Donald J. Trump and The New York Times; Symptoms and Diagnosis

“TRUMP: What I’ve done is, I have [sic] absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”
Donald J. Trump to the NY Times yesterday.

Kids, move the hand on the “All Bets Are Off” Doomsday Clock to one second before midnight.

This is not Constitutional. It is an authoritarian, fascistic belief that Trump has concerning the US Presidency: The executive is a dictatorship.

Many people here have the same notion – the presidency of the US is a position of “absolute power.” A dictatorship, in essence. So, the voters were happy to elect a nihilist and autocrat. He has no belief in “limits” which are exactly what definitions are, standards are, and moral values are; and it is the substance of law in a liberal democracy, a republic such as ours.

This man – I use the term both loosely and in its worst sense – believes “the law is in his mouth,” to paraphrase King John just before the English aristocracy forced him to sign Magna Carta — you recall, to limit him and protect themselves.

Trump’s mouth, in turn, is slave to his desires. His empty desire for desire’s sake, what I kept describing [in 2016 essays] as the “empty hole” at the center of his (paradoxically) weak ego, a weak sense of individual identity. His very existence is defined and constituted by “getting his way,” by external praise, adulation, fame, accumulation of things that will pass and go like Nineveh and Tyre. His identity is provided from the ever-shifting, frustrating external world, demanding its – and your – worship and loyalty and submission to his will. A will he does not, probably cannot by this point, master; yes, this is the definition of slavery – to be ruled by the world and desiring whatever one desires.

He – Trump – cannot accurately sense where “he” ends and “the world” or “reality” begins; he is in solution, like salt in warm water, if salt were half-conscious.  Reality is an extension of him and vice versa, in practical terms (note how often he refers to himself in the third person, for example: his self-alienation is astounding).  Reality should obey his desires and satisfy them as quickly as he waves his hands.  Anything else is frustrating.

As “my circumstances,” and yours, and his as well is not “I.” I belong to it and it to me within my life, but it is different than “I.”  It resists as well as cooperates with my desires and plans.  Mostly, it resists and I plan against the resistance, such as my depending on the floor to resist well enough so that I can walk across the room.

While Trump doubtless has habitually accepted such phenomena – he can walk – much of the rest he misidentifies and misinterprets in the crudest of ways.  When it comes to people, it is a matter of time, apparently, before he intends to force those who disagree with his prejudicial desires and beliefs to toe the line he has randomly drawn, or else.  He, after all believes he has the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

Extend that by implication to the military (which he worships and identifies with) and police forces and legislators and the courts.  Do you see what I suspect about that Doomsday Clock?

As this is his “identity,” he is as deeply hurt by any slight, insult, perception of disapproval (which is always taken as personal), as he is overjoyed by any sort of praise and flattery, no matter how false.  As long as it sounds “good” and can be repeated endlessly he uses any fragment of a message as self-advertising, an addition to his fame.  He IS his fame.

Doubt that his fame is founded in veracity or is not valuable in itself must be punished.  Right now, verbally. But he has an “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department[…]” and anything else, I fear.  That is his belief.

If I must interpret further: He is saying aloud that the Justice Department is his personal Gestapo… he’s just not chosen to use it that way… yet.

Yet.

[There is more to say.  Others will say it better, if they are not afraid to do so.  Self-censorship in the USA is rife.  So I will continue to explore this later, though I’d rather do other things and people will largely ignore this.  Who am I, after all.  As an educated citizen, though, I am that much.  So I have responsibility to speak and speak accurately, sound alarms, bark a warning at what’s emerged from the darkness and lumbers towards the city gates.  Whether others do anything about it or go on sleeping — I cannot do anything about that.]

29 December 2017

Richard Van Ingram

Click on the image to read excerpts from the Trump interview at The New York Times.

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An Open Letter to Andrew Lack, Chairman NBC News and MSNBC

[Who is Andrew Lack? He runs NBC News and MSNBC for Comcast.  Powerful position – he decides what gets shown and what gets cancelled, regardless of ratings.  The problem: Lack will likely not renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s (of The Last Word on MSNBC) contract which is up at the end of May 2017 – two weeks, as of this writing.  Not due to low ratings – The Last Word has been finishing at #2 right behind Rachel Maddow who is now #1.  

Why, then?  Only Lack knows for certain, but the outcome would be: Donald Trump, who has a running feud with O’Donnell for calling him out for promotion of racist birtherism beginning in 2011.  

Additionally, Lack seems, consistently, to be pushing more and more right-wing personalities onto MSNBC and pressuring the liberal points of view off. A fair report can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lawrence-odonnell-msnbc-future_us_59162d8ce4b00f308cf5534a?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004 .

What’s the point?! I am a citizen of the USA and the freedom of the press and independent, meaningful commentary is the main outside check we have on government, politicians, and the wealthy who influence policy – in short, power.  Putting O’Donnell  off the air is a sign of a trend and not a good one, one in the direction of “adjusting” to the rule of a man and sis followers who are destroying liberal democracy; not simply here in the USA, but in Europe and elsewhere.  What citizens do, what are our responsibilities and right is to speak out, by voting, by writing our representatives, by peaceful protest, activism, by educating ourselves, and by writing those powerful people who control our media.  

Not a US Citizen?  In this case, it does not matter.  You can tell someone who runs a network what you think as well.  You are a client of such as much as I am and that is what matters.  If you wish to write Andrew Lack. do so here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10285339/t/contact-nbc-news/ ]

Andrew Lack:

You were awarded Peabody awards, among other things, in your long career. Those are indeed something to live up to, not rest upon — for us who depend, in part, on television for news and meaningful commentary, the networks and cable news you control are of vital importance.

Especially now.

With the open attacks on First Amendment rights and an independent media we heard from this administration and controlling party, the task of a free media is to push back, not back down.

One way to do this is to continue to support your reporters and commentators who do this daily and have done so, especially in the past two years.

No, you are not “the opposition party.” Neither are you the “give the people what they want to hear” party nor the “appear less threatening to opponents of civil liberties” party.

One understands: in part, you are in it for the money. The news division is alleged to be separate and distinct from the entertainment division; but that was already a difficulty in the age of Murrow and only became murkier. The news division is in it for the truth, or ought to be, and the commentary section is as well — to offer perspectives on the truth. Whether or not this angers those in power, including investors.

Otherwise, such doesn’t serve the function of an independent public check on power in a liberal democracy. Hence, advertising and entertainment pay for the news, ideally. That, or we wind up with “infotainment.” Which is worse than worthless as such is a weak alloy of provocative fictions and some facts, difficult to disentangle and encourages the viewer to NOT even attempt to tell reality from a story, an imaginary narrative.

We have plenty of that on the radio; and that is the raison d’etre of FOX News.

It is bad enough that you have brought over personalities such as Greta van Susteren who are tainted by the FOX model and who certainly go out of the way to invent excuses for the inexcusable based wholly on a right-wing ideology.

Worse is you seem to be considering not renewing Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract.

Just assume such a decision would run clean contrary to every positive thing just stated about the function of a free media in a liberal democracy.

Including you living up to those Peabody awards.

Renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract. Period. This is not the time to cut the teeth and claws off MSNBC or any other form of news and commentary. Otherwise, just rename what you do FOX-esque “infotainment” and we will tune in elsewhere or spend even more time with good papers and other sources of actual news and free, responsible perspectives.

Thank you,
Richard Van Ingram
15 May 2017

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