Joseph Natoli – Joseph P Natoli http://www.josephnatoli.com Gulliver's Takes Fri, 02 Aug 2019 13:57:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Something Wrong http://www.josephnatoli.com/something-wrong/ Fri, 02 Aug 2019 13:53:42 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1837 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org Ask yourself how somebody like Donald Trump ever gets within cheating distance of the Oval Office in the first place. – Pete Buttigieg, Second Democratic Debate, Detroit, July 30, 2019 Mayor Pete asks us to think about what history could have brought Donald Trump to the presidency. Elizabeth Warren has also remarked that […]

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Something Wrong

Something Wrong

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

Ask yourself how somebody like Donald Trump ever gets within cheating distance of the Oval Office in the first place.

– Pete Buttigieg, Second Democratic Debate, Detroit, July 30, 2019

Mayor Pete asks us to think about what history could have brought Donald Trump to the presidency. Elizabeth Warren has also remarked that something must be being seriously wrong with our country because we elected Trump.

The observation resonates as true to some and seriously wrong to others.

If something is seriously wrong, we need to correct it and Warren has a plan for that. On the other side of the street, we find Americans who feel Trump himself is the change that was sought in 2016 and that change has been good, or at least good enough to re-elect him. Obama’s counsel that we are the change we seek has been altered first to extract Obama from the “we” and unite Trump with The We.

Some feel that Trump is better than the change that The Squad wants to see. Or, if you don’t go along with Trump’s identification of his Democratic opposition for presidency being represented by The Squad, he can extend it to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both labeled “socialist,” a triggering word in the lexicon of the American mass psyche.

If Trump remains in office for another term, some of The We – your gentrified neighbors and your unionized neighbors (no one really has both) – do not have to worry about what’s wrong. Trump’s re-election would mean that what could go wrong, i.e., a “socialist” elected, has been prevented.

A combination of a zealous faith that Trump can remedy anything wrong or prevent “socialists” from destroying a plutarchy, aka democracy, would be enough to terminate any investigation as to what is wrong with this country. Those who assert that something is wrong should be investigated.

Still, a generic “You” would have to agree that something is wrong with the country if right now we can imagine that if Trump loses, that loss won’t be accepted, either by him or half the country.

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We should imagine that possibility right now.

Russian interference might be less of a problem than home grown Americans refusing to accept electoral results. The election might wind up in the Supreme Court, where a precedent for such has been set. We’d be relying on the swing vote in that Court, Chief Justice Roberts, something like relying on Mueller to render a summary judgement on Trump. But crazier.

As certain as the climate heating up, the country could run amok as the never-ending story of the 2020 election runs on. The Congress could call for security to frog walk Trump out of the building. They could subpoena him if he didn’t comply. Maybe Congressional subpoenas will have some teeth in them by then. Probably not. Someone at some point will have to declare martial law to keep the streets in all the Trump strongholds safe for The Squad and their Twitter followers.

As a sidebar: It might be a good learning experience if The Squad hung around those strongholds and assessed that the country was a great distance from being brown and gay and that whites, though racially privileged, were poor too, that poverty has no color. Those same whites should also have a learning experience, namely that The Squad was, in the full flush of their youth, trying to save everyone from the eminent disasters of a planet getting too hot for everyone while at the same precarious moment, trying to resurrect a diverse, egalitarian democracy out of the plutarchy of privilege we’ve become.

Trump, who refuses to leave office, probably wouldn’t declare national emergency and martial law by executive order. Let’s imagine he’s outside the White House gates with his one allowed box of desk memorabilia. And tweeting his loyal followers in fragmented syntax. But the Congress might be forced to go for martial law, and we’ll all wait, the military standing down, until the Supreme Court decides, waiting to see which way the Chief Justice swings.

If Kellyanne Conway is still running loose and dismissing subpoenas from the House Oversight Committee, we can all imagine her citing alternative numbers, both popular vote and Electoral College, to whatever numbers signifying a Democratic victory.

Optimists believe that if Trump wins and the market continues to bullishly move along, all will be well with the top 20%, regardless of how personally – but not financially — disgusted they avow Trump makes them. Cynics believe that votes of this top 20% always follow the money. If Trump wins, his disciples will remain loyal and celebratory. Liberals will leave behind talk of micro-aggressions and defend against real aggression. Optimists, once again, would expect that the politics of survival would be kicking in when floods, fires, droughts, and starving migrant hordes would grab everyone’s attention.

The generic “You” looks backs and observes the conditions that brought alternative facts to life and attended the wisdom that “truth isn’t truth.”

The generic “You” observes that something is going very wrong in our regime of order.

The problems raised in The Federalist Papers regarding how to keep the populace from voting what they liked into existence had not emerged as troublesome problems because Everyone really didn’t have a voice that could be heard. The Vox populi spoke only to bathroom mirrors.

Our Founders felt that what the populace, aka The Mob, liked was passion and not reason driven. The populace should be instructed as to what to like for the Republic to survive and Mob Rule avoided.

That hasn’t happened. I refer to “instruction.” The liberation of everyone’s voice in cyberspace has secured the liberation of everyone’s passions. We are at the threshold of seeing that and coming around to the view that one of sanity’s defenses has always been that only your psychiatrist hears about your passions with the hope of converting them to sanity and sense. The blessing of not hearing what everyone’s passions are has unfortunately been defiled on-line.

We are reminded of Madison’s words: “In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason.” Ambitious demagogues are always lurking to play on the viscera of the cerebral cortex, which of course doesn’t have that.

In the present American clime, we have both tsunamis of Twitter passions and a narcissistic, “I always win/You always lose” zeitgeist. We’re a representative democracy, one step removed from Mob Rule, but our representatives need the votes of the many, not the few, which of course re-introduces the Mob. And as Fox TV has shown, passions can be orchestrally conducted in a way that neither aristocratic privilege could succeed in doing nor the preventatives set in place by the Founders now seem able to do.

The writers of The Federalist Papers signed as “Populist”, but they were being ironic and perhaps sarcastic. They envisioned the members of the Electoral College to be up to the task of voting rationally. Here’s Hamilton:

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

In short, these Electors would base their votes on reason, their powers of reasoning easily identified by their fellow-citizens. We are no longer in that ball game. We’re in a “Trump tells the truth…as he sees it” and no one has quite figured out what he sees but human reason and logic are not involved. Some believe our Electors are discerning and judicious and so on because they enabled Trump’s victory.

For those who judge on the evidence of that victory that something has gone wrong, they are obliged to point out who, when, how, and where reason is being abused, where illusions and delusions are confounding both reason and reality.

But all sides now have to go into cyberspace and hurl our grain of sand into the whirlwind of crackpot deliberations, injudicious rants, the self-informed discernments of selfies and vile opines that pass as analysis. If we’re not of the temperament to jump into that mosh pit, we can feed at the gazillion places that feed us what we want to hear. We can hear our enemies mocked and “crushed,” saving us our own confrontation with views other than our own. We can get packaged into a bag of wrongness that is truly incredible but one, nevertheless, whose causes can be traced.

What went wrong is a concatenation of events, like those creating a perfect storm, in which an American illusion of personal autonomy and the power of personal choice joined with an alternative reality medium – cyberspace – in which any idiocy could go viral and reach millions. And that marriage happened in the hyperreality of a society of spectacle and celebrity serving a ravaging economic system easily unmasked if commonly accepted paths to knowing anything had not been themselves exposed as adaptable constructions of a will to power.

A statement attributed to Karl Rove way back in Dubya’s reign expresses the swerve: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Great genius is not needed to see that wealth and power build an empire in which thinking itself preserves and protects that empire, an empire that shapes the dimensions of reality, of our realizing what anything is to mean.

We are deep now in such a reality constructed by plutarchic power. And we are thinking without a compass, or with millions of compasses each pointing to their own True North.

We could engage in some recuperation but escape and dis-entanglement are first required.

To rescue the Vox populi from Mob Rule, we could eliminate or at least mitigate the power of passion to wrest the sceptre from reason, actions performed in ways James Madison could not foresee.

Begin with Fox TV, initiated by Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, who both proved that transmitting passion and not reason attracted eyeballs. Providing what a consumer wants and not what you think they should want or what a “fair and balanced” view of anything would provide is a ticket to profit. Before Fox, all venturing capitalists were shy of treating news coverage as just another widget to market. Strong and wrong proved more attractive than Probing/investigative which is always attention demanding.

And just as Ailes and Murdoch seized the opportunity to make fortunes by reaching the populace at the level the populace was at, Donald J. Trump seized Twitter as the most effective means of reaching that portion of the populace for whom passion had already wrested the sceptre from reason.

It is not personal privacy that is the danger of social media. Every post on social media is an exposure of your private life, a willing, self-generated exposure. It’s naïve to think that what you willingly offer will not be used by owners in a search for profit. It’s also naïve to think these owners will give up their paths to profit.

The real danger of the social media is that it posts and retrieves an overwhelming amount of words, images, videos that are not vetted, curated, classified or examined at the gates, prior to entry. Rather than fear hordes of un-scrutinized immigrants crossing our southern borders, we should fear the mess of messaging traveling across the cyber-borders of cyberspace. There are no gatekeepers, no refereed posts, no watchdog equivalent of Académie française.

That last sentence is of course a proud declaration of independence of Cyberspace, a proud Libertarian declaration of the freedom of Cyberspace. And yet, clearly, we have democratized that domain whose democratization is leaving us victims of “alternative facts” and has led us to a pre-developmental mind as U.S. President.

We have leveled the hierarchies of mind into a field of mush, denying the slow and deliberate development of thought, to educate and thus bring out our thinking from an early to a mature stage. All Men [sic] are created equal” Jefferson writes but he, especially, did not include all thought.

Right now, Google is storing and allowing us to retrieve our new encyclopedia knowledge within a system of retrieval, a PageRank algorithm, which prioritizes within a technocrat’s order of things. There is no Roget or Jefferson or Herbert Putnam (created the Library of Congress classification system) behind Google. Only an algorithm which makes a multitude of responses returned in Nano seconds. Regarding learning anything, time and volume are meaningless.

If we go down to the root cellar, the very bottom of the foundation upon which something wrong in our society has been built, we can certainly find a fractionalizing economic system that has placed the Winners in commanding positions. But we can also find corrupted ways of knowing, corruptions of rational/empirical interpretation to science’s own rigorous methods of explanation. These corruptions preempt our realizing in common that something is wrong and certainly preempt a common understanding of how we are to proceed to correct this something that is wrong.

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Gaming the Climate http://www.josephnatoli.com/gaming-the-climate/ Fri, 19 Jul 2019 16:01:52 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1830 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org The greater divisiveness of the various warring factions in Game of Thrones places our own national divisiveness on to small, less frightening screen only because our divisiveness does not include White Walkers and their Army of the Dead. The Thrones is a world of all against all far more confusing than our own […]

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Gaming the Climate

Gaming the Climate

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

The greater divisiveness of the various warring factions in Game of Thrones places our own national divisiveness on to small, less frightening screen only because our divisiveness does not include White Walkers and their Army of the Dead. The Thrones is a world of all against all far more confusing than our own U.S. war of all against all. Or is it?

An on-line questioner asked: “When did all this happen?” Another asked: “Does Game of Thrones use CGI?” I am led to think there is indeed confusion in fictional and real worlds but most certainly in the minds of perceivers. One of the great difficulties we have in deleting irrational narratives, formerly referred to as arguments, and thus discarding illegitimate claims to our attention is the fact that our ways of knowing have been confounded.

Believing that dragons and the walking dead were filmed on location or that the historical setting for Game of Thrones can be found in any number of texts in the Library of Congress suggests that we’ve slipped away from reality. I supposed when the Babel of cyberspace is a preferred “reality platform” than reality itself, much that can’t exist and much that can’t be reasonably said does exist and is said.

Our slipping away from reality does not mean that reality has given us a pass. Quite the contrary. Right now, we are facing our own Army of the Dead and we have mustered it into being. I refer to the way the planet is slowly heating up, an invasion of heat, flood, drought, starvation, disease, extinction.

Survival will return to the entire planet as motive. All else, from the rise or collapse of the stock market, whether America becomes white again or brown, gay and socialist, how many Twitter followers you have, whose “woke” and whose not, whether government is the problem or Tech the answer, whether Executive privilege will crush Congressional oversight, and on and on….will not matter.

But what will matter regarding the crucial issue of humanity’s survival as the army of global warming heats the Earth to disastrous levels is whether the current president gets another four years in the White House. Nothing but his own survival means anything to this 73-year-old man who knows nothing of mortality, his, his family’s, ours or the planet’s. He denies the existence of this existential threat to life on this planet.

We humans are a confident, cocky bunch, relying on a record of dominating and conquering Nature to pull us through. The “real excitement is playing the game” as our President attests, the clever gaming systems that to which others bend the knee. But Nature is not a system that bends to our knee.

This arrogance and stupidity in the face of a future that scientists are clearly warning us to prepare for can be detailed more descriptively than as simply an ideology or wealth divide. Consider the investment, meritocratic, and technocratic mindsets. And then consider a fourth, an isolated number, much larger than the others, not a mindset or attitude contingent but one solely determined by pain. Consider those in pain, on every level a human can experience pain, those who the President has thus far been able to draw into his own self-worship. But pain is not a mindset but a vacating of mind and an installation of itself, pain, as the only determinant. It is masterless.

The players of the investment class are determined to look upon any crisis or catastrophe as a buying opportunity. The attitude expressed by a Goldman-Sachs VP during the 2008 crash seems not to have become extinct as we face our new global threat: “The whole building is about to collapse anytime now…Only potential survivor Fabulous Fab[rice Tourre.” A rotting amour de soi which can never recognize a threat to itself.

The meritocratic/gentrifying elite are determined to assert the power of their own privileged personal choices to overcome any disaster, to put up privacy gating between their family, stock portfolio and luxury possessions and the ravages of global warming. They are self- assured that they cannot fail to choose the higher, safer ground. Illusions of autonomous choosing misjudge the power of external forces.

The technocrat billionaire entrepreneurs are determined to come up with a technocratic solution involving AI and robotics, one in which The Singularity melds human with machine, a robotic existence in which temperature, food, water, oxygen are no longer needed. This technophilia is itself the root cause of the threat we face to the life of the planet.

Those in pain are determined by their pain, both of mind and body, and thus the threat of a warming planet is a pain far off, a pain meaningless to those living so close to the edge of apprehending nothingness that a planet heated to the edge of human extinction means nothing.

But the brash attitudes in which our personal choosing to win under any circumstances brooks no objection are frightening. We are programmed in our technophilic age to think that we won’t come up with a hi-tech/AI/robotic solution to global warming just in time. The Nerds will do it just in time. Doesn’t production now run on a “Just-in-Time” schedule?

It’s almost impossible for the Wall St. player of spectacular returns on investment to foresee a time when crisis cannot be turned to profit. It is almost impossible for the meritocratic elite to recognize that global warming is not a test they can personally score high on and thus rise one more step up the ladder.

And for those in which such presumption and arrogance has had no opportunity to enter their lives, those in whose lives pain rules, that pain makes rational consideration of anything impossible. For those who are not capitalism’s players, for those who have never entered the meritocratic contest, the last thing needed is to put worry about something that might happen in the future alongside worries that are causing real pain now.

And yet….

“If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt, it would raise sea levels 23 feet, submerging some coastal cities.” (Aylin Woodward, “Greenland is approaching the threshold of an irreversible melt, and the consequences for coastal cities could be dire,” Business Insider, April 23, 2019)

“The world is on track for around 3 degrees of warming by the end of the century if it doesn’t make major reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. It could breach 1.5 °C sometime between 2030 and 2052 if global warming continues at its current rate.” (Jeff Tollefson, “Limiting Warming to 1.5° Celsius Will Require Drastic Action, IPCC Says,” Scientific American, Oct. 2018).

“My view is that 2 degrees is aspirational and 1.5 degrees is ridiculously aspirational” said Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University. “They are good targets to aim for, but we need to face the fact that we might not hit them and start thinking more seriously about what a 2.5 degree or 3 degree world might look like.” (Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich, “Why a Half a Degree of Global Warming is a Big Deal,” The New York Times, Oct. 2018).

In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, the Bastard, believes that if he captures one of the zombies in the Army of the Dead and brings it to Cersei Lannister, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, she will put aside all enmity toward everyone and join in a defense against the Army of the Dead. She’ll join the coalition, adhere to the agreement. In current terms, she’ll rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and make the reading of all climate change assessments of The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mandatory in all schools.

None of this happens in the HBO show, just as dragons don’t happen in real life.

What this ruler does on the show is deny the existence of an Army of the Dead threat. When she is confronted with this threat, she agrees to a truce and a joining in the defense. But only idiots, in her view, would honor that pledge. What’s smart in this ruler’s calculation is for the others to fight the Dead, for others to assume the cost in treasure and lives.

I cannot but see President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as a Queen Cersei move. Let the other countries fight to mitigate global warming. Meanwhile, the kind of winning, hard nose capitalism the President admires will continue without abatement in the U.S.

He’s very likely not alone in this self-interest and thus in this calculus. He has the technophiles, “My choices rule!” gentrifying, self-empowered, and the “Crisis is Opportunity!” investor-philes on his side. Illusions such as believing disaster boosts your investment return, or that planet destroying technocracy is itself the remedy to that destruction, or that a 23-foot rise in sea level won’t happen if you personally choose it not to happen are pre-Trump illusions. They are deeply rooted in the American cultural imaginary, as is his presidency a natural product of that imaginary.

The numbers are not with these contingents but rather with the many in pain, the many, who in a constitutional republic/representative democracy should rule in elections. Because, however, their pain dries up interest in anything but the pain, makes them impatient for quick relief, leaves them vulnerable to quack and quackery, we cannot expect much attention given to a future crisis, one which their President says is quackery promoted by quacks.

If you add to this the army of lobbyists, hucksters, paid stupefiers and confounders employed by plutocrats intent on protecting their privilege from electoral power, you can see that millionaires will probably flood the Congress and a huckster will get into the White House.

The fact that this 215 year old republic has run a 2016 election which led to the presidency of a man whose presence has a hyperreal dimension to it that makes it more unbelievable than any horrifying character in the fictional world of Game of Thrones warns us that we don’t have a democratic, constitutional order of things that can save itself.

And yet, our elections, which we now see as so vulnerable, must be won by those who will engage our own Army of the Dead, the devastations of increasing global warming.

We can say that the Russians hijacked the election, or that Hillary hijacked Bernie’s chances, or that the media followed Trump from the start because his bullshit boosted ratings, or that social media flooded the American brainpan with so many mind-numbing posts and tweets that reasoning couldn’t break through. But we need to own all this because our democratic structure, such as it is, contained and represented all of it. What is truly exceptional is our belief that our democratic processes were invulnerable to the assault of a Caliban and to the so-called “democratization” of all voices that break loose when, as Margaret Thatcher affirmed, “there is no such thing as society.”

Our system, our resident order of things, has given four years of rule to a Caliban, a “wicked dew” that has covered the whole country in slime, and that same system may give him another four years. Unless reason takes political control, disasters, that Trump and most in Congress will not live long enough to see, will be our destiny.

The following words revealing the incoherence of a darkened Mad Hatter mind were nonetheless repeatedly interrupted with loud applause:

 A politician that hears somebody where we’re at war with Al Qaida and sees somebody talking about how great Al Qaida is. Pick out her statement. That was Omar. How great Al Qaida is when you hear that and we’re losing great soldiers to Al Qaida, when you see the World Trade Center gets knocked down and you see the statements about the World Trade Center all the death and destruction. I’ll tell you what–I’m not happy with them. And it’s very easy to say oh, gee, well, it’s OK. If weak politicians want to say and the democrats in this case if they want to gear their wagons around these four people I think they are going to have a very tough election. Because I don’t think the people of the United States will stand for it.

Whether the underneath of our “exceptional” democracy is as dark and fractured in its syntax as this man’s mind, and thus in need of all the remedy measures proposed by the “Leftists,” young and old of the Congress, we cannot judge with certainty. We can be more certain that the disruptions to Nature engineered by the ambitions and presumptions of human reasoning and now unaddressed by the blight of our present rule darken all horizons.

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Can Trump Be Beaten, Regardless? http://www.josephnatoli.com/can-trump-be-beaten-regardless/ Thu, 11 Jul 2019 16:09:12 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1825 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org “[B]reaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age…” – Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, 1966 During this too long Democratic presidential campaign season, we will […]

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Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

“[B]reaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age…”

– Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, 1966

During this too long Democratic presidential campaign season, we will be talking about immigration and the inhumane confinement of immigrants, asylum “reform,” restructuring capitalism, Medicare for all, who’s enjoying economic advance, free college education, the LGBTQ community’s rights, what to do about Iran and North Korea, alternative energy, Jared Kushner’s “pay the Palestinians off” peace plan, reparations to African Americans, whether to break up Big Tech, guaranteed minimum income, Congress vs. Trump, impeachment, and in the week before the election so what hashtags and videos go viral.

What we won’t talk about is what’s been increasingly on display since Trump became president. He stands before tanks, alongside military leaders, under a sky filled with jets performing at his command. He’s been on his way to autocratic rule and the Congress has been pitiable in its efforts to stop him. They can’t exert enough power to see his tax forms or get their subpoenas to be respected. It didn’t take much to show us the great fragility, the great vulnerability of our tri-partite, Constitutional based checks and balances democratic republic.

It only took one man who respects nothing but his own will to blow through long established respected informalities, customs and traditions, ways of communicating and behaving that only stood because we wanted them to stand. We now have a president who is, with each defiant tweet, showing us that it’s not the Emperor who has no clothes but our presumed, inviolable, not merely informal but rather legislated order of things.

This president has no such interest in preserving anything he can smack out of his way. His first assault was against any representation of truth and reality that was not his own representation. Those, like the free press, Federal judges, and the House of Representatives, offering a challenge had to be ridiculed, exposed as purveyors of fake news, and brashly denied any authority. The “wild profusion” that a charlatan needs to avoid exposure is now upon us. Consider that alternative facts are announced as having authority, and truth, we are told, isn’t truth, idiocy that has been absorbed as constructive memes.

Followers now merge with the President as the Magister Ludi, achieving a Oneness of identity. How do you beat this? How does one election vacate what continues “long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age. . .”

We are post-truth now, a development that precedes Trump but which we all share. But we are also divided between those who are post any truth the President doesn’t accept as truth and those fumbling to hold on to or even find the certain determinacy of that old time, evidentiary Truth, the “ordered surfaces” we cannot seem to recreate. So many don’t want to be post-truth, but it happened.

What we won’t talk about is the growing fear that our exceptional, longest running democracy was always so only in the way houses of straw and twigs seemed good enough but in fact would always fall if the wolf came along. Trump has come along and taken possession of the Justice Department, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the Republican Party and now this Fourth of July is showing us all that the military is his as well. And we cannot leave off the fact that he owns the minds and hearts of some 45 million Americans who would continue to support him if he went out and randomly shot someone in the street.

We see that Everyday Americans, to use Hillary’s euphemism, have a thin, weak understanding of politics in America, a disinterest bred by decades of middle-class contentment and the invisibility of the suffering on the margins. Not enough political acumen was shaped in American education to enable enough voters in 2016 to see through the masquerade of a bullshitter wanting to be president.

But alongside this, we must recognize that America itself has a thin, weak hold on defending itself from the rampaging of that same bullshitter as autocrat, that the defenses and inherited structures of our constitutional republic can be rolled over like a panzer division through France.

Right now, about half the population is looking for salvation in a Democratic presidential candidate who can beat Trump. This is reminiscent of expecting Mueller to deliver the country from Trump, like a one-shot immunization. We see now that we can’t even immunize ourselves from measles, no less a mad president.

The President’s campaign to take the Iron Throne of lifetime rule is in your face obvious, not cleverly sly, not masterfully Iago but nevertheless we seem to have no challenge, no defense as direct and forceful as a Trump tweet. Getting on that battlefield in the first place was a mistake because it’s a field in which the long, discursive response that is required to explicate the complexities that have brought Trump to the presidency and are needed to extricate him – all this, like a long, periodic sentence – can no longer be tolerated. Not only have we lost sight of what establishes truth, but we have lost the attentiveness necessary to deal with the “wild profusion of existing things.”

There is now no communicative space within which the complexities of the “conditions on the ground” determining how and what we can think can be communicated. In the place of this what we focus on is a one individual solution, a version of a classic realist battle between good guy and bad guy, a fatal solution at a time and place where we can have no consensus as to what is good, bad, true, false, real, hyperreal.

Perhaps if Joe Biden makes it through the primary gauntlet, beaten up but still standing, we can expect President Trump will go after him like Jake La Motta in the 13th round. Perhaps Mayor Pete or Kamala Harris will convince the un-meritocratic populace that they speak the language of the Everyday American; or Warren or Bernie can convince the 35% moderates in the country that it’s too late for moderation, that a mass psyche that felt an ACA public option was a bridge too far, that loves the signifier “private” and cringes at the signifier “public” was ready for a Federally run health care system.

While we are focused on a one individual, super hero to replace the mad King, a web of complexity that has no one agent solution persists.

For instance, the fact remains that if the Democrats do not take the Senate but win the presidency, Mitch McConnell will do to President Buttigieg-Harris-Warren-Sanders what he did to Obama.

What President Democrat Super Hero will do with the disciples of Trump who, most likely under tweet direction from an ousted Trump will do everything but what President Pete quantitatively and qualitatively analyzes should be done.

What their response will be to President Warren’s new IRS investigating unit trying to find out how many yachts, Picassos, Lamborghini and precious stones the wealthy have so a wealth tax can be imposed on them stretches the imagination. This is a president who would punish you for having more than the other guy? Is that American?

Whatever President Sanders restructuring of capitalism turns out to be it won’t be tweeted as a victory for personal freedom but something like the breadline socialism implanted in the American mass knowing.

President Biden is least likely to upset the Trumpians, Wall Street or the Midwest but treading water from 2020-24 is a stupid strategy to adopt as flood waters rise.

Regardless of how all that may play out, it may not be “Grim Reaper” Mitch McConnell or the Trumpians or The Squad that President-elect Democrat must deal with but the self-appointed life time president, Donald J. Trump.

There are fifty ways to leave your lover but also fifty ways Donald J. Trump can throw the results of a 2020 election into a churner that will make the 2000 Florida chad fiasco look like a well-ordered July fourth picnic.

All it takes is a will to turn election results upside down and we now have both the man and the times in which that can be done, we have the man and the conditions to continue “long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age. . .”

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The Mad King in His Time http://www.josephnatoli.com/the-mad-king-in-his-time/ Fri, 21 Jun 2019 17:01:03 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1818 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT).” – Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump The country is divided as to whether President Donald […]

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The Mad King

The Mad King

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT).”

– Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

The country is divided as to whether President Donald J. Trump is a mad king. If he is indeed mad, then this even divide is more than scary. What is the reasoning that accommodates madness? What sort of times can we be living in?

Perhaps his madness doesn’t matter if your stock portfolio is doing well.

Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as president and any other candidate “gone left” seem not to be as favorably inclined to the amassing of wealth as the madman now in office.

This madman, after all, will not push the private health care industry, along with the obscenely and immorally lucrative Big Pharma, aside nor the global warming fossil fuel industry. When the opportunity arises President Trump will not appoint Liberals/Progressives/”Socialists” to the Supreme Court. He’s not going to raise taxes to save, I mean “reform,” anything with the word “public” in it. And he’ll require professional vitae from any immigrant seeking asylum.

In short, he may be a mad king, but he’ll keep private enterprise, privatization and all things private private. He’ll keep the country white, safe, armed and great again. He’ll keep the phenomenal wealth piling up at the top out of the hands of The People, meaning all those not able to afford the $200,000 for Mar- a- Lago membership.

If you don’t have a stock portfolio loaded with fossil fuel and health care stock, you may still warm to the private not public view of things.

Private is you, personally. Your personal freedom grounded in personal choice, your choice grounded in your total individual autonomy. Your fight for individual freedom is a fight to hold on to your guns, your own personally chosen doctors, your own freedom to be charitable when and to whom you choose rather than allow the Federal Government to financially aid those outside your field of choice.

You fight for your personal and private right to immunize or not, to public school or not and socialize your child as you see fit. You do so within the overarching view that self-interest is real, and society is an abstract, nebulous notion concocted by Karl Marx, who lived his whole life on the charity of his friend, Friedrich Engels.

Thusly and so, whether the king is mad or not doesn’t matter because having him in the White House is like being there yourself, minus all those Tweets which fuel the charge of madness.

And there are very many absolute crazy tweets, especially so when you consider they are the pronouncements of the President of the United States.

Words he doesn’t like are fake words. Polls he doesn’t like are fake polls. News he doesn’t like are fake news. The attempt to investigate his welcoming of the Russians into the 2016 election, and now once again welcoming any foreign assistance in the 2020 election, and his transparent attempts to obstruct investigation all amounts to a “witch hunt.”

Nothing, in short, really exists as true and real unless the President says it does.

The less mad approach would be, as the President urges, to investigate those presuming to investigate him. If that amounts to launching attacks on Congressional power in our check and balances, tripartite government, then such destruction must be done. In the name of making America great again, an America no one has ever seen before, an America shorn of every obstruction to the mad king’s own will.

Madness takes us to the moment when half of the population believes that to make America great again, the Congress, the Intelligence Community, and the Fourth Estate need to get out of the President’s way. We need to think, if we’re not mad ourselves, that it’s not the democratic foundations of a liberal democracy that Trump is pulling apart but The Deep State.

That Deep State is not the class dividing, technocratic, meritocratic, market economy, liberal democracy that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are fighting, No, in Trump’s mind it is no more than an order of things in place set against his own whim and will. He is not opposed to the strong men who have amassed power and fortune for themselves in corporate and political worlds. If we get liberal democracy out of the way, our President can deal one on one with the weak and the strong. He can demonstrate once again how great he is.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you can excuse Trump’s madness because he serves your own personal interests or because you think he’s your personal savior and avow that “he’s not just fighting Democrats. He’s fighting the deep state. He’s fighting the cabals. Without him, we have nothing.” (NYTimes June 19, 2019). The fact remains that he is mad and unquestionably bad and dangerous.

I could say there’s false consciousness at work among those who “without him, have nothing” but that charge can be reversed and made against all those who want Trump gone. We live at a moment when obstruction of justice charges laid at Trump’s doorstep seem now as likely to be made against those who initiated those charges. Manafort may go free and Hillary locked up kind of Mad Hatter times we are in.

The times are truly out of joint. Hamlet thinks the world is not sane, but he also thinks he is unable to set it right. We believe that electoral action will set it right, but the fact is that the evil we face has lodged itself in the American mass psyche. We now imagine within an upside-down world Trump did not create but certainly brought out of the asylum onto the stage of American life.

Terrible conditions before us persist.

It’s madness to deny Anthropocene climate change, to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change mitigation, to appoint a former coal lobbyist as head of the EPA. But it’s clearly evil to stoke the flames of fear and hatred in a culture in which what has always been latent is now given a presidential sanction to surface.

It’s clearly evil to pursue and afflict repeatedly immigrants who are brown, poor and not of our language or culture because such attacks feed the darkest devils of our nature which most certainly fill the wellsprings of the President’s appeal.

The President he did not singlehandedly prepare the American mass psyche for this demonic success. The times are both filled with the results of market driven, class dividing, technocratic, meritocratic forces and a blind fury set against those results, times when it has all come down to “them” or “us.”

In short, the populist will may be trucking in the mud of hatred and blind to the absence of the President’s moral sense and blind to his madness, but they have not been unprovoked. They did not lead themselves to a last stand against their own “creative destruction.”

We see that the times are fitting for an amour de soi, a self-love, which is willing to game the lives of future generations by failing to mitigate the dangers of global warming, as well as study and respect a Constitutional and international order of things, and respect an American tradition of a deeply humane pledge to succor the tired, the poor, the.huddled masses yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse of other lands.

Without doubt our resident orders of things have bowed to the axiomatic drives of a zero-sum economics. Nevertheless, such are the grounds we have to recuperate the lives of the many, grounds preferable to a grounding in madness and a destructive self-love, both of which are there to be observed in the President.

What a marvelous hallucination of a mind so lost in the deep and dark labyrinth of its own self admired will to power! The Deep State. A cabal of everyone who stands in the way of this assertion of magisterial will, erratic, mindless and contradictory as it presents itself within any 24-hour news cycle.

The man spews forth nonsense and poisonous venom at just the rate the very hungry media needs to keep the voracious but ten second attention span viewer that Fox TV promoted, using the fast cycling of words and spectacle introduced by MTV. Cyberspace and its social media have pumped out that machinery of disconnected, erratic stimulus and gut response to 5G levels.

President Trump resists those who want him to tweet less, uncannily knowing that the more he overloads the communication circuitry, the more he can drown sensible opposition in the mires of madness.

I believe historians will say that not only did candidate Trump press all the “We’ve Had Enough” buttons in the American mass psyche that both political parties had both created and ignored, but his ever flowing, unstoppable madness was the proper feed for a mass psyche that had lost its vision of “the general Welfare” and wandered into the spins and spectacles of cyberspace wherein no one truly knows anyone, least of all who is mad and who isn’t.

Trump’s madness – he’s too deep into reality denial to call it a chronic neuroticism – may not appear so glaring if the entire culture had not already given itself up to a fierce competitive will to power wherein the strong win and the losers beg for welfare.

If he wasn’t the President, he would fall in and mix with the crowd of other Winners on the American landscape, indistinguishable one from the other. Would Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or Travis Kalanick or a re-incarnated Steve Jobs display fewer madness symptoms than Trump if one of them had been elected president? The lords of wealth and power are all like Humpty Dumpty: everything means what they say it means. Of course, it’s hard to imagine any of our wealth merchants as mad as Trump or displaying it so clearly.

We are certainly having a hard time distinguishing reliable wording from unreliable, reliable images – ponder the Deep Fakes advancing to the 2020 election – from fakes, cranks, hucksters, Pecksniffs, egoists and ass kissers, from anything or anyone honest and real. If this is the case, we are destined to elect more Trump-like mad creatures simply because we choose what’s most like what we have become.

We now have “virtual influencers,” virtual beings who cannot be distinguished as such in an “environment studded with deceptive deepfakes, bots and fraud.” NYTimes, June 18, 2019). This environment in which the truth is under assault, to quote Adam Schiff, is one in which he “cannot imagine anything more corrosive to a democracy than an environment where no one can tell what is true anymore.”

If this is so then a worn, long experienced and unsensational candidate for the presidency such as Joe Biden, Middle Class/Working Class Joe, not liable to go viral anywhere on social media, doesn’t quite meet the demands of a super-accelerated American mass psyche looking for change as quickly moving as Smart phone displays are moved by two thumbs.

While Trump remains ageless in that accelerated world— because who can more as fast as a mad mind? — Biden’s age problem has nothing to do with past or future but only with his analog aura. This syndrome may affect Sanders and Warren as well while AOC’s catapult to acronym status has much to do with the fact that her speed is in sync with the times.

It remains to be seen whether the synchronicity of Trump’s madness and the American mass psyche can and will be repeated by a synchronicity of sanity.

The times are filled with a vitriolic inhumanity, the madness of one man but also the Babel of Deep Fakes, resistant and unerasable irrationality, the barrage of stupefying messaging, the crossfire and crushes of social media that cannot be exorcised or vacated. And, most significantly, the times are filled with the destructive consequences of a Market Rule established gleefully by Reagan, still destined to be carved into Rushmore as madness continues to flourish.

These are waters that Trump does not swim in alone, waters in which we are all swimming.

A mass psyche jacked up and jacked into a world divided into a planetary reality heading for a crisis in which humans will not survive, and into a cyber world of shadows from a darkened collective Id may in one election rid itself of our mad, bad and dangerous king.

The times, however, that brought him forth and upon which he will leave his stamp are not subject to a referendum. We can expect to repeat much unless Chance pulls us toward a reasoning and sanity that offers us different times in which to live.

If indeed we are ruled by a mad King in lifetime residence or thrown into a bloody riot of “them” or “us” following the President’s refusal to accept an election’s results then “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.”

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“Get Out of the President’s Way!” http://www.josephnatoli.com/get-out-of-the-presidents-way/ Fri, 31 May 2019 19:35:17 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1813 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none […]

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Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed,

Do What Thou Wilt.

– Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

“No reasonable reader can come away from the report with anything but the conclusion that the president repeatedly sought to obstruct an investigation into one of the most significant breaches of our sovereignty in generations, in order to avoid disclosure of embarrassing and illegal conduct by himself and his associates.”

– David Cole, “An Indictment in All But Name,” New York Review of Books, May 23, 2019

“The Democrats may succeed in avoiding a tumultuous, divisive fight over impeachment now. But if they choose to ignore clear abuses of the Constitution, they’ll also turn a blind eye to the precedent they’re setting and how feckless they’ll look in history.”

– Elizabeth Drew, “The Danger in Not Impeaching Trump,” The New York Times, April 25, 2019

I am totally convinced by the arguments David Cole and Elizabeth Drew make in the above quotations, as well as by Elijah Cumming’s remark that if the Congress failed to do its checks and balances Constitutional role, they might as well close up and go home.

The President’s continued unflagging support, however, regardless of what sense and reasoning is presented tells us that he, his supporters and the entire American culture is deep within a “Do What Thou Wilt” mindset, more a mass delusion than anything to do with mind. What happens when you are dealing with an autocrat “wannabe” is that the “thou” is translated as “Do What I Will.”

The President doesn’t mock rational and empirical ways of knowing alone; none of this post-truth attitude is original with him. It has long settled into the American cultural imaginary and so his assertion of his own will in the face of any and all opposition and contradiction is an heroic act, one that, judging by the way unyielding ignorance and idiocy cries out on social media, multitudes are striving for in their own lives.

I propose that we let this string run its willful course and see where we wind up.

I propose that we allow the President to have his own way at every turn, for Congress, coastal Elites, Liberal members of all courts, “fake news” of the Liberal media, House investigations, and all other impediments and obstructions to his will to get out of his way.

“Lock her up!” might be a start, or at very least put Hillary under house arrest. We should respect the perspicacity of the President, who is an “extremely stable genius” when he tells us that Speaker Pelosi, “Crazy Nancy,” had “lost it.” So, she also, needs to be locked up after an intervention is made on her behalf.

The President’s priority in regard to investigating Russian tampering with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and any obstruction of this investigating is to investigate those who began such an investigation and who were mounting obstruction of justice charges against him.

You might think this is like allowing defendants in a court of law to bring charges against the police, the prosecutor and the judge for bringing them to trial. Arresting officers would be arrested for arresting you. However, the President’s tweets against the “Deep State” assure us that the criminal and justice system in the U.S.is stacked against him and they are doing so because he is fighting for real justice and truth on our behalf.

Turn the justice system around and indict the President’s accusers.

Thus, we should, as Kelly Anne Conway, a terribly dissed champion of the President, whose views are unappreciated by her husband, whom the President labels “a total loser, compel House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, to resign. Schiff should “put up or shut up” regarding evidence of collusion he says he has, evidence that can find its way in the Court of Twitter.

It’s clear that the President could go on with the task of making America great again if every Congressional investigatory committee would just shut up and go home. As the President tweeted: “There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed. Thank you!”

A cabal of Democrats is running the House of Representatives, their committees not pursuing any Constitutional mandate but merely the “take Trump down at any cost” tactics of the Democratic Party. We need to get the Democratic Party out of the President’s way.

Not only corrupt and phony investigations by Democrats should be shut down but also their intent to raise taxes, impose regulations on the businesses that provide jobs for everyday Americans, spend the money of earners on those who choose not to earn, and put unsubstantiated fear of flood and heat in the heart of everyday Americans.

The President’s denial of a human caused global warming, a denial keeping the fossil fuel industries humming and thousands employed, is obstructed by those prophets of doom who want to cripple our economy. Not only are there too many variables in regard to climate changes for us to sort out what’s really going on but the President will not be around to face disaster if the prophets of doom turn out to be correct.

Such a personal transactional politics reminds every American presently enjoying life that things can only go bad if they’re alive to experience the event.

And almost all of those making key decisions now regarding global warming won’t be around to boast or regret their decisions. Rather than cripple our economy now, doing nothing about global warming spurs economic growth, especially technological innovation that may soon put us in charge of climate in ways advantageous to economic growth. The politics of mitigation are a loser’s politics, a defeat in the face of challenge, and at heart anti-capitalist. Climate change cannot obstruct economic growth but the prophets of doom can.

The President has mounted a personal obstruction to that obstruction. We should do as he does: take a comical view of global warming. “In the beautiful Midwest, wind chill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

The only way to shut down the movement of Progressive and Liberals toward socialism is to bring back a new millennium version of the McCarthy hearings, which now would amount to no more than the President exposing on Twitter “the enemy within.”

The socialist Green New Deal offers “economic security for those unable or unwilling to work,” a travesty of our meritocratic, competitive free enterprise system. This is yet another obstruction to making America great again that the President ridicules: “I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called ‘Carbon Footprint’ to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military – even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!”

Besides the press being the enemy of the People, there are international organizations and alliances that do not put America first and from which we should withdraw. Such global alliances obstruct the President’s efforts to put America first and make America great again.

If we allow the President to pursue the art of the deal in his personal style, we must free him from long standing entanglements that may get in his way. After all, we take the President at this word: he knows more about everything than anybody, especially foreigners.

The President has shown us that much of the conventional trappings of our political system are obstacles to great leadership put in place by The Deep State, forces seeking to “brown and gay” the U.S., serve the economic and defense needs of countries that are bilking us in trade, upend private enterprise and replace it with government control of our work and our lives, allow “made in America” to become “made by the Chinese,” allow taxation which penalizes merit and rewards government dependency, push a Christian country with Christian morals toward Coastal degeneracy and Liberal atheism, take guns away from the lawful and allow the growing number of criminals, many coming in from Latin America, to find amnesty here.

These are obstacles crippling the stable genius of the President and we should tweet strenuously against them.

Convention, protocol, and tradition, all established by habit and not law, do not prevent the President from ignoring the conclusions of his own intelligence community, daily national security briefings, State Department reports, or the counsel of a Secretary of Defense. This president as Final Decider takes the role seriously and does not allow the decisions of, say, a four star general regarding warfare to trump his own gut inspired knowledge of warfare.

When President Xi became President for life in China, the President tweeted: “No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

The only obstacle to the President becoming president for life is the 25th Amendment which holds the presidency to two terms. We can get that out of the President’s way easily once the power of the Congress is checked at all turns by executive privilege. Once the President’s own Justice Department and Attorney General are in place, the country will be able to leave the matter of justice to the will and whim of the “extremely stable genius” who is our duly elected President.

Replacing the conventional politics of negotiation and diplomacy with personal responses from the gut, in this case the gut of an “extremely stable genius,” means, for example, that though Japan’s Prime Minister Abe fears that North Korea’s missiles are a danger to his country, the President is not personally troubled by this. This sort of response puts America first by putting the President’s feelings first.

On a deeper level we can see that the President is obstructed by both ethics and epistemology.

He is, in fact, obstructed by the whole tradition of Western rationality and realism. We must get these out of his way, something we have already begun doing.

The American work ethic has been eroded by Liberal laws of handouts that have led to a moral decline and a loss of incentive and the will to win. The President tells us that “the losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die! Stay true.”

Philippine President Duarte did not let a Liberal moral sense stop him from extra-judicial killing of drug suspects, actions for which the President congratulated him. The President does not allow the declarations of the Human Rights Watch to override his own personal relationship with political leaders. Human Rights watch calls the new presidential system President Erdogan has imposed in Turkey “a setback for human rights and the rule of law” but the President holds his “great friendship” with Erdogan as what’s really important.

A moral sense imposed by a Liberal mindset stands in the way of power dealing with power. Moral censure is replaced by the President with a recognition and respect for power well played. In turn, when strongmen mock the weak, all strongmen join in the mocking. “I think I agree with him on that,” the President tells reporters in response to Kim Jong Un’s assessment of Joe Biden “as a low-IQ individual.”

The way power responds to weakness is to point it out without fear of breaking rules and standards established by the weak. Those who insist that the President’s approach is debasing the country have already allowed the country to be debased by a politics of conciliation, appeasement, and generosity toward the undeserving.

Joe Biden is “another low IQ individual,” Bernie Sanders is crazy, Elizabeth Warren is an angry person, Pete Boot-Edge-Edge is wasting air time, de Blasio is a joke, Kamala Harris is “a new, nasty woman,” Jeff Sessions is a “dumb Southerner.” What we are witnessing is not a debasement of political discourse and acceptable human interaction but a reconsideration of offensiveness in which truth telling does not withdraw from such charges, charges made by those exposed by such truth telling.

“Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” the President asks, directly urging us to replace these words:” Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  with “Give us those who have the cash to stay at the Trump Tower hotels and join the Ma ra Lago country club.”

The President’s way of knowing has liberated us from the obstacles and obstructions of what “the Deep State” imposes upon us as rational ways of knowing.

Skepticism is the ruling principle of the day, one in which we interrogate the source of all “facts,” noting bias, political agendas and an absence of transparency, and in so doing put forth “alternative facts.”

So-called Fact Checking Networks are not exempted because we must ask who are the “fact-checkers”? What is their agenda? The President operates daily in such a questioning mode, never bowing to any credentialed authority but passing the judgments of the same through a personal review. And as an “extremely stable genius” who is a “young, vibrant man” the President is best endowed to establish the nature of truth and reality.

If we get all these obstacles out of the way, the President will be able in 2020 to stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and he wouldn’t lose any voters

In conclusion, I quote Jonathan Swift’s remarkable conclusion to “A Modest Proposal” “I Profess in the sincerity of my Heart that I have not the least personal Interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary Work having no other Motive than the publick Good of my Country.”

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Trump Unbound http://www.josephnatoli.com/trump-unbound/ Sat, 11 May 2019 08:54:48 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1806 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org “A White House free of congressional oversight will likely behave far differently than one that knows it can be the subject of congressional investigations.” – Prof. William P. Marshall, quoted in The New York Times, May 8, 2019) Let’s start with the polls most voiced in the social media/Twitter world: most Americans aren’t interested […]

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Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

“A White House free of congressional oversight will likely behave far differently than one that knows it can be the subject of congressional investigations.”

– Prof. William P. Marshall, quoted in The New York Times, May 8, 2019)

Let’s start with the polls most voiced in the social media/Twitter world: most Americans aren’t interested in the battle of the House of Representatives is making to bring all President Trump’s obstruction of justice evidence manifest in the Mueller report to light. That effort in the House to act as a justified prophylactic protection against executive abuse is, in the retweeted words of all the king’s men, driven by Democrats unwilling to accept Trump’s victory in 2016 and now unwilling to accept that “there was no collusion” and no obstruction of justice.

The fact that it was Attorney General Barr’s  conclusion that there was not any obstruction of justice although Mueller had left the matter as undecidable within the province of his jurisdiction but not undecidable within the province of the Congress has not pushed public opinion toward urging Congress to pursue the matter. Rather, public opinion has adopted Trump’s own claim to a complete exoneration of any obstruction of justice charges. The Republican controlled Senate has, not surprisingly, also adopted Trump’s own claim.

Thus, the House of Representatives is not seen as fulfilling its prophylactic protective role in democratic fashion but rather seen as grinding a grudge in Loser Democratic Party fashion. It is the Democratic Party’s House, not an unbiased one fulfilling the Constitutional requirements of the Congress.

Polls show that Republicans are interested in immigration and are finished with the Mueller report. They are not at all interested in exposing obstruction of justice charges. “Case closed” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced. Polls show Democrats are more interested in health care than keeping the case opened. But which Democrats? The Democratic electorate on Twitter may not be the actual Democratic electorate as reported in The New York Times (April 9, 2019) but that divide has more to do with identity, diversity, political correctness and AOC’s progressive politics, the so-called “woke” Left wing, than with the threat to a Constitutional balance of powers presented by a presidency intent on eliminating all checks to executive will. It is not clear whether a Democrat electorate wants the House to go along with case closed.

What is clear is that in a culture of spin, spectacle and collapsed attention spans wandering in a cyberspace of post-truths, the House of Representatives’ efforts to keep the case open in every way possible, including subpoenas, clearly risks evidencing Trump’s own take that he is a hounded innocent.  On that issue, social media is a tower of Babel, flooding a society historically disinterested in civics, political theories and history with rabid “crushings” of antagonists, doctored viral videos, and the Mao Red Book-like tweets of President Trump.

In short, cyberspace’s social media and the world of Twitter are not the places the House of Representatives will find clear or coherent support for its balance of powers battle, though this frenzied domain is now the home of public opinion.

Without a widespread public outcry that Mueller’s evidence for obstruction of justice be pursued as evidence for impeachment, the House’s subpoenas of all the president’s men as well as the office of Attorney General will not be carried out by either office. The fate of all this is in the courts, where in a similar subpoena case then Attorney General Eric Holder was not held in contempt of court but was forced to hand over “non-privileged” documents. That same ruling would support Barr’s position of not turning over parts of the Mueller report that Barr considered privileged according to his terms of privilege.

In short, unless a “smoking gun” tape like the one that sealed Nixon’s fate is found, a “smoking gun” jump drive, and unless the dominating means of communication now — Twitter and cohorts — line up behind not only what the truth is but how to establish it, this assault on a Constitutional balance of powers is victorious.

A failure not only not impeach Trump for abuses of power from his first day in office but also not even bring the full report of those abuses into the clear light of day will embolden Trump as well as his followers who delight in his trespassing of a Deep State which is preventing Trump from making America great again. Trump’s narcissism and need for adulation, something the presidency is giving him, surely convinces him that he is the most popular president in U.S. history, the most deserving of life-time tenure. If he could by executive order repeal the Twenty-second amendment, which restricts the presidency to two terms, he surely would.

An economic recession and/or a war could pull a Republican Senate away from Trump. Both are not improbable. The image of Trump and Bolton as warfare commanders would surely freezes the brains of both Republicans and Democrats. And a recession could easily be laid at the doorstep of a president whose business acumen led him to a loss of over a billion dollars in one decade and who, as his own economic adviser, traded a globalized economy running quite nicely for the Republican Party of Dividends for his personalized tariff battle with China.

We have little idea of what Trump unbound might do. But, he, like the boy in the H.C. Anderson fairy tale who yelled — in a contemporary re-write —  “But the Congress has no enforcement power over me!” will certainly rock the fragile foundations of convention, law, reason, and judgment. Trump’s blanket refusal to respect any subpoena for himself or anyone in his sphere of influence is a kind of declaration of independence, one in which he refuses to bow to an equal branch of the government.

Trump is also unbound by our contemporary post-truth surround. Everything now goes on in the irrational frenzy of what Justin E. H. Smith in Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason, 2019, calls a “Shiva-like destroyer wherein Trump and his spokes people muddy facts and reason or endorse the infallibility of arrant bullshit. In Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit, the bullshitter cares more about persuasion, like a salesman, than whether what he is saying is true or false.

We recognize Trump by this time as an accomplished huckster. Everyone who speaks up for him, parroting his words, is part of the sales team. However, not caring does not imply not knowing. Thus, one has to wonder why those minions who can distinguish truth from lies and bullshit take Trump’s part. Nixon had the same band of apologists; Kim Jong Un very quickly purged those who did not fall in line, as did Stalin before him. As historical truth, this is in fact an m.o. of all autocrats. They surround themselves with those who bend a knee. And delete those who will not.

What is new and startling here is that almost the entire Republican Party acquiesces to Trump’s nationalist, anti-global free trade, anti-transnational compacts, anti-expenditures that raise the national debt — all of which defined the Republican Party since Reagan. What is also new and startling is Trump’s defiance as a policy, one he will campaign on in 2020, of the oversight powers of the House of Representatives and the value to our now clearly exposed fragile Constitutional democracy of such oversight.

The issue is especially alarming given Trump’s autocratic rule inclination coupled with his ignorance and distaste for the functioning of a partitioning of power as a means of checks and balances. John Yoo, who wrote on behalf of torture in the Dubya administration, is, surprisingly, not on Trump’s side: “He’s treating Congress like they’re the Chinese or a local labor union working on a Trump building.” (The New York Times, May 8, 2019).

The power of both a populace swirling in an irrational frenzy and an opportunistic autocrat has been brought from latency to actuality via the Internet.

Again, Justin E.H. Smith: “The Internet has destroyed long-familiar objects: television, newspapers, musical instruments, clocks, books. It is also destroying institutions: stores, universities, banks, movie theaters, democracy.” We are prepared for technology to change things but democracy is not such a “thing.” Democracy, like Nature and the planet and our own being as humans, is analog.

All that has been required since the on-line world appeared in 1990 has been a link from it and its destruction power to the analog government in place. That link was made in the United States by Donald J. Trump. However magnificently we envision the constructive and democratizing powers of cyberspace, the fact remains that Trump unbound with a Twitter bullhorn is an eroding and not a democratizing force. Words on social media caught in a whirlwind of never ending, never resolving vituperative battle do not amount to oversight of the presidency nor check a move toward autocracy.

Trump may lose the 2020 election but thus far, no one has, in boxing lingo, laid a glove on him so there is reason to think that he will work to retweet a loss into a win. And there is no telling how much help he will get from Democrats who cannot seem to keep themselves from being crazy in regard to platforms for which too many voters are not ready.

A circular firing squad at the Democrat debates plus a defeat from the Shiva-like destroyer of cyberspace in regard to the House’s refusal to see the obstruction of justice case closed may also lead us to a blanket finish in 2020. Unless Trump is defeated soundly, without any chance of claiming fraud at the polls, a close finish puts that election in Trump territory, the “crushing” domain of social media where Democrats make apologies and Trumpians attack.

Whether or not Trump’s ardent followers reach 50% of the electorate, expanded surely by the House’s failure to win in their life and death battle with Trump and then turn into an army of Trump loyalists in the 2020 election remains to be seen.

This seems very likely if hatred against those who call Trump “a fucking moron” reach the performative stage. Trump’s in possession of both the vehicle — Twitter — and a throng of Americans who base their understanding not on voices of authority — dismissed most likely forever, of un-democratizing, coastal elitist, legacy press, long form analog voices –but what others on social media say that mimics their own personal opinions.

On the horizon since the country’s founding has always been a fear of a mobilized populace, historically apathetic in regard to politics, and thus vulnerable to the mindless tweets of an autocracy seeking plutocrat. If indeed the case is closed on the House’s attempt to bind Trump within the power arrangement Constitutionally established, then we face a Trump unbound, one we can chase after in the courts far beyond 2020 as well as on that trustworthy court of reason and resolution — Twitter.

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Can We All Keep Ourselves From Being Crazy? http://www.josephnatoli.com/can-we-all-keep-ourselves-from-being-crazy/ Fri, 10 May 2019 08:16:09 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1802 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org “The conventional wisdom nowadays is that Trump will be hard to defeat in 2020.  Needless to say, in a sane society, he would lose in a landslide running against a potted plant.” – Andrew Levine “The Democrats can’t keep themselves from being crazy.” – Ben Shapiro So–to use a millennial beginning–capitalism enslaved minds […]

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Engraving of the eighth print of A Rake’s Progress, by William Hogarth

Engraving of the eighth print of A Rake’s Progress, by William Hogarth

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

“The conventional wisdom nowadays is that Trump will be hard to defeat in 2020.  Needless to say, in a sane society, he would lose in a landslide running against a potted plant.”

– Andrew Levine

“The Democrats can’t keep themselves from being crazy.”

– Ben Shapiro

So–to use a millennial beginning–capitalism enslaved minds before Trump arrived, and by that time, there was not enough of the American mind left to recognize that Trump, in the words of Rex Tillerson, was “a fucking moron.”

That American mind could have been educated to deny Trump the presidency and not deny us a chance of surviving on our warming planet but capitalism put us to dedicate our whole life to winning (“My whole life is about winning.” Trump) and be brutal along the way (“Be brutal, be tough.” Trump). What is surprising is that a Trump did not come along a lot sooner.

Now we are engaged in a great struggle against a deformity of mind and heart we ourselves have created and as did Lincoln in 1863 we hope “for a victory in which this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Unfortunately, we are more part of what John Locke called the twisted tree of our humanity than sane, rational, noble liberators of ourselves and the muck we have made of things. The unreliability of the public mind pursued in polls of public opinion is not something we are prone to see given our 24/7 personal immersion in what is touted as a “virus of freedom, for which there is no antidote . . .  spread by electronic networks to the four corners of the earth.” (Walter Wriston, former CEO of Citigroup, 1997).

In short, public opinion is not easily twisted out of all reasoning but rather finally honing for itself a liberated Truth on social media. It is difficult to impossible then to find a path of reasoning and logic to struggle against a deformity of mind and heart that we share with the president. The president runs the country on Twitter and responses run on Twitter, a kind of dialogue and discourse that went on amusingly first at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

While in the muck, we couldn’t see that candidate Trump was in no way in possession of his own instincts as to rationally arrange a conspiratorial deal with Putin, one that when found would be the smoking gun needed to impeach him.

Neither could we see that the criminal charges Mueller, an ex-federal prosecutor, hopefully sought by many were peripheral and incidental to the disclosure of this president as a danger to democratic, Constitutional order of things painfully and incrementally created since the Constitution was written in 1787. What we have been after and what Mueller couldn’t provide at one time and in one report was help in defending that order against this destructive  force in the Oval office who seems to be rapidly bending the instruments of democracy to his own will,  a will neither coherent, continuous or unified.

Because so much in our society shares with Trump an appetite for hyperreality rather than reality and is so deeply entrenched in spectacle, spin and celebrity and armored within the illusions of personal autonomy, we are now incapable of pulling back the curtain and exposing the Wizard as a sham.

In what Christopher Lasch called a culture of narcissism why wouldn’t a narcissist who works the image making machinery like an expert win success? Why wouldn’t a candidate who finds the surest magnetic attraction is to the worst devils of our human nature draw admirers to himself as if admirer and admired were one?

I suppose if the order of things that Trump is playing havoc with could be easily located in the regimes of Reagan or the Bushes or the Clintons or Obama, we would have a clearer sense of the danger Trump presents. None of these presidencies made clear to all that our economic system had moved us into plutarchy. However, it seems that a whole lot of mistrust, anger, frustration, anxiety and even a greater sense of feeling cheated overwhelm the thoughts of many regarding what order it is that Trump is violating.

Many have an axe to grind and Trump is here to grind it. Or, is perceived as doing so.

Perhaps further investigations will solidify a universal sense of what Trump is violating and the indictable and/or impeachable ways he is doing so. Perhaps it all can be done on Twitter or elsewhere on social media. If not there, then perhaps in The New York Times or The Washington Post or The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, or Fox or MSNBC?

Meanwhile, the 2020 presidential campaign seems to be a more promising battleground than defining what order of things we are all historically solidly behind and how Trump may be undermining all of this nebulousness.

We are market-bred to put aside ideas and understanding and follow the horse race; personalities and not civics, the negative and not the positive, the “crushing” attack rather than the conciliatory gesture.

While the Republican Party is unified by having given ownership to Trump, the Democratic Party is once again trying to represent four different political persuasions, namely, Liberal Third Way triage, Leftist anti-plutarchy, Diversity/Identity missionaries, and Climate Change Paul Reveres. We can expect that these four different dramatis personae on the Primary debate stage will tear into each other until they settle down and just tear into an emerging favorite of the polls. It would be crazy to stoke Trump’s fire but I doubt if the Democrats can stop themselves.

While there may be some Trump haters among Republicans, it is not in their interest to go too public, thus Trump has only been mildly reprimanded by Republicans. Besides, he has turned out to be more classically conservative than they feared.

He’s solidly behind the fossil fuel industry while at the same time impeding every way he can all efforts to regulate the industry’s poisoning of the planet. He has already appointed two Supreme Court justices that make every Conservative happy and if he gets a second term, there is a good chance he will appoint two more. That is one very good reason to vote for Trump if a Liberal court has proven too secular for your moral and religious core values.

But Trump does more that has to be liked by Conservatives and Neoliberals. Tax cuts for the wealthy for sure but also personal endorsements that Winners like himself do not rely on government handouts. He is wealthy, the president and he has got all the toys he wants, including a trophy wife. He is the perfect symbol of capitalist success. Why wouldn’t those whose politics bend to Market Rule be thrilled at having Trump as a standard bearer?

Perhaps the biggest reason the Republican Party glues itself to Trump is the fact that he brings into the tent that portion of the American population who have every reason not to vote for the party of Market Rule, of Winner take all and Loser disappear politics.

During the 2016 Republican Primary, no challenger was capable of drawing a loyal 35-45% of these voters to them in the Revival tent manner of Trump. Those who Hillary called “Deplorables” have been moving closer and closer to a kind of sans culottes revolt, a revolt that Trump took into his own personality, expressing it and thus giving much relief and satisfaction to his followers.

He seems to intuitively know that he is reckless, willful, obstreperous, unruly, destructive and everything defiant of inherited presidential norms on behalf of his followers, an avatar to the many whom both parties had left hanging for decades. In short, if they were in his shoes, they would be doing exactly what he is doing. Trump does not let too much daylight get in between that relationship.

There’s a kind of rhetorical advantage Trump has when you consider that his rallying cries against socialism, which bring up the bugbears of wealth redistribution, government control of free enterprise, and the Deep State’s fascist control of your personal life, all of which resonate in an echo chamber that has been under construction in the American mass psyche for a very long time. And once again, the way he exhibits his own dark antipathies, his own paranoiac fears and instinctual vengeance, his own inhumanity and brutality incites a “Yes!” that sadly is beyond debate.

There is much for the dividend recipients, regardless of what party they say they vote for, to get from a second Trump presidency. They do not have such great expectations with the presidency of any of the Democratic candidates. There is also much to enjoy in the day to day iconoclastic antics of President Trump by those who feel cheated by the normal run of politics, the chastising media, and the smug, politically correct Coastals.

Democrats do not have as fast a connection to those whose vote they seek. They cannot make profit to shareholders and Let Markets Rule! their mantra, although any review of Democratic leadership shows us that affiliations to Market Rule are strong, though not broadcast as with Republicans. In the absence of “Show Me the Money!” we are offered ideas, a lot of them and because no idea can take command in the Democratic Party platform, every single idea is a bit anxious to be heard, a bit desperate, a bit crazed.

Can the Democrats keep themselves from being crazy? Ben Shapiro asks, and perhaps one reason they cannot is because they cannot find the one path to reach voters that Republicans have found, the path to the gold, the path of the American Dream. It is basically all that Liberals have: pretend to offer more noble, more enlightening fare. Another reason is that it’s a party with multiple personalities, four that I have described previously. They are having a hard time organizing from that noise.

A crazed idea is to make hating Trump your platform, your ruling passion.

Putting Trump in the role of Devil is risky business because he already for so many is the one who is fighting the Devil for them. He is fighting the Deep State, that Clinton/Obama cabal, the Coastal Elite who want to take away your guns, tie your tongue, and let the Bank take away your home. He is fighting to regain your memory and your dream, that is a memory of once being without economic anxieties, and a dream of Trump-like material success.

There is probably little a Democratic candidate can do to erode Trump’s 35-45% avid followers but there are certainly ways that such a candidate can frighten off some 20% who find Trump crude, rude and dangerous to know but love their stock returns more than they hate Trump.

If you threaten the entire American private health care industry — hospitals, doctors, Big Pharma, insurance companies — with extinction, as Bernie and Warren do, then that’s a crazed platform, although the EU has managed to do so without much collateral damage.

If you threaten the entire fossil fuel industry with extinction in order to mitigate global warming to a level in which humans might survive, then that’s a crazed platform, although quite sane and rational when you consider it is what we must do for our own survival.

It is also crazed to think that putting forward a “diversity” candidate is itself a platform of universal appeal.

England felt it was about time to have a woman prime minister and so they had Margaret Thatcher, Reagan’s trickle down counterpart. A Democratic victory in 2016 would have given the U.S. its first female president, one that would surely have driven some Trump of the future to draw more than 50% of voters.

Point blank, if Hillary had won in 2016 and Trump was challenging her in 2020, he would walk into the office. Obama was bi-racial but that diversity didn’t do much for workers’ unions, people of color, victims of the Wall Street looting of 2007, and bringing those looters to justice.

However crazed the opinion that any kind of diversity is a winning ticket may be, Democrats seem glued to the illusion. Sherrod Brown, a middle aged white man and Senator from Ohio could surely have won both coasts and the Rust Belt Trump won in 2016. He is a working man candidate with a gravelly voice and a rumpled don’t fool with me demeanor. I doubt if Trump could have managed to ridicule him off a debate state.

But Brown didn’t enter the race because he thought his cisgender, over 50 white face sunk him at the starting gate. The Democrats have already signaled that only someone marginalized and not representative of mainstream America will do in 2020. That’s a crazed belief that will probably bring Trump back in 2020.

And finally is it crazy or merely fantastical to think that in the many months before the November 3rd, 2020 election that President Donald J. Trump will unravel and derange something or himself in a way that would allow all of us to see that he is, to repeat Rex Tillerson’s words, “a fucking moron”?

Is it also fanciful to think that Democrats can keep themselves from being crazy and evaluate their candidate not from East coast or West coast but from the heartland?

We need also to realize that in condemning Trump in the way Democrats want him condemned, everyone who leans on him to save them, to speak for them, to do the destruction they crave, crush the ones who have cheated them — they will all have to condemn themselves.

It’s surely crazy to expect that.

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No Strategies to Erase Damage Already Done http://www.josephnatoli.com/no-strategies-to-erase-damage-already-done/ Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:48:15 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1789 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org “And here, sitting upon London stone, I charge and command that, of the city’s cost, the pissing-conduit run nothing but claret wine this first year of our reign. And now henceforward it shall be treason for any that calls me other than Lord Mortimer.” – Jack Cade in Henry VI, Part II Democrats […]

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Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

“And here, sitting upon London stone, I charge and command that, of the city’s cost, the pissing-conduit run nothing but claret wine this first year of our reign. And now henceforward it shall be treason for any that calls me other than Lord Mortimer.”

– Jack Cade in Henry VI, Part II

Democrats face a challenge that Republicans do not face and that is reconciling a drive for diversity with the urgency of mounting the best challenge to President Trump. More broadly, the challenge is to an Overripe Capitalism that has settled democracy into oligarchy and now, with President Trump, a threatening autocracy.

But an additional part is achieving this on a stage, both spatial and psychic, where neither a drive for diversity nor the urgency of challenging capitalism is overwhelming the country. This is all less than overwhelming when you imagine how Trump will brand everything in the Green New Deal as socialist. Thus, much needed immediate action on global warming will be tagged as not only conspiratorial science but also socialist.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, however, won a third term in Ohio even though he was smeared as a socialist, a signifier he wisely avoids. However, the heart of his address is to workers and this theme aligns him with the most far left of the Democrats. This seems to me a clear example, a blueprint, of how socialist leaning Democrats can succeed in 2020. Whether the fact that Brown is a 66 year old white male negates his chances in a 2020 presidential race depends on whether the Democratic Party considers his electoral success in the Midwest of less importance than running a diversity candidate.

I need to step back here because I’m not a politician and don’t practice the art of the possible but I recall that in the 2016 presidential election Bernie Sanders failed in reconciling major social justice concerns of the modern left, such as race, gender, and sexuality and his call “to stand up to Wall Street.” A Twitter backlash to Bernie’s call to go beyond identity politics proved to be fatal, perhaps as fatal to him as the Democratic Party’s secret campaign against his campaign.

But the issue remains more than ever prominent in Democratic politics, invigorated by the diversity victories in the midterm Congressional elections. That momentum can perhaps lead to a doubling down on the diversity and identity politics side on the part of Democrats. A woman or Trans woman of color may satisfy the most pressing requirements to which that Party feels it needs to respond. Thus, the success of diversity in the Congressional elections can also be seen as a blueprint for Democratic victory in 2020.

Will there be a doubling down on the socialist signifier, in any form, or will there be a run to identify as a true believer in capitalism, as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar have already done.

Whatever the case, President Trump, in a 2010 electoral battle, will rampage tweet any Democrat, running from or proudly endorsing socialism, as a threat to every cherished American institution. Ironically, of course, President Trump, by 2020, will have morphed those institutions into his own madcap self. Unless of course, Mueller and/or the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York reframes him in a complete orange ensemble.

What we can be more definitive about than the electoral strategies and tactics of either Trump or the Democrats, which are in an embryo stage at this point, are the consequences of what has already occurred in the almost 26 months Trump has been in office.

In short, a Democratic Party charged with an enthusiasm to indict and/or impeach President Trump or invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him, and thus jettison the “Trump Normal” and reinstate “The Constitutional Democratic Normal,” cannot evict the consequences of his tenure.

Nor can they put an end to a world Trump has already fashioned, one in which any authority underpinning truth and reality have been damaged, all methods and ways of knowing based on rational and empirical methods have been damaged, and one in which a notable segment of the American population have been affected by these consequences.

We do not delete and write anew in regard to traumatic political turns.

The War Between the States segued into Jim Crow; the Emancipation Proclamation segued into President Trump’s take on the Charlottesville’s clash: “I think there is blame on both sides.” Sixty-four per cent of American say racism is a major problem and pollsters find that racial resentment brought many to Trump. Campuses have not become a rose garden of racial mingling The Atlantic reported in 2016 that “[L]ast semester, student-activist groups nationwide issued demands to their universities seeking everything from mandatory sensitivity-and-racial-bias training to the development of safe spaces on campus for people of color. (Adrienne Green, “The Cost of Balancing Academia and Racism,” The Atlantic, Jan. 21, 2016.)

The destiny of Trump’s reign may endure as the legacy of racism because he has entangled the mantra of “make American great again” with a need to keep the fires of all hatreds burning bright.

What dire consequences emerge from Trump’s presidency extend not only to his destruction of a Constitutional balance of powers but also to his efforts to stop all efforts to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Almost equally destructive is his success in convincing a white working class that he will regain for them a white supremacy at home, reinvigorated American ugliness abroad, and well paying manufacturing jobs.

The drastic wealth divide resulting from capitalism’s Monopoly game in which all the properties on the board and all the money in the bank has already gone to a few, all others, losers, is “fake news” and thus dismissed. In the place of this wealth schism, Trump offers himself to his followers in the perennial American mythos of “Wealth as Savior,” wealth as the champion of those who have already lost at the capitalist casino or are losing badly. And Donald J. Trump has become the personification of that mythos of salvation through wealth.

Enough Americans are deep devotees of this creed to make the 2020 election yet another close call. These devotees are convinced that the deal the wealthy celebrity Trump has made for himself is the same deal in which they can win. That they are in a survival game because of what Trump represents is a recognition they are too entranced to see.

And this too, then, is a tragic consequence, damage done whose recuperation now eludes us.

Those who worship at a different altar see happy consequences in the movement of the young toward a positive view of government. Salutary consequences for them are envisioned. The capitalist game of Winners and Losers, run stochastically, has thus far settled them into fears of debt and environmental disaster. And those fears have propelled them toward government as their champion, a bargain a number of social democracies have made successfully. Scandinavian countries have far greater social mobility and far less inequality than does the U.S., although this seems inconsequential to Americans, if these facts are at all known, because these countries are “socialist.”

I call this a much damaged “signifier,” the consequences of both fascist and communist dictatorships having flown this signifier’s banner. What it means divorced from its abuses is an encounter to be brought into the classroom so that a rising generation can make better sense of the relationship of economics and politics than their forebears can. The consequences of an ancien regime sized wealth divide are either plutarchy or autocracy.

Conditions that the young are facing, however, make it difficult to imagine that those whose live are self-designed in cyberspace from birth will bear the intrusions of government bureaucracy.

It is too early to tell whether social media has a social, communitarian dimension that offsets the illusions of self-determination and empowerment that cyberspace offers, not to mention the overpowering influx of absolute rot and nonsense intermingled with “truthiness.” Mr. Zuckerberg’s assertion that Facebook “brings the world together” is now under serious interrogation while the benefits of Twitter as the “go to” channel for presidential declarations as well as ensuing debate seems damaging to democracy and helpful to autocracy.

The consequences of a duplex reality, offline and online, the Great Outdoors and Cyberspace, are in play and no clear call can be made.

Whether the illusionary powers of cyberspace to augment our personal will are crushed by the real world consequences of global warming and an autocratic rule by a damaged leader is something undeterminable now.

President Trump’s total reliance on his own personal autocratic will to power, which he calls his gut reactions, did not create a culture of narcissism, a culture in which everything personal overrides everything communal.

Margaret Thatcher assured us that there is no such thing as society and Donald Trump is telling us there is no such thing as a Constitutional democracy. There is only in his view a “Deep State” conducting a witch hunt, a cabal of enemies of the people out to get him.

There is only the person, a creed that Trump brings to its solipsist conclusion: there is only him, his personal will, his choice, his readiness to assume personal responsibility, which is unpunished because he alone pardons.

Only great damage can result from power, uncontested and unreachably pathological.

Right now, in our defense is a political discourse that has no solid reference point to return to but only an arena of dispute which the present can attach itself to in equally disputatious ways.

Because our analog history is now suspect for merely being analog and not digital, politics in the present goes on within a different mindset regarding history than proposed by George Santayana: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Therefore, consequences of past actions are now as irrelevant as the actions themselves.

President Trump may be a unique figure as President, an ego fully bloated with illusions of the greatness of his own willful gut, and thus most dangerous as Commander in Chief, but he occupies with many others more than one circle in Dante’s Inferno. His brand of tyranny was not unknown to Shakespeare as Stephen Greenblatt reminds us in Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. Richard III, Macbeth, Julius CaesarCoriolanus and, Jack Cade, the rebel leader in Henry VI, Part II are replete with parallels to our present tyrant.

“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm,” James Madison foresaw in Federalist #10, a foreseeing that led to defenses in the Constitution against an imperial presidency, an unenlightened autocrat.

The newly formed House of Representatives is now engaged in strategies to unseat an autocratic order before that autocracy undermines any assault against it, including any launched by the two branches of government constituted to check and balance an imperial presidency.

Whether the Legislature and the Senate have already been damaged to the point that it is owned by that presidency, time will reveal. But surely, the fact that the country is in such a predicament, such a battle for the preservation of Constitutional and not autocratic authority, tells us that much damage has already been done.

 

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Two Roads Diverged http://www.josephnatoli.com/two-roads-diverged/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 20:26:25 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1780 Published on http://www.counterpunch.org President Trump’s chances of planting the seed of rebellion against Nancy Pelosi within the Democratic Party has a better chance of success than the Democratic Party has in planting seeds of rebellion against President Trump. The single, unambiguous focus of profit to investors unites Republicans like a Spartan phalanx whereas the focus of […]

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Two Roads Diverged

Two Roads Diverged

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

President Trump’s chances of planting the seed of rebellion against Nancy Pelosi within the Democratic Party has a better chance of success than the Democratic Party has in planting seeds of rebellion against President Trump.

The single, unambiguous focus of profit to investors unites Republicans like a Spartan phalanx whereas the focus of Democrats is on “The People,” far less definitive and determinate than cash and not restricted in use to Democrats. Populists and Nationalists, from Trump to Orban claim to represent “the will of The People.” Democrats are less likely to hold their ground because they are not deaf to the arguments of profit making. Sanders, Warren, Ocasio Cruz and others on the Left may be but they do not represent the majority of those Speaker Pelosi is representing.

One wonders whether the inevitable clash between House Speaker Pelosi and the new and young women in this Congressional Freshman class will be reconciled in ways that demonstrate the greater effectiveness of women in politics than men in politics.

However, both differing priorities as well as generational differences, both cut from the same old same old cloth, may show us that gender is not as significant a factor in politics as the common attributes of human nature that all races, ethnicities, sexes and gender share. And because our human nature is operating across all, a rule of one person-one vote cannot be abrogated in a liberal or social democracy,

Nevertheless, life in America is replete with discrimination, and, sometimes, as in the case of Donald J. Trump’s election this is the card played that draws the win. Why did all American women voted overwhelmingly for Hillary in 2016, except white women? Why does the inane brain fart of a mind — build a “big, fat, beautiful wall” — a mind twirling in all kinds of fears, hatreds and bigotries appeal to anybody but those of like mind?

Two roads diverged in the American mass psyche and we took the one that led to Trump.

And that road was paved by failures to interpret critically, expose, correct and as needed indict the rising tide of hatred and fear and those who stoke the flames of such.

Trespasses against the slowly emerging actions, thoughts and feelings of the better angels of our nature, against an expanded notion of society now collapsed into the mockeries of social media, have been allowed to grow and glow in infernal darkness visible.

There’s a kind of trespass that expands beyond the personal, a purse snatch or a carjacking, for instance, and spreads like a virus into the present and, if not exposed, into the future like a bad gene.

The failure to line up the financial sector looters after the Great Recession is a good example.

So, is not making clear the damage that former House Speaker Paul Ryan has done to the equal powers granted by the Constitution to our three branches of government. There was absolutely no need for Speaker Ryan to roll over and play dead, or at the very worst, yeah-say to President Donald Trump at the very start of his tenure.

It was then when a man who knew only the sovereignty of his own decisions and very little of the democratic process should have been checked, in the way you check a puppy who first enters the house.

Senator Ryan’s transgressions here against the entire nation are more grievous than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s sly games. McConnell’s declaration that he would do everything in his power to keep Obama from a second term should have schooled the post-partisan Obama regarding the realities of a knife fight in a phone booth political game in which Obama found himself. Glancing back now, we can see that Obama was a slow learner here.

Paul Ryan did not school Trump but rather bowed before the autocratic practices and beliefs of a man who has been a sovereign in his own domain since birth.

After more than a month of partial Federal government shutdown, arguments and justifications on both sides, one side always being only Trump and now the other side personalized as Nancy Pelosi, are equally collapsing into Pete Seeger’s “Pay me my money down.”

It is an increasingly restless mood, impatient with politics.

Trump has been waiting to declare a national emergency, which seems the most likely end to this longest running government shutdown.

However, neither claiming that the shutdown itself is the crisis that threatens national security or it is the crisis at the border — invading caravans of drug dealers, terrorists, rapists, and murderers and so on — that threatens national security represents a winning spot for the President, who seems prepared to sacrifice everything for a win in his personal accounts.

How far President Trump will go with national emergency powers — and he can go far, (See Elizabeth Goitein’s “In Case of Emergency,” The Atlantic, January/February 2019) will, from what we know of his impulse thinking and behavior, most likely come close to what Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursely would do. All three years olds want what they want.

There is little doubt that if matters are settled by declaring a national emergency, Trump will ease comfortably into the extraordinary presidential powers and his supporters will cheer his ascendancy to that majesty. Victory will be declared and a precedent set for declarations of emergency powers on every occasion in which the President feels democracy is not bending to his will.

The hope is that the House of Representatives led by Nancy Pelosi will not bend a knee as Paul Ryan had done nor aid and abet the President, as Senate Majority Leader McConnell, has done for, almost literally, thirty pieces of silver.

Chances are that courts, Congress, a Constitutional order, and the Mueller investigation will catch up with the President and keep him from reaching the heights of autocracy of the new “illiberal internationals,” including Orban in Hungary, Salvini in Italy, Kurz in Austria, Duda of Poland, el-Sisi in Egypt, Erdogan in Turkey, Brazil’s Bolsonaro and Trump’s lovemates Kim Jong Un and Putin.

These Populist/Nationalist movements sweeping the globe were fertilized by the inequities produced by transnational financial players positioned to profit by a globalized frontier of profit making.

The severe imbalance of wealth created did not, however, bring forth economic equality movements, complicated and with a checkered past, but rather volcanic eruptions of the Reptilian brain, namely, hated, bigotry, racism, and a widespread “Hate thy neighbor if he or she or zee is in any way different than you.”

Economic nationalism with its tariffs and globalized partnerships and so on has little chance of proving more attractive on The Big Board of the New York Stock Exchange than the freewheeling play of the present globalized financial sector. Is Goldman-Sachs positive on nationalism and tariffs?

But these chances narrow notably if Trump is let loose in the open range of emergency powers.

Two roads diverge in the American mass psyche and President Trump has taken the one that will bring him to heel, indicted, impeached or voted out of office in 2020.  His own truly pathological baggage and his growing fear of the Mueller investigation amount to his destiny.

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Will Trumpism Outlive Trump? http://www.josephnatoli.com/will-trumpism-outlive-trump/ Fri, 18 Jan 2019 13:09:47 +0000 http://www.josephnatoli.com/?p=1773   Published on http://www.counterpunch.org “[Y]ou shouldn’t take irreversible steps as the result of a reversible Presidency.” – Rob Malley, quoting the French view of President Trump, in Susan B. Glasser, “An Ocean Apart,” The New Yorker, December 24, 2018 It is not crazy to say that right now the only ones who would like to see Trumpism […]

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Trumpism

Trumpism

Published on http://www.counterpunch.org

“[Y]ou shouldn’t take irreversible steps as the result of a reversible Presidency.”

– Rob Malley, quoting the French view of President Trump, in Susan B. Glasser, “An Ocean Apart,” The New Yorker, December 24, 2018

It is not crazy to say that right now the only ones who would like to see Trumpism outlive Trump are the Trumpians.

Democratic Party? There’s a seam in the Democratic Party which may rip open and may not but it’s one in which both sides want to end Trump’s presidency and the damage that presidency has done totally dissolved and expunged from the record of U.S. history.

Republican Party? It can go either of two ways: seek to hold on to that 35% of the population tied to Trump the way Beliebers are tied to Justin Bieber, or seek to become once again the party of globalized, free trade, free market capitalism advocating Neoliberal economic policies and Market Rule rather than the arbitrary, capricious rule of a 21st century Mad George III.

Democrats risk fueling the fires of Trumpism if they ignore what the accelerants were that fired up the Trumpians — Trump being only the match — in the first place. Treating the Trump followers as obstacles scheduled for extinction rather than as part of the damage done by Trump and therefore in need of recuperation would seem to guarantee of a return under a new charlatan celebrity, never a shortage in the U.S.

Democratic Socialism, a banner that Bernie Sanders and now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez choose to fly under, is a red flag to Trump’s followers and if it gains momentum in the party will work to keep some form of Trumpism alive. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal appellation makes more sense because it puts her in a position to review the socialist aspect of FDR’s New Deal and its economic benefits to the working class as well as focus on global warming as THE most crucial issue to be responded to politically.

There are several reasons why Trumpism will not outlive Trump, and most have to do with the positions Democrats or Republicans can take.

One

Rather than political or social ideology or any form of platform discourse, what Trump will leave his followers is a legacy of impulsive tweets.

The Art of the Deal is not Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, FDR’s The Second Bill of Rights, Mao’s The Little Red Book, Fidel Castro’s The Declarations of Havana.

The legacy of Trump is not discourse but personality, not ideas but a kind of huckstering that vanishes when audience and opportunities also vanish. There is no permanence to either any huckster or his or her words.

Two

There are no roots or foundation to Trumpism to be found in U.S. history.

Was there a political or social ideology or any form of platform discourse that Trump accessed and built upon or was there rather an incoherent anger, fear, frustration, dysphoria and disaffection that Democrats and Republicans had ignored and Trump responded to on that same gut, affective, prereflective level, the domain of the reptilian brain?

A singular interruption by an aberrant personality into any order of things is potentially destructive but not generative when there are no ideas prior to or developed contributing to a legacy of thought.

Three

Both contemporary market and conservative Republicanism has endured since Reagan, but Trump is attached to neither. And he has not created any ideology that a new party could attach itself to, as white nationalism and fascism are not new and not liable to become a party in the U.S. that will subsume Democratic and Republican parties or rival them in elections.

Four

The Trumpian electorate has no platform of ideas they can hold onto and seek in a new avatar of Donald J. Trump. Their plight is similar to that of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S and Mouvementdes gilets jaunes in France.

There is the fire of revolt and disgust in both which has not scaled to a sustained political organization.

What Trump transmits is an irreproducible derangement, as unique as an inmate who declares he is Napoleon.

Five

Deteriorating to tragic conditions created by Trump’s tweet regime will undoubtedly consume the attention of everyone when he is gone, including the attention of his followers who sought economic relief in a Trump presidency.

The increasing ravages of global warming and Trump’s denial of its existence and the government’s role in mitigating those ravages will undoubtedly create a legacy neither he nor his followers anticipated.

As the whole country moves as rapidly as possible from the nightmare of Trump’s presidency, partially because we will be absorbed in recuperating from that presidency, the only legacy Trump bequeaths to us will be comparable to awakening from a nightmare and realizing it cannot stand the light of day.

Those damaged in various ways by his aberrant rule will have no time or inclination to carry that rule into the future. Alt-Right/neo-fascist/white nationalist/ Deep State paranoia can perhaps once again find place in remote dark corners of cyberspace and so vacate the national media scene.

Six

An allegiance and confederacy of worker owned businesses in which profits go to workers and not shareholders, an increasing number of voters of all color, a rising critique of casino, Market Rule capitalism formulated by young voters, an accompanying movement toward social democracy, and an elevation by the young of environmental concerns to the number one political priority promises to have little or no tolerance for Trump or any extension of Trumpism into the future.

The con man’s ploy — fire up racial conflict, confound reason and truth, confound good and evil, make your neighbor your enemy and your enemy your neighbor, turn education into a prison house of debt, curse and scorn everyone who stands against you, define greatness as only an expansion of the President’s ego, his businesses and the adulation of his supporters —  the youngest and bravest among us are working to inoculate themselves, through political involvement, against, against the continuation of any of this.

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