Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty Burns Paris

Dietrich von Choltitz (German Federal Archives)

The scorched earth policy is a tactic of retreating armies. Paris would famously have been turned to rubble if it weren’t for Lieutenant General Dietrich von Choltitz disobeying the Fuhrer’s orders to destroy the city. Who will be the von Choltitz of the current White House? Apparently not Steve Mnuchin who is reducing emergency lending powers at a particularly vulnerable moment for the economy. Who will be the hero who will sabotage Trump’s last ditch effort to leave America in such tatters that the incoming Biden regime’s efforts will be doomed to failure. Paris may not be burning, but everything it stands for will be on the chopping block. Even though the Ascertainment Letter has been signed, Trump will in likelihood never concede and his rancor will be demonstrated in his attempt to burn diplomatic bridges behind him. The childlike lack of decorum characteristic of dictators is evidenced in the intransigent Trump persona. Whether he succeeds in bringing about some piece of military adventurism that will permanently damage any attempts at détente, in places like Iran where the U.S. has conflicted relationships, remains to be seen. Surely in a short period of time, he can do a good deal of damage. He's bringing troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq opening up the possibility of resurgence of both the Taliban and Isis. Biden can simply rejoin the Paris climate accord, but there are certain things can’t be rectified or restored with an executive order (on the environmental front, theTrump already moved to start selling oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska). "Motiveless malignity," is how Coleridge described Iago's actions. Will Trump's wholesale, unremitting and meritless accusations of a rigged election do lasting damage to the democratic process?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty's Manchurian Candidate

The United States is a trauma victim. If you’re hit by a car and survive, you go into shock which is a biological form of recusal. However, it's often during the period of recovery that the real problems begin particularly since emotions are released when memory returns. The comorbidity of racial inequity and Coronavirus have been combined with a highly contentious election that has and still may produce numerous incidents of social unrest and violence. You’ve seen the deadened eyes of genocide victims in the Rwandan and Bosnian conflicts, but now many Americans may start to realize that the after effects are almost as severe as the events themselves. One of the ways that a human being can be traumatized is to have their reality doubted. The Trump presidency has been predicated on the notion of lying, with the country’s chief executive being accused  twisting the truth approximately 20,000 times thus far. The torture has been fairly elegant and all-consuming since the more than 79,658,000 people who voted for Joe Biden have been reminded at least once a day that what they’ve seen and done is a fiction. It’s the kind of brainwashing that went on in John Frankenheimer’s Manchurian Candidate which may be one of the great essays on individual and collective trauma. With the Republican party's attempts to invalidate the election finally exhausted, the patient is beginning to understand the full extent of the insult to the body politic.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty: Has the Republican Party Become a Cult?

Charles Manson

"The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud," (NYT, 11/10/20) ran the headline. How is it then that a recent poll indicated that one half of Republicans think the election was a fraud? "Half of Republicans say Biden lost due to 'rigged' election: Reuters/lpsos poll(11/18/20) How to account for the implacability of the assault on truth and the attempt to undermine the democratic process? Let’s say this becomes a way of life. Elections occur and the losers discredit results, in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Elections have been troubled and contested, but usually there's a consensus following the kind of recount by hand that has, for instance, gone on in Georgia. However, that's not the case. There's, in fact, no length that election commissions could go beyond handing the election over to Donald Trump that would satisfy this one half of recalcitrant Republican voters and apparently the president, who took  the unusual step of inviting Michigan Republican legislative  leaders to The White House. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, "This is not a political party. This is a cult" when asked why so few Republicans have broken ranks. “A misplaced or excessive admiration for a person or thing,” is one of the definitions for "cult" offered by the Oxford Languages dictionary.” Trumpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall…

Friday, November 20, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty Gets His Ego Split

Statue of Paul Bunyan in Bangor, Me (photo: Dennis Jarvis)

One tends to look at a polity as a number of parts which make up a whole. In other words, let’s say the population of the United States is approximately 328,000,000 with approximately half of these representing the electorate. Hence that figure would comprise the number of consciousnesses a candidate would ostensibly have to address. But is it possible to take another approach and start with the whole rather than the sum of the parts? In this case one might conclude that the collective consciousness of the country is suffering from what psychiatrists call ego-spitting or the inability to reconcile conflicting  parts of the psyche. America currently is a kind of all or nothing personality, with the civil war in this case actually representing a pathological condition. When a person’s erratic behavior defies rational understanding, it’s possible to conclude he or she is suffering from subliminal and often maladaptive drives. Hence that part of the population which insists that the current election is a fraud despite the fact that every election commission in the country has confirmed there was no malfeasance is suffering from delusional or at least extremely neurotic behavior—which may be motivated by phobias. What can one say on the other hand about the Democrats?  They are justifiably celebrating a victory. However, this current majority in many cases claims to have no understanding of their opponents' behavior. Therein may reside the problem. You don’t have to agree with someone to understand them. Understanding is the first step in unifying a divided self. If the Democratic majority is able to  aisle-cross at least on a metaphoric level (along with President-elect Biden's calls for unity) they might reduce some of the toxicity that characterizes the current psycho-social and political climate. Trumpty Dumpty sat on a wall/Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall/All the king's horses and all the king's couldn't put Dumpty together again.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The thing about cults is that they depend on a certain degree of despair. Hopelessness is the springbooard from which people are willing to throw themselves into a safe harbor from truths which are hard to face. It’s like the person suffering from a chronic illness who  runs off to quack doctors selling magic potions. Democrats are dumbfounded by Trump and Guiliani’s unfounded claims about the election. After tweeting “He won because the election was rigged,” Trump made a correction saying simply, “I won the election.” Living in an alternate universe is something that many people do and it comprises in fact a whole genre of science fiction. For instance Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle imagines a world in which the Axis powers won World War II. In order to understand the world of Trump’s base who buy his claims lock, stock and barrel, you probably would have to have street signs in Russian since the Russians, who have been promoting Trump since 2016, would be the chief beneficiaries of the failure of democracy. Nevertheless the whole Trump phenomena is really nothing compared to cults like those of Jim Jones (whose followers drank a deadly poison), Nxivm (whose adherents allowed themselves to be branded and turned into sex slaves), or Charles Manson whose murderous attack on Sharon Tate itself was made into an alternate reality, where the event is forestalled, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Trumpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall...

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty: On the QT?


"Shocked by Trump’s Loss, QAnon Struggles to Keep the Faith" ran the Times headline. In the days following the election Q, the voice of the theory that held that the pandemic was part of a conspiracy to get Trump out of office, went temporarily silent. Curiously so did Mr. Trump himself, up until last Friday when he erroneously took credit for the development of the Pfizer vaccine. Is it possible that T is Q? . Trump has long argued that COVID was just a way of getting him out of office. After November 3, he proclaimed, you wouldn’t hear about the virus anymore. Say no more. The virus, which is raging, apparently has a mind of its own. But it was like a twofer, in which the air was suddenly cleared and Democratic voters could then go on with the frustrating process of waiting for a concession speech that's unlikely to come--in peace and quiet. However, who could put it past the president to be the very deep state, the swamp that he's so wary of, perhaps even the originator of Pizzagate. It's all reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, who turns out to be a little man making a lot of smoke, with the seemingly impregnably evil Witch of the West turning out to have an Achilles heel, which simply makes her dissolve. If water made the Wicked Witch evaporate, could it be that loss itself is Trump’s weak spot?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trumpty Dumpty: Tyrannosaurus Rex

It’s dangerous work to destroy a beehive, since you have to contend with all the angry bees. Remember those menacing figures who reveal their insides, unleashing torrents of vermin, rats, and snakes when their armor is finally pierced. Hieronymous Bosch created such ghoulish creatures. Though a monster may be destroyed, it can still do a good deal of damage on the way out. Petulant and retributive to the end, Donald Trump is turning out to be one of those ghouls who is not easy to fell. He's throwing up a good fight, intent on doing as much damage as is possible right until the end. William Esper, the secretary of Defense was one of the first to go. But Chris Krebs, director of DHS Cybersecurity Agency may be headed for the chopping block. His crime: creating a website to do away with fraudulent information related to the election. Gina Haspel, head of the CIA is another candidate. The fact that the country will be left vulnerable at the moment when the pandemic is raging seems not only to be absent from consideration, but precisely the point as is the president’s refusal to initiate the normal transition steps through the GSA. It was determined that another slow transition process partly explained intelligence failures on 9/11. What a perfect time for terrorists to strike! Trump doesn’t need to inform his autocrat buddies. Weakened on every front, the once most powerful country in the world will become fair game for attack. Trumpty Dumpty sat on a wall/Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall...