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Madness, rapport, support and Success

A reader of the previous Muscovy Duck post questioned whether Trump should be called a closer, when he is so much more obviously a loser. Perhaps a nodding editor had distorted the text when he failed to flag an errant (c)loser, he suggested.
Prompted by that close reading, we will try to explain important distinctions that are too often left in the background in discussions of the Trump Regency, Trumpism, and nativist demagogues more generally.  First, we admit that we have chosen the somewhat antique usage mad to characterize Trump, the mentally afflicted 45th incumbent. In the political context, this is both a kinder and a more accurate term than crazy
Madness is manifested in persistent and obsessive anger, as when a chastised child asks “Mommy, why are you mad at me?” Anger is also associated with feelings of resentment, scapegoating, injustice, and victimization. Political theorists since Nietzsche bundle all of this negative energy into a source of political mobilization they c…
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Discrediting the Muscovy Duck

Why do the responsible media hammer on Trump’s “lies" as if he were a sane, manipulative, mendacious demagogue, instead of a skilled closer who is also an obviously mad fantasist? One reason is that his supporters deserve political respect, since they are trapped by their anger and despair in ignorant isolation, enclosed in a black hole of Jonestown-level faith and devotion to him.  His parish is co-extensive with wide swathes of rural America and the rust belt. Helping the True Believers avoid his opioid Kool-Aid is a delicate matter.
At another level, the “Goldwater Rule” prevents or forecloses public diagnosis of Trump’s pathology, or acceptance of the premise that any prudent banker would adopt: no credit should be given to his utterances nor his balance sheets, without intensive audits.
A modest but constructive proposal: Replace every reference in news or editorial streams to a Trump lie or falsehood, with words like “Trump, while delusional, asserted that X. His regents were …

The Ruby Yacht of Mario Kim

I slump and linger, limp and slouch; my keyboard flickers and cringes; touch evaporates without an ‘ouch!’; I grow surprising, unexpected hinges– infancy’s extra elbows– and the pouch below my chin, dandruff on the couch confirm that stealthy death impinges.
I see my juniors drop, or flaunt inherent vice: younger yoke-mates prematurely frail.  (Many fates ride upon manipulated dice!) Huddled in the lower pan of Dike’s scale, striving to delay our body’s sacrifice we compensate, repair, cure or splice: pursuing health, we only chase our tail. 
My planet’s path slows, goes retrograde; Notches in my cincture mark my losses; Accomplishments once put on proud parade mock lost occasions, allow no glosses. A thickened scrim obscures my shade: keloid scars of each mistake in life I’ve made disfigure the martyr who bore no crosses!
I’m told to think transcendent thoughts– to meditate and bathe in nature’s tears– wash away the ego’s schemes and plots, discard whatever clockwork narrative appears to shape a shrapnel sel…

Unintended Presidential Resignation

When is the office known as the Presidency of the United States vacant? We all know that the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act ordain that the office of Chief Executive is never meant to be entirely vacant, although an incumbency may expire prematurely by way of Articles of Impeachment, trial before the Senate, and removal upon conviction of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  We have yet to see a President removed through the complex judicial/political machinery of Impeachment. Andrew Johnson and William Clinton were not convicted by the Senate; Nixon resigned.  Death by natural causes or assassination has prematurely ended other Presidencies.  
The mini-Mussolini who is currently incumbent– the so-called 45th “President”– is not likely to follow Nixon’s example, even if he may be capable of realizing that he has lost popular support from his party and his base. He and his Regents might dare his party to impeach, and win the bet that they won’t, even after a majority of Re…

A Prisoner’s Dilemma– Ryan and Putin Race to the Finish

Why haven’t our pundits remarked on the symmetry of self-interested strategic calculations that keeps both Congressional Republicans and Putin’s mob awake at night, locked in a classic Prisoner’s Dilemma? The key players, and their roles in the Regency have been revealed with enough clarity to warrant the most parsimonious hypothesis that accounts for Trump’s affronts to NATO, his compromises of intelligence secrets, his attacks on the press, and his “self-destructive” propensity to issue ill-advised tweets– a consistent pattern of behavior that reflects ongoing and situationally nimble direction of his follies by Kremlin supervisors. The known facts strongly support the conclusion that Trump is regarded by Putin as a Russian intelligence asset. More importantly, they also suggest that Trump himself knows that he has been “turned”, probably ever since his future services to the Kremlin were included as an itemized term of the bargain by which his “empire” was funded with dirty money.
A…

The Rolling Regency– Update

The Rolling Regency– update
The monarchical aspects of the American Presidency have been a source of worry and menace since the founding generation of the United States. Enlightened theorist-warriors who wrote the Constitution were keenly aware of the frailties of monarchs.  They tried to manage the risks of arbitrary and irrational despotism through clever but untested devices like the Electoral College, the emoluments clauses, and more generally the “Separation of Powers”. The entire Constitution was informed by the recent unsatisfactory experience of the colonies under the reign of George III of England. King George was neither the first nor the last of an impressive roll of mad monarchs who required careful management in the days when sovereignty attached to actual, living sovereigns. We need to re-examine the epoch when modern nation states were emerging from feudalism into the fragile enjoyment of popular sovereignty.
It is now time for us to debate what’s next:  proposals for ima…

Be wary of Golems

In recent posts, P7 derided the prophetic posture assumed by alarmists crying doom over Deep Learning. He apologizes if he offended the serious thinkers on the frontiers of captology and AI. Framing machine-enhanced intellectual leverage as an urgent existential predicament seemed inescapably ridiculous to P7. 

Centuries of cultural effort birthed a desktop mouse, whose redoubled efforts produced impressive feats of brute learning, much like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. P7 wasn’t frightened by them since remarkable as it was for its scale, AI technology escaped his intuitive understanding of clever. How could algorithms show more ingenuity or originality than their creators?