My rating: 5 of 5 stars
General Mark Hertling is the definition of not simply a role model or an American hero but of a great human being who has led and continues to lead not solely through words but deeds through the actions of his life day in and day out. He is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a figure of moral leadership to all people who have come to know him. The good general is what I would term as an “intellectual warrior” of grace, humility, wisdom, dignity, character, and self-effacement despite his life achievements and successes. In “Growing Physician Leaders: Empowering Doctors to Improve Our Healthcare”, the good general takes this to a whole different level by taking us through a journey of his lifelong pattern of learning in being a student of knowledge and empowerment by guiding us through his life journey on and off the battlefield; and how those skillsets apply to not only war but to diplomacy, life, and ultimately even the healthcare arena.
While General Hertling’s book is aimed at those in the medical profession, the lessons he shares with us in this book can and does apply to our everyday lives. In each chapter, the general shares parables from his lessons of leadership on the battlefield and reflects how these life lessons have prepared him in the new journey life has taken him in the field of medicine.
The general’s life deeds and his actions have demonstrated a life of leadership, humility and wisdom. Real leaders know that they must learn day in and day out; and to lead by example and to learn from others. I highly recommend for others to follow the good general on Twitter @MarkHertling. His words and wisdom each day has provided me solace and hope despite the tumultuous nature of a lack of leadership coming from the highest office in the land. General Hertling has said that he might have a new book on the horizon in which he will discuss his life leadership skills and lessons to a more general audience – but this book is a must read for those in the medical profession as well as others who want to take the lessons that he shares towards life in general.
Thank you general. We need your moral leadership, voice and presence now more than ever.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The “Goldwater rule” is the rule given to members of the American Psychiatric Association in which it essentially stated that members are advised to not diagnose or give medical opinions of public figures whom that they have not examined in person. The reason for this rule goes back to the infamous time in 1964 of a Republican firebrand and politician in Barry Goldwater. In his run to the President, anonymous psychiatrists were giving out their opinions that Barry Goldwater had psychiatric problems in which no evaluative basis was provided or given. In order to root out the ethical problems that arose, psychiatrists have been advised to not repeat this episode in history in what is believed to be the risks associated to the credibility and reputation of psychiatrists and mental health professionals. In “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”, Dr. Bandy X. Lee takes issue of the rigidity of this rule and has called on herself and other psychiatrists to break with the Goldwater rule in which it relates to this unique time in history with someone as impulsive and unhinged as Donald Trump as President. Dr. Lee has dubbed this and her colleagues with the moral and ethical responsibility in their “duty to warn”. Their “duty to warn” as they call it, to warn the public about the unique threats posted by “anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump” and that someone like him “simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency” (Lee, 8).
In “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”, Dr. Lee has put together a compilation of research type articles by the nation’s and world’s most preeminent experts in the field. For instance, Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo who is known for the famous Stanford prison study, says that Donald Trump is “unbalanced” and fits into a “specific personality type” in being an “unbridled, or extreme, present hedonist” and “narcissist”. Clinical psychologist John Gartner on the other hand labels Donald Trump to be a “malignant narcissist” and an individual who “evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader.” Gartner continues that the “catastrophe” of Donald Trump could have been avoided if “we in the mental health community had told the public the truth, instead of allowing ourselves to be gagged by the Goldwater rule.” All these preeminent scholars have decided together along with hundreds of their colleagues to step away from this time dated rule and “warn the public” of the unique threats posed by a sociopathic narcissist and lifelong con man in Donald Trump. A man who throughout his life has been unable to express the human emotion of empathy.
I have always said that Donald Trump’s only “genius” are the information overload and distraction techniques. As a result, this keeps most of the population caught up with their lives to follow in the daily and habitual lies of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. This is who he has been all of his life. In “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”, eminent scholars and researchers in the field of psychiatric research and mental health present to us a very convincing case as to why the mental health of the President should not be off limits to discussion. It is their “duty to warn” the public instead of the “Goldwater rule” in getting in the way of the public knowing the whole truth on the type of person that Donald Trump precisely is: a malignant narcissist of the first degree.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Michael Vincent Hayden, former director of the CIA as well as being a retired U.S. Air Force four-star general, Director Hayden in his newest book, “The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies” takes us on a journey of the start of his career towards the progress of his life from general to director of the CIA and other top positions. General Hayden worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations and put as his mission and legacy as being one of the most well accomplished public servants that we have had that has been a vital and key part of keeping us safe and secure both morally and with security. Morally, because he is the breed of an “intellectual warrior” and presents to us how the threats that we face today in the name of Donald Trump, presents unique serious challenges and problems not only to our country, but to our intelligence community and to the independence of our institutions and the norms that have governed it tidied up since the founding of our great nation.
In an early part of the book, General Hayden takes us back to his time in Sarajevo in 1994 he was there during the ravaged war time and as he states in his book, “What struck me most, though, as I walked about the city was not how much Sarajevans were different from the rest of us, but how much they weren’t. This had obviously been a cultured, tolerant, even vibrant city. The veneer of civilization, I sadly concluded then, was quite thin” (Hayden, 2). Moreover, he continues, “Over the years it became clear to me that the structures, processes, and attitudes that protect us from Thomas Hobbe’s world of “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” lives are not naturally occurring things. They are inherently fragile and demand careful tending if they are to survive” (Hayden, 2). And he logically explains that “civil war or societal collapse is not necessarily imminent or inevitable here in America” but rather that the “structures, processes, and attitudes we rely on to prevent those kinds of occurrence are under stress, and that many of the premises on which we have based our governance, policy, and security are now challenged, eroded, or simply gone” (Hayden, 2). And quoting his friend A.C. Grayling in which in a personal conversation he told General Hayden that this emerging post-truth world is one “over-valuing opinion and preference at the expense of proof and data” (Hayden, 3). As General Hayden eloquently puts it, “Intelligence gathers, evaluates, and analyzes information and then disseminates its conclusions for use, study, or refutation” (Hayden, 3). In a world in which there is so much mass information out there; and in one in which people are hyper-polarized to only read what they already believe, unique challenges are created. In the case of Donald Trump, a demagogue of the first degree, we face an even greater threat to the very nature of truth and reality.
This book is an absolute must read. I can write an entire report on General Hayden’s book and in fact I might just do that in the near future. This book is so vital and important as General Hayden takes us through his own firsthand account of this chaos and the unpredictability of everything that is currently taking place; particularly the war on intelligence and the de facto war that Donald Trump is going to war against the very intelligence agencies that keep us safe.
Another book I will soon review will be “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” in which psychiatrists and mental health professionals of the first degree highlight the case on why they have broken with the Goldwater rule; and have said what is clear: Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist and a sociopathic narcissist with the lack of the human emotion of empathy. I will come back to update more on General Hayden’s book in the near future. Read it!
David Frum is an astute conservative intellectual who was senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush and is currently the senior editor at The Atlantic. He took the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. You can also follow him on his Facebook page and Twitter page.
Mr. Frum, it is a pleasure and an honor to conduct this short interview with you. You mention in your new and prescient book, “Trumpocracy”, the lasting damage of Donald Trump may be the ways that he has violated both the written and unwritten norms of our country – most especially his attack on our institutions – what do you think is the most profound impact this may have on the future of our country and the lasting legacy this may leave behind? You offer hope near the end of the book on how this has galvanized patriots of all political stripes that may have never before been interested in government and civic duties, but in what ways do you think that the Presidency of Donald Trump will leave this mark for future generations to come?
Two impacts already look long-lasting: the harm done to US global leadership – and the degradation of one of the two great political parties.
How can a South Korean or an Estonian or anyone else who relies on US protection ever again fully and entirely trust the word of the United States? Things that once looked impossible have now happened. They are real-world possibilities that people must take into account.
At home, we have seen one of the two great democratic competitors rally around a figure they knew to be corrupt, abusive, authoritarian, and – to a greater or lesser degree -under the thrall of a hostile foreign government. That behavior will be hard to forget.
TWO IMPACTS ALREADY LOOK LONG-LASTING: THE HARM DONE TO U.S. GLOBAL LEADERSHIP – AND THE DEGRADATION OF ONE OF THE TWO GREAT POLITICAL PARTIES
While it is often said that history repeats itself, history is never repeated exactly of course. What parallels of history would you say that the tactics of Donald Trump and the time we live in today remind you?
I prefer the observation of a cherished history professor, “History never repeats itself, it only appears to do so to those who do not pay attention to the details.” I am most struck by the way that Trump – and those like him in other advanced democracies – is new. In the 20th century, would-be authoritarians were impelled by ideology, or at least pretended to be. Trump is a US imitator of the chauvinist repressive kleptocracy we see most fully perfected in Putin’s Russia. It has no positive message at all, it offers only resentment in service of corruption.
As many of our followers know, you were President George W. Bush’s senior speechwriter. Working with 43, what would be the best lessons you learned from him that may have influenced you or left a lasting mark on the person you are today?
I was only one among four writers! ( I try to resist the Washington disease of exaggerating my role in past events.) That said, I learned many things from him. Here’s one that I try to impart to rising politicians I meet: Your flaws can also be your strengths, if you have the wisdom to learn from them. “I believe in forgiveness because I have needed it,” Bush said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Those words enabled flawed human beings – ie all of us – could see something of ourselves in this American aristocrat.
Away from the manners in which Donald Trump has violated the basic norms of decency and democratic governance, what would you tell potential readers the goal of your book is and why that it is different from other Trump books that have been published and have become popularized?
TRUMPOCRACY SEEKS TO BE BOTH ANALYTICAL AND INSPIRATIONAL, TO SHOW THE DANGER AND THE REMEDY
I took a risk in publishing early because I hoped to urge Americans to act before it was too late. Trumpocracy seeks to be both analytical and inspirational, to show the danger and the remedy.
As some may or may not know, you were a good friend of the late Christopher Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens was an astute intellectual, author and contrarian that passed away in 2011). What do you think he would say about the time that we are living in today? Additionally, can you briefly summarize in a couple of sentences what his lasting legacy is to you?
I loved Christopher and sorely miss him. He would derive grim pleasure from watching his least favorite people in American public life – evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. – line up to confer God’s blessing on a rogue and crook like Donald Trump. Here he is talking about the Sr. Falwell pre-Trump (When Christopher Hitchens sparred with Hannity, whacked Reed and cheered Falwell’s death). Only imagine what he’d say about the convergence of the Jr. upon Trump!
For me, one legacy of Christopher is this: It’s possible both to be intellectually serious and morally intense – to speak forcefully and also eloquently. How often do we hear cable personalities say the equivalent of, “Oh yeah? Fuck YOU.” As if that conveyed any intelligent meaning at all! I sent three children through middle-school, I don’t need to hear middle school on the public platform or cable TV. (Read David Frum’s obituary on Christopher Hitchens’ here)
Last question and I will let you go. Why do more people (especially conservative talking heads) not consider how the passage of history and time will judge them as to where they stood in the era of Donald Trump? Why do not more people who are seemingly educated not seem to consider as to how history and their grandchildren will judge them?
Some of them are so distracted by resentment and hatred that they cannot see even ten minutes into the future. Others shrug: the posthumous respect of history will not pay bills in the here and now. History can be forgetful; corrupt earnings prudently invested can last a long time.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A very good read. Let me start off by saying that each and every single one of us are imperfect people with personal flaws of one kind or another. This includes James Comey and he is the first one to acknowledge this truism. There is very little doubt that his unprecedented announcement a little bit ten days before the election contributed and may very well helped tilt the election to Donald Trump. Acknowledging this travesty that we are currently living in, there is no doubt that Mr. Comey has something Donald Trump will never have in possessing a moral character and was guided by all his decisions to the prisms of integrity and morality.
Looking back in hindsight is always an easy thing to do. There has been a lot said in the media about Mr. Comey’s apparent contradictions and other tidbits of his book. For example, he never says that his decision was guided consciously by the fact that Hillary Clinton was expected to win but rather that it may or may not have played an unconscious role. If Mr. Comey has any character flaws, it is that in my opinion he cherries himself to be a boy scout in that he places all the moral burden and moral responsibility upon himself rather than having followed Department of Justice protocols. Additionally, he was forced to make tough decisions in an ever changing environment and situation that none of us could fathom. Would we have made different decisions? Possibly, but we were not in his shoes with the pressures coming from all sides. Mr. Comey made decisions to protect the integrity of the FBI and the independence of our judicial system.
I will come back to this review and write more in the near future once my thoughts on this book have more fully developed. Let it be known, whatever faults and failings that Mr. Comey may have in his reasoning and decision making process, he is a patriot who has served his country faithfully and dutifully from the very youngest of age. For Trump supporters and sycophants to smear him in the ways that they have only demonstrate their lack of of an intellectual or moral compass. At the end of the day, Donald Trump is a traitor and has never put any person ahead of himself and his nefarious behavior. Remember, the day after the firing of James Comey, Donald Trump had high level Kremlin officials in the Oval Office in which he bragged that he fired Mr. Comey because he was a “nut job” and to put an end to the Russian investigation. Intent matters. Motivations matter. That is why we have distinctions in our judicial system between 1st degree, 2nd degree and manslaughter (among other various distinctions in which intent plays a significant role). History will judge all of us accordingly as to where we stood at this perilous time in our nation’s history. We will all have to answer to that as well as to the legacy we leave behind to our children and grandchildren. #IStandWithMueller. We all should. Enough excuses and deflections. Truth and justice will prevail. America is bigger and better than any one person; and we have too much history to allow a demagogue to wipe away all our foundational freedoms and independence of our judicial system away from the people. Truth and justice will prevail.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
David Frum’s timely and prescient book “Trumpocracy” is a vital read in not solely understanding the baseness that is Donald Trump – but most importantly those who have enabled him to come to this point in risking the security, reputation, and long term stability of our country in great risk. It is vital that we learn from the lessons of history and the implications that they can mean to our present situation. Donald Trump is a unique threat and we truly are living in a perilous time in our nation’s history. I truly believe that history will judge this time as to where people stood and the causes they advocated once history is recorded. The most amazing thing is to see the number of people who simply seem to accept the fact (or in denial) that Donald Trump and his campaign were involved in nefarious activities with a foreign adversary who tried to tilt our election in his favor. I believe that history will record Donald Trump as the *Asterisk President – one that history records as illegitimate. Before that time comes, we are faced with a unique threat in terms of both the debasing of our cherished institutions and democratic process; as well as this reckless malignant narcissist increasing the chances of a nuclear war in which millions of people can perish in the blink of an eye.
David Frum is a principled conservative who never sold out his soul, character, integrity and morals to support a demagogue. As David Frum excerpts from an op-ed he wrote toward the end of the election cycle on why he voted for Hillary Clinton, “Previous generations accepted infinitely heavier sacrifices and more dangerous duties to defend democracy. I am voting to defend Americans’ profoundest shared commitment: a commitment to norms and rules that today protect my rights under a president I don’t favor, and that will tomorrow do the same service for you.” As we have come to see in just the past year how true these words were then and resonate even more now. Putting America first is not about using demagogic tactics of the authoritarians, totalitarians and fascists of the first half of the 20th Century. It is not about being a liar and telling your core supporters that all news against the Dear Leader is “fake news”. It is not lying about lying and lying as a normal practice. We cannot allow Donald Trump to represent a new normal. Donald Trump is an aberration and a stain on both the office of the Presidency and to the history and ideals of our country. I look forward to Bob Mueller releasing his final report. And if warranted, treasonous/traitorous actions should have consequences. We will soon see whether Republicans in Congress have the slightest modicum of integrity and humility in putting country and humanity over the parochial whims of being members of Congress.
By the way, the tone and voice of the author was very much alive in this reading. Very good writer full of expression and wit.