RACISM IS THE TRUMP BRAND:

Trump says he’s long worked ‘hand in hand’ with Black people. Let’s review. (Glenn Kessler, February 27, 2024, Washington Post)

You could begin the story in the 1950s, when Trump’s father, Fred, became the subject of a protest song, “Old Man Trump,” written by one of his tenants, folk singer Woody Guthrie, who objected to the all-White environs of his apartment complex. “I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate he stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts when he drawed that color line here at his Beach Haven family project … Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower / Where no black folks come to roam,” the lyrics go.


Trump’s first appearance in the New York Times was under the headline “Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City.” The front-page article detailed how the Justice Department had brought suit in federal court against Trump and his father, charging them with violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act (another LBJ bill that helped Black people) in the operation of 39 buildings through their Trump Management Corporation. The city Human Rights Commission had tested what would happen if Black and White people tried to rent the same Trump apartments — and discovered White people could easily get a rental but Black people were told nothing was available. A DOJ subpoena revealed that Black applications were marked with a “C,” for “colored.”

Donald Trump, then 27, took the lead in defending the case and told the Times that the charges “are absolutely ridiculous.” He added: “We never have discriminated and we never would.” The Trump Management Corporation turned around and sued the U.S. government right back.

Elyse Goldweber, a Justice Department lawyer who brought the suit, recalled in 2019 that Trump remarked to her during a coffee break: “You know, you don’t want to live with them either.”

ALWAYS BET ON THE dEEP sTATE:

Donald Trump’s Cash Crunch Just Got Much, Much Worse (Roger Sollenberger, Feb. 20, 2024, Daily Beast)

On Tuesday, Trump’s “Save America” leadership political action committee reported raising just $8,508 from donors in the entire month of January, while spending about $3.9 million, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission.


Nearly $3 million of that overall spending total was used for one purpose: to pay lawyers.

At the same time, the Trump campaign itself reported a net loss of more than $2.6 million for the month of January. It raised about $8.8 million while spending around $11.5 million, according to a separate filing made public on Tuesday.

The filings reveal that Trump is continuing to burn through his donors’ funds as he struggles to feed two massive cash drains—astronomical legal bills stemming from numerous civil cases and four criminal indictments, plus the costs of a national presidential campaign.

WHEN YOU STARE INTO THE ABYSS, DONALD LOOKS BACK:

The Mass Psychology of Trumpism (Dan P. McAdams, 2/20/24, New/Lines)

Trump’s enduring appeal stems from the perception — his own and others’ — that he is not a person. In the minds of millions, Trump is more than a person. And he is less than a person, too.

In 1962, a prominent Harvard psychologist published a scholarly paper titled “The Personality and Career of Satan.” Henry A. Murray examined how, for over 2,000 years, Western theologians and other writers have depicted the mythical figure of Satan, projecting onto him human traits perennially designated as evil.

It is worth noting that Murray’s characterization of Satan bears an uncanny resemblance to the psychological portrait of Trump painted by many psychologists today. A malignant narcissism rages at the core of Satan’s personality. Cast out of heaven for his overmastering pride, Satan wants to be God, resents the fact that he is not God and insists that his supreme worth entitles him to privileges that nobody else should enjoy while undergirding his reign as sovereign of the mortal world below. Wholly self-centered, cruel, vindictive and devoid of compassion and empathy, Satan nonetheless possesses substantial charisma and charm. Completely contractual in his approach to interpersonal relationships, he has perfected the art of the deal, as when, in the Gospel of Luke, Satan tempts Jesus with earthly powers and riches in return for his adulation: “If thou will therefore worship me, all shall be thine.”

Situated in a middle ground between God and human beings, Satan is a liminal figure. He is like a person but not quite a person. For one, he is gifted with superhuman powers of the sort, Murray writes, that children have always imagined they might possess in the furthest reaches of their wish-fulfilling fantasies. But he does not possess certain qualities that adults especially value and recognize as part of the human condition. He lacks wisdom, for example, and love. He is not troubled by a complex inner life, by the doubts, ambivalences and moral quandaries that routinely run through the consciousness of mature humans. He is instead like the modern conception of a superhero. Satan is one-dimensional and mythic, an idealized personification, rather than a fully articulated person.

Donald Trump sees himself in the same way. While Trump insists that he is a force for good rather than evil, he truly perceives himself to be qualitatively different from the rest of humankind. He has often compared himself to a superhero. He has famously described himself as a “stable genius” who has never made a mistake. He is not lying when he makes these outrageous claims, for Trump truly believes them to be true, just as he believes he won the 2020 election.

At the same time, Trump is incapable of describing an inner psychological life or of identifying traces of reflection, emotional nuance, doubt or fallibility. Even though he talks about himself all the time, Trump has never been able to explain his inner world or to narrate stories about how he has come to be the person he is, as frustrated interviewers and biographers have repeatedly noted.

In my book “The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning” (2020), I argue that Trump lacks a narrative understanding of himself in time. A well-established line of psychological research shows that human personhood is tied up with narrative and storytelling. People understand their lives as narratives evolving over time. But Trump is the curious exception, in that there seems to be very little by way of a story in his head about who he is and how he came to be. He is instead what I call “the episodic man,” living outside of time in the eternal moment, fighting in the here and now to win the battle at hand, episode by episode, day by day. At the center of Trump’s personality lies a narrative vacuum, the space where the self-defining life story should be but never was. As such, Trump is rarely introspective, retrospective or prospective. There is no depth, no past and no future.

Currently reading Ian Kershaw’s Hitler bio and the parallels are truly striking, especially the core hollowness of both men, which they fill up with hate.

WHERE’S SHERMAN WHEN WE NEED HIM:

Donald Trump and the Lost Cause (Angie Maxwell, March 30, 2016, VQR)

Southern whiteness is not just about race. Yes, that is how it started. But as Southern whites faced the changing twentieth century, they became the “other” or foil to American identity. Each time the criticism poured in, they defined themselves in opposition to a growing pantheon of enemies. Southern whiteness expands beyond racial identity and supremacy, encapsulating rigid stances on religion, education, the role of government, the view of art, an opposition to science and expertise and immigrants and feminism, and any other topic that comes under attack. This ideological web of inseparable strands envelops a community and covers everything, and it is easily (and intentionally by Donald Trump) snagged.

The key environmental conditions (if we learn from Adler’s pattern again) that made it more likely, in the wake of such criticism, for an individual to develop an inferiority complex were poverty, lack of education, and authoritarian religion. The Southern white triptych or trap. For those of us who were born here or have spent our lives in the South, other than the sheer distinctive levels of violence, the trap remains the most painful dynamic to witness. The need to maintain white supremacy and patriarchy at all costs has, indeed, cost us almost everything. The price to maintain segregation, both legal and cultural, is limited access to and the denouncement of education. The price to maintain white economic power is the proliferation of pay-day lenders and right-to-work laws and the vilification of the “undeserving” on welfare and food stamps. The price to maintain male authority is the failure of almost all Southern states to ratify women’s suffrage in the 1920s (though they did so symbolically decades later, including Mississippi finally in 1984) or the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and 1980s (renewed efforts failed in both Virginia and Arkansas just last year) and the wholesale demonization of feminism. The price to maintain fundamentalist Christian values includes the banning of textbooks, the denigration of non-Christians and of science in general. The price is so high that Southern states rank forty-eighth and forty-ninth and fiftieth time and again on almost every measure that matters to quality of life. And those rankings serve as alarms as well, and the whole thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, an inescapable trap laid by the very folks it ensnares.

So public criticism for many white Southerners is constant and damaging and creates a defensive and extreme response that only causes more damage. In-migration to the South has diluted this community, but for many whites who self-identify as Southern, the inferiority complex is alive and well. We know from our own academic polling that whites who claim a Southern identity score significantly higher than those who do not on scales measuring racism, sexism, and fundamentalism. Whites who claim a Southern identity prove to be more decisive on public-policy issues, with significantly fewer respondents choosing a neutral or independent stance on health-care reform or gay marriage or abortion or affirmative action. In his letter to Life magazine in 1956, William Faulkner warned of this Southern white penchant for polarization. In the battle over integration, Faulkner questioned, “Where will we go, if the middle becomes untenable? If we have to vacate it in order to keep from being trampled?” They run to the right.

So George Wallace’s mantra of “You’re either for it or you’re against it” vibrates on a frequency that white Southerners recognize. It’s a team rally cry, sport-like with signs and tailgates. Even the pushed-up primary in the South was given a sports-conference moniker—SEC. Trump is the brashy, defiant, absolutist celebrity coach. The more he and his supporters are criticized, the more entrenched they become. And his fans want nothing less than a national championship.

They, of course, are not the only Americans who hear that dog whistle. Perhaps there is something to the “southernization of America” described by both Peter Applebome and John Egerton several years ago. NASCAR and country music and the spread of the Southern Baptist denomination across the country follow the American defeat of its own war in Vietnam. Whatever the reason, politicians learned over the last four decades that it is acceptable, even welcomed, to blow the dog whistles of racism and sexism and fundamentalism harder and louder in the South, and when they do the sound reverberates throughout the country. For white Southerners, the sounds are hard to distinguish; the battle for whiteness and patriarchy and church over state are compounded so fully that few can untie the knots in their own hearts and minds.

But outside of the region, in the other states that Trump has won—Illinois and Michigan and Nevada and New Hampshire—he need only strike one of these chords among voters. Maybe immigration is fueling nativism in one community, maybe the legalization of gay marriage has deeply upset another. Maybe some don’t want a female president. After all, white Southerners aren’t the only people who feel down and out or who feel discriminated against, which is clear in the simultaneous, yet separate, national rise of men’s rights movements (mostly notably in the online “Manosphere”), EEOC claims of reverse discrimination, and the belief (among 56 percent of Republicans) in a “war on Christmas.” Trump’s Southern strategy turns out to be less about geography and more about identity. And many want to go back to an America in which people like them run the show.

MAGA is just Identitarianism for white men. The Right is theb Left.

VLAD’S GIMP:

Trump suggests he’d disregard NATO treaty, urge Russian attacks on allies (Marianne LeVine, February 10, 2024, Washington Post)


“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said during a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

JUST THE FACTS:

Congress has already disqualified Trump from the ballot (Tristan Snell, February 8, 2024, CNN)

Those votes came in the second impeachment of Trump, in January and February of 2021, in which majorities of both the House and the Senate backed an article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

This was a finding of fact, by majorities of our elected representatives, after a full public trial in which Trump was able to mount a defense — and it should be deemed persuasive, if not conclusive, in answering the factual questions before the Supreme Court. Indeed, for the more right-wing justices, who are often fond of pontificating that courts should not make policy judgments and should instead defer to legislatures, one would think that such a clear public pronouncement from Congress on Trump’s engagement in insurrection would be a compelling precedent.


To be clear, the 14th Amendment does not actually require anyone to have voted to disqualify an insurrectionist, whether that’s a legislature or a jury. It certainly does not require a conviction, as some have tried to argue (and such bastardization of the plain language of a constitutional provision is exactly the opposite of what conservatives normally preach).

Legally, the insurrectionist is disqualified the moment he engages in insurrection.

NOT A CLOSE RUN THING:

Donald Trump Meets the Supreme Court (PETER J WALLISON, FEB 1, 2024, Peter’s Substack)

This was a constitutional democracy protecting itself—in this case from a person or persons who are so untrustworthy that their oaths were worthless.

It happens that Section 3 applies to Mr. Trump, because he took an oath to support the Constitution when he was inaugurated as President in 2017, and violated that oath by attempting to overthrow the Constitution’s electoral principles in 2021. He does not even have to be convicted of that; he has already admitted that he tried to change the electoral rules in 2021, but argues that he was only doing what he was required to do as President. It is likely that the Supreme Court will find otherwise.

For the reasons stated earlier, Mr. Trump poses a particular risk for this country, and it is fortuitous that his case falls within the terms of a constitutional amendment that Congress enacted over 150 years ago to protect the United States against unscrupulous people who would violate their oaths to attain and hold power.

In my view, considering each of these elements, the Supreme Court will uphold this constitutional restriction by disqualifying Donald Trump.

DONALD ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE MONEY…::

Ka-ching: $18.3 M + $65 M = $83.3 million verdict against Trump (LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, JAN 26, 2024, Lucian Truscott Newsletter)

The New York Times reported that journalists in a nearby press room gasped when the full amount of the jury award was read out loud.

During summations today by Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, and Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, Trump’s Truth Social account made 16 posts in 15 minutes, all of them attacking either the judge in the case, Lewis Kaplan, or the plaintiff, E. Jean Carroll. After the trial, Trump put up a post calling the verdict “Absolutely ridiculous!” He charged, “They have taken away all First Amendment Rights” and said he would appeal. He also claimed, in all caps, “THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”

Trump is awaiting another verdict in a state courtroom in a lawsuit filed against him and his company for lying on applications for bank loans and insurance policies over a ten year period. The judge in that case, Arthur Engoron, has said he hopes to issue a verdict by the end of this month. New York Attorney General Leticia James has asked for a penalty of $370 million to be levied against Trump and his company, and for both Trump and the Trump Organization to be banned from doing business in the state of New York.

…and it’s headed out the door. Let a million suits bloom.

ALWAYS BET ON THE dEEP sTATE:

Trump’s Bad Day in Court: The first of many to come (JOYCE VANCE, JAN 10, 2024, Civil Discourse)

The most telling points in the oral argument centered on hypotheticals offered by Judge Pan. Judges frequently use hypotheticals to help them understand what a ruling would mean both for the case at hand and in future cases. Judge Pan posed three to Sauer, asking whether, under his view of immunity, a president could:

order Seal Team 6 to execute a political rival, and get away with it

accept a payment for issuing a pardon, and get away with it

sell nuclear secrets to a foreign power, and get away with it

Sauer argued that presidents can only be prosecuted if they are first impeached and convicted by the Senate. He, of course, has to argue this because otherwise, his client Donald Trump is in trouble.

It’s an unappetizing position. Sauer ran into still more trouble as the hypothetical was played out with both lawyers in turn, exploring the ways a president could avoid being impeached and convicted. They ranged from a president who resigns to avoid conviction, succeeds in concealing criminal conduct until he leaves office so he is never impeached, or even one who orders the deaths of his opponents in the Senate to prevent conviction. Under Trump’s theory of immunity, no prosecution would be available in these cases.

You don’t have to be a high-end appellate lawyer to understand that this argument is a stone-cold loser. At least in a democracy.

Judge Pan pointed out that Trump had taken a contradictory position in two earlier cases. During Trump’s 2021 impeachment and in Trump v. Vance where then-President Trump tried to prevent Manhattan DA Cy Vance from obtaining his tax returns, Trump’s lawyers argued he could be criminally prosecuted once he left office. Sauer was ultimately forced to concede they had taken that position then, but it’s not, he said “res judicata” here—not binding on Trump now. That one is a tough sell too, especially since Trump avoided conviction in the Senate by arguing he could be prosecuted in precisely this case after he left office. If the court accepts this view it would make a mockery of justice. This panel of Judges didn’t seem inclined that direction.

Trump is not the only former president who seems to have understood he could be prosecuted after leaving office. Judge Childs pointed out later in the argument that President Nixon was apparently so convinced he could be prosecuted that he sought a pardon.