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Critical Clerihew collection

The following scraps turned up on a neighbor's curb, shortly after the trash trucks rushed down the street. Not worth the paper, perhaps, but preservable as digits perturbing cyberspace. Literary MemorialsDaphne du Maurier:
Her horrors forever grew hoarier. Of villains you’ll find few flawier: Whose tales could truly be sorrier?
W. Somerset Maugham: That Paragon of prim aplomb– See his outgabe ‘grafs get mome: His memory deserves a psalm!
Recent posts

Hijacked Heuristics: Trumpism and Social Media

A robust gag reflex has kept the Arrow away from his keyboard until recently. He had become weary of the sparse facts and copious coverage of Russian interference with the tragic election of 2016. At the same time, he realized how much the so-called social media were interfering with his social and intellectual life. For example, where he once kept a set of bookmarks that he used to log in to subscriptions or other sites, he suddenly encountered screens inviting him to log in using Facebook, or Google, with no other click available. Where once he relied upon a dutiful spouse or his  own fallible memory to remind him of birthdays or other anniversrkes, he now finds a reliable but officious algorithm of Zuckerberg offering a gentle nag about sending a pro forma happy thought or congratulation (since he was using Facebook to keep watch over family and friends anyhow). Insidiously, a commercial robot was providing him with useful nags, innocuous gossip– and a sense of trustful intimacy wi…

The ad hoc Regency

A very cogent and astute podcast:
In this audio program Benjamin Wittes lucidly discusses  the mechanics of impeachment and 25th Amendment incapacity, as well as criminality and other grounds for impeachment in relation to the politics of our predicament. The give-and-take with the audience is especially stimulating. 

My takeaway is that neither constitutional text nor precedent nor existing practice adequately addresses the Trump problem. 
We need a mechanism such as a vote of No Confidence, to deal with discharging an incompetent, mad, and incorrigible chief executive (as Graber and Levinson have suggested), or emergency legislation pending adoption of another Amendment, to mend the gap so precariously filled by the current fragile and volatile “Regency” that governs us. We cannot assume that rule by our Regents can persist when their authority, much less their public recognition, rests upon nothing mor…

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…

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…