Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Disloyalty of Opposing Trump

The President-elect’s psychopathologies are well-known; his ignorance is on daily display.  The Press has begun to criticize people nominated to occupy positions of influence. Columns are devoted to speculating about the limits of Trump’s susceptibility to psychological manipulation. Who will prove best able control Trump’s vindictiveness, venality, and vanity?  Talk of political give and take is beside the point, if “politics” is no longer a matter of agendas, programs or policies. Here is how authoritarian rule will be established:

Rallies. Trump knows how to work an audience into a mob. He is addicted to adulation. He is a practiced demagog, who knows instinctively the tedious ritual that delivers mass hypnosis and hysteria. His mastery of crowds is the key to his power. He will demand and get more frequent and bigger rallies. As their size and fervency grows, so will Trump’s power to intimidate his party’s leaders. His first order of business will be to find a stage-manager for his spectacles. The second and more dangerous feature of his mobilization strategy will be his need to focus and direct the mob’s energy against selected scapegoats.

Suppression of the [Lame Stream] Media. Trump will start the process by intense attacks aimed at the already demonized press. He will refuse to hold press conferences, and rely instead upon the propagation of deceitful tweets. Once he consolidates a firmer grip on the judiciary, he will deliver on his threat to revise libel laws, and he will [ab]use his access to blackmail-worthy material (in the manner of J. Edgar Hoover) to limit and distort information about his administration. 

Emergencies and Disorders. Trump will dine with relish on protest marches and organized resistance by sanctuary cities, or other forms of civil disobedience. Riots will be provoked in order to be suppressed. He will encourage his partisans to “meet” violence with more violence, until he can justify the imposition of martial law. He will demand and receive unquestioned loyalty, enforced by harsh policing methods. Suspected categories will find their ranks tested though massive deployment of the technical resources of Big Brother. 

Subversive Conspiracies. The final phase of the forfeiture of our constitutional order will be a revival of the familiar phenomena of McCarthyism. Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, or Rudy Juliani– or all three of them– will be designated to lead “investigations” designed to delegitimize the defunded Planned Parenthood membership, as well as the ACLU, collective bargaining entities, and every other form of organized opposition.

You cannot deny you were forewarned, by history, and by sound prophecy!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thursday Jeremiad

Misgiving Fast

Winnowing finished, harvest home, we huddle in fear:
Icemen blow fury tomorrow across the fruitless plane;
scores settled at last: resettled, sorted, zeroed out–
specious spies lurk interspersed among us to report
(in triplicate, with files attached) the secret script
and deep design that confounds our mildew march.

The family table warps. Our garden has no mulch;
 the sideboard groans for want of healthy fare.
Everywhere we look, signs some creature crapped.
 Acrid ashes coat comforter and counterpane.
Demonstrators meet denial and a cruel retort;
but trains run on time, arrive on the very dot.

The winners forgive themselves for every debt;
honor and legality just another way to mooch. 
Together, bended knee and burning cross consort–
Calumnies and fables never known before
Issue from the dais: his surrogates impugn
the camera’s motives, the taped transcript.

You thought you broke the story. You were scooped!
You set yourself a deadline, then missed the date.
The honesty of lies lies beyond you to explain–
on the field of rhetoric, you met your match:
defeated, you will hear a command to fire!
and die leaving no redress surviving you in court.

Marksmen with rifles invest the undefended fort– 
Once a treasure-house, which safely kept
archives and jeweled amulets that would confer
immunity from skeptics. Vigilantes now dare indict
democracy itself– use their freedom to besmirch
our youngest innocents, bullied to bend their spine!

Cerebrate a Barmecide Holiday:  banquet of spleen;
again a regime where women can’t safely abort,
its venues where initiatives fall victim to Mitch–
and rational policy’s sent to be scrapped.
A Senate too senile to see itself drool and dote,
Trumped by a gambler, the ultimate low-life high flier!

America, America, Fraud sped to disgrace thee!
Land of the rigged landslide, land of the rained parade
Pray splay your pussies wide: forget that ever you were free! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Liberty Laments

Trump’s victory surprised his opponents, currently called elites– or when they reflect on their errors, the condescending class. Trump’s revolution elicited the usual reaction to an ambush– a rush of adrenalin, or nausea, and the fight or flight reflex. Lady Liberty weeps because she is taller, and she sees farther than the rest of us. She knows that authoritarian narcissists evolve predictably according to a logic or program of their own.

She knows, as Hannah Arendt understood, how regimes like Trump’s do not claim the support of tradition (the secular rule of law) nor of established bureaucratic institutions, with their habits and routines. Trumpists can't simultaneously drink from and drain the same swamp without breaching the extravagant promises that fuel their revolution. Trumpism sprouted from the thin soil of blind rage and frustration suffered by the sinking "middle" or working class. He dares not betray the credulous chumps and losers who made him rich, first in funds and now in votes (or votaries). Trump’s understanding of his mandate is all that matters in today's politics, and he is all that matters to his followers. Faith in the Donald provides relief through obedience and dependence, not investigation of facts and policy choices.  Strong men gain power through empathic sharing of their own weakness, vengeful resentment, and paranoid demonization of opponents. Tyranny is stoked by imputing delays and obstacles to fiendish conspiracies visible only to the Leader.

So beware, take care, for a dodder-wigged dragon now controls the castle. The more you frustrate him, the more he will demonize you. He will mobilize his unemployable supporters from the hinterlands to round you up, humiliate you, and as the cycle escalates, you will become fodder for expiation through public spectacle–versions of latter-day autos da fe. He will boost the economy by providing abundant employment for unskilled labor. He will need and obtain wall-installers, infrastructure improvers, and police. Lots of police, turnkeys, and private prisons. Many new hires will be needed to smoke out sleeper cells, and irregular foreign elements hiding in the population. After summarily disposing of the easy culls, they will next round up the nasties: libelers and alien thinkers who forfeit their citizenship by treasonously rejecting Trump's restoration program, in the name of such sissy and dangerous ideas as civil rights.

The pundits who didn’t see dictatorial rule coming also fail to foresee how misplaced is their faith in habit and inertia, in constitutions, and checks and balances. Those things were then; this is now. Get with the program of making America great again, or get lost. If you’re not a purifier, you will be purified, and you will be lucky if purify means only shamed, exiled, or imprisoned. For frustrating the Leader's beautiful vision, after all, you deserve a bit of torture on your way out.

Sure, this is a hysterical rant. Today, our mistaken pundits push the idea that Trump is ephemeral. Facts will bring him down, the historical momentum of our “Institutions” and traditions will limit this binge. Then, a chastened country will come to its senses with a hangover and justified belief in our exceptionalism and the resilience of our democracy. 

The consolations offered by our wise men are delusional bafflecrap, every bit as dangerous as their polls and models of voting behavior. The tears of Liberty are shed because when the wise few wake to the danger and choose flight, where can they go? Liberty's torch is extinguished. The planet is dying of neglect and brutal exploitation. It has no Arcadia to offer the prescient refugee.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Ticket of Clerihews for Election Season

Republican candidate Michael Pence
Has yet to discover the present tense.
His Eminence: Humble, Pious Michael
Marks the nadir of our Viconian Cycle.

Donald, a paragon of sexual stamina 
Cavorts like a stallion filled with Viagra–
While rivals suffer collapsing lamina
Trump snorts in triumph, a virile Niagara!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Futuristic Counterfactual

Donald Trump’s tailspin slump has stimulated unseemly speculation about the reactions of post-election incumbents, constituents, and contributors comprising that ill-assorted mixture of interest groups and ideological movements that styles itself the Republican party. Where will insurrectionary alt-right fanatics invest their mistrust after they lose the Presidency by a wide margin to the elites and their brain-washed victims who follow the false gods of Reality and Reason? Intransigent hatred of Hillary may produce pop-up insurrections, or bubbling instances of McVeigh style domestic terrorism in the aftermath of Trump’s rigging rhetoric. More optimistic pundits foresee a period of internecine strife, forcing incumbents in Congress to extend the governmental stalemate that has subverted the legitimacy of Congress as well as popular respect for our constitutional form of government during most of the Obama administration. Trumpism may simply command too large and too determined a following to permit the Republican party to move in any direction except further down the familiar and fatal path traced by authoritarian regimes elsewhere.

Time will tell whether the GOP can reform itself and recoup its losses. This post raises a sub-issue: suppose that the next Congress exposes a stand-off within the GOP Congressional caucus. Allowed to fester indefinitely, a broken caucus compels the leadership to prolong our legislative stalemate. Fearful of retaliation from the alt-right core if they collaborate with the enemy, Republican incumbents led by Ryan might converge with Democrats who see a crisis facing party politics as traditionally practiced.  Party leaders could through parallel analysis perceive a common interest in understanding, codifying, and perhaps even regulating the nomination process. Impelled by shared fear and loathing of the forces behind Trump’s debacle of 2016, legislators might table their substantive disagreements and turn to procedural reform. For a start, they could investigate the organizational basis of Trump’s easy primary success and his even easier general defeat. They could couple this with investigation of the Clinton Foundation, as a loophole allowing an unseemly opening to foreign electoral influence.

The pretext of “under audit” will lose its bogus cogency after November 8 as an excuse for non-disclosure of Trump’s tax returns. Post-election, Trump will enjoy the equivocal status of a “private” public figure. His tax liability will remain publicly salient for the light it sheds on the question of Russian influence, and more broadly, the extent and sources of his wealth, his involvement with foreign hackers, and the nature of his access to free advertising in the form of news-commanding lies. 

The failed 2012 post-election Republican autopsy taught both a parties an important lesson. Trump’s repudiation of traditional norms of transparency justifies hearings to discuss enacting a Revenue Code provision to require Presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to qualify for a place on the ballot (the Norway rule). Codification might be a bad or a good idea– the merits need to be debated in the context of concrete factual findings concerning the influence of money in the post-Buckley v. Valeo world of 2016, where cash and voice are legally synonymous.

Suppose Trump’s subpoenaed tax returns, together with intelligence data, show that far from being Putin’s stooge, Trump was his actual agent, because Trump has long been so over-leveraged that he is only an errand-boy for his creditors. Suppose his bad credit rating forced him to cede effective control of his business empire to secret Russian backers and other bankers of dirty money; and suppose even further, that Trump’s campaign turns out to have been an elaborate Russian espionage operation (conspiracy) to destroy the party of Lincoln and Nixon. 

This thesis loosely accords with the pundit consensus that Putin exploited Trump’s egotism with the goal of getting a disastrous fool elected. As further proof of the Kremlin’s pro-Trump intervention, we are asked to believe that Russian hackers are behind Wiki-leaks revelations of the Machiavellian working of the Clinton campaign’s inner councils. Trump admires Putin’s deep game, and maybe further investigation will vindicate Donald, in a stopped-clock sense. Post-election hearings might show that both parties were attacked: the Democrats by the Podesta hack, and the Republicans by a Manchurian candidate. Nothing would suit Putin better than bipartisan failure of our basic political fabric in an endless round of squabbles and stalemate.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Lysistratification factor

On the morning of the second “debate”, the Trump candidacy's death watch continues on its downward path, sucking Trump’s core of True Believers into a vortex spiraling to electoral catastrophe. Has the Donald brigade shrunk about as far as it can shrivel? Are 40% of America’s likely voters gripped by rabid despair? Broadcasters chatter about elite fears aroused by Trumpista fanaticism. Trump himself is hors d’combat, but those savior-seekers! The wheels came off their bandwagon before they could jump to safety. They remain so bellicose, so bitter and so desperate that insurrection has more appeal to them than defection. They face the certainty of unbearable disappointment. The Leader and his crowd grew more codependent as his propaganda grew more paranoid. They will lose; they know it; but they are certain their loss will fulfill Donald’s prophecy of a rigged election. 

Polling in the 2016 election has already begun. Pollsters continue to assess the preferences of likely voters, using demographic, economic, cultural, and many more parameters with ever-improving algorithms and swollen data bases that allow them to refine their predictions. Models and surveys show that most minds are made up. Donald’s Friday debacle will affect the gap by no more than 2-4 points overall, and most of that gain for Hillary will represent respectable suburban soccer moms, along with other women who aspire to higher social status. The assumption is that the gender gap will grow, without any offset by male locker-room solidarity.

Conventional wisdom underestimates another effect that is likely to swamp the gender difference. Let’s call it “Lysistratification": a factor that will reduce the Trump vote among blue collar males whose guns and religion signify their membership in a culture that sees voting as a household chore— another minor item of women's work.  A substantial subset of Trump’s base are domesticated males, dominated by their distaff kin. Hillary can expect a larger boost when they go to their survivalist jamborees instead of standing in line to cast a futile ballot. Some of them will vote as instructed by an outraged spouse, rather than fight over the candidates (or male privilege) in their kitchens. 

Other males will leave the game early, in about the same proportions that fans leave a stadium when their team is behind 6-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning. It is noteworthy that Trump’s rallies, like Hitler’s, rely upon mass hysteria, with catharsis achieved by immersion in the frenzy of a momentary mob. These patriots may regain their mental composure after they vie to outdo each other in a bidding war for best display of vituperation hurled at the common enemy. A "Game Over” mentality probably correlates more closely with wearing a cap with Make America Great Again, than with preferences expressed in surveys. Most of those guys won’t vote.

Donald’s demagogy has been directed at delegitimizing the outcome of the 2016 election all along.  Media pundits deceive themselves when they describe this contest as a “race” to be won by adding voters, until one party achieves a result >270 in the electoral colllege. Trumpism is in fact a movement grounded in the logic of Mitch McConnell and Grover Norquist, with the treasonous aim of overthrowing constitutional government.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trump's Shame and Blame Game

Stalwarts from Mrs Pence to prancing Reince are having a fine weekend, pointing the finger of admonition at the superman with calisthenic arms. He asked for it!  Those steamy misogynistic boastful confidences, uttered in the naive belief that he was off the record (and bonding with trustworthy fellow studs) have provided Donald’s enemies with a helpless target at point blank range. The chorus of indignation includes more sopranos than baritones, but ideology does not divide his critics by political affiliation, nor very much by gender.  Such an inexhaustible source of sanctimony, in the context of a polarized, stultified, and angry electorate, is welcome political therapy indeed. 

Wait! Wait! –there will be more.  Rachel has good grounds to suppose that Donald ignored cameras recording abundant footage of a similar kind– unless (his?) production company destroyed out-takes while editing The Apprentice. Testimonial evidence will be validated by ostensive evidence, in a holocaust that will cook Trump’s goose to a crisp. More fodder for the opposition: split screen ads, denial on the left side, refutation on the right.

Mr. Trump takes advantage of his celebrity to liberate his libido in pursuit of the ancient sport of droit du entrepreneur, aka chick-banging.  His cultural circumstances taught him to presume he need not ask before he groped. He knows– doesn’t everyone? –that Hollywood is a vast bordello. Every stage-set is a room in the House of the Rising Sun. Tinsel-town is where ambitious nymphets go to exploit their beauty, diving headlong on the nearest casting couch, hoping to catch the attention of a billionaire celebrity. 

Donald’s humiliation is punishment enough. He won’t ever misbehave in presumed privacy again. Trust him! He learned a lot, schmoozing on the rope lines of a long campaign trail. Sorrowing women elicit his utmost sympathy. Hot ones will find their ardors quenched by his heat-seeking missile delivery system. He feels more vicarious feminine pain or rapture in a week than the Bills Clinton and Cosby inflicted directly in a lifetime. 

Watching this sordid circus, one wonders where Donald might go to find the white dudes’ ACLU, or a pro bono Public [Relations] Defender willing to point out that most of his Republican detractors still plan to vote for him. They will do so with heavy hearts and at great cost of conscience, and only because the Supreme Court might otherwise be reconfigured to regulate their private weaponry,  cancel their license for pretextual voter disenfranchisement,  and threaten the case law theology of bribery.  As Donald likes to say,  “C’mon! Gimme a break!”

Pity the rogue. Balance those ads about your daughter’s President by noting how Donald, the paragon of parenthood, doesn’t drink, or smoke. His sniffs betoken nothing more than a deviated septum. His sons respect him, and his gorgeous daughter’s allure commands his purely subjunctive desire to prolong and deepen their relationship.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Question for the Town Hall

Here’s a question for the Sunday Town Hall (it should also be asked of contested Senate incumbents): Why won't Donald release his tax returns now, voluntarily? We can confidently predict that they will very soon be revealed involuntarily, audit or not. Republicans and Democrats will recognize their common interest in determining the causes and reforms needed to avoid  repeating the 2016 nomination fiasco. A Congressional subpoena “trumps” (overcomes) the confidentiality provisions of the Revenue Codes. 

Direct link

§ 301.7216-2 Permissible disclosures or uses without consent of the taxpayer.
(f) Disclosure pursuant to an order of a court, or an administrative order, demand, request, summons or subpoena which is issued in the performance of its duties by a Federal or State agency, the United States Congress, a professional association ethics committee or board, or the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The provisions of section 7216(a) and § 301.7216-1 will not apply to any disclosure of tax return information if the disclosure is made pursuant to any one of the following documents:
(1) The order of any court of record, Federal, State, or local.
(2) A subpoena issued by a grand jury, Federal or State.
(3) A subpoena issued by the United States Congress.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Abmirable Donald

There is no such word of course, in current circulation. My tyrannical keyboard rejects it, silently replacing the first “b” with a “d”. Today’s thesis is that abmirable is a coinage we need, because it captures the pathological fascination (anti-charisma?) of the demon who rampages deep within the Candidate’s wounded psyche. 

Ad-miration describes the phenomenon of an audience drawn to look upon and approve the object of its attention. Its polarization is centripetal and positive. It is a magnet for limelight. We all need our due meed of admiration. Some of us can never have enough. Ab-miration is of negative polarity, and centrifugal. Spectators look away from the wreckage that nevertheless fascinates them. We deplore the object that nevertheless commands our attention. Bottomless craving of rejection is masochistic and relatively unusual. 

A narcissist needs and seeks self-absorbed, solipsistic approval, first and foremost. The applause of others is a by-product; it can even be an annoying distraction. A sociopath, to use the other category often assigned to the Trump case, seeks ruthless advantage, typically in a very short time frame, with complacent indifference to whatever murderous or exploitive means he uses to gain his selfish ends. 

Mr. Trump has an insatiable craving for attention (and ostensibly, for approval). He boasts mendaciously of his exploits and disparages others while making extravagant claims of fantasized super-powers. His vaunted temperament is that of a spoiled child very recently weaned from his security blanket. That does not make Donald a classic narcissist. He is too shrewd and too much a huckster for that. 

The best place to look for narcissists is in the performing arts. The Apprentice may qualify Donald as a member in good standing of the “look at me!” community, to be sure. He exhibits the telltale traits of rivalrous envy, and hyper-sensitivity to critical remarks. He wants to make a sale, and make it to an audience; but applause is less important to him than the gate, the payoff.  He’s in whatever he’s in for the money, yet the money is not the source of self-validation so much as it is the necessary basis for ever more extravagant and vulgar ostentation. He’s just a show-off, at bottom. Such creatures are not solipsistic nor self-critical enough to be designated ‘narcissists’.

Mr.Trump has a high score on sociopathic scales, and we should not deny him that designation altogether. However, the archetypical sociopath is devious and secretive. His stings may depend upon patient strategies and cunning concealment of his true agenda. Impulsive sociopaths seldom get far or last very long. Prisons are full of them. Mr Trump’s childishness and patent lack of self-control distinguish his condition from that of the classic sociopath. His performances are the cries of a masochist. He wants and needs to be the center of corrective, punitive attention. His deeper craving is for ostracism– the flip-side of admiration. 

What guilty secret underlies and drives such spectacular and compulsive misbehavior? We have ample evidence to support speculation. Earlier posts here have noted Mr. Trump’s fastidiousness about hygiene, his scatalogical fixation upon the bodies of women, and his costly attraction to privileged voyeuristic viewing points. He likes to be where he can see the intimacies of women’s dressing rooms, hear the confidences they exchange in those venues, and explain his fussiness as suitable to the circumstances of the pageant business.

He really should have a long confidential chat with Caitlin Jenner–– after he loses the election.