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Monday, September 17, 2018


Donald Trump has a great deal of money.  This has enabled him to give Don Jr. a good life, even though young Trump is clearly brain-damaged.  But couldn't the father have at least found an orthodontist who could do something about those front teeth?


Anonymous said...

Classy, Bob.

MS said...

I believe that Prof. Wolff is not just commenting on Don Jr.’s physiognomy. He is making a subtle point about what the failure to pay for orthodonture work to correct Don Jr.’s overbight says about the character and psychology of his father. And frankly, until Prof. Wolff pointed this out, I had not thought about it. Most parents regard the appearance of their children’s dentition as important for their future. People make superficial judgments about those whom they meet based on their first impression, and first impressions can have long term effects on the individual’s future. So, if a child’s dentition is unattractive, many parents will spend money that they can often ill afford to spend in order to correct an unbecoming smile. My parents, who were living on a tight budget, did so for their three children.

There is no question that Trump could have afforded to pay for an orthodontist to correct Don Jr.’s overbight. Many people, subconsciously, regard a bad overbight as a reflection of low intellect. So, why didn’t Donald Trump spend the money to improve his son’s appearance? I believe that Prof. Wolff is suggesting that it demonstrates, again, that Donald Trump is self-absorbed. He cares only about himself, about how well coifed his hair is. Granted, this is just armchair psychoanalyzing. But his failure to pay for an orthodontist to correct his son’s bad overbight is curious. Did he not notice? Did he not care? And there is a second point. I suspect that if Ivanka had poor dentition, he would have noticed and spent whatever it cost to correct it. He may, in fact, have done so. This would be consistent with his preoccupation with the appearance of women generally. The guys will have to make it sink or swim – the same attitude that his own father had.

Anonymous said...

That is quite the analysis, MS.

Have you considered starting your own blog?

MS said...


Am I to assume that your suggestion is not a sarcastic critique on my overweening presumption to be able to read Prof. Wolff's mind?

No, I have not considered starting my own blog, for three reasons.

First, the credit for my analysis belongs to Prof. Wolff. The original observation regarding Don Jr.'s dentition, and what it means regarding his father's psychology, was, as I said, subtly made by Prof. Wolff. I had not thought of it, but it spurred me to contemplate the issue he raised in his rather inexplicit style. I hope that I have correctly characterized what I believe Prof. Wolff was getting at.

Second, I do not know enough about a sufficient range of different subjects, as Prof. Wolff does, to sustain a blog on a weekly basis. My comments are generally just a reaction to what Prof. Wolff and his readers have written.

Third, I have extremely limited computer skills. I lack Prof. Wolff's technical expertise and would not know how to create and maintain a blog.

s. wallerstein said...

Generally in families with traditional gender roles, it's the mother, not the father, who worries about the dentist or the orthodontist and the father pays the bills. That's the way it worked in my family during my childhood. My mother was in charge of the children; my father at times did not even remember what grade we were in and being a busy man, certainly had no time to search for a good orthodontist. I suspect that he never even noticed the state of his children's teeth. I was raised before the second wave of feminism made its appearance and so I don't blame him for that.

Donald Trump does not play the gender role of the father who shares childcare with the mother and I would not expect him to pay much attention to whether his son goes to an orthodontist or not. Today we expect fathers to pay more attention to their children.

Anonymous said...

I had a jaw deformity. I was unable to have this corrected until well into adulthood. But as Erving Goffman pointed out, the status of an individual who corrects a stigmatizing condition goes from stigmatized to that of someone who has corrected such a condition. The expenses over the years were very high, and continue. I never married or had children.

MS said...

I am an atheistic Jew who belongs to a Reformed congregation and, on certain occasions, attends services. Some may regard this as the oxymoron of a hypocrite, but for reasons I will not go into, it is not.

Tonight I attended the Yom Kippur service at my congregation. Now, I do not believe in the existence of the God whose forgiveness is sought during the service. Nonetheless, I find the service meaningful for a number of reasons, one of which is the prayer set forth below that is recited by the members of the congregation. I believe this prayer could be recited in any house of worship, be it a Christian church, a Moslem mosque, a Buddhist temple, etc. Yes, I believe even an atheist can find spiritual sustenance in its words. I am not attempting to proselytize, but I would like to share its words with the readers of this blog.

Who among us is righteous enough to say: “I have not sinned””
We are arrogant, brutal, careless,
destructive, egocentric, false;
greedy, heartless, insolent, and joyless.
Our sins are an alphabet of woe.

Now may it be Your will, O Lord God of all the generations, to pardon all our sins,
to forgive all our wrongdoings, and to blot out all our transgressions.


We sin against You when we sin against ourselves.

For our failures of truth, O Lord, we ask forgiveness.

For passing judgment without knowledge of the facts,
and for distorting facts to fit our theories.

For deceiving ourselves and others with half-truths,
and for pretending to emotions we do not feel.

For using the sins of others to excuse our own,
and for denying responsibility for our own misfortunes.

For condemning in our children the faults we tolerate in ourselves,
and for condemning in our parents the faults we tolerate in ourselves.


We sin against You when we sin against ourselves.
For our failures of justice, O Lord, we ask forgiveness.

For keeping the poor in the chains of poverty,
and turning a deaf ear to the cry of the oppressed.

For using violence to maintain our power,
and for using violence to bring about change.

For waging aggressive war,
and for the sin of appeasing aggressors.

For obeying criminal orders,
and for the sin of silence and indifference.

For poisoning the air, and polluting land and sea,
and for all the evil means we employ to accomplish good ends.


We sin against You when we sin against ourselves.
For our failures of love, O Lord, we ask forgiveness.

For confusing love with lust,
and for pursuing fleeting pleasure at the cost of lasting hurt.

For using others as a means to gratify our desires,
and as stepping-stones to further our ambitions.

For withholding love to control those we claim to love,
and shunting aside those whose youth or age disturbs us.

For hiding from others behind an armor of mistrust,
and for the cynicism which leads us to mistrust the reality of unselfish love.

Teach us to forgive ourselves for all these sins, O forgiving God, and help us to overcome them.

Michael Llenos said...


Wow, what a beautiful prayer! It's real, heavy stuff. I really like this part:

"We sin against You when we sin against ourselves... For using the sins of others to excuse our own,
and for denying responsibility for our own misfortunes."

I am definitely guilty of that. Makes me wish confession was seven days a week. Thank you for sharing with all of us such a wonderful prayer.

MS said...


Thank you for your kind words. I am pleased that the prayer touched you.

After I posted the prayer, I was expecting to receive some comments, pro and con. I thought some might respond that I was being sanctimonious, that if the prayer was so meaningful, why, for example, did it not prevent Israelis, many of whom recite a similar prayer on Yom Kippur, from oppressing the Palestinians. I checked back to the post every few days to see if there were any responses. When there were none, I wondered if some were reluctant to respond critically because it could be regarded as being anti-Semitic. So, your supportive words have relieved my concern.

As I have said, I am an atheist. But I believe it is important, even in the absence of a supreme deity who passes judgment, to verbally confront and acknowledge one’s own human failings, to have the range and specifics of the various kinds of transgressions articulated. It was actually a poignant experience to hear adults, as a group, speaking those words and hearing and seeing grown people tearing up as they recognize the various forms of imperfection that plague us and of which they have been guilty. Does it change human behavior? Surely not everyone’s, but possibly some, even a little. I believe it is important to be reminded of and to confront, from time to time, our human failings.

Michael Llenos said...


Thanks for being such an inspiration and thank you for your testimonial about prayer! I also believe prayer changes people's behaviour for the better, and helps all of us understand the reality of our own transgressions as a whole.