Rampant incompetence in the White House

This article argues that in addition to the Trump administration being full of people with damaging agendas, there is also a high level of incompetence.

That’s in part because, as his first term comes to a close, the professionals around Trump are not all that professional. It is now the exception in key staff and Cabinet posts to have people whose experience would be commensurate with that of people who have typically held those jobs in previous administrations of both parties. This major weakness has been revealing itself in a barrage of minor errors that summon Casey Stengel’s incredulous question about the 1962 New York Mets: Can’t anybody here play this game?
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Should we criticize Trump if we think he is deranged?

Just recently, after the fiasco of the first presidential debate, I got an email from an old friend of mine whom I had not heard from in years. In it, he gently chided me for ‘Trump bashing’ (his words). It is not that he is a Trump supporter. His reason is different and because it was so thoughtful and raised an important question, I am bringing it up here for discussion.

My friend wrote:

I don’t think that all the Trump bashing is warranted. It’s pretty obvious that he has a mental disorder. It’s not fair nor reasonable to have a go at the behavior of a person whose behaviour is due to a mental condition. Will anyone criticize the behaviour of a person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or even a person who is bipolar?

I am no psychiatrist but I think Trump suffers from a form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

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Making up a fake identity to attack diversity

We know that the white right wingers love to have people of color or other identifiable minorities attack members of their own group since that saves them from the charge of racism or bigotry if they were to make those same charges. People like Dinesh D’Souza, Diamond and Silk have made a comfortable living occupying this niche, quickly vaulting to prominence within Republican circles because of their willingness to be such mouthpieces.

Now comes along yet another case of a white college professor who set up a fake twitter account adopting the persona of an immigrant in order to attack immigrants and social justice causes generally.

A white male University of New Hampshire chemistry professor is accused of posing as an immigrant woman of colour on Twitter to make racist and sexist comments and attack users who supported racial justice and other progressive causes.

The university has not named the professor whom it said was being investigated related to the allegations on social media. A spokesperson said that the person “is on leave and not in the classroom”.

Several people who have reviewed the account before it was taken down last week said there were routinely posts with racist, sexist and transphobic comments and images over the past year.

Toby Santamaria, a graduate student studying plant biology at Michigan State who identifies with the gender-neutral term Latinx, was attacked online by followers of the Twitter account.

“I’m disgusted but not really surprised,” Santamaria said.

The person behind the account also detailed how they had fought efforts from their unnamed department to speak out on racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. They also routinely brought up their fake background to criticise users who were pushing for greater diversity in science, mathematics, engineering and technology or STEM fields.

While this episode is disgusting, what keeps surprising me is that these people think that they will not be found out. While this episode is disgusting, what keeps surprising me is that these people think that they will not be found out. Haven’t they learned that the old joke that “On the internet, no one knows you are a dog” no longer holds?

Trump’s reckless behavior before and after the debate

It appears that Trump has decided that he is just fine and that he can go about his normal activities. But both he and his doctors have been cagey and inconsistent about the status of Trump’s illness and it is not clear if the doctors are being dictated to by Trump about how he should be treated and what they should tell the media. Dan Froomkin writes that there are whole host of questions that need to be asked from the doctors and the White House spokespersons that they need to provide answers for.
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Trump and the medical VIP syndrome

It is of course no secret that the wealthy get treated differently from the rest of us and the world of medical care is no exception. Doctors often stray from standard treatments when their patient is seen a an important figure, sometimes in an effort to impress the patient that they are doing as much as they can, and sometimes because the patient demands it. This can happen even when the patient is a friend or relative or a fellow doctor. As we have seen, Trump got all manner of treatments that ordinary people would never have received. This phenomenon even has a name, the ‘VIP syndrome’. But it is not clear that this is a good thing even from the patient’s point of view, because it can result in overly-aggressive treatment that can have unwanted side-effects.
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Strong editorials from Scientific American and NEJM

This election and the extreme nature of the Trump presidency has resulted in the breaking of all manner of precedents. In particular, scientific organization which normally stay out of explicit involvement have decided to make endorsements. Scientific American magazine, for the first time in its history, weighed in with extremely strong language on why it was important to vote for Joe Biden.
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Seth Meyers sums up the week’s news

It is disturbing that neither Trump nor his doctors nor White House spokespersons are saying when he last tested negative for the coronavirus, even as he insists that he plans to hold rallies and demands that the next debate on October 15 be held in person instead of virtually as the debate commission has decided. The fact that Trump seems to have later decided against traveling this weekend after saying that he would suggests that maybe, just maybe, wiser counsels have prevailed on him to not be so utterly reckless.