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                           One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies

                                                                                   Earth Manifesto proposals by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain

The following twelve proposals are set forth to honor the hopes and prospects of humankind for fairer, saner, and more sustainable societies.  These ideas can be regarded as the well-considered ideas of an objective observer and a providential example of the “straggling thoughts of individuals” that Thomas Paine referred to when he offered his cogent ideas as the basis for wise and able leaders to use in creating a fairer new form of governance.

1. ECOLOGICAL SANITY.  Make a revolutionary commitment to sustainable existence and a better quality of life for people today and in the future.  To accomplish this goal, a farsighted Ecological Balance Initiative should be enacted which gives higher priority to smart ideas like those specifically articulated in Three Bills of Right:  A Triumvirate of Responsible Actions for the Greater Good.

2. MIDDLE CLASS FAIRNESS.  Strengthen and expand the middle class and improve opportunities for social mobility.  To do this, commitments must be renewed to policies that benefit the majority of people, not just policies that primarily benefit rich people.  The health of the middle class has been significantly undermined in recent decades by unfairly regressive tax and social policies.  To strengthen this vital segment of American society, we must once again implement strategies that helped build the middle class in the first place:  (a) govern Big Business so that it primarily benefits “We the People”, not just CEOs and investors and wealthy people;  (b) make higher education more affordable for everyone by providing inexpensive financing and a program similar to the G.I. Bill after World War II;  (c) invest more in improving our nation’s crumbling physical infrastructure and less in wars abroad;  (d) restore taxation that is fairer and more progressive;  (e) create balanced incentives for home ownership that are fair to a maximum number of people; (f) enact and enforce laws that give workers more influence in their struggle against the abuses of capital;  (g) create a social safety net of universal healthcare, and reduce the severe inequities that currently exist in medical care;  and (h) provide for a true Social Security retirement insurance program that protects retirees from having their payroll taxes squandered by the government.  These goals would be advanced by implementing the proposals in Radically Simple Ways to Make America Fairer, and to Fix Both Social Security and Health Care So We Can Move On to Address Much Bigger Issues.

3.  A VIBRANT AND SOUND ECONOMY.  Protect the economy by reestablishing sensible banking and financial industry regulations to prevent harms done by overly risky speculation and debt leveraging, corporate conglomeration, and unchecked conflicts of interest.  It is high time that the unaccountable power of big corporations is more intelligently limited, and to close loopholes that allow corporate entities to evade paying taxes.  Broadly shared prosperity must be promoted in our nation, and effective steps must be taken to reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of the richest 1% of Americans.  Abuses of power and excessive privileges for insiders should be prevented.  Economically sound policies and innovative ideas should be embraced.  Sensible public investments and prudent risk-taking and greater transparency should be encouraged.  Human concerns and ecological values, not profits alone, should guide economic decisions. 

The overarching goal of the economy must be economic justice and farsighted environmental policies and the sustainability of our aggregate activities.  We must stop pandering so exclusively to wealthy people, CEOs, speculators, war profiteers, polluters, the reactionary religious right and economic fundamentalists who oppose sensible regulations and oversight.  Trends in our society and government must be reversed that create serious systemic risks, such as highly leveraged speculation, fraudulent swindles, fiscal irresponsibility, deceptive and discriminatory practices, dishonesty, and extreme partisanship.  Government bailouts should be used only to safeguard the greater interests of the mainstream public, and not just the interests of investors and Wall Street banks.  All economic stimulus and recovery efforts should contain just provisions and ecologically-sound plans.

The practice of increasing profits by externalizing costs onto society needs to be addressed.  This would help prevent serious misallocations of resources.  Here is a fair recommendation for how to immediately begin accounting for real costs that are being unfairly and irresponsibly externalized onto society.  An estimated $300 billion in costs are being incurred in the U.S. every year that are associated with pollution, toxic wastes, related respiratory diseases, harms to the environment, and natural disasters like intensifying storms, heat waves, flooding, and crop failures that are being made worse by global warming-exacerbated changes in natural weather patterns.  This $300 billion represents about 2% of the annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Proposal:  Assess an average of 2% Future Viability Assessment on all products and services.  This action would effectively require the inclusion of these real costs where they should properly be reflected.  This should be done on a progressive scale with higher assessments for polluting industries involved in practices that are distinctly unsustainable, and lower assessments for greener industries.   All industries should be classified by a panel of independent-minded Nobel Prize-winning economists according to the degree the industries contribute to unsustainable production and consumption.  For instance, the most polluting industries should be required to include a 4% assessment, while the greenest industries would be allocated a 0% assessment. 

Use the funds generated from this Future Viability Assessment to invest in pollution prevention and mitigation activities, the clean-up of toxins and pollution, coverage for medical costs related to asthma and other environmental-damage afflictions, mitigation efforts of the costs related to climate change impacts and correlated natural disasters, and creating more robust protections of forests, wetlands, rivers, oceans, coral reef communities, fresh water resources, National Parks, wilderness areas and open spaces. 

To partially offset the regressive impact of higher costs on people who are least able to afford it, a $300 fee-and-dividend type payment should be given annually to every American citizen.  This would offset the 2% higher costs on all annual spending up to $15,000.

4.  FAIR TAXATION INITIATIVE.  Make our system of taxation more steeply graduated.  Do this by lowering taxes on low levels of everyone’s income, and by increasing taxes on all incomes in excess of $250,000.  In keeping with the sensible compromise of the wise Solon, the incomes of the wealthiest people should be taxed at rates that are at least 12 times the rates on the poor. 

These egalitarian changes in tax law could be called the Social Justice Taxation Act. Here is a providential recommendation for this restructuring of income tax rates:

                                                          2014                   Proposed 2015

                                                     Federal Tax               Federal Tax

                                                      Rates on                      Rates on                Net

                                                    Net Income *             Net Income *         Change

$              0    to $       18,150               10%                           4%                6% Lower

$      18,151    to $       73,800               15%                          12%                3% Lower

$     73,801    to $     148,850               25%                         25%              Unchanged

$    148,851    to $     226,850              28%                         28%              Unchanged

$    226,851    to $     250,000             33%                         33%               Unchanged

$    250,001    to $     405,100              33%                         36%               3% Higher

$    405,101    to $      457,600             35%                         41%                6% Higher

$    457,601    to $   1,000,000            39.6%                       45.6%            6% Higher

$  1,000,000    to $  5,000,000            39.6%                      48%              8.4% Higher

$  5,000,000 and above                        39.6%                      50%             10.4%  Higher

 

* Note:  These rates are for people who have the status of “Married, Filing Jointly”.  The Tax Tables should be adjusted in a consistent manner for all the current categories of taxpayers.

It should be recognized that lower tax rates on the first $73,800 of net income are very fair because they apply to each and every taxpayer equally.  The rates on incomes over $250,000 are higher, but still a relatively good deal for high-income earners, considering that the top rate was at least 70% for every single year from 1936 to 1981.

“Half of the net increase in tax revenues that is generated by this Initiative could be applied to reduce budget deficits.  The other half of the net tax increase should be dedicated to reducing the social and environmental injustices that exist in our society today, including provisions that are designed to prevent the externalizing of costs upon society, which are creating profound environmental injustices amongst poor people and minority communities.”

                           --- Three Bills of Right:  A Triumvirate of Responsible Actions for the Greater Good

Taxes on capital gains should also be revised to be more steeply graduated.  Likewise, taxes on rich kids’ inheritances should be made more progressive.  Here is an Estate Tax reform proposal:  Allow a generous exclusion of a non-taxable amount for each estate, like $2,500,000.  For estates worth more than $2.5 million, a 30% tax should be assessed on the amount of estates between $2.5 million and $5 million, 40% on amounts between $5 million and $10 million, 50% on those amounts between $10 million and $25 million, and 60% on any amounts in excess of $25 million.

Three other strategies should be used to ensure that tax inequities are minimized, as adduced in Three Bills of Right.  These include:  (1) the elimination of tax loopholes that allow giant corporations to evade tens of billions of dollars in U.S. federal income taxes each year;  (2) a new requirement for hedge fund managers to pay taxes at regular rates instead of ridiculously low capital gains rates;  and (3) a reduction in tax advantages that investors receive for dividend income and capital gains in excess of $12,000 in any given year.

To reassure Americans that these tax changes will not result in a large and more wasteful federal government, an overarching commitment should be made to freezing the total government headcount for one year.  Wasteful spending should be cut from the military budget, and anything suspiciously like crony capitalist pork barrel spending should be better controlled.  Corporate welfare subsidies should be eliminated, and bureaucratic red tape should be evaluated and streamlined.  And evaluations should be made to eliminate all really stupid laws.

5. BALANCED BUDGETS INITIATIVE.  Stop the federal government from recklessly indulging in the short-term expediency of borrowing enormous amounts of money to squander it on tax breaks for rich people, fighting wars, financing corporate bailouts, or giving people overly-generous “entitlements.”  Make a binding commitment to reduce the spiraling use of debt, and to stop the lavish waste of taxpayer funds and borrowed money. To achieve this positive goal, a new mechanism should be established that that will be effective in discouraging our expedient inclination to live beyond our means.  We should create a Fiscal Responsibility Act that will force lawmakers and the White House to set honest priorities and end shortsighted government “borrow-and-spend” tactics that result in wasteful spending on misguided subsidies, socially irresponsible ways of making profits, wars of aggression, and unaffordable entitlements.

The following five-year plan is guaranteed to be effective, because it would give powerful motives to the primary deciders in our system -- wealthy people and big corporations -- to support annual budgets that are more nearly balanced.  This plan should be implemented gradually over the next 5 fiscal years according to a fair-minded methodology:  Require Big Businesses and the Wealthy to be assessed for federal deficits at the end of every fiscal year.  For the fiscal year running from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, commit to an assessment of 20% of any federal budget deficit as follows:  half of this obligation will be assessed to businesses that earn net incomes of more than $2 million, and the other half will be assessed to individuals with taxable incomes above $1 million.  Allocate these assessments on a progressive scale with higher percentages for higher incomes.  Then, in the following fiscal year, assess 40% of any deficits using the same methodology;  and in the year after that, assess 60%, then 80%, and then 100% of any such deficits. 

The powerful vested interests that have been the primary beneficiaries of the short-term-oriented and irresponsible expediency of mortgaging the future for narrow benefits should be the same interests that step forward to make our system better.  This plan would cause these interests to shift from supporting deficit spending to finding much better ways of reining in the abuses involved in this exploitive scheme.

6.  ENERGY POLICIES.  The United States needs to achieve independence from its addiction to the finite resources of non-renewable fossil fuels.  The best way to do this is to boldly change course on national energy policies and to invest in a world energy-modernization program along the lines of the “Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence” that is proposed by the Apollo Alliance.  This coalition of business, labor, environmental and community leaders advocates revolutionary change that would shift the emphasis of our national energy policies to greater efficiency of energy use, conservation of energy resources, and the development of fossil fuel alternatives.  Such changes should be designed to help make significant reductions in climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.  These are extremely important steps for us to take in order to create a sound economy, and improve our national security, and to ensure ecological well-being.

I propose that a federal Pigouvian green fee of $1 per gallon be assessed on all sales of gasoline.  This would raise about $50 billion per year.  These revenues should be allocated in 4 equal parts to crucial objectives:

(1) Investments in good public transportation, clean energy innovation, and subsidized international sharing of the latest and best technologies for renewable energy alternatives and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere (and better protections of tropical and temperate forests worldwide);

(2) Contributions to a Green Climate Fund and a Climate Disaster Insurance Fund to pay for some of the costs of weather-related disasters at home and abroad, as advocated by the Group of 77 developing nations established in 1964 (it currently includes 134 countries).  Poor countries in the developing world have a good argument when they assert that richer developed nations have a moral obligation to shoulder some of the costs of extreme hardships being suffered due to climate disasters in their countries.  These natural disasters include hurricanes, tornadoes, coastal flooding, typhoons, disappearing arable lands, intensifying wildfires and desertification.  Rich countries, after all, have spewed the most emissions into the atmosphere in the last century and thereby contributed most to the growing climate crisis. 

(3) Give a new tax credit of $500 per household to everyone filing a tax return that has a net income of less than $100,000.  This allowance will offset the higher cost of gas for these people to drive 10,000 miles per year at an average 25 miles per gallon, plus a $100 bonus for supporting the implementation of this new Good Deal plan.  If you don’t drive, or drive less than 10,000 miles per year, or get better gas mileage, then “bully for you”!  Keep the tax credit, and thanks from everyone for contributing less to growing traffic woes.

(4) Dramatically increase U.S. investments in increased humanitarian foreign aid, and in international family planning programs and women’s health clinics worldwide.

7.  WAR AND PEACE.  Courageously commit the U.S. to diplomatic and peaceful resolutions of conflicts between all nations in the world.  We need to pursue foreign policies that enhance mutual security for all and respect the sovereignty of other nations.  We must reject wars for oil and other resources.  Effective ways must be found to prevent military aggression, preemptive warfare and endless military occupations of other countries.  Policy deciders must be prevented from waging wars to divert attention and money from domestic problems.  We cannot allow power to be abused in the name of national security.  The use of sovereignty-violating unmanned Predator drone aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles should be more strictly constrained.  These supersonic missiles strike targets before the sound of their approach reaches their victims, and kill many innocent victims.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the war hero of World War II and U.S. President from 1956 to 1961, warned Americans about the military-industrial complex and the "disastrous rise of misplaced power".  He emphatically and wisely counseled:  "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” 

A Cabinet-level Department of Peace should be created to promote collaborative problem solving and smart statesmanship on the international stage. This would help responsibly resolve current armed conflicts and prevent impetuses that drive future ones.  Stronger international institutions, agreements and laws should be supported to prevent wars, proxy wars, torture and genocide. 

A summit of Middle Eastern countries should be convened to develop strategies to solve conflicts in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan in ways that are most likely to ensure that these nations do not become failed states.  A courageous new plan must be developed to guarantee a safe homeland for Palestinians, and to make sure that peaceful coexistence with Israel is assured.  An initiative should be launched to reduce the influence of radical extremism and reactionary fundamentalism in religions worldwide.  International social justice, human rights and sustainable development should be actively promoted as top priorities along with these proposed peace-building initiatives.  Significant taxes should be levied on all sales of guns, ammunition and military weapons, with the funds generated by these taxes to be used to create more just societies and to engage in proactive peace-building programs. 

8.  CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS.  Defend our Constitution and its checks and balances from excessive infringements by the Executive Branch.  The responsibilities of Congress and the civil liberties of citizens must not be reduced by aggressive expansions in the power of the Presidency.  Unwarranted secrecy must yield to greater openness, and citizens should be assured of reasonable privacy protections.  The exploitation of public fears and anxieties to divide people, and the use of deceit and propaganda should not be allowed to suppress dissent.  Rampant spying on the American people with warrantless monitoring of communications should be curtailed.  Violations of international treaties on torture should be renounced, and any future uses of “extraordinary renditions” of prisoners to offshore prisons should be prohibited.  Secret military tribunals, the abridgement of habeas corpus rights, the obstruction of oversight and investigations, and the disdain for human rights must be circumvented.  The military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba should be closed.  Workers’ rights and collective bargaining powers should be fairly protected.  The use of signing statements by the President to evade rules of law, which were so abused by George W. Bush, should be limited.  The judicial system should be made fairer by ensuring that right-wing judges do not consistently side with corporate interests over those of the people and dominate our federal court system and the Supreme Court.

9.  ETHICAL POLITICS.  Politicians and our government should be made more responsive to the needs of the people and to the longer term greater good of the largest number of people over the longest period of time.  One way to accomplish this would be to enact effective campaign finance reform to reduce the overwhelming corrupting influence of Big Money in our elections and in the lobbying of Congress.  We should try publicly financed Clean Money, Clean Election legislation.  A far-reaching Congressional Ethics Act should be enacted to prevent politicians from engaging in shady dealings and conflicts of interest.  Truly bipartisan initiatives should be implemented to reduce the influence of Dark Money and institutionalized bribery.  Perverse incentives and wrongheaded subsidies should be eliminated. The overarching power that big corporations have in Congress should be reduced. And the interests of workers, women, children, minorities, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and future generations should be more strongly protected. 

Our American democracy should be strengthened by ensuring media diversity, protecting voting rights, and preventing the peddling of influence.  Deceptive practices, rash risk-taking, favoritism for the rich, cronyism, shortsighted profiteering, media manipulation, and outright fraud should be more effectively constrained.

10.  HONEST ACCOUNTING.  Require the General Accounting Office (GAO) to improve internal controls and accounting and reporting practices, with the goal of having an unqualified audit opinion rendered to Congress and the American people on the U.S. government.  This audit opinion should certify that the financial statements of the federal government are fairly stated, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.  In connection with this audit, the GAO (or newly-created civil Grand Juries of distinguished and responsible citizens) should be empowered to make recommendations designed to make government spending -- and Defense Department spending in particular -- better controlled and more frugal, honest and accountable. 

11.  FAIR AND EQUAL HUMAN RIGHTS.  Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to give equal rights to women and men.  The ERA was first proposed in 1923, and was once ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states (3/4 of the 50 states).  This cornerstone of fairness should be incorporated into our great Constitution.  Likewise, a new Constitutional Amendment should be created to give gay men and lesbian women fairer treatment, equal civil rights, and reasonable protections under the law.  The Constitution should be strengthened to make clear our common agreement that no Church should be able to impose its dogmas on society, and that the guarantees in the First Amendment that ensure a separation between Church and State are strongly established.

12.  POPULATION GROWTH.  One of the fundamental contributing factors to all our social and environmental problems, and many of the conflicts in the world, is the surging number of human beings on Earth.  Global human population growth needs to be reduced from its current net increase of more than 70 million people per year.  To accomplish this, we must provide free contraceptives to women everywhere who want them, including emergency “morning after pills”, so that unwanted pregnancies and abortions will be prevented.  Better education is needed, along with expanded opportunities for girls and women worldwide.  Women’s healthcare clinics should be established and generously funded, for initiatives like this would have a great humanitarian collateral benefit of reducing the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases like AIDS.  Steps should be taken to ensure that the ‘Global Gag Rule’, which restricts U.S. support for family planning programs abroad, is never again imposed, and the United States should increase its annual contributions to the United Nations Population Fund.  Women should be guaranteed the right to make their own personal reproductive choices.  Women who do not want children must not be forced to have them.  To codify this fair-minded goal, an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should be enacted that establishes reproductive rights for women, as defined by the practical 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. 

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To accomplish these twelve big initiatives, political leaders should be elected who promise to act as reasonable, fair-minded and honorable representatives of the broadest interests of the American people.  Politicians should be expected to keep the best interests of the people foremost in mind in all policy-making considerations.  Effective changes must be made to our political system to prevent the control of our government by those who represent outsized privileges for small elites like wealthy people, CEOs, war profiteers, polluters and the radical religious right.  We must champion and celebrate honesty, and deny power to Machiavellian operatives who deceive people and take advantage of their fears.  We should choose politicians who advocate fiscally responsible and egalitarian policies, and who oppose discrimination against minorities.  These leaders should honestly eschew authoritarian abuses of power and military interventions, and reject ecologically unwise courses of action.  Specifically, Donald Trump and his grotesque tactics should be soundly defeated in his bid for power in the November 2016 elections.  

        Truly,   

            Dr. Tiffany B. Twain    

               Hannibal, Missouri      

To Do the Right Thing, or Not To Do the Right Thing, That is the Question

“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person;

    my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

                                                                                      --- Thomas Paine

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The great epic poet Dante would condemn D.J. Trump to wander the descending corridors of Inferno forever, consigning him to spend time in the Second Circle of Hell for his lust and the Third Circle for his gluttony, and the Fourth Circle for his greed, and the Fifth Circle for his thin-skinned anger, and the Seventh Circle for his propensity to threaten violence to those who oppose him, and the Eighth Circle for his hypocrisy, deceptions and sowing and exploiting of discord, and worst of all, frozen in a lake of ice in the Ninth Circle of Hell for his treacherous scheming to seize power by betraying community ties and stoking bigotry, fear and hatred, and scheming to satisfy his arrogant sense of deserved privilege and his bullying compulsion to exert authority.

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Until Trump became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for president, the “powers that be” in the Party had declined to support him.  Many declared, “Never Trump.”  But then most of them have fallen in line to support him.  The reason for this “change of heart”?  It appears to be merely a zealous and transparent quest for power at any cost.  Some of these flip-floppers are self-serving congressional officeholders who are so hot in their pursuit of a position in a potential Trump administration that they can overlook the risks to Party and country that are involved in the extreme uncertainty involved with this narcissistic, insult-abusing candidate for the most powerful position in the world.  The Republican Party seems to be adopting a “winning is the only thing” stance, “willing to place an individual who at best is an embarrassment and at worst a serious danger to the health and security of our nation in the position of ‘leader of the free world.’  ‘Party before country.’  One can only look on with disgust.”

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On the issue of releasing his tax returns, Trump has stated that there is nothing to learn from his tax returns.  “That may be the most flagrant lie he has told yet, for he has grabbed for every loophole and legal lever he could find, and he has boasted about it, and he and his family have been the beneficiaries the highly rigged tax system that gives huge advantages to the real estate business.”

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Trump is a psychoanalyst's textbook case of a man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association.  This could be a deeply dangerous problem for Americans if they are somehow bamboozled and emotionally hijacked into giving him power.  It is illuminating to go to a real psychiatrist's textbook to better understand this issue by reviewing the sections on narcissism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The diagnostic hallmark of narcissism is grandiosity.  This can be relatively innocuous in a young adult, because it can be corrected by one's life experiences.  But grandiosity can become a pathologically dangerous character disorder in adult years if it is characterized by a severe lack of empathy and exploitive interpersonal relations.  Lying is the most common complaint about self-centered narcissists and, "in many instances, defects of empathy lead narcissists to wildly inaccurate misinterpretations of other people's speech and actions, so that they may believe that they are liked and respected despite a history of callous and exploitative personal interactions."

Dealing with someone with Narcissistic Character Disorder can be like trying to have a reasonable discussion with a very clever six-year-old.  This is an age when normal children are grandiose and exhibitionistic and very resistant to taking the blame for their own misbehavior.  While they understand what the rules are (e.g., that lying, cheating, and stealing are prohibited), they still try to wriggle out of accepting those rules for themselves.

The survival of childish characteristics into adulthood may generally be a sign of pathological immaturity rather than bad intentions.  But when these childish behaviors persist into adulthood instead of evolving in healthier and more integrated ways of relating, a narcissist may spend the rest of their lives in a state of highly volatile ambivalence and uncertainty.

Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and tend to act as though they think they are always right.  They can't accept criticism, and lash out at anyone who they perceive as treating them without enough respect or admiration.  They are also prone to being belligerent, combative and tyrannical, and thus often have temper tantrums and can be verbally aggressive, insulting or threatening to other people.  They also tend to be obsessed with winning, and so will cheat or make up their own rules.

Narcissists may have normal or even superior intellectual development, but they tend to remain emotionally and morally immature.  Trump's sexual insecurity about his manhood, as reflected in his egotistical expressions about the size of his hands and penis and his succession of brazenly sexy and obedient young wives, contributes to making him disturbingly volatile and vindictive.  

Narcissists often blame others for any problems, and lack social inhibition, and are bullies who rarely show any sign of being distressed by their own behaviors.

Trump veers toward being a dangerous psychopath rather than merely a man who exhibits Narcissistic Character Disorder.  This is due to his oft-demonstrated demagoguery that he uses in conjunction with TV, newspaper and social media attention to get what he wants, and his willingness to advocate physical violence in political rallies toward protestors who oppose him.

While most narcissists are averse to physical contact with others, they will occasionally strike out in an impulse of rage, and given unchecked power in a position of national leadership, they become dangerous tyrants.

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Authoritarian wannabe Trump hates criticism and frequently mocks the media.  He is not the first demagogue in American history to corrupt political discourse through falsehoods and innuendo that exploit public fears.  In the early 1950s, Joseph R. McCarthy, a first-term Republican senator from Wisconsin, ruthlessly manipulated people’s fear of communism.  He was brought down because a courageous journalist named Edward R. Murrow understood that a vile bully like McCarthy could not be dealt with by traditional reporting.  “The problem is that they don't make them like Murrow anymore.”

Trump has pledged to change libel laws in a way that could undermine the first amendment and erode the freedom of the press.  He has asserted that as president he would counter criticism by journalists and newspaper editorials by using libel laws to intimidate journalists and opinion writers.  He has said:

“One of the things I’m gonna do, and this is only gonna make it tougher for me, and I’ve never said this before, but one of the things I’m gonna do if I win … is I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.  We’re gonna open up those libel laws.”

“With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people … We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you never get sued before.”

So Trump thinks he is not like other people.  “Actually, the U.S. Constitution says Trump is exactly like other people, because under the Constitution, we are all equal before the law.  There is no Donald Trump Exception clause anywhere to be found.  Even the Founding Fathers had to take their lumps from their critics.  But we get where he is coming from -- the political milieu of fascism.  Fascist dictators -- even wannabe fascist dictators -- cannot abide criticism.”

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