Messiah of the Maniacs
America’s Red Hat Road to Hell
Donald Trump’s bad hair day
by Thomas Adcock
Copyright © 2018 – Thomas Adcock
NEW YORK CITY, near America
The racist crime syndicate occupying the White House, headed by what psychologists identify as a malignant narcissist, has gone to panic mode. The signs are plentiful.
State and federal elections held on November 6 delivered a massive political rebuke of il capo di tutti capi, namely Donald J. Trump. The reaction has been a daily cascade of falsehoods from Mr. Trump himself, his lackeys, and his confederates in white nationalist media. The lies grow ever more incoherent, ever more desperate, ever more disbelieved by the public. Mr. Trump’s boorish trip to Paris, there to join European heads of state in observing the one-hundredth anniversary of the armistice that ended World War One, was an embarrassment on several counts; at some level, the American president must have known that everyone was laughing at him.
Looming over the sorry situation, like black and blue thunderheads gathering on an eerily still horizon, is the impendence of a legal document likely to hasten an end to the Trump presidency.
—Which is to say, the forthcoming investigative report from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a Marine Corps veteran firm of jaw, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a member of Donald Trump’s own Republican Party. As a venerable government lawyer, he successfully prosecuted John “the dapper don” Gotti, Frank “Frankie Loc” Lacascio, and Sammy “the Bull” Gravano. The target this time: Donald “Don the Con” Trump.
Mr. Mueller’s report will be the damning climax of his probe into alleged treasonous collusion between Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign organization and the Russian government, as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” per official duties assigned to him by the United States Department of Justice.
The special counsel and his team of sixteen attorneys—men and women at work in a highly secured, limited access location in southwest Washington—constitute what the capital media have dubbed “Mueller’s Army.” Soldiers in service to the cause are corporate fraud and foreign espionage prosecutors; they have expertise in cyber crime; like the boss, they too have sent Mafiosi to prison. Their penultimate accomplishments amount to a hundred criminal charges brought against thirty-two individuals and three corporations.
Since May 2017, when Mr. Mueller opened shop, his team’s actions have struck at il sindacato della casa bianca like hammer blows. Results include:
- Convictions or guilty pleas on the part of the president’s campaign manager Paul Manafort and deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, national security advisor Michael Flynn, and personal lawyer Michael Cohen relating to financial fraud and improper contacts with Kremlin operatives
- In exchange for leniency in prison sentencing, coöperative testimony from Messrs. Manafort, Gates, Flynn, and Cohen
- Admission of felony lies told to F.B.I. agents by campaign advisor George Papadopoulos and Mr. Gates, and lies told to Mr. Mueller’s investigators by Manafort associate Alex van der Zwaan
- Admission by Sam Patten, a lobbyist with professional ties to Paul Manafort, that he failed to register with the U.S. government as an agent for a pro-Russian right-wing political party in Ukraine that indirectly contributed money to the Trump campaign, a serious contravention of federal election law
- Indictments against thirteen Russian nationals involved in alleged bank fraud and identity theft
- Indictments against twelve Kremlin intelligence service officers allegedly involved in money laundering, identity theft, and criminal conspiracy against the U.S.
- The indictment of Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a linguist for the Russian military and Manafort confrère, on the charge of obstructing justice
That last charge, obstruction of justice, spooks Donald Trump, his family, and his political cohorts. From the beginning—a secret meeting at the eponymous Trump Tower in Manhattan between campaign trumpisti and well placed Russians with questionably obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate in the 2016 presidential election—Mr. Trump has engaged in conduct that smells like “consciousness of guilt,” a term of art among prosecutors.
At first, Mr. Trump tried brushing off the Manhattan get-together as a wholly non-political matter regarding Americans who wished to adopt Russian babies—never mind that Mr. Manafort attended, as did Donald Trump Jr. and son in-law Jared Kushner; never mind that no one believed this line. Delivery of so-called dirt would be prima facie evidence of an in-kind contribution to an American election by a foreign party, a blatant crime.
(The Mueller report is expected to accuse the Trump campaign of illegal access to emails stolen by Russia that embarrassed Ms. Clinton, to the point of influencing the 2016 presidential contest.)
Junior brokered the Trump Tower assembly, at the behest of Rob Goldstone, a British publicist with Kremlin friends interested in overturning federal law that allows the U.S. to withhold visas and freeze assets of Russian oligarchs and government officials believed to have violated human rights.
(As the assembled met, Trump the Elder was a few floors removed and purportedly at work in his office quarters. If we are to believe to Junior, he neither informed his father of the meeting nor of its outcome.)
Trump the Younger exchanged pre-meeting emails with Mr. Goldstone.
Of damaging material about Ms. Clinton proffered, Mr. Goldstone wrote, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump (sic).”
Junior responded, “If it’s what you say, I love it.”
When knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting and other suspicious activity surfaced in early 2017, the F.B.I. began looking into potential criminal violations of election law—an investigation eventually transferred to Mueller’s Army. As the newly inaugurated president that year, Mr. Trump fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, who had properly declined a pledge of “loyalty” to the Donald J. Trump that would eclipse his statutory responsibility to the American public.
After more than a year of disparaging Mr. Mueller personally, and his investigation as a “hoax,” and demanding that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions use his supervisory authority to call off the probe because “there was no collusion,” Mr. Trump finds himself stymied.
Additionally, he has become an unindicted co-conspirator in a crime to which his consigliere, Mr. Cohen, pleaded guilty: bank fraud for the purpose of indirectly contributing approximately $280,000 (€249,200) to the Trump campaign, in the form of hush money paid to a pornographic movie star and a nude model with whom the president had well-publicized alleged extra-marital sexual escapades. In court last August, Mr. Cohen said he arranged payments “at the direction of the candidate.”
The president’s latest attempt to defeat Mueller’s Army was to fire Jeff Sessions on December 7, the day after Trump-loving Republicans were skunked by voters from coast to coast.
Shortly thereafter, the president replaced Mr. Sessions with a right-wing Republican hack by the name of Matt Whitaker—illegally, according to constitutional experts certain to litigate against the appointment. Mr. Whitaker bears a disturbingly strong resemblance to Il Duce Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), prime minister of Italy during the fascist era. As acting attorney general, for the moment at least, Mr. Whitaker becomes Robert Mueller’s boss, with putative authority to fire him at will. Like his benefactor, Mr. Whitaker has very publicly declared Mr. Trump innocent of treasonous collusion with a hostile foreign power, and labeled the Mueller probe a “hoax.”
Also like his benefactor, Matt Whitaker is spooked by the threat of prosecution likely to arise from an ongoing F.B.I. investigation of his rôle in scamming American military veterans out of an aggregate $26 million (€23.14 million) while he was a board member and pitchman for the World Patent Marketing Corporation. The Federal Trade Commission shuttered the company after settlement of a fraud prosecution.
As I write, Mr. Whitaker has a job. As Mr. Trump is fond of saying, “We’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump recently held a fevered ninety-minute post-election press conference at the White House during which time he derided media as purveyors of “fake news.”
Further, he personally insulted three black female reporters, claimed that the Democratic rout on Election Day was actually a “great victory” for Republicans, that voters showed “they like me,” and that he saw himself as “a great moral leader.” This last notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s pathological mendacity, some three thousand civil lawsuits pending against him by contractors he refused to pay, a dozen lawsuits filed by women who claim sexual misconduct on the president’s part—and now Mr. Mueller.
Millions of my fellow Americans believe as I do: the president deserves two terms—one in a federal penitentiary, another in a state prison.
We’ll see what happens.
One horrible day last month, Donald Trump finally kept his mouth shut—for about two hours. Mark the date of that brief silence, our respite from the repugnancy of his regime: October 30, 2018.
It was a gray and rainy Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—three days after yet another episode in America’s epidemic of mass murder courtesy of yet another maniac with military-grade armaments. The president of the United States—a man known throughout the world for hate-filled rhetoric, insensitivity to human suffering, racial and ethnic bigotry—was en route from Washington, presumably to console the bereaved, a supremely unnatural rôle for him.
Pittsburgh’s civic officials and several thousand townsfolk respectfully requested that Mr. Trump not come to visit the city at its time of profound grief. The hullaballoo of a presidential motorcade and entourage was inappropriate, said Mayor Bill Peduto, though the spectacle would eventually prove of relative modest proportion: Despite ardent solicitations by the White House, not a single politician of municipal, state, or national office would accompany Mr. Trump, insistent as he was on crashing funeral services and hospital protocols.
That forlorn Tuesday, mourners began the sombre task of burying their dead. They fell victim (allegedly) to a Trump-crazed anti-Semite by the name of Robert Bowers, who burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue with a perfectly legal AR-15 modified machine gun and three Glock .357 semiautomatic pistols while shouting, “All Jews must die!” Eleven worshipers at Shabbat services were slaughtered. Two more were seriously wounded, as were four police heroes who charged through a hail of bullets to end the carnage by arresting Mr. Bowers after downing him with one shot.
Due to respect for the presidency as an American political institution, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers did what he had to do: He greeted Mr. Trump at the synagogue doorstep. Like Mr. Trump, the rabbi was unaccompanied; few among his flock wished to be in close proximity to a man who only last year said of torch-bearing nazis in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, “Some are very fine people.”
On the following Saturday, Rabbi Myers disclosed to his congregants what he told Mr. Trump at the doorstep: “Mr. President, hate speech leads to hateful actions. Hate speech leads to what happened in my sanctuary. I witnessed it with my eyes.”
Donald Trump’s unwelcome sojourn in Pittsburgh was an interruption of business more compatible with his skill set: days of raucous campaign appearances before his cult of admirers—dubbed “hillbilly Nuremberg rallies” by critics—to support Republican candidates in the coming midterm elections, which he framed as a referendum on him his presidency.
Before boarding his presidential jet and leaving Pittsburgh to its sorrows, Mr. Trump thought it appropriate to fault the Tree of Life Synagogue for its failure to thwart a psychopath hell-bent on homicide. “If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they (sic) would have been able to stop him,” Mr. Trump told reporters. Asked if lax federal gun law—regulations incapable of preventing psychopaths from buying weapons suited for warfare—might be partly to blame, Mr. Trump added, “That has little to do with it.”
Two hours later during a rally in the Republican-friendly state of Indiana, Mr. Trump sang the hit parade of his bald lies, racist verbiage, and unhinged attacks on objective journalism and Democrats:
“Don’t believe the crap from the fake news [media]—the enemy of the people”…”What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening”…”Today’s Democrat Party (sic) is held hostage by left-wing haters, angry mobs, deep state radicals, establishment cronies, and their fake news allies”…”Many gang members and people of Middle Eastern descent [are among “caravans” of impoverished refugees making their way to the U.S. southern border, on foot]…This is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you.”
As if by magic, Mr. Trump’s invasion hysteria—his campaign of inciting lurid fears among his white flock that hordes of brown-skinned people would soon be oppressing them, while ignoring bona oppressions—evaporated within twenty-four hours of polls closing on Election Day. Nevertheless, just over five thousand National Guard troops were sent to the southern border on presidential orders to roll out miles of concertina wire and stand at the ready with machine guns—on alert for “caravans” of bedraggled refugees, more than half of them women and children; as I write, the asylum seekers are about eight hundred miles away (1,288 km), somewhere in the punishing Mexican desert; a goodly number of them want nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s America.
Someone at the Indiana rally asked the president why his gold leaf hairdo looked even odder than usual.
“Well, I was standing under the wing of Air Force One doing a news conference,” Mr. Trump cheerfully explained. “And the wind was blowing, and the rain, and I was soaking wet … I said, ‘Maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day.’”
Damp hair concern may well have been the case in France on Armistice Day, November 11, when Mr. Trump failed to join European leaders at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery where the U.S. fallen are buried. He said it was raining. Everyone but Himself and His Hair was able to travel a hundred kilometers from Paris to pay their yearly respects to men celebrated throughout the world in lyrics by George M. Cohan: “Over there, over there/Send the word, send the word over there/That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming over there…” Back in Washington on November 12—Veterans Day in the U.S.—Mr. Trump likewise ignored the longstanding custom of presidential visits to nearby Arlington National Cemetery, final resting grounds for America’s honored war dead. The weather forecast called for afternoon rain.
Beyond his apparent disregard for pain and suffering and loss among the families of deceased veterans, Donald Trump has little regard for anyone else. He offered the usual “thoughts and prayers” for the grieving citizens of Pittsburgh. He said nothing whatever of slaughter elsewhere—the October 28 random murders of an African American couple in Kentucky, allegedly by a crazed gunman in legal possession of a semiautomatic handgun who minutes earlier attempted to storm a black church and the November 7 massacre of twelve young people and a sheriff’s deputy in southern California bar by a mentally troubled Marine Corps veteran armed with smoke bombs and a legally obtained Glock 21 semiautomatic pistol; the California killer turned the pistol on himself to die with the others.
Pittsburgh resident Martin E. Rosenberg, a research scholar affiliated with The New Centre for Research and Practice, addressed empathy deficit in a Facebook posting. Without naming the president, Mr. Rosenberg wrote, “When someone moans about oppression, and yet refuses to stand against another form of oppression, that person is complicit with the tactics of divide and conquer that the powerful depend upon to rule the weak. Think about it: a target of prejudice indifferent to others targeted by prejudice. There is no honor in this. We stand together, or They win.”
Too few voices among the American political class possess meaningful empathy; the business of elective politics, after all, revolves on an axis of turbocharged personal ego. Empathy would have our governing establishment—the Office of President, the Congress, and the courts—actually do something to stem gun violence and oppression of the poor by the wealthy. Instead, we hear little to nothing of practical policy that would combat such existential danger to American democracy; little to nothing from Democrats as well as Republicans.
It was not always thus. In his second inaugural address in January 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) spoke of an optimistic America, despite the country’s continuing sufferance from economic ravages of the Great Depression:
I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources. Its people…are making their country a good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised far above the level of mere subsistence.
Among men of goodwill, science and democracy together offer an ever-richer life and ever-larger satisfaction to the individual. …[W]e have set our feet upon the road of enduring progress.
We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous.
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Eight decades later comes Mr. Trump’s dystopian presidency. The desperately poor and tormented are ignored: witness homeless men and women flooding the streets of every city, witness the suicide rate among veterans returned from war that profits only the munitions and oil corporations. Minorities are under violent attack by nazis and kluxers, the most stalwart of this president’s supporters. The hardware of hatred—Glock pistols and AR-15 rifles, the two top-selling guns in America—is as widely available as Starbucks coffee shops, with booming sales protected by the courts and timid politicians who live with the fear and financial largess of the National Rifle Association. The president is vociferously anti-science—climate change is also a “hoax,” he has declared many times—and anti-democracy and anti-intellectual.
Even David Brooks, a conservative Republican columnist at the New York Times, challenges Mr. Trump on the latter point. “He has no … capacity to learn,” Mr. Brooks wrote of his party’s president. “His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and he’s uninterested in finding out.”
Where once upon a time my country had a president who revered and promoted mercy and kindness, we live under the whims of an angry, morally bankrupt, stupid, panicked man. Worse, according to the major opinion polls, he has the approval of nearly forty percent of the American people, including majorities of white women and white men and evangelical Christians. Including gun-toting brawlers and lesser maniacs with red MAGA hats who reliably show up for Mr. Trump’s endlessly frightening rallies of the faithful.
Those ubiquitous caps blaze with the acronym for “Make America Great Again,” the Trumpian campaign slogan and seeming homage, unintended or otherwise, to Adolf Hitler’s “Deutschland wieder großartig machen.”
Forty percent of America is not going anywhere. Donald Trump has become Messiah of the Maniacs, who would take us on a red hat road to Hell.
—Unless and until we Americans grasp the concept behind one of those German mash-ups of words, Vergangenheitsbewältigung. What this means is that my country must somehow come to terms with our guilt in foisting Donald Trump upon the world, and our complicity in the process.
—Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag
Additional photo credits
Cartoon Trump on horseback—politicalcartoons.com
“Over There” sheet music—Library of Congress