Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 11th, 2017

The past 24 hours since Trump fired Comey were even crazier than the first 24 hours

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Excellent summary of highlights (and lowlights) of the past 24 hours by Alex Ward at Vox.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 5:30 pm

How to deal with narcissistic co-workers: A survival guide

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Jody Foster writes in Quartz:

Throughout my career as a psychiatrist, I’ve worked with a personality type that I call Narcissus. One such person was Richard, a successful executive chef whom I was asked to see after he threw a knife at a sous chef in the kitchen. During a seemingly uneventful food preparation demonstration, he asked his assistant for a particular knife, but was presented with a different one. In a dramatic episode of screaming and yelling, he threw the knife back toward the horrified chef and stormed out of the kitchen, swearing about how incompetent she was.

Thankfully, most of us do not have to deal with knife-throwing at work. But a lot of us encounter narcissistic types in the office—people who try to inflate their sense of self-worth by exaggerating their accomplishments, overestimating their abilities, and blaming others for shortcomings. This tendency is rooted in an underlying, deeply entrenched sense of insecurity. (In everyday conversation, we tend to think of a narcissistic person as having too high an opinion of himself, when in fact the Narcissus just appears self-absorbed in order to protect himself from low self-esteem.) It is never fun to work with someone who behaves this way. But if you have a narcissistic co-worker, there are strategies you can employ to soften their ego-driven blows.

On a day-to-day basis, appealing to this person’s egocentricity can be very effective. The occasional recognition of the person’s achievement, strengths, or values may go a long way in avoiding anger or demeaning comments; in some instances, you may simply want to remark upon a person’s good efforts. Fanning the embers of narcissism is particularly effective in avoiding unwanted conflict. Particularly if the Narcissus is your boss, you have to let them think that you perceive them as important. No matter how difficult it may be to do this, the Narcissus boss can make the workplace a living hell for anyone who they think is not on board with their success. Give them compliments, and try to do so without mocking them.

Remember that the only commentary that the Narcissus will be able to actually hear will contain some degree of praise in it. So when asking for a favor or for some type of change that could be perceived as an insult, definitely attempt the route of first praising him in some way. Even a simple statement like a reminder about a deadline might need some positive reinforcement embedded in it: “I can’t wait to see your draft of the proposal on Friday.” Remember that the Narcissus has special techniques for avoiding hearing criticism and can interpret even a simple suggestion or reminder as an insult if it doesn’t contain anything positive.

Another strategy is paying attention to the Narcissus. If enough attention is not paid, he will perceive criticism. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 3:49 pm

Seth Meyers makes good points with humor: Video

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Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 2:12 pm

The Problem Is Not Only That Trump Fired Comey, But How He Did It

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Bob Bauer has a Lawfare post worth reading. From the post:

What was missing as a matter of process from the dismissal yesterday?

  • A full explanation of why the decision was reached now, with this apparent urgency, when there is a pending IG investigation into Mr. Comey’s handling of the email investigation.
  • The reasons for the decision not to provide Mr. Comey with advance notice of the dismissal, leaving him to learn about it from cable news—a decision made without regard for the effects on the Bureau’s morale or for the questions that would be raised about the continuity of operations (including the Russia-Trump campaign investigation).
  • A full explanation of why Attorney General Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation, was involved in the decision to fire the Director in charge of it.
  • A full explanation of the basis for the recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, who had been on the job for 14 days and who produced a short, seemingly informal memorandum in support of the dismissal.
  • Any steps to assure the Congress and the public that steps have been taken to protect the integrity of a Russia investigation committed to a corps of career professional investigators and prosecutors.
  • The nomination of a qualified nonpartisan, professional replacement for Mr. Comey, or the announcement of an expedited timetable for such a nomination.

The Administration, in short, has shown little regard for thoughtful process in law enforcement that is key to the maintenance of the integrity of the legal system, and of public confidence. Mr. Trump and his DOJ leadership have jumped ahead of the Inspector General’s inquiry, moving suddenly to put their views on record on the same issues the IG is addressing. They have failed to explain why they did so, when the alleged misconduct to which they appeal is no different from that which generated the IG inquiry and was widely known when the President took office. The AG was involved in this decision when recused from any matter involving the Russia investigation—again with no explanation. The Deputy AG could not have weighed the matter carefully in 14 days, some part of which he spent writing the short memorandum: which means he reached his conclusion in less than those two weeks. So with whom did he consult—and on what factual record, developed in what way and by whom, did he depend?

Again: no explanation.

Moreover, the Administration took no pains to say

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 1:47 pm

Trump really does believe that he can do whatever he wants: Medical marijuana example

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Philip Smith writes in Drug War Chronicles:

Congress moved to protect medical marijuana by including in its stopgap federal spending bill a provision barring the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after the drug in states where medical marijuana is legal, but now, President Trump says that doesn’t matter.

Even though Trump signed the spending bill into law last Friday, he included a signing statement objecting to numerous provisions in the bill — including the ban on funds to block the implementation of medical marijuana laws in those states.

Despite those state laws, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which also does not recognize “medical marijuana.”

The president said he reserved the right to ignore that provision and left open the possibility the Trump administration could go after the 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico where medical marijuana use is allowed.

“Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories,” Trump noted in the signing statement. “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The language suggests that Trump could give Attorney General Jeff Sessions his go ahead when it comes to enforcing marijuana policy. Sessions has vowed to crack down on marijuana and has scoffed at arguments for its medical use as “desperate.”

“I reject the idea that we’re going to be better placed if we have more marijuana,” Sessions told law enforcement officials in an April speech. “It’s not a healthy substance, particularly for young people.”

But the language also sets up a potential power struggle with Congress, which, under the Constitution, has the sole power to appropriate funds for federal government operations.

As Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington told Bloomberg News, the signing statement signals a desire to usurp power from Congress. . .

Continue reading.

See also his article “Congress Will Give the DOJ Exactly Zero Dollars to Go After Medical Marijuana.” The concluding paragraphs of that article:

. . . In the meantime, medical marijuana is protected in the 29 states where it is legal. But adult-use legal marijuana, legal in eight states, is not under the purview of the budget agreement and is still theoretically at risk from a Sessions Justice Department.

But even Sessions, a fire-breathing foe of the weed, increasingly seems disinclined to make good on earlier vows to go after legal pot. Like Donald Trump discovering that health care reform is “complicated,” Jeff Sessions is apparently coming to understand, as he reportedly told Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff last week, that the Obama administration’s toleration of state-legal marijuana legalization under specified conditions is “not too far from good policy.”

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 1:01 pm

Shame theory and the GOP in Congress

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One wonders why Mitch McConnell is so invested in defending Donald Trump. Shame theory might offer an answer.

See also extinction burst.

UPDATE: Content from the first link, by @David_Rees

RE: #ComeyFiring, I think the GOP will now go along with anything Trump does. I mean literally anything. It’s TIME FOR SOME SHAME THEORY!

I believed GOP was going along with DJT because they thought he could get them their precious policy outcomes: tax cuts, etc. —

— and, that if DJT’s malfeasance ever decreased their chances of enacting those policies, they would jettison him.

I now think this political calculus has been replaced by a deeper, darker, calculus: a psychological survival strategy.

GOP will agree to anything – I mean anything – because they can no longer afford a moral reckoning with what who and what they’ve enabled.

Once you’ve gone so far that checking in with yourself would shatter your belief in your own humanity/decency, there are no limits.

At this point, there are probably GOPers who wish Trump would suspend the constitution outright. Really just GO FOR IT …

… so that we leave this liminal, sorta-not-quite-authoritarian space with its semi-sorta-functional institutions behind …

… and enter a new American era, where their collusion/treason(?) can’t be judged by old norms.

If you’ve ever had an affair, or drug issues, etc, you probably know the feeling. The bender/lost weekend/flirtation with hitting bottom.

At some point, your shame at your behavior, at the norms you’ve violated, leads you to double down, go ALL IN, obliterate your old self.

I used to be a bully in middle school, so I know this amazing, complex feeling of exhilaration and revulsion …

… the poison rush of living your worst self, resenting *the part of you that knows better.* Not enough to ignore it; you must destroy it.

Congress had to enter DJT’s orbit in order to pass their sacred tax cuts/repeal the hated ACA. They thought they could contain him.

But DJT poisons everyone he touches. The price for working with him is pretty hefty: your humanity and dignity (h/t @joshtpm).

Healthy people (and banks!) learned to avoid DJT decades ago. He surrounds himself with damaged goods: Stone, Flynn, other freaks/losers.

We are watching that community of damaged psyches expand to include an entire political party.

GOP pols must avoid a moral reckoning at all costs. But not just a public reckoning — a private one. Can’t admit to moral suicide.

If #TrumpTrain stopped, GOP would have to answer for putting up with PussyGate, deranged tweets, lies, damaged institutions …

… all the Russia stuff, etc. etc. The list is overwhelming, unprecedented, debilitating. That reckoning absolutely cannot happen.

Trump, an experienced abuser, knows this on some lizard-brain level. He has captured the GOP. His transgressions will increase.

“Comey was irresponsible about HRC” is deliberately absurd; a power move by Trump to see if GOP will agree to any reality he proposes.

Answer: YES. #winning

Back to the bender analogy. We’re in the middle of a crazy bender. What would bottoming out look like, when GOP says: ENOUGH?

My theory: As of yesterday’s preposterous justification for Comey firing, there is no bottom. The GOP will never call Trump out. In fact…

… GOP pols must now encourage further transgressions, to destroy the current context in which feeling shame re: DJT is appropriate.

Maybe I’m wrong! But my prediction is GOP would agree with DJT if/when he says he’s canceling the 2018 midterms. THE END

tl;dr: Problem isn’t that GOP has no shame; problem is they are now overwhelmed with shame and cannot bear facing it.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 12:56 pm

Andrew Coyne: Assuming a plan behind Comey firing would be giving Trump too much credit

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Andrew Coyne writes in the National Post:

Among the many challenges Donald Trump presents is simple comprehension. His unfitness for office is so complete, his failings as a man so profound, it is difficult to take it all in. The mind resists: the constant temptation is to think he can’t be as bad as all that, or to seek refuge in some imagined precedent. We have known, after all, presidents who were liars, or corrupt, or incompetent, or erratic. But we have never seen a president like this, who combines all of these qualities — in spades — and more: among them bottomless ignorance, childlike impetuousness, and a raging, non-stop, all-consuming narcissism.

Above all, we have never seen anyone rise to such high office so unbound by any of the usual norms of behaviour, personal, political or presidential, of which the past three months-plus have been a daily tutorial. The firing of James Comey, the FBI director, is of a piece with this. For a president, several of whose associates are under criminal investigation, to fire the person at the head of that investigation is, of course, outside every norm of constitutional government and defies every understanding of the rule of law.

And yet the temptation, even now, is to rationalize: to assume, at the very least, there must be some method in his madness. There is no evidence of this. The official explanation for the firing — that the president had suddenly become displeased with Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails he had earlier publicly praised — is transparently, clownishly false. There has been ample reporting from inside the White House that the decision to fire Comey had been in the works for days, if not weeks; that it was motivated by the president’s irritation at the FBI’s continuing investigation into various Trump associates’ alleged collusion with the Russian government to throw the presidential election to Trump.

But even without the torrent of leaks from within, Trump’s motives would be comically obvious: witness that bizarre aside, in his letter to Comey, to the effect that Comey had “on three separate occasions” informed him that he was not personally under investigation. To pretend the decision was based on the advice of Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, notwithstanding the latter’s earlier recusal from any involvement in the investigation after he was found to have lied about his own dealings with the Russians; to have all this break hours before he was to meet with the Russian foreign minister; to compound the Nixon-era associations with a photo op with Henry Kissinger — these are not the actions of a strategic genius.

But if Trump’s every move suggests he has something to hide, that does not mean firing Comey will have no impact on the investigation. Trump need not install a more compliant director to further slow its progress. He can, as David Frum has suggested, simply leave the office vacant for months on end, as he has hundreds of others. Neither should Comey’s firing be seen in isolation: this is the third senior legal officer Trump has dismissed, after acting attorney general Sally Yates and New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. All three were responsible for various aspects of the Trump-Russia investigation.

As crude and obvious as Trump’s obstruction of justice may appear, in other words, that does not make it any less obstructive, or less defiant of a foundational principle of any law-based state: that no one, no matter how powerful, is above the law. Those fine minds who think the really essential point to make at this moment is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 12:48 pm

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