gender, language, other topics, politics

Health Matters – and Other Matters


  1. The D’s DID


Donald J. Trump and his current favorite sidekick, the redoubtable Rudy Giuliani, have morphed into experts on Hillary Clinton’s mental and physical health. How fortunate we are that one of our presidential candidates and his new BFF have so much medical expertise! Clinton, they tell us, doesn’t have the “physical or mental stamina” to fight ISIS, and therefore is unsuitable for the presidency.


As usual contemplating the Donald’s effusions, I find myself at a loss – so much nonsense, so little time! But a few things that stand out.


First of all, as far as I can tell, Clinton has the physical stamina of the Energizer Bunny. At 68, she keeps going day after day, from one event to another, one speech to another. And mental stamina? I get tired just trying to calculate how much of that it must take to be subjected daily to Republican garbage and keep on keeping on.


Voters’ hearts have to warm to Trump’s and Giuliani’s solicitude, though: amid the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign and – taking valuable time from demanding a special prosecutor and urging on the second amendment people — they worry over the frailty of their adversary.


That frailty makes perfect sense in Trumpworld and Giuliani Universe: Clinton is female, and women are necessarily frail and sickly. It’s a no-lose proposition, too: if she is a good woman, and therefore frail and sickly, she, like any other woman, is unfit for the presidency (whew!); if she is in fact strong and healthy, she is ipso facto not a good woman, hence not a decent human being, and unfit for the presidency. That simplifies things.


But there’s a problem: Clinton’s personal physician has released a report, several pages long, detailing the state of the candidate’s health.


“Mrs. Clinton is a healthy 67-year old female whose current medical conditions include hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies,” writes Dr. Lisa Bardack, Clinton’s doctor since 2001, in a Health Statement provided by Clinton’s campaign.

The statement says that a blood clot, also known as a thrombosis, that occurred between her brain and skull following a fainting spell and concussion in late 2012 is completely resolved.


“She had follow-up testing in 2013, which revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis. Mrs. Clinton also tested negative for all clotting disorders,” Bardack writes. But that is not sufficient for the Trump Medical Center. A letter purportedly written by Bardack, dated Feb. 5, 2014, says Clinton suffers from seizures and dementia that both are getting worse. Bardack released a statement on August 16, saying the document is a fraud.


But turnabout is fair play. What about the Donald? He is after all, at 70, even older than Clinton. What do we know about his stamina?


Fear not. We have access to a complete report on Trump’s health, written last December by his personal physician, gastroenterologist Dr. Harold Bornstein. It is a full four paragraphs in length.

Many commentators have expressed questions about the letter. From the letterhead to the signature, it does not resemble a normal physician’s letter. For instance, it begins, “To Whom My Concern:”


Also unusual is the style of the body of the letter. Remarkably, it is very close to that of the subject himself: The hyperbole, the exaggerations, the vagueness….it can only have come from the pen of the Donald. The suggestion has been made that Trump created the letter himself.


That may well be true, but what does it mean? Could it be that Trump forges doctors’ notes (a practice, perhaps, learned in boyhood)? Or is there a more innocent explanation?


Here’s my diagnosis. Donald Trump has a psychological illness: he is afflicted with what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), and is now identified, in DSM-5, as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This is the condition, much discussed in the 1970s and 1980s, described in lurid psycho-thrillers like The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil. DSM-5 defines DID as “characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality traits that alternately show in a person’s behavior, accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.”


Um yes, you might say that that explains a lot.


DID is a controversial diagnosis. There are reasonable arguments that it is iatrogenic: the therapist puts a suggestible patient under hypnosis and implants the suggestion that he or she is a “multiple.” Others continue to believe that the condition really exists, and certainly there are arguments for ascribing some of the Donald’s eccentricities to DID.


Trump might have a “Dr. Harold Bornstein” as one of his “alters,” as non-primary identities are called. So when a letter shows up on “Dr. Harold Bornstein”’s letterhead, written in Donald Trump’s unique style, we should not presume that Donald is trying to pull a fast one, perhaps even concealing the existence of a serious health problem. No, one of his alters has merely emerged and written the letter on his behalf.


That diagnosis would help to explain another set of Donaldian puzzles. At times in the past, calls would come to media persons from people in Trump’s office claiming to work for him in public relations. Sometimes they would identify themselves as “John Miller,” sometimes as “John Barron,” but they always sounded remarkably like Trump himself, in both vocal quality and content: boastful, hyperbolic, and swaggering, but (mostly) in the third person. (There are occasional reversions to “I”.)


Neither of these persons has been heard of outside of the Trump context. It sounds a little fishy. But what if… John Miller and John Barron are a couple of other Trumpian alters? He can’t help it – he has a condition. (Interestingly, “Barron” is the first name of Trump’s youngest son.)


The diagnosis lets Trump off the hook in one way: he’s not playing games on purpose. But in another, we have to wonder whether someone so severely afflicted can serve as president, or for that matter in any other responsible capacity. DID is considered incurable, and some researchers think the condition may get worse over time, as existing alters often fragment so that sufferers end up with dozens or even hundreds of personae, generally unaware of one another and sabotaging or denying one another’s actions. Since the problem is attested as early as the 1980s, heaven knows how many Trump alters are now scuttling around. The other part of the diagnosis, “memory impairment for important information,” would also be a liability in the Oval Office.


  1. HRC’s Crimes & Misdemeanors (cont.)


There’s more nonsense from the Media Gurus concerning the “criminality” of HRC’s actions, from Benghazi to the personal server to the current fave, the Clinton Foundation. There is something distinctly sleazy about the glad gibbers of joy with which the commentariat rushes to heap opprobrium on Clinton for everything she does, or might have done, or didn’t do. The gibbering is especially distressing, and puzzling, since an enormous amount of information about Trump’s clearly and/or nearly criminal actions is emerging every day, but no one seems terribly interested. Instead, we are treated to heaps of hot speculations about Clinton’s “crimes,” and when “indictments” will come down, and the need for a special prosecutor for her. Shades of the Bill Clinton administration! The current witch-hunt (and I do mean witch-hunt) has historical roots, going from Salem in the 1690s to Washington in the 1990s, and now 25 years later we are treated to more of the same.


The hysteria about Clinton’s criminality sounds like something cooked up and served by Fox, Limbaugh et al. And indeed it is. But it is troubling that the game is also played tirelessly by members of the “liberal” media: the New York Times, PBS, and MSNBC. A lot of the resident intelligentsia (Amy Chozick, Gwen Ifill, Charlie Rose, and Chris Matthews) are big-time players. You may have noticed, for instance, that when Rose is talking to any group of political pundits, he first asks about what Trump’s chances are of taking various states, whether his numbers are higher than they appear, and so on… and then asking, with his characteristically flirtatious up-from-under expression, “Now to Clinton…. About those emails…. Any indictments in the works?” One could be forgiven for suspecting that these savants actually are hoping for a Trump victory, or at any rate a Clinton loss.


The problem with their implicit analysis of Clinton’s “crimes” is this: to make a plausible case that a crime has been committed, it is necessary to demonstrate first, that something illegal was done, that the perpetrator benefitted from it, and that someone or something suffered as a result. In none of these cases are any of these conditions met.


Benghazi. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Benghazi brouhaha is the total naïveté about how large bureaucracies (like the State Department) work, and how, in such organizations, responsibility is assigned. The Secretary of State (like every cabinet position) has all kinds of subordinates who handle each region: undersecretaries and assistant secretaries and deputy secretaries and so on. The SoS him- or herself does the high-level showy and symbolic things: working out treaties, meeting with the heads of governments, creating policy, and so on. It would be a waste of valuable human resources to saddle a Secretary of State with responsibility for a ninth-rate consulate like Benghazi. Someone who is unaware of these basic facts should not be a candidate for president.


Then, too, in the case of Benghazi, Stuff Happens, as it does elsewhere, and no one is to blame. Or if blame is to be assigned, assign it to the moron in Florida who was burning Qurans shortly before the consulate was attacked. Strange but true. Donald, Clinton did not order him to do so. (Or did she?, wonder the serious conspiracy buffs.)


The Personal Email Server. The commentators can’t seem to stop talking about “indictments” for “wrongdoing” arising out of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server instead of the official DOS server. No one seems able to articulate exactly what indictable “crime” was committed, but Clinton’s detractors like to allege these putative crimes as a reason for their opposition to her. At the time she evilly used the evil server, there were no rules – much less laws – in place against doing so, and former Secretaries of State (notably Republican Colin Powell) are known to have done so too. There seems to be a minor flap about whether, as Clinton has said, Powell “suggested” that she use a personal server, or whether he simply mentioned to her that he had done so. But since the conversation occurred in 2009, it’s entirely possible that in 2016 either or both parties have imperfect memories of what was said. It’s hard for a rational person to see why this could possibly matter, but the idea has been parroted all over the liberal media that Clinton is intentionally lying to harm Powell. Well, women do.


More importantly, what harm was done by Clinton’s use of a personal server? The analysts hint darkly that it might have been hacked – but there is no evidence of this. On the other hand, we know that a great many official government servers, including that of the State Department, have been hacked, so Clinton’s decision to stick with her Blackberry might in fact have been the best decision she could have made. There is no evidence whatsoever that Clinton’s use of her personal server enabled her to commit espionage, or whatever the crazies are saying to criminalize her behavior. But then, women shouldn’t talk at all, so her use of any server is suspect.


Anyway, since no one was hurt, and Clinton benefitted only by saving time and energy (which she used to do a better job for all of us), no crime was committed. Case closed.


The Clinton Foundation. The latest attack by the desperados criminalizes Clinton in her roles as a director of the Clinton Foundation and simultaneously Secretary of State. The charge, insofar as I understand it, is that her assistants occasionally discussed arranging meetings between the SoS and potential wealthy contributors to the Foundation, some of whom subsequently did in fact make large contributions: as Trump likes to put it, they “paid to play.”


Paid to play what?


Trump (whose charitable contributions are extraordinarily chintzy for the zillionaire he claims to be) talks of the Clinton Foundation as one might speak of the Mafia – he hints that the money is being handed to the State Department as a form of protection or a bribe. Certainly an organization that extorts money from small businessmen and other helpless people in order to enrich its thugs is behaving criminally and should be punished. But the Clinton Foundation is not the Mafia and there is no indication whatsoever that any moneys taken in have gone to enrich the Clintons personally.


We do know that Clinton Foundation funds are used in the less developed world to buy drugs – especially anti-AIDS drugs — which are then directly distributed to their end users. The Foundation does so because, if the drugs are simply distributed to government bureaucracies to distribute, they get sold by members of those bureaucracies at exorbitant prices (corruption is rife) and sick people die. The Clinton Foundation has saved millions of lives this way. Trump has burbled that a lot of the donations have come from “bad” governments that are anti-woman and anti-gay, as if that tainted their money. “Pecunia non olet” (money doesn’t stink) said the emperor Vespasian, and I see these tainted sources as an extra added bonus: not only does the Foundation use the money thus gained in a good cause, but Clinton’s actions forced homophobic and misogynistic governments to support causes they loathe.


The counterargument would be to the effect that maybe some of the people who paid to get appointments with SoS achieved some influence over our national policy thereby. That is a serious charge. But it’s one thing for your assistant to talk about maybe arranging a meeting, and something very different to change your behavior to accommodate a donor just because he donated a lot of money. There is not a shred of evidence to this effect.


“Somebody is going to hell” over the Clinton Foundation attacks, said James Carville. While Carville can be a tad hyperbolic, in this case I think he’s right on point. Hell is getting overcrowded with a whole lot of Republicans, those who are trying to bring down the Clinton Foundation along with those who (per Madeleine Albright) do not support other women. I hope they like it hot. I hope I do not have to share eternity with any of them.