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The Shearing of Hair Trompf (30)

The Trompf Mob


I agree with Adam Davidson (NYer) that the end draweth nigh.  En effet, quoting Francis Cabrel, “Cette histoire est déja fini.”  And lies aren’t gonna get anybody out of this reckoning.

When Dick Nixon declared, “I am not a crook!” he had no idea.  We are about to find out what a crooked Pr*sident really is.  Crime, thy name is Trompf, all his life.  Thy middle name is “Sleaze.”

Therefore, because journalists for many publications (of which the handful that have been my main sources are obvious from earlier pages) have been doing an excellent, really historic, job of chronicling the characters and plot line of this episode, and because I don’t have life to waste on every twist and turn of the demise of this low-life whom a fascist Republican Party and a slew of foolish voters put into the white House, I’ll reduce my additions to this episode to the high points.  I’ll focus my attention on aspects of the novel such as archetypal psychology (e.g.) and anarchistic community (Larks!).

[Previous page of this episode.]

Dream 3-26-18 6:30 a.m.

My car needed fixing, so I drove it to a combination of repair shop, used parts store, and dump for wrecked cars. There was a large parking lot that sprawled down the side of a hill. The workable cars and the hulks were parked in horizontal rows, pointing around the hill, on an uneven surface of bare ground and grassy patches. With a remarkable combination of skill and error I managed to park my large, 1960s car (reminiscent of the pink Pontiac Bonneville that I drove during the 70s) with its passenger side not only parallel to the next car downhill from it, but with their sides just touching, along their full length. There was also a bump at the right front of my car, which I had moved that corner of the car up and over, so that the wheel had settled into a shallow indentation, with the front wheels turned fully, sharply to their left. I got out and walked up the hill to the shop.

When I was back in my car, with the parts that it needed, I had to, somehow, pull out of that parking spot and away from the car beside it without scraping the sides of the cars. I pressed the gas petal to the floor and held it there, to get every bit of power that the car could produce, while I slowly engaged the clutch. With an enormous, prolonged roar, I got the car to inch up forward, while turning the wheels slowly to the right, so as to first create a few inches of space between the cars and then to align the possible motion of the tires with the direction of the thrust of the motor and rear wheels.

As I drove slowly toward the exit of the lot, I passed a young man who was a mechanic and a young woman who was waiting while her car was being fixed. Both commented on the roar that I had created, and the power of my car, how courageous I had been to try that, and how lucky it was, that I had been able to get the car out of that jam.

[Immediately previous, seemingly possibly related, in a way, dream.]

Dream 3-22-18 6:30 a.m.

The “dream ego” was me, much as I was during my thirties (writing, teaching, editing poetry). I was at a large, afternoon gathering of people, probably outdoors, seated at tables, eating and drinking. A man in his fifties, whom I knew only slightly, came over to talk with me. He was a well-known poet, and he told me that he had brought along some poems from a manuscript that he was working on. A woman who was also there, with whom he was in a serious relationship (not married, but they had been something of a couple for some time) had critiqued one of the poems and had suggested a new first word. They were not getting along well, and it seemed the spat might descend into a split. She was standing nearby, frowning at him. He asked if I would take a look at the poems, especially the suggested revision.

I read the poems, and then as I gave him my opinion the woman came over to hear what I thought. I told them that I thought the poems were quite good. Although I didn’t say so, it seemed to me that the depth of insight in the imagery impressed me as that of a poet who was entering the mature period of his life and artistry, and who spoke with a voice of calm understanding and absence of ego. I said I thought that the proposed new first word was a good idea that would strengthen the poem, but that the poem had already been strong without it.

Another man, a friend of the couple, aged about 60, seemingly wealthy, came over to ask if they would like to get away from the party, by going for a ride in his new car. They liked the idea, and as the three started walking away they asked if I would like to come along.

The car was a large, burgundy, Mercedes convertible, with the top down. The owner got into the driver’s seat, and the poet got into the back seat. I wondered if the woman would get into the back seat with him or into the front passenger seat. She chose the front seat, so I got into the back with the poet.

As we were driving slowly down a one-way street, downtown, we were moving beside a very large car with a lot of people in it. They were dressed in swim suits, apparently returning from the beach. They commented on the Mercedes, jokingly disparaging it but at the same time showing admiration.

We turned down a smaller street. The car now felt and sounded to me like a Chris-Craft inboard motor boat (like one that my uncle had when I was a kid). To me, sitting in the back seat, it felt as though we were moving slowly and comfortably across open water. It still looked the way it had looked when I got in, except that now its shape was modified in one way: like my uncle’s Criss-Craft, between the back of the front seat and the well of the back seat, it now had something like a deck (but metal and the color of the car).

The woman decided that she would like to sit with her friend, the poet; so as we moved slowly along the street she got up onto the deck. The driver also got onto the deck, where he stood to direct our exchange of seats. When I got onto the deck, I realized that, with no one driving, the car was edging slowly toward the curb. I got down into the driver’s seat, corrected the wheel direction, and then slid into the front passenger seat. Again we were heading toward the curb, so I reached over to the steering wheel and turned it just in time, so that the front tire merely rubbed the curb for a few feet before heading back into our lane.

As the driver and woman settled into their seats, the driver joked about my bad driving, having run into the curb, but joked in a way that also expressed praise and gratitude.

[Does this have anything to do with the subject of this novel?  Who knows?  These are crazy days.  A car like a boat with a poet in the back seat might come in handy.]

[Immediately next, seemingly possibly related, in a way, dream.  Index to Dreams episode.]

The Verdict Is In (3b of X)

The Insatiables simply cannot get enough of what they very much want: money, and the personal pleasures that they like to buy with it, at whatever expense to everyone else: power and influence, room at the top and recognition by their peers there, privilege, an illusion of security.

The Insatiables are deeply into money. They have so much money that no amount can be enough, because in their lives money is only a number, an abstract comparative in the vacuous imagination of their symbology. Their only meaningful number is their highest number, which must be surpassed. If their number is 22,987,566,000, it must be growing to 22,987,666,000 or they feel unfulfilled, unstable, not quite real, maybe even at risk.

Like the Despicables, Insatiables will comfortably kill to get what they want.

They are the Riggers of the world. To their minds, the keys to the value of other persons is the amount of their own wealth that they must transfer to such other persons in return for service in helping generate more wealth for themselves, and the amount of the other persons money that can be transferred to them. That monetary value translates into general intrinsic human value only in so far as humans are necessary to perform that wealth-generating service. A life of wealth among wealth-generating robots would be (maybe will be) more convenient.

It’s my impression that many of the Insatiables are Libertarians, and that many Libertarians are insatiable. Emptiness hurts. An insatiable ego is an empty self.

As St. Paul tells it in his “Letter to the Congregation at Davos,” 6:66-69 (Brand New American Bible, 1981):

A multibillionaire (USD) came to Jesus and said, “Lord, I want to get into Heaven if I die. Tell me what I should do, just in case.” And Jesus said unto him, “Look, there’s no free lunch.  Let’s check out what you really want. Tell your man to fire your accountants and give all your numbers to the people who don’t even have an account.” But the multibillionaire was on his way to a dinner, and he was afraid that without his numbers he would not be recognized at the gate.

Here I want to quote, again, the classic, haunting Fitzgerald, near the end of GG:  “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . . .”

And there are characters like Jeff and Mark. . . .  If I were making this up, not lying but imagining fictive characters who could dramatize their part of the deeper reality of human experience in a crazy world, they would be characters who mask their lust for wealth (hiding it even from themselves, perhaps, or at least justifying its destructiveness) with a vociferous claim to be doing something wonderful for humanity.  And like F’s narrator, I would find it hard to shake their hands; and if I did, under the quotidian obligation of our peaceable perspective of our commonality, I would find solace in knowing them clearly, so as to seek the bittersweet equanimity that is offered by the flow of time.  And breath.

[Pages (3a) and (3c).]

The Verdict Is In (3a of X)

Charge: The voters who form the base, the quaeda, of Republican/Trompf support are: The Despicables, The Insatiables, The Deplorables, and The Gullibles (religious ideologues, or Randy displacement secular ideologues, or the truly hurting). Verdict: Guilty as charged.

I’m thinking of the (I would guess) 25% of the active electorate who will not, and probably can not, detach themselves from Trompf, no matter what, and who will vote R, almost no matter what. They identify either their financial or their social selves with Trompf, and they can be counted on to rally at the polls in his defense.

As a retiring senator put it, (as reported by Sargent):

“The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who decided to retire when his second term concludes at year’s end, after periodically sparring with Trump.

“People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not,” Corker added.

Jenna Johnson’s reporting of a recent T campaign rally and speech provides a Precipice Notes guide to the characteristics of these rabid fans. With material for an epic catalog, she presents the psychological image that T has invented of himself as an infallible charismatic leader, including the ideas that he wants his faithful marks to buy into. Members of the base embrace both this heroic image of themselves as righteous followers of a national savior, and his thoughts that constitute their own utopian vision of their nation. They bear his brand.

The Exemplar of The Despicables is, of course, the award-winning Hair Trompf himself, shape-shifting trickster figure par excellence. He is his #1 supporter, the biggest that the world has ever known. Conservative and liberal journalists who are excellent writers have been competing, it seems, to find the best words to express his extraordinarily awful qualities, and the danger that he poses to democracy and America. Three recent offerings:

We find ourselves at war without a commander in chief; in national mourning without a consoler in chief; and in political gridlock without a negotiator in chief. . . .But there is no depth to which Trump will not sink in defense of the only thing he holds dear: himself. . . .Did he? Did he really use dead children to attack an investigation into his campaign and his conduct in office? Yes, he did. This is a person devoid of empathy. . . .“Dereliction of duty” is not a strong enough term to describe this man’s abysmal performance.  (Marcus WaPo 2-18-18)

Witnessing Trump’s presidency unravel so spectacularly provokes a perverse joy. The venality is so baroque, the vulgarity so ostentatious, the inconsistencies so stark, the incompetence so epic and the lies so brazen, it leaves you speechless. His vanity is without guile and the scandals that embroil him without end. Almost everything he says and does has been publicly contradicted, by himself, usually on Twitter.  (Younge, Guardian, 3-15-18)

When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America . . . America will triumph over you. (tweet by John Brennan, former head of CIA, addressed to T, 3-17-18; commentary by Robinson)

As a genuine American fascist, T isn’t conducting government in the way that he has conducted his businesses, he is conducting government as one of his businesses (the biggest in history), in exactly the way he has always conducted [**] his businesses. The presidency is merely a stage on which he displays his wares, his personal despicability. At his big military parade, his salute to himself will be his triumphal Mussolini moment.

Truly. Despicable. If we need more examples, we can begin with the GOP team manager, Mitch McConnell, and a rookie, Stephen Miller. And Robert Mercer, a Despicable who prefers to manipulate populations from back-stage.

The Despicables distill America’s historical classism, sexism, racism, and general (learned and taught) sociopathic disempathy, and combine those essences into a political bomb, the way McVey did with everyday chemicals, with which to explode our social fabric and tear apart our body politic.

The main trait of the Despicables is their willingness to kill in service of their financial self-interest. They are war profiteers in every aspect of their social lives, including class warfare. They should be kept out of government. In business they should be thoroughly controlled. We must always keep in mind that these are crazy people. Out of their gourds.

With any luck, Trompf will be the only Despicable to be elected president* during my lifetime, and, I hope, my grandchildren’s. (Nixon is a candidate; but he possessed the flaw of being able to distinguish the true from the falsified, and to know that he should hide his lies. Ironically, T is pure transparency in government.)

A problem with the label, desplicable, however, is that they’re not actually worth the energy it takes to despise them. The point is to recognize that they qualify, politically overpower them, set them to the side of our lives, keep them there, and send them loving-kindness thoughts for their enlightenment.

I know it’s hard.

[** Here’s the T MO in all things Life, as quoted by Josh Marshall (TPM):

“As I’ve learned more about Trump’s business history it has reminded me of this description we got months ago from another New York real estate professional about Trump’s MO …

There is a personality type with a New York developer, one Donald learned from Fred when he carried his dad’s briefcase to acquisition meetings out in the boroughs and it goes like this:

Donald contracts for a service or good, or the acquisition of a piece of land for $1 million.

He then does not pay you

You ask Donald for your million dollars

Donald yells at you, basely, abusively, wholly out of character to the rich gentleman you broke bread with and made the deal with. He tells you that no, YOU owe him $200,000. Gives you no reason but screams how can you be such a son of a bitch to rip him off, how he’s going to sue you, expose you as a cheat, etc.

You’re off your pins, defensive. How could this be the guy who was so nice when he picked up the check at Per Se?

So, you compromise, because human nature avoids conflict, right? This is what he’s gaming you for because once you compromised, you’ve lost. You’ve inferred his premise that you have some complicity in the matter otherwise why would you compromise? You are on the defensive and will never get it back.

You offer $750,000 as a settlement, angry buy want it over and done with. He then sues you. Why, because you’ve already committed yourself to the loss. You volunteered to surrender your position and what will stop you from keeping going?

I’ve seen many a New Yorker settle things like this with Trump people for 5-10 cents on the dollar and then happy, even eager to keep doing business with them. Why? Because he got in their heads with this aggressively counterintuitive behavior.”]

[Pages (1) and (2a) and (3b) of this episode.  (Pages on the other debased, being drafted.]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (29)

The Great Stench

To high heaven. Ah, it’s The Mercers. Robert and d. Rebecca. Now, I don’t like these people, or anyone remotely similar; so we have to keep my bias in mind.

Such characters. What a rich contribution they are making to the novel, and of course the author had no idea that they would show up. On stage, like Trompf, they would have to be played by child actors. As narrator I’m emphasizing them in the international Cambridge-Analytical-Trompf-campaign scandal because it is crucial, in defense of democracy and human rights, to call out, by name, the individual violators of human dignity and integrity.

Well it’s the Age of Predation, big-data time.

To get us started on this one, here’s an “everything you need to know” (as of 3-19, with links to updates, at bottom of page) by Philip Bump.  And a terrific article about the whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, by Craig Timberg, Karla Adam, et al. (WaPo).

NYT is doing a good job of developing this part of the plot line:

3-17  “How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

3-19  “Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered to Entrap Politicians

3-23  “Bolton Was Early Beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook Data”

3-25  “Whistle-blower Contends That Data-Mining Swung Brexit Referendum”

3-27  “Peter Thiel Employee Helped Cambridge Analytica Before It Harvested Data”  I.e.  “Big Daddy” was (secretly) watching you:  Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Palantir (Peter Thiel, who, btw, was a mentor of the author of Hillbilly Elegy), even a touch of Google, a Russian-American psychologist, and your very own psychographic profile (which maybe was worth more than you were—don’t you wish you could read it. Know thyself, and btw be true to that).

[Previous page.  Next page (alas, there will have to be one).  First page of this episode.]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (28)

Crisis Mode

Thinking onward about the constitutional crisis that entered the plot line on the preceding page, in the context of Mueller’s significantly raising the threat level, to Trompf: here’s more reason why I guessed (at the bottom of that page) that T will fire M, and maybe soon:

Surely Hair Trompf and every Republican sees that on next January 3 (short of an event that rallies the masses around the President*) the Dems will begin two years of majority in the House (and maybe even the Senate). That means impeachment (and a trial in the Senate, with maybe a verdict of guilty). It also means Dem House committee investigative power. They’ll use it mightily. So what does T have to gain, by risking completion of the Mueller investigation?   ?   T is outa here. He can only be wondering how he can protect the most of his present and potentially future fortune. Which will most damage his brand (and his ego), investigation leading to impeachment, or obstructed and aborted investigation and then impeachment? Once impeachment proceedings begin, it will be much harder to hurt his foes and keep his base (he doesn’t worry about his friends), especially with the revelations from a completed investigation.

At any rate, that’s my best narratorial guess about what the plotline holds for us.

So now, let’s return to the action with  But wait, T’s lawyer says not to worry. T “is not considering or discussing the firing” of M (laughter in the SRO section). Here’s reportage with good contextualization in T tweets.  Hey, this isn’t a crisis, T is just playing with us, and playing us.  Sen. L graham opines (can’t really be taken seriously as an R warning) that firing M would be the beginning of the end for T.  But Downie in WaPo sees current and historical reasons to doubt that, and Maggie Habberman believes his Sunday tweet storm is pushing to see how much he can get away, with his Rs, and pushing the AG or rosenstein to fire M.  Note, though, that the investigation was going on, in the FBI, before M, and doesn’t necessarily end with M.  The tweet storm also caused more expression of concern about T’s state of mind.  Habberman (NYT) wrote that, a year in, T is feeling emboldened to follow his own judgment, malgré his minders.  He’ll go with his gut.  Sargent (WaPo) emphasizes her point that T likely thinks that he has gotten away with everything outlandishly himself so far, so why not more?

Robinson (WaPo) says that if you think T is getting worse, it’s not your imagination. Donald Trump’s occupancy of the White House is every bit as insane, corrupt and dangerous as you might fear. Witness this jaw-dropping message to the sitting president of the United States from the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency:

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America . . . America will triumph over you.”

I have met John Brennan, who headed the CIA for four years under President Barack Obama. To say he is not given to hysterics is a gross understatement. His picture ought to be next to the word “sober” in the dictionary. Yet there he was on Saturday morning, using Twitter to tear into the supposed leader of the free world with language normally reserved for the tinhorn dictators of obscure kleptocracies.

Robinson thinks that the only people who can stop T are you (dear reader) and I (or at least the author, since narrators still not yet been enfranchised), come Nov.

And as if “enough is enough” were not already enough, now we have

The Great Stench.

[Previous page. Next page. First page of this episode.]