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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Notes On Maureen Dowd’s “Trump, Neo-Nazis and the Klan”

Last summer, at the RNC Convention as I drew a group of young men with Trump Vanguard flags – and heavy wooden poles – that I titled “The New Hitler Youth,” I got interviewed by at least 7 major news outlets, from NPR to The Financial Times of London, and some folks shooting documentary footage. I doubt a damn bit of it was used or ever will be. C’est la vie.

Soon, Roger Stone was standing about two feet to my left (pacing) and that fruit loop from Infowars came, stood 5 feet in front of me and stoked up the all-white crowd with a stirring speech about: “globalist conspiracy” of “Illuminati” (i.e. the Jews and Freemasons); taking “our” country back (from whom, other Americans? to where – 1860? for what – another Civil War?); and other home-spun fascist/Nazi bullshit.

In all my interviews, in the first minute of talking, I made my only important point: Donald J. Trump is a nihilist. Empty, devoid of any real ethical values or belief in any, he is a simultaneously a black hole sucking in attention and “fame” at any cost and a blank screen onto which various groups of people are projecting their fantasies, wishes, and fears – him offering vague calls and dog whistles to each group, even opposed groups, and seeming to promise them all the impossible fulfillment of their prejudices and darkest desires.

Because he was using them and they him, a deal among scam artists all waiting to stab one another right after they wreck everything in sight.

If there were cutting room floors anymore, all my words would be there in the debris. My diagnosis was too cerebral(?), not vernacular enough, not filled with insults or interesting stuff for a camera. Just some random bearded old idiot sitting on the sidewalk in Cleveland drawing a cartoon of soon-to-be little brainwashed Nazis who menaced people with their wooden sticks while actual extremist authoritarians wandered the sidewalks and gave rabble-rousing speeches.

Now, that latter bit was good for screen and radio; me, not so much.

But before that day, I swear I never heard anyone diagnose the “Trump phenomena” as nihilistic in constitution.

Now, it’s “the thing.” Because I was correct, to that degree. Others would see it later, as in this column in the New York Times by Maureen Dowd: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/19/opinion/sunday/trump-neo-nazis-and-the-klan.html

Read it. It’s good, But Dowd, being optimistic and from another generation (Boomer) than my own (front-end “X”), is just a bit too sanguine. She thinks this era will pass and ‘all this” racism and hatred will go with it. Ironically, she says this right after talking about, after the end of WWII, Klansmen doing the same shit as the Nazis in her hometown.

Just as they keep doing now, just as they taught their kids and grand kids and great-grand kids and people who have never worn a sheet or use their crude speech… yet believe the same things, nonetheless. And might even be insulted if you brought that to their attention and called it by name.

Bad beliefs and old lies, once brought into the world, do not die – they await resurrection when people fear or are uneducated or mis-educated and live on tall-tales and deadly myths instead of history and humility of some sort, desire for truthfulness and have an habitual self-doubt. They practice mercy. Practice justice… strive for a life in the service of these and are satisfied with nothing less.

That is a tall order at this moment just as it always was.

Whole states or regions with churches that openly discriminate and preach coded messages that are racist misinterpretations, making God responsible for justifying and approving their idiocy and hatred of other human beings….

Ms. Dowd, that is not going away. Not automatically. We never got past it, even after 1864, WWII, the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, laws… it lived on, vampire-like, hidden in the darkness of our culture’s soul, our souls, our language, stereotypes, images.  We never owned up to this darkness invented by white people and used as a bludgeon against anyone defined as not “white” enough.  And with this bludgeon powerful men and women lorded over all of us, white and darker than white, not-Christian or not-the-right-kind-of-Christian for centuries, some enslaved in chains, some enslaved by fear and awe of “power.”

And now it’s wholly alive again, resurrected by living people, white people, fearful and propagandized, terrified, full of foolishness led by a fool who is headed… nowhere.

Germany’s Dritte Reich didn’t arise or go away automatically… and, in some sense, never died even after it, too, was led by a fool Nowhere. Its spirit just migrated here to the USA, attached to those moronic, already existing Klan-ish beliefs, vampiric, now alive again in its walking dead state. When it was driven out of Germany at the end of World War II, it took millions atop millions with it in blood, fire, fury, and absurdity.

We will be fortunate indeed to throw this set of undead beliefs back into a graveyard hole for awhile without a similar destruction here and around the world again.

20 August 2017
Richard Van Ingram

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