Monthly Archives: February 2017

Coping with Trump Stress Disorder

A month into the Trump Administration, many Americans are stressed out.  A recent study by the American Psychological Association ( revealed, “more Americans reporting symptoms of stress and citing personal safety and terrorism as sources of stress.”  57 percent of respondents said “the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

It’s because of Donald Trump.  Writing in the February 19th New York Times, Frank Bruni observed that Trump is using an “appall-and-anesthetize political strategy.”  It’s easy to see this intellectually; every day we are beset by a new Trump outrage: lies, racism, blatant conflict-of-interest, or evidence of unsavory ties to Russian oligarchs.  In addition, for many Americans, Trump’s behavior provokes a searing visceral response; he is re-stimulating. Trump opens old wounds,  reminding us of an ancient oppressor: someone we encountered who was a bully or an abuser.

The cumulative impact of this — repeated re-stimulation — can be deadening. Robert Reich ( warns us to avoid four dysfunctional responses: 1. Coming to regard Trump as “normal” — a version of Stockholm Syndrome. 2. “outrage numbness.”  3. Cynicism.  4. Helplessness.

Nonetheless, unless a miracle happens, we’re stuck with Trump for a while.  Our first chance to neuter his “appall-and-anesthetize” strategy comes on midterm election day, November 6, 2018 —  620 days from now. Meanwhile, here’s some practical suggestion for warding off Trump Stress Disorder.

1. Take it one day at a time.  We’re running a marathon not a sprint.  Focus on the present moment.  Each day do something positive for yourself; buy yourself flowers or throw a pot or play your favorite Stevie Wonder CD…  Follow this with one act of resistance (however small).

2. Protect yourself.  If you realize that you are re-stimulated, turn off the news.  Do what you need to to become centered.  Step outside and connect with the earth.  Breathe.

3. Take care of yourself, in general.  Plan for “the marathon.”  Eat a healthy diet.  Get regular exercise.  Make sure you get enough sleep.

4. Take a day off from Trump.  Turn off the news.  Do whatever it takes to avoid “he who shall not be named.”  Go for a walk in nature.  Call your best friend.

After 24 hours, if you are still having trouble sleeping, take another day off from “Voldemort.”  Or three…  (This is not avoidance but rather providing space for healing.)

5. Connect with your family and friends.  These are difficult times; it’s okay to ask for help: “I am stressed out by what’s happening.  I need to hang out.”  If you can, play games with children or take your dog to the park.

Remember that your family and friends are likely to also be stressed out.  Ask them how they are.  Listen.  It may seem like an oxymoron but there is something empowering about deeply listening to a loved one’s suffering.  Cultivate compassion.

6. If you are aware of being re-stimulated, talk to someone about this.  That someone may be your relationship or best friend or a trusted adviser.  Go to a safe space and let it all out!  If you feel like it, stamp on the floor and yell at the top of your lungs, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”

7. Connect with an action group in your area.   The best way to combat Trump Stress Disorder is to take action.  You can find a local resistance group via the Indivisible web site (; usually more than one.  This may be a large group committed to a broad range of actions or it may be a small study group. Chose the group that you feel most comfortable with.

What I’ve written so far is similar to a recent post by Daniel Hunter ( “How to build a resilient culture of resistance in hard times.”  Hunter adds two thoughtful suggestions:

8. Read, listen to, or share a story about how others have resisted injustice.  “Millions have faced repression and injustices and we all can learn from them…. See the suggested resources at (”

9. Be aware of yourself as one who creates.  “The goal of injustice is to breed passivity — to make us believe that things happen to us, events happen to us, policies happen to us. To counteract this, we need to stay in touch with our sense of personal power.”

The bottom-line is to combat Trump Stress Disorder by first taking care of yourself and then taking action.  Robert Reich observed, “Fighting Trump will empower you.”

A Month of Trump

28 days into the Trump regime it’s worse than expected. Here’s what we’ve learned.

1. Trump’s not an executive.  On November 8th, undecided voters opted for Trump because they were impressed by his business credentials; many commented, “He knows how to get things done.”

Trump’s (probably) a billionaire so it would seem that “he knows how to get things done” but, if he does, he hasn’t applied this skill to his job as America’s CEO.  Everything about his first 28 days suggests that Trump is in over his head in his new job.  For example, after an (initial) week full of executive orders, Trump now appears to have no overall plan for domestic or foreign policy.  As another example, Trump’s White House is understaffed and Trump doesn’t seem to be good recruiter.

2. His thought pattern is chaotic.  It’s hard to view Trump dispassionately but his impromptu speeches and press conferences are cringe-worthy.  On Tuesday (February 14th) during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump was asked about rising anti-semitism.  He responded by boasting about his election victory and then said the Trump administration is “going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on.”

3. He doesn’t appear to read briefing papers.  The New York Times reported that for national security briefings, Trump wants “a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.”

It’s hard to imagine that Trump is as dumb as he has appeared the last few days but, to say the least, he’s not an intellectual and is not informed on most major issues.

4. Trump has very thin skin.  As his lack of focus wasn’t bad enough, Trump seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time watching cable news — time where he should be reading briefing papers — and takes negative reporting very seriously.  He may have a sense of humor but it’s not evident.  For example, he continues to be outraged by the satirical skits on Saturday Night Live.

5. Trump detests the mainstream media.  In his rambling Thursday (February 16th) press conference, called ostensibly to introduce his new candidate for Secretary of Labor, Trump spent most of his time attacking the mainstream media. (For example, stating that CNN hates him.)  As a result he has created the most hostile White House press environment in modern times.

6. He doesn’t understand the Federal bureaucracy.  Perhaps it wouldn’t matter that Trump doesn’t prepare adequately and has anger management problems, if Americans believed that he really understood the Federal government and, therefore, was prepared to “drain the swamp.” But there’s no indication that Trump understands the government or has surrounded himself with people that do.  For example, his January 27th immigration wasn’t adequately vetted by the Justice Department and wasn’t discussed, beforehand, with Republican congressional leaders or Trump’s newly-appointed Secretary of State.

And, of course, Trump doesn’t appear to have any intention of “draining the swamp.”  Many of his cabinet appointments are billionaires — such as Education secretary Betty deVos — and appear to be part of the problem rather than a path to the solution.

Trump’s biggest negative is that he is not, inherently, a team player.  When confronted his basic instinct seems to be to run over his adversary rather than seek a way to collaborate.

7. Trump doesn’t have a legislative agenda.  He prevailed over Clinton because he promised jobs and an alternative to Obamacare.  So far, Trump hasn’t produced anything remotely like a plan — other than to say that what is coming will be “phenomenal.”  When Trump’s January 27th immigration order was blocked by the 9th Circuit, he promised, “See you in court!”  So far, nothing.

Trump promised to build a wall along the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it.  Since, he has waffled about the “have Mexico pay for it” part but hasn’t said what he proposes as an alternative.

And his foreign policy is a mess. Almost every day Trump says something that irritates foreign leaders.  On February 14th, speaking with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Trump appeared to back away from five decades of US foreign policy and abandon “the two-state solution.”

8. Trump doesn’t care about other Republicans.  Not surprisingly, for someone whose instincts are not collaborative, Trump doesn’t work well with other Republicans.  He doesn’t consult Vice President Pence.  He doesn’t consult his Cabinet members.  And he doesn’t doesn’t consult the Republican congressional leaders.

Come 2018, it’s hard to imagine Trump campaigning for any Republican running for reelection.

9. Trump is in the process of losing his base.  The latest Pew Research poll finds that only 39 percent of respondents approved of the job Trump is doing.  Those that do approve of Trump are “White, non-college-educated” (57 percent).  But how long will they approve of Trump when he doesn’t deliver jobs, takes away their healthcare, and fails to build “the wall”?

10. Trump has “phenomenal” conflicts of interest.  An under-reported story is Trump’s violation of the Constitution’s conflict-of-interest clause (“emoluments”).  Writing in the New York Review (, ACLU legal director David Cole describes the lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics: “never before in American history has a president-elect presented more conflict of interest questions and foreign entanglements than Donald Trump… Our forty-fifth president has deliberately chosen to undermine the interests of the people he represents in order to further the interests of the one person he cares about most.”

One month of Trump.  How many more will Americans have to endure?

Trump’s Immigration Plan Leads to War

In the wake of Donald Trump’s abrasive January 27th immigration order, some critics have described a White House in chaos and characterized Trump’s policy czar, Steve Bannon, as “in his over his head.”  Wrong.  Trump and Bannon know exactly what they are doing.  Trump’s immigration orders portend a devastating campaign against immigrants, one that will lead to war in the Middle East.

It’s useful to remember why Red voters turned to Trump; he promised to create jobs, stifle immigration, and cut taxes.  So far Trump hasn’t presented any semblance of a jobs plan.  House Republicans have been busy with plans to cut taxes; the beneficiaries appear to be corporations and the rich.

Meanwhile, the focus of the Trump White House has been on immigration.  It’s an issue that meets three of their objectives: it’s red meat for their base; by claiming that immigrants are lawbreakers, it plays to Trump’s “law and order” theme; and this issue paves the way for major policy changes in the Middle East.

Trump’s immigration orders are based upon lies.  Not surprisingly, the justifications for Trump’s immigration policIes are lies.  In his January 25th “Border Security” order, Trump claimed, “The recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico has placed a significant strain on Federal resources…”  There is no “recent surge;” illegal immigration declined under Obama and, recently there has been a net exodus to Mexico. (

In his January 27th order, “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” Trump claimed, “While the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks… these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.”  Wrong again; the recent attacks — such as Orlando — were committed by native-born Americans.  Trump’s order names Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen but immigrants from these nations have nothing to do with recent domestic attacks. (

Even thought these lies were noted by the mainstream media, they are accepted by Trump’s base — who get their news from Fox News.  (Meanwhile, the Trump White House demonizes the mainstream media.)

Trump’s immigration orders are popular with his base.  A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found: “49 percent of American adults said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed with Trump’s order, while 41 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” disagreed and another 10 percent said they don’t know.”  The findings were strongly influenced by party preference.

The 538 website ( reported research about characteristics that make someone “truly American:” one third of poll respondents  said it was, “Having been born in the United States” and “Being a Christian.”  No doubt this was Trump’s base; folks who agree with his policy of keeping non-Christians out.

(The news is not all bleak: a more recent Gallup Poll ( found that 57 percent of respondents disapproved of Trump’s order.)

Trump’s immigration order is a convoluted Muslim ban.  The January 27th ban calls for suspension of the US refugee program for 120 days (and totally suspends the admission of Syrian nationals).  It includes this wording: “[prioritize] refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”  Since all 7 named countries are Muslim majority, this (potentially) gives preference to Christian refugees from these countries.

To be noted is that one of the 7 countries, Iraq, is a strong US ally in the war on terror.

Trump’s order is a portend of things to come.  The Los Angeles Times (  reported: “Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.”  Thus the Trump ban would eventually impact ALL Muslim-majority countries — not just Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Syria, and Yemen but also countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Trump and his top advisers (particularly Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and Stephen Miller) believe the US is at war with Islam.  (Foreign Policy magazine [] reported that Bannon “predicted ‘a major shooting war in the Middle East’ in the coming years. ‘To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,’ he said in January 2016.”)

Writing in the New Yorker (, Steve Coll observed that last year then retired Marine General James Mattis (now Secretary of Defense) described Trump’s proposed Muslim ban as ill-advised: “An initiative so reviled and so easily caricatured across the Islamic world will inspire terrorists to action and invite various forms of retaliation against Americans. It will make shaky governments in Muslim-majority countries that coöperate with the United States—from Morocco to Indonesia—vulnerable to domestic protests and political pressure to break ties with American counterterrorism programs.”

But Trump doesn’t care.  The other elements of his domestic agenda may be ill-defined but he knows where he wants to go with immigration:  He wants to keep out all Muslims.  And, by the way, he wants to wage war on Islam.