The Next Four Years of Donald J. Trump

Whether he’s the President or not, we will be stuck with him

✎ WAYNE K. SPEAR | NOVEMBER 2, 2020 • Current Events

AMONG THE MORE foolhardy undertakings is the prediction of future events, especially now, when we are hours from an election and the speculations multiply on matters that would have been taken as granted only a few years ago. Will the President declare victory before all votes are counted? Will Republicans allow a thorough counting? Would Mr Trump accept a defeat? Will there be a peaceful transition of power, or is the country headed for chaos and violence?

Should this President remain in office, and by whatever means, what might we expect of the next four years? This is the concern of the present essay, and while I have meagre confidence in my ability to foretell, the past four years have provided decent material from which to conjure an outline. Some conclusions are plainly obvious—for example that the President will spend the next four years propagating lies and assaulting those who refuse to pay him tribute. No one doubts that wherever Donald Trump goes, chaos happens. What I aim to accomplish in the following paragraphs is a deliberation of outcomes that are less obvious but nonetheless plausible.

If re-elected, Trump will find himself surrounded by hills that need surmounting. Opposition to his government will be fervent and the Democrats will throw up every conceivable obstacle to his administration. Past experience tells us that the opposition to Trump is ineffective, but this will not discourage it. The second term will be more dramatic than the first. The thirteen current investigations into the President’s business affairs will yield shocking revelations and, if they are sufficiently lurid, efforts once again to remove him from office. These scenarios will be taken as granted by Mr. Trump, and he will set himself to the business of preventing them, replacing the bothersome officials that he can and pre-emptively neutralizing those he cannot. At some point the President’s rhetoric will have reached the pitch at which even his own supporters, driven mad by the constant spectre of dangerous radical leftists, will turn on him, unless he produces show trials and sentences.

The 2020 election will have taught the Republicans important lessons that they will begin to apply on day one of the next term, along the lines of how to maintain power as a beleaguered minority-rule party with a diminishing base of voters and a populous and dedicated opposition. The Trump administration’s approach to this election has been scattershot and improvised, especially their focus on mail-in ballots and what they consider to be voter fraud. It remains to be seen if this administration institutionalizes its thinking, by making systemic changes that reflect their pet theories. The general tenor of the administration will be of a heroic struggle against the organized forces of evil. Increasingly what Trump does will matter less to his supporters than what Trump is, the occupant of an office that would otherwise be occupied by The Enemy.

The transformation of a professional civil service into a political operative division will continue, as will the reconstitution of the federal justice system as a personal legal team whose chief purposes are to give teeth to the President’s grievances and to dispense absolution to loyalists. For years now Trump has endeavoured to reproduce the working conditions he knew as a businessman, surrounded by underlings who did what they were told, no matter how criminal or irrational the instruction may be. It will likely take another four years at least to purge the federal bureaucracy as well as the courts to the President’s satisfaction, and he will set himself eagerly to it. He will cast Presidential term limits as a Democrat conspiracy to steal offices from Republicans, and the Republicans will indulge this fiction as they have every other. 

The war on media will go on, even though the battle has been won. At least as far back as Reagan, conservatives despised journalists and paid them no attention, except to denounce them as dangerous hateful traitors. Now journalists and journalism are held in low regard across the political spectrum. When the revolution arrives, those who write for the papers or who serve as talking heads will be front of the queue for the guillotine. The uselessness of the media is evidenced in the fact that four years of damning news, some of it remarkably detailed and well-researched, has not dampened the President’s approval rating. In any case, many media outlets are only steps from insolvency and are no less likely to be gone in four years than Trump is.

I have said little so far about policy. Trump is less a policy President than he is a dealer in sentiment and symbolism. He is more interested in inciting crowds over the notion of a border wall than he is in building that wall. He knows that anger over a fabrication is real anger. The appearance of something will do just as well as the reality of it. Television taught him that an educated person will take medical advice from someone who once played a doctor, and for this reason he invests heavily in perception. Whenever he is asked about a specific legislative proposal, such as the Republican health care plan, he adverts to feelings rather than proposals. He can not say for sure what the Trump health care plan might be, only that it will be wonderful and everyone will be happy.

This administration of course has not been without policies. Where they exist, they are not that different from conventional Republican policies: tax cuts, generous spending on the military, deregulation. President Trump stands apart when one considers immigration, trade, and America’s relationship with the rest of the world. But as I have suggested already, these are less intellectual policy differences than they are a sentimental distinction, for all share a common emotional denominator: the frightening menace of the outside world. Foreigners take advantage of the United States with crooked trade deals, drag American soldiers into their wars, and send criminals and rapists to hollow out the country from inside. This bleak view of human nature is applied to the country itself, which is understood above all else as a struggle between Patriots and Radical Anarchist Antifa Leftists. Completely absent from the Trump worldview is the notion that people with whom one disagrees can ever have honorable motives. Trump policies are reducible to self interest and to psychological dramas and their attendant emotions, especially fear and ressentiment over perpetually being victimized.

As he has for the past four years, the President will make the noises that his advisors tell him are pleasing to his political base, white evangelical Christians. For the most part his concessions to them will be unserious, such as his yearly claim to have brought back the phrase Merry Christmas, but in other cases like abortion real things will be at issue. In the back of every Republican’s mind will be the hazards of 2020, which no one will want to repeat, and the GOP will feel compelled to work out once and for all how they can go on governing with little more than the votes of old white men to sustain them. The answers thus far have been gerrymandering, voter suppression, and political messaging that trades in apocalypse. Another four years would provide opportunity to work on other arrangements, such as incentives to boost white fertility rates. As improbable and outrageous as this idea may sound, it is the most obvious long-term solution to the challenge now confronting Republicans—the dwindling of their base—and it’s unlikely they haven’t thought of it.

A good many people are finding their comfort in the imminent removal of Donald J. Trump from the White House, but even if this happens, we should expect the man who has so much dominated the news for the past four years to continue doing so over the next four. At bottom this President is a propagandist and an agitator and a show business celebrity, roles he could fulfil as easily outside Washington as inside it. He will need money to finance his considerable debts, and he will need attention to satisfy his bottomless appetite for validation, and combined these needs will push him in the direction of the spotlight and megaphone. He is also now the leader of a massive cultural movement that is only incidentally Republican or even conservative, a fact that will not be lost on him and that he will exploit in both financial and political ways. If and when the GOP-Trump alliance breaks down, his movement will follow him and not the Party of Lincoln, and for this reason a November 3 defeat will not mark the end of the Trump era and will in fact mark the beginning of a new phase of it.

Nancy Pelosi

2020 Vision

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi has a long history of knowing when to play it safe and when to rock the boat

✎  WAYNE K. SPEAR | JULY 12, 2019 • Politics

ON THE DAY Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born, 13 October 1989, Nancy Pelosi was two years into a Congressional career that would yield the highest ranking female politician of American history. Pelosi inherited a seat twice vacated by death, the first of Phillip Burton and the second of his wife Sala. From the former Pelosi also inherited a commitment to AIDS research and legislation, concerns which at the time set her apart from the Washington establishment and in particular the Reagan administration.

I begin here to remind the reader—should the reminder be necessary—there was a time Nancy Pelosi was something of an Ocasio-Cortez figure, pushing controversial and outside-the-box thinking on recalcitrant colleagues. As a San Francisco Democrat, Pelosi came to Washington from a district that had been consistently blue since she attended her first national convention in 1952. In the alchemy of these contradictory themes, of safety and boat-rocking, the career of Speaker Pelosi was forged.

No one survives even in the safest of districts without wits, and Pelosi is a sharp and shrewd politician. Obamacare could well and with good reason have been called Pelosicare, dependant as its passage was on her considerable skills. She is among the most competent and effective Speakers of the House of the past forty years. But longevity has its hazards. It wasn’t long ago that Pelosi held up the liberal end of the argument. Today we have the younger and more strident voices of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar—a fresh generation of Democrats keen to take on the President. Pelosi has now become the resistance, not of Trump but of the mavericks within her own party.

The President will not be removed from office by means of an impeachment vote. Pelosi’s calculation is that hearings will only aid Trump’s fortunes in 2020, by supplying fuel to his engine of paranoia and vindictiveness. She’s been around long enough to have noticed that impeachment is now (along with the special counsel) an all-weather political tool, drawn from the chest as a matter of routine business, a habit that does not exactly thrill the public. “You can’t impeach everybody,” she has said, when in fact her career seems to have taught her that you can’t impeach anybody—not even Bill Clinton, whose removal from office had the support of the House but not of the Senate.

The case for impeachment has two aspects, one political and one principle. On the political side one must calculate the electoral hazards, and who can doubt that Pelosi has done so. The principle aspect requires an answer to the question, Does the President merit impeachment? Pelosi’s rivals in the Democratic party have answered this question to their satisfaction. They want to exercise the oversight function of Congress and send a message that no President is above the law. Pelosi however appears interested only in the political calculation.

She believes the centre will hold and that Trump will succumb to something that she calls self-impeachment. The voters will decide. Perhaps in the meanwhile evangelicals will restrain the President in matters such as mass raids and deportations. Secretary Acosta’s illegal sweetheart deal with the child mass-rapist Jeffrey Epstein? The president’s call. There is no role for Congress. When presented a question touching upon the behaviour of the Trump administration, Pelosi spills the phrases I’m not focused on / don’t know much about / am not interested in that. “We have a great deal of work to do here for the good of the American people and we have to focus on that,” she says, without much by way of specifics. As for the mavericks in her party, “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.” Oof. Pelosi has gone beyond not wanting to rock the boat to not wanting to sit in it.

A year ago Joe Biden was the seasoned politician and the beloved Obama sidekick. He was untouchable until suddenly he wasn’t. Survive long enough and you will confront your own obsolescence. It may be that Pelosi is steps ahead of the rest of us, playing a Democratic version of Trump’s QAnon four-dimensional chess. Perhaps Trump will “self-impeach” and the world will be better for it. Perhaps the best course of action is to wait. Nancy Pelosi has a long history of knowing when to play it safe and when to rock the boat. She’s among the smartest politicians out there, until she isn’t. ⌾

We’re All Vampires Now

The Mercers Are Evil, Mark Zuckerberg Is a Bastard, and Facebook Is For Vampires

✎  Wayne K. Spear | March 20, 2018 • Politics

THE DISEASE KILLING US is a goddam burrowing maggot, and you realize how deep it goes when you pull. At first it’s just this sick and sickening President, like a pustule on the body politic, but then it’s the media and money in politics and all the greedy bastards who aren’t going to yield until they’ve killed the oceans and your city is under water. And the sickness doesn’t stop there. Pull a little more, and it’s you and me, every day a little more insane, every day a little more lost, and you’re a fool if you don’t see it.

Bastards

We’re all going down, once again into the churning primal vortex, the mad chaos that’s never far away. Eventually we’ll reach that place where the gravitational pull exceeds our collective will, and there will be no turning back. Bricks and battle, baseball bats in the streets, knives under our shirts, a foot stomping on a face over and over until one side runs out of bodies and blood. Today some of us are putting bombs on porches, and some of us are cheering for the Nazis, but most of the decent among us have simply given up on politics and are looking for a good seat to watch the world burn. That’s the best news the evil bastards have had in a long time. Don’t worry, you’ll get a fire.

The President of the United States is a vicious racist bastard who’ll kill your children and hang them high for a cameo on Fox. He’s surrounded himself with operatives every bit as dead on the inside as he is himself, grifters and junkies who feel nothing except the pain they inflict on others to get themselves off. It’s already too late to save the Republic: this President knocked and the world let him in, not because we didn’t know he was a vampire but because we are all vampires now. The President survives by feeding on our worst characteristics, and every depraved mutation of the human gene works to his advantage. He is us and we’re him and it’s useless to argue otherwise.

Before Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, and the others of the vampire Trump nation, were White House sycophants, they were Mercernaries, part of a cult led by the misanthropic father-daughter team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Bannon was spreading his toxins on the Mercer-funded Breitbart News and hoping to burn everything to the ground. The Mercers are technocrats and data nerds, heavily invested around the world in “psychographic modeling,” which they hope to use to manipulate voter behaviour. Maybe they’re good at it, maybe not. Robert and Rebekah Mercer funded the theocrat Ted Cruz before they chose Trump, but the Cruz campaign wasn’t impressed with the work of the Mercer’s data firm, Cambridge Analytica. That’s how the falling-out began.

The Mercers prefer the dark—vampires usually do. They want to be in the background, not in the spotlight. Cambridge Analytica is in the news because a whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, admitted that the company took private information from millions of Facebook users to help the Trump campaign and the Brexit referendum. Not long before that, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, was taped discussing his company’s role in the Trump victory and the techniques Cambridge Analytica uses to destroy opposition candidates, including bribery and entrapment. The Mercers want to overturn governments in Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Americas—not for ideology or policy, but merely to cause revolutionary chaos and turmoil, because it makes them feel powerful. There shouldn’t be a place, anywhere in the world, where these misfits can sleep without keeping one eye open, and the same goes for their reptilian operatives, right up to the Corrupter-In-Chief.

Pay attention. You and I let the vampires in, and if we don’t want to become vampires ourselves, we have a responsibility to do something about it. The Mercers and Mark Zuckerberg have been working together for years, and there’s no reason to think it’s gotten better. Don’t ever forget that Facebook started out as FaceMash, a hot-or-not drinking game that Mark Zuckerberg created with student data stolen from the Harvard server. It’s a small step from there to selling us all on the dark web to fake-news nihilists and power-drunk extremists who want to burn up the world, like the Mercers do, because they can and because we let them.

Bill Clinton hates this portrait. So obviously I love it

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 10.12.14 AM

AS EARLY AS 1993, I’ve thought Bill Clinton is a despicable human being.

Self-absorbed, manipulative, dishonest, vain, and driven by animal appetites and ego.

I remember him going out for a run, during his re-election campaign, and veering mid-way into a McDonald’s.

That’s Bill Clinton—a narcissistic boy-man who’s never met an intern or Big Mac he could resist.

Imagine having the power of an American President, and squandering it on Oval Office hand-jobs. Then, bombing Sudan to distract the country from your indiscretions.

The Clintons ate people who thought they were friends. Ate them and threw the bones to the wolves.

And for those who want to talk about Bill’s charity work—notice how he splashes his name in big bright letters over everything with which he’s associated.

THE WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON SUCH-AND-SUCH

So…I thoroughly enjoyed this Daily News article, headlined

Bill Clinton portrait in National Portrait Gallery has shadowy reference to Monica Lewinsky, reveals artist

Here are some of my favorite quotations:

“He’s probably the most famous liar of all time.”

“The country’s 42nd president was “terrified” to be painted by [Nelson] Shanks.”

“…he hid all fears with a relaxed smirk and bold stance…” [Bill Clinton almost always has a self-satisfied smirk on his face]

Bill-Clinton

“When Clinton was not in the room, [the painter] says he set up a mannequin sporting a blue dress he likened to Lewinsky.”

“The Clintons hate the portrait.”

I wouldn’t be mentioning any of this, if Hillary were not likely to be running for President in the next election.

There should be a law preventing the Clintons, especially but not only Bill, from getting within 500 yards of the White House.

I wonder if they’d rent out the Lincoln bedroom, again, to their slick benefactors.

Also watch for the Clinton money to pour in, just like last time, from foreign dictatorships and oligarchs.

The Clintons. Yeck.

The World in 2030, Taliban Peace Plan, End of the World, SantaCon, Ikea Monkey, Catfish That Hunt Pigeons

Podcast 022 | Week of 16.12.2012

Ikea Monkey

Download entire podcast (320 kbps mp3).

For the GOP, it’s 2050 in America

I HAD JUST finished reading the New York Times article “Republicans Reconsider Positions on Immigration” when confirmation of President Obama’s Florida victory arrived. Had more Republicans heeded the advice of Florida’s Jeb Bush, this article, and the contest it describes, might have concluded differently. Having absorbed this uncontroversial bit of information, Republicans are at last coming around to the Bush and company point-of-view, which ten years ago was summarized as “The Big Tent” and the Party of Lincoln, and whose current mantra is the phrase path to citizenship.

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Herman Cain and the Lessons of Bill Clinton

UPON FIRST encountering him in 1992, I detected on the Arkansas governor and would-be President an unpleasant aroma. Even now I am astonished by the high regard of the man’s verbal performances, which have always struck my ears as maudlin and second-rate. Before William Jefferson Clinton, in the parade of the over-rated and “charismatic,” we find that other infamous liberal womanizer, Mr. John Fitzgerald Camelot: and now it appears we have added to this gross patrilineage the former Mr. Godfather, Herman Cain.

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