oriented.
14 Is hypersensitive to how she is seen or perceived by others.
15 Has regularly irritated or upset you and others complain of the same.
16 Routinely spends an inordinate amount of time on grooming, looking good, or being pampered.
17 Tends to overvalue himself and his capabilities in almost all things.
18 Has devalued others as being inferior, incapable or unworthy.
19 Has demonstrated little sympathy or empathy for others; nevertheless, she expects others to show her empathy.
20 Has ignored the needs the needs of others, including biological (food, water, etc.), physical (housing, clothing etc.), emotional (love, touching, hugging etc.), and financial needs, on multiple occasions.
21 Is not happy when others succeed or receive recognition.
22 Is considered to be or acts like a bully;
23 Talks at you rather than with you.
24 Needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to ensure being noticed (e.g. arriving late, wearing eye-catching clothing, using dramatic language, or making theatrical entrances.

Navarro goes on from here to list a total of 130 personality expressions that can be scored to determine whether and how dangerous a certain individual may be. His ratings, paraphrasing for brevity:

15-25: Occasional social discord.
25-65: Is a narcissistic personality who needs professional help.
Over 65: A serious danger to others in various ways.

This is an overview only. For his complete diagnostic lists you can score for yourself, go to the book: “DANGEROUS PERSONALITIES” by Joe Navarro, RODALE, 2014. You can also approximate a ball-park estimate, by multiplying the number you arrived at above by 5.4. For example, if you were reminded of Trump 10 times in the above, you can roughly estimate his trait score as 54, or highly in need of professional help.

Justin Frank. MD. famous for his profiling presidents, was interviewed by Thom Hartmann of ALTERNET on 13 Dec 2016

”Dr. Justin Frank: Anybody who has been a child of parents who are very narcissistic, who are involved with themselves, not paying much attention to the children, those children have to make a lot of noise in order to get attention. They feel neglected. And mainstream America who voted for Donald Trump as a group of many people who are churchgoers, good people, hard-working, out of work now for a variety of reasons and they feel really neglected and completely ignored by people inside the beltway, whether it's by the Clintons by Obama, even, and I think that Trump, who grew up in a place where he was only paid attention to when he yelled and screamed and then when he did exactly what his father wanted and then when he got out of military school, I think that he and his thin skin allows him to tune into narcissistic loss and pain. And so he can feed his audience and be fed by them.”

“He's much better in person than he is on TV because in person there is this energy that he communicates. He's sort of like a political version of Judy Garland who would come in and eventually in a few minutes have the audience eating out of her hand. And she would get fed by them and feed them back and forth because of her vulnerability and their vulnerability. And that's how he got so much popularity.”

“And the second thing he does is he's an expert at externalizing or deflecting blame. So he can get angry outside and a lot of these people didn't know who to get angry at. So he can get angry at the parents, he can get angry at Washington and he can express a lot of anger and rage which justifies people supporting him. And I think that those two things - having been narcissistically injured and in pain and also being able to be really angry at being ignored and not paid attention to and not included - I think is a lot and goes a far way.”

“… If the father kicks the son, the son kicks the dog. And this is what we've got.”

Thom Hartmann: “Right. And this is what, I mean, you're telling the story of Mussolini's Italy, you're telling the story of Hitler's Germany.”

Dr. Justin Frank: ”Yes. And one difference between Mussolini and Hitler and Trump - one, there's several, but there are two main ones. One is sort of a relief to me which is that Trump is 70 and those guys were in their thirties and early forties, so they had a long life ahead of them to be dictators.”

“But the second thing that's a difference is that the in modern world, Trump he has tweets and by the fact that he tweets so much and does all those things on Twitter, he is essentially inviting the people around him close like Kellyanne Conway and other people to say you have to stop doing that, you have to grow up, you have to use a teleprompter. And he's inviting the American people, some of whom were trying to do it even, to set limits on him. So in a way ...”

Thom Hartmann: “Right. And this is what, I mean, you're telling the story of Mussolini's Italy, you're telling the story of Hitler's Germany.”

Thom Hartmann: ”So he's still fighting with his parents!”

Dr. Justin Frank: ”He's still fighting with his parents but he's turned us into his parents. That's what's so strange.”

Thom Hartmann: ”Or some others. He's turned it to his colleagues.”

Dr. Justin Frank: “Yes, but there's never been a president who was not a father figure in this country in some way, whether it's Bush, whether it's Gerald Ford, whether it's certainly Reagan was, Roosevelt was, they all were in one way or another. Clinton was, Obama, both Bushes were in many ways.”

“We have a child for the first time as a person who is very similar to a ten-year-old child. There is a wealth of research going back the Ancient Greeks who noted human behavior and provided the name we use today in describing the narcissistic personality type.”

Ed: See also


Trump did not do all this alone. Millions, no, tens of millions, voted for him. Why so many? How did they come to be so enamored? Maybe that is not the word, given the above. Richard Wolin of the Chronical Review draws an accurate plain English picture sans psychology.

“…Trump is a consummate shape-shifter. His positions can and do change from day to day, moment to moment. By the same token, this rather basic and unarguable fact already reveals something significant about his candidacy. Whereas such glaring inconsistencies would have undoubtedly torpedoed a conventional candidate, remarkably, for more than a year, they left Trump more or less politically unscathed. Trump himself quipped in January: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody. And I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?" Time and again, Trump’s bluster and outsize personality trump (pardonnez-moi) the customary considerations of rational accountability.

His loyal supporters seem to be, for the most part, indifferent to what Trump says: whether or not it is practicable (a wall to stanch immigration from Mexico), or constitutional (his proposal of a religious test to rebuff Muslims seeking to enter the United States). Instead, their devotion is largely predicated on Trump’s personality and charisma. And on these grounds, they seem consistently willing to engage in a worrisome suspension of disbelief, waiving the evidentiary claims that voters traditionally rely on to evaluate a candidate’s trustworthiness and viability.”

This is right on point. Justin E.H. Smith, in the same Chronicle of Higher Education, clarifies:

“In his essay ‘On Bullshit,’ pre-circulated for years as samizdat and published by Princeton University Press in 2005, the philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt identifies and analyzes a previously neglected species of untruth. It is of the same genre of lying, but unlike its better-known relative it does not seek simply to pass off a falsehood as true. Instead, the bullshitter is the person who no longer considers truth as the anchor of discourse, who speaks without regard for the truth, and who, finally, is unconcerned about whether his interlocutor knows he is speaking untruths or not. "When an honest man speaks," Frankfurt explains, "he says only what he believes to be true." For the liar, it is "indispensable that he considers his statements to be false." But the bullshitter’s eye, Frankfurt argues, "is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."

“One need not have heard of Frankfurt, or have grasped his precise technical meaning of bullshit, to associate it with the Republican nominee for president. But is a Frankfurtian analysis sufficient to understand this election?”

“…Princeton’s edition of Frankfurt’s text came out in the wake of the Bush administration’s audacious selling of the invasion of Iraq as a preventive measure against Saddam Hussein’s development of weapons of mass destruction. The case for the war was made by people who had abandoned what around that time was starting to be called the "reality-based community." This term first appeared in a 2004 article by the journalist Ron Suskind in The New York Times Magazine. Suskind was interviewing an anonymous Bush aide, widely rumored to be Karl Rove, who went on to explain:”

"We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

“Here we see a disregard for truth that quite plainly cannot be understood in terms of bullshit. This is not the deviation from truth we expect from a grifter or a con man, nor is it the pathological indifference to truth we expect from a loud-mouthed boaster. It is rather the audacious rejection of truth as a standard by which we all must be judged, by a self-styled Übermensch (or the Übermensch’s spokesman). The term: POLITICS OF ILLUISION seems to catch the essence.”

“Much of the disagreement about Donald Trump among American voters has to do with which sort of character he is: a lowly fraudster or a larger-than-life revaluer of values. It does not have to do with whether or not he is telling the truth. And so, frustratingly to many opponents, simply pointing out that he is speaking falsehoods can do nothing to set him back. In politics, the Bush administration’s manipulations are often said to have inaugurated a "post-truth" era, whose ascendancy has been confirmed by Trump’s campaign. But here we need to distinguish between truth and fact. In one view, we have Trump, the bullshitter and con man, who plays fast and easy with the facts, not because he has any grand conception of the truth that he believes might justify his deceptions, but simply because he sees that he can say whatever he wants and get away with it, and this is fun for him. In another view, we have the Bush aide’s understanding of the mission of the president, which involves the realization of higher truths (democracy in the Middle East, for example) that are far more important than whatever particular facts happen to be the case.”

ED: Again the POLITICS OF ILLUSION seems apropos.

“That certain claims may be morally true while empirically false is an idea far older than George W. Bush. It is in play in the lexical distinction in Russian between two different sorts of truth — Pravda, which in principle must be grounded in fact, and istina, which is somehow higher than fact. This distinction was inverted by the Bolsheviks, who with no apparent irony gave the name of Pravda to the newspaper that didn’t so much report on what was the case as describe what they would have liked to be the case.”

“A similar transcendence of the merely empirical helps to explain the reaction, in 16th-century Spain, to the fabrications of the Jesuit historian Jerónimo Román de la Higuera, author of the so-called Falsos cronicones, which purported to document the antiquity of the Christian faith in the Iberian peninsula. When it was discovered that he had made it all up, that there had been no martyrs or miracles in Spain in the first few centuries after Christ, Román de la Higuera was not denounced as a fraud, but instead the empirical falsity of his chronicles was taken as a sign of their power to convey a deeper truth. He had succeeded — by invention, by writing, by telling a story — in retrojecting Christianity into Spain’s distant past, which is surely a far greater accomplishment than simply relating facts.”

“While academics affirm one another's truisms, right-wing memes grow in internet petri dishes.”

“Why should we remain beholden to facts? They are, as etymology tells us, not some sort of raw material that we simply find, but rather are the sort of thing that must be actively made — or, to use the Latin past participle, factum. Propagandists, whether Jesuit, Bolshevik, or Rovean, are those people who understand that facts, or at least social facts, are the result of human activity, in part the activity of inserting new ways of thinking and talking into the public realm — and that when this is done effectively, the public, sometimes, can come to a new understanding of the truth.”

“This, again, is not what Trump is doing. He is a mere bullshitter, and what comes out of his mouth has more to do with pathologies of personality than with any real vision of how the world, or America, ought to be brought into line with some super-empirical truth to which he alone has access.”

“Trumpism is, however, being helped along by master propagandists who understand very well that, by treating facts as something to be actively made, one may eventually change the way truth is understood. (Let us not, here, consider the specter of social constructionism, of whether changing the way truth is understood is the same thing as "creating a new truth.") The activists of the so-called alt-right have been working for years to change public discourse through a concerted campaign of internet trolling. Their goal has been the creation of "meme magic," that moment when an idea that they have promoted online makes the leap from virtuality to reality.”


Paul Krugman in the New York Times, 2 Dec 2016, has this to say regarding TRUMP.:

“On Obama Care: You can see why by looking at Census data from 2013 to 2015, which show the impact of the full implementation of Obamacare. Over that period, the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 13 million; whites without a college degree, who voted Trump by around two to one, accounted for about eight million of that decline. So we’re probably looking at more than five million Trump supporters, many of whom have chronic health problems and recently got health insurance for the first time, who just voted to make their lives nastier, more brutish, and shorter.”

“Why did they do it? They may not have realized that their coverage was at stake — over the course of the campaign, the news media barely covered policy at all. Or they may have believed Mr. Trump’s assurances that he would replace Obamacare with something great.”

“Either way, they’re about to receive a rude awakening, which will get even worse once Republicans push ahead with their plans to end Medicare as we know it, which seem to be on even though the president-elect had promised specifically that he would do no such thing.”

“And just in case you’re wondering, no, Mr. Trump can’t bring back the manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the past few decades. Those jobs were lost mainly to technological change, not imports, and they aren’t coming back.”

“There will be nothing to offset the harm workers suffer when Republicans rip up the safety net.”

“…And if and when the reality that workers are losing ground starts to sink in, I worry that the Trumpists will do what authoritarian governments often do to change the subject away from poor performance: go find an enemy.”

Need we say more?

Ah yes! Caronavirus pandemic! His baseless denial didn't stop its entry into the White House! Enough said? We can only hope...


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