Trump whines

Listen to Trump whining. Donald Trump is a whiny little child. He has a broken child’s way of dealing with unpleasant emotions: when he cannot act on his resentment immediately, he suppresses it, though anyone can see it. One tic he has indicating this is his phrase “That’s okay”. He anticipates people will see his repulsiveness, gets upset, and whines “That’s okay” in order to quiet himself. He will have his revenge later. From Bob Woodward’s book Rage:

For Trump, “Okay” draws a line under things. Would he apologise for attempting to bribe the president of Ukraine with US government money?

“Oh, I don’t know, but I think over a period—I would apologize. Here’s the thing: I’m never wrong. Okay. No, if I’m wrong—if I’m wrong—I believe in apologizing. This was a totally appropriate conversation. It was perfect. And again, if I did something wrong, I would apologize. Okay?”

Okay. Move on. So he moves on, himself:

“Now, I am a big fan of the hydroxychloroquine. It may not work, by the way, and it may work. If it does work, I will get no credit for it, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll blame the hell out of me. Okay? But that’s okay.”

Some studies appear to show that drug is useful in covid, some do not. But as it is a generic drug, Trump makes very little profit from it.

“They’ll blame me,” he whines. He is angry and upset, but quickly holds his resentment in. That’s okay. Move on.

Trump resents Woodward, and makes this plain even as he tries to hide it. “I’ll take my chances. It would be an honor to get a good book from you, but that probably won’t happen, but that’s okay, too. Thanks, Bob.”

He told her that I was doing a book on him. “It’ll probably be atrocious, but that’s okay.”

“All I ask for is fairness,” Trump said. “And, you know, I’m sure I won’t get it, but that’s okay. I’m used to that. But I do ask for fairness because nobody’s done what I’ve done. Nobody.”

There’s the grandiosity, which he resents anyone piercing. At some level, he thinks he has achieved nothing, or he would not lie so much.

“I have opposition like nobody has. And that’s okay. I’ve had that all my life. I’ve always had it. And this has been—my whole life has been like this. In the meantime, right now, I’m looking at the White House. Okay? I’m staring right at the walls of the White House.” It seemed to be his way of reminding me that he was the president.

“You don’t understand me. But that’s okay. You’ll understand me after the election. But you don’t understand me now. I don’t think you get it. And that’s okay.”

Trump’s rage could have free rein at his rallies, and he loved it.

Trump:
Just take a look, take third world countries. Their elections are more honest than what we’ve been going through in this country. It’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. Even when you look at last night, they’re all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with boxes. Nobody knows what the hell is going on. There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.

Crowd:
Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!

Donald Trump:
Thank you….

After the election, anyone who was in touch with reality understood how dangerous Trump is.

Others’ feelings, and my own

It is wonderful to feel the same feeling as a crowd. Actors on stage portray rage or yearning and the theatre resonates. I will always remember Private Lives at Pitlochry, with Elyot and Amanda in delight, lust, resentment, desperation, emotions flickering back and forth like flicking a switch, drawing me along with them, amplified by all the audience. Sports crowds have the same effect, moving you from devastation to excitement in a moment with the fortunes of your team.

Stories let us imagine ourselves in situations. What would I feel? What would I do? If I see on television that stage where it seems a couple can talk for hours, as if they fit together perfectly, their bodies mirror each other, their ideas flow as one, I have some of the joy I have felt in such moments. Or there is a moment of loss, and I feel anguish, or a discovery, and I feel righteous anger, so I find catharsis. Pent up feelings in me are released.

Dorothea’s journey with Casaubon, from love, to confusion, to hurt, to resentment, to having moved on, shows what other people are like, and also what I might be like, how I might be. At one moment I watch her, the next I am her.

There is often a socially acceptable way to feel. It is reinforced in the type of stories we tell ourselves, in political speeches, in ceremonies like that of Remembrance Sunday or applauding the NHS from locked down doorsteps. Growing up when homophobia and racism were part of that Normality, I was damaged, for I was taught to despise myself. What delights me is a minority taste. It is a relief to find my tribe, where I fit: pent-up, unacceptable so unacknowledged feelings may be released.

I have been mulling over this post for days. My starting point was outrage and attention: Trump would do or say something ridiculous, disgusting or vile, and there would be another clickbait article. It’s number one in the Guardian’s “Most Popular” list. I would read it and feel scorn or whatever, my feelings fitting the writer’s perception which was the acceptable liberal-left perception. I would learn little, because I know the kind of things Trump does. In the same way I don’t need to read every opinion article about Brexit. I would be better for news with a two-week briefing, the most important things happening in my world, and the rest of the time to pay my attention to more immediate matters.

Yet there would be the Trump article, most popular, and I would click it. With Trump unable to tweet, freshman Congresswomen try to take his place in the attention economy. The QAnon one has name recognition, and another, in a desperate attempt to be noticed, suggested she would bring her pistol into Congress. If they are reported in the NYT or Guardian I know the attitude taken, and it feels as if it is mine. So I click, and share the feeling.

Slowly I begin to feel the disgust of the awakening addict. Such powerful emotions as contempt, usually destructive but here wholly permissible against the designated target, who arouses adulation in others. I check the sites compulsively. Is there something new? I don’t know how many articles Paul Krugman has written saying high borrowing to spend for the good of the country is a good thing, and how wrong-headed or hypocritical Republicans are about this, but I have read most of them in the past five years. Why am I giving this my time and attention?

Possibly because I have a lot of time and attention. Getting angry with a provocateur in another continent takes me away from myself. I am alone in this box, but my computer connects me to the stories of my community and I share their rage at Robert Jenrick’s posturing about Imperial history, rather than doing anything for my own self-development- exercise, playing the piano. I could read a book, and inform myself, but instead I read samey clickbait.

Or I could spend time in contemplation. Then I would be with myself and my situation rather than in someone else’s contempt at something at the very periphery of what actually affects me. What do I feel, now?

In my personal growth circles, it’s a common idea that feelings can be in a particular part of the body. What your body feels is the gateway to where you actually are. Is it in your gut? Did you feel your heart contract, or expand? Normally this means nothing to me. Before I transitioned I loathed my body, and was cut off from it. Now I love it, and can feel sensations all over it, but that rarely links to emotions.

I heard Susan read her poem, and found myself wriggling in delight. Sometimes I get shivers down my spine. Sometimes something makes me tingle- most recently, rereading The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. And the tension between my shoulder-blades, which I felt when terribly stressed at work, I feel all the time still.

Pause. Consider. What do I feel, now? The hope is to be more alive, to respond more authentically and so more effectively in real-life, current situations, when I find myself carried away.

American Politics

Why should a British person be so interested in US politics? Is it weird or shameful, like a Chelsea FC fan from Vladivostok? When I cannot name a German politician apart from Angela Merkel, why can I name, say, Brad Raffensperger? German politics affects me, now the mad Brexiters have reduced the UK to a powerless satellite of the EU, unable to control our own fisheries, with Northern Ireland, part of the kingdom, subject to laws made elsewhere and perhaps soon to be excised?

US politics affects me. There are still British troops in Afghanistan, suffering 454 deaths so far, who have caused many times more deaths. There were British troops in Iraq for eight years, with 179 deaths, causing many times more deaths. The total cost in Iraq was £9.24bn in 2010. The Trump administration defunding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and reducing the climate data they collected makes action against climate change more difficult. Along with his other manoeuvres to prevent action against climate change, this makes the survival of human civilisation less likely.

There are US military bases in Britain. This is illegal, so they are, wholly fictionally, Royal Air Force bases. A single RAF lieutenant (pronounced leftenant) invites the Americans as his “guests”. Britain has nuclear missiles made and targeted in the US, hardly an “independent” deterrent. British politicians shamefully, oleaginously, whine about the “special relationship”.

The New York Times and The Atlantic, which I read, are mainly about the US, but their contents are relevant to me. There are QAnon and anti-maskers in Britain. What they say about social media informs my understanding of my own addiction to likes, and my understanding of how British, as well as American, people behave. Paul Krugman writes about the US economy, but about ways in which the Conservative government in Britain damage the British economy.

Then there is the purely American aspect: the interaction between Federal and State law and politics, the Electoral College, the law and politics around abortion. The technical issues Linda Greenhouse writes about, explaining the US Supreme Court in the NYT, are completely irrelevant to me, but the questions she writes about and the ways they are answered, such as the concept of “Originalism”, fascinate me. This is news as entertainment, for me, a story of how humans are outside my own experience, which enlarges my understanding of how humans can be. How do we solve problems? How do we disagree?

It becomes more personal for me, Zooming with Americans. I was aware of the murder in Charlottesville of Heather Heyer, but meeting and talking with someone from there makes it more real.

The more grotesque aspects of Donald Trump also form politics as entertainment. Trump says or does something disgusting or shocking, and I want to read about it just like rubbernecking a car crash. OMG what has he done/said now??? Demonstrators went to the airports to inveigh against the Muslim ban, and I was with them in spirit even though I could do nothing to advance their cause. I demonstrated against Trump when he came here. His machinations over the election was a fabulous drama.

I feel uncomfortable about these articles when it seems I am feeling other people’s feelings. Writers and publications are, rightly, disgusted or offended by Trump, and the articles communicate these feelings. It seems to me that feeling along with these feelings of contempt or anger, at an acceptable target, in an acceptable way to my community and my self-image, is addictive and cuts me off from my real feelings about situations more real and immediate to me. I want to understand the man, so read psychologists on his narcissism, and his 6 January speech to find how he gains the adulation and service of his crowds. I don’t want to be moved to outrage by every little thing he does. It’s not my outrage. It does me no good. And if Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to take over his role of owning the libs by shocking us, I have no wish to play along.

Finally, there is so much to inspire in the US. It may be the greatest country in the world.

Reading, writing, feeling, living

I have just read a wonderful article, in which a woman tells of her upbringing, and mingles it with an account of a theatre director. She lived the first twelve years of her life in the US, and then her parents took her home to Japan, where she was educated in Japanese and English, with the aim of being fully at home in both cultures, but loyal to Japan. Her title Let them misunderstand is a quote from Yukio Ninagawa, who directed Shakespeare in Japanese.

“The British will often say something like, ‘Oh, we sense pathos in the falling petals of your cherry blossom trees,’ and I would think: that has nothing to do with it. But I’ve come to say, eh, let them think that. Let them misunderstand.”

Well, if you see change as loss, you will see pathos- beautiful blossom falls. If you see change as progress, or as cyclical, you won’t. Before the Hokusai exhibition, I learned I should read his pictures right to left, rather than left to right as I habitually did with European landscape-oriented paintings. It changes the way you see them.

Speaking to this Japanese woman, often, “a white man starts offering their humble, lengthy thoughts on Kurosawa” rather than asking to hear her expertise. Whole articles could be written around such experiences, but here it is just one sentence, which introduces Ninagawa. There are so many points like that in Moeko Fujii’s article- alien to me, beautifully expressed, making me stop and savour them.

I will not subscribe to The Point magazine because the other two free articles I read, though interesting enough, did not come close. Rather, I read the New York Times and The Guardian. Yesterday, Nicholas Kristof wrote of Covid in America, and Andrew Rawnsley wrote of the US/UK relationship. Both are good articles, bringing details together, and both writers know things I hadn’t: in October 2019 Joe Biden tweeted, “We are not prepared for a pandemic”. Rawnsley writes of an international conference of foreign policy experts. But what I take away from them adds little to what I knew or thought before- the US Covid response was disastrous, Johnson is ideologically offensive to and ridiculously unprepared for a Biden presidency, though Kristof also quotes a facebook shared conspiracy theory that would, if believed, make Trump’s supporters more resolute to work for him.

I am worried for the world about 3 November.

Medics for social security might say my concentration was fine, because I could read Rawnsley’s, and even Fujii’s, article through. I am concerned, though, that I spend much of my time scrolling facebook, and I don’t think reading Guardian or NYT op-eds is much better for me. The NYT has a wider political range, but both, in general, go into detail on things I know already. I have, though I don’t live there, read many Covid in America articles, where the mistakes are similar to those here.

I feel the articles raise in me the same narrow range of feelings every time- concern, anger, irritation, contempt. They distance me from my own experience. Events in the wider world affect me, but I do not learn of them, particularly, from any one article. There is a much wider range of emotion in me, much of which I have not named. I could read Stalingrad, and resonate with a great deal more human experience, but do not: instead, I keep returning to a few websites.

Rawnsley’s contempt for the Prime Minister shows through, and encourages my own. It is a paradox: contempt makes one turn away, and pay less attention, but here I return again and again, to contempt for the same con-man vandal. It does not increase my power. It may enervate me further- “The Struggle Naught Availeth!” I think, miserably.

Feeling those conventional feelings in tune with articles is addictive. So is commenting- the more contempt for the government in a Guardian comment, the more upvotes it gets, the more attention.

I want to know why people think what they think, and Anne Applebaum’s article gives another piece of the puzzle. Allegations don’t have to make sense, they just have to be what the audience wants to believe. That would mean the utterly amoral liar has an advantage over the truth-teller (or at least, the normal politician who stretches the truth sometimes) and I hope that is not true.

Even reading The Guardian, I can take away a misleading impression. Why are so few rapes successfully prosecuted? Guardian articles had a brilliant example of phrasemaking, the “digital stripsearch”, where the police take the victim’s phone, download its contents, and disclose them to the defence. Who could bear that? Yet when I spread this falsehood on facebook, quoting the memorable phrase and falsely explaining it, a barrister friend said it was far more nuanced, of what the police would record and the prosecution disclose. The phrasemaking gave me a false impression, and heightened my resentment, and probably the definiteness of my false opinion.

When I tried to tell the story to call people to calm and an appreciation of nuance, it was taken the other way. The phrase “digital stripsearch” stuck in people’s heads, and they had the false view I had sought to show was so easily taken, and so wrong.

Someone spoke appreciation of me, and I was overjoyed: literally, unable to control my expression of delight. I want to control it, of course. Someone else found me on a zoom group, and asked if she could stay at my house. I don’t believe her family would kill her if she returned to Italy. I have met fantasists and think she is one. She has no money and no way of getting any, she said, and indeed she may not be able to claim benefits.

To live normally in this society, one sticks with that narrow range of feeling, and to conventional feeling, which society deems appropriate in any particular situation. That is unbearable to me. I want to feel my own feelings, name them, know them, use them as a guide to what is going on around me.

1929.6.87 004

QAnon

QAnon is an attractive theory. It gives a chance for thinking, caring people to explain the world, to channel our anger and feel a sense of solidarity, seeking the common good together. It promotes President Trump as the saviour of America. That solidarity is expressed by its slogan “Where we go one we go all”, WWG1WGA, a commonplace statement expressed with sufficient idiosyncrasy- that “1”- to be recognisable as Q. “At last we’ve been befriended by someone who has our best interests at heart,” an ally against deceit and lies. Censorship by social media and ridicule from the MSM only reassures them of their rightness.

All your suffering, your debt, the poverty, division, and crime, is caused by the Globalists, but they can be defeated. They have been US President, and in the highest reaches of the EU and the banking system. They control agriculture and pharmaceuticals. The criminal rich need to prevent the revolt of the poor, so used their control of the media to set us against each other, deliberately weakening us. They meet in the Bilderberg Group.

Good presidents include John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, but after Reagan every president was a Deep State criminal, so that the world collapsed into darkness. The Internet put the criminals on a grid that meant the right people could expose their crimes.

The NSA, archiving every phone call, email and text, are good guys. The Deep State buys heroin from the Taliban and rigs voting machines, but Trump overcame the voter fraud and won. He was a patriot, loved by the people. The cabal turned on him, and sought impeachment. “The world is currently experiencing a dramatic covert war… between good and evil.” The cabal had complete control of North Korea and ISIS, but Trump brought Kim to peace and defeated ISIS. Senator No Name, John McCain, plotted to take Trump down. His illness was a fake.

The NSA began the Q intelligence dissemination program to start an online grassroots movement, The Great Awakening, at first on underground channels [8Chan] then the mainstream. The criminals will be punished. The dollar will return to the gold standard and the US will have no debt. The CIA is on the side of the Globalists.

If you do your research, you will see that Q is right so often that he (or she, or they) must be real, and very close to President Trump. Other anonymous supporters arrange Q’s posts in memes.

On 5 October 2017 Trump said this is the calm before the storm. On 2 November 2017 Q echoed that phrase. 1 November was the first reference to Q, which is a high level security clearance designation, above “Top Secret”. Some thought Trump himself was Q. Patriots are now in control. Others say Q+ is Trump. When Trump went to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a piece of paper marked “I hear you”, that was a message to Q supporters. Sometimes Trump’s tweets echo Q drops. For example both Q posted and Trump tweeted “Happy Father’s Day” on 17 June 2018.

How much proof do we need? How many coincidences before mathematically impossible?

Q post 521 on 13 January 2018 was “Do you TRUST the chain of command?” Two days later the US Department of Defense tweeted a post about a NatGeog documentary, using the hashtag #chainofcommand. In the programme, a coffee mug with a big letter Q was clearly visible!

This is post 1254 from 24 April 2018:

Iran is next
[MARKER]
Re_read.
POTUS today.
“Mark it down.”
“Bigger problems than ever before.”
Sig to Iran?
Q

On 8 May 2018 in President Trump’s speech on Iran he said, “It will have bigger problems than it has ever had before”. Q had predicted this!

Follow the white rabbit. It is more than just a phrase from Alice in Wonderland or The Matrix.

Q followers learn weeks before world events. On 14 November 2017, Q posted the Lord’s Prayer, and on 8 December Pope Francis proposed a slight change to the words of that prayer. The Pope is part of the Globalist criminal conspiracy, the deep state cabal (along with the Rothschilds- there are antisemitic tropes in Q) and all the bishops in Chile resigned after sex abuse allegations against priests there. The Pope had covered up those allegations. This was after Q>>884748, [Pope} will be having a terrible May.
Those who backed him will be pushed into the LIGHT>
Dark to LIGHT.
TRUTH.
Q

Ah, enough of this rubbish. I go to “Do my research” as Q adherents enjoin. In January 2018 Pope Francis had defended Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up a priest’s child abuse in the 1980s, saying the allegations were “slander”, but in June 34 Chilean bishops offered their resignations, and the Pope accepted three including that of Barros. And I still don’t know if “Q” posted that. Child abuse was rife in the Catholic church, but that does not mean Hillary Clinton is a child abuser.

I got the Q stuff from Kindle samples of a couple of books on Amazon. One is not available, being under investigation, but you can still “Look Inside”. People like this. It is a hugely detailed conspiracy theory, weaving in some truth, some rubbish, bonding people to Trump’s lies. I would be unsurprised if Trump campaigners were behind the Q posts. I see the attraction of an overarching explanation of all one’s woes, solidarity with the like-minded, and something one can do- support Trump, and meanwhile keep reading Q related gibberish.

What is the ego?

The ego acts as a regent, ruling until the human person reaches sufficient maturity to rule alone. Then the ego becomes a wise counsellor, the Grand Visier or Lord President of the Secret Council, advising the inner light on its actions, though movement and repose increasingly come from the real self or inner light.

In the Real Me is my playfulness, creativity, intensity, Love, Joy, sexuality, gentleness- I am soft, gentle, peaceful- perception of beauty, spirituality, and

Life.

Here is everything that stimulates, delights, excites or motivates me. Here also is the Sulk- if the ego becomes a tyrant, the Real me becomes a grumpy teenager; and possibly any addictions, where I seek a brief dopamine hit if oppressed by circumstances, Tyrant-ego or the Monster. I hurt: the Real Me is where my deep sadness is.

Trans Gurus write, She is not in you, she is you. She is not weak, she is holding you together. She is waiting patiently. Let go and be you.

I called the monster Sulley, but that was a mistake. The monster exists still, submerged in the unconscious, able to hurt. There is my disproportionate self-doubt, my internalised transphobia, that which condemns and hates myself, old fear, misery, possibly addiction, suicidal ideation, the rage and terror directed against myself, and death.

What could be in a good ego, a good adviser recognising its subordination to the Real self or inner light? An urge to self-improvement, and consideration of where efforts to self-improvement might be usefully directed, perhaps. A more reflective, responsive “What will people think?” Consideration of past and future, which I do not seem to do well.

It is that image: I was in a dark, dingy corridor, with doors off it. Looking through the doors was overwhelming, with light colour and movement I could not fathom, and terrifying. Yet as I moved along the corridor it got darker and more constricting. The Monster is that corridor, and the Real me is through one of the doors into life and freedom. I thought it was in St Paul, but it’s Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”

It is tempting to view the US election in apocalyptic terms. If Trump wins, the 2024 election may not happen, or will not be an election in the sense we are accustomed to. The comments sections of the papers I favour are full of such misery, and I am likely to fall into the wailing and gnashing of teeth. For example:

The disastrous President Trump
On America, he takes a dump
Taken in by his lies
our democracy dies
or we flee from his covid death slump.

That is cleverly expressed, but it buys into the apocalypticism of the Republican convention. These people are asserting that if the Radical Democrats gain power they will not be safe in their homes. That level of fear and anger does democracy no good. It is a white privilege thing to imagine that democracy was working in 2016, or 2012: lots of Black people could not vote, then, or found their choices curtailed.

I want to turn away from that kind of misery, and the communal indulgence in it that is comment threads. I am pleased with the 45 upvotes my limerick got, but slightly queasy. I need a balance between keeping abreast of current events, and getting sucked into a storm of misery.

It is better to pay attention to possibilities, opportunities, and hope, than blackness. Again Philippians: “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” I must keep returning to that verse.

Donald Trump stories

Trump and Michael Cohen are in the Oval office, when Omarosa Marigault Newman walks in. The moment he sees her Trump stuffs the piece of paper he was reading into his mouth and starts eating it. “Since Trump was ever the germaphobe, I was shocked he appeared to be chewing and swallowing the paper. It must have been something very, very sensitive,” she said. I don’t know why he might not think of shouting “Get Out!” at her, or even looking her in the eye and saying “get out,” in a friendly, conversational tone, but who knows. It is a big office, approximately 34 feet on the minor axis and 27 on the major, even though it’s the Oval Office, not the Ellipse Edifice. It’s built where the laundry drying yard used to be.

Brash Omarosa, a woman with no policy expertise, political acumen, or knowledge of the workings of government, who happened to be Black in a very White House, was fired by Trump’s fourth chief of staff, John Kelly. She could work on the Trump Campaign 2020, which was set up the day after the inauguration for tax purposes, if she didn’t make a fuss.

Cliff Sims, former editor in chief of Yellowhammer News- no, I hadn’t heard of it either, but wondered if it were connected to the Yellowhammer explaining that Britain would suffer food shortages if there was a no-deal Brexit- anyway, Sims was one of Trump’s shifting crew of Communications Supremoes, who wrote with some relish, “The inner circle of Trumpworld was not always a pretty picture. Too often, it was a portrait of venality, stubbornness, and selfishness. We leaked. We schemed. We backstabbed, for ourselves. We brought our personal agendas and vendettas. And some of us, I assume, were good people.”

“Only some?” is not the question you are asking. You got the allusion immediately.

Paul Ryan, right, Paul Ryan’s in the Oval Office briefing Trump on his big, beautiful plan to make health care great again. After fifteen minutes Trump starts staring out of the window, then gets up, walks into his adjacent two-scoops dining room, sits down and turns on the TV. HR McMaster, Mad Dog or something, when briefing the President of the United States, would set out the pros and cons, risks and advantages, of each option before making a recommendation.

It drove Donald Trump nuts.

That’s what you want to hear, isn’t it? He’s not a happy man, that Trump, with his gossamer thin skin and his utter narcissism and the way his Scotch mother was ill and could not meet his needs and his father was a shark and wouldn’t when he was small, World King Trump- not happy. There’s some justice in the world.

At Mary Lay-go, Trump’s earnest staffer puts a four inch thick binder by Trump’s seat. It was detailed research on every topic that might come up, lines to take, background, historical context, facts and figures. Weeks of work. Christ Chrissie, a very intelligent man who knew Trump so well he was prescient like that tells the staffer Trump will use it as a coaster. And, whaddyaknow, Christie was Right! Everyone else in Trump’s White House, said Chrissie, no, actually, Christie was involved with the transition to start with but didn’t actually get to be Secretary of State, that should be everyone in Trump’s Whitehouse, was “amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons”.

Gary Cohn tells “friends” he got the Tax and Job Cuts Act passed by giving Trump four key bullet points summarising the legislation, and ensuring Trump was in Asia when Congress was passing it.

Trump “insists” on having the Churchill Bust on the Redolent Desk, where sometimes he thoughtfully strokes the cigar in Winnie’s mouth, and the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Ellipsoid Artifice, Old Hickory who in 1828 was described as bullish, defensive, quick-tempered, thin skinned, a populist, unfit to govern, who felt the ruling élites looked down on him and warned against alien enemies. Alien, here, means from foreign countries rather than from Space. Jackson killed someone in a duel and Trump has not yet shot anyone on Wall St, though who knows what’s happened to the 100,000 missing persons every year in the US. When Trump was supposed to be golfing, did DHS agents take him to the desert near the Mexican border to “help” them deal with Mexicans? Did they? Did they? What would Trump’s Base think of that?

Stories taken from Clown Car Disaster by John Sopel, BBC Washington co-respondent, pretty much. “Enjoyed the sample? Buy now in the Kindle Store!” I did, actually, enjoy it, not buy it, much as the alcoholic might imagine he could stop after two pints. I have the same rubbernecking delight in everything to do with Trump that most people do. I hope he’s re-elected, he’ll be even more entertaining next time. Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, take account of these things.

Surviving Trump’s Autocracy

Here is a survey of Donald Trump’s vandalism of America over three and a half years. Daily outrages numb us, whether sending riot police with tear-gas to clear peaceful protesters so he can pose with a Bible, or using the Environmental Protection Agency to remove restrictions on pollution of air and water. The nonbinary journalist and activist Masha Gessen has written Surviving Autocracy, published today on Kindle and in July in hardback, based on their experience of Putin’s Russia and Trump’s America. There is analysis of how Trump gives both continuity and new direction to American governance, and how institutions have failed to prevent him. There are comprehensive notes of academic and journalistic sources.

They start with the Covid crisis, where America could have prepared, but the Presidency gave no leadership. Instead, it had utter disregard for human life and a monomaniacal focus on pleasing the leader, to make him appear unerring and all-powerful, like the Soviet government dealing with Chernobyl. They summarise Trump’s repertoire of speechifying: government by gesture; obfuscation and lying; self-praise; stoking fear and issuing threats.

Trumpian news has a way of being shocking without being surprising. Every one of the events of that week was, in itself, staggering: an assault on the senses and the mental faculties. Together, they were just more of the same. The news is unimaginable, but the reporting helped normalise it. We need better language. As Trump crushes the Republic’s political disagreement and judicial process, he attempts to introduce autocracy and a “Mafia state”, a specific, clan-like system in which one man distributes money and power to all other members. In Trump’s case, he mobilises his base, who find his posing with the Bible spiritually overwhelming, and distributes the power to those whose fawning meets his approval. Power amasses wealth, then wealth perpetuates power, like in Russia or Hungary.

Hitler’s jurisprude Carl Schmitt called the Reichstag Fire a “state of exception”, an emergency that shakes up the accepted order of things. Then the Leader institutes new, extralegal rules. After Trump’s election President Obama spoke in hope of “a presumption of good faith… a vibrant and functioning democracy”. Gessen lists catastrophes Putin has used to change the Russian system towards autocracy, and similar crises in US history such as Woodrow Wilson’s Sedition Act 1918, leading to the arrest of thousands. After 9/11, Robert Mueller led the FBI as an internal spy agency, targeting immigrants and political dissidents for surveillance and infiltration, even torture, or “enhanced interrogation”, and George Bush lied about Saddam’s weapons in order to start a war.

But there is no one sweeping, unequivocal gesture upon which we would all justifiably give up hope or, alternatively, become desperately heroic. Instead Trump’s actions change the nature of American government and politics step by step. He jettisons traditions, such as that the Justice Department functions independently, and assumes control of it. It is part of the Executive branch, so the institution is no protection against Trump, and the tradition can be brushed aside, like the tradition that Trump should not profit from the presidency: the foreign emoluments clause of the constitution has not resulted in impeachment. The Office of Government Ethics was sidelined, powerless against Trump’s bad faith. All his Cabinet profiteered, transparently.

I had thought “Drain the Swamp” was a claimed attack on corruption, but it was an attack on government itself. Trump continues to campaign as if the Deep State was still the Elite, ruining ordinary people’s lives, and attack the Government, with his cabinet picked to oppose their departments’ proper functioning. Labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder opposed labour rights. Betsy DeVos sought to privatise education. The nominees lied to congress, a criminal offence, like their patron did. They were lying to the swamp. Trump disdains government expertise and qualifications. He delayed appointing candidates to many jobs requiring Senate confirmation. He destroys regulations protecting the public. He sacked advisers and expert groups. Cabinet members argued for cuts in their departments funding.

Believe the autocrat. Trump broadcast his intentions in his campaign and inauguration. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost” was his summary of government achievement. He attacked whatever made it admirable, or showed it to be so: He had the White House website swept clean of substantive content on climate policy, civil rights, health care, and LGBT rights, took down the Spanish-language site, and added a biography of his wife that advertised her mail-order jewelry line.

He degrades and demeans. The cake for his inauguration ball was made of styrofoam, a direct copy of Obama’s. Gessen uses this as a symbol of the administration: much of what little it brought was plagiarized, and most of it was unusable for the purpose for which presidential administrations are usually intended. Not only did it not achieve excellence: it rejected the idea that excellence is desirable. This has caused 100,000 Covid deaths: action was held up by human error… by rules that had unintended consequences; by a reluctance to make decisions; and most of all, by a system’s essentially Trumpian inability to recognize its own failures.

The federal government created a system whereby states bid against one another and the federal government. Trump gave Jared Kushner broad authority to organize a private-sector response to the pandemic, working in parallel with or around the government effort.

Trump prevented useful government action. He only wanted spectacle, such as his daily briefings. He denied the complexity of climate agreements, arms control or the use of military force, and so showed his mediocre mind. He wanted to give simple orders like “Build the Wall”. He developed the previous government by oligarchy, where elections are decided by money. Access to voters is by advertising. Former elected officials work as lobbyists.

Trump praises autocrats, like Putin, Kim Jong-un, Duterte, Bolsonaro, and Mohammed bin Salman. His cabinet grovels: “Our kind Father in Heaven, we are so thankful for the opportunities and the freedom that you’ve granted us in this country. We thank you for a president and for cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come behind us.” Trump demanded similar adulation from Democrats, calling them traitors for not applauding his speech.

Trump packs the courts, and has appointed a quarter of the judges in the courts of appeal. He attacks the dignity of democracy, both in the dignity of voters having a part in the process, which he seeks to suppress, and the dignity of political performance, with respectful language. Before his hearing, Brett Kavanaugh gave an interview on Fox news, as measured and apparently humble as Christine Blasey Ford was before the Senate. Then Trump called him, urged him to be forceful in his denials, and before the Senate he was emotional and offensive, shouting repeatedly that he liked beer, shouting that the Left was willing to do anything to derail his nomination. Kavanaugh’s audience was Trump the autocrat.

The emphasis on Russia worked as a conspiracy theory, ascribing too much power to Putin while Trump destroyed government in plain sight. The Mueller report did not save democracy: it gave the facts that Trump had obstructed justice, but not the conclusion. So William Barr brushed it away, and asserted alternative facts which Fox News and the Republican party echoed.

Photo from Wikimedia.

Trump demonstration

I had thought a lot of what to write on my placard. This was it:

Truth
Reconciliation
Respect

What do we need in public life? I started with phrases, wanted something pro-choice, and to be readable honed it down to individual words, so pro-choice ended up as “Respect”. I thought of writing the things I object to, but want to be positive. “Oh, that’s very good,” said someone, appreciatively.

I liked the Women’s Equality Party slogan: “From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you Trump for giving feminism a little hand”. Meaning he radicalises opposition. I signed the huge card they were going to send him. There were many references to small hands, and a huge Trumphair-coloured fist, with its middle finger extended. One printed sign read “Trump racist liar cheat misogynist bigot baby-jailor chimp”, lots said “Dump Trump”, or “No to Trump, no to war”.

I did not pose for a picture with my placard. My photos were taken from within the demo, seeing what I saw:

There were several camera crews. Should I speak to one? I could say something pithy and articulate. But they are American stations I have not heard of, and might be hard-Right propaganda like Fox or Sinclair Media Group.

I did not get to Friends House in time for the Meeting for Worship, but had time for a cup of tea with Michael and to write out my placard. Simple mistake: I wrote it only on one side, so had to keep turning it round. I had a stout A2 sized card, no need for a handle. There were photos in the FH garden. Then we went to the start of the march, where we were up against the barrier outside a hotel. Hotel guests with cases and shopping somehow got through the crowds: we were packed in, but we were nice people, trying to make way for them. Then we started, with ELO then David Bowie playing: carnival music for a friendly atmosphere. My favourite sign was Peggy from EastEnders, hands on hips, with the caption “Get out of my Pub”. British. Having a lark, not taking things too seriously, speaking up for truth and justice.

I saw signs condemning the president’s transphobia, and went over to speak to a trans woman carrying one. I do not want to get arrested on protest, and this is not that kind of protest. Tens of thousands of people, with the onlookers mostly supportive. Above, a helicopter circled; I wondered how high-res its cameras were. I read the police had facial-recognition cameras to identify us. I have lots of photos on facebook. Soon, demonstrating will really mean standing up for a cause.

There are speakers in Trafalgar Square, but when we get there I am tired, and Michael invites me to Westminster meeting house, where he offers cake and tea. I bump into Lucy, down with Unite the Union. I stay for the silence. The only cheap train ticket I could get was 12.15am, so I went to Tate Modern. North of the Millennium Bridge I had a bread roll and some fruit, listening to a cello and violin play Pachelbel, Bach, Vivaldi. I stayed until the gallery closed at ten. Here is its deserted corridor.