Friday, January 5, 2018

The Question Is Rapidly Becoming, "Can We Survive Trump?"

What does that say about America, 2018?

Yes, shades of Mussolini, but scarier because now.

The U.S. has, in good times and bad, for better or worse, muddled through, achieving greatness in the arts and music. We invented the blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock 'n' roll, and hip hop. That counts for something, and I didn't even mention country. Hell, we created the Blockbuster Movie, for pete's sake. But now we've given rise to Donald Trump as president. The fun's over, and Michelle Goldberg gets it.
But most of all, the [Michael Wolff] book confirms what is already widely understood — not just that Trump is entirely unfit for the presidency, but that everyone around him knows it. One thread running through “Fire and Fury” is the way relatives, opportunists and officials try to manipulate and manage the president, and how they often fail. As Wolff wrote in a Hollywood Reporter essay based on the book, over the past year, the people around Trump, “all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.”

According to Wolff, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, called Trump an “idiot.” (So did the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, though he used an obscenity first.) Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, compares his boss’s intelligence to excrement. The national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, thinks he’s a “dope.” It has already been reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron,” which he has pointedly refused to deny.
Most of this falls in the tell-me-something-I-don't-already-know category, but, good grief, it's a bit much to see it crammed into a couple of succinct paragraphs. Just rurn that phrase through you mind a time or two: "...what is widely understood -- not just that Trump is entirely unfit for the presidency, but that everyone around him knows it." Triple good grief.

It's hardly just the mainstream press. Here's Bandy Lee, assistant professor in forensic psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, interviewed by Vox:
The special counsel’s indictments started a crisis — a mental health crisis in a president who is not able to cope well with ordinary stresses such as basic criticism or unflattering news.
His trip to Asia brought a lot of ceremonial deference and customs of flattery that kept him doing better for a while. But that indicated a greater danger to us — that someone [was] that susceptible to fawning pointed to instability that would make him more volatile when he returned. And that’s exactly what happened.
When he returned and faced the progress of the special counsel’s investigation, he became more paranoid, returning to conspiracy theories that he had let go of for a while. He seemed to further lose his grip on reality by denying his own voice on the Access Hollywood tapes.
Also, the sheer frequency of his tweets seemed to reflect the frantic state of mind he was entering, and his retweeting some violent anti-Muslim videos showed a concerning attraction to violence. And then there were the belligerent nuclear threats this week.
What Dr. Lee is talking about is what we're all witnessing and worrying about. Her recommendation -- as a professional -- is something like a forced intervention, something common in the real world, known in cop parlance as a 5150, taking someone into temporary custody if thought to be a danger to themselves or others. Lee thinks Trump qualifies for such treatment.

I place myself considerably on the left of the political spectrum, yet there's nothing political about my concern that Trump is capable of acting out to avoid prosecution -- starting a war or going on a shocking rampage of deregulation just to fuck with liberals and distract the media -- for crimes associated with his grotesque scramble for power and money. Thousands or millions of dead Koreans is too high a price to pay for Trump's paranoia. Simply destabilizing the world order through contemptuous treatment of allies is destructive enough. Heaven forbid a nuclear holocaust.

The thought -- not a wild fantasy! -- that we rely on three rational generals, who all think Trump is an idiot, to stay in place to avert Trump's irrationally leading us into war should be enough to scare the pants off of the average American citizen. After all, it was a surprising minority of voters in just the right states that led to this accidental presidency, the least popular in polling history. I wish we could afford to wait until 2020 to reverse this historic mistake. Here's hoping we have that long or find a way to make it shorter. Many of us are actually holding our breath awaiting that day.

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