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Early Fall

It is a balmy 62° here in Pittsburgh today. The weekend looks like a washout but Labor Day should be nice and sunny.

Still, it’s September 1 and before long, the trees will start turning colors. We have beautiful city parks here. It never gets old.

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Well, that’s not good. It looks like chief economics advisor Gary Cohn, one of the grownups brought in to watch Donald and one of Steve Bannon’s nemesises, is on Trump’s s#%* list.

Asked later about the state of the Cohn-Trump relationship aboard Air Force One, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders  told reporters only that the two were committed to passing tax-reform legislation. Meanwhile, Trump has apparently been making calls “on his personal phone” to former White House strategist and Cohn-nemesis Steve Bannon, when Chief of Staff John Kelly isn’t around:

Trump chafes at some of the retired Marine Corps general’s moves to restrict access to him since he took the job almost a month ago, said several people close to the president. They run counter to Trump’s love of spontaneity and brashness, prompting some Trump loyalists to derisively dub Kelly “the church lady” because they consider him strict and morally superior.

“He’s having a very hard time,” one friend who spoke with Trump this week said of the president. “He doesn’t like the way the media’s handling him. He doesn’t like how Kelly’s handling him. He’s turning on people that are very close to him.”

That’s not great news for Wall Street, which has put its faith in Cohn and Kelly to keep the president calm, collected, and contained as Congress attempts to reform the tax code for the first time in 30 years. The market rally—not to mention peace in East Asia—depends on it.    Cohn, for his part, has been reduced to making the usual hostage statements that tend to follow Trump feuds. During an appearance on CNBC Friday, Cohn said, “I have a great relationship with the president. . . . He and I are spending time working together on all the big economic issues that are going to drive economic growth and drive wages in this country. That’s what he cares about, that’s what I care about.” A White House spokeswoman told the Post, “Gary is here. The president is here.”

Sooooo, they occupy the same place? Doesn’t that violate some quantum physics theory? If that’s all you can say about their relationship, that means it is not good. I think.

Time for “Another One Bites The Dust”?

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Just got an email invitation to a computational biologics symposium in Cambridge in a few weeks. The topics look very interesting. For a moment, I forgot that I don’t do that anymore. 😢But if anyone out there is interested, check the topics and abstracts here. This symposium doesn’t cost anything and it’s a good opportunity to rub shoulders with people still in the field.

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Friday: Belaboring

It’s a bandanna day today. It’s only going to be in the 60s today in Pittsburgh. So I broke out my boot cut jeans and struggled to pull them on. That was unexpected until I realized that I got them on while they were still half zipped. So that was cool…

I’m not ready for the end of summer.

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Obamacare is going down, baby! That’s if Trump has anything to go with it. His latest plan to sabotage the ACA involves cutting government funding for the navigators that help participants choose a plan. Yep, hard to sign up for Medicaid if no one tells you how to to it.

Nice guy, our Donald. I wonder how many people he’s going to kill with this move?

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Moving on to more characteristics of Trump supporters, John Dean had an extended interview with Bob Altemeyer about them. Altemeyer followed up with more observations:

Put all this together and you get an idea how hard it will be to change their minds about Donald Trump.

One can expect some of Trump’s followers to waver if the months ahead are thick with damaging revelations like those that brought down the Nixon White House. But a repeat of “Watergate-type scandals” may not damage Trump as much as they did Nixon.

Nixon had little means of communicating directly with his supporters. Trump’s followers eagerly await his tweets to tell them the truth they will believe and repeat to one another. And so far, they have apparently believed everything he’s said.

Second, the major news outlets in the 1970s were the three TV networks. There was no Fox News. And while there were some newspaper columnists and radio personalities who supported Nixon, today there are dozens of Trump-endorsing blogs that are on tens of millions of “Favorites” lists in American homes.

Third, Trump’s party controls all three branches of the federal government.

Given this gloomy assessment of how likely Trump’s support is going to weaken, it seems clear that the more effective strategy now is to activate the Americans who oppose him, who happily amount to a solid majority of the public.

Questions [people ask):

How do people get this way? Answer: There is evidence that authoritarian followers are more afraid than most people. And also, that they were trained in self-righteousness, and ethnocentric thinking in early age.

Will Trump supporters never change? Answer: Some will, if their personal experience shows them Trump has misled them or caused them grief, such as a loss of medical coverage. And if you anticipate a close election in 2020, these people are worth pursuing. But Trump will blame others, and his supporters will give him the benefit of the doubt more than most people will.

Isn’t all this true of Obama/Clinton supporters too? Answer: Yes, to a certain extent, but the studies show it’s much more prevalent “on the right.” If you want a generalization about generalizations, these things are about 2-3x as true among right-wingers as among left-wingers. Research has shown that “progressives” are much less ethnocentric, much less prejudiced, much more likely to be guided by logic and evidence, much more likely to have consistent ideas, much less likely to conform, much less likely to trust someone just because he says he agrees with them, have much more self-insight, and so on.

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Dr. Craig Malkin, clinical Psychologist and lecturer at Harvard, gave an interview about the breaking of the Goldwater Rule with regard to Donald Trump and the diagnosis of malignant narcissism. He also describes narcissists as possessing the “3 E’s”:

  • Exploitative/manipulative
  • A sense of Entitlement to things or people
  • Impaired Empathy

You don’t have to be grandiose or bombastic like Donald to have narcissistic tendencies.

**************************************

About that chemical plant fire in Houston, its been on the radar of Texans for awhile now that poor zoning laws and dangerous environmental toxins/explosives don’t mix. I got this inside dope from a family member in Houston who has been following this for awhile:

I posted this on Facebook as a response to a friend’s post:

This is the Texas I hate: politicians. Our f’n governor Abbott was Texas’ attorney general when the chemical plant in West exploded. No zoning (and no fire regulations) meant these places are in residential areas. After West, Abbott forbade state agencies from publishing and disclosing what chemicals were stored in a given plant. He glibly told the press people could contact a company and ask them what they were storing. A reporter asked just that question about the Crosby plant – owners refused to answer. BTW, Abbott’s motivation: big big campaign donation from the Koch family who have business interests in chemical plants here. F Abbott to hell

She included this article to drive home her point.

Money from Koch interests flows to governor Greg Abbott.

Let’s hear from the Trump Trolls. Constance?