Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!

Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!

As his presidential campaign trundles forward, millions of sane Americans are wondering: What exactly is wrong with this strange individual? Now, we have an answer.

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

That mental-health professionals are even willing to talk about Trump in the first place may attest to their deep concern about a Trump presidency. As Dr. Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the master’s of bioethics program at Columbia University, pointed out, the American Psychiatric Association declares it unethical for psychiatrists to comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments. This so-called Goldwater rule arose after the publication of a 1964 Fact magazine article in which psychiatrists were polled about Senator Barry Goldwater’s fitness to be president. Senator Goldwater brought a $2 million suit against the magazine and its publisher; the Supreme Court awarded him $1 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

But you don’t need to have met Donald Trump to feel like you know him; even the smallest exposure can make you feel like you’ve just crossed a large body of water in a small boat with him. Indeed, though narcissistic personality disorder was removed from the most recent issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for somewhat arcane reasons, the traits that have defined the disorder in the past—grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one’s superiority; a lack of empathy—are writ large in Mr. Trump’s behavior.

“He’s very easy to diagnose,” said psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan. “In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He’ll do anything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. ‘You’re fired!’ would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants.” Michaelis took a slightly different twist on Trump’s desire to deport immigrants: “This man is known for his golf courses, but, with due respect, who does he think works on these golf courses?”

Mr. Trump’s bullying nature—taunting Senator John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, or saying Jeb Bush has “low energy”—is in keeping with the narcissistic profile. “In the field we use clusters of personality disorders,” Michaelis said. “Narcissism is in cluster B, which means it has similarities with histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. There are similarities between them. Regardless of how you feel about John McCain, the man served—and suffered. Narcissism is an extreme defense against one’s own feelings of worthlessness. To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it’s antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That’s what he’s doing.”


Clockwise from top left: By Andrew Burton (2), Scott Olson (2), Michael Stewart, Tom Pennington, all from Getty Images.


What of Trump’s tendency to position himself as a possible savior to the economy despite the fact that four of his companies have declared bankruptcy? “It’s mind-boggling to me that that’s not the story,” said Michaelis. “This man has been given more than anyone could ever hope for,” he added, referring to the fact that Trump is not wholly self-made, “yet he’s failed miserably time and time again.” Licensed clinical social worker Wendy Terrie Behary,the author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, said, “Narcissists are not necessarily liars, but they are notoriously uncomfortable with the truth. The truth means the potential to feel ashamed. If all they have to show the world as a source of feeling acceptable is their success and performance, be it in business or sports or celebrity, then the risk of people seeing them fail or squander their success is so difficult to their self-esteem that they feel ashamed. We call it the narcissistic injury. They’re uncomfortable with their own limitations. It’s not that they’re cut out to lie, it’s just that they can’t handle what’s real.”

Indeed, the need to protect or exalt the self is at odds with the job requirements of a president. Michaelis said, “He’s applying for the greatest job in the land, the greatest task of which is to serve, but there’s nothing about the man that is service-oriented. He’s only serving himself.” As Prozan sees it, “He keeps saying he could negotiate with Putin because he’s good at deals. But diplomacy involves a back and forth between equals.” Dr. Klitzman added, “I have never met Donald Trump and so cannot comment on his psychological state. However, I think that, in general, many candidates who run for president are driven in large part by ego. I hope that does not preclude their motivation to govern with the best interests of the public as a whole in mind. Yet for some candidates, that may, alas, be a threat.”

Asked what, if Mr. Trump were their patient, they would “work on” with him, several of the therapists laughed. “I’d be shocked if he walked in my door,” said Behary. “Most narcissists don’t seek treatment unless there’s someone threatening to take something away from them. There’d have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in.” Simon concurred but added, “There is help available, but it doesn’t look like the help people are used to. It’s not insight-oriented psychotherapy, because narcissists already have insight. They’re aware; the problem is, they don’t care. They know how you’d like them to act; the problem is, they’ve got a different set of rules. The kind of approach that can have some impact is confrontational. It confronts distorted thinking and behavior patterns in the here-and-now moment when the narcissists are doing their thing in the session. It’s confronted on the spot; you invite them to do something different, then you reinforce them for doing so.”

But for at least one mental-health professional, the Trump enigma, or should we say non-enigma, is larger than the bluster of the man whose own Web site calls him “the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence”—to this mind-set, Trump may be a kind of bellwether. Mr. Gardner said, “For me, the compelling question is the psychological state of his supporters. They are unable or unwilling to make a connection between the challenges faced by any president and the knowledge and behavior of Donald Trump. In a democracy, that is disastrous.”



A neuroscientist explains: Trump has a mental disorder that makes him a dangerous world leader


According to a number of top U.S. psychologists, like Harvard professor and researcher Howard Gardener, Donald Trump is a “textbook” narcissist. In fact, he fits the profile so well that clinical psychologist George Simon told Vanity Fair, “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops.” This puts Trump in the same category as a number of infamous dictators like Muammar Gaddafi, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Saddam Hussein. And although there are narcissists out there who entertain us, innovate, or create great art, when a narcissist is given immense power over people’s lives, they can behave much differently. As the 2016 presidential election grows nearer we must ask ourselves, if elected president would Donald Trump act on the behalf of the will of the people, or would he behave more like a dictator—silencing any dissenting voices, perpetually refusing to compromise, and being oppressive to certain groups? To answer that, we should ask a little bit more about what makes a narcissist tick, and how they tend to behave when given free rein.

What is it exactly that makes someone a certifiable narcissist and not simply a person who has a healthy amount of confidence and a burning desire to achieve great goals? According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissistic personality disorder is “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.”

Trump’s shortage of empathy can be seen clearly by his stances on topics like immigration. Instead of recognizing that the data shows that most Mexican immigrants are not violent, but instead people simply looking for a place where actual opportunity exists, with a broad brush he claims that they are “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” In a similar vein, Trump has vowed to ban all Muslims from entering the country should he be elected. It appears that his lack of empathy has distorted his mind’s ability to grasp the fact that the refugees he speaks of are actually seeking safety from the same murderous maniacs that he wants to keep out. Perhaps if Trump had relatives in countries like Syria and Iraq, he might understand the constant fear that most live under, and in turn become more willing to welcome them with open arms rather than leaving them to be slaughtered.

But a lack of empathy is just one part of narcissistic personality disorder. Just beneath the surface layer of overwhelming arrogance lies a delicate self-esteem that is easily injured by any form of criticism. We have all seen Trump unjustifiably lash out at a number of people with harsh and often extremely odd personal attacks. When he thought he had been treated unfairly by Fox News host and Republican debate moderator Megyn Kelly, he responded by calling her a “bimbo” and later saying that she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” In response to the strange, misogynistic comments Kelly said that she “may have overestimated his anger management skills.” If the news host would have pegged him as a bona fide narcissist from the beginning she might have expected such shamelessly flagrant behavior.

To be fair, it is certainly true that all narcissists are not terrible people. Some of our most beloved celebrities and musicians have been suspected narcissists, including Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Kanye West, and even Alec Baldwin. Not only are these decent people, some have also done a lot of good through philanthropic work. Surely Donald Trump has more in common with these individuals than he does with a psychopath like Saddam Hussein.

There is no doubt that this has been true of the past, yet there is one critical difference between those people and Trump or Saddam. Only the latter two were in or are pursuing positions as heads of state—a role that grants enormous power over world affairs and people’s lives. While a narcissistic personality might be one of the traits that allowed Trump to be such a successful businessman and reality TV star, it is also the trait that makes him potentially dangerous as a political leader.

What happens when another world leader who is a loose cannon doesn’t give Trump the admiration that he feels he deserves? We can be sure that notoriously anti-American dictators like Kim Jong-un of North Korea or Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei aren’t going to give him any respect, let alone praise. How would a President Trump react when he feels he is being put down or undermined? Will we see the start of World War III because the leader of the most important nation in the world doesn’t feel that others are kissing his ass as much as they should be? Narcissistic personality disorder is known to have strong negative effects on relationships, and when it comes to being an effective and responsible world leader, diplomacy is everything.

If it is not clear how the promise of great power can change an essentially harmless narcissist into someone oppressive, let’s see how Donald Trump’s political views have changed thus far. Prior to this presidential race, most of us knew Donald Trump as a charismatic, cheeky, highly entertaining figure that seemed like anything but a bigot. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York told CNN that the Trump he knew, and the Trump New York knew, was nothing like the intolerant xenophobe he appears to be today. It is a well-known fact that in the past Trump was a registered democrat who was in favor of liberal causes like abortion rights and pals with the Clintons. But since the promise of power has consumed him, he has become the poster boy for ultra-right wing intolerance. This change in personality and core values perfectly illustrates how the promise of power can transform narcissists. And as the race for the Republican nominee progresses, it has become increasingly obvious that Trump’s yearning to rule greatly exceeds his desire to “Make America Great Again,” as his slogan says.

The position of President of the United States is one that requires great empathy, a certain amount of humility, the ability to preserve relationships, and a willingness to establish new ones. These are all qualities that the narcissist lacks, and with their absence comes danger. Do we really want to put all Americans, and even the entire world, at great risk by giving a narcissist the nuclear code? Donald Trump is very much like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and the presidency is his “one ring to rule them all.” In this case we do not have the option of destroying the ring. The best we can strive for is keeping it out of the possession of those who cannot resist abusing its power.


STUPID ENDORSES STUPID: Sarah Palin to endorse Donald Trump


Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is endorsing Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump Tuesday at an Iowa campaign stop, a source familiar with the plans told CNN.

“I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement. She is a friend, and a high quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support,” Trump said in a statement.

The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate said she was “proud to endorse” Trump.

The official endorsement will come Tuesday night at a rally in Ames, Iowa, followed by a joint appearance on Wednesday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The backing could prove pivotal for Trump in Iowa, where he’s deadlocked with Ted Cruz in a battle to win the February 1 caucuses traditionally dominated by conservative voters. Palin, a tea party favorite since 2008, has spoken warmly of Cruz in the past and her backing of Trump could blunt the Texas senator’s momentum in the final weeks before voting.

The news of the endorsement was first reported by The New York Times.

The businessman stoked speculation for much of the day, after an invite sent around late Monday plugged a special guest who would join him in Iowa. At a press conference on Tuesday, Trump declined to confirm rumors of the Palin endorsement.

“I’m a big fan of Sarah Palin,” Trump responded when asked about it by reporters.

In September, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Palin how she would feel about possibly serving in a Trump administration.

“I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby, oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind’s use, instead of relying on unfriendly foreign nations for us to import their resources,” she said, adding that her ultimate aim would to get rid of the agency.

“If I were head of that, I would get rid of it and I would let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their space,” she said. “So, you know, if I were in charge of that, it would be a short-term job. But it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge.”

CRUZCruz has had a long, contentious history with Sen. John McCain, who ran with Palin in 2008. McCain has called Cruz a member of the “wacko bird” senators and has fueled the argument for those who’ve questioned whether the Texas senator would even be eligible to serve as president because he was born in Canada.

However, Trump has also spent significant time this cycle trashing the Arizona senator, most visibly this summer when he said that the former prisoner of war was “not a war hero.” 

Asked at the Capitol in Washington what impact Palin’s endorsement would have when people start voting in Iowa, McCain said Tuesday, “I have no idea.”

‎Pressed again what kind of voters Palin’s support could bring to Trump, McCain replied, “I don’t know — you’ll have to ask pollsters.”

Aside from similar conservative populist rhetoric which has inspired fierce loyalty among their working-class supporters, Trump and Palin also have something else in common: Michael Glassner. Glassner worked on Palin’s failed 2008 vice presidential bid and Trump hired him as his political director last July.

Cuban migrant crisis spells trouble for Marco Rubio


The Cubans are coming — and the timing couldn’t be worse for Marco Rubio.

As the Florida senator tries to fend off attacks from left and right about his stance on immigration, about 8,000 Cuban migrants are making their way to the United States’ southern border, with the first dozens recently reaching the Texas border.

They’re hoping to benefit from a decades-old policy that allows Cubans to get U.S. residency when they set foot in the country. Their arrival will put the Cuban-American GOP presidential candidate squarely in the spotlight, caught between a party looking for a hardline stance on immigration and a community calling him a “traitor” and flip-flopper.

“With all this talk about walls, national security and enforcing the border, this is a hell of a bad time for thousands of Cubans to be showing up at the border with Mexico with the expectation to get into the United States,” said Republican strategist, CNN commentator and Rubio friend Ana Navarro.

The political climate is ripe for the mass migration to crash the 2016 conversation. Immigration has been a central topic in the Republican primary, with front-runners like billionaire businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz picking up large amounts of support for backing heavy border security and tough measures against illegal immigration.

Rubio has been a frequent target of their attacks. He’s caught in a bind between criticism from the GOP base on past efforts to reach a bipartisan deal on immigration reform — derided as “amnesty” by his opponents — and his desire to rally Hispanic support in a general election contest.

The migration

Cubans entering the U.S. have skyrocketed in the past year since President Barack Obama announced he would normalize relations with their homeland, with Cuban immigration jumping 78% over fiscal year 2014 and doubling from the period of January to March after his announcement, according to  Pew Research Center In that three-month window, 9,900 Cubans entered the U.S.

Rumors that the United States could soon do away with its policy of letting Cuban immigrants stay in the U.S. and qualify for benefits if they make it here — unlike other Latin American immigrant groups — has spurred an arduous journey for thousands through Central America hoping to cross the Mexican border.

Though the Obama administration has denied any impending change to the policy, the Castro regime has long opposed it and Cubans fear Washington will scrap it as part of the rapprochement.

Hot-button political issue

Immigration, meanwhile, has for years been a hot-button issue for both Democrats and Republicans, and the temperature has only increased during the 2016 race.

Trump’s rise to the top has come in part from advocating building a wall along the Mexican border, deporting undocumented immigrants and temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the United States.

Cruz, like Rubio a freshman senator and the child of a Cuban immigrant, has adopted policies only a tad less aggressive than Trump, mimicking his call for a wall with Mexico and running as a longtime border security hawk.

The positive response from the Republican grass roots has made it hard for Republicans who are moderate on immigration to gain traction. And the Cuban migration effort will make that dance even tougher for candidates, like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who have tried to express empathy towards undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S.

But none of the candidates are likely to feel the glare of the spotlight like Rubio, who is Cuban-Amerian, having supported a path to citizenship in the past and running a campaign on how connected he is to the immigrant community. The fact that he also has a hefty lead over Bush and Kasich in the polls also ensures he’ll come under fire from competitors on the issue.

A super PAC supportive of Cruz has already released a brutal attack ad even before the Cuban issue has risen to the surface. It uses Rubio’s own words and the words’ of his Democratic allies to paint him as a flip-flopper who ultimately supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers as evidenced by his participation in drafting bipartisan immigration reform — which he has since distanced himself from.

“His fingerprints are all over that bill,” New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer says of Rubio in a 2015 interview clip.

Rubio’s roots

The Florida senator is himself the child of Cuban immigrants, was the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida Legislature and represents the biggest concentration of Cubans in the United States.

He is fond of calling attention to his background on the trail, saying his closeness to immigration gives him the best insight of any candidate.

“Of all the people running, no one understands it better than I do,” he said last Wednesday in South Carolina, pointing out that his and his wife’s parents and grandparents, like all his neighbors, were immigrants. “I understand this issue, the good, the bad, the ugly.”

His closeness with the Hispanic community is seen as an asset for the general election, given their growing vote, and Rubio’s history of moderation on immigration could help him peel votes from a Democrat like Hillary Clinton.

Given the blowback from some conservatives, Navarro said at this point in the campaign, Rubio should be “paying” for protesters to heckle him as harsh on immigration, as they did in Columbia, South Carolina, earlier this month, but Navarro said embracing that image too tightly could hurt his long-term general election prospects.

Rubio has chosen to pursue a harder line on immigration since announcing as a GOP candidate, and introduced legislation last week in the Senate that would roll back some benefits to Cubans unless they are legitimate political refugees.

He has also distanced himself from the comprehensive immigration reform he tried to get passed in 2013 along with Schumer and other senators in the so-called Gang of Eight. It would have created a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, but the bill died in the House.

Rubio has since said he no longer believes in comprehensive immigration reform and that the government must prove a commitment to enforcing its immigration laws before any attempt is made at reforming them.

And he has said that he would not welcome the migrants making their way to the U.S., calling it “unacceptable” for migrants to try to enter through Central America and the southern border.

“You’ve seen a huge upsurge now after the deal the President made with the Castro brothers, and it’s becoming a real crisis,” Rubio told reporters in New Hampshire two weeks ago, part of comments about the legislation from the 1960s that created the special allowance for Cuban migrants to stay in the U.S. and apply for benefits.

“We’re going to have to reexamine not just the Cuban Adjustment Act and make changes to it based on new realities but also the benefits people are qualifying for,” Rubio said.

The Cuban view

Cuban-Americans hold a different view. In a December survey of 400 Cubans and Cuban-Americans conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International, 65% said Cubans stranded in Central America should be allowed to come to the United States, with less than 20% saying they should be sent back to Cuba.

Cubans in the U.S. are more split on whether to continue the Cuban Adjustment Act, but a minority support repealing it all together.

Rubio has long toed a careful line on Cuban immigration, hesitant to embrace preferential treatment and making special note in a 2011 Politico op-ed that while his parents came to the United States pre-Castro, they did so “legally on an immigration visa … not, as some have said before, as part of some special privilege reserved only for Cubans.”

But that line, along with his hardening stance during the GOP primary race, has antagonized the left. In South Carolina earlier this month, he was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, who accused him of being a traitor to the Hispanic community.

“He’s very much an immigrant traitor,” said Julieta Garibay, deputy advocacy director for United We Dream, a group that focuses on undocumented youth and was behind the protests. “He plays this card of, ‘I have an immigrant background and I’m proud of my parents,’ but yet he puts out this legislation that would definitely negatively impact folks coming from Cuba,” she continued.”It’s a disgrace.”

Cristóbal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, said Rubio cannot “unburn the bridge” that he cut with the Latino community when he backtracked on immigration reform.

“He really is caught between a rock and a hard place,” Alex said. “He could be just completely stuck in this uncomfortable area for him that doesn’t allow him to regain his footing with the Latino community (while) folks that are running for president on the Republican side will continue to go after him for.”

A path to success

Rubio may still be able to find a way through the muddle. His approach so far has been to portray himself as the adult in the room.

“I was here a few days ago repeatedly heckled by this group … and I told them, ‘We’re going to enforce our immigration laws,'” Rubio told a crowd in South Carolina last Wednesday. “As the son and grandson of immigrants, I know for a fact that enforcing our immigration laws is not anti-immigrant, it’s what sovereign countries do.”

His bill to curtail abuses of benefits by Cubans has general support in the Cuban-American community and has been signed onto by other Cuban lawmakers from Florida.

“Marco is experienced and pretty good at navigating the waters where immigration and (the) Cuba debate intersect, and he is attuned to the pulse of the community in South Florida,” said Navarro, the political analyst.

Experts on the situation in Havana said Republicans — historically strong supporters of the Cuban-American community — could thread the needle and make a case to Americans that Cubans deserve a special provision of immigration policy not afforded to other migrant groups even as they pitch border security.

“Most of the candidates have been leaning to really tighten the borders, and then they’ll say, ‘Except for Cubans, because the Castros are still controlling the country, and Obama’s negotiating with dictators,'” said Ted Piccone, a senior fellow and Cuba expert with the Washington-based Brookings Institution. “It allows them to toe the line in a rational way.”


LIAR: Rubio wrongly credits Reagan for 1981 release of hostages from Iran


LIAR: Rubio wrongly credits Reagan for 1981 release of hostages from Iran!

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio said the United States should not have made any concessions to Iran. Part of the deal included Obama granting clemency to seven Iranians charged in U.S. courts with violating economic sanctions against Iran.

“Our enemies now know that if you can capture an American, you can get something meaningful in exchange for it,” Rubio said on Meet the Press on Jan. 17, 2016.

Host Chuck Todd pressed Rubio on that position: “So under President Rubio, you would not have negotiated any sort of prisoner exchange for those four American hostages?”

Rubio replied: “When I become president of the United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama, and it will be like Ronald Reagan, where as soon as he took office the hostages were released from Iran.”

We flagged Rubio’s comment as a misleading framing of history. Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 may have coincided with the release of the hostages, but historians say it did not cause it. Instead, the Iranians had tired of holding the hostages, and that the administration of Jimmy Carter did the legwork to get the hostages released.

We asked the Rubio campaign for response but did not hear back.

The hostage crisis of 1979

It’s a GOP talking point we’ve debunked before. In 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said, “I believe the right course is what Ronald Reagan called peace through strength … There’s a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn in.” We rated his claim Pants on Fire.

In 1979, Islamic revolutionaries overthrew the Shah of Iran, who had been installed and supported by successive U.S. administrations. Militants took over the American embassy and held 52 American hostages from Nov. 4, 1979, until Jan. 20, 1981 — the day Carter passed the reins to Reagan, who had defeated him amid widespread public disapproval of Carter’s handling of the crisis.

But negotiations for the hostages’ release started well before Election Day. In September 1980, the Iranians contacted the Carter administration with a proposal, according to Gary Sick, a Columbia University professor and the author of October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan.

The agreement that led to the release involved $11 billion to $12 billion in Iranian assets that Carter had frozen 10 days after the seizure of the U.S. embassy. Sick told us that the Iranians feared having to start negotiations over with a new administration and believed that they had extracted most of the benefits from holding the hostages.

Carter informed Reagan at 8:31 a.m. that the release of the hostages was imminent, according to a contemporary report in the New York Times. “The hostages, whose 14 months of captivity had been a central focus of the presidential contest last year, took off from Tehran in two Boeing 727 airplanes at 12:25 p.m., Eastern standard time, the very moment that Mr. Reagan was concluding his solemn Inaugural Address at the United States Capitol,” its report says. Reagan announced the news at 2:15 p.m. at a luncheon with congressional leaders in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. So Reagan, not Carter, got to bask in the glow of the hostages’ safe return.

Despite the showy announcement, scholars of the period say that Reagan did not play any significant role in freeing the hostages.

“Well before Reagan became president, the deal for releasing the hostages had already been worked out by the Carter administration’s State Department and the Iranians, ably assisted by Algerian diplomats,” said David Farber, author of Taken Hostage: The Iranian Hostage Crisis and America’s First Encounter with Radical Islam.

No Reagan administration officials participated in the negotiations, Farber said, and the Iranians waited to officially release the Americans as a final insult to Carter, whom they despised.

“They believed Carter had betrayed the Iranian revolution by allowing the self-exiled Shah to receive medical attention in the United States and then had threatened their new government by attempting, unsuccessfully, to use military force in April 1980 to free the hostages,” Farber said.

Dave Houghton, a political scientist and author of U.S. Foreign Policy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, told PolitiFact that Iran had a relatively unsophisticated grasp of U.S. politics, and that it was possible that the Iranians “didn’t even know what Reagan had said on the campaign trail.”

“I don’t think they were scared into the release,” Houghton said. “In all likelihood, they released the hostages because they needed the sanctions we’d placed on them lifted so they could finance their war with Iraq.”

Rubio’s comments are a misreading of history, said Michael Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, who has authored several papers on the 1981 hostage release.

“It is clear that Sen. Marco Rubio is falling back on an exaggerated urban legend that the only way to deal with Iran is through implied threats of military retaliation, as President Reagan supposedly did,” he said. “Actually, successful U.S. diplomacy then and now played the most significant role.”

Our ruling

Rubio said that Iranian hostages were released in 1981 as Reagan took office because Iran perceived that America was “no longer under the command of someone weak.” In reality, Reagan’s foreign policy approach wasn’t a factor in the hostages’ release, as scholars told us. The Carter administration negotiated the deal months before Reagan’s inauguration, without involvement by Reagan or his transition team. Rubio’s claim is an imaginative re-reading of history. We rate the statement Pants On Fire.


The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter


The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter. And it’s not gender, age, income, race or religion.

If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?

You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels:
It’s authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.

My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means; in national surveys since 1992, many authoritarians have also self-identified as independents and Democrats. And in the 2008 Democratic primary, the political scientist Marc Hetherington found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting whether voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time. He hypothesizes that the trend began decades ago, as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality. In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side. Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.

Political pollsters have missed this key component of Trump’s support because they simply don’t include questions about authoritarianism in their polls. In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Based on these questions, Trump was the only candidate—Republican or Democrat—whose support among authoritarians was statistically significant.

So what does this mean for the election? It doesn’t just help us understand what motivates Trump’s backers—it suggests that his support isn’t capped. In a statistical analysis of the polling results, I found that Trump has already captured 43 percent of Republican primary voters who are strong authoritarians, and 37 percent of Republican authoritarians overall. A majority of Republican authoritarians in my poll also strongly supported Trump’s proposals to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, prohibit Muslims from entering the United States, shutter mosques and establish a nationwide database that track Muslims.

And in a general election, Trump’s strongman rhetoric will surely appeal to some of the 39 percent of independents in my poll who identify as authoritarians and the 17 percent of self-identified Democrats who are strong authoritarians.

What’s more, the number of Americans worried about the threat of terrorism is growing. In 2011, Hetherington published research finding that non-authoritarians respond to the perception of threat by behaving more like authoritarians. More fear and more threats—of the kind we’ve seen recently in the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks—mean more voters are susceptible to Trump’s message about protecting Americans. In my survey, 52 percent of those voters expressing the most fear that another terrorist attack will occur in the United States in the next 12 months were non-authoritarians—ripe targets for Trump’s message.

Take activated authoritarians from across the partisan spectrum and the growing cadre of threatened non-authoritarians, then add them to the base of Republican general election voters, and the potential electoral path to a Trump presidency becomes clearer.

So, those who say a Trump presidency “can’t happen here” should check their conventional wisdom at the door. The candidate has confounded conventional expectations this primary season because those expectations are based on an oversimplified caricature of the electorate in general and his supporters in particular. Conditions are ripe for an authoritarian leader to emerge. Trump is seizing the opportunity. And the institutions—from the Republican Party to the press—that are supposed to guard against what James Madison called “the infection of violent passions” among the people have either been cowed by Trump’s bluster or are asleep on the job.

It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with. That means it’s also time for political pollsters to take authoritarianism seriously and begin measuring it in their polls.

Matthew MacWilliams is founder of MacWilliams Sanders, a political communications firms, and a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he is writing his dissertation about authoritarianism.


President Obama prepares to clean up the republican mess in Flint Michigan



LANSING President Barack Obama on Saturday declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing  up to $5 million in federal aid to  immediately assist with the public health crisis, but he denied Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration.

A disaster declaration would have made larger amounts of federal funding available more quickly to help Flint residents whose drinking water is contaminated with lead. But under federal law, only natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods are eligible for disaster declarations, federal and state officials said. The lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water is a manmade catastrophe.

presdident-obamaThe president’s actions authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate responses and cover 75% of the costs for much-needed water, filters, filter cartridges and other items for residents, capped initially at $5 million.  The president also offered assistance in finding other available federal assistance, a news release Saturday from the White House said.

Snyder, who on Thursday night asked Obama for federal financial aid in the crisis through declarations of both a federal emergency and a federal disaster, said in a news release Saturday he appreciates Obama granting the emergency request “and supporting Flint during this critical situation.”

“I have pledged to use all state resources possible to help heal Flint, and these additional resources will greatly assist in efforts under way to ensure every resident has access to clean water resources,” he said.

“I welcome the president’s quick action in support of the people of Flint after months of inaction by the governor,” Kildee said.  “The residents and children of Flint deserve every resource available to make sure that they have safe water and are able to recover from this terrible manmade disaster created by the state.”


On Friday, Kildee led a bipartisan effort in support of the request for federal assistance. Kildee had long called for  Snyder to request federal aid.

Typically, federal aid for an emergency is capped at $5 million, though the president can commit more if he goes through Congress.

Snyder’s application said as much as $55 million is needed in the near term to repair damaged lead service lines and as much as $41 million to pay for several months of water distribution and providing residents with testing, water filters and cartridges.

In what’s become a huge government scandal, garnering headlines across the country and around the world, Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead after the city temporarily switched its supply source in 2014 from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to more corrosive and polluted Flint River water, treated at the Flint water treatment plant.

The switch was made as a cost-cutting move while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. The state Department of Environmental Quality has acknowledged a mistake in failing to require the addition of needed corrosion-control chemicals to the water. That caused lead, which causes brain damage and other health problems in children, to leach into the water from pipes and fixtures.

Resident complaints about the taste, odor and appearance of the water, which began immediately after the switch, were largely ignored by state officials. The state also dismissed reports of elevated lead levels in the blood of Flint children from pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha before for the first time publicly acknowledging a problem in October 2015.

Snyder declared a state of emergency Jan. 5 and mobilized the National Guard Jan. 12 but has been widely and strongly criticized for not moving more quickly.

State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said federal assistance makes him “more confident … Flint families will begin receiving the help they deserve.”


“We need to remain committed and ensure the state fully accepts responsibility in this crisis and does everything they can to correct the long-term impact on our community,” Ananich said in a news release Saturday.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said in a news release Saturday she appreciates “the president’s quick action in responding to the urgent needs of families in Flint.”

“I will continue to push for federal resources to address this crisis, and for a commitment of resources from the state to meet the immediate needs of the community and to set aside a future fund  to address the long-term needs of children and families,” Stabenow said.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, also welcomed the announcement and said he will work to support further federal support for Flint residents. However, “the State of Michigan and Gov. Snyder must step up and provide the necessary resources to deal with the long-term effect of water contamination,” Peters said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, praised Obama for moving “with unprecedented speed to respond, within 36 hours of receiving the request.”

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.




All Flint’s children must be treated as exposed to lead


In order to address the public health crisis in Flint, every Flint child under 6 years of age — 8,657 children, based on an analysis of Census data — should be considered exposed to lead.

The direction came earlier this week from the doctor who forced the state to acknowledge Flint’s lead problem and the state itself.

The exposure began in April 2014 after the city switched from using Detroit’s water system, which pumps water out of Lake Huron, to its own treatment plant, which drew water from the Flint River.

In recommendations to the state on Monday, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha said all kids under the age of 6 should be treated with some kind of prevention actions.

Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive, said Monday that all children who drank the city’s water since April 2014 have been exposed to lead. “It is important when we think about a public health perspective that we consider the whole cohort … exposed to the drinking water, especially 6 years and under since April 2014,  as exposed, regardless of what their blood level is on Jan. 11.”

The state’s most recent report, based on  tests conducted between October and December 2015, shows that 43 people — only a small portion of the number exposed — had elevated blood lead levels. That’s because these tests measure only the amount of lead in a person’s blood, which decreases after about 30 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That means testing done today does not represent past exposure. Once lead is present in the bloodstream, it is distributed throughout the body, primarily to bones, teeth and soft tissue. Lead accumulates in the body over time. Blood-lead tests used to identify recent or ongoing exposure to lead, do not measure the overall lead burden in the body.

There is no safe level of lead in the body, but the impacts of lead are considered most severe on the developing brains and nervous systems of children and fetuses. And even the 8,657 Flint children younger than 6 exposed to lead may be a low estimate; It doesn’t include unborn children whose mothers drank tainted water during their pregnancies, or children and pregnant women who reside outside Flint but were exposed while visiting relatives, childcare centers or hospitals inside city limits.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the health experts recommend that all of Flint’s children be treated as though they have been exposed to lead. 

Using the app? Tap here to see a map of the number of Flint children less than six years of age by block group.

Source: Environmental Systems Research Institute, 2015 population estimates.


Yep! Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader


Donald Trump isn’t a simpleton, he just talks like one. If you were to market Donald Trump’s vocabulary as a toy, it would resemble a small box of Lincoln Logs. Trump resists multisyllabic words and complex, writerly sentence constructions when speaking extemporaneously in a debate, at a news conference or in an interview. He prefers to link short, blocky words into other short, blocky words to create short, blocky sentences that he then stacks into short, blocky paragraphs.

The end result of Trump’s word choice is less the stripped-down prose style of Ernest Hemingway than it is a spontaneous reinvention of Ogden’s Basic English, the pared-down lexicon of 850 words selected by early 20th century linguist/philosopher C.K. Ogden as the bedrock of a new world language. In the August 6th Republican candidates debate, Trump answered the moderators’ questions with linguistic austerity. Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, his text of responses score at the 4th-grade reading level. For Trump, that’s actually pretty advanced. All the other candidates rated higher, with Ted Cruz earning 9th-grade status. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Scott Walker scored at the 8th-grade level. John Kasich, the next-lowest after Trump, got a 5th-grade score.

Trump’s low grade at the debates wasn’t a fluke. His comments from an August 11 news conference in Michigan earned only a 3rd-grade score.

Flattening the English language whenever he speaks without a script, Trump relies heavily on words such as “very” and “great,” and the pronouns “we” and “I,” which is his favorite word. As any news observer can observe, he lives to diminish his foes by calling them “losers,” “total losers,” “haters,” “dumb,” “idiots,” “morons,” “stupid,” “dummy” and “ disgusting.” He can’t open his mouth without bragging about getting the Clintons to attend his wedding, about how smart he is, the excellence of his real estate projects, the brilliance of his TV show, his generous donations to other political campaigns and so on. In a freakish way, Trump resembles that of Muhammad Ali at his prime—except the champ was always kidding (even when he was right) while Trump seems to believe his claims (and often is wrong). Or perhaps he is afflicted with binary vision disorder, which renders all within his eyeshot either great or rotten.

It’s obvious that Trump’s verbal deficit, as grating as it may be on the ears of the educated class, has not caused him much political pain. The media has noted the opposite: Trump’s overreliance on sports and war metaphors in his public utterances, his reductionist, one-dimensional policy prescriptions—including nuanced geopolitical arguments such as get tough with China and Mexico, which are killing us!—inspire trust in many rather than distrust. Trump’s rejection of “convoluted nuance” and “politically correct norms,” mark him as authentic in certain corners and advance his cred as a plainspoken guardian of the American way. By not conforming to the standard oratorical style, he distinguishes himself from the pompous politician. Less is more when you’re speaking Trumpspeak.

Reading Trump transcripts, you can sometimes sense him downshifting to find a clever word or original expression to make a point. Why shouldn’t he want to rise from Trumpspeak and find an honored place among the articulate? But instead of turning a phrase, he almost always grinds his rhetorical gears in defeat. “OK” and “Excuse me” are two of his regular verbal placeholders that indicate that the words he’d like to speak aren’t available. He also likes to ask himself questions when he’s gathering his wits (“How does that help us?” “Did you know that?” “You know why?”).

It’s precisely because of his apparent inarticulateness that I give him the benefit in the incident from last week, when he said after the Fox News Channel debate that Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” as she pummeled him with questions on stage. He maintains that “wherever” was a placeholder for “nose,” which his tongue failed to locate. Trump is capable of invoking a woman’s menses in a put-down, but I would wager he lacks the felicity to do it in real time.

There’s more to communication than writing—or speaking—in such a way that boosts your Flesch-Kincaid grade-level scores. Excerpts I chose at random from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn score at the 4th- and 5th-grade levels. Yet Mark Twain manages to communicate the great complexities of 19th century American life, especially on the topics of race and justice. Alas, this observation is irrelevant in any discussion of Trump. Twain possessed a nearly unlimited vocabulary and could compose sentences that flow with more twists and turns than a big river spilling into a delta. Huck Finn was deliberately composed in a simpler voice—the voice namely of a poor, illiterate boy. It’s a voice Twain assumed, not his personal voice.

Still, don’t interpret Trump’s low scores as a marker of low intelligence. Trump’s professional history indicates a skill at dealing and deceiving, inspiring and selling, and such attributes would likely qualify as a types of intelligence in Howard Gardner’s book. The role Trumpspeak has played in Trump’s surging polls suggests that perhaps too many politicians talk over the public’s head when more should be talking beneath it in the hope of winning elections.

After all, who says you can’t build a political foundation on Lincoln Logs?


The piece came a couple of decimal points from scoring at the 11th-grade level. Thanks to Oren Tsur , a post-doctoral researcher at Lazer Lab at Northeastern University and at the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at Harvard University. Grade me via email: . Subscribe to my email alerts , follow my Twitter feed, and sign up for my RSS feed.


MORE BULLSHIT FROM TRUMP: Takes credit for Iran prisoner release


Trump, the white man, tries to take credit for the work President Barack Obama continues to do with his team successfully in #Iran.

Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday said his rhetoric condemning the Iranian regime played an integral part in securing the release of four U.S. prisoners.
“So I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might have had something to do with it,” Trump said at the South Carolina Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“You want to know the truth, who’s using it? It’s a part of my staple thing. I mean, I go crazy when I hear about this,” he added.


“They’re in one of the worst prisons in the world, and we had to do something, so I’d always talk about it.”
Iran on Saturday released four U.S. citizens, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, 39, who had been incarcerated for the last 18 months.
The release came as part of a prisoner swap, in which the U.S. freed seven Iranian-Americans who were being held on sanctions-related charges.
The U.S. also agreed to drop international charges against 14 other Iranians suspected of sanctions violations.
The billionaire businessman said he did not think the prisoner exchange was a fair trade, citing the billions of dollars in frozen assets Iran will receive from the nuclear agreement.
“They’re getting seven people that they’ve wanted, much more serious, real people – real people meaning they’ve committed real problems – and they’re getting I guess 14 or 15 other people that are on the watch list  – these are really bad dudes, and they’re being taken off the watch list,” he said.
“We give them $150 billion, we give them essentially 22 people – 21, 22 people – but these are people that really did have problems, and we’re getting back four people who didn’t do anything wrong,” he added.
“That’s the way we negotiate. That’s the way we negotiate. It’s so sad. It’s so sad.”
Trump said the U.S. could have gotten the prisoners released by threatening to levy more stringent sanctions on Iran.
The United Nations on Saturday found Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal and lifted economic sanctions on the nation.
Congratulations President Barack Obama and his team! Listen up GOP warmongers, diplomacy beats carpet bombing. It's called negotiating something Republicans and especially Right-Wing-Nuts don't seem to be able to comprehend; whether it's on Domestic or Foreign Policy.

Congratulations President Barack Obama and his team! Listen up GOP warmongers, diplomacy beats carpet bombing. It’s called negotiating something Republicans and especially Right-Wing-Nuts don’t seem to be able to comprehend; whether it’s on Domestic or Foreign Policy.


Paul Ryan criticizes Obama’s gun reform plan—even though he basically said the same thing in 2013

Speaker Ryan Criticizes Obama's Gun Reform Plans

Paul Ryan criticizes Obama’s gun reform plan—even though he basically said the same thing in 2013

Posted by NowThis Election on Wednesday, January 6, 2016


A woman on Facebook ask a very simple question to her Republican friends. I wonder how many of them can actually answer it with actual facts.

Just a really good question I wanted to ask all my Republican friends who say President Obama has ruined this country :) #IReallyWantToKnow #ThePresidentHasntRuinedOurCountry #YourIgnoranceHasRuinedIt #GetAGrip #StopBelievingPropaganda

Posted by Chonleedonya Odum on Wednesday, January 13, 2016