Tag Archives: Trump


The Freudian Body Politic (2016-2020)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

I received an email the other day from the reclusive novelist Thomas Fuller, whose work I was introduced to by the poet-painter Brooks Roddan. Fuller feigned not to recognize the identity of “Individual No. 1,” claiming that someone named Mitch McConnell had been the actual president of the United States in the second half of the past decade. I sighed, of course. “Will no one rid me of these conspiracy theories?” was my first reaction, since I have heard variants on this proposition as punchlines to an assortment of jokes. As I wrote him back, though, a very brief consideration of his assessment of the nation’s political psyche with McConnell as the actual president led me to come up with the following trifecta:

The Freudian Body Politic.

Mitch McConnell — the ego — the (GOP) self presented to the public
Donald Trump — the Id — unleashed with paramount boorishness
GOP House and Senate — the superego — the conscience that alleges to keep the id and ego in balance

We witnessed on Tuesday, the 26th, how the superego’s flotation devices are intact. I predict a salvage operation, both terminable and interminable.

Ground Level Conditions Presidental Election

Trump’s Margin of Manafort Error

Trump’s Margin of Manafort Error

According to a poll taken last week, and cited in the New York Times this morning, Donald Trump has achieved an inverse one-percent rating. This is to say that whereas the term “one percent” has by now largely conflated itself with the disparity between wealth and working people, Trump’s one percent in this instance refers to his level of support in African-American communities. If his ability to finance his own campaign in the GOP primaries indicates his exceptional ranking within American wealth holders, his inability to recognize wealth as anything but the prerogative of white people has led to his extraordinary unpopularity within even conservative factions of African-Americans voters.

In an attempt to portray itself as engaged in fair reporting, the Times parenthetically reminds its readers of any poll’s margin of error, which it notes might improve the results to reflect African-American support of Trump as possibly being as high as two and a half or three percent. I would suggest that Times neglected to mention that there is another way that that margin of error could operate. It is just as likely the case that Trump’s support among African-American voters is only .0001. I mention that the poll’s margin of error could work the other way — in a manner subtracting from the already mouth-dropping dismal digit — because I suspect that the one percent of African-Americans who responded positively to the poll on Trump misunderstood the question. Trust me on this: give any group of one hundred people a question to answer, and at least one person will turn in a response that does not accurately reflect their actual beliefs or analysis.

But why should a poll in African-American communities matter to Trump’s supporters? He could poll zero with all communities of color and it would not in the least matter to him or to Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager. Especially to Manafort, who would probably not flinch if he went back in time and was offered a chance to massage the public image of Adolph Hitler in 1933. In fact, offered enough money, Manafort might even accept the job in 1943. Why not? Is such retrospective speculation truly an ad hominem attack? Manafort has worked for Ferdinand Marcos and Victor F. Yanukovych, and with these two character references, he most certainly qualifies for a trial hot balloon fantasy of dallying with other dictators.

It cannot be said often enough: the fear that Trump aspires to imposing a dictatorial agenda on the United States is not an outlandish case of liberal paranoia. Mr. Manafort’s association with deposed elements in the Ukraine may or may not have required him to register as a foreign agent with the United States Justice Department, but American voters need to register the threat that such an individual would pose to every amendment but the second one, should the candidate he serves be elected in November.

Whether the allegations implied by the NY Times’ article about possible links between Mr. Manafort and records of cash payments in the Ukraine are true is not really my concern here. What I want made public is the actual amount of money paid to Mr. Manafort in legally cashed checks. That Mr. Manafort would willingly work for such individuals as Ferdinand Marcos and Mr. Yanukovych is the most disturbing issue, and PDFs of the checks he cashed should be posted on-line right now. If Trump wants to wait until after the third debate to release his taxes, I’m willing to wait. Manafort’s books are surely not being audited, and I see no reason why he should not give us immediate and unconditional access to his tax returns.

It is not fun to vote out of revulsion and loathing, but this time it is unavoidable. Elections are not fun; they are not about awarding public office to someone you “like” or “want to spend time with.” In a little over a dozen weeks, American voters will decide whether Mr. Manafort will be awarded the post of Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense in February, 2017. And if you think I’m exaggerating the nature of what’s at stake here, just remember what happened in the aftermath of the 2000 election.

I don’t care what polls say about Hillary Clinton’s lead. If we don’t keep the pressure on, and remind people what will happen if Trump wins, then we will lose every social gain that has been achieved since the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and Harvey Milk. If America is to be “great again,” let it be the greatness of reinforcing diversity they dreamed of.

Ground Level Conditions Presidental Election

Why Lift One’s Arms? They’ll Shoot You Anyway — The Election Cycle: 2016’s Home Stretch

Friday, July 22, 2016
Why Lift One’s Arms: They’ll Shoot You Anyway —
THE ELECTION CYCLE: 2016’s Home Stretch

Part One: “not merely a party with little future, but one without any past, either”

The line-up of speakers at next week’s Democratic National Convention is unusually remarkable for its two-term presidential presence. Compared to the just completed RNC, the DNC verges on superfluity. When was the last time that a national political convention had a current two-term president addressing party activists and donors as well as a two-term former president? The GOP has had no such back-to-back figures in its convention’s confabulations for well nigh a century. A combination of scandalous or dismal Republican presidencies in the past half-century led up to the current convention, in which no one who significantly contributed to any of that parties successful campaigns for the White House has had any role. It would seem to be not merely a party with little future, but one without any past, either.

The absence of President George W. Bush from this convention is even more striking than the token role he was consigned to four years ago in Tampa, Florida. For a two-term president to have his nationally broadcast endorsement speech in 2012 limited to a videotaped infomercial is the political equivalent of having to drive an ice cream truck in a neighborhood of the very elderly and having to watch what little ice cream is purchased melt in their hands because they can’t remember what they just bought. Bush had to have felt humiliated. Deservedly so, but still a stinging slight.

George W.’s decision to skip the coronation in Cleveland, therefore, probably has as much to do with his desire to even the score for the 2012 putdown as it does with his distaste for Trump. Jeb Bush cannot, of course, be blamed for absenting himself, either. His father, the former President George H.W. Bush, and his mother, are nearing the end of their lives, and who in either political party would prefer to have your nose rubbed in your rejection by a wealthy, smug prevaricator instead of sharing quiet recollections with your parents?

In contrast, the Democratic Party has a line-up that would be nothing short of the shining envy of political operatives at any point in this perishing republic’s history:

Monday: First Lady Michelle Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders
Tuesday: Former President Bill Clinton
Wednesday: Current President Barack Obama
Thursday: Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton

On oratorical skill and charisma alone, the first three nights will be worth intermittently taking in, and it’s hard to believe that Hillary won’t experience some slight bounce. She will need it: despite having a huge lead in fundraising, HRC is not so much mired in distaste as disbelief. She is without doubt the most experienced and qualified politician running for President right now, and if elected, she will most likely soldier on in the same stolid manner that President Obama has done. Obamacare will continue to have its quirks resolves; abortion rights will be upheld; gay marriage will remain viable; and climate change will receive at least token attention. But the keywords are qualified politician. She is a brilliant bureaucrat with a background as a lawyer, but she sees social problems as being primarily legitimation narratives for her right to power. The problem is that the following questions under her administration have no other outcome than an emphatic negative: Will my life as an aging person significantly change for the better? Will my students really find that their post-degree lives suddenly have more entry-level options? Will I be able to worry less that each time I say hello and goodbye to an African-American acquaintance or friend that this is the last time I will see them alive? She has no actual plan to improve matters on the ground.

The last question, by the way, is not hyperbole. Yes, it has gotten that bad. The open season on African-Americans has reached the point where even a man flat on his back on the ground, completely motionless, with his arms up in the air, fingers like talons of powerlessness spread tautly wide open, is shot by a police officer. With his arms up, I might add, longer than I would be able to hold my arms up.

If voters’ hands are up, raised high in despondency, it is because “power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” and the secret Second Amendment reads: “the rights of a well-regulated police review board shall not be infringed upon by those whose neighborhoods are subject to police assault.” If Clinton wanted to show leadership, she would directly address the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement in her acceptance speech.

Trust me, though, with the following exercise: if you hold up your arms up long enough during her speech this coming week, you’ll not only hear the words better, but the unctuous tepidity of her vision will become slow motion torture, the syllables elongated by her neoliberal blandness. Yes, you should vote for her in November, and I intend to do so. But my heart will be as heavy as my hopelessly lifted arms.

(to be continued on as needed basis)